Thursday, May 28, 2009

Happy Anniversary?

On the 20th of May, HID and I had been together for seven happy years.I really mean that, we don't argue, he's my favourite person to spend time with and I still think he's gorgeous. We have always celebrated this date, as well as our wedding anniversary. On our very first "anniversary", HID whisked me away to a seaside cabin, and we sat in the car looking out at a stormy sea, our picnic "rained off" from the beach. Beyonce's "Crazy in Love" came on the radio, and he produced a ruby ring and asked me to marry him. Needless to say I was overjoyed! I was eighteen.

Since then, our lives have hit the motorway, and gathered speed and shifted up gears in the way that can only happen when you have a young family. Luckily, we have a huge family support network, and this time last year, to celebrate six years of love, we were able to procure an overnight babysitter (for a child that woke every 2hrs, no easy task, even for doting grandparents) and spent the night in a castle, and half a day wandering round Chester, city centre and zoo. It was wonderful to be the "us" we were without our baby, and we returned to parenthood refreshed as a couple.

What did we do this year? Well. Two or three days after the event, HID informed me that we had both forgotten. I was ashamed of us! And I felt terrible for neglecting my husband. In reality, we do make time for each other in our busy lives, to talk, to kiss, just to enjoy each other's company. I know not all couples manage this with young children, jobs and homes to care for. But we are really still in love, and I miss him desperately if we are apart for a night, or don't spend a few hours alone together every few days, even just in the evenings. HID and I wouldn't have even noticed the missed anniversary if a friend hadn't asked him: "So how long have you guys been together?".

I dread to think what it will be like this time next year, with a 2 year old and an 8ish month old, will we even forget when we got married?! I'd hate to let our special celebrations fall by the wayside. I want our children to grow up with respect for relationships and love, and the friendship it brings. We haven't even set a make-up date for a belated celebration....I think it's time to break out the babysitter black book this weekend! Even if it's just to go to the local Italian or something. I've missed him.


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Waterslides are not for the under 2's.

After reading about small children going down slides at 200mph here recently, (and laughing my socks off) I decided to tell a tale about my own dangerous sliding habits.

Staying in the Lakes for the weekend, at what the regulars call "start of season", that is early March, makes for a certain amount of wind and rain, particularly if, like us, you favour the coast. (For us, it's Solway Coast). So one must think of activities to keep 15 month old (at that time) happy. One who can't walk yet, but LOATHES being stuck indoors, and is in danger of being blown away if taken outside for longer periods than the house-to-car trip.

So we visited a local campsite that boasted a lovely leisure centre, and decided to take him swimming, which he loves. He learned to walk in the water 3 months before he bothered on land. The pool was great! Fountains, funny shapes, and a small waterslide, wow.

I watched other tots (granted, older than 15 m, but not that much) go down the slide, and it seemed fairly tame and suitable for my Boy. Especially if I went down with him on my knee. How very wrong I was. How lucky I am to have a child with a penchant for danger.....

I had not seen an adult go down the slide, and if I had, I maybe would have been more aware of the formula: added weight=more speed. I gingerly climbed the slippery steps, tightly holding my precious son. We arranged ourselves safely on the slide with Daddy at the bottom, ready to receive us/cheer and clap. About half way down, realisation dawned: at this speed, we were definitely going under. Or at least I was. I held Boy in my arms, way above my head, hoping my feet would touch the floor and he would be saved. Apparently, my self-preservation instinct is stronger than my maternal one, because the second I hit the water, I let go, and left my 15 month non-walker/non-swimmer to fend for himself without even a pair of armbands on...what a terrible mother!

That's what Daddies are for: he caught the bundle, and later told me how, while I was underwater, all the other swimmers in the pool howled with laughter at my mis-judgment, and how it was quite plain from the look of terror on my face that he would have to catch the baby when we hit the water.

*Sheepishly* Perhaps I should have tried the side out before subjecting my baby to it's 200mph speeds ending in submersion. He loved it by the way, and we went on it 5 or 6 more times....


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Chuffed to bits....

I'm rather pleased today to have been given this "Lovely Blog" award by Emily at Maternal Tales from the South Coast, so thank you very much!

Really, I'm finding it a bit of a buzz to know that people read and even enjoy my little blog!

So, as the rules go, I'm to pass this on to five blogs that I enjoy. First, to JK at West of the Pennines for her new and eloquently heartwarming blog. And to More than Just a Mother for making me cry as well as smile.
Moaning Mum who's blog makes me feel "normal", even on a bad day. Also, A Midwife's Muse, which I really enjoy reading (but I'm pregnant and thus slightly biased!). And finally, Alex at DaddaCool for observations that make me laugh out loud.

