Plastic Free July

So as plastic free July is upon us, I thought now was a great time to share what we do as a family.

As a preface to all this, I am under no illusion that this is for everybody. And I am grateful for the privilege we have where this is affordable and accessible for us.

We started eliminating plastic after reading It Starts With The Egg a few years ago when we initially embarked on our baby-making journey. By started I mean it was a few small changes and nothing compared to what we do now.

But having Ottilie has put a whole new perspective on the way we live. Truth be told, I’m a hippy at heart and my ideal would be living off the land, never wearing a bra or shoes – but steering clear of any drugs obvs!

After Ottilie’s operation we moved to disposable nappies for a short time for her comfort (the ones that are ok-ish for the environment and worked for us) but we weren’t happy about it. Amy was positively unhappy about it actually. But we have been potty-training for a couple of months now so only use a disposable at night and occasionally one for nap time at nursery. With things like this, I often counter it with all the other good stuff we do…

I could literally write a blog post on everything individually but here’s a list because it’s just easier. I have included details of the brands where I can.

All things body:

  • Cloth nappies for the full two years (except for three weeks when we were on holiday) – Bambino Mio – MioSolo
  • Reusable potty-training pants – Bambino Mio
  • Reusable wet wipes (exception as above), using essential oils – Cheeky Wipes
  • Bamboo wipes for O’s nose – also Cheeky Wipes

• Shampoo bars – we have tried a few but there is one from Lush and some Beauty Kubes here

  • Dry shampoo – Kitenest from Plastic Freedom
  • Soap not shower gel – bars wrapped in paper/cardboard
  • Cotton make up pads – Etsy
  • Crochet face exfoliators – Etsy

• Bamboo toothbrushes – we have a subscription from The Bam and Boo

Tits and Vulvas:

  • Mooncup
  • Cloth sanitary towels – Cheeky Wipes
  • Belly Balm (opposed to painkillers in plastic) – Forage Botanicals
  • Bamboo breast pads (still in use due to Amy’s mega tits) – Amazon

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  • Who Gives A Crap Toilet Roll – this is the bamboo version, we tried the recycled paper but prefer this.. 50% of profits go to building toilets in developing countries. And we use the paper wrappers and tubes for all sorts, crafts with Ottilie, wrapping gifts…

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On the go:

We don’t leave the house without these, either on our own or as a family. Most places offer a discount on drinks with reusable cups and whilst we don’t use straws all the time, with a two year old we sometimes need one. Or if I get a juice or something when we are out.

  • Cutlery kits and reusable straws
  • Reusable hot cups
  • Reusable water bottles
  • Food containers – if we are going somewhere where we might be buying food then we always chuck in our Minties lunchboxes. So we can either package up fruit we have brought packaging free or bring home leftovers. We obviously use them to take food out too. I use my Elephant Box round container most days for food to take to work. Its just the right size for overnight oats.
  • Cutlery Wrap – keeps it all contained. Amy made this one ❤

Tote bags and produce bags featuring my custom birthday tote – a gift from Peg and Folly

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Misc:

  • Eco friendly and recyclable cleaning products – we have been using Method but switched to the Tesco version and loved it. We are now moving to Iron and Velvet which is a plastic free option instead of products in plastic allbeit recyclable plastic (Plastic Freedom)
  • Reusable kitchen roll – this has been hit and miss but we haven’t gone back to traditional kitchen roll – and anyone who knows Amy know’s this is a big deal
  • Wax food wraps not clingfilm
  • Buying loose dry foods – oats/lentils/nuts etc. Our local farm shop has introduced a bulk buy section (big up Macknades) and if we take a half hour drive to another town we can get everything we need including pasta and chocolate buttons (essentials)
  • Loose tea not tea bags – we have a local tea house that has about 400 teas loose but even so buying loose tea in a box with one plastic inner is better than tea bags, I also have resuable tea bags for on the go
  • Buying fresh produce without plastic – we have found Morrisons to be the best supermarket for this, failing that the farm shop or greengrocers
  • Bringing glass or paper packaging home to recycle if we eat out
  • Reusing parcel packaging to wrap presents etc with string not tape
  • Presents for each other wrapped in muslin cloths
  • Wooden or recycled plastic toys – we buy brands with good ethics or from charity shops

Now we don’t both do all these things yet – it’s been a gradual process and we still want to do more. Some of it has been quite difficult, I recently bought a tube of toothpaste because I was struggling a little bit with the tooth soap and tooth powder. They just don’t give you that super clean feeling. So, I alternate now which is a compromise.

