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Saturday, 14 September 2013

Farewell My Confinement - My moment with you now is ending

Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone? One minute you're cursing the never ending pregnancy and the outstretched days being overdue, and then the three day labour and then the exhausting early weeks and then the difficult 'stay at home mum' months and the next minute it's ... over. Where did that go?

My University course start date has slyly sneaked up on me and, if the nursery fees are anything to go by, I may have to work along side it. Before I knew it, I suddenly realised I have one week of 'Confinement', 'maternity leave' left. And so it seems a good time to close the door on this blog.

Ironically,  it has only been over the last couple of weeks that I have really started to enjoy my maternity leave. It took me a very long time to feel confident in taking my son out and about - and I had just got the hang of public transport with him and restaurants with him and wheeling him out and about.

Yesterday I went for a long walk and passed a small park. Strangely there was no one in the play area except one man and his son struggling with the slide (laughter, laughter, tears, laughter, laughter, tears). I saw that there was a small swing, swaying on its own in the autumn breeze. Would he sit in that? Is he old enough? I wondered.

I crept into the park, took him out of his buggy and placed him in the small swing. He fit. He sat upright. He looked confused... and intrigued. Ever so carefully I steadily rocked him to and fro, to and fro. Slowly a gummy smile spread across his small face and he let out a few giggles.

I was going to miss this, miss him so much. I have wasted so much of this precious time together. I am going to miss this peace, this togetherness, this absolute gift of time with my baby boy. Soon I will be neck high in text books and lesson plans and working stress and I will close my eyes and remember my perfect boy, swaying happily away on his swing, just the two of us in the quiet park giggling at each other.

Even a squirrel came and watched us for a bit about a metre away. I shit you not! It was like a Disney film.

They say treasure every moment because you never get this time back and you say 'Shut the Feck up it's bloody hard work'. But something tells me I should have spent less time moaning - and more time cuddling and taking long walks in the park, and playing on the swings.

I intend on making this last week count.

As for you all - I have loved keeping this diary of my confinement and I hope you have enjoyed reading my misadventures.

My confinement may be over .... but I am sure I will be back soon in some other guise - watch this space.

Back to the beginning

Friday, 13 September 2013

Day Release & Waiting for the cheese

When our son was four months old my partner and I decided, to keep the flame alive, and to keep ourselves alive - we would spend one day a month away from our little cherub. One day and one night to be precise. I felt confident in leaving him with his Grandparents for one day and so we took our chance and booked a hotel near by. We would spend this one day and night doing everything we couldn't do in the 29 or 30 other days of the month. My partner mostly slept... whilst I took several long lava hot baths with a bottle of wine. I also stopped calling him a Bastard for the day.

"Here he is Mum, Dad: Now I'd rather you didn't take him out in the pram because you might forget to hold the safety strap. I'd rather you didn't go out at all. I don't want you to give him a bath because he's just too heavy and too slippery and I can barely hold him in the bath and I'm in my thirties - so he can go one day without a bath. Always check his nappy before you put him in his jumperoo or the result of poo plus aggressive jumping is pretty catastrophic. Don't take your eyes off him for a nanosecond. PUT ON YOUR GLASSES for Gods sake! Here is his food, here are his bottles, here are his spare clothes... text me every hour to let me know all three of you are alive... ok... GO!" 

My partner and I would then leap into a taxi waiting outside like two criminals in a get away car.

Last weekend was our third day out on day release for good behaviour and to add excitement to our day off I booked us onto a wine tasting!

We arrived at the stylish bar and met the other wine tasters. It felt like our first 'date' in well... forever. It all felt exciting and new and I felt in love again - or at least I did by the third sample. The portion sizes were ridiculously big considering how little we had paid. We had a GLASS of wine with each 'taster'.

First came the Chenin Blanc.
Then the Sauvignon Blanc.
Then a white Rioja (beautiful).

"Any Questions?" the wine expert said
"Yez" I said, my hand shooting up like the Teacher's pet "I waz told there woulds be cheese?"
"Err... yes, the cheese is coming"

Then it was a large glass of Prosecco.
Then we started on the reds.
First it was a Beaujolais,
then a Chianti...
glug glug glug.
I had lost most of my taste bud usage by this point.

"Doose we gets ze cheeses now?"
"Yes ... soon"

Then it was some other red - don't ask me which one...

I was now waiting for the cheese like I once waited for my little boy to arrive. And it felt as long as those two extra weeks of pregnancy. How desperate I was for my little guy to arrive. Now desperate for cheese!

Gosh I love wine. Wine is sooo nice. Why didn't I start a blog all those months ago about wine? Not pregnancy! Not babies! I should have written about wine - then people might have sent me free wine to taste and write about - imagine that! I could have been the next Jilly Goolden! I could have been a Master Sommelier! Yes - I should have written about Vino! Yummy scrummy wine - not babies! Babies? Bleeurgh.

There were two married couples to my right. One of the women asked me if it was a special occasion? Birthday? Anniversary?

"Noes..." I said "we has a baby nearly six months agoes an we ave ONE days off a month"

"Oh my Goodness!" the lady exclaimed before announcing to the table
"They had a baby five months ago! A toasts to the baby!!" as my partner whipped out an impossibly cute picture of our son. The table raised their glasses to our child.

The corners of my eyes welled up. God I missed him. I couldn't wait to get back to him. Our little angel. We should be at home with him. Yes I know I am with him 24 hours a day and this is our only break but I miss him - look at his perfect little face. We should go back right now......

"ooooh yeasys! The cheeses are heres babes! Babes.. babes.. don'ts falls asleep.. BABES?
mmm... I loves cheeses".

"Hello Darling! Just to let you know, we have had to give him a bath - we had a bit of a jumperoo incident ..... and the poo was up to his neck. Nothing to worry about dear, see you in the morning!"

It would seem we have come full circle.

Friday, 16 August 2013

The Walk of a Billion Miles & the Mini Sumo

The sun was shining, it was Friday and I was in a particularly cheery mood so I decided to go for a walk to the local supermarket - so thrilling is my life nowadays! I would usually take my son in his buggy and have never had a problem ... odd then that I suddenly decided to take him in his baby carrier attached to my chest. 

He's been in the carrier many times - and recently has started facing out - which he seems to love! He must find it so confusing, sailing down the road, floating on air, on imaginary stilts. I put on a silk dress and some sunglasses, strapped him to my front, grabbed my purse and started the twenty minute walk to the shop. 

Unfortunately I had failed to take two things into account. Two things that only became apparent ten minutes into my walk. 

One - It was a hundred fucking degrees, and
Two - my baby now weighs about the same as a Sumo Wrestler in training. 

My lower back was in agony. Sweat beads were forming behind my sunglasses and in any crease on my body ... covered in my SILK dress! The best fabric for a heatwave! 

People stopped and smiled and waved at the chunky baby wobbling and weebling in front of me in his comfy suspension, enjoying his free ride. 
"Awwww! They cooed, "He's so lovely!" You could see them admiring me - what a good mother I must have looked like. 

Little did they know that inside I was thinking "Where can I ditch this loser?!"

My usual twenty minute walk was slowly becoming a forty minute one, in blistering heat and I realised I was waddling like I did at 42 weeks pregnant - oh the memories! But back then he was only 7lbs 8 - whereas now he's about 5 stone! 

I made it to Waitrose, sweating, panting, waddling, dehydrated, losing the will to live - and realised that any shopping I got would only add to my overall baggage weight!

I bought a small packet of Olives, resisted the urge to ditch him in the Sales bin and set out on my billion mile walk back - cursing all the way! 

