Breastfeeding · General thoughts

Where have I been? Watching Moana…

I haven’t written a post in over a month. I don’t think that’s a massive disappointment to my 12 readers but I am slightly disappointed that I allowed my weekly writing to slip away so easily. One of the reasons was that I didn’t know what to write about. Life’s simply been ticking along – nothing felt worthy of a blog post. Here’s a few things that have happened in the last few weeks:

1.The child is sleeping more reliably. Up to two hours in the middle of the day and in bed at around 8pm. Which has led me to think that it’s time to do more. So I submitted an application to study as a Mother Supporter with the ABM. It was approved and my study pack received within a week. In the initial excitement I also ordered three of the six suggested books from the reading list. Then as I sat down to get serious about this course, the procrastination dragon that has been forcibly suppressed in the newborn/baby/early toddler stage reared its head. I had actually forgotten what a champion procrastinator I am. So much that I’m writing this post instead of doing any research or reading. I have until the end of March 2018 to complete the module. I’m putting that on here so that I will be held accountable and will get my head down – eventually…. But why isn’t this worthy of its own blog post? Well, really… I kind of feel that could be a bit sanctimonious…. better to actually do some work before I blog about it.

2. I’ve watched Moana about 86 times. Not by myself. With the kid. It’s a brilliant film, I love it. And I’m actually really happy the child has expanded her viewing likes beyond Paw Patrol. We now have the Pups, Thomas and Moana queued up on the Sky box. Then I got excited and thought, maybe she’d like other Disney movies too. So I started with Frozen. She watched for 2 minutes before she started asking for Moana. I told her it was a “different Moana” – it was Elsa. Five minutes in kid says “no more Elsa?” – then she got up to find a toy to play with. I ended up watching it and I have to say that I found it a bit disappointing after the creative genius that is Moana. A few days later I tried Sing. She’s “watched” it before, months ago when her cousins were in town and we’ve been listening to the soundtrack for months so I thought she might like the familiarity of the music. Again, 5 minutes and “no more kwa-la (koala)!” Shame…… back to Moana we go….

3. I finished knitting myself a scarf. Again, woo hoo – who cares? I even started writing a post on why it took me a year and a half to knit a sodding, albeit quite long, scarf. It was because I’d put it down to make things for the kid. Last winter we went through 4 handmade hats (three made by me, one by a friend):

4 hats better

A couple of months ago I found a pattern for a cowl with bear ears, and then one that looked like a fox and I thought that could be fun for this winter. I made the bear cowl and tried to put it on the kid only to be met with her first sentence:

“Noooooo!!! I don’t like it hat!”

And at that point I wondered why I was trying so hard. She quite willingly wears the £3 H&M hat I purchased in a hurry, following an unforseen turn in the weather, so why bother? Why not do something for myself? So I finished my scarf. The blog post was going to be about self-care, about not falling down the rabbit hole of giving up everything you enjoy just to take care of your baby – but I hate that phrase. It makes my skin crawl. Who coined it? And I got that far in the draft of that post and didn’t know how to go on. I haven’t learned my lesson though. I’ve decided I want to knit my first jumper, but I thought it might be easiest to start with a small jumper – one sized for a kid….

4. As you may have noticed, the kid’s speech is coming along – phrases and sentences. Actually if I think about it, the sentence about the bear cowl was not her first. Her first came a couple of weeks earlier when we were driving out of a multi storey car park – the same one where I had, in the recent past, scratched the car. I took a sharp inhale as I went to make the tight left hand turn down the ramp and the kid pipes up with: ” Don’t worry Mama, you can do it!” And I laughed and laughed and somehow made it out of the car park without further damaging the car.

So that’s it, nothing massively groundbreaking but I’ll be back next week…. back on schedule….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

General thoughts

It’s got to stop…

Judgement. It’s everywhere. It starts the moment you announce you’re pregnant and I’m not sure if it ever stops. I’m a little confused as to why this event in a woman’s life leaves her open to more criticism than anything else. Maybe that’s not true – maybe it’s not more criticism, maybe it just stings more. You’re trying to keep your little person alive, relying pretty much on gut instinct, so when someone comes along (be it either a loved one or total stranger) and tells you your instinct is wrong or stupid, then it just hurts more.

