Monday, 13 December 2010
Anyway back to my dilemma. As I might have mentioned in the past I am quite a controlling person. Bizarrely now I've admitted to that I feel the need to announce it more and more as it seems to excuse me of anything! In the case of Jess' first birthday and Christmas my inner control freak reared it's ugly head around the subject of presents. I've been to a couple of children's birthdays and seen what small children get for Christmas and, my god, it's a helluva lot. I did actually get quite worked up and worried about it for a while and thought of ways to stem the flow as it were. And I realise how ungrateful that makes me sound so I will try to explain myself.
Firstly, as I'm sure many of you know, I try to keep things a bit simple if I can. I know my flat is full of stuff but I don't really want to add anymore to that if possible, and anything that Jess is going to get very little or no use out of falls into the category of stuff we don't need. I've had to get quite brutal and ignore my sentimental side since having Jess or I'd be swamped.
The other side of keeping things simple is that I don't want to be responsible for stuff being manufactured and disposed off needlessly. Especially if it's plastic. And that is for this reason. I would rather be involved as little as possible with disposing of plastic goods that wind up in our oceans killing our marine life. The fact that there is a flotilla of waste plastic in the pacific ocean which (after 5 minutes googling) is anywhere between the size of Texas or the size of north America which is doing nothing other than quickly getting bigger and breaking down into smaller more dangerous particles very slowly. The fate of albatrosses who eat this plastic and die is very visible and a tragedy but as the plastic gets smaller and into more of the marine Eco system the real tragedy will begin and it will be epic. Me saying "I don't want plastic for my child" does very little to stop this but it salves my guilty conscience for every plastic bottle I've ever brought.
The other issue I have is that I don't want Jess turned into a consumer so young. I have this idealistic view that she should be creative and use her imagination for play rather than just have a big pile of the latest toys. I want her to experience the true joy of getting a new toy as an occasional treat and along side that goes the disappointment of not having everything you want when you want it. It's a bitter pill to swallow for children, I remember regularly being upset that my mother wouldn't capitulate every time I said "I want that" but now I'm damned glad she stood by her principles as it makes getting new things so much more pleasurable!
This year I decided to set up a just giving account so anyone who wants to get Jess a present could donate to FSID in her name. I decided on the Foundation for the Study of Infant Death to remind myself how lucky I am to have a happy healthy child and that I should never take anything for granted.
I was all keyed up to ask people to donate but actually wording that this was what I wanted seemed incredibly difficult. I talked to a few people about it who agreed that it was lovely idea but it would be so hard to do it without offending people. What finally changed my mind was realising (and things like this are a huge learning curve for me) that however much I may joke that Jess is my mini me, she's not. She is an individual, albeit a tiny and dependent one and very likely completely unaware of all her mothers' hand wringing over this issue but I cannot really control how people what to interact with her and although she is my daughter her extended family and our friends have some ownership over her as well and who am I to deny if they want to demonstrate what they feel for her by choosing and buying her a present? I should be (and I am) incredibly grateful and touched that people care enough about Jess to want to treat her.
My next lesson to learn is to stop over thinking things! And to wish everyone a very happy Christmas and new year. My new years resolution will be to not neglect this page so much!
And I am delighted that I managed to write a blog post with only having to stop to clear up one very squidgy nappy (damned kiwis) and kiss one bumped head which appears to be rapidly turning into a black eye.....
Wednesday, 17 November 2010
Boil up some carrots and potatoes, when soft drain and mash them, add grated cheese and mix in well, then mix in flour until the mixture is the right consistancy to roll into little balls and hold together.
Roll into little balls and fry in a little olive oil squishing them down in the pan to make discs.
Obviously you can add pretty much anything to these, I'm going to try them with parsnip next time! They are also good cold and can be heated up in a dry frying pan if you want them hot again later.
I do need to credit my beloved domestic goddess of a sister for this one, she's really rather good!
Thursday, 7 October 2010
Wednesday, 6 October 2010
I now have what could officially be called a stash! My beautiful wrapsody aprodite stretchy wrap, my colourful workhorse that is the woven and non stretchy storchenwiege anna wrap and my flowery mai tei. To be honest, I do love the mai tei but I don't tend to use it so much and usually find myself reaching for my woven wrap. It took a little getting used to but it's just so supportive and comfortable I can carry Jess for a long time without any discomfort. The stretchy is just so soft and gorgeous but the bigger and heavier Jess gets means that I can't use it for long periods. The green moby I blogged about ages ago has gone stay with my friend and her new little boy for as long as they need it.
There have been baby carrier recalls in the past and the word is that there will be more in the not too distant future. It can be confusing for people thinking about wearing their babies as there are so many different types of carrier and the recalls often seem to lump all the carriers together so....
Bag carriers are unsafe and although the infantino carrier which was responsible for the deaths of three children has been recalled there are many that are still on the market (premaxx etc).
