Hand foot and mouth

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Two weeks left of maternity and I’m poorly! Not fair!

Last week the boy had a few spots on his feet and a bit of a cold but was ok in himself. On Friday I woke up feeling awful with a throat made of razor blades and that horrible heavy aching flu feeling. Then slowly the spots started. I’d Googled hand foot and mouth when the baby seemed to have it but the Internet reliably told me that adults only got a mild version and it wouldn’t itch.

I suppose they were partially right- it doesn’t really itch. It does sting like hell though. I’ve been lucky so far as further research suggests that a mouth full of painful ulcers is reasonably common for adults who get hf&m. I’ve got a red raw nose, a rash on my chin and chest then the red polkadots all over my hands and feet.  My mouth is dotty but no ulcers yet.

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My hands sting like crazy especially when I have to use them. Any kind of pressure, rough texture or heat really hurts like a burn. So looking after a baby is frustratingly hard. I don’t feel as ill and fluey now but still feeling rubbish. And I suppose we shouldn’t be going to baby groups etc for fear of passing this on. No good.

Kellymom

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So Kellymom.com is an amazing American website with lots of useful info about breastfeeding- from information about medicines you can trave whilst breastfeeding to advice and discussion. I follow them on Facebook and recently they asked “what products helped you keep breastfeeding”. Reading through th he answers was really interesting and although some of then clearly weren’t products per se, it was good to see what helped others keep going.

I stated thinking about what and who helped me keep breastfeeding when times were tough.
1. My own utter determination that there was only one option and we would get the hang of breastfeeding. If anything ever in my life, I am proud that I did this and that I persevered.
2. My husband for his unwavering support and understanding that this wasn’t up for discussion.
3. The midwives, health visitors and breastfeeding clinics who helped with the technical and emotional side of things
4. The interwebs- for its wealth and breadth of information and the ability to link up with women in similar situations all over the world.
5. The breast pump for helping me at least try to offer a bottle and for relieving pressure when required.
6. TV, online TV, love film and Facebook. Where would I be without you? My enough hands or braincells to read fit the first six months I needed easy entertainment
7. Nipple shells (no, not shields but shells). Someone told me about these and they saved my nipples! I’m allergic to lanolin so hadn’t bought any Nipple cream. The shells collect any excess leaking milk whilst airing your Nipple. … Very clever. I did eventually find, buy, use and lose Earth Mama Angel Nipple Butter which was great too (good lip balm also)
8. Malt loaf. How many kilos I got through I dread to think but it was great. Yum yum.
9. Decent maternity leave from work. Dear America, 8  unpaid weeks does not constitute maternity leave! 52 weeks, 33 of them paid to a degree. …. that is maternity leave.

:)

Help!

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I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned but being ill when you are a mummy is rubbish. Especially if you are a breastfeeding mummy and your baby doesn’t take a bottle-you become very relied on.

Luckily this time is just a stinky had cold (so far) with a throat like razor blades and drooping eye lids, headache, earache,  gland ache and body ache!

Luckily small stuff has been pretty laid back today and he’s decided for the first time this week to have a decent afternoon nap. Hurrah! Sadly the foot stool is too far away! Send help!
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We do have medicinal wine and peanut butter cup Ben and Jerry’s!

Crying walking sleeping talking

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Okay, not yet talking. …

So we have steps. At first, encouraged by pushy mother (sore back from leaning over to hold his hands) and a week later taken by choice, and very pleased with himself! 

This new mobility had come at a price-the constant fear of what he’s going to fall over next. He likes things that moves-doors, the buggy, the clothes airer, the car seat, my office chair and so on. In one week he managed to collapse the clothes airer onto himself, knock over an ironing board, fall over closing a door with me on the other side and fall out of a friends patio doors, not to mention falling over his own feet and banging his head on every table in the RG postcode….. I sound hideously negligent but at least we are yet to experience the rite of passage that is falling off the sofa/bed.

It’s hard to find a balance between wrapping them in cotton wool and letting them learn their own lessons. Already he is starting to learn how to fall gently onto his bottom rather than an uncontrolled backwards head-banger and his balance has improved markedly from letting him hold onto things that move.

And whilst I never get too optimistic about these matters, there seems to be some improvement with sleep. To many parents it’s still awful sleep but in comparison to what we are used to, it feels like an uninterrupted 8hrs!

We’ve had a few nights of 8-12, 12:15-3, 3:15-6, 6:15-8 ish. Tonight is buggered up because he coughed himself awake (think he’s got and has given me hand foot and mouth) at half ten.

I’ve spent the last 11 months being told that xy or X Well help him sleep (turning three months, being in his own room, starting solids etc). As a consequence I’ve started to ignore everything everyone says ever, but maybe he really is wearing himself out. He is trying to walk and cruise at every waking hour!

