Let’s celebrate all those precious moments

I read a lovely post the other day by a fellow blogger, Mother of all Curves, about her bottle-feeding journey. This piece was intended as a support to other mothers who bottle-fed for whatever reason. It was never meant as any criticism of breastfeeding or to take away from any mother’s breastfeeding journey. It was simply meant to celebrate bottle-feeding mothers who can sometimes feel very much judged for their choice. I was very disappointed that this touching and brave post was then met with a large amount of negativity. Some people just completely missed the point and read it as an anti-breastfeeding post which it in no way was.

I fully support every mother’s right to feed her baby however she feels best. I think we need to be more open to breastfeeding in public places and making women feel comfortable doing it. I don’t understand how sunbathing topless is okay but feeding your baby draws so much hostility. This doesn’t make sense to me. Babies drink from breasts; this is perfectly natural and anyone who has a problem with it needs to get right over it.

Equally, however, anyone who has a problem with a mother feeding her baby with a bottle needs to move right along; it is not your business and not your place to comment. You don’t know that woman’s story, you don’t know what she has been through and at the end of the day it is her choice.

Writing about bottle-feeding in a positive light is quite often misconstrued as being critical of breastfeeding. But nine times out of ten this is not the case. Like the Mother of all Curves I support breastfeeding and want women to feel at ease doing it. From what I hear it’s very tough and women need all the encouragement they can get. But why can we not encourage women who breastfeed while also celebrating women who bottle-feed? Why is not okay to hear about a woman’s bottle-feeding journey? I know I had some lovely, snuggly tender moments bottle-feeding my tiny lady and those moments are very precious to me. IMG_1419

I couldn’t find any photos of me actually feeding my little girl – typical! I have photos of everyone feeding her except me – and I did most of the feeds! This was taken after a feed when she fell asleep tucked up on me. It’s a really lovely memory. *Please ignore the bags under my eyes I was functioning on very little sleep.

#Don’tjudgejustfeed

#supportallchoices

Let’s give each other a break and celebrate all mothers and all those precious little moments.

 

 

 

 

 

Writing in Toddlerdom

I am currently attempting to find other outlets, beyond my blog, to write for; online or in print and have been lucky to find some publications that have given me some wonderful opportunities. I am delighted but finding the time to write has been hard. My tiny lady used to nap for about two hours in total (including the time it took to fall asleep and wake up properly). This was ideal as it gave me time to work on my blog as well as my other pieces. However, lately she has cut this time in two and is only asleep for about an hour so the most I can stretch nap time to has been an hour and a half (as now she is falling asleep almost immediately instead of after a half hour of chat!). Today she decided not to nap at all!

I am aware that as she gets older she will need less and less sleep (and then – oh the horrors – no day-time sleep at all) but I figured I had a while to go before she would need any less than the two hours. But I could be wrong. She could just drop the naps all of a sudden. And I have to be prepared!

So what to do? I can either work in the evenings (when I find it hard to stay awake past nine o’clock much less produce coherent work) or I can learn to work while she is awake. Hmm…me thinks this will be quite the learning curve! Since I started this post (about half an hour ago) I have been asked to find a doll, locate her teddy, fix a train track and play tea parties. I’ve tried to explain about mummy working but it kinda breaks my heart to turn her down so I’ve played for a few minutes then jumped back to the laptop. I guess it will take us both some time to get used to. I can’t resist that smile and she loves having play-time with mummy. It’s something I enjoy about being at home with her too; I have time to enjoy really being with her.

Perhaps I may have to set my alarm clock -which hasn’t been set once since she was born as babies are mother nature’s alarm clocks! – and wake up a little earlier so that I can combine the life of a writer with the life of a mother.

The mystery of the sea

This morning we decided to go and collect some sea-shells. My ultimate aim is to paint these shells gold and silver and perhaps make a little jewellery box. But, as I’m not the most crafty at the best of times, this may or may not happen. I’m sure the shells will be painted and an attempt may be made at the jewellery box but I imagine the image in my head will be nothing like the reality!