Wraps, mai teis, soft structured carriers and ring slings are all safe providing they are used correctly. And actually they are more than safe, they are positively beneficial to your babies physical and emotional development.
Baby bjorns and the like are safe but I personally don't like them as the baby dangles from their crotch while they should be supported from knee to knee and they're not as supportive for the person doing the carrying.
The Baby Carrier Industry Alliance has published their position paper on carriers, creating an industry standard and possible up coming recalls. I'd recommend anyone interested in baby wearing to read it. Actually I'd recommend any parent to read it as it really explains the benefits attached to wearing your baby better than I can!
So this week my task is to encourage all of you to get your babies on and wear with pride!
Friday, 1 October 2010
I'm still not really sure where to start, there's so much crap welling up in my mind that makes me angry and I see more everyday. On tuesday I had a job interview and while I was sitting in a cafe before hand trying not to eat my own arm out of nerves I was distracted by a billboard for matalan where four girls aged about eight or so where lined up (a la sex and the bloody city) holding hands etc and wearing really quite adult clothes and sporting handbags. I'm guessing the range of clothes came from Matalan's Candy Couture range "funky prints and grown up style- the latest fashion must haves for girls age 8-13 years". But this is from the shop that lists padded bras in the featured items of it's girls essentials line.
I know it has become the mantra of grauniad readers for a while now to let our children be children but I really do want to let my daughter be a little girl until she's ready to grow up. And it scares me that children have so much exposure to things that try to force them to grow up early. This applies to both girls and boys as it seems (mirroring adult life) that girls should be trying to turn themselves into objects to attract boys from early on, hence the padded bras, while boys are encouraged to look at girls as objects to be possessed. I've heard vague stories of teenage boys referring to their girlfriends as "my gash". Do I want my daughter to be called that or to think it's acceptable to be called that? No I bloody don't.
The epitomy of the clothing directed at girls that makes my skin crawl is the primark t-shirt with the "future wag" logo. I don't go into primark (not wishing to wear clothes made in a sweatshop if I can avoid it) so I don't know if this t-shirt is still stocked but I can imagine there are many similar slogans.... It saddens me that it's seen as acceptable by a major high st brand to encourage girls to aspire to nothing more than being the grammatically incorrect hanger on to a rich man. Add this to tesco offering a toy pole dancing kit and endless other tales of retailers getting things so totally wrong and growing up just looks like a minefield.
What really worries me though is that there are so many of these tales of pole dancing kits, inappropriate clothing, inappropriate everything that over sexualises our little girls that more and more is slipping under the radar. So the padded bra is somehow ok and acceptable and the playboy pencil case is just a laugh.
I think a lot of this goes back to the very innocuous "girls will be girls, boys will be boys" attitude but it has me wondering, what comes first? Do girls all really love pink to the exclusion of all else or do we tell them they love pink so they take on the "pink persona".
Don't get me wrong, children love dressing up and make believe and I remember as a child pretending to be a princess and having a dressing up box containing some fabulous dresses, including my mother's wedding dress, I used to mess around with her makeup on a fairly regular basis too, apparently once drinking some nail varnish but I also remember dressing up as pirates and having dens in the woods and getting messy and muddy and generally having a thoroughly good time. Possibly with lashings of ginger beer.... But I find it hard to imagine a little girl running round the great outdoors and throwing her imagination to the wind while wearing heeled pumps and a padded bra.
I think what bothers me is that I see a link between things that are meant to be harmless and things that aren't. Baby girls dressed head to toe in pink which links to barbies and disney princesses which links to plastic and completely unobtainable body images which links in the to the big wide world of playboy, topless models (run up to page 3 girls hitting 16 or whatever age it is so they can get their tits out legally, makes me shudder) which all links in to the only validation a girl can have about herself is from the way she looks. It's so sad and it's not what I want for my daughter.
Pink Stinks is a great organisation which campaigns for real role models for girls and generally expains all the half formed thoughts jostling in my head better than I can here!
I can't hide all this from Jess but I have to make sure that I arm her as much as possible with an enquiring mind, I encourage her to question what she sees and I give her a sense of her own value being what it is and not based on flimsy.
Tuesday, 7 September 2010
Joking aside though, we've done quite a bit of pootling around. Been out to France three times and out of London on the train quite a few times too. As to getting around London; a work colleague asked me if I was cycling again (answer is not quite yet) and then assumed I was driving. What I'd be driving I'm not sure but it made me feel a bit uncomfortably smug to point out we use the bus, the train or my legs to get around. Although I secretly do feel smug that we use said methods of transport.
Anyway, my tips for flying on ryanair (they don't get a capital letter, I hate them so much) or using any kind of public transport are:
1- Give yourself plenty of time. Our flight left at 6.20 am and meanderingfather very kindly forked out on a cab for us. It's money well spent!
