Monday, July 27, 2009

Review of an amazing breastfeeding book

The Food of Love; your formula to successful breastfeeding, by Kate Evans

I finished this 207 page book in less than two days. It's so easy to read, I imagine you could have a fairly successful attempt at digesting it even in those hazy newborn days (sorry, weeks...), when you can't even hold a real conversation due to sleep deprivation! And, as the book itself sates on the second page, if you really are in that zombie-like state and can't possibly bear a book, and just need help with breastfeeding, there are loads of wackily drawn cartoons and diagrams to look at and to make you laugh, while informing you and banishing your fears/guilt at the same time. How did Kate Evans manage to do that?? Great!

The forward to the book is written by a midwife, who, as well as declaring the book “essential” reading for the 21st century mum, write that she wishes “the NHS could afford to hand out copies” to new parents,which sounded very promising to me. I wasn't disappointed!

The book covers topics such as how emotionally/psychologically we might (and do) feel uncomfortable with breastfeeding, and how it seems so silly to other cultures to have these hang-ups, all stemming from the sexualisation of breasts, which, let's be frank, are only really there for one job, and this is it. The cartoons are just great, and often left me thinking, “yes, that's how it should be!” while giggling at the same time. It has all the technical stuff: why breast is best, but delivered in a light-hearted way, that wouldn't make you feel like a terrible person if you read the book and then decided not to breastfeed. (Or couldn't for whatever reason). But if you did run into problems, and thought you couldn't feed, the book is PACKED with simplified trouble shooting for things like latching baby on, or how to get rid of blocked ducts, with funny and very clear illustrations, which at 3am is a lot more useful than the thought of your midwife visiting “first thing” or even the pain of calling a 24hr helpline (which, although comforting, doesn't show you visually how to do it).

So the book is very practical, as well a tickling your funny bone at every turn. It has some of the author's (and her family's) experiences, which helps with the concept that she's a real person, and has really done it (she boasts literally having had ALL the ailments in the problems section....and going on to extended breastfeeding!). And I love reading anecdotes in books like this, maybe I'm just nosy. There is advice on multiple births and special care babies: how feeding is different but still possible (and perhaps even more vital). For very new mums, it gives some great ideas about what to “do” when you're stuck in a chair breastfeeding (again). Yes, newborns feed all the time. All of it. Really. Her ideas are great (and funny), and I especially like her extra ideas for second (or third or more) time mums, who are also entertaining a toddler, that is, while feeding. Women are great.

One of the most lovely and comforting things I found about the book is comparing our modern babies to those they evolved from many moons ago. (Check out Cave Mother's blog for more of a day-to-day idea). It discusses how, to survive, babies needed to be near mothers, but that mothers had massive support from the community way back when: we are a tribal species after all. So yes, our babies may have been demanding to be held /fed all the time, but our older children would be off playing with the other children in the tribe, so you wouldn't have to entertain them, your sisters/aunties/mother would be doing all your chores, and your mother/older women in the tribe/teenage girls would coo over the baby, and swaddle and carry her when you needed a rest. It explains that for these purposes, all we have is cbeebies, take away food, a bouncy chair and internet chat rooms..... doesn't look great does it?

The book then helpfully points out, in my favourite cartoon of the lot, that babies in general (and I found great comfort in this, as it applied to my little boy very heartily, and no-one believed me/thought I was nuts or exaggerating) do not appreciate non-human company (i.e. that of bouncy chairs/mobiles/tv), but this is for evolutionary purposes. The cartoon depicts a happily cooing baby, content with its own company for hours on end. Then a tiger came and ate him all up! The second picture depicts another baby who screamed “as if a tiger was about to attack him” every time his mother put him down (is this sounding at all familiar??? This was my life for about six months!). The mother gives up and puts the baby in a sling and carries him everywhere. The tiger, skulking in the background, thinks; “drat, foiled again.” The line reads: “guess which baby yours is descended from?”. This really made me feel better! Babies aren't supposed to want to sleep alone in a cot or be happy in a door bouncer while you take a shower or cook tea! It was ok that my baby needed me 24/7, because that's what millions of years had taught him to do! I wasn't going nuts, and I didn't have the most difficult baby on the planet, I had a very clever baby. A normal baby. This was my favourite part of the whole book. :-)

The book gives lots of information about various aspects of attachment parenting. (For a more substantial, but defiantly less entertaining look at attachment parenting, read THIS.) It gives very easy to decipher diagrams of how to wear (and breastfeed in) slings, and the benefits of babywearing, and the benefits of pushchairs too! She really gives every option. There is advice on safe co-sleeping,and the (very funny) pros and cons to sharing a bed with your baby. (Pro: daddy and baby look so cute together! Con: baby has razorblades for toenails.) But the lovely thing about all this advice on attachment parenting is that Kate Evans explicitly says, throughout the book, that your baby isn't like the babies in the books, so you know her best, and should do what is right for your family, no matter who it goes against (the midwife, your mother, this book...). As a new mum, I would have loved to have “permission” to do things my way (something I'm so excited about this time round) as I just didn't have the confidence to ignore the midwife, or my mum, or the books! And since none of them agreed with one another, it was a very confusing time indeed....

There is also some very helpful advice and information about the baby blues and post natal depression. Not everyone is overjoyed when they hold their newborn in their arms. But that's ok. That's the message, and a very comforting one it is (and would have been, 18 months ago) to me. The book covers breastfeeding in public, something many mums dread while pregnant, and there's even a section about your looks:how you will be different (regardless of whether or not your breastfeed) and how to, in time, be ok with that. Information on how hubby may feel about feeding, and even how breastfeeding can affect sex (even contraceptively!) and when to stop breastfeeding, how to combine with formula, and how to deal with feeding a much older child, if you wish (like the World Health Organisation recommends, two or more years), all these topics you may not even have thought of, but may well crop into your lives now you have a baby, are covered,and in a non-preaching, humorous way.

All in all, every word in this book was as fun,entertaining and easy to read as a candy-floss chick-lit novel, but paced with vital information, and very useful advice and points of view.

The blurb on the back reads thus:
This book will tell you all the information you need to breastfeed successfully:
clear pictures and instructions for your first feeds
how to breastfeed in your sleep
advice on beating the baby blues
what dads can do to help
the art of feeding your baby in public
a guide to breastfeeding complaints
what to do if you return to work
the Mama Sutra- advanced breastfeeding positions
full-term feeding for the fainthearted.
PLUS it's full of fantastically funny illustrations and will stay open at the page so you can read it when both hands are full.
This book will not tell you how to look after your baby. Your baby is utterly unique, and not the same as any of those in the baby books.
Does it sound good? It does exactly what it says on the tin. Read it!


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Squashed Biscuits: a recipe

This is a post specially for Sandy, who is currently wondering if and what activities she should be doing with her 20 month old. I do agree, that it's hard with one so young, a.) to get them interested (and keep them interested!) and b.) the fine motor skills needed often just aren't there yet, particularly in boys, and this makes for mess in lots of activities. My answers to these are a.) let them flit: if I make these biccys, Boy will pop into the kitchen every 5mins or so to help, then go off to play when he needs a rest from the cookery. b.) the mess: teach them to help clean. Boy loves "putting right" what he has made messy. You may have to clean twice :-).

