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Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Some Positive Sleep News

Hallelujah!

Finally I feel I can stop complaining, at least for now, and celebrate that my wee girl seems to have worked out how to nap 2-3 times a day and also how to sleep through!  She was going every second night for a while and then last night and the night before she went through on her own!  (Obviously) She did wake once or twice but she went back to sleep all on her own with no intervention from Mummy or Daddy, I am very proud!

I am hoping it might long continue, and if it does, then maybe we can hold off on the sleep training!?

Well done little girl! Now if I can only work out why *I* couldn't sleep last night!

Monday, 25 July 2011

Holidays!

Is it really a week since I posted, I knew it wasn't yesterday but I didn't think it was that long!

Oh well, I am excited, for it is only 4 sleeps (if Naomi sleeps through, which she is currently doing every second night!!) till we go on holiday!  We will be taking the long drive to the frozen North to visit our families in and around Aberdeen.

Travelling with a small child has it share of stresses and complicating factors though!  There is, of course, the sheer amount of "stuff" they need.  I went through all the stuff we took last time and started trying to think of things we could take out so that we could avoid taking the roof box (I can't think what those things do to your fuel economy but I would really rather not do the 800 mile round trip with that attached to the top of my already quite brick-like family car!).  At one point I started telling my husband we could manage with only two dummies rather than six, he quite rightly pointed out that although this was true, it was unlikely to make much difference to the overall capacity of our car!  I likened the process to editing an essay at university, where what you needed to do was take out a whole paragraph, but being unable to decide which one, you would instead go through taking out some "the"s and maybe hyphenating a few words here and there.  In the end I am not sure I downsized the equipment at all, though I did promise to pack less outfits and sleep attire for the child! (Though I also swapped the bouncy chair we took last time for a bumbo, that definitely takes up more space!).  I fear that in a few days, when push comes to shove (quite literally) we will just admit defeat and put the roofbox (or sail) on top of our already quite big car!

The next problem is one of distance.  It is clearly unreasonable to expect Naomi at 6 months old, to sit in her car seat for 8 hours like her Dad and I used to do before she was around (well, we didn't sit in her car seat, we wouldn't fit!) so you have to start thinking about how to break up the journey and you start thinking of various relatives you haven't spoken to in years and phoning them up to ask if you can stop in for a cup of coffee or even to stay the night so the child can chill out for a bit.  Last time we travelled Naomi was only on breastmilk, getting food into her that way didn't take all that long and wasn't all that messy, this time we will need to think about how and when and where we can shovel some mush into her every few hours too!

The car has another issue too, if Naomi starts to cry on the motorway (which is inevitible, she hates the car and we spend a lot of time on the motorway) there is nothing you can do, you can't pick her up, you can't shove my boob in her mouth (I wish I could find a way) and if you have bravely sat in the front you can't even get into the back to tell her it will all be okay.  I feel like motorways are places of stress for me, I am examining every sign to see how far it is to the next service station and then you have to decide whether to gamble on her making it to the next one or do you stop now, thus lengthening the journey even further!

I am very excited for my holiday, it will be great to see family and friends again, but please won't someone invent a teleportation device, I find myself dreading the thought of the drive!

Monday, 18 July 2011

Some Positive thoughts

I feel my blog posts have all been a little negative recently, so I would like to counter that by telling you some of the great things in my life just now, from little things I do, to great ways I have to learned to enjoy each day.

Naomi is loving her solid foods, which means we are having great fun weaning.  She gets so excited for the food and starts visibly shaking with anticipation for the next mouthful.  We tried to take a video of it, but whenever her dad got the camera out, she just started staring at him and stopped doing anything in any way cute.  Although, that was quite funny in itself!  Her favourite food is broccoli and you can guarantee she will yum up anything you give her if it has that in it!

I am also, just loving watch Naomi develop and learn in all sorts of ways.  She learned to roll last week and you can now see her try and work out how to roll the other way (she currently only does back to front!).  But even sitting in her high chair you can see how much better she is at it.  Her Dad told me she looks really grown up now compared to when he left for a conference only a week ago!  She is particularly cute when she is working out how to use her hands, though she is increasingly working out about her feet!

One of my biggest blessings in life, though, is my church.  I just love it so much.  Such a wonderful environment to have a baby in.  Everyone is looking out for each other, and given that my faith is really important to me, it is lovely that it such a helpful environment to bring children into.  On a Sunday morning when we all get together, the worship is done with children in mind, they can have a drum to bang on, or  a balloon to play with, or a space to dance in!  I even love that we have the coffee break half way through so all the parents can caffeinate themselves; how else would they get though the sermon?!  I have only bought about 6 pieces of clothing for Noami, for everyone just hands out the the things they don't need at that time.  One person I spoke to says that because her boys are the oldest she sometimes sees things her boys wore about 7 years ago, she likes to try and guess who passed them to who for them to end up with someone that she might not know so well!

Also, though, I love my friends.  I know them from church where I know lots of people but there are a couple of people that I don't know I could make it through each week without.  They are up for coffee if you need and know those moments where they need to take the baby from you, for a cuddle, or even a walk!  They ply me with helpful advice and let me rant and moan but also when to tell me to stop being unreasonable and suck it up!  They also invite me to things they are doing with their children for the realise I don't always know what is going on because i haven't lived here that long.

And finally, for today anyway.  I love the geographical place I live.  It is a lovely wee town with everything within walking distance.  Parks that are lovely to walk through and places to play for Noami.  There at least three ways to get everywhere so I never get bored and it is just a pretty little place.  Sometimes as I am walking into/through town I just can't believe how lucky I am.

What are you thankful for today?

Sunday, 17 July 2011

I don't like the school holidays

I don't.  It's true.  The thing is, with only a baby at home, it makes no difference to me whether the schools are in or out.  I cannot afford holidays at the moment (well, not real ones, we're going to stay with our families for a bit) and so the price of holidays doesn't make any difference to me.

I hate the holidays because the baby groups that keep me so sane in a normal week get cancelled.  Especially for those groups run by volunteers I do understand that people need a break (because I used to volunteer with a baby group, pre-child) and I get that many of the volunteers have older children who they can't take along to the baby group and so school being out makes it difficult.  However, I need those groups!

Those groups are the things that mean at the end of a day I can have spoken words out loud that weren't necessarily about poo "isn't that a big one?!" or about the noise a cow/dog/monkey/giraffe makes (what noise does a giraffe make?)

Those groups are also places where I can feel I am making sure my (currently) only-child is getting some socialisation and having an opportunity to learn to share and not to hit other babies on the head!

Naomi also gets lots of opportunities to do things like painting or playing with other messy things that I could do with her at home but I actually find quite stressful, she has many opportunities with these groups that I could provide at home but I find much easier to do in a church hall!

Tomorrow is the first weekday of the school holidays where I live.  Instead of going to the baby and toddler group I will stay at home, I thought about taking Naomi swimming but the pool timetable has changed yet no-one has updated the website timetable and so tomorrow I will concentrate on finding out what times I can take her on other weeks!  I might do painting with her, but I'll probably stress out too much about the carpet in my rented house!

Friday, 15 July 2011

The ongoing sleeping trauma

I have realised that since my husband went away (so far it has been 4 days) I have lost count of the number of times I have had to persuade Naomi to be asleep.

Be it for naps or for night time sleeping, my little girl doesn't want to do it!  I can spend easily 30-40 minutes getting her to go down for each nap and although night time tends to be a little easier she has taken to waking up. Often.

For the first several weeks of her life she was amazing sleeper, she even slept through for about 3 weeks when she was only about 10 weeks old.  We used to joke that we wouldn't know what to do if we had a "real" baby.  And that's the rub, we don't!

We go on holiday shortly and don't think it is fair on Naomi to change things before we go, and then obviously we won't change things on holiday and when we come back we want to give her a couple of weeks to settle back in, but then we have decided we will do some "sleep training".  I have mixed feelings about it but we can't keep going the way we are and as a result I am counting down the days!

I know it is a controversial subject but the bouncing/rocking/wearing out my knees/wearing out my back/having no energy left just has to go.  I cannot do it any more, this has been made all the more obvious to me while hubby is away, making my child sleep actually makes me want to break out into tears, and sometimes I do cry about it, so it is time for a change.

