The Handbook
The Handbook

Created in partnership with iCandy

It’s official: I’m having a lockdown baby. With my due date just weeks away we will well and truly be in the throws of lockdown 2.0. As Boris addressed the nation on Saturday and told us the inevitable, messages of concern came pouring in from friends to see how I was feeling. It’s been lovely and reassuring to have those I love most offer their kind words, but really I’m feeling pretty good about it all. 

Yes, it will be strange giving birth around masked up midwives and an incognito partner, and having joint COVID tests as we go in (how romantic), but at least I know it’s happening this way. I’ll hold my hands up, I’m a bit of a control freak, a ‘place for everything and everything in its place’ kind of gal and if that means navigating a bit of a weird environment to bring a tiny human into the world, so be it, at least I know it’s the only option. Let’s crack on and think of the best present you get at the end of it all. Plus, I’m learning to relinquish my control-like tendencies and put my faith in the midwives of Homerton Hospital, who are utterly brilliant, and succumb to the fact that they’ve done this thousands of times before while I’m a mere maverick.

I guess you’re never really ready to have your first baby – there’s always another pack of white babygrows to order or a tube of Bepanthen to buy – but I’m as close as I’m going to get, lockdown or no lockdown. 

My new kind of eye candy

It’s true what they say, that when you become pregnant you can spot a fellow pregnant woman off a mile away. Suddenly there are bumps everywhere, you share a knowing nod with another woman in the supermarket or smile at another mum-to-be doing daily laps of the park. The same can be said of pushchairs. I’m well versed in the laws of buggies these days – never something I thought I’d become an expert in. 

 

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But long before I was sniffing out YoYos and spotting Mclarens in the street, I had already heard of iCandy, the Rolls Royce, if you will, of prams. I’ve been lucky enough to team up with the brand to get myself some new wheels ahead of this whole parenting thing, and I can say, there’s a reason why they are the brand on many a parent-to-be’s lips. 

I’m well versed in the laws of buggies these days and there's a reason iCandy is considered the Rolls Royce of them all.

Firstly iCandy is a British family business and their products are made to the highest standards. In fact, the brand uses aeronautical technology – basically similar to that of a plane rather than a pushchair – to create their products, giving you maximum ease to push, plenty of basket space to fill up with all the essentials and most importantly, a safe and comfortable place for baby to lay. 

They also make it super easy to choose a pram for your lifestyle, whether you’re in a central London apartment or out in the country. Their IC Life Blog is a wealth of information for parents-to-be overwhelmed with the sheer amount of pram paraphernalia on the Internet. If you’re in the market for a buggy, head to their Which Pushchair Should I Buy? post for a clear breakdown of what’s going to work for you. 

There’s the popular Peach design which is the ideal style for those looking to add to their brood or (eek!) are expecting twins, thanks to the easy single to double pushchair function. Or the Lime – a nimble little model that comes with a compact fold travel system – ideal if you have London stairwells or buses to navigate. It’s also said to be a dream when travelling thanks to its ultra compact nature but alas, we’ll have to wait a while for any more holidays.

Each of iCandy’s prams are available in a monochromatic colour palette – there are brighter colours too if that’s more your vibe – but I love the chic blacks and smart greys they do. The brand actually started out in the fashion business so they know what they’re doing when it comes to fabric and design. 

Peach Designer Collection Cerium

iCandy

www.discover.icandyworld.com

My choice? The Peach Designer Collection Cerium which comes with everything you could possibly need to start the parenting journey, plus it’s slick and stylish and I’m not going to lie, I’m a sucker for a good looking anything, pushchair or Prada. 

Practicality wise, it’s future-proof, as the design can be made into a double ready for an expanding family. I think I’ll get this one Earthside first, but it’s nice to know there are ways to help add to the brood if I want to in a couple of years. The iCandy Cerium bundle also comes with, quite literally, everything you need, from matching changing bag and cosy foot muff and car seat adaptors to the rain cover, the bassinet (the iCandy carrycot is not only included but also suitable for permanent overnight sleeping- hello, overnight stays at Grandma’s house) to the six month onwards seat unit. Whereas, when you buy a standard pram you realise there are 101 things you’re required to buy on top of that. The bundle just makes it all a lot easier and you can tick everything off the list at once. 

Anyway, iCandy has definitely made the whole buying a buggy phase more pleasurable, easy and stylish. 