If anyone needs me, once I can stand again - I'll be burning a certain baby carrier. Its time has come! 


Thursday, 8 August 2013

The Scripture of Cot.

In the beginning there was a moses basket for the first born. But lo the child outgroweth it and got tubby and heavy and so he entered the family bed where he ruled over the household for months. Until the Patriarch and Matriarch chose a Cot. And the Cot was delivered unto them via next day delivery and the box sat in the corridor for at least a week before the Patriarch assembled it -by the sweat of his brow. And lo he cried up to the Heavens "These screws are too f*cking small for the holes!"

And hours later the Cot was erected in a separate room for the chunky first born, a labour of love, and Matriarch and Patriarch were hopeful. As you sow so shall you reap.

And it was 7pm and the sky was darker and lowering and thanks to the gospel of Super Nanny studied for years beforeth the Matriarch knew the importance of a bedroom routine and lo she gave unto him a hearty stodgy meal of pureed roast chicken and it was good. She then baptised the child in a warm bath and wrapped him in a comfy bedtime garment. And the child was lowered into the cot and fed a bottle of warm milk until his eyes shut and he entered the land of nod. And the Matriarch crept out of the nursery and prayed that he would not awake till morn. Gird your loins.

And she said unto them whoever doth not be f*cking quiet after 7pm cannot be my disciple and will feel thy wrath. Blessed are the peacemakers.

On the first night the child, the apple of thy eye, awoke three times and cried unto the Wilderness as it was his birthright.

And on the second night the child awoke three times and cried unto the Wilderness and refused to sleep for hours. The child spoke - He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, make me milk straight away!!

And she forgave him - for he knows not what he does.

But she did not get enough sleep and said unto the Patriarch come not near to me; for I am tireder than thou and I will burneth you.

But a house divided against itself cannot stand. All things must pass.

But Lo! On the third night the child slept in his own room from 7.15 pm to 7.15 am with two very short wake ups. And the clouds parted and light did shine upon the household and all were rested and the Lord was good and all thoughts of homicide were put to one side and love and harmony reigned. Oh tender mercies!

Let there be light.

And Matriarch and Patriarch could once more eat, drink and be merry and lay together in the family bed. What the Cot has joined together let no little man put asunder.

And she said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Thank f*ck for that!

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

The Weaning of Life

Question - who is the best fed person in our house, perhaps our street, perhaps town?
Answer - my five and a half month old son. 

We are in the full messy throws of weaning! 

It is fruit galore in pureed form - apples and pears and strawberries and raspberries and bananas and mangos and papaya! I don't even know what a papaya is! And if it's not fruit it's veg! Carrots and peppers and sweet potatoes and sweetcorn and spinach. Although I wouldn't recommend the spinach - as aesthetically it resembles something that one might see shooting out of the back of a sick farm animal. And it doesn't stop at fruit and veg... he is having a jolly old time as a carnivore. He has had chicken, bangers and mash and beef stew. In his special drawer in the kitchen there is a stack of gourmet delights awaiting him - from fish pie to pork roast to bean stew to cheesy pie to chicken casserole. He has also enjoyed baby porridge and berry crumble with custard! As I said - the best fed gentleman within at least a ten mile radius. Little Lord Fauntleroy!! I on the other hand am living on cold cups of tea and toast. 

It is an exciting time! After weeks of breast feeding - then months of formula feeding, milk seems so old news! The religious making up of the bottles gets somewhat tedious - so it is so exciting to get a little bowl and a little spoon and experiment a myriad of tastes on your little chubby Guinea Pig. So far my experimental findings note book reads ......... 

Hates banana, Loves Chicken. 

It is extremely interesting reading. 

Of course, with weaning comes a new hobby - washing! Your laundry bin overfloweth with bibs (redundant) and baby clothes splattered with pureed meals. Unfortunately 80% of the food that is intended for his mouth goes behind his neck, down his top, up his nose, on his chair, in his hair, under his nails and all over his outfit. 

We have taken to feeding him naked. That is to say - he is naked. We are fully clothed. The sight of me naked is enough to put any baby/person off their food.

At this rate, next week he'll be on the Anchovy stuffed Olives and Antipasti! 

Monday, 15 July 2013

Cruel Summer - Son in the Sun

What do buses, men and the sunshine have in common? You wait forever for them - and then they all come along at once! We have waited seven. long. months for the summer ... and now we have a heatwave! 

I have been a sun worshipper for many years, for the few days it comes out in the UK, but I have never had the combination of a near five month old baby boy... and the sun. Things are a little different when you have a baby ... and a heatwave. 

You become obsessed with their body temperature, very aware that they can't regulate it the same way we can. My son has been sporting a nappy and a smile for days, no clothes. I have to continually check he is in the shade and no ray of harmful sun is touching his delicate, sensitive, innocent, new born skin. There is nothing fashionable about a St Tropez baby - I have told him he'll have to fake it! Well if it's good enough for the folks on The Only Way Is Essex... 

I decided the best course of action was to get a paddling pool to keep him cool. Alas, it would seem every single other person in the UK had had the same bright idea and despite knowing about the heatwave NO companies had stocked up on this item. 

"Do not despair! Whatever happens I will return with a paddling pool" my partner exclaimed heroically. And true to his word, he returned several hours later, sweating, with a paddling pool... and a huge water machine-gun ... that takes batteries. Wonderful! 

We forgot the hose. Took us fecking hours to fill it. 

The water was a tad cold for him. He was alright with his feet in it. He was ok with his legs in it. Anything higher up.. not so good. 

I had to sit in the sodding thing to hold him. A mother's love eh? Fecking freezing. 

He slept in the shade while I soaked up the sun. Which brings me to my next point - the only bonus about having a baby in this heat is the wide array of creams I have to treat my sunburn this morning. 

And mother has been at it again. 
"Paddling pool? You won't leave him in it though will you?" 
"Yes mum, just for a few hours. We'll get him a mini lilo and a cocktail, put some summer tunes on and leave him to it! Sure he'll be grand! Club Tropicana drinks are free...."  

It is too hot for his jumperoo. It is too hot for his buggy. It is too hot for his bouncer chair. I am running out of options ... the fridge it is! 

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

The Hell Mouth

Motherhood, parenthood if you will, has a naughty sense of humour; just when you start to feel like you're doing a decent job and your days and nights are getting a little easier, just as you start to relax and breathe a little calmer, it will throw you a brand new fresh Hell into the mix.

Ha! It shouts, now see how you deal with this one! AMATEUR!!

And from the mouths of babes, or my babe to be specific - comes our toughest challenge yet. At four months he is now in the full throws of teething turmoil.

So I have made quite a sane decision. Our son does not need teeth. He can get on just fine without them. I am quite confident I can find a legitimate dentist who will extract them all before they cause him anymore harm. Although now you come to think of it... that sounds a tad painful in itself. But no no - my mind is made up - he is to be without teeth! Yes he might be a tad 'slobbery' at dinner parties but I'm sure he'll get by.

My poor little man is quite obviously in quite a bit of pain.

If you have ever had a cat - you'll know that it is a truth universally acknowledged that you can buy them as many cat beds as you can afford but that moggy will ignore the comfy cashmere and sleep anywhere OTHER than its bed. Cardboard boxes, laundry baskets, the bath etc. Much in the same way we went about purchasing a plethora of teething rings and chewy toys only to find our little guy will chew ANYTHING BUT that which is designed for chomping; his clothes, his hand, the sofa cushions, his Jumperoo seat.