We have found finding the right shampoos a challenge too, and have gone through a lot of different bars without finding one that is ‘right’. I scrape my hair back so if it’s a bit rank it doesn’t matter! And it does take time for your hair to get used to not having all the chemicals and nasties you tend to find in bottled ones.

We both also have quite a facial routine of cleansers, toners etc. I suffer with super flaky skin and Amy with spots. In jobs where we are constantly engaging with people it’s important that we have the confidence to do that. This is something we would love to change but we haven’t found replacements for everything just yet.

Amy has recently tried a couple of plastic free mascaras – currently trying B&S vegan cake mascara which has no palm oil and you utilise your fave brush from a previous mascara – genius.

I’ve also been trying to shop more consciously, in the past I’ve bought a pair of cheap jeans and my chub-rub would wear them thin and I’d replace them with another cheap pair. Buy cheap, buy twice and all that. I’ve moved on to better quality and fewer clothes now. I would literally wear the same outfit everyday if I wasn’t such a sweaty Betty.

We still shop on the high street but we try and buy from the ‘conscious’ ranges or with retailers who have sustainability on their radar.  Amy shops in advance for O and will buy in a bigger size to get more wear out of it – we love her in an oversized tee and rolled up legs anyway.

Going forward we want to buy more second-hand clothes – vintage, charity shops and eBay. However this is quite difficult for a plus size 30 something lesbian who dresses like an adolescent boy.

I would also like to, and this list is by no means exhaustive:

  • Make our own washing powder
  • Make our own dishwasher tablets
  • Make our own dips – hummus etc
  • Find alternatives to vegan meats in plastic
  • Find an energy supplier with a good sustainability policy

My ultimate dream is to have a kitchen full of beautiful food that we’ve bought without packaging, put straight into jars and have on shelves for all to see…but for now I think we are doing alright.

 

Still living her best life.

We thought it only right that we document the update for Ottilie’s treatment post tumour.

Since our last post we have been back with the surgeon who sent us for an ultrasound as a follow up. The sonographer couldn’t see anything untoward but Ottilie was not compliant – socks on an octopus again.

The report came back from the surgeon and it essentially said that the results of the ultrasound were pretty inconclusive. What they did see could be an ovary but they are so small at this age they couldn’t be sure. So we are going back in three months for another ultrasound – to review whether anything has grown…

And today we finally saw the geneticist. On reflection the appointment has left us a little bit flat. The fibroma was a minor marker for a genetic disorder (as alluded to in the previous posts) and she has one other marker. However at this age, the geneticist wouldn’t expect her to be displaying a full range of markers. Or enough markers to make a solid diagnosis.

We had lengthily conversations about genetics, Amy was physically examined today and has no markers for the condition. But as Ottilie was conceived by an unknown donor through The London Sperm Bank we have no information on his genes. Other than the standard tests that are performed when donations are made. And as this is a rare disorder, it wouldn’t have been tested for in any case. With that being said, every genetic condition has to start somewhere and it could be on neither side.

So Ottilie is having bloods taken this week. Initially they are testing for chromosomal abnormalities and then will test more specifically for the genetic disorder. It’s an eight week wait after each set of bloods. Between the initial GP appointment and the estimated date of blood results will be a total of 9 months. That’s a bloody long time not knowing…

Despite the operation and the numerous appointments where Ottilie has been xrayed, scanned, weighed, measured and generally poked and prodded she is totally fine. And is still living her best life and right now her best life is her crawling around most days pretending to be a cat called Riley.

