What’s Breast for Baby?

Breastfeeding.

This one word can drum up such a heated debate amongst men and women of all ages and generations. As with most things baby related, everyone has a fervent point of view on the subject! And quite rightly so don’t you think?

Right then. Here’s goes. Look away now if I’m likely to offend you with my point of view but you see it’s a topic very close to people’s hearts  (see what I did there?) and so is bound to ruffle a few feathers.

Breastfeeding sucks (sorry I couldn’t help it)! I mean both literally and figuratively: it sucks. It really really does.

Women however, are under immense pressure to breastfeed in today’s society. If you don’t breastfeed it’s almost as if you are an outcast, doomed never to be part of the the elusive ‘Baby Club’. Strangers look at you with scorn and derision as you produce bottle instead of  breast at social functions and random people ‘tut-tut’ you, as you empty your formula into the bottle for your baby’s feed. Mothers that you’ve never met before draw in a sharp breath when you say that you are no longer breastfeeding, or that you’re ‘giving a bottle at night’. Woweee! You’d think you’d committed a crime against humanity!

I have breastfed both of my babies and let me tell you that it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life!  I was adamant that I was going to breastfeed and that I would give my child ‘the best start in life’. Of course I understood that my body was going to produce the best food for my child and that I, in my new role of ‘Mother’, was going to be able to feed and nourish my offspring.

I went to the relevant ante-natal classes with a lovely Midwife, who extolled the virtues of breast milk and all of the ways that it helps both mummy and baby bond after the birth. Quite exciting really. A bit magical if you think about it.

Then…..

birth: horrendous

husband: frightened

me: shell-shocked

baby: starving

nurses: constant

doctors: painful

sleep: non-existent

depression: absolutely!

You see within the first few hours of my son’s life, the text books and midwives’ advice had gone out of the window. It was MATERNAL MAYHEM!!

Breastfeeding is difficult! Very difficult!

If you are tired – you don’t produce much milk.

If you are stressed – you don’t produce much milk.

If you have post-natal depression – you don’t produce much milk.

If you are all of the above then – you don’t produce much milk.

In my experience I’ve found that not having much milk and breastfeeding a hungry baby leads to all sorts of delightful ailments. For example: cracked nipples. Nice.

To be honest ‘cracked nipples’ didn’t sound too bad to me when they were mentioned in the books. So they crack a bit. I could deal with that.

Ummmm, what it really means is a lot more gross and a lot more painful than I could’ve imagined. It’s safe to say that the milk was often pink and didn’t really help me to ‘bond’ with anyone!

Engorgement! Ha! Sounds quite nice really I suppose. I can quite imagine gorging myself on some yummy chocolate eclairs….but alas…no. It’s more like someone twisting a hot knife in the side of your boob and scraping downwards really. Then shoving the heated blade in from the front of your nipple and leaning on it. In a nutshell.

Leaking breasts… you walk around smelling like a lump of mouldy cheese and there are wet patches on your t-shirt where the milk has soaked through. Not the best look.

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Nipples. Who knew they could look like that anyway?

In fact, who knew boobs could look like that? Ouch!

So, after eight weeks of feeding my second son, I’m done with breastfeeding. He is officially weaned off and a happy podgy contented little soul.

Which leads me to think about the women who can’t let go…..what’s that all about?

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King Kong meets Godzilla!

I’m sure that we’ve all seen the wonderful sugary sweet, picture perfect Hollywood film depiction of a family; two perky , positively angelic children that talk so eloquently and share everything wondrously well. They are never: dirty, pick their noses, poo their pants, scream in your face, batter the living daylights out of each other or play with their winkies in front of all and sundry!

Of course they don’t and we all know why don’t why don’t we? Real life isn’t like that! You can’t create the perfectly behaved child!! They are always going to be fascinated with their private parts and who can blame them eh? Most men I know are still unbelievably fixated with their Tinkie Winkies and fiddle with them all day long!

Children are obviously going to develop their personalities and work hard to assert their independence with no regard whatsoever for the dainty nuances of social etiquette.

You will of course, know exactly what I am referring to if there is a toddler in your family! Wilful? Blimey! Now there’s an understatement!