100g flour
100g dried fruit (I use raisins)
2 tbsp flaked almonds
100g oats
100g butter
1 whole mashed banana
1 tsp mixed spice
1 egg
If desired, 1 tsp golden syrup (or add more dried fruit for sweetness, cranberries or chopped apricots are nice)

Rub the butter into flour and oats and spice, sit your toddler on the work top, and get them to add the raisins, handful by handful, a very important job. Have extra raisins on hand for eating :-). Next job: get toddler to chop the banana with a butter knife, then mash it in bowl. Then mix in the mashed banana and the egg. (And syrup, if desired. Fun to watch for toddler!) Shape into balls and then flour toddler's hands, (may have to do this repeatedly!) let your child squish them into flattish circles about 7-8mm thick. This is the best bit. Or do it yourself if you prefer nice-looking evenly cooked biscuits without holes. Cook on a baking tray in the oven at 190 (or 170 for fan ovens) until they look browned at the edges - about 8-12 minutes. Get toddler to sweep the floor and wipe the surfaces while cooking. Then, obviously, re-do his work....he's learning vital life lessons, he's not there yet though! My Boy does a special "squash" face to "tell" everyone how he helped make the biscuits!


Monday, July 20, 2009

Let's Play......tag!

Thanks Amy, I was at a loss for something to do tonight, with HID out on his bike, but no more! I've been tagged, so I've to answer some questions and then pass it on to other bloggers I want to know more about.....yey, I'm so nosy.

1. Who is the hottest movie star?

Ewan McGregor, without pausing for breath...

2. Apart from your house and your car what's the most expensive thing you have ever bought?

A firework display for my wedding. It rained. Me & HID were the only guests that didn't watch from the windows, we stood outside under a fishing umbrella to watch. My dress was was lovely :-)

3. What's your most treasured memory?

Being proposed to during a picnic on the beach in the Lake district (in the car: it rained, again!) as Beyonce's "Crazy in Love" came on the radio....

4.What was the best gift you ever received as a child?

My lilac mountain bike I got when I was 11, I still have it! It gave me the independence to do as I pleased.

5. What is the biggest mistake you've made?

Telling actual grown women who used to bully me at school the date and place of my wedding. The hateful bi**hes actually turned up drunk and scantily clad to the reception. My sisters got rid of them :-) but I so regret exchanging pleasantries with them that led to this, I should have never have been polite and said hello that day.

6. 4 words to describe myself

Ambitious, talkative, friendly, bossy.

7. what was my highlight or lowlight of 2008?

highlight- my baby's very first birthday

lowlight- (ongoing) recovery from the birth

8. Favourite film?

Hot Fuzz. "I'm not made of eyes!" *All Grown Up falls about laughing and misses next 3 mins of film*

9. Tell me one thing I don't know about you

I had pink hair, a la Kelly Osbourne, aged 17. (Red, aged 18, Green aged 20, Purple aged 23 [3 months ago!])

10. If you were a comic book/strip or cartoon character, who would you be?

Daddy Pig (as in Peppa Pig), he's just such a laugh!

So here are the people I'd like to play tag with, join in if you like, if not, enjoy reading this post! All these blogs are just lovely, so if you've not heard of them, get over there for a look.

West of the Pennines. She's deciding which side of herself to present to the dating world...scary! And delights us with the adventures of Sir Winge-a-lot Farty-Pants.

Driftwood Floating on the Water. She's recently had some confidence-boosting hot-tub fun!

Cave Mother. She's loving breastfeeding depicted as art. Isn't it always?

Slugs on the Refrigerator. She's attempting to become a crazy cat lady ;-) and is no doubt having potatoes for tea, in some form....

Baby Baby. She's on a winning streak! She deserves it after her sad week.

So enjoy the game girls! And a huge thank you to Dancinfairy at A Place of my Own, she's kindly awarded me the Honest Scrap award, and apparently, I'm twice as fabulous, as I have it already! Good luck with your imminent birth!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Bug Jam

My Boys left me to it this weekend and traveled down south to Santa Pod Raceway to join in the fun at Bug Jam, the Volkswagen festival. HID and I had been a few times, we both love it, and I was a little sad to have missed Boy's first time due to illness, but HID took some great photos I just had to share!

Check out this car's sound system!

Loving the paint job on this one.

Green & mean

The jet car gets ready for take-off!

New-style beetle pulls a donut.


An awe-inspiring bike stunt!

A shot of the track at Santa Pod.

Furbie the beetle

Hot chevvy

Bounce like a rapper!

A must have item for any young festival go-er, be it music or cars: Peltor ear defenders to protect their precious hearing. Boy kept his on when he realised how noisy the jet cars, monster trucks & bikes were.

Purchase of the weekend from the "alternative" stalls on offer: a pair of baby Vans. So cute!

So while the boys had the time of their lives being noisy and eating junk food (and getting sunburned, argh!!! Factor 30 is going in the bin, bring on the 50+), I was all alone and housebound, having recently had to give up driving with my SPD. Grrrr. I was supposed to be resting, and I did! I slept, I bathed, I read, I watched Ugly Betty. But I also, sneakily, made 4 lasagnes and 4 cheese & veg pasta bakes for the freezer, washed the curtains, had a clearout for the charity shop and filled the newly acquired cupboard space with junk from the spare room (soon to be Boy's new bedroom as we will be needing the nursery...) and re-propped all the tomato plants that had fallen over in the rain. So quite dull and productive really!

But, as you can see, the boys, and Auntie C, had a great time. Bug Jam is a fab place for kids, the family camping is lovely and quiet too, and music goes off at 10pm. (Yes, there's music and comedy too.) So maybe I'll see you there next year, fully recovered, with two little monsters, not just one!


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Harry Potter!

Last night, my sister kindly took on childcare duties, while HID and I went n a date to see the new Harry Potter film. I am a huge, huge fan of the books, and also love the films (I'm not one of those that moans about the films being adapted too much from the books, I enjoy the films in their own right, and see them as an extension of the Harry experience!). HID loves the films, but hasn't read the books. We always make a point of seeing the Harry films as soon as they come out, there is nothing quite so fun as being in amongst all the hard-core fans, who not only laugh without reserve, but clap and you may even spot a few pointed hats amongst the dress code :-)

The frantic "shushing" that occurred as the lights dimmed only reinforced the audience's excitement, like me, their hearts were pounding with expectation!

I do not want to give too much away to those who haven't read the book but wish to see the film (or read the book ages ago, and can't remember every detail), but suffice to say, I REALLY enjoyed the film! Yes, it is dark and violent this time, but it was also by far the funniest of the Harry films. I don't often laugh aloud at films, but I was heartily guffawing along with everyone else. Some comedy highlights were: when Harry drinks the "Felix" and his confidence causes him to be more cheeky than necessary to Slughorn, classic! And at Slughorn's dinner party, Harry standing to greet Ginny, cringe, and I couldn't watch for crying with laughter as Hermione's love interest seductively licked chocolate sauce off his fingers....eeeew! And of course, Ron was a laugh a minute, as always. Loving Rupert!

As a fan of the stories, I would have liked a few more of the Riddle memories, I am a little dubious about how they will continue into the next film as Harry doesn't seem to"know" enough. I am very glad they left out the funeral scene, I'm not sure my hormonal emotions could have coped! I did enjoy the sort of "wand salute" that wasn't in the book, a touching addition.

Harry and Ginny's first kiss was gorgeous. If was so intimately done, I felt an intruder on their lives and momentarily looked away from the screen.

What we did remark as we left was: it wasn't long enough! Well, we would have liked more. More story, more action, more of Mr & Mrs Weasley, of Hagrid. It has made me very excited about the Deathly Hallows! If you're a fan, it does not disappoint.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Another fab competition!

Get over to A Modern Mother: she's got a great pampering give-away!
I'm being pampered tonight; HID is taking me to see the new Harry Potter film, I'm such a huge fan, of the films and the books, I really can't wait!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

birth to now: my post-partum recovery story

Hopefully, you will have already read my birth story. This is part two! Thanks to those who left comments, I felt I could reply via ending the story. Each time I talk about what happened to us, as a family, I get a bit closer to being ok with it. I don't think I'm far off actually! With baby number 2 due in September, that is no bad thing.