I just hope I can hold out that long, 6 weeks and counting!

Thursday, 14 July 2011

An unexpected hazard of being a stay at home Mum

As you can read about here (if you so desire) my husband and I have very consciously made the decision that I will be a stay at home Mum.  I won't be going out to work and I will be in charge of bringing up Naomi (and any others that may follow).  This has obvious challenges to do with finances and to do with my sense of identity and most of them we saw coming.

In the last few days though I have become aware of another challenge though, one that I hadn't seen coming, one that has taken me by surprise.

When Naomi was born I set about taking her to all sorts of baby groups, she loves being able to play and I love being able to meet other people.  I got on really well with many of the other Mums and it was great to have some peers in real life who were going through similar things to me.

The thing is though, now that Naomi is 6 months old, many of the people who I got to know and enjoyed hanging out with are returning to work.  And because I didn't see it coming, I haven't made enough effort to get mobile numbers and to get in the habit of meeting with outside of group times, because I didn't notice or realise that I would need to.

Slowly but surely, my support network is dwindling because now-a-days being a stay at home Mum, at least being a full time stay at home Mum is not the norm.

I feel really sad, for losing my support and also for the number of people who say "I wish I could be a stay at home Mum", these people feel pressured into doing something they would rather not, and that makes me sad too.

I guess next time I make a round of friends with babies, I'll need to make sure I try harder to make "better" relationships more quickly, so they will stand the test of returning to work.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Babysitters

So hubby is away and yet life must go on.  So last night I tried to go out and do something just for me, it would have been pure indulgence in that I was meeting up with some people from church to try and talk through some stuff from my past and to lay some of it to rest.  It was time to forget about being a Mummy and just be me, it was time to focus on what my needs were rather than those of my little girl.

The babysitter came, we had dinner then I bathed Naomi and put her down to sleep.  She was asleep for about 25 minutes before I walked out the door.  I had an ominous feeling though.

I had been out for about an hour when the babysitter rang, she was crying and had been since not long after I left.  Clearly, I came back home.  I have now managed to settle my child, though experience tells me I have a pretty awful night ahead of me, as Naomi is likely to wake quite often in an attempt to make sure I am still around, or perhaps to punish me for going out in the first place!

How do you feel about babysitters though?  I feel very mixed about them, on the one hand I think it is reasonable and healthy to need and want time away from the baby and to do things that aren't completely focused on being a parent.  On the other hand, I think it is perfectly reasonable for my baby at not quite 6 months old to expect her Mummy to be there when she needs her.  I think it reasonable that she won't settle for someone she doesn't know very well (which unfortunately includes grandparents, seeing as we live so far from family).

The night before last I went out and left Naomi with a babysitter and she didn't wake once, last night she woke almost immediately on my leaving*.  Should I have stayed at home?  Should I have waited for night her Dad was here? Do I only feel guilty because it went "wrong"? Or should I feel guilty anyway?

Naomi is a good wee girl, I hate the idea that I caused her to be upset but maybe it is a life lesson she just needs to learn?...

*This makes it sound like we leave her often, in fact this was only the 5th time she has ever been left with anyone other than Mummy or Daddy, ever.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Home Alone

Hubby has gone away, he left last night and doesn't get back till Saturday.

I HATE when he goes away, I really am a better mother when he is here, I get too stressed and anxious while he is away.  Even before I was a mother I coped much better when he was around compared to when he was gone, but now the contrast seems even stronger.

Stuff that I normally do without thinking about it (like eating) becomes a major struggle and now I have to make sure I do everything for Naomi, I become even more of an afterthought.  I decided not to brush my teeth last night for having come upstairs, I couldn't face going down our squeaky stair case and waking the baby, again!  if hubby had been here, I would have brushed my teeth for he would have been here to help *if* she had woken.

Even going to baby groups, which I normally do to help me get through the day with some remnants of sanity in tact, becomes much more difficult, becomes much more challenging and so often gets forgotten about, before I know it the only words I have spoken out loud are "What a big poo" and "Is somebody tired?" (yes, me!) which does my ability to cope no good at all.

The hardest time is that time between when hubby would normally get home from work and baby going to bed, I feel like I normally rely on hubby to keep us going through that time and now I have to pull some energy from a place that doesn't exist and do that myself :-(

So how do you cope when you are home alone with the baby?

Friday, 8 July 2011

Well that has been a terrible day

Today went badly.  It might be the worst day I can remember since I became a mummy.

We started with vomiting which meant that we had to cancel the coffee with another mummy friend and baby group, having just got her over a viral gastroenteritis I didn't feel it would be wise to start turning up to places with babies.  After the weekend we had last weekend, it also meant a trip to the doctor, mainly to put my mind at ease.

The day continued with a complete and utter disregard for napping, at 12 noon I made her nap by putting her in the sling, but this left me attached to her and meant I could do none of the things on my to-do list (one of which was drink water, though I forgot to do that rather than being quite that disabled) and meant I got very little rest even when I was sitting down.  She woke at about 1pm which meant that having woken at 8am and being only 5 months old she had already not napped enough.

Come 2.30 she was knackered again, so despite it not being that long I start the process of getting my very tired baby to nap, though apparently it is not as easy to do that as you might like.  I tried for 2 hours before I gave up, although in that 2 hours I shed many tears and got frustrated with everything.  In the morning she had been sick on her pram and because she hadn't napped in her cot in the morning I had been unable to "deal" with that, so I couldn't even fall back on my take-her-for-a-walk-in-the-pram back up napping technique.  I cried down the phone at my Mum, I texted my husband who was in meetings most of the afternoon, I complained on twitter then wished I hadn't for people didn't say *exactly* what I wanted them too (I don't know what I wanted them to say, mind you, and having reviewed the responses they were all completely appropriate!  I complained on facebook.  At times I put her down in her cot, came downstairs and cried as I listened to her cry through the monitor. At times I tried to comfort her with a cuddle or with her dummy.

In the end, my husband finished his meetings and phoned me, he was coming home (I love my husband's job, super-flexible doesn't even describe how flexible it is!), all I had to do was survive another 20 minutes and he would be here to help.

When he got home, everything got a little easier and everything certainly felt much easier.  What a shame that he leaves for Dublin on Monday where he will be working for 6 days :-(

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Dummies...

As far as I am concerned this is another of those "must-do" topics if you have a parenting blog of any description.  Unfortunately it is difficult to do such a topic without sounding like you are better than everyone else (in my opinion) and so in case I inadvertently come across that way, please know that I very much do NOT consider myself better than anyone else, in fact, normally quite the opposite.

Before Naomi was born, when we didn't know whether she was a boy or a girl and when we still called her Allsort, hubby and I discussed dummies and decided that we weren't 100% keen on the idea but that it did feel like it might save our sanity somehow.  So we went out and bought two dummies, just in case they might help.

When Naomi was born we didn't put it in her mouth, we put my boob in her mouth and then I went up to the ward and she cried and she cried and she cried.  I fed her.  She cried.  I changed her. She cried. I burped her.  She cried.  I cuddled her.  She cried.  The ward staff changed her, burped her and cuddled her and yet she cried and cried and cried some more!

The midwives asked me if I had a dummy and I did, so we tried to put it in her mouth.  She cried, if anything louder than she had before.  We gave up on the dummy idea and just dealt with her crying.

Thankfully, the crying was short lived (not that it felt that way at the time) and after only one or two days she became one of the most content babies I have ever met (though when she does cry she does it loud, I think she likes to make up for all the quiet time!) so the dummy kind of got forgot about.

Then it got hard to put her down to sleep, it was taking hours (literally) each night to get her to settle and hubby and I were slowly but surely losing our sanity!  So out came the dummies again.  We got into a routine whereby you could rock her to sleep and put her down, then if she woke up you put the dummy in her mouth and it would help her go off again.

For quite a few weeks this did result in, what was affectionately known as, the dummy run.  That slightly annoying part of the evening where she was asleep but where she cried when the dummy fell out and you would have to run back up the stairs and re-plug her!  Because of this I was quite pleased when this phase ended and she kind of gave up on the dummy herself.  It did mean it was harder to put her down in the first place, but at least once she was down you could walk away and know she would be alright for a few hours.