The rules also state that I spill a bit of my soul in current obsessions and pet hates.

My five current obsessions:
1. The British Mummy Bloggers site.
2. Dr Sears' Attachment Parenting theories, which I can't wait to try out with my newborn, when s/he arrives!
3. Organising playdates & sure start children's centres : I'm finding it very hard to leave the house on my crutches, I've got to keep my sanity somehow!
4.Cooking from scratch: fallen by the wayside slightly this week gone, as been a little under the weather.
5. Growing my own vegetables for the first time ever.

My five pet hates:
1. Child-deadlines: "18 months eh? You should be starting potty training with him!", "Little Daniel has started walking! Yes, he's only 10 months old! Your son was 17 months, wasn't he?"
2. Un-chivalrous people (not just men): who watch me struggle to open a door when on crutches, with my arm in a cast, a baby in a sling, and a pregnant bump. I'm not that much of a feminist!!
3. Not being able to play on the floor with my son, or go out to hone his new walking skills, and him not understanding why....
4.People who DON'T HAVE CHILDREN parking in parent & child bays.... I could bite them to death.
5. Feeling "left out" even as an adult: "What, you don't drink EVER?!", "What do you mean you don't like tea of coffee?", "You don't watch any soaps? Not even Corrie?", and the weird peer pressure that goes with it.

Hope you enjoyed it!

Update: also hate people who are late. If I can mange to be on time, which includes getting baby ready on time, so can you!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

TV take over

When I was pregnant with my Boy, I assumed that there was more to life than kid's TV, and that I'd have boundless energy and imagination for coming up with various ways to entertain a child besides TV. Reality set in, and I realised my baby was of the "high need" variety, and needed constant stimulation, i.e. all-singing, all-dancing mummy, for a minimum of 8 hours a day. Needless to say, before I knew it, it would get to "winge-o'clock"/the witching hour/happy hour (that time between tea time and bedtime) and I had run out of nursery rhymes to energetically sing, board books to read, toys to play with, parks to visit, garden to run in, arts and crafts to ruin, walks to take. Not only had I run out of energy to THINK of what to do, and actually DO it, but my Boy didn't want to know anyway, and that's when the TV came on. To start with, just one cbeebies programme, then off. Then til Daddy came home. Then, when Daddy also couldn't be arsed to do anything, til bedtime. Oh, what a slippery slope.....

Until, about a month ago, my Boy (who at 18 months knows very well how to work the TV), would simply wander over and turn it on. This was obviously Not Good. So a battle of wills ensued. "No, we're not watching telly right now, come and play with Mummy..." Cue massive tantrum. Which, thankfully are usually very short lived with the offer of a book or ball and some attention. In a way, I'm almost glad it got to this point as it made me realise I do need to be doing more with him, now he's a bit older and can do more. I though the habit would break quite easily, but it seems that if Daddy, Granddad and sometimes Nana is the caregiver-in-charge, the TV may well be the FIRST port of call, instead of my very last straw after being up since 6am being happy, smiley Mummy all day.

So a blanket ban and some rules followed. TV was to be one 20 min episode of a liked programme (e.g. Peppa Pig, In the Night Garden, Charlie & Lola). Said episode to be recorded on sky in advance so that when it finished, TV goes off, and grown-up cannot be persuaded otherwise by the next programme starting. (plus can fast-forward any ads) Cupboard lock to be fitted on TV cabinet, shortly after this learned that TV remotes need to be inside said cabinet, lest the be presented to me by a crying toddler. TV not to be watched at Nana and Granddad's house. Try to save TV time for near bedtime when ideas thin on the ground. Always inform one another if TV has already been watched today.

Vocal disagreement from Boy lasted around two days, and now he doesn't even "ask" for TV. I also make a point of TV being cuddly family time, and not using it as a tool to just get this or that job done. I also make an effort to practice animal noises/signs with him as we watch and various characters appear, and we sing and clap to songs together.