I left the story on Christmas eve in the cesarean ward. That night, baby hardly slept. I was glad to be alone, as I paced the ward, babe in arms, softly singing Christmas carols, as I couldn't think of any lullabies! I tried to feed, but needed a midwife's help each time, and they were quite busy. In the morning, they asked how he had been for me, and upon my reply, stated he was a lucky boy to be seeing father Christmas! And in he walked, with a gift for me (something from Boots) and for Boy. Later, a brass band roamed the corridors playing Christmas carols. It was a lovely time to be in hospital.

I wanted to transfer back to the unit where I'd had my labour, for my recovery, the staffing ratios were much better, and I needed help with feeding, so after the cursory 24hrs, we packed up and left. I managed to get two Christmas dinners out of my timing of the transfer! I was one of only two patients in the unit, and I used the midwife buzz button every single time I needed to latch baby on: I did not want to become even more sore due to a poor latch. I was finding the first few moments of sucking a time to bite my lip and curl my toes, but I had very sensitive skin throughout pregnancy. Once, in my four night stay, I could not feed the baby alone, just couldn't get him on, and he was crying that awful newborn cry that breaks a mother's heart. I pressed the button and tried not to panic, I kept trying. No one came....for ten long minutes. Then a midwife ran in, barked that they were delivering a baby, and turned the button off. She disappeared. I started to cry. I tried and tried for another 15 minutes, and eventually calmed myself down enough to latch baby on. I was so pleased with myself, I felt I could cope with anything from now on. And I have.

When I left the unit, I was still taking paracetamol, diclofenac and dihydracodeine, all at the maximum allowed doses each day; I was noting down what I'd had and counting down the hours til my next hit each and every time. I've since read that it is unusual, even for cesarean patients, to need more than paracetamol after the first few days. I had no idea at the time, I didn't dwell on it, thinking, hey, I've just had a baby, I'm bound to be sore! So I continued to need and use the drugs. I remember my mum picking up my repeat persciption for me, and the pharmacist did not let her leave without quizzing her about whether I'd had the baby: she was not prepared to hand out drugs of that potency to a pregnant woman!

We were inundated with visitors in the early days, and I jumped to the challenge, making sure I was dressed, with neat hair and make-up, just as society expects new mums to bounce back. What an idiot I was. I should have been in bed recovering, not showing off to extended family and friends. The visitors dwindled, and I was left still sitting on a doughnut cushion, that is, if I was able to sit at all. Boy fed for and hour or more at a time, so I spent many hours laying on the rug in the living room with him, although he hated feeding lying down, so I had my work cut out. The midwives that came to visit in my post-partum were puzzled at my pain, suggesting endless salt baths which did not work, but the main concern was Boy losing more and more weight. He became skeletal by 4 weeks, and I began to supplement with formula. The health visitor that weighed him before we started on formula, and then one week later, was astounded by his leap in weight, having never seen such a dramatic gain in 10 years on the job. Looking back,and reading many books on breastfeeding in this pregnancy, I think that the pain I was in and perhaps the medication I was taking, affected my milk supply. Supplementing didn't help, and my Boy self-weaned from the breast by 4 months. I was heartbroken. I loved breastfeeding,and wanted to do the best for my child, but at 4m, I was still in pain. I am hoping that to breastfeed according to world health guidelines this time, that's two years and beyond ladies! (My breastfeeding issues are not really part of this story,but you can read more here.)

Just before my 6 week check, a concerned midwife insisted on taking a look at my stitches on the bed upstairs. I was unable to even let her touch me, let alone her suggestion of removing a few of the tighter stitches there and then. She said she thought I needed gas & air to be examined properly, and I gratefully agreed, relief washing over me as she arranged a hospital appointment for me.

At my six week check a few days later, the doctor asked me if I minded a student being present. I was concentrating hard on not letting my emotions get the better of me while I explained my issues to her, so without thinking, I agreed. The doctor then asked me to take a seat. Well, almost comically, I burst into tears, as I was still unable to sit down, and now the new baby glow had worn off, I was feeling well and truly sorry for myself. I can't imagine what was going through that student's head! The doctor sent for some local anesthetic gel to examine me, but again, I was completely unable to let her touch me, practically leaping off the bed in agony. She called the hospital and insisted my appointment be brought forward to that very afternoon, and gave me tubes and tubes of anesthetic to use as well as the gas and air. The gel did make the car journey on my kiddie's rubber ring slightly more bearable.

At the hospital, I slyly put on copious amounts of gel before my appointment. I was lain on the bed and given the gas & air for quite some minutes before they approached me to start the exam, so that it could take effect. When I was suitably "drunk", I gave the signal. However, I found it to be a repeat of the delivery room: breathe in the gas & air, SCREAM out, breathe in, SCREAM out. I endured this only as I knew they needed to examine me. Afterwards, the consultant explained she hadn't been able to touch the actual stitching, but that she had seen enough. It was a botched job. They had stitched me far, far too tightly, and every time I sat down (or even walked), I was stretching the scar tissue and being left in agony. I was booked in for reconstructive surgery. They were starting all over again, I was back to square one.

When my Boy was two months old, I was wheeled into surgery and put under GA, preparing myself to feel as bad as I did the day he was born, but this time without the happy hormones and adrenaline....The doctor explained I would be given a dose of paracetamol before I even awoke to combat the pain. As I woke, there were tears on my cheeks. The pain was near unendurable. I sobbed, asking the bewildered nurse for the paracetamol that had already been administered. She gradually upped the pain meds until I was on morphine, muttering to herself that she couldn't send me to the ward in this state. I was wheeled onto the ward when I had stopped crying. It was full of young women much less lucky than me: they had just had what was left of their babies removed from the womb after late miscarriages. I felt ashamed that I was even feeling sorry for myself, and as the pain returned and I could no longer hold in the tears, a kind young mum-no-more offered to shut my curtains so I could cry in peace, I was unable to move myself. I would put money on her thinking that I was there for the same reason she was. The other ladies around me recovered quickly and went home that day. I made the mistake of telling the nurses that I felt dizzy, and I was kept in. I missed my baby.

Back at home, it was like I'd just given birth all over again. Friends lifted my spirits by joking I'd had a designer vagina on the NHS! I had lots of saltwater baths to aid the healing, and kept ice-pops in my knickers for comfort. I saw a consultant gynecologist every few weeks at first, who's pity was apparent. He always started the visit with a rendition of "if it had been me that stitched you in the first place, none of this would have happened"....I hope he does my cesarean! He gave me "physio" to do: a selection on dildos increasing in size that I was to "practice" with every day to stretch me out. At first, I could not bear the tip of the smallest one, but gradually, things improved. Sex....well, sex was a test of endurance, not just physically, but an emotional fear of the pain, and for HID, the patience, love and understanding of a much better man than I could ever be. Romance was not an option. "Initiating" sex involved local anesthetic. Nice. Luckily, I was still able to orgasm :-). I saw it as my reward for having the actual sex :-)

When my baby was four months old, I was well enough to leave the house. By that point I had PND. That's another story.

I sat on a ring until my baby was six months old. At one gyne appointment,the doctor asked to see the wound, and "while I'm here" he said, could I just tense my pelvic floor. Well, before I even became pregnant, I had been practicing 4 sets of 10 repetitions of holding for 10 second each, as recommended, but no one really does. I was proud of how dedicated I was, and surprised I could still feel the muscles, and tense them, less than two days after the birth. So I tensed, with all my might. I felt suitably smug when he stated it was the best pelvic floor he had EVER seen after a 3rd degree tear! An odd thing to be so chuffed about, but circumstances do strange things to you....

