Category Archives: Advice and Decisions

Advice

Standard

Small turned 2 a couple of weeks ago. I couldn’t think of anything interesting or poignant to post so I didn’t!

I know a few people having or due babies soon and was thinking about the most useful bit of advice I could give them and what it might be. There’s tonnes of great info about breastfeeding out there on the internet if you’re willing to look for it, so I’m not sure that there’s anything there I could say of much use. There’s also so much conflicting stuff about sleep and all those things and most would hardly peg me as an expert with our sleep situation. So I think my best advice would be:

For every one person that tells you something worked for them there are a) a hundred people who it didn’t work for and b)a hundred other things that person tried that didn’t work.

Why that?

The thing I found hardest when R was little was that everyone had a handy trick up their sleeve for getting a child to eat or sleep or whatever.

And it was always conveyed to us with such authority, that I often tried whatever the method was. Even some of the expensive ones.

And you know what? Nothing worked.

I now know and believe this isn’t because I’m a terrible rubbish parent. It is (that old chestnut) that every child is different.

Whilst trying to impart your wisdom on someone else, it’s hard not be emphatically excited that some magical method of convincing your child to sleep/eat/be independent/ nap in their cot etc really really worked for you. It’s also easy to overlook all those other things you tried and didn’t manage to make work for you (we won’t say “failed at”). It’s also easy to forget that your specific circumstances and your specific child is very different to the next one.

It’s easy to feel, in your new parent, sleep deprived, hormonal state that you are, in fact, the worlds’ worst and most incapable parent. If they managed to make the “Pick Up Put Down” method work for them, why couldn’t you make it work for you? If they managed to achieve a non-fussy eater by practicing baby-led weaning and introducing a new food every 72 hours, why weren’t you capable of doing the same? If leaving their child to scream led to them falling asleep in 30 minutes, why does your child just scream until he vomits over himself? And this can feel really isolating and lonely. If everyone else is having success and you’re not, then it can be really hard to swallow.

So in a way this is advice not only for new parents but for those “old hands” who are trying to help out newbie parents.

In reality that parent that got the “Pick Up Put Down” method to work probably tried a huge number of other techniques (90 Minute Sleep Programme, No Cry Sleep Solution, Pantly Pull off etc) with no success, but invariably they will forget to tell you that.

So if you’re a parent already and have friends having their first baby, think carefully about what you say to them. Be honest, show that you’re human and understand not everyone is the same and pay particular attention to trying to remember how you felt when everyone else seemed to be sailing through parenthood whilst you struggled. Kindness is the key gift we can give new parents at what is likely the most stressful time of their lives!

December update!

Standard

I have a feeling this is going to be a bitty one!

As of tomorrow I have a 15 month old (which seems ridiculous really). He’s running around like crazy, shouting and pointing, articulating a few words but understanding so much more. Even “Can you put the toy in your other hand so mummy can do your other sleeve?”. He likes to crash his toy cars saying “craaash”.

Baby (toddler?!) has been through a bit of a stressful clingy phase (which sounds actually quite normal when speaking to friends with similar age children) but he’s seemingly coming out of the other side, punctuated by a three day refusal to go to bed in the evening, regardless of daytime naps or any other factors! 11pm bed time (at least two hours later than MY preferred bed tim) three nights running with the first night involving very little sleep at all for the three of us, and all nights involving co-sleeping from the start. Teamed with a kitten scratching at the door from 5am, we weren’t our very cheery selves on Saturday. He’s feeding a huge amount at night still, which makes the potential to not be here in the evening (for whatever reason) rather impossible.

The weather has taken a turn towards proper winter from happily plus 10 celcius to minus three on Saturday morning and I’m still struggling to get baby’s layers right. I can’t get gloves with individual fingers on him, but mittens annoy him because he can’t pick things up or play with them. Think I should buy some nice warm tights to go under his clothes though as I worry about chilly legs when he’s walking or in the sling!

Been trying to think what Christmas pressies to buy for him and other small people we know, and I’ve been using the Let Toys Be Toys recommended retailers list.

Let Toys Be Toys is a parent led campaign to try to reduce the tired old gender stereotypes that are proliferated by some retailers, toy companies and publishers.

It’s something I’ve always felt very strongly about as a “tomboy” child, from a young age a feminist, and especially now as a parent. I find myself relieved that I didn’t have a girl because far apart from not being a “pink” person myself, I think girls in particular are marketed to in a really negative way. For example-selling separate sticker books for “Clever Boys” and “Beautiful Girls” further reinforces the sad stereotyping of women being only good for looking pretty. Selling medical fancy dress outfits that contain “Doctor kits for Boys” and “Nurse kits for Girls” sends out a powerful message about the expectations of girl’s future and career prospects. “Boys” toys turned pink and marketed towards girls, gives a strong impression that girls aren’t really welcome to play with trains/ toolkits/cars, and that they need some special kind of treatment. Even Lego- one of the toys I enjoyed playing with most as a child for hours on end with both my sister and my two half-brothers are now marketing pink “Girls” lego bricks. I certainly never had any issues with playing with boring old red/yellow/green/blue Lego (or should that be “Boys Lego”?)