2- Invest in priority boarding. Gives you a sense of security that you'll get on and get a seat but probably not that essential as having a small baby means that people will only sit next to you if it's absolutely essential.
3- Sling sling sling. I may have mentioned before how much I like slings but they are ace on planes and save you having to fart arse around getting your buggy in and out of the hold. I recommend something like the mei tai as you can just about get it on in cramped spaces which isn't really that possible with a wrap unless you are some sort of wrapping goddess. Also means you can zip through the airport at speed without taking peoples ankles out.
4- Less is more. When they are young you really don't need much in the way of stuff and entertainment can be provided with something as simple as a muslin square which you'd likely have with you anyway. More toys just means more to carry around with you. In fact the best distraction you can have for a wee baby on a plane is a boob. Probably won't work so well as she gets older but is ace at the moment.
I don't actively enjoy flying with the child to be honest but that is because I used to plug the ipod in and read for the whole flight but since Jess has developed her annoying, sorry, endearing, habit of chewing everything I can't juggle her and book or earphones. Especially if I have to stop her grabbing the ipod of the person sitting next to me too. On the way out to France this time my next door neighbour actually put her coat over her head half way through the flight. It did occur to me that it could have been because it's hard to sleep while a small child is eyeballing you and trying to liberate your belongings.
Anyway, once at your holiday destination you have a few choices. Once again, I'd tend to pick a sling over any other method of transport. Good for city breaks and country walks alike! I have to be honest and say that I completely ignored the less is more on the sling front and had three with me this time. The mei tai, my new wrapsody (I'd just got it and couldn't bear leaving it at home for three weeks) and my storchenwiege woven sling which I got when Jess was a baby, couldn't get to grips with, sold to meanderingaunty and brought back because my nephew didn't like it. It's ace and I'm sure I'll blog more on it later!
Your other big holiday dilemma (if you're me) is nappies. I was very lucky this time as meanderingaunty is even more of a nappy addict than me and let me borrow from her beautiful collection and laundered them for me. Brilliant! If you're going away and don't have a very accommodating sister to go to I'd recommend the bum genius flips. The wraps can go in with any load of washing and you can take as many or as few inserts as you want and use the disposable inserts if necessary. I'd also say that the flips are a good all rounder but if you want something uber reliable for long journeys I would actually recommend a wee notion. Obviously they look good, but they seem to soak up an incredible amount of wee for a very slim line insert and if you pop one of their boosters in they'll last for ages. And so far even the most liquid of poos has not leaked. Brilliant!
While on holiday we threw any sort of routine we'd cobbled together for Jess out the window, if she didn't want to go to sleep she didn't and I spent a couple of evenings playing canasta with meanderinggranny, a bottle of wine and Jess on my knee which was actually lots of fun. She also took a bit of a dislike to the travel cot so I gave up after the first night and she snuggled up with me and meanderingfather after he arrived which, although I wouldn't want to co sleep all the time, was lovely for a treat!
Wednesday, 11 August 2010
This is the first one. It's a basic carry using a Moby stretchy wrap and can be used with any stretchy wrap. I carried Jess in this carry almost exclusively from one week until about six months. It's really easy to use and excellent for when they are tiny.
The important thing to remember is that the material should be well spread out and not twisted over your shoulders to spread the weight and the material under the babies bottom should be spread from knee to knee.
Monday, 9 August 2010
Thursday, 5 August 2010
In the space of 24 hours over the weekend she learnt to sit up and cut her first tooth. Bizarre how nothing happens for ages then it all comes at once. Insert your own hackneyed phrase about London buses here.
Seems to be dealing very well with the tooth. Have had a few teething powders but no calpol as yet and she's only felt the need to nibble while feeding once or twice and it's only been a nibble. I'm waiting for the first clamp down! It's like a new toy for me, I keep sticking my finger in her mouth to feel it there and I got very excited about getting her a little toothbrush and cleaning it for the first time! In true Stoke Newington fashion I got a wooden one from Born, slightly unnecessary but there you go.
The sitting up seems to have given her new confidence and strength. Bathtimes have become a lot of fun as she attempts to flood the bathroom with her kicking and she can sit up in the bath now and play with a little plastic cup. I say play with it, what she's actually doing is attempting to drink the bathwater but that's baby led weaning for you.
I also brought her a blow up doughnut thing that she can sit in and play. It's blatantly a padded pen type thing to keep your child out of trouble but she very quickly worked out how to catapult herself over the side so that's backfired somewhat. Quite fun watching her do it though!
We've also got her second (and last for a good long time) Wee Notion nappy. This one was a present from her Great Grandmother who was enamoured with the last one but made the stipulation that I got one that's more girly this time. I think this one fits the bill!
The whiff problem with the nappies is now, I hope, under control! They have had a fabulous strip and I try not to use the PUL nappies at night. PUL being the waterproofing that is fantastic but means they are not very breathable. She now has (and I can take no credit for this at all, it was all meanderingauntie's idea) tot bots nappies to wear at night that have a lanolised wool soaker over the top. Amazingly, even though the tots bots aren't water proof, the wool soaker keeps her dry. Magic!