What’s in a name anyway

As D Day creeps up, so does the need for a name. My partner and I are pretty much at opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to names – we’ve vetoed countless suggestions by each other and only managed to come up with a small handful we actually agree on. I grew up with a weird name. OK, Astrid isn’t exactly Apple or North West, but it did stick out amongst the Jennifers and Rebeccas of other ‘80s kids (both lovely names by the way, just slightly more popular than Astrid at the time), and as much as I desperately wanted a ‘normal’ name up until about the age of 10, I think it’s done me well. People remember it, it’s a good ice breaker and it’s not so leftfield people talk about it behind my back (I hope). I guess my point is, I want to pick a name that really feels unique and embodies this little personality I’m bringing into the world, whoever they may be.

Then there’s the pairing of the name with the surname. We both loved a name beginning with B but the baby’s surname will begin with O and even after 30+ years of having a funny name, I wouldn’t put my child through a lifetime of the initials B.O. 

But keeping your other half happy and considering surnames isn’t the only thing to worry about. Family members can be equally as vocal about not liking a name and friends can get so hellbent on not knowing your list of names in case it crosses over onto theirs, that it makes for sometimes awkward conversations, like you’ve stolen one from their list without even speaking the name at all. 

It’s a minefield this baby name thing and in the future if we need to come up with another one I think we’ll just keep the list to ourselves and reveal it once a real life baby is here. It’s far ruder to be rude about the name of a baby when he or she has already been named surely? 

Baby got bags 

I’ve never been big on designer bags – I like a nice bag but I’ve always thought dropping £2k on a handbag was kind of strange. I think it harks back to being mugged a few years ago and being thankful I’d been carrying a 30 quid Zara number – he did take off with a hefty dose of £200 or more Charlotte Tilbury makeup though. And the thought that having such a serious amount of money being ripped from you (and of course the horror of it all in general) has stayed with me.

Anyway, it brings me to baby bags, which if you’re not au fait with, can be outrageously spenny and spoiler alert: deeply ugly – perhaps not as desirable to potential muggers, however. There are a few brands out there that are stylish, however, read: look like regular bags rather than something that looks destined to be reviewed on Mumsnet for its ability to produce a pack of WaterWipes in seconds. From Kerikit’s leather backpacks that dad’s won’t mind being seen with heading for the baby changing loo to Jem + Bea’s totes that could pass off as sophisticated work bags, below are some of my favourites. Or, simply buy a tote or reuse an old one you love and buy a handy baby bag insert on Amazon to pop inside instead. 

It’s easy being green

I’m determined to fuel my body with as much goodness as possible in the last leg of this pregnancy journey, but I’m under no illusion that slaving away at the stove for hours is doable nine months pregnant, working full time and generally feeling like a baby whale. And while the other half has a vast and varied skill set, culinary forte doesn’t make even the slightest peep of an appearance, unless I wish to be presented with a plate of M&S pulled pork every evening or, what I like to call, noodles-again.   

Instead I’ve turned to The Pure Package, one of London’s top delivery meal services that keep you on track whilst still feeding you delicious meals, whether you’re looking to lose weight or support a training regime. I’m doing three days of their prenatal package and it has been utter bliss. From fresh fruits, coconut yogurt and homemade granola in the morning to Vietnamese chicken for lunch and warming mushroom risotto in the evening, plus a bounty of healthy snacks, it’s allowed me to actually put my feet up, not worry about loading/unloading the dishwasher and given me reassurance that I’m filling up on the good stuff.

Given that this pregnancy (and lockdown) has gifted me with an insanely sweet tooth – the fact that I literally clicked on a sponsored Facebook post the other day titled ‘How to Eat a Jaffa Cake’ and read the entire thing shows the level of sweet-toothed-ness I’m at right now – The Pure Package has ensured I say on track and, well, if I open the ice cream at 9pm, who cares, I am pregnant after all.

I’d recommend it to anyone, whether pregnant or looking for some damage control to stop their lockdown 1.0 diet returning.

So here we are, just over a week away from my due date and ready to start my new job as a mum. I mentioned in my first column that I found out I was pregnant the day London went into lockdown so pregnancy has all I’ve really known of this pandemic. There have been some lows, from not being able to see a doctor for weeks to solo scan appointments and general fear of bringing a tiny vulnerable baby into a virus-hit world. But the ups have outweighed them all. I’ve nested at home and slowed down before it’s all 4am feeds and no time to take a shower. I might have missed out on a lot in 2020 but I’ll be coming out with the best gift possible. See you on the other side – let’s hope it doesn’t come with lockdown 3.0.

Created in partnership with iCandy


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