I now volunteer for Let Toys Be Toys and it has opened my eyes even further to the whole issue- through the way the toy makers and publishers/ authors create a huge imaginary gender divide to suggest that girls and boys not only NEED separate things, but then the active promotion of this divide to ensure it’s upheld. I have spoken to some friends and family who don’t really understand why it matters, but if I want the world to be a better place, I feel it’s really important that my son grows up understanding that whilst yes, there are inevitably some differences between men and women, that children and adults can choose their own path. That even children are able to make some decisions for themselves- even if it’s just what kind of toy they want to play with. This is the 21st century. I don’t want my son to believe that women are good for nothing other than looking pretty and doing the housework, I need him to know that women can be whoever or whatever they want. As part of that I don’t want him to think that there’s any inherent weakness in being emotional, liking playing with dolls, wearing pink or anything that is sadly still considered “sissy” or “girly”. And If I can bring him up to be a well rounded individual who respects both men and women equally, and at the same time can help spread the message and get people to think, even if it’s just briefly, about the stereotypes in their mind that they project onto children, then I think it is important. Of course I should add the caveat that if your son loves football, dinosaurs and robots, whilst your daughter loves One Direction, sparkles, kittens and fairies- this is of course fine. However, the key factor is that these decisions are made by the individuals, through experiencing lots of different things. The current tag line being used by LTBT is “Tell them what it is, not who it’s for” which I think says it all.
LTBT logo

And a great blog post here about “What do Toys have to do with inequality”?

Not sure what else there is to say that’s baby related to I’ll leave it there for now! Hopefully some food for thought?

9 month review

Standard

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. 

Side car named Sleep.

Standard

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.

image

image

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.

image

(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.
image

image

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.

image

image

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

Colic

Standard

Colic is one of those things you hear about but never really know what it is. So when people suggested (after a few hard nights) that baby D had Colic, I was a bit surprised. Then did a bit of research. It’s a bit weird really- no-one really knows what it is or why it is- though there are theories about what causes it.

Baby D had a few nights which were awful from 10pm until 2am or midnight until 4 he was inconsolable. We’d feed him, burp him, change him, cuddle him, put him down, swaddle him, put a layer on, take a layer off, try skin to skin contact… nothing really worked. Eventually if he did settle, it would only be on me, and then with all the warnings from midwives etc about co-sleeping, I was too terrified to fall asleep with him on me…. so I lay awake for hours as if I tried to put him in his moses basket, he’s start screaming again.

The health visitor talked it through with us and said it was sounding like colic and gave us some ideas of things to try (massage and colic drops in particular). We bought the colic drops (Dentanox rather than Infacol as it’s what the pharmacy had)- it smells utterly disgusting a mix between sambuca and gaviscon! Gross. He doesn’t like it

cry


(as you can see from this face)

Wednesday night was another nightmare one, but Thursday afternoon and evening we tried lots of tricks including some tummy massage, sitting upright in the bouncy chair, having a bath with mummy and kept up the colic-drops. I’m not expecting it to last or happen every night but he slept beautifully last night- sat awake but happy in the bouncy chair until 11pm ish, then fed at three, six and 8:30am. And inbetween he slept in the moses basket and mummy got to sleep too! This morning he was too chilled out and happy to feed properly!

12 days

Standard

I now have 12 days left at work….

12 days!

So I need to know- what does one do on maternity leave?

I aim to do one “active” thing a day- short cycle, walk or swim at the local pool, and I will also aim to see friends for tea and scones where I can (although I’m still working on meeting more mummies and mummies-to-be who will be off work when I am). There are lots of little tiny jobs around the house (filing, painting window frames etc) which I may feel like doing too. But sort of that I have no idea how I will fill my time.

007

I am trying very hard not to be worried about getting our car back in time for the next wedding trip. We have a 500mile plus round trip to do in 5 days time, and our car is not ready. The garage are waiting for some parts after the crash I had a couple of weeks ago, and we were supposed to get our car back a week ago. Our courtesy car is a 1L Peugeot 107, and I’m not sure we’ll fit everything in. We’ll need our suitcases for 4 nights away, including smart things for the wedding, the hospital bag with all the baby things, the car seat and pram base and the cat in his basket, the litter tray etc as he is going for a cat holiday at my parents. There is pretty much no way that will all fit in the car with the two of us, so I’m getting a bit worried!

Another great blog post

Standard

A brilliant blog post I was linked to via facebook which talks about how not to be “competitive mum”. Whilst I will not hesitate to admit that I judge others (as do we all), even if it’s silently in my mind, I try to remain as open minded as possible when it comes to how our children will be brought up.

As with the pregnancy and the birth, I and my husband, have our ideals. We know what we would like the experience to be like and we know how we would prefer to do it. However, we are also realists and appreciate that things don’t always go how you’d like them to……

A more serious topic

Standard

(copied from my personal journal)

Apart from the kitchen, the other thing I’m feeling stressed about is the discussion about new vs secondhand mattresses for baby stuff. I’ve never really thought too hard about these things- as I’m generally happy with second hand things for… everything really. If things are clean and smell nice and are in good condition, I’m happy about them.