We have tried more or less everything at this point. He won't chew on a frozen fruit nibbler device or indeed, bog standard frozen fruit.. but then I wouldn't want to gnaw on anything frozen either - unless it was an ice cube ... in tonic.... and Gin.

My partner comes home each day with another wonder product recommended by the Pharmacist .. all of which have fallen by the wayside.  Teething granules, odd brown dog biscuit looking things and a plastic toothbrush with gel on it (this felt like administering a new form of torture).

The only thing that appears to make any difference at all at this point is an extremely pungent type liquid .. but it has a very short relief time. Which means I get a very short relief time.

He tends to communicate his discomfort to me the only way he knows how - by continually shouting. all. day. long. Not screaming - just shouting - like a drunk football thug on his way home from the big match.


My ears are bleeding.

Ok. I will do you a deal teeth - I will let you live, I won't extract you - if you could do me a small favour... make your appearance in the next ten hours. You have ten hours to make your move. That's the deal. I don't care what you have to do - but my baby better look like Simon Cowell by tomorrow morning! Or we are going to seriously fall out.

It is always two thirty in this house! Two Thirty! Tooth hurty! Tooth hurty! Get it?

It's not funny.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Instructional Guide - 'How to' look after my baby.

1. Depending on the law of Sods baby will wake up at 6am, 8am or the less desirable 4am.

2. If you hear him gargling, thrashing about, murmuring or whining - do not assume he is ready to get up. This might be a 4 minute phase which, as soon as you get out of bed, he decides to cease. You will KNOW when he is ready to wake up. He is not shy about letting you know his feelings.

3. Do not let him sleep in the moses basket on the rocking stand - put the moses basket on the floor. Due to his rapidly increasing weight and energy if the basket is on the rocking stand he will tend to thrash violently about resembling, from the outside, signs of a Velociraptor testing his parameters.

4. There are various 'distraction devices' around the house. His Jumperoo, his play gym, his door bouncer and his chair. Of course, the novelty of these items drops by 3.5% each day.

5. Make sure you make up a bottle around an hour after he has had his last bottle - as by the time it has cooled, he will be ready to eat. If the bottle is not ready in time... God help us all. Hold on to something.

6. IN CASE OF EMERGENCY - take him to any mirror in the house and show him his own face. This will turn tears of rage to silent awe and sweet giggles.

7. When lifting him out of his moses basket please be aware of your feet. Or be sure the large window is shut. I am worried that one day I will trip and drop him out of the window. (Yes I am my Mother's daughter).

8. At all times be mightily aware of his body temperature. Continually check he is not too hot and not too cold. Channel Goldilocks and ensure he is 'Just right'.

9. If all else fails sit him on your knee and jig him repeatedly up and down. This will keep him placid - and can sometimes lead to sleep.

10. A word of warning. It is not always a good idea to put him in the Jumperoo first thing in the morning as this is when he tends to have his first, rather notable, bowel movement of the day - and the way the seat is designed, no nappy can contain the contents when it is continually pushed and bounced upwards. he will need a change of outfit.

11. The only way to bathe him is to get into the bath with him due to his violent movements. It is a little like trying to bathe a slippery baby Hippo with severe anger issues. You will need enormous upper body strength.  

12. To make him laugh; wipe his face with a cloth, put a cold baby wipe on his bare chest, show him his Daddy's face, show him his own face or tickle the back of his neck.

13. Do not make him cry.

14. Sometimes he will sleep through two families screaming blue murder at each other on Jeremy Kyle... sometimes he will wake up if you blow your nose or pass wind. My advice? Keep it in till morning.

15. According to the law of Sods he will go to sleep at either 7pm, 8pm or the less desirable... Midnight.

16. Good Luck.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Worries, Prayers and Lullabies

I am being a tiny bit brave today. I have thought about writing about this topic for a few days but decided against it. I don't do 'serious' topics very well. I feel much more comfortable in the 'humour' category. I want to make people smile. I want to make people happy. I feel a bit out of my depth writing about anything other than trivial. But sometimes you can't quiet your head, and the thoughts trickle down your arms, into your fingers .. and suddenly you're at your keyboard feeling an overwhelming need to say your piece. So here I am. 

Early this week Sudden Infant Death Syndrome dominated the news. It would seem the advice is to not co-sleep with your baby. My Twitter feed was awash with people, much more intelligent than me, explaining that the study was flawed. The general consensus was anger that we are being told what to do or what not to do once again and that the study was misleading and panic causing. 

I am what you would call a worrier. I am the most anxious person you will ever meet. I panic and over dramatise and worry about everything .. and I would worry if there wasn't anything to worry about. I panicked for nine long months about the labour. Because of a previous family tragedy I worried an inordinate amount about my baby being still born. I frantically explained this fear, through tears, to every midwife I met through my 3 day labour and explained to my partner that all I wanted him to say once my baby boy arrived was "he is alright". 

And he was. 

My next thing to worry about was Cot Death. During one of my nights at hospital a lovely nurse came to speak to me in my little curtained off room. I said I was terrified of Cot Death. She gave me a leaflet and in my notes it said "Stephanie is anxious about Cot Death". Well what new parent wouldn't be? I was too scared to even read the leaflet. I knew what it would say. Put baby on his back. Make sure he isn't too hot or too cold. Don't put a hat on them at night or indoors. Don't put cuddly toys in the cot. Put the baby's feet at the bottom of the cot. Make sure they can't wriggle below the blanket. 

A couple of days later our little family came home. My partner and I admired our new arrival in his nursery. We decided to take a few pictures for the archives. We put him in his pretty cot, we put a gorgeous little blue hat on him and a couple of his bears near his head. We took a photo, which was when the maternity support officer arrived. 

Upon entering the room she said:
"You shouldn't have toys in the cot... it can cause cot death"
"You shouldn't have a hat on him indoors... it can cause cot death" 
"It is a little hot in here..which can cause ..." 

We tried to explain we were just taking a photo. 

What she didn't know was that I had given birth on the Thursday and it was Tuesday.. and I had not yet been to sleep. 

I had sat up watching my new baby boy with an overwhelming anxiety ... convinced that if I didn't take my eyes off him he would be ok. She told me I needed to get some rest and I burst into tears explaining to her that I couldn't sleep because I was "too worried he would stop breathing, but that's normal right?" 

"No dear," she said "It's not normal". 

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome scares me more than words can describe. Sometimes I watch the news and I despair. I think how am I meant to protect my boy from all the evil in the world? Maybe we could both stay in here forever. In our comfy room, hiding from the scary world. I could keep him safe then. The idea that something could come into our house,  into our room, and there is nothing I can do to stop it... is truly the most terrifying thought I have ever known. 

Three months on and I do not think I have truly had a deep sleep. I wake up several times in the night to check his chest is bobbing up and down. I try to listen to his sleepy sighs. If I am unsure I will press my palm on his chest and wait for his little arms to jut out in a sleepy shock. I am obsessed with his body temperature at night.. is he too cold? Is the room too hot? Should he be in a vest? Or in more clothes. I co-slept with him many times when I was breast feeding in the first eight weeks but would wake up alert, as if coming out of a nightmare, petrified that I had rolled too close to him.  

I am not intelligent, scientific, well read or knowledgeable enough to comment on SIDS in the way other bloggers might, all I can do is come from a personal position. 

I can only hope that my fears of this heartbreaking syndrome do not affect these precious first months with my baby. I do everything in my power to protect my baby... to follow the guidelines... to be safe... but I know I need to accept that there are things in this world we can not control. We can merely treasure the time we have together and pray that if the worst was to happen, we will have the strength to get through it. 

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

An Awful Prick

At the age of 30 I have had many experiences with little pricks in my life.