The other day, playground chatter with other first time mums turned to the times others have disagreed with our methods. There were three of us, we all parent differently and apparently we’ve all parented wrongly at some point or another. Which only goes to show no one is getting it right – apparently.

Then I was browsing Facebook and a suggested article caught my eye because the headline referred to showering every day despite being a new mum. I couldn’t believe it! Someone had the same immediate goal as me! I had to read it… obviously. The gist of the article was to comfort new mothers that not everything has to be different after having a kid, i.e. you don’t necessarily have to lose/alter your identity in order to be a good parent. Then I foolishly read the comments. I know the internet is a harsh place. Just last week my husband was reminding me that the blogosphere was not the place to put yourself out there unless you could let the negativity roll off you. I hope the author could. Those commenting berated her for perfecting her eyeliner whilst her baby cried. Did it not occur to anyone that maybe that DIDN’T ACTUALLY HAPPEN? And that maybe the author was using her poetic licence? Embellishing? Not letting facts gets in the way of a good story – whatever you want to call it. All she was saying was that it was important for her to continue to wear make up as it made her feel good. And we all know, that a happy mum (or primary caregiver, if we’re being entirely PC) makes for happy kids. It just astounded me – it shouldn’t have, because – well, it’s the internet – but it did.

All I could think, after the musings of the day, was that it all has to stop. The unsolicited advice has to stop. The open judgement has to stop. Incidentally, I’m writing this whilst watching Bridesmaids and the main character just shouted at her best friend (who just ruined her bridal shower) “why can’t you be happy for me and then go home and talk about me behind my back like a normal person?”  I think the same applies to parenting. If you have a problem, and my child’s well being is not in danger – I don’t need to hear it. But you are of course welcome to bitch behind my back.

So to those that have gone before me:

1. I’m sorry for simply not understanding what it was like when you became a parent and I apologise for all the times I was a complete and utter fuckwit/gobshite/insensitive moron (delete as appropriate)

2. Please do not take my decision to parent differently from you as a personal affront. I believe we can raise decent human beings with many different approaches. so just because I do something differently, it doesn’t mean that I’m doing it wrong. Well, it may mean I’m doing it wrong but we’re not going to really understand the full ramifications for another 18 years or so. So for now, could you just give me benefit of the doubt that I’m doing my best in trying to raise a kid that is kind, considerate and not quite as soft as me?

And just to round it off, here’s a list of things that should probably cause more offence than the way I choose to parent (note: this list is not exhaustive):

1. I don’t listen to Radio 4. I know that they have some excellent programs – but radio shows that mostly talk – I can’t, sorry…. maybe one day I’ll grow up but that day isn’t here yet.

2. I don’t appreciate the artistic beauty of classical music or any music without words – unless it’s a movie soundtrack. I like movie soundtracks.

3. Art – total philistine – I like what I like, usually because of the colours but that’s about it.

4. I do not enjoy museums – unless you can touch the stuff or play or there’s a big whale skeleton or a giant gemstone….

5. I eat too many sweets…. if I could eat cake for breakfast I would. It’s entirely my fault that my kid says “biscuit” when she means “breakfast.” Apple… tree….

I could go on but this post is probably already too long as it is.  So just to finish it off, could we (being the five people reading this) pledge to be a little kinder? After all, we all have different tastes in music, food, literature, film and possibly even politics – is it  any wonder then that we will all parent differently too?

 

 

General thoughts · Technology

We need to talk about Paw Patrol… 

A few months ago, I realised the only way to make dinner or do some exercise without a baby swinging round my ankles (or climbing on my back) would be to plant her in front of a cartoon (or two).

I can’t remember why I chose Paw Patrol, probably a recommendation from another mum, but now it can’t be anything else. No CBeebies, no Ben & Holly, just “Pups!”