I’ve noticed other mums-to-be being very obsessed with new things on the whole, so I’ve usually ignored it as they’re clearly just different people to me, but the discussion about new mattresses for cots and moses baskets is confusing me. Someone linked me to this study on BMJ about increased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome with previously used matresses. Part of the problem is that this study shows increased risk of SIDS with a second hand mattress, but no cause and effect. This appears to be due to other factors i.e socio-economic. I guess that it’s likely that those more likely to be using second hand mattresses are from more deprived areas and will be more likely to be affected by a number of other factors (poor health/information/smoking etc) which are hard to seperate out in real life studies like this.

We’ve got a second hand cot and moses basket, with second hand mattresses. We’ve cleaned everything we can, but I don’t know what to do. I know the home they’ve come from. They’re clean and in great condition and I’m loathe to throw them away and buy new ones, seems so pointless. The worst thing about being a parent (or parent to be) is other people’s neurosis and fear and pressure that gets put onto you and with conflicting information that changes every 5 seconds, it’s hard to make your way through the information to make informed, sensible choices. Hard work 😦

Opinions

Standard

It’s an interesting and well observed phenomena that pregnancy and raising children is something of a free-for-all in terms of commenting on other people’s choices and opinions.

It would be ill advised and unexpected for me to walk up to a stranger in the street and berate them for their decisions about giving their 2 year old a big mac and sugary drink, whilst it’s entirely expected and “normal” for people to make comments openly to pregnant women about their every day decisions.

When you are pregnant there are lots of things you are advised not to do- in particular the list of food on the NHS website to avoid during pregnancy. Most of it is relatively easy, but the list changes frequently and it is hard to keep up. I spent about 3 months avoiding smoked salmon when I really fancied it just because I thought it was off the list! I know people who have smoked, drunk and drowned themselves in blue cheese during their pregnancies and I also know women who have been terrified of anything and everything (including many who have got rid of pets and denied themselves a daily cup of tea).

I’d like to think I’m safely in the middle for this one- whilst I am trying to keep abreast of The List and where I can in every day life avoid those things I should avoid, I haven’t been devoid of all fun! I’m allowing myself the odd glass of wine now and then, but avoid unpasturised and blue cheese 99% of the time. I’m also trying not to eat soft boiled eggs, pate and uncooked meat. I do drink tea, but not excessively and happy to drink decaf tea instead. I went to a fantastic steak restaurant at the weekend with the girls and had my meat much better cooked than I would have wanted to, but a risk worth avoiding.

This risk factor is all about Listeria (bar caffeine and alcohol), although interestingly one of the highest risk food items for listeria is from cold or reheated rice, which doesn’t feature anywhere on the NHS list. The other major risk stated during

Life is full of risk- in the home, outside the home…. and life is all about managing risk. I plan to still ride my bike (although I’m not able to complete the same mileage I once was) as long as I am comfortable and able to, and I will enjoy a glass of champagne at the weddings I am attending this year. I will no doubt be judged for this, but I am comfortable with my decisions.

It’s amazing what people find to comment on though, from choices whether or not to have a drink or a slice of unpasturised cheese, to how many children we plan to have, our decision to find out the babie’s gender (we’re not!), whether we use a dummy or breast feed…..

In other news we’ve had two wonderful surprise gifts from strangers!
A friend of my mothers- from her wood carving class has sent us over a gorgeous little Beatrix Potter Jeremy Fisher toy, and then today our lovely neighbour Iris brought around a beautiful hand knitted blanket for the baby, which was made by her 88 year old sister in law who lives in Cumbria! Thank you Sue and thank you Olive!


Niece Sophie enjoying a chew on Jeremy Fisher


New blanket.

23 weeks

Standard

So far past half way now- how scary!

I feel like my previous second trimester energy is starting to wane! Dammit! I was enjoying being able to do normal things and get on with life, so I’m worried I’ll have to slow down again now.

After weddings and hen parties and visitors, life does quieten down a little over the next few weeks and I can concentrate on getting baby things ready, staying fit and actually getting my head around antenatal classes and things like that.

I have been a bit annoyed that when I’ve tried to look at NHS info here on my local hospitals website the info is very sketchy. We MUST book onto courses… but there’s no information about how to book!

That’s something to ask the midwife about at my 24 week appointment. There’s some other things too, but I must write them down as I keep forgetting!

I’m getting worried- not about the birth but about not being pregnant! I’m now enjoying it. I love being kicked (even when it hurts and keeps me awake), I love my silly round football-under-the-tshirt bump and the new focus in my life it’s given me. I know the baby will hold the focus though!

This week I got to help a friend with a ridiculously large poohsplosion. Her 4 week old baby Grace, whilst feeding, did three massive huge farts in a row, the third of which turned into what I can only describe as stinky liquid gold which was running out of her nappy and down her white tights! Ooops. I was happy to dive in and help, so I think I earnt my stripes. Poor Grace had to be bathed it was so messy! Poor love, but I hope she slept better having got it all out!