I remember the school time injections vividly. Not least - the TB Jab. The lingo "Jab" upset me at the time, which I mulled over as we stood in long refugee like lines in our scary school hall. All the girls passing on whispers, Chinese like, down the line, which by the time they reached me had become news of the 'test' jab being "Like a Gun", "That they shoot into your forearm". I was casually whipped in to an internal frenzy that became increasingly worse as the minutes ticked by and the line whittled down to little old me.

I received my test jab, walked back to the science block, relieved that my arm hadn't been shot off, felt a little odd, and promptly fainted back on to the hard metal desk. My head split open and I lay there in a pool of blood. I had to have stitches. This probably didn't do anything to help my friends' phobias of needles. 

When I was eight my parents thought it was a great idea to holiday in Africa. I had to have a plethora of injections, the worst one I remember was in my buttock! Oh, the doctor's waiting room heard my screams that morning. I am sure several doctor's waiting rooms heard my screams, from Lands End to John O'groats. 

Then you generally get left alone by needle wielding professionals.. until you get pregnant! And then your fears of the needle prick completely evaporate because you literally become a play pin cushion for the nursing staff. You are either having things pumped in to you (Flu Jab, Whooping cough vaccination) or you are having things sucked out of you (blood, blood and more blood). By your last blood test you won't even notice them slipping it in. It is old veiny news! 

I have never, however, had to take some one else to have an injection. Especially a tiny, little, smiling, innocent person who looks up at you with complete love, trust, happiness and joy! 

I wasn't looking forward to it - his immunisations at 11 weeks. But what I imagined... didn't compare. 

My little guy sat happily on my lap, silent and smiling. He smiles great big broad smiles now. They melt your heart. He turned to his right and noticed the nurse. They locked eyes and he grinned happily at her. She explained that the injections would be at the top of his legs and I suggested he might not cry. She explained kindly that they all cry. I still believed it would be ok. A few tears would be fine - it's not like I haven't seen or heard him cry before. He's a baby. Ergo - he cries! It will be fine. 

He continued to happily smile at the nurse. She put the needle in. A second. Silence... 

Then ripped through by an excruciating squeal of tiny pain. A squeal that said "Why would you hurt me?" "What did I do wrong?" My eyes immediately, involuntarily overflowed with tears and I sat sobbing. I had not anticipated the pain it would cause me. 

He sat there sobbing. I sat there sobbing. I thought the nurse might start... but she offered me a cotton ball to wipe my face instead. 

I cuddled him and apologised profusely and he was soon alright. But I swore he was looking at me as if to say "I don't trust you anymore mummy. Your sole purpose was to keep me happy and safe and you just let a stranger hurt my ickle legs". 

Of course.. he was fine. He is fine. And he is better off for this process. 

It was me, you see, who took the needle worst. 

The awful prick !!

Monday, 20 May 2013

Baby's First Break

Well - my little man is 11 weeks old - and last week he experienced his first holiday. My parents kindly offered to take us to Whitby and last Saturday we trundled down the motorway in a car bursting with luggage - 98% of which was baby based. My partner could only stay for one night and as he had to work, so I was left to enjoy the seaside on my own with our little boy and his grandparents for an entire week.

It is amazing how much 'stuff' you need to travel with a baby. We couldn't take the pram - it just wouldn't fit in the car! It was either the pram or my mother - and although I tried to argue, we went with 'Mother' in the end. He needed his moses basket, his chair, his sterilising equipment, about 25 outfits, his toys, his play gym, his bottles, his formula, his nappies, his wipes, his changing bag, his blankets and his car seat. This meant the three adults in the party got to take one outfit each as well as what we were already wearing. My Father lived in a yellow jumper all week and I spent most of the time in charity shops trying to find things to plump up my wardrobe. 

The last time I had been to Whitby, I was newly pregnant - which meant I could not enjoy two of my favourite things - Shellfish and alcohol. I intended on making up for this this time around. 

The sea air obviously suited my little boy - as on the first night he slept ALL night, which is so out of the ordinary that I didn't sleep a wink - so worried was I that there must be something wrong. I think this is called Irony. 

We spent our days waking at 6am, going downstairs and playing until around 8.30 when he would pass out on his play mat. I would then take the opportunity to shower and get ready. He would wake at 9.30 for a feed and then he would be changed (not for another baby), shuffled into a warm one-piece, slotted in to his sling and we were ready to go! 

The two of us would venture around the shops, into cafes, along the sea front - and even down to the beach. The weather was far too windy to stay on the beach for long, but he did see the sea and the sand, when he wasn't in a mini coma from the gentle rocking motion of the sling and the effect of the sea air.

Whitby was delightful as everyone there wanted to stop and ask me about my tiny passenger. I was asked numerous times what his name was and how old he was. Two little old ladies in the local supermarket asked me if he was a boy or a girl - twice - like they didn't believe my first answer. I decided not to be insulted - even though he was wearing a blue hat. They also asked me if I was breastfeeding. A tad personal I felt! I quelled the impulse to ask them if they were menstruating. But joking aside - it was lovely to have so many interested people in my little guy. Almost made him feel like new again - like I had 'just' come home from the hospital. 

A lady in one restaurant - who had been eyeing him for a while with her husband - even asked if she could hold him. I hesitated for a second, weighed up the risks in my mind and decided she probably wasn't a threat, and if she moved towards the door I could definitely rugby tackle her to the floor - and so I let her hold him. She was thrilled. And he was in his element - all of these lovely new smiling faces peering at him all week, when at home he really only gets to see my ugly mug 80% of the time. 

My parents were also overjoyed to get a whole week with their grandson and a few times I left him with them for a couple of hours and was allowed to go out on my own. 

Pre-baby my absolute favourite past-time was eating in a restaurant on my own. I absolutely loved the feeling of picking a restaurant, ordering a delicious dish and a copious amount of wine and just sitting with my own thoughts watching other diners and the world going by. I was ecstatic to get to do this again. 

I ordered Moules Mariniere everywhere I went - or any dish that contained a plethora of Shellfish. I also ordered my favourite cocktail a couple of times - a Margarita. The things I used to treasure... 

Turns out, Margaritas give me a headache. Muscles can get boring. My own company is not that interesting nowadays. These once coveted little treasures... turns out I don't really treasure them any more.  And then I found myself jigging my leg up and down to keep the baby calm.. before realising he wasn't there...

I will, of course, miss the invaluable back seat mothering I got all week. 
Darling, I think he is too cold. He might be too hot. I am worried he's too 'just right'. 
Darling, I think he is hungry. He might be too full. I am worried he's overfed, underfed, starving...(delete applicable). 
Darling, I think he is tired. He might be overly tired. I am worried he's too awake. Is he sleeping? Well, you should wake him up! 

One week on and we both feel refreshed. I got a hair cut! I got lots of fish! We got lots of sea air and some great sleep. He got loads of attention and busy days. We even got a couple of days of sunshine and I feel much more confident in thinking about our next holiday... this time with Daddy... and abroad! 

Although I'm not sure how I am going to get all his shit on a plane! 

Friday, 10 May 2013

Dream 'New Baby' Products versus The Reality

The Changing Mat

The Dream : A beautiful, soft, fabric changing mat decorated in neutral colours with the delightful image of Winnie the Pooh in one corner. Mother and baby giggle and gurgle in a Talcum Powder haze, as seen in Johnson's & Johnson's promotional tools, taking their time over the delights of changing. Soft beautiful skin, fun and frivolity on a comfy, soft, fabric - almost bed like - surface.