Then it seemed she wanted the dummy back again, so for the past several weeks we have put her down and if she has woken put the dummy in her mouth which has helped sleep come back. It normally fell out after about two minutes and she didn't care which seemed ideal!

Now though, we seemed to have entered a new phase, one which I am finding more than a little frustrating.  Now she seems to expect the dummy when you lay her down, her wee mouth opens in expectation, however, when you put it in her wee hand comes up and pulls it out of her mouth.  That would be okay but she does not yet possess the manual dexterity to replace the dummy so begins to cry because the dummy isn't in her mouth, all this despite her being the reason it is no longer there!  This phenomenon resulted in me being awake for 60 minutes in the middle of the night, she didn't need fed and fell asleep almost instantly when I rocked her, but then would wake up when she pulled her own dummy out her own mouth.  Roll on the next phase!

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

No sooner had I come back....

...as I was gone! My baby girl was sick (see previous post), my husband then got sick, I then got sick! Before I knew it we were all lying on the floor (quite literally) and no-one could move and no-one could keep their food down!

The sickness seems to have largely passed, though I as the last to get ill was the first to get better (I think that comes with being a Mum?) and my husband, although much better and back at work today, is not quite right either and I thought Naomi was better but today she showed us all what she thought of sweet potato by being sick in such a way it landed in her own eye! (Does it make me cruel that (after I cleaned her up) I laughed about this?)

It really has made me realise how, as mums, we really do just have to keep going.  My husband would take himself off to bed but I still was required to make milk.  Come bedtime, too, it was mummy that was expected to continue rocking her to sleep, even though 10 minutes before we had opted for a sponge down rather than a bath as Mummy didn't have the energy to pick the baby up, let alone suspend her in water!

It has really hit home to me that my next holiday will be in about 18 years, assuming I don't have any more children, which, actually, despite it all, I do!!

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Breaks my Heart

My little girl is ill, she was vomiting and now it is coming out the other end (I won't attempt to spell that word) and she is dehydrated to the extent that her Dad and I had to trek into the hospital last night at about midnight in search of the child assessment unit which was far too difficult to find so that they could help us in the search for the increasingly elusive wet nappy.

Of course we had been on the unit about 30 minutes when she weed, which made us look like we had been making it up that in the previous 20 hours she had only done one wet nappy and even that was nearly 6 hours before this point! (The one other nappy she wet yesterday was also in front of a doctor!)

I've realised that one of the things stressing me out about her being ill though, although connected to the lack of being able to make it all better I have heard others talk about, is actually that I just don't know what is going on.  Yesterday in particular, though today too, she is her usual happy self, playing and engaging.  Yet, she obviously isn't well, the vomit will attest to that.  I hate that she looks so normal and yet is feeling miserable, I hate that she can't tell me what is going on.

Hopefully tonight we will all sleep a little better by not needing a middle-of-the-might hospital run and hopefully tomorrow we will all be feeling much more human!

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Child Free Morning!

A friend had noticed from my facebook statuses (what is the plural of status?) that I was getting a bit stressed, that I was feeling the toll of being a Mummy 24 hours a day 7 days a week and that having moved so recently I didn't know who to turn to in order to get a break.  She didn't know me that well but she is a registered child minder and thought she would offer to take my wee one for 3 hours.  I jumped at the chance.

I thought it would be good for Naomi to learn that sometimes Mummy will go away but that she will always come back.  I knew it would be good for me to be able to sit down without watching Naomi or at the very least listening anxiously to the baby monitor as I try and shove another load of washing in the washing machine!

Well, this morning was my child free morning.  I was so excited, I needed it so much, I had a pile of sewing to do (a source of pleasure to me, not a stress) and I had a cup of tea with my name on it!  The thing is, though, this left me feeling somewhat guilty, about wanting time away from my wee one.  Was it right I needed some space that was all about me?

Yes!  I have only been away from Naomi a handful of times since she was born and most of those after bed-time.  I have been with her almost constantly for 5 months, you spend every waking moment with anyone for 5 months (they get to dictate what those waking hours are, too) and tell me you don't want some space from them.  My husband and I have never spent that long with no time apart and I love him unconditionally, why should my daughter be any different?

In the end, I feel great for be able to "forget" about being a Mum for a bit, and Naomi had an absolute blast playing with new toys and people.  Will I do it again? Absolutely! Will I feel guilty? Probably, but I'll get over it!

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Finances

Sometimes in this day and age I think it can be a bit of a social faux pas to admit it, but I am not ashamed in the slightest to say that my husband and I are broke! We have just a little bit more money coming in over a month than we do going out, which is good, but we don't have any extra and we are living each month by using (then paying off) the credit card, rather than using "real" money.

The thing is, though, that I am okay with that.  Last night hubby and I came up with a plan of action and by wiping out our savings we can start living in the black rather than the red but for the foreseeable future we don't have any spare money floating around, slightly exacerbated, though not caused by a mistake on the part of HRMC which means we are having to pay extra money to the tax people every month.

Thing is though, apart from a stressed day a few nights ago we have not thought about sending me out to work, Naomi being 5 months old now, you might think we should but we have decided that I will be a stay at home Mum and we have decided that Naomi will have everything she needs but not necessarily all the extras that it seems to me that some people see as necessities.

It is important to me that Naomi realises that just having food in her belly and a roof over her head makes her amongst the most well off in the world, the fact that she also has clothes and toys and will have the chance of an education makes her incredibly rich.  It is important that she understands that money is precious and that it should be used responsibly and not just for ourselves.

I have only bought Naomi 3 items of clothes new, it was a 3 pack of vests as she had none in the right size and I was unable to get any in the charity shops.  Other than that every piece of clothing she owns is either a gift, a hand-me-down or a charity shop find (and even then she has very little that fits into this last category).

As for toys, she has many that were given to her and on top of that she has a rattle that I fashioned out of a spice jar and some rice and lentils!  As she gets older I will look out for things on Freecycle and for her birthdays and Christmases she shall receive second hand things because she does not need bigger things.

You might say we are mean, you might say that my husband and I should have saved "more" before we had a child and that we are irresponsible, but actually I see that our responsibility goes further than our immediate family and extends to those throughout the world (who include many people in this country) who do not even have enough to eat, and it is not for us to be extravagant, therefore, my short term inability to go for a coffee or buy some new jeans, is neither here nor there!

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Radio Silence Ending!

So sorry for my radio silence this last week, I was just enjoying having my friend to stay far too much and then we were visiting family and before I knew it I had hardly posted anything in over a week!

So, while "normal" posting about various parenting issues will recommence tomorrow, I thought I would just do a wee post saying that I just cannot believe how much Naomi is progressing and changing just now!

She is discovering her feet at the moment, I love how much entertainment can be got from just lying on your back holding your toes! Tonight she found her right foot for the first time (she had the left one down a few days ago) and I loved the look of surprise on her face "What, you mean I've got one over here too!?"


I also love watching her take *everything* in, she can sit for ages just watching stuff, anything, although her favourite seems to be to watch me cook! But anything will do, a bit of clothing, another baby, a toy, anything!


She is eating well now, she knows what it means when the bib goes on and the pot of food is there, she waits in anticipation of the contents and so far we haven't really found anything she doesn't like, though broccoli is a definite favourite.


She is definitely growing as a result of all that food, I have just done another round of clearing out her clothes to get rid of the things that don't fit, I could swear it was only 5 minutes since I did that last!  I'm going to take her to baby weigh-in clinic in a couple of weeks, though I am expecting her to have put on a fair bit.

Even with her sleep she is learning all the time.  She is much better at settling when we put her down in the evenings now and although she still wakes often in the night it does seem to be getting a little easier to settle her then too.  She is starting to get the hang of napping too, with more and more worthwhile naps taking place in her cot (rather than the pram or the sling)

I already feel like my little girl is growing up to fast and she is only 5 months old! Can you imagine what I'll be like by the time she tries to go to university?!

Thursday, 23 June 2011

What would you ask for?

My best friend is staying at the moment (which is why the blog has been a little quieter than usual) she is down from Aberdeen for a little under a week and I LOVE having her here.  I love her being here because she is silly and I love having someone to be silly with.  I love her being here because she is Naomi's Godmother and I love seeing her be silly with Naomi too and I love having her here because she is the kind of person who I can tell to hang my washing on the line!