Bringing a new baby into the realm of the toddler is always going to be a tricky thing and so, like most people with good intentions, I read up about it – I was a Brownie you know and find that I often like to ‘Be Prepared’! There are lots of handy hints in the pregnancy books about how and when to introduce your other children to the new addition; what to say and how to act in order to make your toddler feel at ease. Indeed, some books go into minute detail about how you should position yourself in the hospital bed and what you should do with your eyes (what?) when your toddler comes into the room.

So…as per the instructions in my pregnancy handbook, I promptly bought a present for my eldest, all beautifully wrapped by the newborn (he’s very advanced you know), and told my son that ‘the baby had bought him a present because he was excited to meet his new brother’. As per instructions, I positioned myself as far away from the baby as I could (well, I actually couldn’t move as I was still paralysed but hey ho), and focused all of my attention on son number one.

Great! Brilliant!! It was going well…

He was super excited about: his present and seeing mummy and being in a new room and touching buttons on the bed and trying to have a poo in the hospital toilet cos he hadn’t tried that one before, and touching the curtains that went round the bed and wiping his dirty hands on my bed sheets and playing with his doctor’s kit that the new baby had bought him and shouting so we all knew he was in the room and climbing on the sofa to look out of the window and touching the baby’s head…a lot! Phew!

So we all agreed that apart from the over exuberance it went quite well. There were no tears or tantrums and I was feeling a bit like a Supermum that had not only managed to get chopped open and survive that day (hurrah for me) but I’d also successfully navigated unchartered terrain and ended up with a happy normal well-adjusted toddler……

Hmmmm. Then we brought the baby home.

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King Kong seemed to be none too pleased when the very noisy and ever so slightly annoying Godzilla entered his domain!

During the course of my first day back at home I could clearly see the hairs on the back of King Kong’s neck bristle when he heard the noise that Godzilla could emit! This, of course, would never stop him from lording it over his minions, who up until now had always given him their undivided attention and so he cranked up his own ROOOAAR!! My husband and I were being warned in no uncertain terms that there was only one King of the jungle here and no reptile was going to usurp him! The ROOOOOOOAAAR increased.

This was then accompanied by some random tears and some quite inexplicable tantrums, rounded off with a few visits to ‘The Naughty Step’, where there was a flat refusal to say ‘Sorry’ for any Gorilla-like escapades that he had been involved in!

HANG ON!! I read the manual! Surely  because I’d followed the instructions this shouldn’t happen?? Where had the Golden child gone? He had morphed into a gigantic ape in front of my eyes!!

Meanwhile, let’s not forget Godzilla. Although small, he definitely had the lungs of a scaly sea creature and was not afraid to do battle for noise supremacy and overall Alpha Male status!!

Couple the din with a lack of sleep, major surgery, hormones and the dreaded breastfeeding (that particular wonder of nature is for another blog) and it all goes to blow that rose tinted perception of ‘my new lovely little family’ out of the water! I wonder if Hollywood is interested in taking them both for a few years and making a new ‘King Kong meets Godzilla’ flick, to more clearly represent the modern family?? Just a thought!

Too Posh to Push?

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If you’ve noticed the absence of posts recently it’s not because I’ve been overdosing on the Christmas pudding (more like resembling one) but rather I have been mainly birthing. Yes…this Christmas period has seen a new addition to my little family and it has, yet again, thrown life into a spin to say the least!

Childbirth…something that most women expect to go through and ‘experience’ at some point in their lives. And although expected, I,  like most women was slightly, shall we say ‘taken by surprise’ when I ‘experienced’ it for the first time.

Why you may ask? Didn’t she go to ante-natal classes? Speak to her mum? Talk to a midwife? Read a book on the subject? Well yes dear reader, I did all of these things, however, it is one thing to talk or read about something and quite another to go through it.

For a start, all of the books you read speak about things in a matter of fact way, as if the whole process is a breeze. There are chapters on ‘how to manage your pain’ for example. What? Really? You can manage it? Brilliant…nooooo problemo then. I’ll just read this chapter and everything will be fine. In reality however, I can’t even manage the pain of a paper cut , so I don’t know how I ever thought I’d manage labour!!!