The Reality : The fabric cover will be removed after one week of having your baby as you realise that he has an overriding urge to pee and poop all over it as soon as you remove his nappy. What is left is a plain, rather depressing looking plastic white mat. The fabric cover will be soaked time and time again and you will go through the cycle of washing, drying and replacing - only for it to be pooped on once more with increasing vigour. You will leave it off for a few weeks and no pee or poop will touch your wipe clean mat. You will put on the fabric covering again, refreshed with hope, seconds later your two month old will pee all over it.

Changing time generally goes hand in hand with screeching time as you battle with your squirming baby in one hand and wipes / cream in the other - in a Russian Roulette type of time slot between taking the nappy off and getting a new one on before you are covered in excrement.

The Nursing Chair

The Dream : A soothing, rocking, relaxing, comforting chair with footstool to aid in your mother and baby feeding/ nurturing/ bonding time. The soft, neutral suede welcomes you both to a calming, relaxing, natural time when you can pop your pampered feet up, lie back and enjoy nourishing your baby.

The Reality : You will feed your baby perched on the side of your bed or lying down in your bed too exhausted to sit up. Your nursing chair will be used to store baby clothes in transit between washing and hanging up, it will be draped in baby sheets and muslin cloths. You will only sit in it to watch telly late at night when you can't lie in your bed due to your baby having fallen asleep in said bed - and you being too terrified to get in beside him in case he wakes up. The footstool will be used to eat things off - as a mini table. It will hold your dinner each evening and rather than being covered in milk stains, it will be covered in pasta sauce and biscuit crumbs.

The Baby Monitor

The Dream : You will finally have some freedom as you can leave your lovely sleeping baby in his moses basket upstairs and go and sit downstairs and relax! Freedom! What a wondrous invention. Maybe I can even make a cup of tea!

The Reality : You leave your baby with the monitor turned on. You spend your time frantically tidying the house. You constantly bash the button on the front of the walky talky type device convinced that it doesn't work anymore. You turn the volume up to maximum to try and hear him breathing but you can't so you worry. You go back in to the room in a panic three times to check he is ok and that the device is working. You forget to turn it off when you walk into the room sending a ridiculously loud screech along the air ways. Your baby nearly wakes up. You try again. You clamp the device against your ear trying to hear his heartbeat. You are terrified you will hear something spooky over the line, like a grown up whisper - isn't this how horror films start? Your baby lets out a little squeak - your ear drum perforates. You rush back upstairs to check he is ok.

You had been gone 3 minutes.

The Beautiful, Fashionable Two Piece Garments

The Dream : My baby will look like a mini Beckham in his gorgeous khaki trousers and cool t-shirt! He will look so trendy in his dungarees. He will be the coolest baby around in these leggings!

The Reality : If the outfit doesn't pop open at the bottom and can't be whipped off and on in two seconds flat - fecking forget it!

Friday, 3 May 2013

The Mime, the Internal Struggle & Nemo

Nine weeks on and I really feel like I'm getting in to the swing of all things Motherly. We, dare I say it, have a little routine going.

He has really started perfecting his expressions - that are like my expressions, but overly exaggerated - like he is an emerging Mime Artist.

  • His 'happy' is a huge, straining, open mouthed, gummy grin with a little tongue thrusting thrown in.
  • His 'unhappy' is bottom lip ridiculously jutted out and large teary Olympic pool eyes staring upwards. 
  • His 'interested' is chin down, mouth wide open to match two massive eyes 'caught in a headlight' staring to the particular person/ object/ portion of wall of interest.
  • His 'tired' is eyes rolled back in head, limbs limp, corners of mouth slowly teasing between a smile and a frown.
His current internal conflicts amuse me. It seems he is always having to make terribly difficult decisions. For example, sometimes he can't decide between eating ... and going to the toilet. He wants to do both at the same time - but the body is conflicted. I don't know if you have been in that position before - but try it, it's difficult! He wants to go to the toilet... but he desperately wants to drink his milk... he's not giving up the milk for nothing or no one. Watching (and listening) to this uncomfortable struggle is quite entertaining.

At other times he wants to stay awake and be entertained by his surroundings, but he also wants to sleep. He battles with his heavy eyes as I chant "time for sleepies, time for sleepies.." Watching his big eyes rolling around, searching for a place to lay their hat, is hilarious.

He has become one of those spooky haunted paintings when it comes to his Daddy - the ones where no matter where you move to in the room - the eyes follow you. No matter where my partner stands he follows his face, fascinated, (see 'interested' expression) no blinking, for hours. Whereas it would seem my face is old news!

I bought a sling - which has transformed our lives - and we have been out and about much more. This was a God send as I have spent the week searching for a baby friendly house. I personally think I deserve a medal house hunting with a 2 month old on foot. Just in time for the weekend we found one and we are set to move next month. 

The week of house hunting has meant I have HAD to get out of the house everyday - and HAD to be almost 'normal' - the only difference is a 12lb baby is now strapped to my chest. Life..... continues.

It would also appear that I have morphed into a 'Mother'. This week I walked up to my son, tissue in hand and wiped his face whilst saying "Heath! You are such a mucky pup!" without really thinking. 
"Goodness me, you're a Mother!" My partner exclaimed. And I beamed proudly. Yes, yes, I suppose I am! 
New mums everywhere ... it gets easier! 

There have been some incredibly stressful times in the last couple of weeks, in the last couple of months - but I finally feel like we are both keeping our heads above water. “Do you know whatcha gotta do, when life gets you down? Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.”

Friday, 26 April 2013

The Conspiracy Theory

I have uncovered a conspiracy - a big baby conspiracy. I have to be careful as I write this - and I would urge you to be very careful where you read it. Your baby might be in a "peaceful slumber" nearby or happily writhing around on his playmat, or perched placidly in his baby chair - but just be aware, check over your shoulder, re-strengthen your computer passwords, check there isn't one eye open as he/she sleeps. You see, they want you to think they're not fully developed yet, that they are not aware, that they are sweet and innocent - that they don't know what is going on and that you are in control - but this is just not true.

It's taken me two months to cotton on to this - but slowly my suspicions have grown stronger and stronger - and now I can plainly see - this baby knows much more than he would have me believe. I would go so far as to say he possesses a 'radar' system - the sort an evil genius keeps at his evil headquarters.

His radar is used to inform him of what I am doing throughout my day. I assume it is located internally and gives off a wave of sound that only babies can hear. That's how they get away with it! Us adults sit there blissfully unaware - and behind the scenes armies of infants are listening to an internal baby siren that alerts them to the following:

  • Mummy has sat down with a hot beverage. 
  • Mummy has lifted up a fork, piled with food, and it is moving towards her mouth.
  • Mummy is flippin exhausted and really needs to sleep tonight as she has a big day tomorrow 
  • Mummy is in the supermarket
  • Mummy is at the doctors 
  • Mummy has an audience 
  • Mummy desperately needs to go to the toilet and in a second is going to leave the room 
  • Mummy has run out of batteries for my light up smiley face toy
  • Mummy has a good idea for a blog
  • Mummy has visitors coming and needs to tidy the house for the first time in weeks 
  • Mummy is at the end of her wick and just needs one hour of rest 
  • Mummy is really enjoying the last 5 minutes of peace
  • Mummy can't believe it is so quiet 
  • Mummy is just thinking how lucky she is that I have fallen asleep so easily
  • Mummy smugly believes she has achieved a 'routine' 
The siren goes off and the baby does his best to show me who is boss in the only way he knows how. It's a conspiracy I tell thee! 

