Monkey Music Review

A few weeks before Christmas I was blindly browsing through Facebook whilst stuck under a sleeping baby and I came across a Facebook page called Monkey Music for the Flitwick and Great Denham area (Bedfordshire). They were looking for mummy/parenting bloggers to review their class in return for a free taster session. I love free and the class sounded fun! So I messaged them with a link to the blog and we was invited along to see what it was all about.

It can be hard to fill your day with things that doesn’t leave babies bored and grumpy so I really wanted to check this group out.

So what is Monkey Music?

Monkey Music is a musical class aimed to develop skills, to engage and enrich babies and children with music, group activity and percussion instruments. The cater for babies from three months up to children of four years of age. Their classes are split into age appropriate to ensure targeted learning. The groups they run are:

  • Rock’n’roll: aimed a babies from three months old and aims to help with emotional and intellectual development
  • Heigh-ho: for toddlers up to twelve months and has an emphasis on learning about space and reacting
  • Jiggity-jig: for two to three year olds. Here they learn to sing, dance and compose music
  • Ding-dong: for three to four year olds. This final group helps them to learn about instruments, recognise music and musical patterns.

So as you can see the classes aim to stimulate children through music and rhythm, learn new experiences, interact with other children their own age and have fun with instruments.

The franchise has been going since 1993 and was created by Angie Coates, a first time mum who was also a musician/teacher looking for a Music group. When she couldn’t find one she created Monkey Music.

Our taster session

So, the day we had booked to go for our taster session was probably not the best day. Harrison was on the back of two allergic reactions so was not his usual perky self. The class itself was good fun. We was welcomed by a lovely lady named Kate and her fluffy friend Monkey. We was in a group of around eight other children and their grown ups. Kate was very warm and welcoming and urged us to come and join the show. She welcomed all the little people in song and it was lovely to see their smiling faces. She really engaged them and the babies clearly enjoyed their time in the group. It came across as a really fun and interactive group activity which clearly benefited the little ones who had attended.

Harrison had other ideas! He was feeling grotty, he was tired and grumpy and getting over two days worth of allergic reactions. He didn’t want to smile at the lady with the lovely singing. He didn’t want to shake the bells and he didn’t like the scarfs. He did however projectile vomit over the mats! I have never ran for a muzzy and wet wipes whilst quickly muttering apologies and turning a beautiful red colour! Argh!

I think had we gone on a day when Harrison was in a better mood I think he would really enjoyed it. He enjoys different types of music, specially Music I played when pregnant (like Bob Marley!) and he loves listening to nursery rhymes! So maybe in the future we will try again!

Although Harrison didn’t seem enthralled by the class I think it would be very beneficial for him and would like to try again on a better day for him! I would really recommend checking them out! They have lots of different locations and they offer free taster sessions!

Disclaimer: This is an independent review in return for a free session.

Sources:

Facebook Group for Flitwick and Great Denham

Monkey Music web page

Find a class

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The Amazing Gummee Glove

Time is flying by and Harrison is already 17 weeks old! I never know when the month comes into play…technically 16 weeks is four months but he was born on the 31st so wouldn’t the end of the month be four months?! I don’t know and I am digressing!

He is growing up very fast right before our eyes, he’s finding his voice, discovering things that make him laugh and starting to figure out how to move. Just the other night during a late night feed he decided he was finished and pushed himself out of my arms and did some kind of triple commando roll which left him in hysterics and me contemplating how much worse that could have ended! The little tinker!

Another new development is the dreaded teething! We are in the very early stages but already it is causing issues.

As many of you know, our boy is allergic to cows milk protein and is totally dairy free. He is on a specialised amino acid based milk and when we start weaning in January he will continue to be dairy free until he’s at least one year old.

So here’s a little nugget for you…calpol is not dairy free! It contains a substance that contains lactose!

