8 months: 10 things I know now.

Dolly is 8 months and I am going back to work in two weeks and this is what I think I know now

1. Most of the clothes I bought in the 3 months after Dolly was born are hideous. What was I thinking?

2. It is not the end of the world to not breast feed. The guilt goes as the weeks progress.

3. My mum has been mostly right about everything.

4. Breakfast television is extremely repetitive. Over and over again, the same thing…

5.Bring your baby yoga is really not for me or Dolly. She lay there looking at me wondering why I wasn’t talking to her and I really didn’t focus on my postures.

6. I can go out in the evening and it doesn’t make a bad mum. In fact, it may even improve me.

7. There are a lot of competitions on twitter.

8. Introducing solids is great, but it was easier beforehand.

9. Lightweight strollers are amazing and I should have practised a lot more with the sling before and when Dolly was born.

10. When Dolly is 1, I will write another list like this and I can’t wait to realise what will be in it!

Natural childbirth- an expensive business

Did Kate have a doula? Did she do the hypno-birthing course? Yoga? Is her placenta being encapsulised as we speak? Did she reap the benefits of pregnancy and pereneal massages? Well, she could have afforded to which brings me to my point, isn’t the very natural end of childbirth expensive? My open minded approach led me to contemplate everything. My partner, sisters and budget provided a different voice which questioned price, evidence and efficacy. I am not judging these services and treatments as ineffective-I didn’t experience them all (only indulged in pregnancy yoga which was amazing), however as a first time mother, it was at times felt overwhelming. Shouldn’t the lead up to a natural birth be free or certainly not over a £1000 pounds? Can we safely say the marketisation of natural birth has arrived? I felt it had.

The making of a bottle mummy-my breastfeeding story.

This is not some kind of ‘breastapo’ resistance, nor a list of excuses or an attempt to blame. It is what happened. Breastfeeding is what I would I have liked to have done, but it 

write down a number representing our commitment to breastfeeding (10 strong, 1 weak). Mine was 4 and Mr was 1. It was never going to happen you might think. My 4 was a nod to the intense struggle of 2 friends to breastfeed, a struggle that nearly tipped them into depression. But to be honest, I didn’t think this would happen to me. I was, during my pregnancy, resolutely committed to be open to every voice, the hippier ones in the vibrant, liberal city in which I lived and the old fashioned ones from my Irish background. I had the same open approach to my birth, ‘it would be nice to not need pain relief like pethadine, but if I need it, I need it’. I had read the hypno-birthing book, but I didn’t do the course.

At term plus 12, my waters broke as packed up for our induction appointment and later that night, we spent the second stage in the birthing pool and Mr even commented that we were like that couple off ‘One Born Every Minute’. We weren’t, but it was a lovely thing for him to say.  Many birthing positions, several hours and much fruitless pushing later, a medical team were called and our dolly was born using a Venteuse. After a cuddle, kiss and loss of blood, I was taken to theatre to get stitched up ‘where the light was better’ (third degree tear).

After an hour and half, possibly more, I was reunited with my daughter where they most lovely student midwife, who had spent much time with me during the labour, guided me as I put dolly on the boob. It wasn’t really happening, but there was plenty of time.

The dolly was full of mucus and not interested in feeding, but at least 5 different midwife assistants helped me get her latched on for very brief periods of feed over the next 24 hours. There are only so many people who should be allowed to poke and prod your breasts after childbirth. I wonder what training they had received. Did they all do the same as some had slightly different approaches? Had they breastfed babies themselves?

I diligently started hand expressing in order to cup feed. Once, so little was there in the cup, that Mr threw it out. A cornucopia of colostrum I was not. (The lady beside me was, she could be often overheard telling relatives of her bountiful supply …maybe this wasn’t the case, but was my sleep deprived version of events)

As time went on, a midwife suggested that the dolly have some formula with a dropper; she loved it and consumed the most she had ever. Then followed a midnight feed that saw the dolly take the boob for a full minute!  Released from the catheter, mobile and feeling good, my thoughts turned to getting home. The ward was full, staffed by community midwives brought in to cover sickness and visiting hours were noisy- I was informed that this wasn’t to be without having established feeding so I continued to wake every two hours, attempt to feed, hand express and give formula.  Dolly was born on the Wednesday and in the early hours of the Friday morning-anaemic, tired and desperate to get my baby home-I switched fully to formula feeding. It worked: we had regular feeding and the green light to take our baby home.

I could have continued and enlisted the NCT breastfeeding counsellor in my struggles, but I just wasn’t up for the poking and prodding.  After so many voices, I wanted the expertise and the voice of one woman-my mum and she bottle fed and that was part of the decision.

As dolly thrived, the guilt came and went. Some conversations really helped. In the end, it was actually talking with committed breast feeders that helped me leave the guilt behind. I take responsibility for my decision and I wonder if sitting down and writing about it will mean I see less of those judgemental or curious faces-I already think so.

Toothpaste, vinegar and baby oil

The Mr asked me yesterday why beneath my nose was blue. I didn’t tell him that it was toothpaste and that it was on a spot and that by being there, the spot’s life would be considerably shortened. He doesn’t need to know all that. 

Back in the day when I had time to think about shiney hair, I got the malt vinegar out and tipped some into a jug of water and used it during rinsing. Like the toothpaste, I got this from my mum who has no end of extra purposes for household products

Finally, baby oil. With the complete lifestyle change brought about by pregnancy (no pubs and hangovers), I dedicated a somewhat silly amount of time and money to my nails…oh, the sense that comes with statutory maternity pay hindsight. Anyway, as opposed to tiny, more expensive that gold, pens and little jars, use baby oil to massage cuticles!

Should mum reveal any more alternative uses, I will certainly share. In the meantime, I wish you shiny hair, spotless faces and lovely nails.

Baby equipment-buying for a life you don’t yet know.

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The dolly was six months yesterday and her highchair arrived the very same day (I had already started introducing different food  as pleading eyes while we ate and several nights of waking with hunger strongly suggested she was ready..the best laid plans and all that). The highchair was purchased without agonising hours online, without endless conversations and most of all, without much anxiety. 6 months has made a huge difference in our approach to baby equipment-thank god. The hours of research on travel systems, car seats and slings are ingrained in my memory; online and in store, where had my confidence and decisiveness gone? The difference isn’t because motherhood has bestowed baby equipment expertise on me (a lot of it remains a mystery and straps often defy me), it is because  I know what the dolly and I do everyday and what we need: I am in it. During pregnancy, I couldn’t visualise our days, whether we would use the car or walk lots. Would I want to push or would I want to ‘wear’ her? Would we indeed leave the house much? I had no idea what our lifestyle would be and it is difficult to buy for days that would be so different to any time before. So we bought second hand in the end so that if it didn’t work for us, we could simply get something else without huge expense. The sling lies unused in the boot and domestic flights meant we confidently purchased a light weight stroller at 3 months. Buying for a life you know is so much easier.