My theory was set in stone this week as I wrote a blog stating that after seven weeks of being a Mum, I had finally got to grips with it all.  Seven Weeks  I wrote about how I finally had a routine, knew him so well, was great at being a Mother, could settle him, could get him to sleep etc. THE NEXT DAY .... he changed the game plan and everything I thought I knew - I didn't. He awoke a different baby. 

It was almost as if in the night he has woken up, sneaked over to my laptop, hacked my blogger account and read the previous blog! It was almost as if he had said: 

'HA! So she thinks she understands me does she? Well I'll show her..." Almost as if.... 

Parents - be aware - THEY are aware. It's a conspiracy! 

Infamy, infamy - I'm sure he's got it in for me!  

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

If you go down to the woods today...

I have always been partial to a cuddly toy and I have always been a girl who gets what she wants (cough cough... spoilt... cough...only child...cough cough). My internal box of childhood memories contains several cuddly toy related incidents.

There was the time I was on a British Airways flight and my mother made the mistake of leafing through the in-flight duty free magazine in which I spotted, perhaps the best bear ever, brown and wholesome looking, complete with navy blue pilot hat and jacket. I instantly (calmly) explained I wanted the bear. I was told no - I imagine it was frightfully expensive. So I did what any other small child in my position could do and proceeded to scream blue murder, on the plane, until my request was granted.

The bear was lovely. It is highly probable the other passengers on the plane banded together to afford him.

Once at a Sea Life Centre with my parents I had a couple of tries on an arcade machine to try and win a cuddly sea based toy. The type with the large metal mechanical hand that moves down, grabs a toy, and drops it in front of you. I, of course failed, and we walked off. Moments later a young couple approached the machine, popped in a pound, had a go and a very cute, very small, grey Seal was dropped before them. This was unsatisfactory to me - exceedingly unfair in my eyes - and so I did what any other child in my position would do - and screamed blue murder and cried and wailed. My Mother must have been absolutely mortified.

In sympathy, the young couple came over and handed the little grey Seal to me. The kindness of strangers! And I have never forgotten them.

I learnt from an early age if I cried long enough with my mum the answer could always be changed to a yes (this still applies). My Father was quite the opposite - and thank goodness he was because a child needs balance.

One day he took me to the supermarket, politely warning me, as he always did, "Look but don't touch" all the way around the aisles. When we got to the checkout I saw that the sales team had cleverly placed a gang of big fluffy white bears right at the pay point. I knew if I had been with my mum they would all be mine. But I was with my dad - who came from a place of 'No'.

For some reason, that I am still completely unaware of he said yes! And I got my white fluffy bear. I couldn't believe it - and I treasured that bear more than any of my others because my Father, who left all toy purchases up to my Mother - had bought it for me.

One day my Primary School had a 'Teddy Bear's Picnic' where we were encouraged to bring in our cuddly toys and we could win a prize if we entered our bears into their competition categories. A brilliant idea! They had biggest bear, smallest bear, cutest bear, strangest bear and other superlatives. I had a plethora of bears but I was pretty sure I wasn't going to win anything. My dad suggested I take in his cuddly toy and enter it into the 'Oldest Bear' category.

Imagine if you drew a dog, side on, two dimensionally, very badly - that was what his toy looked like. It was made out of sand bag material, very hard, and had a slightly disconnected marble eyeball staring out of one side. It was obviously very old - and very special to him. And I won - we won - 'Oldest Bear'... One of the best days of my life!

Now I have a son and he has a few cuddly toys already. I wonder what bears will become important to him in his childhood. I wonder, when I buy a cuddly toy for him, what memories I am making for his later life; What toys he will one day scream for - and whether my partner and I will give him what he wants or stick to our guns. I wonder as a parent if I will come from a place of no or yes. I wonder if one day he will play with my Father's oldest bear - and what my son will one day hand down to his children. My British Airways bear, my white fluffy bear and my little grey Seal are long gone - but the memories are still here and I wonder what memories will we create together, with our little soft stuffed souled friends - as a family.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Seven Weeks

It has taken me seven weeks to get this parenting thing down. Seven long weeks - that feel like seven hours.

There have been times where I have despaired. Times when I thought I would never be able to breastfeed, times when I thought he would never go to sleep! Times when I stayed up for entire nights too afraid to take my eyes off him or his breathing patterns. There have been times when I thought I would never be able to leave the house unaided again. I resigned myself to living in our room in our little dark cocoon, warm in safe timeless solitude. There have been times when I thought I would never be able to get dressed, wash or look semi decent again. There have been times I have nearly murdered my partner - for no reason other than him being there. There have been times I thought I just wasn't cut out for it all - that I was unqualified, incompetent and unworthy. In the words of Mr Dickens - there have been hard times.

There was a moment this week as the baby I brought home seven weeks ago lounged in his new vibrating chair dozing in a peaceful slumber, the corners of his tiny mouth searching for a smile, that I sat up, in my slightly larger un-vibrating chair, and looked at him and realised ... he was mine.

I think up until this point I had been doing my best to look after this baby correctly. I had been living my life as though I was on some sort of baby Big Brother series where my actions were under constant scrutiny and surveillance - by a team of midwives, health visitors, relatives, and strangers on the street. I had been living like I was training for some sort of 'mother' exam (Theory and Practical). I had been taking care of him as though someone had trusted me with this unbelievably precious object - like some antique vase - and I had been spending every second - anxious, concentrating on doing everything in my power to prevent it from falling through my hands and shattering.

It has taken me seven weeks to realise he is my baby.
It has taken me seven weeks to realise, the likelihood is, I won't break him.
It has taken me seven weeks to understand when he wants to eat before he knows it.
It has taken me seven weeks to know the little ways to get him to sleep.
It has taken me seven weeks to know the little ways how to settle him.
It has taken me seven weeks to know the little things that can distract him.
It has taken me seven weeks to know that sometimes, all these things will not work.
It has taken me seven weeks to work out how to transport him around the house.
It has taken me seven weeks to know his little routine.
It has taken me seven weeks to seize the little opportunities he gives me, the little windows - to make a cuppa, have a pee, put on some make up and do the washing up - sometimes, all at the same time.

And with the seven week mark came the smiling milestone. Not just smiling due to some relieving bowel movement - smiling in response to me.

This morning I lifted him on to his changing mat and, half asleep he started his usual thrashing around, like a shark stuck in shallow water - he commenced his perturbed grumblings, squeaks and yelps slowly building to the loud Rock/ Heavy Metal chorus and, for a change, instead of staying silent, without thinking, I said in a chirpy voice

"Oh, what is the matter with you then?"

and instantly he stopped. All movements ceased. His tiny arms fell to his sides. Someone had pressed the mute button on the angry baby soundtrack I had come to know by heart each morning. He lay there and opened his eyes wide, for the first time properly that morning. He stared right at me and I stared back a little shocked myself. The baby - my baby - my son - smiled a huge broad smile back at me... and let out a loud giggle.

"Bloody Hell - He knows who I am!" I thought. And I smiled back and giggled back in response. He had heard my voice and just known that, although he was on the torture device he has come to loathe, the changing mat, he was safe - because I was there. His mum was there.