But the thing that I was most pleasantly surprised about the TV ban is that the locked cabinet seems to deter HID as well as Boy, and not only has there been more "chasing" and ball games when Daddy gets home from work , while Boy is around, but the other evening, we actually sat at the breakfast bar in the kitchen and talked while preparing tea, and when it was ready, we did not carry it to our arm chairs and watch TV while we ate, we stayed in the kitchen and enjoyed each other's company and music on the radio. What a result! The two men in my life are no longer square-eyed :-)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Breastfeeding pride

It's national breastfeeding awareness week! I've been wondering why I've been reading so many posts about breastfeeding, and I found out today. Yesterday, the midwife at aquanatal told us all about a free pampering session at our local children's centre today, for mums and mums to be. It turned out to be as part of the breastfeeding network group I attended a few times (and became friendly with a few of the volunteers), and put on in honor of national breastfeeding awareness week. Who can really say no to a free indian head massage and all the crumpets and cake one can eat without looking a pig? So I celebrated in style, especially since Boy was with Nana this morning due to another hospital appointment....

I asked at the group for any advice on things to do differently this time round, as I only managed 4 weeks exclusive breastfeeding with Boy (during which he became skeletal, despite feeding on demand, and topping up with expressed milk), and 4 months combined breast and formula. I say "only", because if I had my way, I'd still be feeding him. I loved (almost) every second and fully intended to feed him up to and beyond the 12 month guidelines. Still, today, 14 months after giving up breastfeeding, tears choked my words as I talked to the volunteers. I do wonder if I'll ever get over the guilt I feel for not being able to sustain my baby with my own milk (due to a genuine health condition, unlike me, almost 100% of women can make enough milk if supply is boosted by varying techniques. All of which were exhausted by me). I feel less guilty than I did at the time....

In my logical head, I know that every day makes a difference to your baby, the NHS slogan of choice. And my own doctor insisted the first two weeks were the most vital, and I managed that! But I can never quieten the mother inside me whose sole ambition as to nurture her baby, and she failed. I remember my mum coming to visit me when Boy was a month old with a tin of formula, crying, and begging me to feed my baby. She had been the one who noticed his tummy rumbling constantly....I just thought babies tummies must do that, he was my first!

I know,in my brain, that I made the right choice to feed my baby with formula, but my heart just can't hear the reasons.

I do intend to breastfeed the new baby, and although the specialist said it is very likely that my condition will remain the same,it's not a dead cert. And I know this time to force myself to ignore the formula-guilt, and combine if/when it becomes apparent that baby is hungrier than it needs to be.

The volunteers at the group told me that I did everything I could last time, I couldn't have done a better job. HID pointed out that he has been saying that for upwards of a year, but that's why I married him, he says all the right things. It seemed more comforting to hear it from a pro-breastfeeding stranger.

As I left, a volunteer I knew quite well insisted I take her phone number, and to text her when the baby was born. She is coming to the hospital to help me establish breastfeeding. "The midwives are often too busy to do much more than check your latch. I'll stay with you until you get it right." I almost cried. The woman has no idea how much relief washed over me as she wrote down her number. I did get help last time,but this time I'm feeling fully armed.

By the way, the picture at the top? Checkout mama merit badges.
Even if you managed one feed, stop beating yourself up and feel proud: you breastfed your baby. There is no need to feel guilty that you didn't feed up until school age. All those fellow breastfeeders out there, well done!

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

What shall we do today?

We had a playday today, here are some of the things we enjoyed:Getting creative at messy playgroup: first time Boy has used a paintbrush willingly, alone! Boy's current favourite garden game: running through washing. Yes, he is wearing a babygro and shoes at 4pm in the afternoon... Cheeky cheerio: Having a snack on the kitchen floor


Giving thanks

I moan a lot. Just ask HID, he'll tell you. I like a good moan, people feeling sorry for me, woe is me. Yes, I'm hobbling on crutches while 22wks pregnant and looking after a bouncing 17m old mostly by myself 6am-6pm. But it's not really that bad is it?

With my Boy, I had a horrible pregnancy (morning sickness BPT [before pregnancy test] up until 7 months gestation, SPD,which ended in me being housebound for 2months, from 6 months til Boy was a month old), a terrible labour and birth (26 hours of "back labour" followed by 3rd degree tearing and 4 hrs in surgery), a horrible post-partum (surgeons eventually realised I'd been stitched up "wrong" when I could still barely walk months after giving birth and was "cut open" to "start again", and sat on a rubber ring til Boy was 6m, couldn't leave the house til he was 4m, plus breastfeeding issues meant Boy was boarderline dangerously underweight in the early days, there are skeletal photos I've just had to destroy). And of course, probably due to all of this, Boy was by no means contented, or an "easy" baby until he was at LEAST 6 months old.

But other than the weight issues (which were my fault, and stemmed from being hopelessly determined to breastfeed), at no point was there ever any health problems with my son, and nor has there been since really. I may have felt like shit while pregnant, but there was never any risk to baby. I may have been in pain during and after labour, but my Boy wasn't.