Eight months after the birth, the doctor told me the lack of improvement that had been going on for some time indicated I had permanent nerve damage. That's right: the way sex felt right now, well it would always feel that way. And the tender, swollen feeling I get when cleaning myself? Why, get used to that being normal. He then added that all my subsequent births must be via cesarean. Oddly, in my slightly flustered state, I panicked about something I'd read and blurted out: "but you can only have three sections can't you??" (as if at this point in my life, I was considering having more than four children.) Keeping a straight face, the deadly serious consultant told me he had done seven on one lady. Well that sealed it. I definitely wasn't having eight children. The saying "never say never" does not apply!

I left feeling confused. One the one hand, I would never again have to go through what I had been through the past eight months. On the other, the home birth I'd wanted with my second child (albeit when I was pregnant with my first and HID was talking me out of a home birth that time around) would never, ever happen. And I was left damaged forever. It did make one decision for me: I could have more children. I didn't have to be scared anymore, or wait for the memories of childbirth to fade. At Christmas time, after my last appointment at the gyne ward (there was nothing more they could do), we said goodbye to condoms. Three weeks later, I was staring at a positive pregnancy test, overjoyed. We had moved on, we were happy, I may never heal, but for two healthy babies it is a very, very small price to pay.

Monday, July 13, 2009

My birth story: read at your own peril

After reading posts here and here, I've decided to be brave, and possibly stupid, and write down what happened to me in the days leading up to the birth of my son, my birth story! Now this post isn't intended to shock or frighten, and it will not make good reading for pregnant ladies, thanks for your visit, but perhaps turn around now. If you choose to read, remember that my case is really very rare and it won't happen to you. And you'll get your baby in the end, whatever happens. I've found that as a mum, I'm ridiculously interested in people's birth stories, and I feel that sharing mine is like therapy. Plus, if I blog it, I can tell it start to finish without some other mum at a baby group interrupting with "oh, yes, that happened to me, but we did this next..." !

I was in slow, early labour for around two days before things really kicked off. I knew I was in labour (something I was worried about: how will I know?? I just knew) but I didn't tell anyone, I just got my tens machine out and asked HID if we could check how it worked "just in case". I'm glad I did this while I was still in low-level (period type) pain. On the 23rd December at 2am, I could no longer sleep through the pain of contractions (I was possibly being a bit dramatic at this point) and woke HID to help me fit the tens to my back. By 8am, contractions were 5 mins apart, I couldn't "talk" through the pain, and had been that way for an hour. All the signs that birth will happen fairly soon, and the books say to get to hospital. So I rang the maternity ward, and my mum and sister (who I'd planned to support me in labour) and took a few last minute pictures of the bump under the Christmas tree.

The 20 min journey was agony, every bump so uncomfortable. We arrived before mum & sister. The midwives greeted us while I had a contraction, they stated by the look of me, we'd have baby pretty soon! But could we just examine you. Although I didn't want any unnecessary internal exams, I was at a midwife led unit, and these exams were the only way of monitoring me. Nonetheless, I found it SHOCKING how painful I found the exam (this hasn't happened to other women I've asked) and the midwife was horrified and apologetic as I sobbed throughout the exam. The result wasn't even worth it! I was less then 1cm, and advised to go home. The midwives were baffled, as the pain I was in didn't compute with my "progress". But home I went. I knew I was in for a lot of pain at that point, and made the decision to myself that I didn't want my mum and sister to see me in so much pain, and so after then we didn't contact them until the baby was born.

I tried to sleep between contractions, they had slowed by this point. I didn't really get much rest. As the day wore on, I was finding the contractions were sparking off my SPD pain in a big way, and standing was very painful (but anything else was excruciating), and I had my tens cranked to max, and was clinging on to HID, who pushed my hips together ans swayed with me through each contraction, which seemed to help. Most of the pain was in my back. I've since heard that back labours can be more painful. At teatime, without even bothering to get dressed this time (I really didn't care) we headed back to the hospital. I though I'd done really well lasting so long alone at home with my tens! The second internal exam begged to differ, it was as painful as the first (more so, as by this time to lie on my back was very painful) and I was only 3cm. The midwives seemed a bit worried and started to fill the pool for me, and I started on gas & air.

The gas & air didn't really take away the pain, it made me a bit less aware of it though, and I found it most comforting to feel as if I was "actively" relieving my pain by sucking on the mask. I got into the pool and felt better, but still in a lot of pain. As the night continued, I used lots of gas & air (12 cannisters! Plus whatever I had from the supply that runs out of the walls later on). I felt extremely panicky each time a canister ran out and the midwife had to fetch a new one, thinking that I was just barely coping with the current pain, if the gas & air was allowed to wear off, I was beside myself worrying about how painful it would be. The midwife noticed (I had not) that I was indeed taking gas & air constantly, and asked me to just use it during a contraction. This is when I realised that my SPD pain had become so severe it had merged into my contractions, and from about midnight, I was experiencing one long contraction, with no break at all.

I do remember (I was not very with it on all that gas & air) asking HID, who gets bad headaches without proper sleep and regular drinks, how he was over and over in between puffs of the mask. The midwife found this amusing and told me to concentrate on what I was doing! After 4 hours, it was the unit's policy to get me out of the pool unless I was ready to push. I tried to buy time by asking what it would feel like (the words of a woman who is nowhere near ready to push), and it took them half an hour to coax me out of the pool. The pain increase was instant as I got out, the midwife picked up on this and gently offered more pain relief, even though I'd said I wanted a drug-free labour. I said no, and she said she would examine me to see how long I might have yet to go, as I may reconsider. It took her another 30 mins to convince me to lie on the bed (it was agony to lay on my back) and she confirmed I had a long way to go. I tearfully accepted the pethidine, and asked how long it would take to work. "About 15 minutes". Fifteen minutes later, I was howling at said midwife that it wasn't working.....and it never did. 40 minutes later, she sat me down and gently said: "here at our unit, we don't recommend epidurals. However, I recommend you get an epidural. The ambulance to the hospital is on the way." I could have wept with relief.

The journey was slow and very uncomfortable: a belt was fastened around my middle and I hated it. I remember thinking: "I'll probably not get to go in an ambulance again, and I'm not in danger right now, just labour, I should enjoy the ride!" What was I thinking of?? HID later told me that for some reason, they stopped at every traffic light on the 3.30 in the morning. Why?

In hindsight, I think I started pushing in the ambulance. When I arrived at the hospital, the midwife examined me and told me it was too late for an epidural (the journey must have speeded things up) and did I feel like pushing. Well, you could not have paid me a million pounds to stop myself from pushing! Something completely primal and animalistic came over me, and I finally felt in control of my labour again, I could see the end, and I was running full pelt towards it. The midwife, strangely, after all they go on about in "parentcraft" classes, attempted to lay me on my back. In a state no longer fit for communication, I would have complied (and endured agony in my back), but HID stepped in and insisted I give birth on all fours, like I'd planned if I wasn't in the pool. He had listened! All that time I spent preparing him had really paid off, and saved the day. I sucked more gas & air from the mask and looked at HID with eyes that said "help me, I need you". Tears silently poured down his face. I was glad I hadn't put my mum through this.

Somewhere in the fug of too much gas & air, I heard the midwife say: "the harder you work, the quicker the baby will be born!" So I (stupidly) thought, right, sod waiting for contractions, I'll just push! So from then on, I pushed with all my might pausing only to breathe. I could feel, and HID told me, that the head was slipping back each time a contraction ended. This was devastating, undoing all my hard work. So I worked harder, and stopped noticing the pain so much. I can honestly say I almost enjoyed the pushing stage. At least I was "doing" something to end it all! At some point, my waters broke, and the midwives said there had been meconium, and the baby will need to be taken away, possibly to be resuscitated, straight away. I was thankful they had told me in advance, so I didn't panic. A clip was put on his head.