Separation anxiety?

I see a lot of talk about ‘mum guilt’ for working mums and as the ‘other’ mum I don’t think that feels the same for me. I can rationalise the need for Ottilie to go to nursery, the childminder or nanny’s with an attitude of we do what we do to ‘get by’. We both work because we want to be able to take Ottilie on holiday, days out and for all those other luxuries I wasn’t afforded growing up. And I know many aren’t afforded now.

But last night I felt that guilt a little bit – O spent a full week with both mummy and mama whilst she has having her operation and a further two weeks with just mummy. Like the olden days of maternity leave. Then when we were both back at work – ‘needs must’ meant we carted O off to nursery, childminder and nanny’s for six of the seven days. It was necessary, unavoidable and not something we had done before. I didn’t give this a second thought until last night.

Nursery drop off this week have been tough, Ottilie hasn’t wanted to go in. Hasn’t wanted to let go of Amy, has asked for ‘boobie two’ as a stalling technique.

She’s carried her family book (photo book of family) round, showed the nursery girls the photos all day, pulled it away from the other kids and sometimes held it close to her chest and welled up. 

Last night she woke a couple of hours after bedtime and was inconsolable. Amy went in, rocked her and after a while I went in to see if they needed anyone to mop a brow or pretend to do a poo as a distraction. But they were just sitting, so we all sat together. 

Amy offered up ‘boobie two’ so we settled onto O’s floor bed. With O the filling in the two Mum sandwich. She fed and I stroked her back. I tried to make my escape but she would periodically pull off and ask for ‘mama’. So we all just laid together, with Ottilie rolling to me just to have her hair stroked occasionally before snuffling back into ‘boobie two’. 

After a bit, we asked if mama could go back to bed and Ottilie said ‘nun night’ so I crept back to our room. And Ottilie slept with Amy, reaching out throughout the night just to make sure she was still there.

I know we are fortunate that Amy has flexible working, and for some parents six days a week or long hours in childcare is their everyday, it isn’t ours and we are going to do our best to avoid doing it again. If that means more night or overnight shifts, or split days off then that is what we will do.

Being two is tough and sometimes I think a family cuddle is just what you need.

It’s benign…

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Just a quick update on Ottilie’s recent surgery, as promised. The tumour has been confirmed as benign (dancing lady emoji).

We had been told almost all along that it was likely to be a teratoma, the oncologist said he was 95% certain it was.  We got the call from Big G on Thursday 21st with the initial results of the histology.  During the call he explained that the didn’t have the full results and the mass needed to go to a gynaecological specialist for further investigation as the initial histology brought up the possibility that it may not be a teratoma but actually something called a fibroma.

We then began another week long wait for the next set of results.

We got the second call on Friday (29th) and Big G confirmed that the tumour was a fibroma.  These are extremely rare in children and toddlers, in fact they most likely occur in women over 50.  And this is why it wasn’t really a consideration in the initial appointments.

This brings up the need for some further tests for Ottilie to determine why she may have developed the tumour.  We are currently waiting for a follow up appointment with the oncologist, who will then need to refer us to a geneticist because there is a rare genetic disorder that can cause fibromas in babies/toddlers. So there will likely be a few more appointments before we get some real clarity on the situation.

But we won’t get into that, because for now we just want to enjoy the relief that comes with knowing the tumour was benign (fist bump emoji).

And as for O – she bounced straight back.  We took it easy for a couple of weeks, just some trips out for spring walks, time spent tending to her beloved ‘babal’ plant (which you can see she takes very seriously) and she is now back at nursery too – being treated like a little celebrity, we are being told, as everyone there missed her.

She seems to be so much quicker and more mobile now, like a weight has quite literally been lifted.

What an absolute champ she is (hearts for eyes emoji).

 

Resilient: able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions; Ottilie.

This week Ottilie had fairly major surgery. The poor little mite only went and had a bloody great tumour removed. Her surgery was on Wednesday this week, it is currently Saturday, and she is already snoozing soundly in her own bed after ‘boobie two’. She is recovering so well she was discharged three days earlier than planned. What a champ.