Harrison had a succession of reactions and we couldn’t figure out what it could be! We started to worry we was passing on dairy through skin and mouth contact so we began washing our hands and mouth after eating or drinking anything with dairy in. We worried we was contaminating his bottles in the kitchen so we had a move around and no food is made remotely near where we prepare his feeds. But the reactions continued!

As a member of the very helpful CMPA support group on Facebook I remembered someone mentioning sorbitol causing an issue. A quick google search later and I discovered that sorbitol, AKA E420, which is an ingredient in calpol, contains lactose! An unknown fact to many! I didn’t even know this as a nurse!

So we thought back and every reaction had followed a dose of calpol; for his jabs, a fever when he had a cold and of course teething. A chat with a lovely local pharmacist lead us to an own brand paracetamol syrup without sorbitol in.

The next time his little gums were red raw and he was miserable we tried the new paracetamol and the same thing happened again! The GP is guiding us through this and has prescribed an alternative. All three contain another common ingredient so it could be that causing the reactions. It really is a waiting game.

At our wits end and just wanting to soothe our boy we tried a couple of soothers and he just wouldn’t chew them. He would chew his hands, whether these had mittens on or not, and clothes.

Enter the amazing Gummee glove!

I had heard of these through a friend and I think I recall seeing them at the Baby Show (I say think as teething was not on my radar at that point!) plus I was following them on their Facebook page.

It’s a very simple, yet genius, concept.

It is made up of a glove that fits snuggly over your baby’s hand with a Velcro strap. Here is pictured Harrison’s glove which is their 3-6 month old model.

On either side there are two silicon textured tabs fit to soothe the sorest of gums.

This wiggly patch has a little baby sensory element and gives a very satisfying crinkle (love that noise!)

The glove it self can be popped into the washing machine and this beautiful heart silicon teether can be removed. I particularly like this because it means Baby can still soothe their gums while the glove is being washed! Genius I tell you!

The product was designed by a fellow Mum Jodine Booth after she discovered the need for teething mitts during her own child’s teething periods (Gummee Glove Story).

Here is Harrison enjoying a good gnaw!

I can also vouch for their customer service. In my excitement in finally ordering one I somehow accidentally ordered two (don’t ask, I’ve also lost two bank cards since the boy has been born so I literally wouldn’t put anything past me these days!)

A quick call to their customer service had this sorted in no time. I ordered on the Thursday, my extra order was sorted the same day, our item was dispatched the following day and it was received and on Harrison’s hand/in his mouth by Monday!

I seriously can not recommend these enough! Your teething baby will love you for it!

Disclaimer: I am not sponsored by gummee uk or any of their associates. This is an independent review.

Elf on the Shelf

For the past few years you may have heard about the trend from America called Elf in the Shelf. Photographs pop up all over social media much to the amusement of many of us, or annoyance to the rest. It now has a rising popularity in the U.K with more and more households taking part in this for fun only tradition.

But what is Elf on the Shelf exactly?

It originates from a book of the same name that was published in 2005 based on the childhood memories of a mothers scout elf tradition carried on with her own children. The book was written by mother and daughter duo Carol V. Aebersold and Chanda A. Bell and the idea was born during a chat whilst sat at the kitchen table (Source).

All across social media you can see all sorts of posts of what people’s scout elves get up to. Such as hiding out in Christmas trees, making snow angles or causing general havoc when their family are not looking when they return back from the North Pole every night after they have reported back on whether their family deserve to be on the nice list or not.

So, with myself being a self confessed Christmas obsessive and with this being Harrison’s first Christmas partaking in this was a no brainier…for me anyway!

So, please meet our very own scout elf Robin Wintersnap!

He has already been making himself at home, stealing mince pies and hanging out with his best pal Rudolph!

He’s been scoping out the house for all the best hide out places!

As well as making friends with Bunny!

I hear he will start making appearances very soon and reporting back to the big man in red on how well behaved the Lewis Household are being!

Christmas is coming and the goose is getting fat…!

So it’s nearly that time of year again! It’s nearly Christmas! Magic Xmas is back on the airwaves and Christmas 24 is back on the television! The shops are full of angry shoppers!