But back to this morning. I actually expected it would be a typical Irish summer day i.e. that it would fool us with gorgeous sun and cloudless skies then release a torrent of rain just as we stepped out of the car. I even made detour home to collect the rain coats as I’d forgotten them when we first left the house. Shockingly it stayed dry. It even became sunnier and by the time we hit the beach the sea was sparkling with sun shimmers reminiscent of a Disney movie. It is really lovely to visit the beach very early in the morning. There is hardly another soul in sight beyond the odd jogger or friendly dog-walker so you can pretty much pretend that you own the beach; it’s your very own private lagoon. Granted this fantasy is slightly ruined every now and again  when a lone figure strolls by but still it’s nice to dream!

The ocean looked wonderfully inviting but my daughter has a slight fear of the sea. It seems to fascinate and terrify her in equal measure! We learned this when she was very tiny and we brought her to the beach to paddle at the shore. She hated it! She hated the feel of the wet sand on her feet. She hated the waves. She just plain hated every bit of it so we left (in a hurry being gazed at by curious bystanders). Still we realised that it was our job to help her overcome this fear so we have returned time and time again. She doesn’t mind the sand anymore but says the sea is ‘too noisy’ and likes to keep it at a safe distance.

Despite my intense love for the sea I do understand where she is coming from. It’s vast and seemingly endless, it does make strange noises and it moves closer and closer up the shore. She can be forgiven for being overwhelmed. I just hope that through repeated visits and with reassurance she can become less afraid. I would love to see her make friends with the sea as I’ve a feeling they would be really good buddies once they come to understand each other.

Why?

This morning I read an article that told the stories of six breastfeeding women. Each woman was pcitured with their baby (or children) and their story was told below the photo. This was all very lovely until I read that one woman who has autism and Borderline Personality Disorder, panic and anxiety disorders(as well as a history of panic attacks and anxiety disorders) had felt suicidal about pumping. Her baby was tube fed and on IV nutrition so she had to pump her breastmilk. For eight hours a day. She had D-MER- dysphoric milk ejection reflex. I had never heard of this before and so looked it up. It is a condition that means you get an influx of negative emotions just before milk is released and for a few minutes after. There are techniques you can use to distract yourself but most often what is needed is time to allow your hormones to even out. However, at 6 weeks this particular woman was diagnosed with severe post-partum depression. Her partner even noted that she had been suicidal when faced with the pump. Yet she pumped for 6 weeks despite all of this. Despite it clearly being a risk not only to her mental health but to her life as well. It was decided due to the PPD (not to mention the risk of post-partum psychosis) that she should stop pumping. Her wife, who was still nursing their older child, intended to take over. For various reasons this didn’t work and they relied on donor milk. All well and good. But my question is why?

Why pump for six weeks when you know (and your partner is fully aware) that you are putting yourself at risk? Why did they choose to do this? Why? Have we become so obsessed with Breast is Best that women are now risking their own mental health to avoid going down the formula route? This is not healthy people! Motherhood is so much more than breastfeeding, it’s so much more than feeding full-stop. Being a mother is a huge, complex, multi-layered job and we have reduced it to breastfeeding vs. bottlefeeding in some frankly weird attempt to make bottlefeeding mothers feel like failures. Women will now go out of their way to ensure they do ‘what’s right’ and breastfeed despite obstacles like having to come off anxiety medication to do it, risking a return of depression due to lack of sleep etc. I cannot believe that this is the best thing for new babies.

I think what babies need more than anything is a healthy and happy mother whether that woman is breastfeeding, bottlefeeding, pumping, using donor milk whatever. The important thing is that you are healthy, both physically and mentally. People are forgetting this in a rush to sign up to Breast is Best and we need to consider how this slogan may be contributing to many women putting themselves under enormous pressure to feed their babies. Please let’s support not pressure women during the vulnerable newborn period. Allow them to make the choice that suits them best and remember best fed is fed.

Watching Movies (parent-style)

Myself and my husband are big film fans. Our pre-parent selves watched a lot of movies and made numerous treks to the cinema. We stacked our shelves with all the new releases as well as hunting down eighties and nineties classics. Trust me when I say we have a lot of DVDs. Fast forward to now and our child is two. Since her arrival I have noticed a steady decline in our movie watching. I was prepared for this when she was a newborn. We broke up the night into two shifts so that each of us got at least five hours sleep. This usually meant that the person on the second shift (who got to wake up at…three am!!!) had to be in bed by ten. This usually meant making moves to get to bed around half nine or so – the time our pre-parent selves would just be settling in for a film night with popcorn, crisps and wine. So I begrudgingly accepted that our movie watching might be curtailed for a bit.