Now I’ve watched PLENTY of episodes alongside the munchkin and there are a few thoughts that have come to mind (mostly in the shower this morning) :

1. Firstly, the obvious – 6 pups and only one girl? Please….. The random introduction of Everest in season 2 hardly makes up for it….

2. The adults are ridiculous… Mayor Goodway, I’m looking at you… 

3. Is there some untold tragic backstory to the children of Adventure Bay? Are the main kids all orphaned? Where are Ryder’s parents? Alex lives with his Grandpa and what about Katie? She runs her own business to support herself and her cat instead of going to school! Wikipedia calls Ryder a 10 year old genius inventor – so that explains why he doesn’t go to school….. 

4. Who pays for the Paw Patrol? I mean, they have some serious equipment – a fully kitted out HGV and plane. And maintaining the Lookout can’t be cheap. So is that all funded by Adventure Bay tax dollars or is Ryder like a young billionaire Bruce Wayne? I guess that would make Robodog his Alfred…

Sorry, rambling – I have a point, let me try make it. When I started Buggyfit, the instructor repeatedly stated that the British Medical Journal says that all babies need at least 20 minutes of daylight regardless of the weather. Obviously if this does not happen your baby will grow up to be anaemic, will never grow to their full height and you will be a total failure of a mum – add it to the list….. 

I guess I’m concerned about the amount of time my baby spends in front of a screen and how much she asks for it, literally from  the minute she wakes up until bedtime. I’ve taken to hiding all devices or, if she does find them, I tell her they’re broken – or in her words “uh oh bow-ken!” We’ve also started negotiating, which isn’t a bad thing. “Two episodes of Pups and then…”… fill in the blank. To date, it’s worked like a charm and she and I both stick to our ends of the bargain. 

Last week I had to take the baby to the doctor and to prevent an all out tantrum I gave her my phone. He noted how good she was at navigating between photos, music and other apps and told me not to worry, because screens and technology are just another language that she needs to learn that weren’t even present when I was a child. 

So I guess it’s inevitable… babies today are going to be instinctively curious about technology. There’s no point in trying to stop them – all we can do is try and strike a balance. In the meantime, I’ll try and get the kid to expand her viewing portfolio, if only for my own sanity. Maybe it’s me that needs to step away from the Pups…. 

General thoughts

“We thought we’d need to hire you a nanny”

Many years ago I was at home with my parents and we were watching My Big Fat Greek Wedding. There’s a scene in the movie where the main character is depicted spending her evening sitting between her two parents watching TV. It didn’t take a second for both my parents to turn, point, laugh and announce that I was their Toula. I was supposed to be the one left behind. My mother often quotes her mother who had warned her to be nice to me as I’d be the only one left to take care of her when she’s old. Well, like Toula, I didn’t stick to the script. I didn’t exactly find myself a John Corbett, but the husband is American, so there’s at least one similarity.

As a child I would find whatever excuse I could to join in with as few chores as possible. In my early 20s I wasn’t even sure I wanted a family. Why would you do that when you can have a career, earn money and spend it on yourself? Besides, other people would have children. If I felt the need I could spend time with one of them and then GIVE THEM BACK. I wasn’t even very house proud. In fact, I hardly spent any time at home – I was always out with my friends. As far as I was concerned, having no responsibilities was a bonus.

But then my big sister had her first child. As all good Indian families do, as soon as she went into labour we piled into two cars and the whole gang went down to the hospital. She had asked me to be with her when things got messy. Can’t say I was much use. It was so hot – birth partners should know that delivery rooms are really hot – dress accordingly. And I felt dizzy had the most awful cramps. Obviously nothing compared to what my sister was feeling…. Anyway, my niece finally arrived and I’d never felt a rush of emotion like it. I left the room and sobbed in the hallway for what felt like three hours. It might have actually been about 7 minutes, I’m not sure. But it was then I realised that the life that I’d mapped out for myself was very lonely and I’d totally missed the point. It took me 24 years to learn that lesson.