The baby was born after less than an hour's pushing, at 4.20am. The midwife tried to get me to sit back on my heels to see him, but all I could think about was the mess!! I'm not sitting in all that mess!! Baby was fine, and they laid me down, and he latched straight on to my breast to feed, perfect. He had lots of black hair, we'd expected red, like HID's! And I think we were a bit shocked he was a boy too, although we'd never said out loud we had thought it was a girl. But it was like, who are you?? The placenta was born, I felt a sensation of relief and there it was.

They seemed to think I had torn (I had no real sensation or brain functioning at this point), so my legs were put in stirrups and HID took the baby while I was examined. I remember telling him to take off his t-shirt, so the baby could have more skin to skin contact! The doctor started to examine me. I screamed! It was the worst pain I'd EVER felt, and I'd just delivered a baby. I was told to use gas & air. I breathed in and SCREAMED out and breathed in and SCREAMED out.....they decided they couldn't examine me without anesthetic, so I was prepared for theatre,and had an epidural. (Bit late for that!). HID was left with the baby, while I chatted easily with the staff, I'm not sure it had hit me that I'd just become a mother.

I was awake for the procedure, but I asked if they minded that I sleep, as I couldn't feel a thing, so I slept while they repaired my 3rd degree tear for four hours. (Third degree tear means, don't read if you don't wish to know, that I was left with just one hole, instead of a vagina and anus, just a big gaping hole). In the recovery room, the nurse let me use the phone to call my mum. She was also on her mobile talking to HID! She was ecstatic.

I was wheeled onto the ward. I don't remember being re-united with the baby and HID, but I must have been! I was the only one in the ward (which was for c-section patients), and I had to wear special electronic boots to keep my circulation going. Family came to see me (the midwives didn't bother too much that they were too early, of that there were loads of them, as it was Christmas eve). We had two names for a boy, one decided on a whim a few days before. My mum asked me his name. HID and I hadn't discussed it, but we looked at one another and said his name in unison, the one we'd liked all along. Mum cried, she loved it, everyone did.

My post - partum story in a post to follow....


Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Wordless Wednesdays

Thought I'd jump on the bandwagon, sorry for the lazy post! Yesterday, I panicked when I realised I was 30 weeks pregnant, and read somewhere I should have a hospital bag packed by 36 I went out and treated myself to a new holdall, and hunted out all of Boy's old newborn things to pop in it. He was 7lb13 but needed early baby clothes as he was so tiny. The picture depicts a babygro he currently wears, and one that was too big when he was born. How did my baby get so big?! *Sob*!

Also: check out "and 1 more means 4", there's a great giveaway!! Always worth an entry right?? For even more chances for this stay at Alton Towers, try Perfectly Happy Mum too!


Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Sunday can't come soon enough

I miss my mum. She has been on holiday in Canada for the last nine days and is not due home until Sunday. Is not that I miss HER as much as I should, but the unquestioning, anytime, joyfully given help she bestows on me in caring or hr beloved grandson while I struggle through the pain of SPD. I have quite clearly been taking this for granted, as I've not realised until now how great I have it. I had been able to ring her if I was having a painful day, and either go round to visit, and have a nice sit down and watch while she plays with Boy, running around and doing all the things I can't with him, or dropping him off for a few hours on my own. Instead, I'm dauntingly on my own ALL DAY from waking up until half an hour or so before Boy's bedtime. To set the context, I have a high-need, on the go, high energy toddler who enjoys going out at least once day to do even more high-energy, on the go stuff outdoors/in the company of others. Most days, we wouldn't even get to 8am before he is crying at the front door, or if he's being very easy-going, the back door. Come teatime, even as an able-bodied un-pregnant mum I have been in the past, I've completely exhausted our supply of parent-toddler groups/walking in the sling/playdates/swimming pool/library/visits to shops or garden centres/all the toys and books that reside in our house. And now I'm a mum that can't walk more than a few steps without wincing, and later holding back tears, can't sit on the floor to play, can't carry an 18 m old (no matter how much he begs, and yes it breaks my heart when he brings me the sling an cries to go in it), and, as a new development, is finding it increasingly painful to drive. In fact, I've stalled my car due to pain holding the clutch. (How much longer am I safe to drive?)

These points are not leaving me with many options for entertaining a small boy (never mind keeping on top of housework), but any suggestions would be most, most welcome. About two months ago, a lady at a parent-toddler group sympathetically approached me and asked how on earth I was coping, as I used my crutches to hobble to my car with my son in a sling on my hip. (Add two months or my condition deteriorating & bump and toddler growing to this scenario). She suggested I give homestart, a charity that helps families that need it, and see if they could help me. After a home visit, I was declared a "high priority" case, and skipped the waiting list. (I was on said list when I suffered a bad post-partum with my last baby, but by the time the 4 m wait ended, I felt much better and passed up my place to someone more in need). I was assigned a volunteer, who seemed lovely, to show up the next week for 3 hours, to play with Boy, or help us go out to a group perhaps. (I need someone to carry my toddler and bag, an to run around after him while we are there.) I planned my day around the schedule, as many of you know, it is hard to organise naps and mealtimes round a small child if you wish to leave the house, especially with one who has no set routine, but still has two naps a day!

1st time: she rang the day before, she was ill, re-schedule for following week. A little disappointed, but understanding.

2nd time: she rang the morning of: hubby slipped a disk, must take to casualty. Gosh how terrible! But sort of ruined our day. Starting to wonder if she will bother next time....

3rd time: 10 mins before she is due to arrive, the phone rings. I have just risked telling Boy we are going swimming, as she can't possibly cancel this late. I've spent time packing a bag, and Boy is currently crying at the front door to go swimming. She claims she thought it was yesterday and she had turned up to en empty house (I was at yet another hospital appointment). She asks me if it's ok to "not bother this week". I burst into uncontrolled tears. I've apparently finally found a way to get her here. Guilt. A wonderful time was had by all at the pool and I don't even mind her only staying with us 1.5hrs out of the arranged 3hrs. As she leaves she informs me that....

4th time: arranged to helping me attend a hospital appointment as my mum is on holiday and can't babysit. (I dislike taking Boy along for him to have to sit still and wait patiently while he watches mummy in lots of pain having needles inserted into her back for 20 mins. Perhaps not the best of childhood memories.) She tells me 4 days in advance that she is taking her dad to the doctors that day. I'm sympathetic and grateful she has (possibly) given me enough time to find a babysitter. Luckily, I do. By complete fluke, my sister is off work.

5th time: she rings tonight to cancel our swimming date tomorrow lunchtime. Dad's health again. I try to sympathise. I am overly polite through gritted teeth. Luckily, I've not packed the bag yet. I had got my hopes up though. Especially as my mum is away.

It's been pointed out to me that if I had never been offered this help, I wouldn't feel so upset/put out/angry when it doesn't arrive. Perhaps this is true. Those little words on my calendar, that I've planned my day around, wouldn't hurt so much if they had never appeared there. I am considering ringing the charity and asking for another volunteer, perhaps one with fewer commitments. They did say I could if we "clashed", but I feel I would come across as terribly ungrateful.