As she is sleeping through this system is far healthier to wear for 12 hours than the PUL wraps which don't let her bottom breath and don't let themselves breath which is probably one of the reasons they smelt in the first place!
So Meanderingmother's super strip!
- Soak all the nappies, wipes, liners etc APART FROM ANYTHING WITH PUL in the bath with water and white vinegar. I use three large bottles of sarsons white vinegar and enough water to cover everything. Leave overnight.
- Put in washing machine and rinse.
- Add all PUL to wash and give a nice squirt of fairy liquid (not ecover, it has to be abrasive).
- Wash on a 60 wash.
- Continue to do 40 washes, rinses until all the bubbles have gone and the nappies smell of nothing (can take a while).
- If possible hang out in the sun- really does remove all stains!
And when I wash them I do a cold rinse first then wash them at 60 with ecoballs and soda crystals. So far so good. Fingers crossed!
Wednesday, 4 August 2010
Anyway, I thought about it, I did a bit of research and I've brought... a new sling. Some may say it's unnecessary and I only brought it because it's very pretty (which it is) but I like to think I have some arguments in my favour. My Moby wrap I adore and will continue to use, especially if we're out for long periods of time (it spreads the weight a bit better, especially for my lower back and Jess sleeps a bit better in it), and if it's very cold as it keeps the heat in very well. And that's one of the arguments in favour of the new one. It's called a Mei Tai and effectively a big square with a tie coming off each corner. It therefore doesn't wrap round you and has a bit more in the way of natural ventilation! It's hard to argue how great slings are when your baby has a beetroot face and you're sweating buckets.
Meanderingfather has been his usual lovely self so I have another wrap on the way which is a cross between a stretchy wrap (like the Moby- good for newborns) and a woven wrap which can be a bit more technically difficult but is good for bigger and heavier babies. So this will be a good wrap as Jess gets a bit bigger and wrigglier. Again, it's also damned pretty! I will, of course, post pictures on its arrival.
The Mei Tai is easier than a wrap to get on quickly and I can carry Jess on my back with just me to get her on and off. I tried this once with the Moby and somewhat predictably only narrowly avoided Jess hitting the decks. And the Mai Tei's just so pretty, did I mention that already? It was made by a company called Funky Slings (see the link) and I spent hours deciding what fabric to get, they have a huge amount! They're also a small business employing work at home mothers to make the slings which is the kind of business I like to give mine (or Meanderingfather's) money to.
There are obvious practical benefits; we don't have anywhere to keep a buggy at home and I can only imagine that hauling Jess and a buggy up the stairs to the flat would be a bit of a mission. I also thank my lucky stars for my weaving abilities when attempting the buggy slalom that is Stoke Newington Church St at the weekend. Or when watching anyone manhandling buggies on and off buses. And do I feel smug when I'm nipping through the gridlocked buggy brigade? Of course I do.
I've also discovered the joys of being able to pop Jess on my back while I "get on" as my mother puts it. Although she is usually very chilled out and happy to entertain herself there are times when she wants a bit of company and interaction. Usually these times correspond with when I'm trying to make dinner or clean up so now she can go on my back like a little monkey, I can have a little sing and dance while I'm cooking or whatever and she's quite happy. Whizzing the hoover around with a baby on your back is quite a workout too!
Apparently wearing your baby is also good for their development and if the nice ladies in Born say they think babies in slings are more aware of the world around them and more interactive then who am I to disagree?! Jess is very aware of what's going on, she's very smiley and she's what I can only describe as a very confident baby but she may have been all those things if she had been in a buggy, it's hard to know. Proponents of the attachment theory swear by the usefulness of wraps and slings to keep your baby with you at all times. I don't go by any particular method of parenting and I like Jess to have her own time, as I like to have mine too but I do believe that wearing your baby against you really gives you a closeness that I don't believe you'd get pushing them round in a buggy all the time. But that's just me!
So for now we sling and I think we've reached the stage where it's an all or nothing thing. She's at a weight that if I started putting her in the sling only occasionally it'd get harder, the very fact I do it everyday means I'm used to it and I don't really notice her weight. And I'm not ready to stop with the baby wearing!
Thursday, 29 July 2010
So I did a bit of research and brought an East Coast wooden folding highchair which was possibly a bit expensive; £44 off ebay in comparison the the ikea antilop wonder highchair which sells for £10.99 with the table being an extra budget busting £4.... Don't get me wrong, the antilop is actually excellent but crucially for us, it has slightly splayed legs and it doesn't fold and did I mention we live in a shoebox? Anyway, we now have our very pretty folding wooden highchair which keeps her mostly upright and will be even better when we get the insert for it so she doesn't keep smacking her head on the back when she's decided she's finished eating. It has a tray which is handy but the tray folds back too so she can get right up to the table and eat with us without being eye level with her lunch. Forgive me for raving about highchairs, makes a change from the nappies though....