I love this time of year, I love December (for many reasons) and I love winter!

For me, Christmas starts on the first day of December. I like to think of the advent period as Christmas too as I just love the run up and preparations! This year me and Mr Lewis are looking forward to our first Christmas as parents. Harrison will be almost five months at Christmas so he really won’t know what it is going on; however I feel this year is about making memories for us as a couple, as new parents and to start our own traditions.

December is always special for us as it’s when we got married, and we are looking forward to our second anniversary on 5th December. I can’t believe it has been two years already! It seems like it was only a short while back we were counting down and getting excited about about our big day, stressing over the little details and looking forward to our wintry honeymoon in Cornwall! It was on our first wedding anniversary that I first suspected I could be pregnant, and low and behold two days later we tested positive! It is also a very busy birthday month for my side of the family.

I digress! Back to Christmas now!

So, as I was saying, this year we are starting some of our own family traditions. Most, if not all, of these will go over Harrison’s head this year. I’m pretty sure as long as he’s got some fairy lights to stare at he will be happy and won’t really care for Christmas. He may very well find the hustle and bustle a little over whelming. Specially with all the family around and the noise levels that comes with family gatherings. But it’s a nice thing to start young as although they may not remember it, you as parents will and you can tell them about their first Christmas and show them pictures when they get older.

The first tradition I wanted to start was a Christmas Eve box! I love these and love looking at what others put in them! I worried Harrison would be too young but actually you can put whatever you want in them! They’re becoming more popular in the UK now and a quick Pinterest search will give you plenty of ideas! Lots of people go simple with:

  • Christmas pyjamas
  • Something sweet to eat and drink (think sweets, popcorn, hot chocolate etc)
  • A Christmas movie and/or Christmas book
  • Reindeer food to leave out for Rudolph

These are so interchangeable and there are so many ideas on the internet as to what you can put in them. Other items you could include, depending on the age of your child/recipient and budget include a magic Santa’s key, slipper socks, slippers, a Christmas mug, a festive cuddly toy or even a plate to put Santas mince pie on. The list is endless! Many people buy personalised wooden boxes to use every year (like you would a stocking) and yet another quick search online will point you in the direction of some beautiful products made in the UK!

For Harrison’s Christmas Eve box we opted to keep it simple this year. I picked up a gift box from Matalan and picked up some age appropriate goodies:

  • ‘My first christmas’ baby grow
  • ‘My first christmas’ bib
  • A festive cuddly elf (perfect size for a baby to hold)
  • A pair of slipper socks
  • A festive book or two (That’s not my elf and That’s not my Snowman by Fiona Watt)

Again, there was lots I could have gone with here. Some ideas could include a new dummy, a pram toy, a rattle/teething toy or even items for weaning.

The second tradition I wanted to start was a stocking. As a child, we always had a stocking and we wasn’t allowed downstairs until we’d riffled through them and found our festive goodies! Once we had finished this we would all creep down the stairs behind my dad, who was building the mayhem/excitement every moment, making promises of chocolate for breakfast, and he’d crack the door open. We’d creep in and check to see if Santa and Rudolph ate their snacks and then we’d run for the living room to see all the presents he’d delivered. Every year, and the magic never wore off!

For this year we found a very cute ice blue ‘Baby’s First Christmas’ from The Range. As we will be starting weaning the following month I took the chance to grab some of his weaning items to fill his stocking with. Two birds/one stone and all that jazz! I also grabbed some more fun bits! Some bath time finger puppets, socks and a beautiful ‘baby’s first Christmas’ reindeer rattle.