However, I’ve now been forced to acquiesce that, for now at least, the only way we can watch a full movie together is if we either go to the cinema (good luck finding a babysitter) or break the movie up into two halves. Now you can risk a full movie in one night but it will cost you…inevitably the tiny lady will wake up much earlier than usual and you will cry into your pillow, regretting that second glass of wine and bedtime at eleven o’clock. She honestly has a sixth sense about these things and punishes parents for attempting to enjoy themselves. I’m kidding…probably.

I have also found that if we try and watch a full movie in one night than about half an hour towards the end I will find myself drifting off, eyes heavy and full of sleep. I will turn to my husband and suggest we watch the rest of it the following evening. He will try to cajole me and remind me that it’s nearly over. This will go on for about five or ten minutes until one of us gives in. If I give in and stay up I end up quite out of sorts by the time the end credits roll by and usually won’t wash my teeth, remove my make-up or take out my contact lenses!

Recently I’ve started to remember watching movies with my parents when I was a child. And what was my mum doing while we all watched? Well she was fine for the first half hour or so then you would look over during a particularly funny scene and there she was …fast asleep!! And now I get it…I totally get it!!

It’s my party…and I’ll cry if I want to!

It seems like a very long while since my last post and while I have been absent from the blogsphere I have been busy, in real life, getting ready for the tiny lady’s second birthday party. I can feel the lump in my throat even typing this – my baby is two! She is officially no longer a baby in the eyes of the world although in my eyes she will be stuck with the baby label no matter how big she gets.

The party itself went really well but all the planning and organising it took was nearly worse than my wedding. There was a cake to be ordered, catering to be delivered (catering mind you for a two year old’s party) and decorations to be bought and then artfully arranged. My husband and I also had the ‘fantastic’ idea of making our own birthday card – thanks CBeebies for that! It seemed like such a nice thing to do and I had visions of us sitting there maybe with a glass of wine, making the card while reminiscing about the last two years. Naturally this did not happen. My husband took over the designing and spent the best part of three hours sweating over the computer and printer to produce Bing and Sula along with a photo of my daughter and various other bits including a rainbow and flowers!

I then had the ‘joy’ of cutting all of this crap out…and I am seriously bad at cutting. There were quite a few near misses with Bing’s hands and Sula’s trunk. Finally I stuck all the bits and pieces onto our giant A2 card. It was worth it, it looked really, really good. That is until the glue dried. All the paper images turned an ugly shade of green so it looked as if we were zombifying not only our beautiful daughter but her favourite TV characters as well. We decided it would not be displayed at the party.

We spent all last week in a similar fluster between cakes and decorations and planning until finally the day of the party dawned and I felt shattered. Cups of coffee and coke kept me going but between the stress of hosting (I do not enjoy hosting occasions) and a lack of sleep the night before I was ready for bed before my little girl.

At the end of it all I thought back to my own tiny birthday parties. There would be a few treats, a cake (of course) and myself, my sister and my cousin. We each took turns blowing out the candles (this still rankles it was my birthday after all) and then would eat a few treats before going off to play. Simple, easy and no stress or sweat involved. But these days even a simple home party like ours turns into a circus. It’s as if we are afraid our children won’t feel loved enough if we don’t celebrate with due style. I am just grateful she hasn’t started school yet – I can well imagine those parties are tough on both your mental health and your pocket!

Still it was a very lovely day despite all of that and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Toilet Training (part 1) – So it begins…

‘Mama toilet!’

These very surprising words were spoken to me by my tiny lady this morning. I say surprising as we haven’t even begun the arduous task of toilet training yet. We have bought a little toilet seat and she has sat on it nappy-less on a few occasions but this has been the extent of ‘training’ until now.

Having worked in the ‘toilet training’ room of a crèche for years I vowed that when I had my own child I was going to make toilet training as stress free as possible. It’s a huge step for a child and a daunting task for parents. You want to get it right and you don’t want to give your child issues for years after. It puts enormous pressure on you as a parent and I wanted to make it as calm as possible for myself, my husband and our tiny lady. So I decided we would take it in baby steps. We bought the aforementioned toilet seat. She has worn pull ups from time to time. We talk to her about the toilet and read her stories about it (including one I wrote myself). She has been watching mama go to the toilet for months now so she knows what it’s all about. Still I was eager not to rush things. Our next step was the purchase of a potty once she actually turns two.