I am really finding it such a blessing and a help to have someone here, all the time (not just weekends and evenings, silly husband having a job!), that can help me with the little things that normally get forgotten about.  I am no longer drowning in a sea of clean washing, I have actually managed to put it all away!

My dishes have been done every day which has given hubby a break too, as that is normally his job.  This morning when I got up (late for the baby had a terrible night but then slept in a little) I found my friend cleaning my kitchen to an extent that I have not had the time to do for some time!

Today I exclaimed that it was a shame I hadn't got my nappies on the line, I was informed they were already there, I hadn't even noticed them go out.

This is not to forget all the times I have been able to go to the toilet without a baby in tow.  I am absolutely loving the number of cups of tea that have been brought to me while breastfeeding (or expressing, yes, this is the kind of friend where she can even see me pump!) and having an extra pair of hands has even allowed me to make a nutritious lunch each day as well as a dinner!

If someone came to your house for a week and you could tell them to do whatever you wanted, what would be your priority?

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Owning up to being mad!

So, this is the main point of this blog, mainly because it isn't a big part of me any more, but I thought I would share with you some of the challenges of being a Mum with a history of serious mental ill-health.

I used to be very unwell, I used to be psychotic, I used to be depressed to the point of so many suicide attempts that I lost count long before I stopped and I also used to have periods of mania.  I spent much of my early 20s in a psychiatric ward, sometimes the doors were locked and I wasn't always there at my own choice.  For a very long time the only thing that kept me well(ish) was having drugs jabbed into my bum once a fortnight.  Perhaps controversially, though, I don't mind you knowing this, it is part of who I was (and to an extent am) and I think that the fear of people who are not completely mentally well comes from people being scared to talk openly about their experiences.

I longed for Naomi (well a child) all that time, I was desperate, my husband and I even tried for a baby for a while.  I am so pleased, though, that God didn't let it happen at that time, for I could barely look after myself, let alone another little baby.  I am pleased that God's grace allowed Him to deny me my greatest desire.

I did get better though, I received treatment in a Therapeutic Community and my life turned around.  I love life now, I no longer tolerate it!  I love my friends and family and I love growing in being a Mum and a child of God!


I still find some things challenging though, I have always struggled to keep my mental health good unless I get enough sleep, and (particularly recently) Naomi has been keeping me up a lot and so I have to make sure I catch up when I can and that I do other things to keep me healthy.  I need to make sure I get enough exercise (a challenge in itself with a small baby) and I need to make sure I eat sensible food and don't ALWAYS just reach for the chocolate bar when the day has proved difficult!

My OCDish ways also need to be negotiated, I wear odd socks, I do this because wearing matching socks would stress me out unless they matched EXACTLY, even having had one go through the washing machine an extra time and so be a slightly different shade, really makes me anxious and so I have made it part of my personality to wear odd socks.  All this to say, I can't let that affect the way I deal with Naomi and not just in her dress style, but also that when she gets older and wants to colour the man in the picture in blue, I will just need to let her, it will however cause me no end of anxiety!  As will her putting her books back on the shelf but not in alphabetical order!

The thing I am working through at the moment, is that as the mother of a 5 month old baby who doesn't sleep through the night and struggles to go back to sleep without having my boob put in her mouth, it is completely normal to have down days! The adrenaline of the first few weeks has gone, this is me settled into my new life and things are challenging.  Sometimes she cries, sometimes she refuses to eat even though she is hungry, sometimes she cries because she wanted that toy and I gave her a different one and often she cries when I leave the room (isn't her separation anxiety supposed to come at more like 9 months?), but having a down day isn't the same as being depressed.  i have to allow myself to feel rubbish without worrying that I am becoming ill, for that will only perpetuate the problem!

I love my little girl and I wouldn't not have her for the world, but my mental health had been stable for only about 2 years when she showed up, I took a big risk and I am pleased to report that, so far, we are all doing well :-)

Monday, 20 June 2011

And the winner is......

Congratulations to Elisha who has just been randomly selected as the winner of this week's nappy competition, I hope they will bring you much joy and happiness and keep many bottoms dry for a long time!

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Disposable or washable?


I thought seeing as I have a competition running just now in order to win some nappies, I thought I should share with you my reasons for using washable nappies and the thought process that led my family to go down the washable route...

When I was pregnant with Naomi there were lots of things we had to make decisions about, one decision was about the kind of nappy to use. I am quite hot on environmental issues and the idea of using lots of disposable nappies didn't sit well with me and so it was from this point of view that I started to explore the idea of using cloth nappies.

At the time I started looking into this I lived in the North East of Scotland and with Naomi being due at the end of January, so drying lots of nappies on the line would not really be possible, I started to think about the environmental impact of using a tumble drier as much as would be necessary, everyone knows that babies produce a lot of washing, however you chose to deal with their rear ends! I'll be honest, I haven't looked properly into the energy it takes to make a disposable nappy but I came to the conclusion that I would rather use a bit more electricity rather than have lots of nappies sitting in landfill sites not decomposing and as it happens, we found ourselves moving to the Midlands before Naomi was born and as a result I am able to dry the nappies on my washing line most days.



Another consideration was to do with cost. Disposable nappies are obviously and ongoing cost where as cloth nappies are expensive to begin with, however you then (in theory) need never buy another nappy ever again! The advice we seemed to be able to find was that if planning a family with two children then cost would be about the same, with one, disposables would be cheaper and with three or more then cloth nappies would be the way to go. Sandy and I would love (all things going well to have 3 or 4 children) so there was a lot to be said, purely from a financial point of view of going down the cloth nappy route. As it happens though we had some friends who had a complete birth to potty set of nappies and they kindly gave these to us for nothing, so going down the cloth route has definitely been cheaper for us!

Let's be honest though, I'm not going to pretend that Naomi has never had a disposable nappy on her bottom! Everyone we knew who had made cloth nappies work had told us to use disposables for the first few weeks. Ignoring the fact that the yukky muconium from the first few poos would probably ruin your lovely nappies, it is just not fair on yourself to expect you to do anything that is more work than it has to be when you are dealing with a newborn baby with limited sleep! So Naomi wore disposables until she was three weeks old and also wore them for all of our two week holiday and has occasionally had them for a day if we have been travelling far from home.  We also increasingly use them at night time (she goes to bed in a washable which we change for a disposable if/when she wakes) as we found she was waking up often in the early hours of the night and we also found she was soaking through her nappy and sleeping bag every night.

I will definitely keep using cloth nappies and I hope to use them for any future children we have too, I love knowing my impact on the environment is less than it might otherwise be and I love knowing I don't need to keep money back in the budget for disposables, but I increasingly realise that with all things in parenting, being relaxed about your decisions and about the alternatives seems to be the best way to make sure it happens!

Friday, 17 June 2011

So grateful

Today I hold my little girl tight and I cry, they are tears of joy for what I have and tears of sadness for my friend who is today having a medical miscarriage because her baby will not be able to survive and will put her own health at risk.

I waited such a long time for my chance to be a Mum, but not because of infertility (which my friend also knows about, this is an IVF miracle baby) and not because of loss, I am very blessed to have fallen pregnant on my third cycle of trying and have carried my first ever baby to full term, my wait was because of my own illhealth.

Therefore I just can't imagine that pain, the suffering that must come with losing your child.

Today I just weep, for what my friend has lost and what I have gained even though I do not deserve it.

I thank God (quite, quite literally) for her and for all she is, even at 3am!

an older picture of Naomi, but still one of my favourites.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

The things everybody assumes you know...

I remember a long time ago, before I was even pregnant with Naomi, sitting and chatting with one of my friends.  We were talking about the fact that because all my friends had babies they assumed that I knew things about pregnancy/giving birth/being a Mum that I just didn't.  She said, "oh yes, I remember I found out about the post-pregnancy bleeding that way, I was already pregnant but I wasn't sure I wanted to be any more".  My face fell.  "Post-pregnancy bleed? What bleed?"

This was my first major introduction to the topic of things everyone assumes that all (want to be) pregnant people and new mums know.  I didn't know about the bleed (which in my case lasted 9 weeks!!) and I didn't know that it was quite normal to throw up in labour and I didn't know that it was quite normal to be constipated for most of your pregnancy and then much of the first few weeks after birth.