For the purpose of this all making sense, I am going to put it into a diary type format (like blogs were originally written if you will). That way when I waffle on for too long you can take a break and slide straight in where you left off. I have also split it into two posts as it is quite a lengthily story to tell…

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25th January

We took O to the GP to discuss her ongoing issues with constipation. For some background, Ottilie has had issues with constipation since she was about 16 months old and we regularly give her Movicol as prescribed. Amy also spoke to GP because she had been able to feel a lump on the lower right side of Ottilie’s stomach, one of Ottilie’s keyworkers had also said to me that she could feel something whilst she was trying to massage her tummy to help her poo. The GP attempted to examine O but she wasn’t keen aka having a meltdown. He said that her stomach felt fine and to come back if we had any other concerns.

8th February

We went back and saw the same GP – had the same conversations around the constipation and the lump only this time Ottilie’s belly button had gone from the perfect ‘innie’ to the top popping out and folding over the bottom half. He began by saying ‘oh she’s growing, they change all the time etc etc’ and only when I asked if there was a possibility of an umbilical hernia did he examine her again. He agreed her belly button didn’t look quite right and agreed to refer us. To be honest we only went there for the referral.

16th February

We were referred to the same paediatrician that had treated O for silent reflux previously as he specialises in digestive health in babies and children. We had really good conversation around bowel health and diet as he believed we could do more to help relieve O’s constipation (he wasn’t being shitty (pun intended) about it but he was quite frank about how as a society we don’t look at our diets enough when we have issues). He examined O and was quite happy that she was fit and healthy. He also couldn’t feel the lump but offered us an ultrasound for peace of mind.

18th February

So as previously alluded to – Ottilie is not keen on being handled/restrained. Sometimes changing her nappy is like trying to put socks on an octopus and I am her mama. Getting O to lie down on a hospital bed whilst a stranger has a little prod around her stomach with a wand seemed like an impossible task. Amy laid down first and laid O on top of her – then Amy basically restrained her with her arms and legs. The sonographer did a brilliant job given the hostile circumstances – myself and the nurse failing miserably trying to distract O, Amy singing the first line of EVERY nursery rhyme before Ottilie would shout no and continue writhing around like that octopus I mentioned earlier. When we left that room, we knew that O had a mass, the sonographer was the first person who had confirmed that we had been able to feel something and we weren’t imagining it. Through the ultrasound we knew it was approximately 9cm x 6cm x 8cm. So not small. I went to work straight after and had an ugly cry to one of my mates.

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After this appointment Amy made/received a lot of phone calls to hospitals/from the paediatrician. He ascertained that the mass was not from any of her digestive system but was potentially ovarian. Because of this, he now wasn’t the right man for the job but he went above and beyond to find someone who was. He answered emails out of his normal working hours and called us from home to expedite the process. Amy always has a lot of questions and he answered them with patience and kindness – he did a brilliant job of stripping out the emotion and encouraging us to take a logical thought process. Fast forward through all of that ‘admin’ and we were booked in for an MRI at The Portland in London. Cue lots of trains.

22nd February

The MRI was booked for 12:30, so O was nil by mouth from 08:30 due to the general anaesthetic required. We hopped on the train and met our friend in the park nearby to the hospital for the ultimate distraction. By the time we got to our appointment Ottilie was ravenous and could not understand why she was being denied ‘boobie two’, which has always been on demand. O went down for the scan… We were expecting to wait an hour for the MRI to be completed but it was 2.5 hours later when the anaesthetist came and got us – I had long since abandoned my book and Amy was no longer distracted by Bob Ross and his joy of painting. The team had already told us we wouldn’t be given any results on the day but when we left there at 6pm the images were handed to us on a disc. We chose not to look.

