Amélie’s First Birthday

How time flies, the second update in just over a week celebrates the fact that our second child is now one year old.  It doesn’t seem five minutes since we were in the car heading to St. Peter’s, managed to lay claim to the last bed in the labour ward and after a relatively short labour, we held her in our arms for the first time.

In some ways the second child is easier: you know what you are doing (OK that is never true – you are just a little less paranoid about what you may be doing wrong); the skills that you had trouble mastering are now old hat (nappy changing, maintaining a semblance of normality on 3 hours sleep and making up bottles at 03:00!) and you have all the paraphernalia (or at least the ones that you have found to be useful).

Then in other ways it is more difficult: Adults may understand and forgive you your grumpiness or lack of attention due to weeks of disturbed sleep, a 2 year old doesn’t; adults may understand that a new born needs love and affection and a feed every few hours, a 2 year old doesn’t and adults more easily accommodate the fact that there is another member of the family, a 2 year old doesn’t.

In fairness to Éowyn, she has actually accommodated to the new arrival that is her little sister extremely well.  Although it probably helps that Amélie has yet to invade her last bastion of refuge: her bedroom.  Amélie still sleeps in our bedroom, mainly because she still wakes at 0530 every day for her first bottle of the day.  Hopefully this will not last much longer and then we will be able to move the girls in together, for as it currently stands it would not be fair on Éowyn not only to move her sister into her room, but also to move a sister that is also an alarm clock that cannot be set for a later time!

So, in addition to the above, what have we learned this year?  I think the major lesson we can take from 2011 is the fact that no two children are the same.  Amélie is far more laid back than Éowyn.  Without wishing to compare, Éowyn was a lot more advanced than Amélie at the same age.  This is partly due to Amélie’s milk protein intolerance, which must have made her life hell for the first few months, which meant that there was not as much time for play in those early weeks and partly because we have has so much work done to the house that there has not been the space for her to practise and exercise those muscles.  I also think this laid back nature also comes from the fact that because she always has a big sister vying for attention so she is not as precious about being the centre of attention, for unlike Éowyn, she never has been (not in a nasty way, simply because Éowyn was the only child and therefore had the undivided attention of two parents through her formative years).

We also have learned the benefit and strength that can be taken from a supportive and understanding health visitor.  Amélie’s milk protein intolerance would not have been diagnosed so quickly without her support and I think that Lucinda and I would have gone insane with the powerlessness that we were experiencing with her over those first few months.  To have some fighting the system from the inside and not just insisting that it was colic or wind or ‘just get on with it that is what babies do’ was a huge boon.  So thank you Kate!

And what have we lost this year?   The ability to have a lie in.  As mentioned above Amélie is like clockwork waking up for her first feed at 0530 (if you are lucky) and sometimes she will not settle afterwards.  Lucinda has done the vast majority of those for she has been on maternity leave and I have been working (usually getting up not long after), however now Lucinda has returned to work then this will be shared more evenly especially when some of Lucinda’s shifts start at 0500!  If she would only sleep for another hour she would be the perfect baby, but I suppose those don’t exist – or grow into terrible toddlers!

The only other thing that we have lost this year is weight.  Both myself and Lucinda have been dieting since May and I now weigh (a lady never reveals her weight so Lucinda’s goals can remain secret) 4 stone (for Americans: 56lbs for everybody else: 25.4kgs) less than when Amélie was born and 3 stone (42lbs, 19kgs) less than in May!  As, I am sure you can appreciate, I am very pleased with this and now the real challenge begins of maintaining that weight loss.  Scarily I am 5 stone (60lbs/31.75kgs) lighter than my peak weight in April 2009.  I will no longer be the fat dad at the school gate!

The weekend before Amélie’s birthday, Nanny Fran, Auntie Liz and Auntie Mary came down to visit.  It was going to be a good chance for me to meet up with them too, since the last time they came down I was working.  Unfortunately due to the issues we have been having at work I had to work that day also, so once again I missed them.  However, it was nice for the girls to see the Bagnall side of the family and they will all be coming down in a couple of weeks to see Éowyn on her birthday!  So I will catch up then.

So what did we do to celebrate Amélie’s first birthday?  As the weather was unseasonably warm on her birthday (28°C – in fact the 1st October was the warmest day ever recorded in the UK (29.9°C) even though that was followed by the first snowfall on the mountains of Scotland less than a week later!) we decided to head to Peppa Pig World.  Fortunately we decided to book our tickets on line.  What a stroke of luck that was for we discovered that Peppa Pig World is now closed on Tuesday and Wednesdays (Amélie’s birthday was on Wednesday).  No fear we thought we’ll go to Legoland and use our Merlin passes again.  While we were on line we thought that it was probably a good idea to check out the opening ties in case they have changed now the kids are back at school.  Foiled again.  Legoland is also closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays!  Where were we going to go?  We asked Éowyn where she would like to go.  ‘The Jungle to see some animals‘.  Was the reply.  So a zoo it was.  Lucinda suggested Whipsnade and the decision was made.