I am eternally amazed at the development of her skills when it comes to eating. Depending on what it is she has come on leaps and bounds within a few weeks with getting things in her mouth and swallowing them and she knows that when the highchair comes out and Mummy starts laying the table it's food time and she'll shout at me until she's fed. While I'm typing this she's finishing her lunch which was soup followed by plum. The soup I leave thicker than Meanderingfather and I have it so it's bordering on veg puree but Jess eats it herself. I either pass her a loaded spoon or I leave the spoon in the soup in front of her, either way, she knows just what to do! Right now the plum is being decimated. I cut it roughly off the stone and Jess very efficiently eats the flesh and spits out the skin. It's great watching her learn that two hands are better than one when picking up something slippy.
We're still going strong with the breastfeeding and hopefully will continue to do so for a while longer yet but she did have an odd wobble when the weaning started in earnest and for a few days she didn't want much boob but would just howl at it when I got her in position. I eventually worked out that she didn't want to be held so much so for a while she was feeding sitting beside me with minimal support and now she's back to normal thankfully!
In other news still not much luck with the nappies and the smell. I'm trying a few other things and if they work I shall up date you (lucky things that you are!)
Friday, 16 July 2010
The outside is the great skull picture on lagoon minkee gelato fabric and the inside is raspberry slush minkee gelato fabric. It's really nice and soft and great quality. Wee Notions is a small family run business who make by hand every nappy that's ordered which makes me feel all happy inside. If anyone doesn't know what to get as a present for new parents these make great gifts, I reckon that even if someone's not doing cloth nappies one of these would still hit the mark (and might persuade them to use cloth which is all good!).
Anyway, for my readers who are fb friends, I apologise for deluging you with photos, I'll stop now!
Wednesday, 14 July 2010
Friday, 9 July 2010
Anyway, to get back to the point, I was inspired by a friend's facebook status to write this and it's directed at anyone who is due to give birth in the near future (and there seem to be a helluva lot of you!). Like everything to do with parenting (nappies, breastfeeding, sling use etc) people have very strong opinions about the birth itself. Some consider it as an unavoidable experience which will be horrific, some would prefer to have a c-section, some are desperate to give birth naturally etc etc, the list goes on and on.
One thing that is for sure is that childbirth is portrayed very oddly in fiction. According to most TV shows and films women are likely to have their waters break very suddenly then be doubled up in agony instantly before giving birth while screaming themselves stupid. Or the actual birth is quite easy and doesn't spoil perfect hair and make up. In reality most (not all) women go into labour slowly and have a gradual build up. I was in labour for over two days at home so although I had had very little sleep in that time I'd also had a nice long build up. By the time we got into hospital I had worked out how to deal with the contractions and was happy to see how I got on without drugs.
I should probably point out at this point that Jess was lying in the perfect position for birth (bless her little soul) and as we didn't have any major complications things were "easy" for me and I know that's not the way for everyone.
When I got pregnant though I was terrified at the idea of giving birth (mainly because I watch too much telly) but by the time I actually came to it I was feeling quite positive. One of the reasons for this was a book called Ina May's Guide to Childbirth which a lovely friend brought me and it was just fantastic. Ina May is the midwife who has documented orgasmic childbirth and if you can pop one out while you're giving birth I'm delighted for you but it is the rest of the book that's so fantastic. She makes it very clear that childbirth is what a woman's body is geared up to do. It's all designed to stretch and push and yes, it probably will hurt but it's a very positive pain. Also, unlike most pain, it's not destructive, it's happening for a reason and it doesn't stay with you. She talks about visualisation techniques in a useful way too, I could never get my head around trying to visualise yourself on a beach when you're quite blatantly in hospital trying to get a baby out, maybe my imagination isn't up to scratch! Anyway, I found it much more useful to visualise what each and every contraction and later on every push is doing. It's a way of focusing positively on what your body is doing rather than trying to remove yourself from it.
I also found it quite useful to ignore people a lot of the time.... I had a really positive conversation with a work colleague who, when I told her I wanted as natural a birth as possible (she asked!), told me not to be so stupid and by the time I was in labour I'd be screaming for all the drugs they could give me. Cheers for that.
I'm not saying I do or don't advocate drugs in childbirth, they can be incredibly necessary but I feel strongly that going into labour thinking it's going to be awful and you want to be completely dosed up is a bit counter productive. And I know some of you are reading this knowing I didn't want an epidural because I'm scared of people putting needles in my spine. I hold my hands up; I'm a wuss! Throughout my labour though I wasn't thinking I don't want any drugs, I was thinking, I'll see how I go and if it gets unbearable I'll think about having something and then Jess was born and I hadn't had anything and I'm so thankful for that because I remember it so well and now, six months later, I just look back on it as a massively positive experience and I still get a kick out of it.