The third tradition we are starting is one I was desperate to start and is Elf on the Shelf! I know what you’re thinking and yes you are right…Harrison will have no idea what’s going on! He’s far too young and is most likely a waste of time! Believe me, I fought the urge to start it this year, but I figured what the hell! It’s a bit of fun, I can take lots of pictures and when he’s old enough we can show him his letters from his elf and show him the photos. There are so many ideas for this on Pinterest etc; some fun, some silly, some naughty and some really simple! We are going away for Christmas and I’m even planning on taking him away with us there to keep the magic going! Keep your eyes posted on my Instagram for lots of pictures and I will be doing a couple of blogs about him too! For those who do not know, elf on the shelf is an American tradition based on a book by Carol V. Aebersold and Chanda Bell about Santa’s scout elves who report back to the big man who should be on the nice list and who should be on the naughty list. They get up to all kinds of high-jinks and they are infiltrating the UK now. There are cheaper alternatives to the dolls now and there is even a film and an app! We opted for a cheaper version but may invest in the official doll and book once Harrison is older!

The final tradition (at the moment!) is putting the tree up as a family and this is another one from my childhood. Our mum would always want us to wait until after dads birthday but we eventually wore her down and it got put up earlier every year!We would put the tree up all together, argue what goes first – lights or decorations (of course it’s the lights), disagree on what goes where all to a sound track of festive music and a mug of hot chocolate! This year in our house we’ve agreed on 7th December. I’ve always been a 1st December kind of girl but this will be a year to the day we found out Harrison would be bursting into our lives and I thought that would be a nice day to put the tree up as a family.

So as you can see, it’s barely half way though November and it’s already Christmas in my head! Hope you all have lots of fun festivities planned!

First time parents…you got this!

The past eleven weeks have flown by and it’s safe to say we are getting the hang of this parenting thing.

Already in Harrison’s life span, he has battled, or is battling, colic, eczema, a suspected dairy allergy, sleepless nights, baby massage classes and a naming ceremony! Okay so the last two are more fun things for him, but you get my point!

It’s a crazy feeling isn’t it…one moment you are literally finding out you’ve created life, then you go through months of growing that life, then the day comes and that little life is now out in the big wide world looking cute and smelling amazing and you just can’t get your head around that fact…! (This could also be due to the drugs they give you in the delivery ward!)

Then you go home…and reality hits in! Your beautiful baby does not just lay there looking cute and giving off that new baby smell…they have needs and wants. But they can’t tell you…and that, I think, is the scariest part of being a new parent. No amount of reading or attending antenatal classes can truly prepare you.

I feel there is a very popular view that ‘it all comes naturally’ and to a point this may be true. There is a strong urge to want to give your baby everything they need and more. You want to cuddle them and smell them all day long! It’s an over whelming feeling…but it is also totally normal to feel terrified, anxious or even overwhelmed.

The first couple weeks after Harrison was born blurred into one time span of feeding, changing nappies and rocking him to sleep while staring at this beautiful boy we managed to create and grow. We would occasionally sleep in between. Caffeine has become my very best friend.

This is the period you will get offered lots of advice. I will be honest…it’s not always helpful! It is a case of taking on board what people offer you and deciding if that would work for you. Because what works for one family won’t work for the next.

For instance, when we first came home I was constantly told to ‘nap when the baby does’ and this is actually a solid piece of advice; however I am one of those weird people who can not nap during the day. If I nap during the day it usually means I’m unwell!

There have been times since our little man arrived that a midday siesta would have been amazing but my mind is never on the same page as my day time nap needs! It can’t switch off if it’s daylight outside. But this is an example of good advice if you can switch off long enough; specially when your baby wakes regularly through the night, or is maybe up for several hours inconsolable with colic or reflux.

Becoming a new parent, we have discovered, is just a huge learning curve. Because babies are fickle little things, what worked yesterday may not apply today!

But for all the times I’ve felt overwhelmed and anxious or all the times I’ve googled to see if something is ‘normal’, for all the sleepless nights, the poonami’s and the crying fits where I can’t figure out what is wrong…I would not change it for the world. Neither of us would.

If your baby is fed, warm, clean and loved with a roof over their head then you’re doing a great job!

Where to now?