We were quite impressed with Whipsnade.  It is huge (the UK’s biggest zoo) over 600 acres and the animals have plenty of room to run about.  It was so big and the day was so nice that we didn’t managed to see all of it.  We did manage to see a quite impressive bird display, the sea lion display and the penguin feeding.  Éowyn wanted to see the lions (which were asleep about six feet from the viewing window which was fantastic) and tigers and bears (oh, my!) which we managed to do with the obligatory hike in between before she suddenly started to cry.  I asked her why she was crying, ‘I want to stroke something,‘  she said.  Lions and tigers and bears (Oh, my!) are not the kind of animals you can really stroke (however much I would like to) so we trotted off to the petting zoo where she happily chased after sheep, goats and llamas!  Amélie was rather nonplussed by it all, even though it was her birthday treat!  We returned from Whipsnade ahead of the rush hour to one of Nanny’s roast dinners which was the perfect ending to her birthday.

And so our littlest one has completed her first year and we prepare for Éowyn’s third birthday.  Yes, third birthday! Which seems a scary concept for again it doesn’t seem five minutes since we welcomed her into our world and this website began!

Also in the news: Lucinda has returned to work, so Amélie has begun to go to Jo’s (our childminder) and the real juggling of work, child minder, pre-school and the rest of life begins.  I have taken some days off work to help with this transition but we have no illusions that this is not going to be easy but hey, who said that life is easy?  Fortunately our uxorilocal residence means that we can take advantage of Nanny and Granddad and with Lucinda’s brother just round the corner, we have a very handy matrilocal support team.

Before I leave I’d just like to say congratulations to Ollie and his wife Callula on the birth of their daughter Lexi Annabel, welcome to the world Lexi.

Love and Peace


Perhaps it needs new batteries

I know it has only been just over a week but it has been a little eventful and so I thought I had better do a little update as the following weekend (my Birthday) maybe also be a little eventful (hopefully!)

As I mentioned in the previous write up, Amélie, although not rolling has begun to move herself around.  We are not used to this just yet and it is something that we need to be across and quickly.  Friday, Lucinda was getting ready to go round to see her parents.  She put Amélie on the sofa and popped into the hall to fetch her coat like she has done dozens of times before.  In the seconds that she was out of the room, Amélie had flipped herself off the sofa onto an open tub of Sudacrem.  Lucinda rushed into to the scream to see her face down with blood pouring from her eye and her right arm blue.  Obviously she panicked and called me at work.  I told her to take Amélie to the walk-in clinic (because all the A&E departments around here have been closed down).  So Lucinda dropped Éowyn off at her parents and rushed to the walk-in clinic at Ashford hospital.  Meanwhile I rushed out of work and battled with Friday night, rush hour traffic and met them at Ashford.

By the time I got to Ashford, they still had not been seen by the doctor but Amélie was quite content on Lucinda’s knee and gave me a big smile as I walked into the waiting room.  Presently the doctor examined her and was not too concerned.  It appears she has been lucky,  the Sudacrem tub broke under the impact and so dissipated the energy saving her from serious injury but she was cut on the broken shard.  The cut starts at the top of her nose and runs along the underside of her right eye.  It should heal fine although she will have a bit of a shiner for the next week or so.  (See photos below).  Her arm going blue was possibly due to her pinching her brachial artery, a temporary effect.  She was very lucky and a lesson learnt!

Amélie has been such a good girl lately.  She is still enjoying her solids, however she is still refluxing but possibly less than before (or that might just be our acceptance of the situation) and most importantly she is still sleeping through the night.  Her last feed tends to be about 2300 and she then lasts until at least 0600 the next morning.  Seven hours of sleep!  Bliss!

Éowyn too has been on her best behaviour lately.  Although she occassionally forgets, ‘Please‘ and ‘Thank-you‘ have definitely found their way back into her vocabulary.  It looks like I will have to buy that Gruffalo!  She tried upping the ante last week.  ‘I said ‘Please’ so I have a Gruffalo.‘  I replied in the affirmative, ‘And a mouse.‘  I like her style.  Nevertheless we thought that this reward system might be useful so we decided to agree to a mouse if she began to use her potty.

So toilet training has begun.  We let Éowyn choose her own potty (a Froggie Potty) and asked her how many times she would have to use it before she earnt a mouse.  ‘Ten‘ she answered (I don’t think she fully got the question and may have got away with a smaller number) so we agreed.  At the rate she is going I think she will earn her mouse by the middle of next week.