My biggest complaint at the moment, though, is that I didn't know about the hair loss!!!

I washed my hair this morning, after this I brushed it, here is a before and after shot of my hair brush.


I now realise that this is just what happens at the end of being pregnant, you lose all the hair you didn't lose for those 9 months and so it isn't unreasonable - but my whole house and baby and self is covered in hair that I am losing.  I'm not sure how I haven't gone bald yet! How much longer can this last for?!

And always, in the back of my mind, I am wondering, what else don't I know about?!

Wordless Wednesday

Naomi's first ever painting!

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Breastfeeding in public

If you are a Mum with a blog on parenting, you eventually need to do a post on the topic of breastfeeding in public, so here is my (first)attempt on the subject.

I chose to breastfeed my daughter for many reasons and although it was quite far down the list, one of the reasons was that I wouldn't need to make up bottles/warm bottles and that particularly when we were out and about I wouldn't need to think about it in advance, my boobs would just be there! What? I hear you cry, but being able to breastfeed in public was one of the things that attracted me to the idea.  It just seems easier to me.

Naomi has a picnic in the park


That said, there are a few things to think about when you are getting ready to actually *do* the feeding.

Now, I am quite happy to argue that during a feed my breast is not a sexual thing at all, it is an implement by which my daughter gets food, that said, I don't really want everyone looking at my boobs and many people don't want to look at them either (and I don't blame them!) so I have had to find ways of being subtle about getting my boobs out.  To begin with I though I would use a booby tent (as I like to call them) (link only given to show you what I mean!) and I was given one by a friend, but when it came down to it I just got myself in a muddle if I tried to use it.  I often ended up exposing more of myself in attempt to get the baby under it, my boob out and in her mouth! Although I know lots of people who swear by these things.

My next thought was to use a muslin or something similar, just get the baby on the boob and quickly cover her (and more to the point me) up, but she did not approve of this plan, when she was younger she wanted to be able to see me and now she is older she wants to be able to see everything (although I sometimes use a muslin now to attempt to reduce distractions) and so would wriggle around and pull at the muslin till it was gone, again only drawing attention to my semi nakedness!

Eventually we have come up with a compromise, I didn't want to be one of those Mums who just gets their whole boob out and to hell with what anyone else thinks, I find that slightly passive-aggressive, yet  am not ashamed of breastfeeding my little girl and I do think it is one of the most natural things in the world.  So we have developed (through practice) and technique that involves pulling my jumper down over my boob (although with the nipple still accessible) and then letting Naomi's head provide a screen to the rest of the world, I have looked at my reflection in shop windows and think that although it is very obvious I am feeding there is nothing to see at all, most girls in a skimpy top show off far more than I am.

There have been one or two major disasters, most notably the day that for some reason I became completely confused as to how to work my clothes (let's put it down to baby brain) and before I knew it my whole boob was out and the baby was nowhere near it.  One poor lady turned round and caught a glimpse before turning away, she apologised.  I told her not to worry as it wasn't her fault that I had got half naked in my town's shopping centre!

By and by this works though.  I am very fortunate not to have experienced some of the issues that others report with people giving them a hard time or asking them to move on.  This brings me to the reason I started this post, a few days ago I was sitting on a bench in town feeding Naomi and using my spare hand to turn her buggy round into a pram so she could sleep and making a bit of a pigs ear of it.  A lady walked past and then came back to me, "I just want to say..." Oh No! I thought, this is it, and I can't even go anywhere because Naomi was in the middle of what seemed to be a terribly satisfying feed! Anyway, random lady continued "...I am so proud of you for breastfeeding".  She told me how she had fed all three of hers for at least a year and it made her sad that so many people used formula and then she went on her way.  It is quite random to think that someone would come up to me and tell me they are proud of me, but I guess I quite liked it!

Monday, 13 June 2011

Nappy Competition

So, I am very excited, here is the first ever giveaway on this blog!  I have been lucky enough to be able to use washable nappies without the upfront cost as a friend generously donated me her system, this is your opportunity to have the same opportunity but by winning a brand new system, that contains enough nappies that you could make it from birth to potty without ever needing to buy another nappy!  Imagine the saving, and imagine the benefit to the environment!

This amazing prize comes from my friends at Nature Babies who sell very lovely washable nappies of many types along with all the "stuff" you could ever need to go with them.  The sell wraps, nappies, pins and even (and a pack of these are included in the prize) vest extenders, to help those vests last for longer even though there is extra bulk underneath them.



So, what does the prize include, I hear you ask! You get 24 prefold inserts: enough to keep even the most nappy intensive baby going strong and 3 Essential One Size wraps that will suit any baby and should see them right from birth to being toilet trained! Also a pack of 3 vest extenders, which do exactly as they suggest!

To win this amazing prize:
  • Leave a comment below telling me which is your favourite print for the Essential One Size Wraps making sure I have a way to get in touch with you (an email address or twitter name)
One extra entry is gained for each of the following
  1. Follow me on twitter (@tryingtobeamum)
  2. "Like" the Nature Babies facebook group (and leave a comment so I know you have)
  3. Tweet the following "I really want to win a birth to potty nappy system from @tryingtobeamum and her blog http://justtryingtobeamum.blogspot.com"
T&C - all entries must be recived by noon on Monday 20th June and the winner will be drawn by an independent person and announced on this blog by noon on Tuesday 21st June.  The prize will only be mailed to a UK address.  The nappy wraps may differ from those shown.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Top Seven Favourite Toys

In the final installment of Top Sevens, I give you Naomi's favourite toys, this time they are ordered and we will start in "last" place

7.  Mummy's hands, in particular when they do the actions to twinkle twinkle

6.  The mobile above her cot (that counts as a toy, right?)

5.  Her play mat with the dangly things, most of all the spider that you can pull and then moves away from you again

4.  Books, any book, she will spend ages just turning the pages

3.  "Bunny" - it is one of these comforter things, though we often use this one to sing sleeping bunnies, she loves when that bunny hops

2.  "Anonymous Bear" a beautiful bear from Mamas and Papas

1.  "Brian the Butterfly", known to everyone else as Freddy the Firefly, this must be the most pumbled, eaten, crumpled, loved toy she has!

Seven things Naomi has learned

Continuing our series we have the penultimate installment with seven things that Naomi has learned (don't forget she isn't even 20 weeks old yet!)

1.  That "talking" to Mummy and Daddy gets you just as much attention as crying!

2.  To roll over (though this one has not been mastered)

3.  That her hands exist (this was a particularly cute phase to watch her through)

4.  How to turn the page of a book

5.  How to put a spoon in her mouth

6.  How to laugh (adorable!)

7.  How to crane her neck so she can see the TV from anywhere in the room!

Drop in tomorrow for the last in this series!

Friday, 10 June 2011

Top Seven Ways to get my child to sleep

The fifth installment in my "Seven top Sevens".  Today we concentrate on methods of getting Naomi to nap/sleep!

1.  Rocking

2.  Singing

3.  Going for a walk in the pram

4.  Going for a drive in the car (although my one needs to be knackered to get this to work, would normally be more useful for getting her to cry!!)

5.  Putting her in our Close baby carrier

6.  Praying - hard!

7.  Getting hubby to do all of the above!

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Top Seven of Naomi's favourite foods

1.  Apple

2.  Sweet Potato

3.  Carrot

4.  Banana

5.  whatever toy she has in her hand at that moment

6.  Her clothes or any bit of material/muslin is lying near her

7.  Breastmilk!

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Top Seven Photos

My Wordless Wednesday for this week has 7 of my favourite photos of Naomi, continuing my series for this week







Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Top Seven things I love about being a Mum

Continuing with my week of top sevens we have things I love about being a Mum

1.  This is what I have always wanted to be and now I am one!

2.  Naomi's laughing and smiling can make everything better

3.  Parent and child spaces at the supermarket

4.  A reason to still be in my pyjamas at 3pm

5.  Meeting lots of wonderful people through the groups and activities we attend

6.  The playing I get to do every day

7.  Seeing as I am still breastfeeding an excuse to eat biscuits as much as I want!

Monday, 6 June 2011

7 Top Sevens

This week I am going to post 7 "Top Sevens" about myself starting with the top seven things that make me realise how things have changed since I became a parent

1.  When I was on holiday with family I got a cold, instead of being upset I was ill on holiday I was overjoyed there were people to help me!