28th February

We met a specialist paediatric surgeon at our local hospital, who had read through the report submitted from the MRI and he had an idea of a diagnosis. He attempted to examine Ottilie, but she wasn’t feeling it (meltdown anyone?) and just wanted to finish colouring her Troll picture. He felt enough to say that it was big, and it needed to come out. We gave him the disc so he could view the images as at this point, he had not seen them – cue him running around the hospital trying to find a compatible computer because the two he had wouldn’t read the disc. He made a couple of phone calls trying to get them sent over but with no success. He spoke candidly, and although unlikely, there was a potential that the mass was malignant, he was the first person who had really eluded to that being a possibility and was thorough in his explanation of how either a benign or malignant mass would be treated.

Based on the information he had, and obviously his experience he loosely diagnosed the lump as a teratoma. Feel free to have a Google – I feel like all paths lead to cancer when you Google medical issues, so I won’t include a link. In short a teratoma is a tumour made up of varying types of tissue: muscle, skin and bone. They have been known to also have teeth and as such are sometimes referred to as ‘monster tumours’.

The surgeon was due to leave the country in 7 days so he decided he needed to pass us on to someone who would be able to do the operation ASAP and be available for the post op follow up. Ottilie had bloods taken to check for any markers that would indicate malignancy. We were told it was a five day wait on bloods. And five days is a long time to wait.

As promised, this a long one and part two is just the same. To be continued…

 

 

Resilient: Part Two

This is another long one but I wanted to include all the details for our friends and family. We have had an incredible amount of support but it has been difficult keeping everyone in the loop when things are emotionally challenging.

4th March

We went back to the Portland to meet with the new surgeon, I haven’t named anyone else for privacy etc. but this surgeon is now affectionately referred to as the Big G in our household. With the emphasis on the GGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG. Big G was the first person who had been able to examine Ottilie with her remaining calm and was even able to manipulate the lump from the outside, enough to know that it was now much bigger than the ultrasound indicated. He estimated it to be around 15cm in length. He was able to access the images from the MRI, and whilst you know that 15cm is the length of a small ruler, we were not prepared for seeing something of that size inside our Babe. He was also fairly certain it was on an ovary. As the bloods had not yet come back, we couldn’t be scheduled for surgery during this week. Again, we had decent conversations around a diagnosis and treatment and we left that appointment feeling much better about the whole thing.

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6th March

Ottilie’s bloods came back with no markers for malignancy, however this couldn’t and still hasn’t been ruled out until the histology (slicing/dicing/testing of the tumour once its removed) comes back. The surgery had now been scheduled for the 13th.

8th March

We had to meet an oncologist to discuss the surgery further and the prospect that Ottilie could go into surgery and come out not having had the tumour removed. The conversation was around the potential that the tumour could be involved with another part of her body, not just her ovary. And if this was the case they would biopsy it, stitch her back up and think about Plan B. We were also told that along with the possibility that they couldn’t remove it all, they may also need to make an incision upwards (like an upside-down T) if during surgery they couldn’t remove the tumour through a caesarean type incision.

11th March

We went to Great Ormond Street for another ultrasound and a set of bloods. Thanks to boob and the iPad these went without incident.

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12th March

We moved into GOSH in preparation for surgery on the 13th. We met the team of people who would be taking care of O, nurses, anaesthetist and the ward doctor. Amy set up in her little cabin bed behind a curtain and we asked if we could swap Ottilie’s cot for a bed because this kid normally sleeps on a floor bed and the cot was far too small especially when Amy needed to feed at night.

13th and 14th March

I came back from my hotel for 7am, and the nurses told us we would be going down to surgery at 08:30. So we just had 90 minutes to kill whilst O tried to scoop out Amy’s boobs and/or chewed on her t-shirt. Nil by mouth with a boob obsessed toddler is a challenge let me tell you. We were able to distract O with a super long shower and a splash about.

The anaesthetist came and had a chat about how he would use a ‘caudal’ which is much like an epidural but it goes into the back of the pelvis and would mean that they wouldn’t need O to be anaesthetised so deeply.