We still have no words. I am trying to ensure we converse with him and read to him more. He makes the most wonderful hilarious sounds, his favourite being “do ooh! ” and “lerglerglergle” but can make quite complex sounds too like th, ck, St etc so we have no worries about him that way. Just being impatient waiting for a mama or dada

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!

World breastfeeding week

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Last night whilst struggling to fall asleep, I was mentally wiring blog posts. They were astute, witty and used lots of big words. Baby D woke around midnight (I was yet to fall asleep) for a feed and then every hour until he woke very hot and with a rash at 4:50am. I volunteered to get up with him and managed to doze a little from 6-8am. Foolishly I am going to try to write a post still, on a touchy subject. Bare with me.

It’s national breastfeeding week (1-7th August) which is something I’d like to celebrate. However I feel like I am unable to do so publishing for fear of misunderstanding. I’ve learnt my lesson on this one having inadvertently upset a whole swathe of women with a comment I made on the subject so I’ll try my best to be as inoffensive and honest as I can.

I am a huge supporter of breastfeeding. I think its a wonderful, natural and obvious choice for any mother and am often surprised that other people don’t feel the same. I also have first hand experience of how stressful and difficult it can be to convince a tiny baby that breastfeeding is the way forwards. From getting the latch correct to getting your baby to stay awake, to the incessant feeding of a new born (he can’t be hungry again? !), to bottle refusal, sleep deprivation, sore nipples, blebs, teeth, nursing strikes and mastitis.

However it is near on impossible to be Pro Breastfeeding without appearing or being labeled “anti-formula”. Or more specifically “anti-parents-who-use-formula”.

In the past I might not have worded myself well or tactfully (which I shall blame on the fact that I’ve had one five hour stretch of sleep since January and not much more than 2hrs at a time since). However it is important that we take responsibility for our own emotions and bias when it comes to reading stuff on the Internet.  A lot I read could offend me. My baby doesn’t sleep and I am often reading posts from disgruntled mums complaining their babies are waking once a night whilst mine is waking seven plus. I deal with it because I wouldn’t wish my situation on anyone and I know that I am not necessarily able to be rational about it. The same needs to be extended to feeding issues. I know it’s deeply emotive for those who feel or were told they were unable to breastfeed, however this is not the fault of those who do breastfeed, and they are not flaunting it to upset you.

To set out my feelings:
I think breastfeeding is awesome because it is what my body was made to do. We are Mammals, named so because of our mammary glands. The fact I can feed my baby for free, with a tailor made substance that can change its consistency and make up to nourish, soothe and hydrate is mindblowing.  I could feed my baby with it all day every day and he would never be over fed. It’s very clever!

I am surprised when women do not want to breastfeed if they are healthy and able to but we are all different and this is what makes the world go round (well, you know what I mean). Luckily formula exists (whether one agrees with some of the marketing tactics and ethics of the companies that produce formula or not) and modern women in the developed world have options. Sometimes (but not often) a women’s decision is out of her hands-usually linked to illness and medication and it must be heartbreaking for those who would love to feed their babies but are medically unable.

On top of this I am saddened when women who want to breastfeed are unable to access the help, advice and motivation to get through the sometimes grueling first few weeks. I’m saddened when they are told that their baby isn’t getting enough milk because they are feeding regularly, when they’re advised to top up with formula rather than spending time skin to skin to boost supply (we did both). In other countries breastfeeding rates are so much higher (often through lack of choice), no doubt linked towards social attitude towards breastfeeding.  In particular the experience that women have in hospital which will likely taint their whole experience of breastfeeding. Nowhere describes it better than “The Politics Of Breastfeeding” by Gabrielle Palmer…..
(Page 34)

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Extract of the analogy:
Imagine a young man making his first attempt at sexual penetration. Ask him to say about the project on a special sex centre where there are “experts” he has never met before, ready to supervise him and tell him how it ought to be done. [....]  By the bed is an artificial penis , put there, as the young man is told, “just in case you can’t manage it; many young men can’t make it. It’s not their fault, nature often fails.”

Although I slightly disapprove of the sexual nature of the analogy because I don’t want people to liken breastfeeding to a sexual act, it makes an important point. The huge pressure on women to feed, whilst dangling the backup tantalisingly over their heads really sends confusing mixed messages to women and families in a very vulnerable time. This combined with the social attitudes when women leave hospital makes it very hard for them to make rational decisions.