I have really reflected recently on what to do with this blog…we reached the end of our fertility journey and that’s what it was supposed to be about. But I didn’t want to end it there.

Ive rambled all the way though our journey from the start to end. I waffled through our awkward appointments, my crazy dietary changes to ‘help’ us fall pregnant right through to our pregnancy announcement, my whole pregnancy and Harrison’s birth announcement/story.

So what now…?

Now I join the herds of other ‘mummy bloggers’ and instead of waffling about our infertility journey, I’ll waffle about the adventure of being a first time mum and where ever that takes us!

Sunroof Exits

It has been a long while since I posted and lots has happened.

Most who read this blog will know that our baby boy has arrived into the world, safe and sound, a couple weeks ago and has been stealing hearts ever since! He weighed a healthy 8lb 4 and we named him Harrison.

This blog does include my birth story so this is a pre-warning for those who do not want to read this! It is said sharing your birth story can be very therapeutic and you all know I’m all for that! I’ll give another warning as it is coming up!

The end of my pregnancy saw Neil’s stress levels go through the roof! In between gestational diabetes (GD) and having to start insulin, the monthly growth scans and consultant appointments, the issues with SPD (which weirdly just disappeared at 31 weeks gestation) and reduced foetal movements on more than one occasion nobody was more ready for me to birth our boy than Neil’s stress levels!

Our first two trimesters were a dream, other than the SPD but I’ve learned that it is actually really common and compared to some woman I got off pretty lightly (however when waddling through a 13.5 hour shift I begged to differ!)

Our third trimester saw my GD become fairly unstable and my blood sugars were a total nightmare to control. I had started to feel unwell and even started to display sign of preeclampsia, which was very worrying! After investigations cleared me of that it was discovered that I needed insulin to control the GD. So that was fun, four times a day testing my blood sugars and daily jabs of insulin! I felt so rock and roll…!

The weeks started to tick by and I eventually started to feel human again, but a weeks sick leave, three weeks annual leave and maternity leave starting (meaning no 0500 starts or long shifts on my feet) probably contributed to that!

During this time i did all the usual pregnant mum to be things…obsess over my bump size, my swollen hands and ankles and organise everything to an inch of its life! Oh and pee a lot…the peeing issue is real…!

We got to 37 weeks and I was so ready to birth the boy! He was head down and in the right position, he felt engaged for what felt like an eternity and well…I had waited 16 years to prove doctors wrong, and two years of which were spent struggling to actually conceive him; I wanted to thrust my baby is a doctors face and shout ‘Ha! You were wrong! You were all wrong!’

For the record…I did not do this…but the urge was strong!

I planned my birth in a beautifully written birth plan that was all about calming water births, hypno birthing techniques and no epidurals. It included plans b and c as well, but I was going to be a natural birthing goddess so in my little head they were there to appease the midwives! Our bags were all packed, nursery and bedroom prepared, we just had to wait.

In total through out the pregnancy we had three separated occasions of reduced movement that saw me hooked up for monitoring. The first time, in hindsight, was me not knowing his routine; mainly because he didn’t seem to have much of one but apparently he did! The second two times were bonafide reduced movements and having the monitoring helped reassure as both.

The final time we attended for monitoring due to reduced movements, at 37+6 weeks, we had just been discharged from the consultant, they were happy with Baby’s growth and just gently reminded me I would not have a small baby and agreed I could safely have a water birth. No mention of an sliding scale (insulin) during birth. However, when we were being monitored the unit staff were not happy with the growth as it looked like he had dropped off a little…at this point we were majorly confused! Was he big or not?! Who should we be listening too?!

Well, why questioning it all a decision was made, pretty swiftly, that I had to be induced by the end of that week! Head was spinning at this point, I suddenly wanted to wait to get to 40 weeks! We wasn’t ready…was we?! But there was concerns for Harrison; potentially my placenta may not be working to full effect which could have caused the drop in (predicted) weight – although the drop was minimal.