Ottilie was then given a pre-med that was described as like having a couple of gins, it would make her make much more chilled for the actual anaesthetic. She was honestly like a happy, incoherent little drunk in Amy’s arms, she shouted out ‘bubbles’ and ‘lady and cheetah’ (her fave toy figures) randomly before going into the theatre.  Amy held O as she held her own mask over her face, and was placed down on the bed, Amy found this much tougher than I did. My logical brain told me that these people were experts and she was in the best possible place for this surgery.

We had a few hours to kill and had intended on sitting in the room with Netflix, one eye on the film and the other on the clock but on the way back the porter advised that we get out for a bit of fresh air and a wander, so the time goes more quickly. We set out to a parade of local shops and stocked up on all of O’s favourite fruit and veggies, which included her fave ‘babal’ which is basil to you and I.

Around 11am when we were just unpacking all our goods, the nurse popped her head in and said O was waiting for us in recovery. We did a power walk down to recovery at the speed of two parents whose toddler had just had major surgery. As soon as Ottilie was awake she was straight on the boob, where would we be without those ay.

Everyone popped back in at intervals over the next 24 hours to check up on us, including the surgeon who described the tumour as big, hard and ugly, and definitely ovarian. Big G did an amazing job and thankfully Ottilie only has the one, 10cm, incision across her tummy with literally no bruising.

Ottilie was keen to get out of bed so we let her, she’d had one dose of morphine when she first came round. But her pain was being managed through oral ibuprofen and paracetamol, with the paracetamol going through the cannula in her foot a couple of times at night so she wasn’t woken.

We all laughed about how if it was an adult laying in that bed, they would have been laid up for two weeks but here was Ottilie sitting in the chair next to her bed like a visitor less than 24 hours later.

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We did actually have a visitor, and once O had woken from her nap she was straight down on the floor playing with her little pal, watching Duggee and munching on some crisps. What a total babe.

The surgeon came back late into the day and said he was happy for us to go home, either that evening or in the morning. Quite remarkable as we were told it was a minimum of six nights in hospital including the night before, and here we were able to go home after only two nights. Big G had said all along how quickly kids bounce back…

15th March

We were home by 3pm and Ottilie was straight back at her kitchen making tea for us all.

I guess to tidy up some of the detail I may have missed, we are incredibly fortunate that our employers provide private healthcare, and this includes Ottilie. We don’t know how long we would have waited on the NHS, but things moved incredibly quickly for us and we are so grateful for that.

We couldn’t have asked for better people looking after us all throughout the whole process, from the anaesthetist popping his head in our room to Big G’s secretary texting Amy on the morning of the surgery to wish us well and to tell us how she is in the best hands with Big G. Every person we encountered was so patient, kind and gentle with Ottilie, everything you need when your tiniest girl gang member is unwell.

The ward we were on was more like a hotel than a hospital, so it was super comfortable throughout. It meant Amy had a bed and a shower in the same room, so she never needed to be away from O. I stayed in a hotel a few minutes away, I left the hospital late and came back early after a pitstop for coffee for Amy. With that being said – all the people we encountered also work for the NHS, and GOSH is one of the best hospitals in the world so private or not I am sure everyone leaves there feeling they’ve been well looked after.

We are back tomorrow for a follow up with Big G and will get the results of the histology next week. We will keep you posted…

 

 

 

Overpacking overthinker – Holidaying with a toddler…

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We did it. Our first family holiday abroad. Ottilie’s first time on a plane. And we chose to go to Mexico where the flight is a mere 10 hours +. Cue all of the horror stories from others! Anyways we booked it for two weeks and packed as though we were moving forever. Me that is, I did the packing! And although I tried really hard, I am an chronic overpacker, as well as an overthinker, and these two things resulted in every ‘what if’ you could think of, 3 big cases, a cabin case and a rucksack coming with us, oh and let’s not forget the trusty bumbag!

We’ve been to this resort before which is the main reason we chose to go back there. And my thinking behind going long haul is that in a few years when O is at school and we can only go away in half terms etc. We will be paying the same amount to go to just across the water to Spain, so I plan to get my monies worth now.