2.  I can't remember the last time I missed the beginning of "Saturday Kitchen" on the BBC - I used to sometimes miss the end of that show!

3.  Washing my hair is now something I add to my days list of achievements, before it was just something I did!

4.  I often go into town with the baby so she can nap in the buggy, I often make it into town before the bank opens!

5.  Sleeping in till 8am now feels like an amazing treat.

6.  I can tell you where every dropped kerb in my town is and I can tell you how to get into town without having to go through the market because who would want to take a buggy to the market?

7.  I now know what it is to look at your child and feel hopelessly in love, despite the pooing and the crying and the lack of sleeping!

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Fathers' Day

First, because grammar (although I don't always get it right) matters to me, I am never sure whether it should be Father's or Fathers' day, is it the day of your father or the day of many fathers? I tend to go with Fathers' Day but if you happen to know which is correct I would be fascinated to find out!



Anyway, here in the UK it will be Fathers' Day in just a little over a fortnight.  It will be my husband's first fathers' day since becoming a Daddy.  I have organised a gift for him (I shan't say what it is in case he stumbles onto my blog!) and today Naomi "helped" me buy a card for him by looking at all the possibilities before I picked the one that made her cry the least (it has been a long day!).

It got me thinking though, when it was Mothers' Day a few weeks back it was so important to me that my husband not forget that I got his sister to remind him to get something!  Generally though, I think Daddies are pretty good at remembering, and generally fuss is made over Mums.  At my church we had a cream tea for all the ladies with homemade scones for all who came to the service that day, served to them, of course, by the men.  We spoke out loud of all the things that we loved about our Mummies and the children's activities resulted in a gift for their Mum to take home.

Will the same be done for Daddies though?  it is my opinion that they tend to get a bit of a raw deal here.  Yes Fathers' Day (and Mothers' Day) are hugely commercial and really only kept going by people who make and sell cards, but why shouldn't we make a fuss over the Dads and dad-figures in our lives?  Without my husband, Naomi would have no toy box, no shelves and come to thnk of it no cot.  Without my husband Naomi wouldn't have learned that one of her favourite foods is broccoli as I was going to save that for when she was "older" and without my husband Naomi would know nothing of the amazing fun that can be had in the bath, as for me it is more a process of function rather than play.

Without my Daddy I wouldn't know of God and how much He loves me.  Without my Daddy I would know nothing of working hard for what you have and without my Daddy I wouldn't know what it mean to keep going, no matter what because there are good times ahead.

So, are you doing anything for your Dad or your children's dads this Fathers' Day? Go on, you know you want to!


Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos

Friday, 3 June 2011

To Cry or Not to Cry?

That is the question.



Naomi's night's continue to be unsettled, though she has gone back to waking only once or twice a night, which for her age is pretty good, it just feels horrific because she gave us 3 or 4 weeks of sleeping through the night which led us into a place of false security.

On top of that she seems to be taking longer to settle at nights.  We normally feed to sleep and then put her down, sometimes she wakes during the transfer but a quick bounce from her mummy sees her back to sleep and off we go.  Recently though she has been waking up during the transfer and then needing bounced/rocked/sung to for 30 minutes or so before she goes down.  Last night it took 2 hours! This saw her Dad and I sitting down for a few minutes before 10pm came round and exhausted we went off to bed!

This then brought up the subject of controlled crying and more to the point should we or shouldn't we.  My husband and I are probably both of the opinion that it will need to happen at some point, though I am more inclined to say she is too little now.  What, though, are the alternatives.  We can continue to bounce her as much as she needs which may drive us to the point of distraction, though might preserve our sanity by saving us from the tears.  Is there anything else, though?

I got quite annoyed yesterday having had a moan about things then having lots of people tell me how they got their little ones to sleep but no-one taking into account that Naomi is her own wee self and not a carbon copy of their babies.  People told me to have a routine, this annoyed me because we have one.  People told me to keep her up in the day, despite the fact that not napping got us into a terrible pickle with crying for hours on end for other reasons.  People told me to do controlled crying straight away and others told me to wait.

I get annoyed not because people offer me advice, however, but because there seems to be so much conflicting advice and even evidence, and no clear answers whatsoever.  My husband and I are exhausted and we need to get this sorted and yet no one is even able let alone willing to help us with anything definitive.

Did/do you do controlled crying? What age was your wee one when you did? How do you preserve your sanity throughout the months of sleep deprivation?

Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Feeling Ill as a mother

We all know that Mums aren't allowed to stop, they must keep going, keep producing milk (and dinner and a clean house) and keep taking us to our various groups and appointments no matter what.

Well, the time I find this hardest is perhaps not the most obvious.  It obviously isn't when I have loads of energy and have had a good nights sleep, but neither is it when I feel *really* ill or when I've had 3 hours sleep in the last 48 hours.  The times I find it hardest are when I am just a little bit ill.

Like now.  I have a cold, it isn't much to write home about and in fact may even be hayfever (although I think I have a fever, regardless of what my thermometer says, and so I have upgraded it to "cold").  I find it hard because if I was exhausted or really ill I would probably get a burst of adrenalin from somewhere and that would see me through.

My body seems to think the best course of action for this ill, however, is to go to bed and sleep.  I agree.  If only I could persuade Naomi to co-operate!

So, how do you cope when you are ill, how do you keep going and how do you get the rest you need?

Monday, 30 May 2011

Breastfeeding traumas

I feel incredibly blessed to have exclusively breastfed Naomi since she was born.  As for any Mum, though, there have been some issues with this along the road.  It can be hard in the middle of the night to know that you *have* to deal with the baby, my husband can't do it.  Sometimes I feel quite tied to Naomi, like I can't be away for very long, not least of all because I hate expressing with a passion and try and do it as little as possible, while still maintaining some sort of life away from the house.

My biggest issues with breastfeeding have come now though, at about 4 months old (although I am sure there will be more in the future).  Naomi is very interested in the world around her and breastfeeding is no way to get to see the world, who wants to look at their Mum's boob or the chair behind her when you could look round the other way and see the people she is talking to, the park you are sitting in or even just the book your Mum thought it would be nice to try and read!!  Naomi and I got a good latch going very quickly when she was born and as a result my nipples didn't hurt very much, they do hurt now with all this on-again-off-again feeding she is doing just now.

The other issue is that my boobs are now covered in bruises where she likes to "hold" on, or pinch my skin.  I have tried giving her things to hold or play with and they satisfy her for a while and then she goes back to pumping my breast to squeeze out the milk and pinching my skin for reasons that I am yet to fathom!!

The next road I have to negotiate is one that Mums using formula need to walk down too; as we start weaning how do you know how much milk to give versus food, and even more than before, as a breastfeeding Mum, how do I know how much milk she is getting at all, and how do I give her less as time goes on?  I know that for now and the next several months milk is the most important part of her diet, and I know that she will take the milk she needs, but I feel a little lost with this particular aspect of breastfeeding!

We have made it through all the other breastfeeding traumas, and so I am sure we will make it through these ones too, but I think I had thought all my breastfeeding woes would be at (and end in) the beginning! Just not true.

Friday, 27 May 2011

If you could only teach one thing?

If you were only able to teach your child one thing, what would it be?

For me it would be to teach Naomi that the world is bigger than she is.  I guess that might need a bit of explanation, but it sums up how I feel, I want my daughter to become aware of the needs of others.

In this house we use a lot of fair trade products (bananas, chocolate, sugar, clothes) and  want her to grow up understanding why.  That nothing we use is so important that it is worth allowing others to be abused or taken advantage of.  If we can't buy something fairly traded we try to either go without or buy it from somewhere that sourced it locally.

I want her to understand that the environment is important too, that we have a duty to try and care for it.  I want her to know that this is why I am militant about recycling as much as possible and that this is why we buy eco-friendly cleaning products and recycled kitchen roll and notebooks and why we write our shopping lists on the back of old envelopes.

I want her to understand that we try and get as much as we can from charity shops and freecycle, not just because it is good to save money (although it is) but because we need to try and stop this stuff ending up on a landfill site and rotting away.

I want her to grow up to be financially responsible, not just because it will stand her in good stead for life (which it will) but also because I want her to give to charity, I want her to realise that others need her money as much (if not more) than she does.