And that’s something that genuinely shocks me- the western world’s baffling attitude towards breastfeeding. It’s literally the most normal and natural thing that a woman could do and I am gobsmacked that anyone could think it’s disgusting or wrong. From the first few weeks when I struggled to feed, I was keen not to limit myself to trying to feed in private. In fact, I am lucky to be a confident person and I’m very sure of myself when it comes to my decisions about feeding. I’m lucky never to have been challenged about feeding my baby in shops, restaurants, parks, town centres and churches-I’ve even fed in St Pauls cathedral! I think that it’s important to do this so other women (and men) see it and see that it is ok. The more we normalise and the less we stigmatise, the easier it will be for women to continue with feeding for as long as they want to.

The “breastfeeding gestapo” do exist. Whilst I secretly agree with much of what they say, I don’t agree with the personal element. It’s our society that has funny ideas about breastfeeding, and we as individuals are just part of that. However what is often ignored is the polarisation of feeding. Like many issues (as I’ve mentioned before) many people I’ve come across are so black-or-white about the issue.

From my personal experience I’ve been offended by things that people have said directly about breastfeeding or questions I’ve been asked. Within two days on Facebook I saw one new mum (second baby) say that breastfeeding was “created by the devil” because she was struggling with it, and another person complain about “all the perks that breastfeeding mums get” after an article was doing the rounds about one cafe offering Breastfeeding mums a free cup of tea. I am frequently asked when I’ll stop breastfeeding, often alongside someone’s opinion of when a child is “too old” to be breastfeed (walking, talking, a year, going back to work, 18 months etc).

The difference is that there is a lot in the media currently about breastfeeding not being “all that”, about women being bullied into breastfeeding and about women who feel they are looked down on for formula feeding,whether they feel it was a decision they made by choice or not. There is very little about the flip side of the coin, though the odd story does come up including the lady Emily Slough who had a photo of her breastfeeding her child uploaded to Facebook with nasty comments about how disgusting and “trampy” it was.

Sometimes it feels that is not ok even to state facts about formula feeding of the companies that make formula for fear of offending, however you can make a pop at breastfeeding being “the work of the devil” or similar with no repercussions or acknowledgment of the concept that that might be upsetting for breastfeeding women.

In the UK just 1% of women exclusively breastfeed to 6 months. We are in a minority that is little understood and often treated badly. I hear stories every week through my online network of mummy friends and acquaintances of women being told to go elsewhere to breastfeed, often to toilets or other inappropriate places. This is not a perk. It’s na├»ve to suggest that women who breastfeed in the UK are getting “perks”. Does  the aforementioned cafe really want to reward breastfeeding mums? Or are they reveling in their highly shared positive press? Are they hoping you’ll buy a cake and invite your friends? What will it do for their business profile?

I often  want to know this. … But why can’t women be kinder to each other. We know that bringing up a baby is ridiculously difficult without creating barriers.

So I am (sitting at home sick to the sofa with a poorly baby) celebrating international breastfeeding week and I don’t care who knows it. Of course I feel like every week should be breastfeeding week!

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9 month review

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Today was baby D’s “9” month review with the hv team. At 10.5 months! I believe they’re a little behind at our children’s centre.

Lucky it was a health visitor  that I had met before and know to be very nice and friendly so that was good. The review went well though they’d like to follow up on his communication skills in a month or so as although he is forming lots of sounds, he isn’t really using them to communicate with us yet really. Nothing to stress about just to maybe keep an eye on. I’ll definitely try more during the day to get him communicating more. He can definitely say “mama” and “dada” but not with any regularity and not to either of us.

Baby was tired as the appt was booked for 11:30 which is at least vaguely nap time. He cried a bit, had a feed and then had a 6 minute power nap. Unsurprisingly he is > 2hr into his afternoon nap. I *may* have joined him for an hour. It was luscious!

We did discuss hours sleeping but as we have an appt with thedoctor next week to discuss silent reflux, the health visitor said she’d try to help if the doctor doesn’t find anything.

Speaking of sleep. …. It’s not going so well. The last three nights we have had 7,5 and 7 wake ups respectively.  The heat hasn’t helped, neither has inconsiderate neighbours (both the ones that have been arguing and the kids who finished school and apart to have spent the might screaming in the park. …. All night). We are trying to get  daddy to settle him rather than just feeding him back to sleep. I’ve got 7 weeks before I return to work and I’m not looking forwards to working without sleep. 

Mobile

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Baby is getting really mobile. He cruises around the furniture like crazy-at speed with absolute reckless abandon and entire lack of a sense of danger. Makes me think what a bad design babies are. Their mobility skills develop at such an alarming pace that their cognitive understanding cannot keep up. They don’t understand their environment, have an entire lack of fear and have no understanding of the consequences of their actions.

He’s yet to fully work out crawling despite quite clearly having the skills required and the strength. He figured rolling the day before he turned ten months old. He can also do what I term to be the caterpillar move but on his back when required, usually when getting away from nappy changes.