It was a big deal going on our first holiday abroad with Ottilie and I took a lot of ‘just-in-case’ items.  So I thought I would do a bit of a roundup of the things that really did earn their case space and a couple of bits (and it was only a couple) we could have left behind.

So drum roll please, my top 3 were….

Hippychick hip seat – we have had this for a while, a lovely friend got it for us. I think it’s kind of a love or hate item, but I seriously love it. It’s a structured seat which sits on your hip to give you a bit more freedom with your arms and less stress on your hip and back. It fastens with a large Velcro waist band and a large strap and clip. It is fully adjustable for the adult and the seat is a decent size for a baby or child between 6 and 36 months.

I used this multiple times a day. It takes seconds to put on and take off and you don’t need to fasten your babe in like you do with a carrier. In fact on that note, I only used our Tula at the airports not on the holiday at all. When they ask for ‘up’ you simply just pick them up and plonk them on. You have to hold them but with far more freedom and less strain.

The other thing I love is that it is so handy for breastfeeding when walking about or standing up. Our Babe is heavy I used it to place her bum and hips on. Again it takes the strain and gives you back an arm.

Next the Silvercross POP stroller – this stroller is pretty good. We took it to the gate on both flights and used a storage bag for the journey. The best parts about this stroller was the lay flat capability and the extended hood which had great coverage to keep our Babe out of the sun. To be honest we saw so many of these in the resort so a lot of people must think the same. We mainly used it to donkey all of our stuff to the pool and Ottilie was happy to sleep in it on the way back to our room and evenings – Bonus! It has since been on another two flights and is still fine. It is bigger than the little cabin ones but it is far more robust and Ottilie is already too heavy for some of those smaller ones anyway – not to mention they are so much more expensive. We got it from a website called Pramworld for £125 (this was on offer and was originally £175) and it was well worth the money.

iPad and Netflix – I know that is technically two things but that is all we used the iPad for so you’ll let me have them right? We loaded it up before we left and this definitely helped us through the flights. We used it whilst out there but it was more of a distraction for O when we were needing to get ready in the evenings. We also had a bit of rain so a few films were watched. And actually it was the first time O sat through a whole film from start to finish – Inside Out and The Secret Life of Pets if anyone is interested and yes we both loved them too! I also downloaded the app on my phone and had some bits downloaded on there too so we could use it in the airport, transfers if needed. We had Wi-Fi in our room and resort. But if you don’t, the download functionality with Netflix is great.

A few other bits which would definitely be on the list for next time too.

Clothing for me – The best item I had was a cropped tee for the plane. With a teething Babe and a 10 hour flight, being able to get to my milk-makers super easily was essential. I had my MilkMakingMama one which was just right. With a vest tucked in underneath. It was so easy to whip them out and also, when O had finished and fallen asleep, I just pulled it down over my boob (without the need to immediately clip my bra/pull vest up). Meaning I was fully covered until O woke up, and probably immediately wanted some more boub-boub anyway.

All the swimming costumes I had were regular swimming costumes, no zips or special breastfeeding friendly ones. Obviously it was a huge consideration when buying but I managed to get decent ones from Debenhams, and Primark and they all did the job just fine. On top of that, not one person really batted an eyelid when I was feeding and the locals in Mexico were not in the slightest bit bothered – but their breastfeeding rates far exceed ours in the UK so I am not surprised!

Night shirt – but not to sleep in. I just couldn’t find the pool cover up I was after, that needed to be functional and look alright around the pool. Ordinarily I would usually just wear a long t-shirt, but for feeding I needed something I didn’t have to pull all the way up. I just couldn’t find what I wanted in any ‘swimwear’ sections. So I bought a night shirt from Primark. Just like a long button up shirt. It was exactly what I needed so maybe take a look there if you cannot find what you want.  And even if I wasn’t feeding, it would be an option for me in the future. £8 from Primark.