She will learn all about the child we sponsor through Compassion UK so that she realises not everyone leads the privileged life she does and that when I say she isn't allowed something because we can't afford it (which I will, her Dad and I are not made of money) that at least she has a roof over her head, clothes to wear and food to eat.

That is me though, what would you like to teach your children?

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Relaxing

Now that I am the Mum of a small baby I don't find the time to relax very often, but sometimes I get to a point where I just need to and I have realised that I have very simple preferred relaxation techniques.

Two nights ago I went for my absolute number one favourite way to chill out by running a bath and lying in it for as long as the water is warm and listening to music, in this case David Garret, who is in my opinion a genius at playing amazing music on a violin!

My other favourite is to be able to read a book, but not just to snatch time with a book, to create space to read for as long as I want, and to read to the end of a chapter as my OCDish ways prefer rather than reading to the end of my daughter's nap!

I have realised too that I struggle to relax if there are chores that need done.  Having had a hideous evening tonight that involved screaming for 2 hours solid before I sat down I had to fold all the laundry and put it away, for if I had just sat down I would have been stressing and feeling guilty.  In order to relax, I now have to give out extra first, not always easy to do!

These have always been ways I have enjoyed spending time, but since Naomi was born these have become harder to do and therefore more precious when I get to.  I love, I absolutely love how becoming a parent has changed my priorities, it is very much the case now that the simple things in life give me the most pleasure.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Weaning

Yesterday my little girl started on solid food.  I had decided that sweet potato would be good, because it is sweet, very smooth (we are weaning young, to find out why, read this post) and it had my breast milk in it, so I thought it would taste more familiar.

She didn't hate it, but neither would I say it was a resounding success! So today, at the advice of some friends I gave her some baby rice made with my milk, and I think she loved it! She still seemed a bit unsure of the new consistency, but she seemed much happier than the day before.

I am glad too, I have had quite a down day today, feeling slightly inadequate as a Mum, and a bit overwhelmed.  Naomi had seemed so ready for food, she was certainly interested in what Mummy and Daddy were doing every meal time, and so I was convinced she would take to it really easily and I think the fact that it didn't just work straight off had left me feeling a little dejected.  In hindsight, I aimed too high, I wanted to avoid using anything from a packet but as a result, I gave Naomi something she just wasn't ready for.

Tomorrow we will do some more baby rice, we'll just work up to the tasty vegetables currently packing my freezer!

Monday, 23 May 2011

Expectations and Obligations

First of all, sorry for not updating for a few days, unfortunately real life got in the way!!

One of the things I have been doing this weekend is that my hubby and I took Naomi down to London and we stayed there with my sister-in-law and her family. She had met Naomi a couple of times but this was the first overnight stay.

We had a lovely afternoon and in the evening she settled down really easily and then later we all went to bed.  Now, this is where I struggle if we stay with people overnight.  If Naomi wakes in the night (as she often does these days, where has my good little sleeper gone?) and we are staying with someone else, I feel an obligation to deal with it quickly, in order to not wake anyone else.  Gone are my feelings of letting it go on a few minutes to see if she settles, gone are my thoughts about teaching her to self settle by not jumping the moment she makes any noise at all.  Before you know it I have been up so many times in the night that I even lose my ability to tell the time and I tell my hubby it is 3am when in fact it is 5am!

The next morning my sister-in-law and her husband make sympathetic noises about how she woke a few times but in the back of my head I am wondering if they are complaining she woke them up too? They have family but there kids have been sleeping through for a long time now, have they forgotten what it is like?

So, how do you deal with the expectations of others, and more to the point how do you sort through the ones that are perceived in your head and the ones that really exist? Do you try and make life as easy as you can for those you are staying with? Or do you expect them to make allowances for you while you are in their home?  What have been you biggest issues where the way you want to parent and the ways that others want you to parent have not matched up?

Thursday, 19 May 2011

EAT Study

Naomi and I are to be part of a Study looking at food allergies in babies, how they develop and more importantly how to stop them from developing at all!



The main criteria for the study is that the babies are exclusively breastfed and once there you are randomly placed into one of two groups, the control group who wean at about 6 months as per the current recommendations and then the "early introduction" group who begin weaning at around 4 months and are introduced to potential allergens (peanut, sesame, fish, egg, wheat and cow's milk) over around a month and then keep eating these foods regularly till at least 3 years of age.



Well, today Naomi and I went to London to meet the team and find out which group we would be in, it turns out we are going to be in the early introduction group.  I am quite pleased about this, as Naomi has been showing an increasing interest in food and I didn't like the idea of having to keep her on only breast milk for another two months!  We won't be doing any solids for at least another 10 days, as they did a blood test today to make sure she doesn't have any allergies already, so we need to wait for the results of that test.  (We also had some skin prick tests done today, which all came back negative, no allergies in my little girl!)



Naomi was a complete trooper through the whole day, although I don't think she liked having her height measured and I can say with certainty she didn't like having the skin prick test done, or her blood test (although that all seems fair enough to me!).



I wasn't looking forward to the train home, as last time we went to London she cried incessantly for the whole journey.  This time though she was amazing, hardly any crying at all and lots of making friends with anyone she could lay her eyes on!  She even charmed the drinks trolley man into giving me a free bottle of diet coke when I said that I didn't have any cash and he didn't have a card machine!



So, we'll let you know how we progress with the weaning!

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Where do you turn?

The last few posts on this blog must make it look like I really struggle with my role as a Mum, I don't, I love it, though I have had a difficult week and it has left me reflecting on where we all turn for help in a modern society that is so fragmented and where face to face contact with people seems to be on the decline...

Once upon a time we would have lived near our Mums and they would have helped with anything we were stuck with, they might even have lived in our house but that is far from true now.  I never would have seen myself living more than an hour from either of the sets of grandparents, and yet here am I, 400 miles from "home", and having to make new friends and not being near any of my old support structures.

I have been very lucky in that my church has been an amazing source of friends, most of whom are other mummies who can at least help with making sure I can ask people if "that" is normal or for advice on weaning or (when the time comes in the far off future) weaning or discipline or whatever.

I know, though, that not everyone is so fortunate as I am, that they are very isolated and don't have the help they need.  I find myself wanting to end this blog with a "and this is what you need to do about it" but the truth is, I have no idea what the answer is.  How do we even begin to get some help, even someone to watch the kids while we go to the doctor or get our hair cut? How do we get help with getting the shopping done when you have run out of milk but haven't managed to get clothes on despite it being 3 in the afternoon? And how do we fit in those naps when our babies barely nap themselves (see my post here on why that is such an issue for me!)? And how do we just meet enough people that we can get to the end of the day and spoken words out loud that are not about poo or being clever for using your baby gym!?!

Answers on a postcard, or rather in my comments!

Monday, 16 May 2011

When it all feels too much...


I have been a Mum for exactly 112 days, this time 16 weeks ago I was in the middle of the long process of labour and since that moment my life has been turned upside down, but I LOVE it! I love being a Mum, not least of all because I believe it is what God made me to be but also because when I look at my daughter smile I can't imagine doing anything else or being anywhere else.

I love how she learns, I love how she explores and works stuff out and I love her cheeky personality. I very much get those moments where I sit and look at her and can't believe I was involved in any way in the making of such a beautiful and precious wee person.

I love our walks in the park and our trips to the supermarket. I love our time in baby groups and even our time in the house reading books together or even just watching TV (I know I shouldn't let her, but that is another blog post!).

I love that when we first brought her home from the hospital the only way she could communicate was with crying but now she chats to us, smiles at us and shows us many of the emotions she is learning to handle. I love that this time last month she couldn't get things in her mouth with any precision but now she can get anything (and everything) in there! I love that this time last week I had never seen her roll over, and now she has done it, twice!

That said, sometimes being a Mum all feels a bit too much, and we all need to talk about these times more. By staying silent about the times when we dread going to bed because we know it is only a matter of time before we will be woken, or about the times when we don't want to breastfeed any more because we feel bound to our babies, or about the times when we just want to have a night off but can't we perpetuate the feelings we have that everyone else has it more sorted than we do. We need to talk about the hard times as well as the good or our bad days will feel even worse for thinking we are alone in feeling that way.