I know a lot of people who haven't been so lucky so I know that things don't always go to plan but I think anything positive you can take away at the end should be what you dwell on, the biggest thing obviously being that you have produced a beautiful baby.
So meanderingmothers top tips for childbirth are:
- Be positive, you and your body can do this
- Don't feel pressurised into anything, if you feel you need drugs go for it, if you want to give birth on your hands and knees or what ever, go for it!
- Visualise getting the baby out
- Count while you're breathing, for some reason this really helped me although I couldn't stop after she'd been born....
Sunday, 4 July 2010
So far she's had orange (which she adores), dates (maybe not the best plan, I have yet to find out!), tomato, avocado, cheese, cake, toast and butter, banana, scotch pancake, cous cous, pasta with tomato sauce, hummus, ice cream, yogurt (she actually sucked it off the lid, very cool!), cherries, nectarine, strawberries, cucumber and courgette. For the most part she has a suck and a gum of things just to get to grips with textures, tastes and how to pick things up but a lot of the fruit gets yummed up!
The only problem is the mess, which isn't really a problem because what gets dropped on the floor can be picked up again! And Jess can obviously be held under a tap to get her clean.... I've found that to save on washing eating half naked is better, skin being wipe cleanable, although food gets everywhere when they DIY! But as she can't sit up properly and can only be propped in the highchair for short periods (and some might say not at all!) she does a lot of her eating on my knee and happy as I am to be filthy dirty I have a real problem with being sticky and a baby sucking banana out of your hand brings a whole new meaning to the word! Although it is a good excuse for us to share a bath after tea....
The best bit of all this though is the faces she makes, my favourite being mouth hanging open, slight frown and a general how dare you poison me aura. Usually accompanied by a urrrrgggghhhh sound. Bizarrely this doesn't mean she hates it and she will go back for more!
We've (I've) also designed a nappy.... I have had ever more adventures in the world of nappies since my last post and my dear sister has introduced me to a website called wee notions (see links). It seems to be a family thing, when we find things we want but can't afford and /or don't need we like to tell as many people as possible to share the pain as it were. Anyway, on wee notions you can design your own nappy and they will make it and send it to you. And my god these things are exquisite. Needless to say, I couldn't really afford one and I definitely don't need one but I've ordered one anyway. It will arrive in a few weeks and I promise to post a photo as soon as I have it on the child!
Thursday, 17 June 2010
When it comes to the bum genius flips that I was banging on about a while ago I have learnt that it really does do you good to pay attention to the manufacturers washing instructions. One area where perhaps Mummy does not know best.... I was just shoving them in on a 60 wash with an unspecified (IE far too much) amount of bio-d and a bit of ecover bleach. I also popped a bit of weleda calendula nappy rash cream (I know, I am very middle class, I can't help it!) on Jessies bum every time I changed her. Turns out all this can build up in the nappies which is not good considering they are a very high tech fabric and they need to last through some intensive washing and wearing for at least two years, and then go through the whole thing again if you pop out another sprog. I had stopped wet pailing off my own back. Wet pailing for those not in the know is the process of putting all your dirty nappies in a bucket of water to soak before they go in the wash. It's recommended by most cloth nappy experts that you just dry pail but I started dry pailing because there is nothing quite as revolting as a bucket of water that has had pooey nappies sitting in it for three days apart from perhaps spilling it on the floor and your feet as you try and manhandle a bag full of wet nappies into your washing machine.
Anyway, now the process is to hose off any poo in the bath with the shower connector and put everything in an empty bucket. When this is full (about every three days) it all goes on a 40 wash with a quarter of the recommended amount of washing detergent and nothing else. Hanging them out in the sun is the best stain remover but I don't generally have that option (although I'll get them next to the window on a sunny day), I have come to the conclusion though that a bit of staining on your nappies isn't the end of the world! But don't tell my grandmother I said that. I also don't put any cream on Jess' bum anymore unless she's looking a little rashy. It's actually a good idea to let babies have some nappy free time as much as possible so I try to let her have an hour in the morning after she gets up kicking about in the buff. It's quite good actually as she is getting into rolling over and sticking her feet in her mouth and being nappy free gives her as much opportunity to contort herself into all sorts of weird positions. And gets lots of lovely air at her bottom.
The reason I discovered all this (or actually looked at the labels on the nappies) was because I had housewife shame while staying with my sister in France. My nephew is also in bum genius flips so we were sharing nappy stuff and I had brought some of my wraps and inserts with me. Said wraps and inserts were the cause of my shame! For some reason they stank of stale wee when I took them off her, it was foul. And then of course I had to put them in my sisters nappy bucket and she had to transfer the revolting articles into the washing machine. I will still maintain that I am a feminist through and through but I am starting to realise now that you can be a feminist and be embarrassed by your lack of laundering ability. I'm hoping that arguing that looking after my nappies properly makes me a good environmentalist so it's OK...