Reward seems to be a good way of encouraging Éowyn she definitely responses to praise (and chocolate).  Lucinda’s mum asked Éowyn how many chocolate buttons she wanted after eating her tea.  ‘Ten‘ came the answer.  Lucinda asked her so say it in Spanish ‘Uno, Dos, Tres, Cuatro, Cinco, Seis, Siete, Ocho, Nueve, Diez.‘ she duly replied.  Stunned she got her buttons.  It is amazing what can be done for chocolate!

Éowyn’s has a couple of new sayings, the first is more of a fanfare sound (you know the D-Daa) when she does something that she is particularly proud of and the other is a sad indictment of modern Western children’s toys.  When something is not doing what she thinks it should, whether it is made for the purpose or not, she will declare: ‘It’s not working, perhaps it needs new batteries.‘  This can be applied to anything, including her old potty, irrespective of whether it actually takes batteries or not.

She has also taken to bouncing a lot.  When you ask her why she keeps bouncing she replies ‘I love bouncing‘.  What can you say to that?  She is also incredibly loving towards Amélie and quite often you will find her holding Amélie’s hand or stroking her head.  We are hoping that it will continue as they grow older together.  We are also hoping that Amélie will develop Éowyn’s love of reading and books in general.  Amélie will listen attentively when I read to Éowyn, which if Éowyn had her way would be 8 hours a day!  Éowyn’s favourite book changes regularly though, which is good.  The current favourite is the Norwegian fairy tale The Three Billy Goats Gruff, which has pushed out recent favourites Zog and Duck Soup.  I really enjoy reading to her and always ensure that I am home to tuck her into bed and read 3 stories of her choice.  (That may have to change when the stories become longer!)

As you can see from the photos below it is Red-Nose Day on Friday.  My friend Lee (Georgia’s dad) is attempting to raise money by posting a joke a day (joke can be a loose term for some of them) on his facebook page, so please pop by and have a look and if you feel like donating and you don’t have a facebook account (I know there are a few of you out there) then you can donate here.  If you want a taster of his stand-up show and you have about 6 minutes to spare then click here.

One final thing before I leave you.  My old uni pal Fabian became a father for the first time.  Kenan Palmyre was born on 4th March so welcome to the world little Kenan and congratulations to Fabian and Carol.  Welcome to the wonderful world of parenthood.

Peace and Love


Amélie Iris Bagnall

At 14:14 (BST) on the 28th September 2010 in the hospital of St. Peters, Chertsey, Surrey our second child Amélie Iris was born, weighing just over 8lb 5oz (3.784kg).  Like her sister Éowyn she has the Badger family ears and the Bagnall nose (another that needs to learn the Bagnall nose rub!).  However, unlike her sister she has dark hair.

Unlike Éowyn, Amélie’s birth was straightforward and as easy as a birth should be.  Lucinda woke at about 04:30 with very mild contractions, they got steadily stronger and more regular through the morning.  We arrived at St. Peters at 12:16 (according to the car park ticket) and went straight to triage.  The midwife there took us straight to the labour ward.  We had to wait for 45 minutes for a birthing room and within 45 minutes of being in the birthing room Amélie was born.  The only pain relief that Lucinda had was one paracetamol, a TENS machine and gas and air during the delivery.  I am very proud of her.

The only reason that I have come home alone tonight, is due to the ward being so busy and a number of sick babies (my heart goes out to those parents) which meant that we were left longer than we should have before being admitted to the Ante-natal ward.  At least that is better than coming home alone 7 nights in a row, as was the case when Éowyn was born.

So, tomorrow at 08:00 I should arrive on ward and hopefully it will not be too long (before 12:15 please as my car park ticket will run out) before my girls are discharged and we can introduce Éowyn to her new baby sister.

Again, before people ask about our choice of name there is no psuedo-history or importance behind the name Amélie, we both just like it.  Iris, on the other hand is in honour of my Great Auntie Iris (Amélie’s Great-Great Auntie Iris) who passed away last year.

Amélie is of Latin origin and is associated with French speaking countries (also a great film), while its variants Amelia and Emily are more common in Germanic and English speaking countries.  All have the same meaning of  ‘hardworking‘, ‘industrious‘ and ‘striving‘.  Interesting coincidence: Amélie (d’Orléans) was the name of the last Queen Consort of Portugal, and she was born on the 28th September (1865).

Iris on the other hand is of Greek origin and has the meaning ‘Rainbow‘.  Obviously, it is also the name of a flower.  Iris was a messenger of the gods who rode rainbows between heaven and earth to deliver messages from Olympus to mortals thus linking the gods to humanity.

Éowyn will now have to share this website with Amélie and I will keep you all regularly updated with the growing pains of both my daughters.  Lucinda and I would like to thank you all for your kind messages and look forward to introducing Amélie to you all in the coming weeks and months.

A special thank you to Lucinda’s parents who looked after Éowyn today, I hope she behaved herself.  And a happy 30th birthday to my baby sister for tomorrow.

Peace and Love


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