Yes - it has taken me seven weeks. As the sun slowly shows his face over the UK, the darkness is lifting over me - and I emerge from my cocoon - a Mother.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

... because I am a parent

I can not answer your texts straight away.
I wash with babywipes.
I can sleep anywhere at any time if I see the opportunity.
It takes me three times the time it used to in order to leave the house.
I eat my dinner cold.
I do not get to finish my cup of tea.
I sometimes do not get to start my cup of tea.
I no longer enjoy shopping.
My house will always be in a constant state of disorganisation.
My appearance will always be in a constant state of disorganisation.
I can get what used to take me 3 days, done in 1 hour.
Multi tasking is now my bitch.
My make up is more slap dash than immaculate.
My hair is covered in dry shampoo.
I desperately need a break.
I feel guilty if I have a break.
I feel guilty no matter what I do.
I reside between a rock and a hard place.
I worry about the safety of every situation.
My boyfriend is not just my boyfriend - he is our protector, our safety net - our anchor.
We are not a couple, we are a family.
The Budget now affects me.
I still do not fully understand The Budget.
My breasts are no longer for show - they are working breasts.
I have very little modesty left.
I may talk to you with one boob on show and not notice.
If any nudity is pointed out to me I will not be embarrassed.
Contraception has never been more important to me.
Two hours of sleep is all I need.
I know what TV programs are on at 1am, 2am, 3am, 4am etc.
I sometimes do not get round to brushing my teeth till 11am.
When you babysit for me I will be back hours earlier than intended.
I no longer enjoy wearing high heels.
An achievement is getting dressed, tidying the kitchen or getting my baby to latch.
If you do not enjoy looking at 100 pictures a week of a baby - please remove me as a Facebook friend.
Having time to have a shower is a luxury.
Having time to have a bowel movement is a luxury.
I need all meals to be edible using only one hand.
I no longer care for expensive perfume.
The best present you could get me would be nappies and wipes.
My priorities have shifted.
I forgot the date
I misplaced the form
I am late for our appointment
I missed your call
I didn't hear you knock
I am knackered
I am scared
I am stronger
I am content

Because I am now a parent.

Friday, 15 March 2013

My Guy

I have been seeing this new guy for two weeks now. He is, like, properly gorgeous - but he's a bit of a boob man. Sometimes when I talk to him I feel I'm not really being listened to - you know? I can see his big eyes wondering ... and then landing on my bosom. I suppose I can't blame him, as I am looking what I would call 'Buxom' for the first time in my life. But I get the feeling he is just using me for one thing!

My little guy is now two weeks old. And I must say - I am quite enamoured with him. He is surprisingly tiny - his toes are particularly remarkable. He is perfectly formed - just miniature. He smells of safe and warm and his eyes are like two giant pools of chocolate sauce. I am probably slightly biased - but I would say that, as far as babies go, he is unusually attractive. His father and I are particularly confused about how handsome he is - especially as we were horrendously unattractive children (I had a lazy eye and an under bite).

The three of us have been living together in a sort of time warp where the days and nights have blended into one block, fourteen days separated only by small flashes of memory or documented appointments.

The time spent at hospital I am unable to section into days. I remember faces of various medical professionals, I remember a couple of the meals (surprisingly tasty) and I remember walking around the corridors looking like an extra from 'Dawn of the Dead' dragging my ginormous swollen legs behind me in a blood stained nightie, pale faced, with black suitcases under my eyes, all the time attached to a bag of my own urine.

When we got home I didn't sleep for a substantial amount of time. I hadn't really slept at the hospital either. I felt a bit like someone who had won Big Brother. I expect everyone tells them that they should get some rest - but all they want to do is go to the after party and do 1000 interviews and watch their old episodes and stay in that ecstasy, in that big bubble for as long as they can.

Some time later my bubble burst. I came flying down from the vertigo causing high I was on with an almighty Thwack! I spent a good two days hysterically sobbing. Like a come down from the baby drug. Everyone suggested I get some sleep. I refused. I sat up in the small nursery we had designed night after night eating sweets and drinking milkshake struggling with breastfeeding. My partner and I soon realised that our little nursery was completely impractical - this realisation came soon after the Maternity Support Officer said "But, where will you sleep?"

"Sleep? I won't sleep! I don't need sleep. No sleep for me. No sleep needed. No sleep!" I answered. I imagine now I must have looked utterly frightful.

She joined the queue of people suggesting I get some sleep. And an hour after her visit I surrendered, I stopped maniacally watching my baby's every breath and simply passed out.

If you have read one of my favourite books 'A Little Princess' by Frances Hodgson Burnett you may know of the moment when the girl, who has been locked in the attic of the children's school and treated as a slave (starved, abused and overworked) by the headmistress awakes to find that the kind Indian man from next door has adorned her with food and luxuries. Much in the same way I awoke a few hours later to find that my partner had transported the entire nursery from the tiny impractical spare room to the huge master bedroom of the house - which now contains a comfy double bed, the baby's moses basket, my nursing chair and TV. Along one wall are three tables pulled together arranged in a nappy changing and dressing factory conveyor belt. And finally in the corner of the room is a small kettle, a mini fridge and water filter jug with an array of tea, biscuits and snacks. It might have been a week after my son was born - but thanks to my own kind saviour - we were finally prepared.

In the time warp, in between a jump to the left, and then a step to the right - was Mother's day. My first ever Mother's day. I received a card addressed to 'Boob Lady' - as I suppose that is what I am at this stage in his Salad days.

Never have I felt such a pick a mix of emotions in such a short amount of time than over these two weeks. I have gone from terror to euphoria to devastation to terror again - fear that I am not up to scratch - and slowly but surely back up and over to an even ledge of 'happiness'. I feel ... content. As the days have gone on more confidence is trickling into me and my capabilities in looking after my little man. Our relationship has blossomed - like my bosom - and I am truthfully loving my new role. I sit at night, in my perfect environment, with my guy and I really have no complaints. Even if he wakes up several times in the night - it can hardly be seen as a hardship. If you do hear me whinge, you have permission to slap me rightfully across my face.

Mammaries ... Like the corners of my mind. Misty water coloured Mammaries - of the way we were... Scattered Nipples ... like the smiles we left behind...

My life is still mostly about breast feeding and some days are better than others. I am still surprised, daily, by how difficult the process is - but I am proud of myself for persevering and a large tub of formula remains on my factory conveyor belt unopened - and a breast pump sits in the corner, the instructions unread.

My partner and I have our first social outing at the end of the month and we are beyond excited. As far as the breastfeeding goes - I am going to follow Madonna's advice and 'Express myself'. I intend on having, for the first time in ten months, an exceedingly generous cocktail. The idea of this is, I am ashamed to say, almost as exciting as the idea of winning the lottery. I am a little concerned the mere whiff of it will put me in a coma - but that's a chance I am willing to take. I am getting excited about doing my hair, putting on a little (ish) black dress and making an effort with myself - It is time for Stella to get her groove back!

But that is days away - and days mean nothing in this house - days are merely marked, as they are at the zoo, by feeding times. And manure! So, for now, it's time to get back to my little guy. Nothing you can say, can take me away, from my guy. (My guy).

Mammary... all alone in the moonlight, I can smile at the old days, I was beautiful then, I remember the time I knew what happiness was, Let the mammary - live again...

Monday, 11 March 2013

Suckleberry Finn

I wanted to call this blog "Strictly Come Sucking" - but I was concerned that it might give off the wrong impression should it do the rounds on Google+. This last week, my first week with my new baby, has been all about one thing and one thing only - Breasts! And that got me athinkin about dancing! (bear with me).

Dancing is something that the majority of us feel comes naturally. Some of us have better rhythm than others - but put on "Wake me up before you go go" and we can all click our fingers and shuffle side to side. We don't need 'lessons' before we have a bop and a boogie at a Wedding. I don't want to blow my own trumpet - but I think I'm quite a good dancer. I think I can feel the music and do the hustle with the best of them. I sit at home, mostly eating, watching a show like "Strictly Come Dancing" and think "Pah! I could do that! Easy. I'd be hitting those tens! No problem".

