Hi, I thought I’d better write a bit of an introduction! I’m Kayley, I’m 28 years old at the time of writing this and I live in Stockport. I’m not a blogger, or any kind of writer. I’m just a mum, muddling her way through this crazy world of parenting, doing the best I can.
I guess our story starts back in 2013 when I married my best friend, I know it sounds cheesy and I’m sat here cringing as I write it, but it’s the truth. Alistair and I were friends, well housemates to be exact, when we met and it didn’t take long to realise that I didn’t want to ever be without him. I got that ‘revert to acting like a giddy teenager, butterflies in the stomach’ feeling whenever we were together and felt so relaxed in his company at the same time. It’s a feeling I still get now and hope I always do.
From the start, even before we got married, we both wanted children. We had plans to get married, have a brief honeymoon period and then start a family – easy as that! But it wasn’t as easy as that. I know, for lots of people, it takes a while to get pregnant but knowing that doesn’t make it any easier. It took us a year and a half in the end and it felt like an eternity. But we were lucky: We found out I was pregnant with Harry (or Jellybean back then) in September 2014.
We were over the moon and walking on air when we found out I was pregnant but early pregnancy was hard. I suffered with morning sickness and anxiety which turned me into a bit of a mess, fainting and having panic attacks. As the weeks went on and my bump grew I started to feel better and the second half of my pregnancy was incredible. I had never felt healthier and loved waddling around in the sunshine and showing off my bump.
On 10th June 2015 our son, Harry Andrew Monaghan, was born. Two days before his due date, after a perfect water birth, we met our son for the first time and it was love at first sight.
Nothing could prepare me for becoming a mother. It’s hard. Really hard. I struggled to breastfeed at first. We spent two long days in hospital and were only allowed home when we agreed to combination feed. Once we were home and relaxed a bit we started to get the hang of it and managed 7 months breastfeeding in the end, an achievement I am really proud of. Harry wasn’t the most content baby. He was often unsettled and cried a lot. It was hard on us and pushed our relationship to the limits but at the same time having Harry made me love Alistair even more, in a way I had never imagined. Seeing him care for our beautiful baby boy and watching them together made me feel like the luckiest girl in the world. I still look at them and think that now.
Harry has always been a strong willed little boy and all of my plans ended up being brushed aside as we followed his lead. I had wanted to breastfeed exclusively; that didn’t happen. I wanted him to sleep in a grobag; that didn’t happen. I wanted to wait until 6 months to start weaning as the NHS guidelines suggest; that didn’t happen either. Harry showed all of the signs that he was ready for weaning at 5 months old. We started with first tastes of vegetables (finger foods) for the first month and our little foodie loved it. We had wanted to do baby led weaning but Harry was such an enthusiastic eater and hungry baby that we ended up helping him by spoon feeding certain foods like yogurt, weetabix and spaghetti bolognese, everything else we just let him feed himself and he was a pro from the start. Almost overnight after we started weaning, Harry became more content. He was happy, more playful and sleeping better. The more foods we introduced, the happier he became. I don’t know if these were really linked but timing wise it sure seemed like it. Obviously early weaning isn’t advised and I’m not advising that it is the right thing for everyone but for our son it was right. By 6 months Harry was happily eating three meals a day and shocking us with how much he ate.
After we had been weaning for a few months I joined some weaning groups on Facebook. I began to love cooking for Harry and finding new, nutritious meals that were quick to prepare and I wanted to find more inspiration. The groups were fantastic but, at times, quite judgy. I was removed from one without any warning for mentioning that I had weaned Harry before he was 6 months old. The feeling when others commented on your posts saying that you had ‘damaged your child’ because of the decisions you had made for them were soul destroying. As parents we beat ourselves up enough without others doing it for us. We should be supporting each other and celebrating our parenting achievements, not tearing each other down because we have made different choices. It was after this happened that I decided to make my own Facebook group. One rule – no judgement. I started Friendly First Foods, along with some fantastic, like minded mummy friends, who are admin on the group. It was a safe space where we could share our weaning success stories and mishaps, share recipe ideas and ask questions without fear of judgement. 6 months on and we now have almost 4000 amazing members from all over the world, all wanting the same thing as us – to feel safe to ask questions and share weaning stories without being judged.
As the Facebook group grew so did my confidence, particularly in the kitchen. I began trying new recipes, adapting them to suit our needs and becoming more adventurous in the meals I was preparing for my son. One day, Alistair, who just so happens to be a very talented website designer (I’m not at all biased!) suggested that he make me a website to keep track of all of my recipes and share them with other parents. Immediately I was excited and loved the idea of having my own little space to keep track of our favourite recipes, foodie tales and useful links. We have worked together building the website, Alistair doing the design and technical clever stuff, Harry being official food taster and model and me preparing the content. This website is a proper team effort and I love that.
So that leads us to where we are today. Parents to a cheeky 14 month old boy who is obsessed with the great outdoors, building towers, Mr Tumble and food and about to start sharing our story with whoever wants to hear it. I can’t wait to document our favourite recipes, foodie adventures, meal planning and general family randomness!
Thank you for joining us for the ride!