I have a healthy, happy and perfect little boy, and I am truly the luckiest Mummy alive. He can smile and laugh. He can make a joke. He can run about. He can eat, he can swim.

So when people are horrified when they find out I am pregnant again, so soon, after my "terrible time", I tell them; this is how you get babies. There is no other way.

So I might be hobbling til baby arrives, and a c-section is major surgery, I won't bounce back. But, if I'm very lucky, I'll have another healthy child to love, to welcome into our busy, happy home.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Batch Cook-a-thon

Yesterday, during nap times (as my Boy is NOT the sort of child to allow me to do this while he is awake), I prepared all the vegetables I would need to make vast quantities for our evening meal, so I could freeze and extra grown-up portion for HID and I, and a few for the Boy too. But HID called and pleaded "library" (his dissertation is in in a week), and I didn't feel right eating a lovely meal without him. Annabel Karmel got the ratios wrong,and I ended up with double the amount of mince to mash for shepherd's pie, so I chucked in some leftover passata and oregano and called it bolognese. After my Boy was in bed for the night, I set to baking as well, having organised a picnic for Sunday for mums I've met locally. So I also made cheese straws and fruity oat biscuits. The kitchen floor is still a flour-bath, and baking trays are piled teeteringly high by the sink, but the cleaner comes today,so hey-ho.

At 9.30pm last night, I realised the last thing I'd eaten was cheese on biscuits at 5pm while the Boy shared, and decided I had better make some tea. Not being able to face more cooking, I opted for beans on toast. After staring blankly and defeatedly into the cupboard at beans for thirty seconds, I changed my mind....cereal it is.


Thursday, May 07, 2009

Boys and Girls

I often wonder where my Boy learned to act so much like a little boy. One of his first noises that made sense was "brumming" a toy car. From a very early age he figured out pull-back-and-let-go cars and push-along cars. He is also surprisingly accurate at throwing a ball for an under-two, and takes great delight in doing so (and applying his throwing skills to unfortunate objects such as stones,and unfortunate targets, such as the cat). After two and a half weeks of walking, he could convincingly dribble a football. He also stares at any TV that is turned on (to any channel) like a zombie, exactly like his Daddy, not only that, he can figure out how to turn on most televisions he comes across (a worrying prospect), and on ours, if left for a few minuets while I clear away breakfast things, he can open the TV cabinet, turn on the set, the sky, and find and play a recording of "In The Night Garden". His boyish gadget talents extend to finding music to dance to on Daddy's phone, and being able to fuck up ANY cycle on any dishwasher or washing machine by pressing pretty buttons (yes, that's right folks, he's buggered up other people's washing too....). Toys which "do" anything are not played with, but turned over to discover how they work. If something can be destroyed, he will have a go; he cannot abide blocks and towers more than one high,and simply must bash them all down in the most violent manner possible. He is also a total foodie, and eats vast amounts like many men (but not his Daddy) do. A recent breakfast consisted of a banana, a yogurt, and three could fit him in a wheetabix box! On a similar vein, he is a very messy eater (even by baby-led weaning standards, I can assure you) and is only very gradually growing out of this. Friends have said how much of a "boy" trait this is, although I just think that kids who enjoy food are messy.

He seems so different from the little girls we come into contact with via parent-toddler groups! They seem dainty to his tearing around elephant-style. Don't get me wrong, he loves quietly reading books too, but I wish he could perhaps be slightly neater or cleaner. No matter how often I clean them, his ears are always mucky, and he almost always looks vaguely half-dressed due to dirtying one or more items of clothing. He is also the least clingy child to ever walk the earth, which makes it hard to comfort him when he gets hurt,as he pushes me away with all his strength, while still crying heartbreaking tears. It also sometimes makes me wonder if he loves me as much as his Nana, or as much as other children love their parents! He will smile at/be picked up by/"talk" to anyone, even if he can't see me close by. He hasn't yet learned how to kiss and cuddle, these things are unimportant to him, I almost adore it when he is ill, and he actually wants to sit on my lap to snuggle.