The reality is that I would rock up on the first day of training and the professional dancer would spit in my face at my arrogance before wiping it off with several sheets of intricate mathematical impossible steps that need to be mastered. My point (I told you I had one) is that there are some things in life that 'look' easy, effortless if you will - but turn out to be flipping difficult. This week I found out that breast feeding is one of them.

I am ashamed to say that when I saw a leaflet for "Breast feeding classes" I really did laugh. Firstly - I couldn't think of anything worse than sitting with a load of strangers discussing our boobs. Secondly - If a class was say 30 minutes, I couldn't possibly imagine what would happen after the first two minutes of "Put baby to breast". What did people do for the other 28 minutes? In my head, breast feeding is something that anything with teats can do! Some of the stupidest looking mammals in the world do it innately - so the idea that an advanced human (yes, that's me) would have any trouble doing it was ludicrous to say the least.

As soon as I was able to hold my son I was asked to breast feed him as it promotes bonding. I obliged - an odd sensation - and a wonderful one. I felt very motherly, very womanly. The midwife seemed happy with what I was doing and I thought "Piece of cake! Just like I thought". I was to stay in hospital for a few days and I breast fed my little man on the first day and he appeared happy and all was well. One midwife who popped her head around the curtain even commented "Oooh, you look like a picture from a breastfeeding magazine. Lovely alignment". And I beamed! The equivalent of Len Goodman bellowing "SEVEN!" 

"Yes, all come see me, all hail moi! - Mother Earth - as I nourish my newborn with my milky delight. As I give fuel from my own breast! As I literally enrich my young. As my life gives life to ... this new life. Cause you make me feel, you make me feel, you make me feel like a natural .. woman!" 

A night later, at our home, my partner and I experienced what would become "The Night". Notorious to us now as the night that our baby cried none stop. There was nothing we could do, there was no settling him. There was no 'filling' him. I passed him from left breast to right,  from left to right, from left to right. My nipples ached, they bled, I wept, the baby screeched, my partner and I looked at each other, through exhausted eyes with utter bewilderment on our shattered  faces. While my partner went to the supermarket to look longingly at tubs of formula, I took to Twitter pleading for help. What was I doing wrong? The majority of answers were that my baby "could not be latching on properly".  But I knew that couldn't be right!

The next day the Maternity Support Worker appeared and observed me breast feeding.
I was doing it wrong.
I had no idea.

Telling a new mum that her baby has not latched on properly is second, I feel, to telling a woman she is fat. The bearer of this news is only trying to help (Mother) - but all we can feel is utterly insulted. 

And if that wasn't bad enough, our little man had lost a little too much weight. Never have I felt so terrible, useless or stupid. I was a big fat failure and I was failing my son - and we were only on day 3. I couldn't do what cats and pigs can do! I couldn't perform the most natural and basic act there was. The Support worker told me to keep a breast feeding journal of when I was feeding him and how long and which breast I was using (I shall be auctioning this off shortly - makes fascinating reading). I constructed a large chart like the Teacher's pet I am and went to work. She showed me a better position - it's all about the positioning darling! 

She told me that soon my milk would come through and I would have "Dolly Parton Breasts". "Yes," I said, "It has already come through". To which she suspiciously eyed my breasts whilst raising one eyebrow and doing a face that wreaked of "How small were they before?" A day later I realised that my milk had not really come through at all - I had been wrong about that too. As my breasts, overnight, had literally doubled, doubled again, tripled, and doubled again! (If I was better at maths, I am sure there is a more succinct way of saying that!) To put it plainly - they are now stupidly big and ridiculously heavy (there is nothing sexy about this FYI).

My main issue with breastfeeding was the conflicting information, the terminology and the metaphors used to describe the process. At the hospital I was told by my midwife that I should make sure I swap him from left to right to make sure that both breasts were producing milk and I didn't limit to just one. The support worker then told me that I shouldn't change from left to right so often - I should do up to 20 minutes on the left and then 20 minutes on the right. My community midwife then asked why I wasn't swapping breasts enough. I have a degree! It can't be that difficult to understand! 

I pleaded with each health care professional to explain where I was going wrong and they ALL, without fail, started off on an analogy about a meal with a soup course - followed by roast beef and ending in chocolate pudding. By day 5 I had heard this metaphorical tale from the Health visitor, the community midwife, the support worker and a few hospital midwives and nurses. I would sit with tears in my eyes saying I just didn't get it and they would start "Well, when we go to a restaurant we have the soup course,  then we move on to the roast beef, and the chocolate pudding is the best bit!" Yes, I am aware of this - but how does this help me? 

I set to work and a day later showed my breastfeeding journal to my midwife - hope in my blood shot eyes .... and it was wrong. I wasn't spending long enough on the right boob/left boob and he wasn't getting his God Damn Chocolate pudding. She kept bleating at me about him not getting a proper 'feeeeeed'. "Is this correct?" I would say - pointing at my record of minutes of time that the baby spent on my breast. "Well, it's not a good 'feeeeeeed'!" She would say. 

"Well dear, a feed would be about 20 minutes" 
"Well no, not necessarily 20 minutes every time."
"Well, no dear, you see, there's a soup course, and a beef course..."

Oh Lord give me strength. 

"Just follow your instincts" she said. 

And that was the best piece of advice she gave me. That evening, from out of no where, it just clicked. I finally understood! All this time I had been thinking a 'Feed' was anytime that the baby made contact with a nipple. Whether that be 5 minutes or 10. I viewed that as a 'feed'. I also viewed my breasts as two separate restaurants. For example - the left was a 'Pizza Express', the right was a 'Nandos'! This was wrong. 

What I should have been doing was viewing my baby as a dinner guest and I was in charge of that dinner. I, not he, would say "Ok, you look hungry- time for a meal! And a good meal should be at least 20 minutes (not spread over hours - over a typical meal time). Just as you might sit a ten year old down at the table and say "You're not playing your game until you have finished your dinner" - you say to your baby, "Ok, you are going to have a good meal (feeeeeed) for at least 20 minutes." 

My breasts too were not two separate eateries. They were one! I am one restaurant! 'Nipple Express'! And instead of following scientific dance steps (left-left-right-left-left-right) I should have just been feeling which one was better. I should have thrown those rules away and just used my instincts. It clicked. I just got it. 

48 hours later our baby was weighed again - and to our relief and overwhelming joy - he had put on weight. So much weight that the Maternity Support Worker signed us off. He had gone from below target to above target - and we could all breathe a massive sigh of full fat dairy infused relief.

What I have learnt this week is that if it hurts a lot and you are in agony and have bleeding nipples - you are not doing it right. As hard as that is to accept or hear. It should curl your toes for the first 3-4 seconds the little vampire bites - but then it should be pain free. I have also learnt that people in the online community and other mothers can be exceedingly supportive of you if you bring up this subject. I have learnt that I was, not for the first time in my life, stupidly arrogant and ignorant to expect that I didn't need to research and learn about this subject before I gave birth. I have learnt that when you get it right - it feels amazing. I am now living my life as a giddy milk optic! And now I don't need to use a stopwatch or worry about which breast is best - he stays on one for around 30 minutes and sleeps like the proverbial baby! 

Now I feel I have not incorporated enough breastfeeding puns into this blog - so I will shove them all in here at the end. Breast feeding sucks. Had the worst week in recent mammary. I felt like a right tit. But I think I have now got the right formula. Now I am simply the breast. Goodnight and teat dreams.  

Oooh, the tiniest vampire is stirring in his crypt, I mean crib. Someone wants his soup course. Excuse me.

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