Clothing for O – Swim vest, this was worn every time in the pool and although it may be an obvious one, it just gave O so much confidence which grew as the holiday went on. Admittedly pink is not our colour but it is from Speedo and was £6 from T K Maxx so couldn’t pass up that bargain!

Aqua shoes – these were a must for us. We had soft ones which we borrowed from a friend for the pool and then ones with a rubber sole for the beach and sea. Next time I would just opt for the rubber soled ones and they were safer with wet feet running around the outside of the pool – why do kids want to run with wet feet?!? These were £6 new from EBay.

Reusable swim nappies – we used Bambino Mio same as our cloth nappies. We took 6 nappies and these have all been bought in the sales in supermarkets. They are easy to get on and off, have super cute designs and above all else they are much better for the planet and our Babes skin. £4-£6 in various supermarkets. Also available from Bambino Mio directly of course.

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Over the head towels with hood – which to be honest Ottilie didn’t wear as towels but they were great for laying in the stroller on the way back to the room. The in between leg clasp went through the head hole meaning the stroller kept mostly dry with no need to dry and dress O, just undress again to bath her when we got back to the room.

Homemade insect repellent for Ottilie – we needed a repellent which was effective and could be used on an under two which we couldn’t find. So we made one with a base of witch hazel, some water and 70 drops essential oils. The combination of oils we used were lemon eucalyptus, lavender, citronella, basil, thyme, and a few others, we just searched on the internet to find a recipe. And we had most of the oils anyway as we use them in our diffuser. I must admit the smell wasn’t some delightful spa type experience but it also wasn’t awful and no worse than one you would buy. And more importantly than that, it worked!  Ottilie only got two bites (both at the same time) for the whole holiday (I got eaten alive however) so go us and our homemade selves!

The last couple of bits were the activities for O. I made a plane pack which consisted of all new bits with the exception of the colouring book and crayons. We use the Crayola twistable crayons which are amazing. They can’t be snapped, can be twisted away and are easy to hold for O. We got them in the sale in Tesco and took about 10 with us. We then had a couple of sticker books, some water colouring books – which we enjoyed more than O – and a miniature colouring book and scratch book. All barring the water book and crayons were from Tiger (or flying tiger as its now known) and cost between £1 – £3. I took it all in an expandable file with handles, also from Tiger, which was just the right size to slide into the rucksack and pull out on the plane.

I also took a small drawstring bag which I filled with a few of her favourite bits from home. Some Duplo, a couple of Schleich animals, and a couple of little wooden bits. Again this was easy to get out and hang on the seat in front of us on the plan just to delve into.   We took a couple of her favourite books – ideal for the room, around the pool and the evenings as well as the plane.

Lastly her fave stacking toy which proved to be so multifunctional. A set of 5 square pots which all fit inside one another so don’t take up much space at all in the case. They were a stacking toy in the room. We took them to the pool for water play. Used them for sandcastles at the beach. Collected things in them and used them as bath toys. They had so much use and I didn’t even realise their true potential until we got there. Brand Kid O and bought from TK Maxx £5.

A couple of things we could have left behind was the UV beach tent. It folded down (eventually after watching a YouTube video) so didn’t take up a huge amount of space but we just didn’t use it. We had canopied beds and only really went to the beach last thing in the day as I can’t cope with the sand being everywhere from the second you set foot on it!

An inflatable pool seat thing for O. She just wasn’t interested. In fact she was totally against going in it at all. She had been in one at a local pool here, but this was before she was walking about. This was a waste of money to even buy and took up quite a bit of case space and weight. I don’t even have a picture of it!

So that’s my little roundup done.

Just on the note of holidaying with a baby or toddler, I firmly believe you should do what you feel comfortable with.  If we had sought advice before booking, the horror stories of the flights and people’s opinion of Mexico would probably put us off of going long haul to that country.  But we did what we felt comfortable doing and the holiday was amazing. I find with all things ‘parenting’ you will get advice and opinions from every direction which contradict and conflict all over the place, so disregard them completely and do what you and your family want to do.

Happy travelling everyone.

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