Physiotherapist Melanie, 25, is mum to 15-month-old son Finley James with her husband, England and Arsenal footballer Theo Walcott. Finley had heart surgery at eight weeks old, and Melanie is now fundraising for the Children’s Air Ambulance. Happily, Finley is today a healthy and smiley toddler, as his proud mum reveals here…
Finley is a really fun baby. He is always laughing and playing, making funny faces and looking for a reaction, you could even say he's a bit of a showman already! He loves his food and will try most things, although he hates broccoli. It's the one thing he won't even try.
I loved being pregnant. I had very little morning sickness and felt like myself throughout. I kept very active which helped me stay in shape. I truly loved the whole experience.
“I didn't ‘eat for two’ but ate when I was hungry”
My pregnancy diet was very healthy, I cut out caffeine and reduced my sugar intake. I ate as much fresh food as I could and had lots of fruit! I didn't ‘eat for two’ but ate when I was hungry. I also had lots of variety as I wanted to make sure Finley was getting all the nutrients he needed. I took vitamins and didn’t really have cravings but I loved Nakd bars!
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Becoming a mum was tough because it’s such a change. Once that baby is born you have to take care even though you have just done one of the hardest things in your life. I think it shows you how strong you are and how you get strength and love from your new baby. I personally found the whole experience liberating (as well as exhausting at times!)
“We love spending days at the beach or at a farm”
Finley had to have an operation on his heart shortly after he was born. It was a scary time for Theo and me, especially with Finley being so young but we were given the best care and advice throughout. I wouldn't call it traumatic but definitely a tough time. We are now thriving and loving family life together. Family time is often spent outdoors! We love spending days at the beach or at a farm. Finley loves being active so we get out as much as we can.
Finley is very stubborn and independent which I would say he gets from me. He gets his looks and happiness from his dad, plus he loves playing football!
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My aim is to be a gentle parent. I try to encourage Finley through play and experience and to use positive reinforcement as much as possible. At his age it's all about discovering things for himself in a safe environment.
Manners matter. We try to encourage manners as much as possible, and we’ve found it has made us more polite as we are trying to show him how to behave rather than tell him. We try to have a strict routine for bedtime but it does get challenged from time to time - especially when on holiday! We are not driven by a specific time but by Finley, though he's normally in bed by 8pm.
We would love to have another baby but not quite yet, I am enjoying my time with Finley way too much.
“In September, I’ll trek 22 miles across Sussex to raise funds and awareness for the Children's Air Ambulance”
I’m in serious training at the moment. In September, I’ll trek 22 miles across Sussex to raise funds and awareness for the Children's Air Ambulance, and I’d love as many people as possible to get involved. The charity transports children via air when they are critically ill, which can be four times faster than a transfer by road. We were lucky that the care we needed was on hand when Finley needed treatment, but the alternative is unthinkable and has made me even more passionate about the charity. As for the trek itself, I have started my training now and love how fit I am feeling!
To sign up to the Sussex Coastal Walk, a 22-mile trek to help raise funds for the Children’s Air Ambulance visit theairambulanceservice.org.uk To sponsor Melanie’s walk, visit her JustGiving page