So I'm really not sure what to do tomorrow. Two of my friends who usually help me out lots (and thus not feel quite so guilty about asking my mum to do everything for me) are both away for the next few days, and I miss them too. Other brilliant timing: the weather has finally broken,and the rain is preventing us from going in our small but boredom-saving garden, I've been diagnosed with anemia (on Monday) and I'm still waiting for the tablets to make me feel a bit more "with it". Our huge fridge-freeze has finally given up today, and I've been frantically ringing local relatives to beg for freezer room, lest my lovingly prepared, from scratch family meals all go to waste. And I'm figuring out how to feed a family with only cupboard times like these, I would usually just trot off to my mum's to get fed and for all the answers generally....god, mums are ace.

I am very reluctant to let Boy watch TV as much as he wishes while I'm in pain, partly because we would quite possibly watch upwards of 8 hours of Peppa Pig (he cries at anything else. Including when the adverts come on, and we only have so many episodes in the sky box.), but mostly because I lapsed my own rule on maximum 20 mins a day, when he was teething, and it's ONLY JUST got back to normal, i.e. not "asking" for TV all day every day and throwing massive paddies every time it's makes it harder on me in the long run.

So I'm feeling like a bit of a crappy mummy at the moment, very selfish for getting pregnant, and putting my son through such a rubbish time while I get to my due date. Especially as I knew I was very likely to get SPD in this pregnancy too. After all, mums don't get sick days.

To cheer myself up up, I'm heading over to the Brits in Bosnia to see if I can finish reading the British Mummy Bloggers Carnival before bed. You will find my post on my favored baby products on there this fortnight! I've enjoyed reading the entries so far.

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Sunday, July 05, 2009

one and a half

This weekend we have celebrated our little boy's half-birthday. The reason we have decided he's a special as the Queen, and deserves two birthdays, is that he was born on Christmas eve. Which was lovely and magical and everything, but it makes for crappy childhood birthdays. You'd think I'd know better than to get up the duff in March, as my birthday is just a week before his (not a cheap month for HID, with wedding anniversary too) and even that was crap as birthday's go. Last year, for his 6 m birthday, we did wrap him up some toys, but he got so much for his real birthday and Christmas last year (we spent almost 2 weeks unwrapping) we decided he didn't need presents, and just did nice things and cake (pictured above, before I added his name & the icing dried) instead.

So on Friday night I baked a cake while HID rode his bike to the coast to watch the sunset. After an unexpected lie-in til 8am on Saturday, (giving husband and wife some much needed early morning nookie time) I was treated to some "alone time" (which I spent icing said cake, and returning books to the library, and sleeping) while Daddy and Boy bonded at the zoo. I missed out on his first go on the zoo's train :-( and first look at the new penguin enclosure. We have season tickets, so we do go quite a lot. It's great actually, no stress to cram everything in in one day, if baby gets tired, we leave and come back next week. That evening, we went to a friend's for tea, and our little angels enjoyed playing in a puddle-strewn garden, and we shared out birthday cake. It was surprisingly lovely to be out of the confines of our own four walls in the evening time, chatting to grown-ups that were not HID. Even though we were home by 8.30, it felt like a night out, and really put my social-o-meter back to full. (Well, as full as it will be with a young family). HID and I even ended up watching a film on a whim, which was immensely enjoyable, just to put chores aside and be together.

Boy's morning nap on Sunday lasted til midday, which gave us a chance to pack a bag to go swimming when he woke, and on the way we looked for somewhere to eat lunch. We planned to go to a local-ish pub called the Wheatsheaf, but were dismayed to find the carpark overflowing (meaning a very long wait, if we found a table at all). We did see their new specials board outside though: which now had each meal's "food miles" noted next to it! I knew they sourced local, fresh produce, but this eco-pub was amazing. I plan to return (having booked a table) with some like-minded mummy friends soon, for a special occasion that hasn't yet occurred to me, as mine is the next birthday in the group (December). We did return to a trusty, more local to home pub (The Plough), that makes gorgeous meals from scratch, so I love taking Boy there and have no qualms about what nasties might be in his meal. There is so much choice! It must be the only pub in the North West with over 10 vegan items on the menu, and an exotic mixed grill including wilderbeast and kangaroo (or fish mixed grill with shark etc). Although I can't imagine these particular dishes have low-food-miles.

We decided to eat outside, and after being bamboozled by the regular menu on the chalk board (which must contain in excess of 100 dishes, excluding deserts and specials), I decided to browse only the light bites lunch menu, and discovered, delightedly, that there is no "children's menu" as such, but a selection of "smaller appetite/younger diners" dishes, that included small portions of normal adult meals (precisely what Boy would eat at home), such as steak (!) and a small pasta menu! We ordered bacon & pesto pasta for Boy, and relaxed in the baking sunshine, slathered in cream, while Boy chased around other small children and generally begged food and tried to escape the beer garden. I was pleasantly surprised to see smokers stayed well away from playing children. Our meals were well worth the long wait, and we all enjoyed the birthday lunch. (Local bloggers/readers please email me for pub locations if you like the sound of them).

Then off to the swimming baths, one Boy and I hadn't frequented before. He walked from the car to the door beautifully, holding my hand all the way, even when distracted by bigger children. I made a real meal of praising this lovely behavior, as it has not yet occurred consistently. I think he may have been a bit tired for the actual swimming bit of the visit, or unsure of the new surroundings, but he didn't enjoy it as much as he usually would a trip to our local pool. However, he was much calmer about getting changed afterwards, which is not the usual drill, let me tell you! So I was quite pleased about that.

I got Boy dressed while I was wrapped in a towel and HID got himself dressed, then the boys disappeared off to the Halfords next door to look at boy things that don't interest me, so I could get changed in peace. Unfortunately leaving me to carry the heavy bag, packed for the three of us, to the car (obviously parked as far away from the door as we could manage). After a full on day, my SPD pain was leaving me with quite a pronounced limp (and probably an attractive grimace to match) , which prompted a young mum to hold open the door for me, and unwise move, as it was taking me forever to cross the small room. I called to her and explained, ("save yourself, I'm not worth it!") but she insisted. Into the foyer I hobbled, touching my swollen tummy and proclaiming "the joys of pregnancy, eh?!" as I thanked her, in the hope that she didn't think me a clumsy fat girl who had hurt her leg. I managed to maneuver the final set of doors solo, and I was out into the carpark.

The little scene in the foyer prompted a very worried looking pool manager to rush out after me, inquiring of my welfare. The poor bloke was obviously panicking that I'd been hurt on his premises and would be suing within the week, what a wonderful culture we live in. I explained I usually use crutches due to my pregnancy condition, but there were more hassle than help in places such as swimming pools. He was so delighted that my condition was not down to negligence on his part, that we offered to carry my huge sports bag to my car for me, even when I pointed out it's location. I think this may be my first act of pregnancy-chivalry performed by a stranger, and I was beaming by the time I had hobbled to the car!

A wonderful weekend was had by all, and Boy is currently napping in his cot, and HID sleeping it off on the sofa. I'm not sure he realises I do this all day every day....ha ha, bless him.

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Friday, July 03, 2009

Our summer in pictures

As the rain starts to fall where we are, I'm letting you in on our summer today, in the hope that it's not all over! Here's what we have been doing:

Cross dressing!

And again...

Gardening: here is our first pumpkin flower

Trusty sand and water play

Staying indoors between 11am and 3pm: here we are at our local soft play group

More Playgroup!

And a little rest is needed after all that fun.


Thursday, July 02, 2009

The Best and Worst of baby products: a post for expectant and new mums!