So you can imagine my surprise when she actually asked me for the toilet. We were playing cars quite happily when suddenly she jumped up. ‘Mama toilet!’ You could have knocked me over with a feather! So I sat her up on her toilet seat. She sat for one second precisely then wanted to get off. I figure she had gone in her nappy and then asked to go. But still – a step forward all the same.

I suppose I may need to go get that potty now!! And so it begins…

So Bloom…with a Toddler…thank goodness for parental amnesia

So Bloom….with a toddler….yes it did seem like quite a good idea at the time. Normally we are a bit reluctant to go too far afield with the tiny lady unless we are staying over somewhere for the night but she is about to turn two so we thought we would risk it. What’s the worse that could happen?

Indeed.

Well, spoiler alert we didn’t actually see any flowers. At a national festival of flowers and plants we didn’t actually see any. It might be some sort of record.

The day started off quite well. We timed our departure to tie with in with the all important toddler nap time and the tiny lady drifted off for the better part of the journey. Then we hit Dublin. Aided and abetted by the help of Google Maps we came very close to divorce on the M50. We circled round and round. Voices were raised. Tempers flared. The toddler woke up and wanted out. I began to regret leaving the house. But we made it at last. Or so we thought.

We ended up parked miles away from the actual entrance only to discover an actual carpark a stones throw away once we got there. We attempted laughing it off but there were lots of dark looks thrown at the guard who had kindly directed us in the wrong direction.

Finally, however, we made it inside. Toilets were a priority at this stage. I found them…well actually I smelled them first. A queue snaked out of each woman’s cubicle while the men’s were quietly idle. Wishing I was a man I queued at the women’s. Ten minutes later I felt a little more comfortable thought I did vow I would go liquid free for the rest of the afternoon. This meant abstaining from coffee which quite frankly I could have seriously used at that point. However, I didn’t want to spend our limited time queuing at the toilets. We figured with a toddler and two hour journey home we have two hours max to enjoy ourselves.

Food was next on the agenda. We found a fancy hot dog vendors and basically scoffed some down in about five minutes the toddler helped though she preferred her banana and baby bel. We then took a quick stroll through the craft area. By quick stroll I mean I literally stopped at one stall before the tiny lady tried to grab a handful of shiny jewels. We managed to stop her but we had to pay a price.  What followed was a five minute meltdown that ended in bribery and ice cream. I never realised quite how sticky toddlers can be until the tiny lady rubbed her ice cream caked hand all over the grass and then tried to give me a hug.

My husband tried to take a brief tour of the food stalls while I entertained the toddler but after two seconds she wanted her dada again. She wasn’t happy until we were all sitting down together on the grass; preferably with food in our hands. There were quite a few meltdowns when we tried to do anything other than what she wanted to do so the main area we got to see was the children’s area where our little monkey played with tractors and watched half of a Punch & Judy show. I can’t even honestly tell you what we else we really did beyond that and eating!

But it was the walk back to the car that truly broke me. My husband suggested he walk ahead with my coffee and the bag of assorted toddler/parent crap. I figured the tiny lady and I could stroll back at our leisure as we wouldn’t have as far to go. All was going swimmingly until a steward asked us to step off the foot path to allow cars to pass. Yes cars …on the footpath. Of course the toddler didn’t want to walk on the grass she wanted to walk on the footpath. She raved and ranted. I cursed the steward under my breath allowing myself the luxury of calling him stupid in her earshot which normally I would never do. I then had to carry her all the way back to the car with an ache in the pit of my back and sweat streaking down my face. At that point I swore I would never go anywhere ever again.

The car journey home confirmed my decision.  All the way home the sounds of Mama, Mama literally every two seconds.  I curled up in a ball at one point hoping that if she couldn’t see me she wouldn’t call for me – out of sight out of mind kind of thing. This did not even come close to working.

The day ended with the least nutritious dinner – waffles and spaghetti hoops -this meant no fighting and very little washing up.

Of course we all know that with a bit of time and distance the stress will fade from my mind and all I will remember is my tiny lady’s face as she bit into her first lemon sorbet, the light in her eyes as she giggled at Punch & Judy and the feel of her warm body snuggled against mine as we walked home. That’s the joy of being a parent; you benefit greatly from parental amnesia…otherwise you might very well never leave your home again!