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


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


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.


Here is my new blog, this will be different to my blog about Naomi which is primarily for friends and family, instead this will be a "Mummy blog" all about my antics as a Mummy.

My main aim as a Mum is to help Naomi grow up with a real sense of the world being bigger than herself, that all people are important and the planet needs to be looked after, read here about how I get on!

First post coming up