Warning: Shockingly long post, sorry. There is a list of recommended reading at the end if you like books but can't bear to read all this blurb! Skip to that if you like. We bought a lot of stuff we didn't bother with for our first baby. Similarly, there were lots of items we came to a bit “late” and wished we had known about/ bought them earlier! Here is a list of my personal best and worst baby buys, for each good thing, there is usually a similar or opposite crap thing to be avoided! I've told you why below! But don't let me pursued you, every baby, and parent, is different. Have a read, see what you think, but my best advice is not to buy loads of baby gear before baby arrives. As long as you are reasonably healthy after the birth (unlike me!) you will be able to leave the house and shop gently for things you discover you need, as and when you realise you need them. This will save endless trips to the charity shop later to off-load all your junk.

Best buy:
A sling: last time we didn't discover slings til Boy was 4 m old, but this time, I'll be packing a sling in my hospital bag! Newborns need lots of reassurance in this strange new world, my Boy needed to be held almost constantly. Slings give you the hands-free opportunity to keep your baby close to the familiar beat of your heart and sounds of your digestive system, and warmth and smell of you, all the things he craves. And you can make a sandwich at the same time! I struggled to bond last time, and to breastfeed, and slings are great for both these, and PND, you can go skin to skin under the sling, which helps with all three. Have a look at :, which make the stylish sling pictured above, and give info on the scientific benefits better than I can! Or for a bigger range and help choosing, try: we were very lucky to have a local slings group, with highly informed members just waiting to help (and become my friends :-)) and a massive library of slings (& related products) to borrow for free for a week to try before you buy.

Worst buy: PRAM! Every bugger will tell you that you need one, this is not necessarily the case. Ours (and at least two friends I know agree re: their own pram) was a complete waste of money, and is only used by Nana, thus lives at her house. If you have to relent to the pressure, put off buying one as long as possible, and then get a £20 buggy when baby can sit up, and Nana can use that, instead of spending £500 on an all-singing & dancing high tech model that will rot under your stairs, as ours did. Slings are the way to go, even when they get heavier, if you've always carried, your body adjusts naturally and you don't notice the weight gain, then before you know it, they are asking to walk anyway!

Best buy:
Ice pops: this is a weird one, and a bit horrible to think about. I had 3rd degree (i.e. very extensive) tearing during the birth, and spent 4 hrs being repaired in surgery. I was SORE. HID suggested popping an ice pop wrapped in a flannel in my knickers: the relief was immense. I also bought a cheap kids rubber ring to sit on for a while (6 months!!) too.

Best Buy:
Lansinoh cream: for breastfeeding. Do be warned though, it stained all my bras and pj tops, so remember to put a breast pad in too. It can be quite stiff to apply, and that's the last thing you want on your ultra-sensitive nipples, so warm it between your fingers before applying, or keep on to of a radiator. It's expensive stuff, but the only thing that got me through the painful early days of breastfeeding.

Worst buy:
Disposable breast pads. I did not ever “squirt” or “leak”, see above for the only thing I used breast pads for!! I have some washable ones, so will not be buying disposable this time.

Best buy:
Moonlight lamp: a plug in night light that gives a green glow: not bright enough to wake you or baby properly in the middle of the night, but more than enough light to feed by. Eco-friendly too.

Best buy:
Dishwasher baskets:if you bottle feed, or use dummies, or wish to sterilise any small toys/weaning equipment, these are fab! I didn't find out til later, but to put bottles in the dishwasher is to wash and sterilise them at the same time, due to the hot water! No more scrubbing then fiddling with the steriliser for me then! (And with ours having a setting that is more eco-friendly than filling a sink with hot water, it really was the way to go.) Dishwasher baskets are great for all those tiny items that would otherwise not really have a place in the dishwasher, and easily get lost. We had three! Ours were from Woolworths :-( but jojomamanbebe sells them too.

Best buy:
Sleepsuit bags/baby nightgowns: poppers on baby grows will become the bane of your life. Forget the whole thing and ask well-meaning relatives to buy you these instead of babygrows. They are open, but elasticated at the bottom, for midnight nappy changes, simply pull up the whole item. Akin to wearing a summer dress as apposed to going to the loo and struggling with the fly on your skinny jeans.....try ebay or, known on mothercare site as baby bundlers.

Best Buy:
Baby sleeping bags: as soon as Boy was big enough, these replaced blankets for us. No more confusion as to how many times it's ok to fold a blanket, how thick should it be etc, as sleeping bags have clear instructions for the season. Plus, no kicking of covers & getting cold, thus waking up! Our Boy is an “active” sleeper, we often find him at the opposite end of the cot, wrong way round, or simply splayed horizontally, but his sleeping bags keep him well covered and happy. Bedtime is not bedtime without one. You don't even have to spend a fortune! Get to TKMaxx.

Worst buy:
Millions of blankets, currently in a bag at the bottom of the stairs waiting to go to the charity shop. You need one, maximum, if you use sleeping bags.

Best buy:
Shoo-Shoos (May find cheaper on ebay, but as an idea of what they are.)
Baby shoes do not stay on. Ever! You will lose one of a very cute pair, and be gutted. Until you see the light and choose shoo-shoos. Then you will never allow baby to wear another!! These soft shoes are also great for letting baby's feet develop naturally, and stepping in these is akin to walking barefoot, and professionals recommend 1st steps should be done barefoot.

Worst buy:
Any other type of shoe in the days before baby can walk!

Best buy:
Ikea Antilop high chair: this is literally an essential for every baby household come the time to try grown-up food, especially if you plan to BLW. (which can cause extra mess, and this product is literally the easiest thing to clean on the market!!!) You must buy it, as it is only £9.78. You can buy the tray separately too but we never bothered as it fit straight under our dining table, so it feels a bit more social. Also ideal for multiples and baby & toddler households, as they are stackable when not in use!! Think I'll get the red one this time....

Other ikea children's foody things I like include the barnsling rand bibs and kalas crockery. Don't forget a splash mat......mum's best friend!

Worst buy: a present of an expensive mama's & papa's highchair. Loads of handy crevices for food to get stuck in and go rotten, with an impossible to remover cover, too massive, too high for our table, and a removable tray that was figured out very quickly by our then 6 m old and became not an easy way to remove the mess to the kitchen, but a very efficient way of throwing your entire dinner on the floor/at the wall all at once. Rubbish. And his tummy is too big, at just 18 m, to fit in it anymore.

Best buy:
Babylegs: These are mega-cute leg warmers, for boys as well as girls (you should see how fetching our black and red striped, denis the menace pair look on!!) and are amazingly practical. We use them round the house when Boy is just in a vest, great for protecting crawling knees, or making newborn nappy changes much easier (potty training too I'm told). Also great if you have a sling for keeping exposed legs warm under trousers! Or camping when you just need that extra layer at night.

Best buy:
Sock ons: Similar to shoes, baby socks don't stay on! A great little invention for when you little one isn't wearing shoes. Be warned, don't lose these tiny items in the wash....

Best buy:
Mothercare smart nappy system: If you are even considering using real nappies (and it's a lot easier than you think, once it's in your routine, you hardly notice it!) you must use the mothercare range, it is simply the very best out there. They don't leak, they don't start looking old and grubby after only a few washes like other nappies, they are VERY easy to use and put on, they look cute, they don't leave angry “the velcro has rubbed” marks on your baby, grandmas and nursery staff were eager to use them, they dry quick, they are fairly cheap (being an own brand), there is a mothercare local to everyone so you can stock up with ease and not have to wait ages for internet delivery, and there is even an option to go half & half: with disposable inners available, great for those 1st few newborn weeks or for holidays.

Worst buy:
Motherease one size re-usable nappies. Way too many poppers for a wriggly baby, nowhere near absorbent enough and always leaked poo, and very fiddly covers that never fit properly, at 18 m, ours still look massive. Expensive rubbish basically.