Anyway, on returning home I decided to strip my nappies. There are many different ways of doing this involving white wine vinegar, fairy liquid or bicarb of soda but I plumped for the dishwasher tablet as it seemed the easiest! Basically shove all the inserts and wraps on a 60 wash with a dishwasher tablet and then do a second rinse when it's finished. Then hang them in the sun (if possible). They have come out sparkling but only time will tell if they don't smell like the cats litter tray when she's had one on over night!
And on to the fun bit. We chose our nappies on the basis of ease of use and cost effectiveness (and because I don't want to be dumping half a ton of nappies a year). I love my bum genius flips and I used to think they were very swish for coming in three different colours but I have now discovered that three different colours is actually incredibly pedestrian. If you don't have a baby or you aren't completely susceptible to pretty colours and patterns you should be OK but otherwise exercise caution and go and check out www.cheeksandcherries.co.uk. They stock a bewildering selection of what can only be described as fashion nappies. Although I believe they describe them as 'premium'. The brand names of these nappies are designed to hard wire directly into a new mothers frazzled cerebral cortex. Behold the likes of Bambooty, Blueberry, Cushie Tushies, Fuzzibunz, Issy Bear Nappies, Itti Bittis and Mini La La. The nappies themselves come in an overwhelming number of different prints and colours and fabrics. Most of them are designed to last from birth to potty training (which is good as they can cost up to £25 a pop) and crucially many of the brands produce their nappies in small runs of limited editions. Some will sell out within days of arriving on the website. Jess has one which was a gift and I love it! Even the stitching around the edges of the insert to soak up the wee is rainbow coloured. Genius. But it also works really well, the surface that goes against her bum was completely bone dry when the insert was sopping wet.
Jess Modelling her Issy Bear in White Skulls
Monday, 14 June 2010
Which leads me on to the second bit.... As many of you know, John is a vegan, I'm a carnivore and Jess will be a vegetarian until she can decide what she wants to do. I try to cook vegan at home for our joint meals usually with added cheese for me but having received an old vegan cookbook from my brother in law I'm feeling very inspired to make our meals more varied and healthier. I want Jess to be eating exciting, healthy food so makes sense that all three of us do. I'm not saying I'm going vegan but dairy will hopefully play a less central role in our shared meals.
If the courier turns up with my phone and lets me pop out for supplies we may well be having black eye bean burgers tonight. Yum!
Feeling very foodie inspired!
Saturday, 12 June 2010
Also, very little of this will be news to mothers but maybe for mothers to be or mothers to be to be it may be of some help or interest.
Breastfeeding has really blown me away. I was expecting it to be good but embarrassing and demanding. It has been beyond good and the embarrassment or any feeling that it is an embuggerance at all has just melted away. You find yourself in an odd head space where getting your boobs out seems like completely normal behaviour.
I should perhaps point out that I am a massive advocate of breastfeeding for the benefits it has for bonding with your child and the benefits to yours and their health, this probably extends to me being excessively anti formula feeding but to be honest I cannot see that there are many reasons you would formula feed your child.
When Jess was born one of the first things she did (after peeing on me) was latch on and I loved the fact that she (in common with all babies) had the inbuilt desire and ability to do that. Unfortunately my milk didn't actually come on properly so we were back in hospital when she was four days old with a jaundiced, dehydrated and skinny baby and an exhausted and upset me. I was gutted that her first proper feed came from a bottle of cow and gate and that she was so knackered she zonked out immediately post feed for her first proper sleep since we were initially discharged. The feeling that I couldn't provide for her what she so clearly needed and what I was designed to give was devastating. On top of that the smell of formula made me want to heave, I was terrified that I wouldn't be able to breastfeed and I was being milked like a cow with an electric breast pump.
Four days later we were discharged fully breastfeeding with a much less tangerine Jess. My ever fantastic partner was his usual practical self and had brought a couple of cartons of formula in case of emergencies despite me whinging that I didn't want them (although it was good to know they were tucked away in the cupboard and even better that there they have stayed!)
Since then the intensely physical relationship that has developed with Jess through breastfeeding has been bizarre and fascinating. At the beginning it used to have me in fits of giggles as it does tickle and the hormone boost just put me in pink cloud land, I've gotten over this, thank god, but it still makes me feel happy and calm and generally that all is good with the world. The letdown thing is a weird one too, the only way I can describe it is that if feels as if your nipple is being clamped from the inside, can occasionally be painful if you're full to brimming but it's not unpleasant pain (thanks to the oxytocin I imagine) that only lasts for a few seconds and you do get used to it. The supply and demand thing is also an interesting one. When I have a full supply is dictated by Jess so now she is five months and sleeping through the night I wake up with a good breakfast for her but that's the only time I'm ever busting at the seams as it were!