Fast forward a few days, more monitoring, and extra stress we booked in to the delivery suite and proceedings were started nice and early on a sunny Sunday morning. Initially we were to be induced Friday but when we got there they could not safely do it due to the staff to patient ratio. I was gutted, but working in the NHS I understood.

By this point my beautifully written birth plan had been ripped up when I realised I wasn’t getting my water birth. Hey ho, we was getting to meet our boy soon enough! Who needs to be a birthing goddess right?!

I had Neil and my mum as birthing partners and luckily mum packed a snacks bag as we were in for the long haul with this one!

(Birth story with the gory bits incoming…!)

So, for anyone who doesn’t know what happens when your baby is induced, they start of gentle. With a pessary designed to jump start your labour. Your then hooked up to the CTG monitor and then you wait…for six hours…for something to happen. And nothing did. The monitor was picking up some contractions but these were so mild I barely noticed the majority of these. I was allowed to go for a walk and told to grab some lunch and to go for a walk.

Birthing in the hospital you work in can be awkward, but luckily at this point the only person we bumped into was one of my lovely colleagues!

The next step was to have my waters broken. This sounded painless…mum said it would be painless…it was not! The only way I can describe it is a slightly more scratchy version of a smear test and is done with what looks like a giant crochet hook! Smears are necessity in us females lives and so was the breaking of my membrane as clearly my body sucked at labour!

After a moment of being amazed of the level of amniotic fluid one can possibly be holding on to (there is more to this story…but I think we shall leave that there! We are still traumatised by this event!) and told to go for another walk and grab some (more!) food my contractions finally started. A mere eleven hours after we arrived!

We headed back and I started to use my TENS machine. I may not have got to be a water birthing goddess but I didn’t need pain relief…right?! Hahahahahhaha! You fool Jayne!

Fast forward a bit further along; I’m hooked up to the hormone drip, a sliding scale (insulin) and intravenous fluid as well as being connected to the CTG machine again. My contractions were picking up and I finally opted for some gas and air. I didn’t like it at first but when those contractions start coming thick and fast, and intensified by the hormone drip, you need it! In the end, when offered an epidural and spinal block I couldn’t say yes quick enough!

Looking back this is when I should have been embarrassed when I’m sat there almost starkers and I recognised the anaesthetist! There’s no dignity in labour is there?

It became evident that my body REALLY doesn’t like hormones or giving birth as I was not progressing (was still only 5cm dilated) and Harrison was in distress; he kept dropping of on the monitor and had moved back to back. There was a real concern that he had the cord around his neck! When they suggested an emergency c-sect it was a no brainier for us.

Within the hour of that decision being made, Harrison came bursting into the world via the sunroof and into our hearts.

I remember very little of the actual procedure on account of the amount of drugs they gave me. I just vaguely remember having the serious shakes (might as well of been doing jazz hands!), was really itchy (caused by the fentanyl) and a weird sensation in my abdomen!

We was taken into recovery where my mum was waiting. It was very emotional and the drugs they’d given me made me feel very weird.

By the time they were happy with us both in recovery myself, Neil and mum had been up and in the hospital almost 24 hours! Everyone was tired but I could not stop staring at our beautiful boy!

We had some amazing midwives looking after us as well as several midwifery students and the theatre team!

Once on the ward I remember just staring at my baby for what felt like hours until I got the feeling back in my legs and I waited for Neil to come back! I was desperate to get moving and really wanted a shower! We had to stay in a few days due to Harrison developing jaundice.

It’s true what they say, nurses do make the worse patients! I hated being in hospital and just wanted to take our baby home and start enjoying being a mum. By the time we left I think Harrison was the oldest baby! It made me very emotional being in hospital, couples with all those postpartum hormones, that I’d be crying over silly things! Which is very odd for me…I don’t do crying!

But all is well that ends well. We are home, getting into the swing of things and loving being parents!

It was a long journey, not as long as some others granted, but it has been a hard road for us to get here. But every minute was worth it.

Welcome to the world Harrison!