This week I have been reflecting on the fact that one of my friends is struggling a bit, she is tired and her 7 month old shows no interest whatsoever in food and weaning is proving just far too difficult. I don't want things to be hard for her, but before I had this realisation I had been comparing myself and my struggles with my daughter to a picture of parenthood that didn't exist in reality. I was letting myself think that my friend had it sorted and had all the answers, and realising she doesn't has been a really freeing experience for me.

So, let's be open, I am exhausted at the moment as my wee one has stopped sleeping well at night, I need to start weaning shortly but I am not sure if I have the capacity for it and although I don't think I have postnatal depression (I have been depressed before, I know what that feels like) I am having many down days at the moment and the tiredness isn't helping. I no longer find it easy to be around my husband because I don't feel like I have anything to talk about other than Naomi's bowel movements and I have no capacity at ALL for anything intimate which can put a strain on any relationship! Let us all talk about those bad days together, I suspect it will make them easier to cope with and that in turn they will be fewer and further between...

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Being a stay at home Mum


I thought it was time I told you a little more about myself and my situation, so here I share with you a post that I recently published as a guest on Mumra.  

I am Jay, I am 29 years old and a stay at home Mum to my daughter Naomi, who is exactly 15 weeks old. My situation is a little odd, I kind of fell into being a stay at home Mum after my husband got a new job 400 miles from home which meant moving just before I started my third trimester of pregnancy. There was no point in going to find a new job as I would only be there a matter of weeks before I left to start my maternity leave and haven't gone back to work since she was born.

That said, I always wanted to be a stay at home Mum, I love the idea that I would be responsible for bringing Naomi up, that it wouldn't be a child-minder or nursery nurse who would see her roll over for the first time(as she did today), take her first steps or say her first words and that it would be making decisions about the activities she would take part in and I would be making the decisions around discipline. I have always thought I would be a stay at home Mum and I love it but there are challenges I possibly hadn't expected!

Sometimes I just need a break, since Naomi was born there have only been a handful of occasions that I have been away from my daughter, she has rarely been left with her Dad and partly because of the move away from family and friends she has only been left with a sitter twice, once when her Grandma came to stay and once when one of my good friends came to stay. I sometimes feel guilty about wanting a break, after all, this is the life I chose for myself, the job I wanted was as a Mum and now I am complaining I need some time off! I have to remind myself this is okay, I have to remind myself that even the most pleasurable of tasks can become tiring after doing it constantly for 105 days (not that I am counting) and that would be true even if that task didn't wake you up at 3am! I am looking at ways of getting a morning or afternoon each week that don't cost the earth, but for now this is a challenge I haven't found a way round.

The obvious challenge of being a Mum without a paid job is one of finances, this isn't necessarily such an issue for me, having suffered from mental illhealth for a number of years my husband and I have largely survived on only one income for most of the nearly 8 years we have been married, but I am happy to admit that fitting all those extra baby expenses into our already tight budget can be difficult, particularly when tax-credits and similar are being cut all around us. That said, we are lucky to have good friends who have decked us out with all the baby equipment we could ever need and the folks at my church whose little girls are just 3 or 4 months older than Naomi keep her decked out in clothes and I find the charity shops are an amazing source of good quality equipment and clothes, so we never go short!

A final challenge is actually nothing to do with Naomi but to do with not working. I miss my job, I loved being an administrator, and I'd like to think I was really rather good at it. I loved making a difference (as the only paid member of staff for Aberdeen Street Pastors, an organisation close to my heart) and I loved the people I worked with. I love that my purpose is now to bring up my child(ren) but I miss having a purpose bigger than myself and my family.

Will I go back to work in the future? Maybe. Will it be any time soon? No, my job is here at home with my beautiful little girl, watching her laugh, roll over, walk, talk and throw tantrums!

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Why it pays to listen!

A few weeks ago, my hubby asked me if he could go to a men's thing that our church was doing.  I am desperate for him to make friends (since we moved 6 months ago) so I made sure we didn't have anything clashing in the diary and said yes.

I guess I was a bit sad we were losing out on a Saturday together, the weekends have always been precious to me, but even more so now that we have Naomi here with us.

Well, last week I found out that the men's thing was not just the Saturday as I had thought, but was also overnight and some of the Sunday!  My husband tells me that I "knew" this, but I think my baby brain must have filtered it out!

So, despite the fact I hate being home alone overnight (this was true even before Naomi was on the scene) I find myself having accidentally agreed to doing so tonight!

Thankfully some friends from church who are also missing their husband's tonight (to the same men's weekend away) have thought of some things to keep us all occupied so I won't really be on my own till the bedtime routine starts.

I was particularly dreading it as Naomi had stopped sleeping through in favour of a waking often routine, but last night she did sleep right through till 7am (from 8pm) which means I am a little more rested and there is hope for her doing the same again tonight!

Wish me luck people!

Nap Rehabilitation


So, my little girl doesn't do naps! She falls asleep alright but wakes up as soon as I put her down, or on the rare occasions she does let me put her down (or stop pushing the pram if she has fallen asleep there) she wakes up after about 10-15 minutes.

Her Dad and I decided enough was enough, she was becoming a COMPLETE nightmare at the end of each day because she was just exhausted and so just cried for about 3 hours till we put her to bed!

The nap rehabilitation, as I have dubbed it, has been going okay. To start with we let her nap for as long as she could lying on us/being held by us. We didn't even try to put her down, just so her wee body could get used to the idea of resting. Once that was in order we have now moved on to trying to get her to stay asleep for a little longer in the pram or even better in her cot (although I am not always at home, so the pram is just as good in many ways!).

We had already had some limited success with putting her down on a blanket on the floor (easier to negotiate as there aren't things to wake her up by lifting her over the sides of the buggy/cot) but generally she was only having one “good” nap each day and it still didn't feel enough, though perhaps over the last few days she has been doing a bit better.

Today, though, she has amazed me. This morning she fell asleep in the pram on the way to a friend's house and she stayed asleep for 2 hours!! Then after an hours playing she fell asleep again, I woke her up after an hour as I thought it was getting silly! She then played happily at a baby group before falling asleep again (as I write this she has been out for about 25 minutes!)

I worry now though that she won't sleep at night, it is increasingly becoming an issue that she wakes in the night, and I am not really sure what the cause is, so I don't feel particularly equipped to deal with it! My leading theory is currently teething, but time will tell!

Do you have any napping tips? We will gladly hear them!

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

The Ways of the World


Naomi is currently 15 weeks old, so hard hitting life lessons are a little beyond her just yet, but it is important to me that she grows up with an appreciation that the world is bigger than she is and even bigger than she can see.

As she grows I want her to realise why in this house we only buy chocolate with a fair trade label on it (the same goes for many other foods, like bananas, sugar and wine), I want her to know that our desire for a quick fix of sugar and comfort doesn't give us the right to force others to live in poverty and that if we can't find fairly traded chocolate, it is probably better to not have any at all.

As she grows I want her to realise that clothes are often made by people who are children themselves and who are paid next to no money for all the work they put in, which is why there are certain shops that we don't buy from and that if we can't afford or find fairly traded ones then we will look in the charity shops to find what we need there, or even sew up the holes in our old clothes (once we have stopped growing enough that our clothes have time to get holes in them!) because us looking the prettiest we possibly can isn't as important as respecting the lives that other people could lead if we in the west weren't oppressing them.

When it comes to environmental issues I want Naomi to learn too. I want her to realise that trees take a long time to grow and that we are chopping them down too fast which is why we only buy recycled paper, why we write lists on used envelopes and why we buy recycled kitchen towels. I want her to realise that we cannot pour cleaning chemicals down the drains without it having a negative effect on our planet which is why we buy the most eco-friendly washing powder, washing up liquid and cleaning products we can.

I don't want Naomi to grow up feeling guilty for the things she cannot change but I do want her to be aware. As she grows up I will involve her in writing to the little boy we sponsor in Tanzania and when she is a good bit older I will take her out to South America to visit a friend who (by that time) will be living there and working as a Christian missionary.

It is important to me that Naomi grows up knowing that not everyone is as lucky as she is and that we all have a responsibility to make sure we don't oppress those who aren't as lucky as we are. It is important in the world that all our children realise that we can't keep going the way we are forever.