What’s missing from the books of course, is a detailed, intricate account of the pain. A real insight into it: the sensation; the depth; the overwhelming fear involved as the pain intensifies. And of course, when you find yourself in the midst of it, whilst telling yourself to be brave, you can’t really escape the feeling that this may be curtains for you!

Manage it…pah! Give me some drugs and that’ll manage it a hell of a lot better thanks very much!

So why am I talking of the pain? Well, surely that potential pain and the avoidance of it has a lot of women nowadays veering towards the option of a Caesarean Section? The operation of choice. The swift and easy way to avoid the drawn out, embarrassing and exhausting ‘labour’. The way that celebrities do it ! Well if it’s good enough for Victoria Beckham, surely it’s good enough for me?

If this is something you’ve been mulling over and its affecting your birth choice let me just set you straight. Believe me…you’d rather push!!

Why? Well for starters it isn’t the ‘easy option’ at all, quite the opposite in fact. Of course it has certain advantages, such as you know the exact date your baby is coming and you can plan around the date. And……..that’s about it for advantages. Honestly.

If you’re thinking of avoiding the pain of labour by having a C-Section, let me just tell you that there is NO AVOIDING THE PAIN!!! EVER! The pain is just located in a different area of your body. Get used to it – popping out a sprog hurts and you can’t really dodge it by opting for major abdominal surgery! What you really want to do is have an Epidural – Wow! Brilliant!! As soon as you have one of those everything seems better!! Epidural and push! Forget the C-Section – trust me!

So why do the stars seem to opt for the C-Section? I’ve no idea! Work schedules seems an obvious idea but then the recovery time from the operation is a minimum of six weeks! Six weeks without driving, walking, sitting upright unaided even initially going to the toilet without help (nice)!

What I do know is that through the choices of the ‘stars’, the current ‘too posh to push’ trend has allowed random people to make judgements about how your baby enters the world.

Annoying Man: Your baby came out of the sunroof didn’t it?

Even More Annoying Man: You were too lazy to have your baby properly weren’t you?

Exceptionally Annoying Man that I want to punch: Well you didn’t really give birth though did you?

Aaaargh!! Your hormones are raging, you’ve had no sleep since….who knows and people like to impart their point of view upon you. Well thanks but…keep it to yourself!

Even worse than this is if you ended up with an Emergency C-Section after labouring for hours!! This happened to me the first time and after a 43 hour labour I had to have a C-Section!. A 43 hour labour!!! Are you joking! I still can’t believe that happened. It’s worse than a Medieval torture session in The Tower of London (well maybe not but there’s nothing like a touch of the dramatic to make me feel better)! And yet people will still assume that you ‘took the easy option’.

It is currently week 3 of my recovery and it’s safe to say that although I can now go to the toilet by myself (phew!) I still have a way to go to resume ‘normal life’. That’s ok though, as I have a husband on Paternity leave to help me out…….Darling, is the kettle on?

What’s in a Name?

how-to-care-for-roses-11What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;

Nice sentiment Mr. Shakespeare but is it true? Does a name really matter?

So..does your name affect your future? Do people really care if their child is going to be bullied in the playground or possibly have to apply for a job in the future?

As I’m currently pregnant, I find myself with a daunting task ahead of me: namely… naming a child. It has to be one of the most difficult jobs of all time. I am responsible for their identity after all! So what’s my motivation here? Should I be thinking about giving my child the best possible start in life or should I  be thinking about: the place that he was conceived; my favourite cocktail or movie star?

Me: Mohito! Come on it’s time to go!

Husband: You too DeNiro! Your Spag Bol is ready!

Hmmmm! Obviously if I was a celebrity or Rock star I would be expected to come up with a ridiculous name for my child. It is quite simply a prerequisite to label your newborn with a wholly outrageous moniker. Think about that crazy world of celebrity, where it seems ok to dish out names such as: Zowie Bowie; Pilot Inspektor Lee; Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily; Moonunit Zappa; Apple Martin; Jermagesty Jackson and Prince Michael II,or Blanket as he is more fondly known!

Surely however, ‘normal’ people don’t do this sort of thing? Surely the general public has more of a grip on reality and understands the singular embarrassment that could come from having a name, that when read out in assembly, causes your peers to openly guffaw, whilst your teachers titter behind their hands?