Best buy:
Baby flannels (morrisons): we use these as washable baby wipes, which isn't as bad as it sounds. Many people try to use cotton wool and water for the first few weeks, as did we, but it's such a bloody faf! If you're going to have little bowls of cooled boiled water around the house anyway, you many as well use these flannels as babywipes. They do the job much better than cotton wool, and indeed even the top brands of disposable babywipes, which tend to spread poo around the bottom instead of wiping it off, meaning you use 5 or more wipes. Clever marketing! But I can clean a pooey bum with a maximum of 2 flannels, and they are smaller too. We simply chuck ours in with our re-usable nappies, but if you don't fancy going the whole hog, wipes is a good compromise, (every little helps the environment) as cotton wool is, arguably, rubbish, as are shop bought baby wipes, plus they are full of chemicals and you will chuck away literally millions. For going out, you can often buy plastic baby wipe cases in a travel size, simply dampen a few and pop in before you go (also great for eating out with a weaned baby, again, ten times better than shop bought baby wipes), or we just pop a few in the “messy bag” that comes with most changing bags, I find these too small for all the items we manage to get messy when out (they only really fit a bib in and I'm talking entire outfit changes....) so I tend to carry a plastic carrier bag for this purpose instead. Buy a small lidded bucket to keep them in pre-wash. To wash: put on a rinse and spin with a little lemon juice and nappy-san (available at most supermarkets), and then add the rest of your ordinary washing. Feel free to wash as low as 30, I do, they still come clean.

Worst buy:
This is obviously cotton wool! We have loads that we still didn't use after 18m! It's main use is for cleaning little eyes that have conjunctivitis...will last forever at this rate!

Best Buy:
Metal tipped forks and , to a lesser extent, spoons, especially if you're planning to baby-led wean. Thing is, as soon as they are ready to feed themselves, they want to be just like mummy and daddy, who don't use plastic they don't work very well. Forks are great, as it's much easier to stab food that chase it around a plate with a spoon.

Worst buy:
Loads of weaning spoons! Almost never use them, he eats yoghurt with his fingers! Weaning spoons are often the wrong shape for self-feeing too, too flat, food falls off.

Best buy:
Avent hand breast pump: once you're familiar with it, it was the fastest and most comfortable way to express milk. I was fascinated with watching it come out out, I mean, not only could I make actual milk (!!!) but what no-one tells you is you don't just have one hole in each nipple, it's several! And goes off in all sorts of directions! Anyway, I digress...

Worst buy:
Medula Electric breast pump: noisy, painful, and nowhere near as effective as actually getting milk out of the boob as a hand held. Plus, you can't use it in the bath!

Books I wish I had read in my 1st pregnancy:

The attachment parenting book, Dr Sears and Dr Sears

I recently read this in my pregnancy after being told by friends that the style of parenting we use is “attachment parenting”. I just thought we were going on instinct! Well, that's pretty much it, but I loved reading it, and it gave me even more ideas for baby number 2. Plus it's nice to know, when your mother in law is looking at you like you're crazy, that you're not the only one out there doing it like this....

Baby-Led Weaning, Gill Rapely & Tracey Murkett

Luckily, I did get chance to read this before we started weaning, I just wish I'd read it before I bought loads of useless weaning spoons and ice-cube trays for purees we never made! It's all about waiting til your child is truly ready to try grown-up food, and then letting them actually try it, not giving them mush before they can even sit up! It was amazing for us.

Three in a Bed, Deborah Jackson

I recently read this after deciding to co-sleep with our new baby this time. I feel we were naïve last time, and too frightened in the early days to go against the norm, and thus forced our son to sleep in a cot alone. Is it any wonder it took him til he was 16m old to sleep through the night?? He was a terrible sleeper, and we now realise this is because he needed comfort and cuddles from us through the night in those early months. The book helped me see the benefits, and plan for sleeping SAFELY with baby number 2. It also gave me some good stock answers to ward off people who may not agree with co-sleeping. (i.e. most of the western world....sigh). It's fascinating to look at other cultures who co-sleep. I learned from this book that cot-death (SIDs) is unheard of when families co-sleep! As are nightmares and tantrums!! Sounds blissful.

Well, I hope you enjoyed reading about some of my favourite baby things, and I do hope it's helped any expectant mums out there to feel a bit more confident in the minefield of baby products everyone tells them they “must have”. At the end of the day, it's your baby, and you know what works best for you, even if no-one else is doing it, your baby will love you for it. Get what you need, not what the magazines say you can't live without!

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Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Stormy Night

I didn't get much sleep last night. After a 10pm bedtime (recklessly late after a pretty sleepless night the night before too), I woke around 1.30am for a wee, the joys of pregnancy. I must not have tip-toed quietly enough, as the moment I crawled back into bed, Boy woke and required settling. After this I could not fall asleep, and kept thinking "roll on breastfeeding night feeds, full of hormones to make me fall asleep!" and trundled off downstairs to work on a post about my best and worst baby buys (being pregnant again and all). I also ate a chocolate muffin. The way I see it, it's too late to count as food I ate on Tuesday, and too early to be food I eat today, so no calories consumed whatsoever. Great! I wrote til 3am, strictly forcing myself to get some sleep, I reluctantly climbed in bed wide awake. I then started to get rather annoyed at the industrial estate at the back of our house for dropping beer barrels at this time! I mean, 3am! Quite unusual. Or a small explosion a few miles away (not uncommon when I was a child, I would have to reveal more than I wish about where I live if I told you why!) one or the other.

Then it dawned on me, it was a dry thunderstorm. The sky had turned a stunning stormy orange through the gap in my curtains, and I settled down to watch the show. I've always had a morbid fascination with storms, I am in awe of their powerful grace and beauty. The clouds rumbled on, like a dog's low growl at the back of it's throat before the kill. Lightning camera-flashed the sky, I often wonder if I have imagined the sudden light. As it wore on, I began to think the flashes were almost like circles of electricity from within my own tired eyes, it was very surreal, especially since I felt like the only person awake and watching.

The rain started. It poured in huge great drops against the open bedroom window, cooling down the tropical night. It abruptly stopped, and later started, many times, as though the person controlling the storm was filling up a jug at the sink, and the pouring it over us, only to have it run out and have to re-fill. At one point, HID stirred next to me, and I stroked his hair and told him it was only a storm, as though he was a child, and he drifted off. It got me thinking of how to explain a storm to a small, frightened child, as I will inevitably have to do soon, and thoughts of clouds bumping into each other filled my head. I was glad Boy's window was shut. He is yet too little to listen to rational explanations.

Then, oddly, out of the thunder and lightening and grey-orange skies, came the stark cry of a bird. The dawn chorus was beginning. And it struck me that being a bird is an all weather job, much like a postman. I listened for a while to the gorgeous birdsong backed by rumbling clouds and light flashes, enjoying the drama. Then I fell asleep to this lullaby, and woke thinking how lucky I was not to have missed it.

In other news, I feel I must mention and ask for a little help from all my lovely readers. A close friend of mine has recently found out that her daughter, the same age as my Boy, has a condition called development dysplasia of the hip (DDH). I don't know much about the condition, I have gathered from talking to her about it that her baby's hip was dislocated at birth, and this was missed/overlooked by doctors, causing her to grow without a proper ball/socket joint, which became apparent when she started walking. This will have to result in an operation to correct this when she is just two years old (how awful to think of) and wearing a cast, possibly from waist to both ankles, for four months, the poor thing. Below is a link to click on to sign a petition to ask the government to meet with the charity that helps children like like this, STEPS. They want to implement more screening at the time of birth so the condition can be quickly and easily treated, with no need for scary operations. Please, please take the few moments to click on this link and fill out your name and address (address kept private), for a lovely and happy little girl, who shouldn't have to be going through this awful trauma.
Please click here.