Fast forward 10 years or so. My daughter is a few months old and I’m with my mum and she says: “You know, when you said you were pregnant I looked at your Dad and we got worried. We thought we’d need to hire you a nanny. I didn’t think you would be able to cope, I mean it’s you – I wasn’t even sure you could manage changing a nappy. But you can, I’m proud of you.”

So to all nervous expectant mothers out there, if I can do this, so can you. Everything’s going to be ok.

Breastfeeding · General thoughts · Sleeping · Working

If I knew then what I know now…

It won’t come as any surprise that my intentions for maternity leave and life as a mother differed wildly from reality. I intended to breastfeed my child for 6 months. I intended to switch to a bottle thereafter (cos that’s what you normally do, right?).  I intended to have a freezer perpetually stocked with delicious Annabel Karmel approved food. I intended for my child to only ever sleep in her cot, preferably in the beautifully decorated nursery after the age of 6 months. I intended to go back to work after 8 months. I intended to be able to leave her for a weekend by 9 months. I intended to be creative and constructive during my maternity leave – starting an incredibly witty blog was of course number one on that list.

What a muppet!

In fact, of all the intentions and promises I made to myself before my bundle of joy arrived, the only one I’ve stuck to was to have a shower each day. [Pats self on back]

An NCT friend of mine once said “we were all perfect parents before we had the babies.” No truer words were ever spoken. The information available to expectant and new parents is vast and often overwhelming. If you’re anything like me, then reading and gathering information provided comfort. I felt armed, I thought I was prepared, I thought I had a clue.

What I hadn’t foreseen, that in my case at least, the ability to make decisions based on reason and informed judgement would be replaced by emotion and intuition.

Here’s the reality, my daughter is 19 months old and continues to breastfeed up to 5 times a day (and that doesn’t include when she wakes at night).

She does eat homemade food most days of the week but I also have an entire shelf in my pantry that holds pouches and other pre-packaged baby food. Convenient for when out and about and for those evenings when you just. can’t. be. bothered.

There is a nursery, it is tastefully decorated with a “fly me to the moon” theme complete with glow in the dark star curtains. My daughter does not sleep there. She does however sleep in her cot… mostly. I took the side off and attached it to our bed, a recent development after months of co-sleeping (more on that in another post).

I loved my job, I loved my colleagues and the camaraderie, but I have a secret. Before I became mama I never expected to like being at home with the baby. I didn’t think there would be much to enjoy. I’ve always worked and before now I’ve never not wanted to. I thought I would be lonely. I’m also fairly sure I’m not supposed to admit that out loud. But I do enjoy it, I love it. Not every minute of every day, I’m not a bottomless pit of patience but this is probably the biggest surprise of all. So when the husband got offered a new job which would leave me no choice but to quit mine, I was relieved and elated that the new job also afforded us the amazing opportunity for me to not have to go back to work. Looking back, I know that I would have spent every minute at work wishing I was with my baby but I’m not sure that I would have spent every minute at home wishing I was at work.

I haven’t been apart from my daughter for more than 4 hours. Partly because of the breastfeeding… partly because it breaks my heart.

As for creativity? I’m an accountant, I’m a scientist.. It was always going to be a big ask…. But here I am, having a go – better late than never….

So the take away from all this? Read, plan – go ahead. But plan on being surprised.

General thoughts

My first blog post

I’ve only finally gone and done it! I’ve only gone and got myself a WordPress blog site!! I’ve only been thinking about doing this for about two years!!!

It’s not an unfamiliar story. Girl gets pregnant, goes on maternity leave and vows to be constructive and creative with her “time off” by writing a marvellously witty blog about her experiences as a first time mother.

Well, here I am. My daughter is 19 months old and I wrote the “About Me” page six months ago. That’s how long it’s taken me to pull my finger out and get on with it. Get on with what exactly? Well, I’m just thinking out loud, the blog is mainly for myself. I doubt I’ll address any ground breaking issues, I’ll most likely just sound like a broken “mummy blogger” record. But if someone happens to find this site and it happens to bring a smile to their face, then that’s a bonus.

And if you are reading this and you’re not a blood relative – then thank you and welcome to my world!