Well the answer to this is a resounding NO THEY WOULDN’T!!!

In the quest for ‘uniqueness’ it seems that the modern parent is quite prepared to make a laughing stock of their child. How do I know? Well, coming from a teaching background I have been privy to a number of particularly cringe-worthy names over the years. Some of them, quite frankly have been bordering on: insane; cruel or tantamount to child abuse as far as I’m concerned! Let me bamboozle you with one in particular that I can’t seem to forget..with a surname of Mortis, what would be your first thought on a forename for your beloved? Well, these parents decided to call their child: Rigor Scooby-Doo Mortis. And the sad thing is that I’m not even joking!

Then there’s the new-fangled craze of sticking a letter and an apostrophe in front of an everyday name to jazz it up a bit! There’s nothing like a: D’Shawn or a D’Paul or indeed a L’Rachel to get you pondering over the intellect of some people!

Then what about the wonder of naming your baby after the place he/ she was conceived?? Oh deary me!! Really? As well as Brooklyn, Denver, Colorado and Montana are we going to meet up with some Huddersfields, Blackpools and Glasgows over the  next few years? Why don’t we go the whole hog and narrow it even further to Park or Pub or even Toilet? I’m sure if we did that, then the name Bed would become increasingly common and boring wouldn’t it?

Of course not everyone is going to like the name you choose to give your child and..of course, personal preference is your prerogative. Just give a little thought to your child in the playground and whether you want them to have any friends after all! Just remember that they will grow up and have to meet prospective in-laws and employers!

So…will I be naming my child in a weird and wacky way? No siree…although being a Christmas baby I was toying with the idea of Santa….or Elf?? What do you think?

Party Time vs Toddler time

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Katy: She’s pregnant you know!

Social Suicide…

So it’s one of the biggest weekends on the social calendar in the city that I currently call home. Everyone is gearing up for a weekend of sport and high japes, with a few beverages thrown in for good measure. People have arrived from overseas and the party atmosphere is tangible; a good time will definitely be had by all…..or will it?

If you are the owner of a mini me; a small person or ‘toddler’ if you will, you may have to forego these types of events. I’m sure you already know but if you’re a new parent with a lovely pram and a sleeping bundle, you have yet to face the sheer carnage and devastation that a toddler can wreck at a social gathering.

Take last year’s magnificent sporting event for example. I was excited! I wasn’t pregnant…yay! My boy was walking and beginning to talk so surely I could have a chat and  a beverage in the sunshine, whilst watching beefy men in shorts run up and down a rugby pitch? Surely I could let my toddler meander not too far away from me as I looked on in love and awe? Surely I could watch him trying to throw and catch little squishy rugby balls and say a few ‘aahs’ and ‘ooohs’ and ‘look how cute he is’ with my friends? Maybe I could  allow the rays to banish the bluey grey pallor of my skin, whilst sipping a lovely glass of  bubbles?

Or….maybe not!

Maybe I could watch him toddle (pah), full blown RUN away, across the pitch into the incoming herd of destruction!! This of course prompts a mummy into ‘action mummy mode’, and believe me, there’s nothing worse than a bad mum run in the sun! I’ve never been a runner and certainly not in front of men but this kind of embarrassing panic sprint is possibly the worst kind of wobbly mum run ever! It begins slowly, in disbelief, while you shout your little darling’s name repeatedly (and they ignore you repeatedly) , and then the fear sets in and you actually have to move….bad wobbly bra and all!

Maybe after all that excitement and the embarrassed chastisement of your child in front of your friends, where you reassure them that he ‘normally listens to me’ (lie); maybe after that you can just pen him in somewhere and resume your girly chat?

Ok…so you hit upon the idea of penning him in in the stands and boldly go to meet up with your chums. Great idea. So you pick him up and just as you’re getting to the stands where everyone’s having such a great time and they’re all smiling and happy to see you, you catch a whiff of something. Could it be cabbage? Brussel sprouts? Hmmm I didn’t see them selling vegetables this year…….oh god! Oh no!

Oh yes………your special soldier has decided to give you a ‘special present’, all over your: arm; white dress; the ends of your hair!!! A special smeary kind of stinky present that he wanted to share with you on this lovely day…bless him!