Falls are daily. Sometimes he bangs his head or wrenches his arm a little. Sometimes he cries and sometimes he is oblivious. But each day he gets faster and stronger. I predicted he’d crawl this week but he’s not yet played ball but I wonder how long before he will walk unaided? Under two months until his first birthday so we will see!

The development is fascinating to watch and just so fast.
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(Doesn’t always end well. … No babies were hurt in the capturing of this photograph! )

Cycling

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So its been a while since I mentioned riding my bike. Probably about 4 days before baby D was born….

Which was a long time ago now. I’ve been out a few times where convenient but this week things took off. Monday was daddy day and after a walk and some chores I realised I could slip out for 90mins mountain biking! It was exhilarating, exhausting and me-time which I’ve been severely lacking of course. On top of that it gave me the impetus to finally order a bike seat for the boy.

We did a lot of research when baby was small, most of which we forgot by the time we came to buy. We decided to go for something sturdy that we knew we could fit onto all our different bicycles. It wad a hard decision but we went for a rear mounted Hamax Caress.

I won’t bother writing a long review as we found this one On Total Women’s Cycling very useful, and although it’s expensive it’s great! We spent a long time trying to get it fitted correctly but it feels very secure and baby looks very comfy in it. It has extra helmet space, really secure foot straps and it reclines!

We took it for a gentle spin at the weekend and the freedom was wonderful. Of course it helps rather that I live next to a beautiful forest that I can reach by cycle paths…
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:-)

Side car named Sleep.

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I won’t even mention the amount of time since I last posted….I used to regularly upkeep 4 blogs, the only one I manage well now is my livejournal which is a closed personal blog that I’ve had for 11 years!

Baby D is now over 9 months old. Months 0-6 trickled past as we tried to get to grips with everything. Since 6 months passed and we stopped counting his age in weeks, and since I started counting down the weeks until I go back to work, time is suddenly flying.  I say that but he’s learnt so much and amazes us every day so maybe it’s not gone so quickly.

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DEVELOPMENT
Developmentally he’s decided that rolling and crawling are not for him. He is very confident during and can spin a full 360 on his bottom at speed if there’s a good toy behind him. He’s always wanted to be on his feet-the jumperoo  and more recently the Walker have helped fuel this passion. And he’s been learning to stand whilst holding on to the sofa. A few weeks have passed and he is cruising around the furniture and given the right surfaces can pull himself up to standing. Eek.

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(There is a serious perspective issue in this photo as he is the tallest in his friend group! )

FOOD
Overall weaning (the English meaning of weaning being too stay them onto solids alongside milk) has been slow.  We decided to mix the classic puree-style weaning with baby-led. Baby D likes to be in charge so this suits him well. We started about a week before he turned 6 months amidst empty promises of it helping him sleep better. Whilst most his friends sit compliantly with an open beak, waiting to have food shovelled in, my boy is a bit of a pickle. I come from a family of keen eaters, my husband less so. Seems baby got his eating habits from daddy’s side of the family. I hope out non-pressurising approach means he grows up with a positive attitude towards food (I detest picky eaters and have patience with them! Everyone has likes and dislikes buy fussiness is annoying@).

The warm summer is not really helping (nor is the tummy bug we both had), and some days he basically eats nothing. We offer him three meals a day and s huge range and variety of tastes and textures in hot and cold, sweet and savoury food. Sometimes he goes mad for it, more often than not he doesn’t want anything.  However his weight is good and I’ve bought vitamin drops (which is as good as giving them, right? ) to ensure he gets what he needs. We are also spending a lot of time outside (though careful with suncream etc) so I hope he’s getting the vitamin D that breast milk can lack.
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SLEEP
Oh sleep. I won’t go into too much detail but whilst most people in the (western. Or maybe just british) world will try to make you feel like a freak if your baby doesn’t Sleep Through The Night from about 3 seconds old, I’m lucky to have my group of mumsnet friends showing me 60 plus different versions of normal. Sadly we are at the crappy end of the spectrum. I’m not prepared to sleep train my baby in the classic way (long story short -all babies are different and I don’t believe in a one-cure-fits-all solution and it definitely doesn’t suit my baby) Which doesn’t leave many options (and certainly none that have really worked for us).

I wish we had Co-slept earlier. There are so many people parroting bag information about Co sleeping and how it will ruin your life and kill your baby that I was reluctant to try it. In actual fact I get so much more sleep now than I did before despite his sleep patterns still being pretty awful. However Co sleeping in the spare room had meant not spending much time with my husband so last night we got radical and converted his cot into a sidecar cot.  Lots of great information about how to do it on many blogs so I will be modifying it tonight to try to improve the position.

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Need to remove the bedside table and move the cot up, then pad my side of the bed to get it a bit higher!