Where did he learn to be a little boy? Surely I haven't already thrust gender roles before him and said "Here, son, be a boy,"? He does have a little doll, but she isn't as well loved as his cars/trains/blocks. I'm coming around to the thought that perhaps little boys just are more likely to pick up toy cars than anything else in the toy box, something in their little male brains draws them to it, something that was there long before I uttered the words "What's wrong with a doll? I'm having no gender stereotypes in this house!". Perhaps it's his uber-masculine Daddy, who's first word was "car", believe it or not. But what I love most about my manly man is that he doesn't feel any need to be masculine. Football? Boring drivel. A beer? Oh maybe a few, but you can't force me to drink my weight in Bud and have my blood replaced at A & E. Periods? Yes love, you're due in a week, I think. A true man is one who is himself, and slave to no man. I hope my Boy grows up to be just like Daddy.


In the Garden

Today, Boy and I spent "winge o'clock" (i.e. that horrible time between teatime and bedtime, when you've run out of ideas and your child is impossible to entertain anyway) in the garden.

My boy delighted in running through the vests hanging low on the washing line, squealing with pleasure when the wind blew his hair off his forehead, and pushing a toy truck, painstakingly hand loaded with stones chucked in one by one.

Whereas I delighted in digging at the bottom of our compost bin for sumptuous, perfect compost for the first time ever, to go into our huge, jelly-mould-esq vegetable planters, see above. I am ridiculously proud of our homemade mud, and find it slightly amazing that such nourishing soil is the result of persistently nagging HID (and MIL, when she was living here full time) to please, not put banana skins, tea bags and egg shells in the kitchen bin!! Not only have we reduced our rubbish by god only knows how much, but we have ooodles of free compost to show for it. I really am quite chuffed, and hope that activities such as composting will be second nature to my Boy, as I grew up reminding my parents "that can be recycled,you know..." and that was only as I got older.

Also pictured above: can't be bothered with gorgeous, yet over-priced strawberry planters? Make your own out of what you have, like I did! (Idea blatantly nicked from a book). Plus, my pumpkin plants in the new mini greenhouse, and plum tomato seedlings doing well.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Bump Envy

(Photograph not of me, but by Karen:
I am 21 weeks pregnant, and I don't have much of a bump. In comparison to last time however, it is positively huge, and resembles the size it was when I was 8 months pregnant last time. Strangers did not realise I was pregnant, so I completely missed out on the whole, lovely, chivalry towards pregnant women thing. No-one helped me with shopping, held open doors, or gave up seats. Except when I used my crutches to ease my strained pregnancy ligaments. Then it was all; "What have you done to your leg, love?". Me, (through gritted teeth) : "Nothing, I'm just pregnant." So although, this pregnancy, my bump, again, isn't big by anyone's standards really, it's lovely to me, and I'm rather proud of doing the opposite of what I've been doing for the past 6 years, and sticking my tummy out for all to see.

However, on attending an aqua-natal class for bumpy ladies like myself, I was rather disappointed to see, yet again that my bump was by far the most minuscule of the lot. Even in my skin-tight, non-maternity swimming costume, where it's nowhere to hide, it is rather pitiful. But what I didn't need for my bump-paranoia was this scenario.

Bumpy ladies all exiting the warm "baby pool" after ending the class with five minutes of relaxation, passing a small class of pre-schoolers (and parents) waiting to get in. One mummy using the opportunity for a bit of birds and bees education, and explaining to her son that all these ladies had babies growing in their tummies. Ahhh. He pointed directly at me and said very loudly: "She's not!"

The mummy smiled apologetically, but it was of little comfort. Perhaps he thought I'd simply eaten all the pies...


Friday, May 01, 2009

Caught out

After my nappy bag post yesterday, I was well and utterly shamed into clearing out my nappy bag, even the inky pocket, which was scrubbed with wet wipes. I was quite pleased with the final product, all it needed was a pair of trousers, which I would get the next time I went upstairs.

Of course, I forgot. Today I went to a soft play group, and after assuming my Boy had sat in a puddle in the garden just before we set off, this theory was refuted as he started to get more and more grumpy. As I changed him, I realised all I could save was his shoes and socks. I felt like an awful mother, ho long had he been wet?? And I dug in my nappy bag for what turned out to be a dingy second hand, too-big t-shirt and a clean vest. No trousers. Most annoyed, especially after my smug clean out yesterday,and quite embarrassing to take a (badly) half-dressed child back into a room of immaculately dressed pre-schoolers and judgmental parents.

I made an eye-contact appeal for trousers across the room to the two friends I had come to the session with, even the one with a daughter. I'm not sure if it makes me feel better, but neither of them had spare trousers either.

A kind lady made her way over to me and offered me her spare pair, I didn't even know her name until today, and my Boy was then dressed in a mis-matched,too-big ensemble which lasted, oh, all of two hours before another full change was needed. Luckily, he wasn't out in public this time.