This of course put paid to my day out…and his; the conversation died and the bubbles went flat.

The lesson from all of this? Socialise only with others that are in the same boat as you. If you have to bring out the rugrat, then there’s safety in numbers. They can sympathise and they often have back up supplies…and of course there’s always the pleasure that you can derive from watching others struggle with the same stinky scenario!

Not Bloomin’ likely!

Blooming. What a lovely word and an even lovelier metaphor for the pregnant woman.

However, I feel that it’s ever so slightly off the mark. Just a touch. A teensy tiny bit optimistic if you will. Let me explain…

There is something in the word ‘blooming’; something wonderful and warming in its effect upon the pregnant woman. It has the ability to make her feel feminine again, and ever so slightly…..floral? It lends itself to wonderful images of Spring and the new awakenings that happen at that glorious time of year: colours; fragrances and the hope of a new beginning.

Unfortunately though, what I’ve come to realise is that I don’t smell of wild roses on a beautiful morn; more eau de sweaty donkey, that has just carried a fat tourist up a mountain to the Acropolis on Lindos! The feminine rose  floral idea just doesn’t have any standing in reality I’m afraid.

Hang on…what about the pinky glow in my cheeks that is akin to the beautiful blush of a rose? Nope. That’s actually high blood pressure; as I embarrassingly pant my way through another conversation, with no physical exertion having taken place at all!

Well surely we’re safe in talking about the new life blossoming in the belly? The wonderful creation that has been bestowed upon the beautiful pregnant woman. And yes…it is wonderful (even I’m not that cynical) but unfortunately….and I’m going out on a limb here but… it doesn’t make you prettier!

There, I’ve said it. It really, really doesn’t! Sorry! It makes you look fat, bloated and a bit of a heifer when all’s said and done. Body parts that you never knew moved are now able to……to swell; and believe you me, it’s not a pretty sight! The burgeoning belly can actually begin to look a tad frightening as you’re introduced to it a good two seconds before the rest of the woman. The vast maze of veins that seem to develop and criss cross all over it, in their blue and purple pageantry, can really disturb some people at the beach, who were minding their own business not two minutes ago but have now run screaming for the surf!

The problem is that I too have been guilty of saying this ‘blooming’ word to other women…just to make them feel better. To give them a ray of hope in the dressing room, that all is not lost and they are still maintaining their looks, even though they’re nearly at D-Day. And you do believe it…you really do… in your first pregnancy.

However, if you are carrying your second, third or (what were you thinking?) fourth child, you know, as I do, that it is garbage! You are NOT blooming. You’re knackered, fat and wondering where those great boobs you used to have have gone………..?

TOUCHY FEELY!

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Socialising can be a veritable minefield at the best of times; especially if, like me, you don’t actually like a lot of people! I’m not saying I’m a misanthropist but I may have misanthropic tendencies i.e I’m not very fond of others – it mainly depends on my mood! 

This is not a great personality trait to possess. It can make life quite uncomfortable. For example, imagine my horror upon discovering what happens to you, when people you don’t know realise that you are pregnant.

THEY WANT TO TOUCH YOU!!!

That’s right. Touch you. As in, physically invade your personal space (I’m very keen on mine) and touch your tummy! And it doesn’t end there…oh no! A number of people lately have wanted to rub, nay, caress the big bulging belly that I seem to be heaving everywhere with me. The belly that a moment ago was minding its own business and sitting there quite happily. 

Take last night for instance. There I was, at an event, trying to enjoy myself despite the heat and my burgeoning size and what should happen. A young man suddenly noticed the tummy.

“Wow! Look at your tummy! Can I touch it?”

With one fell swoop, and without waiting for an answer, he’d dived on in there! Rubbing away to the sound of the music, he smiled at me.  FREAK! GET OFF! NOW! I, of course, smiled mirthlessly back at him as he continued to rub away to his heart’s content. 

How long did he keep his hands on me I hear you cry? Good question. About forty two minutes I reckon, or at least it felt like that. My friend assures me it was more like two…but still! 

I am obviously still traumatised; suffering from a deep rooted fear of socialising for the rest of the weekend. Last night’s cold sweats were down to the stranger with the hairy hands and I can just imagine the trauma tomorrow brings…..