I was also led to believe that if you are breastfeeding your child they will be feeding every two or three hours day and night for up to an hour at a time. You are made to feel that formula fed babies get it down quicker and are more regimented. I would say in my experience that this doesn't hold true which leads me to the earth shattering conclusion that all mothers and babies are.... different!! Jess started to sleep longer through the night very quickly and now will do a good twelve to thirteen hours most nights. During the day she has what she wants when she wants and seems to be a very efficient feeder getting what she needs quickly. This is probably tied in with milk flow too and my milk flow seems to be quite heavy or fast or whatever adjective you wish to employ! Needless to say I have got the cat in the face when in full force.... I was also told that breastfed babies poo very regularly and when she was little (er) this was the case but now I have to deal with one big one every three or four days again leading me to think that you can't generalise about these things.
The great thing about breastfeeding is that you can do it anywhere and you don't need any specialist equipment apart from some muslin squares and nipple pads. I really couldn't be arsed with faffing around making up bottles of formula and sterilising bits and bobs. The only thing I can really say is I have had a little difficulty finding nipple pads I really like. These are essential as when your baby is sucking on one boob you get let down from both. The letdown in the spare boob can be mostly stopped by pressing on it but that can be tricky so breastpads are needed! And they do leak when full and if there is one thing I hate it's wandering around with damp clothes.
So, I have tried bravado reusable breast pads, lansinoh disposable breast pads and lilypadz.
The bravado ones just don't work for me, they aren't waterproof so the milk just went straight though and out to my clothes, took a little longer than it might have but still no good. I would still maybe recommend them when not completely breastfeeding and I may get back to you all on that!
Lansinoh disposables are great, very rarely leak, very discreet and I can use one pair during the day and a fresh pair at night. However I hate that they are disposable, that they have some sort of absorbent gel in them and that they are all individually wrapped. However I wouldn't be without them. They are also better than the french ones I have seen which have a fake nipple on them to show through your clothes. Freaky!
LilyPadz..... My god, I wanted these to work so much! They are basically plasticy, sticky, flexible dome things that you stick over your nipple and they work by supplying the pressure needed to prevent let down. I have used them and being able to ponce about without a bra on was luxurious but they just didn't work that well. I couldn't feel them when they were on which was great and they stick brilliantly but didn't, for me, stop let down completely so you'd wind up with a small reservoir of milk behind them, or they'd just leak. Also they got covered in cat hair really quickly which kind of grossed me out a bit! Might work better if you don't have a cat and have a more controlled milk flow / aren't feeding 100%.
Would also recommend mothercare (despite hating their directors political views) for their extensive range of bras, sleeping bras and vests. My sister particularly recommends the post pregnancy nursing vest for it's wobbly bits taming properties.
I haven't covered mastitis or cracked nipples as I have had neither. I do realise this makes me very lucky and if I hadn't had such an easy time of it I might feel differently but I still believe that it is worth perservering. I was recommended lansinoh nipple balm for cracked nipples which I got just in case and found that it really helped my lips which were cracked to buggery after the gas and air!
Anyway in the near future we will beginning weaning Jess and I'm hoping to do baby led weaning which will be fun! I will let you all know how we get on.
Sunday, 23 May 2010
We've also had to move her into the cot which also means she's gone into her own room. Didn't manage to build up to it as I would have liked to. She just seemed to be getting a bit big for the old moses basket and I suspect is finding it harder to sleep in the hot weather. Unfortunately she's a bit bigger now and when she can't sleep she thrashes around a fair bit which results in the lining of the moses basket become dislodged and engulfing her. Needless to say this tends to make her thrash about even more!
Anyway, she's in the cot so now when she can't sleep she wakes up in what I suspect is some confusion as to where she is. To be honest I'm so used to her dropping off as soon as I put her down that I'm finding the whole situation a bit weird. Can't quite work out what I'm supposed to do with her when she wakes up and I know she's not hungry! Boris has decided all of a sudden that the cot is a good place to sleep, hence the photo. Felt a bit bad hoisting him out but it's probably not a good idea to leave him.
Anyway, got lots to look forward to. Somerset for bank holiday then out to France again to spend a lovely week with Georgie, Barney, Gen and little baby Rowan.
Friday, 21 May 2010
Embarrassingly I was really excited when John and I went to buy our nappies for Jess. Anyone who has been unfortunate enough to be on the receiving end of me banging on about real nappies will know how passionate I am about them and I will be the first to admit that I can get quite militant!
The amount of waste that using disposables generates is outrageous. One baby will create half a ton of used nappies a year and that all has to go somewhere, mostly into landfill. And it has been predicted that some bits of disposable nappies could take up to 500 years to biodegrade. There are also bucket loads of chemicals in the absorbent gels which I personally wouldn’t want to put up against Jess’ bum and I wouldn’t want to be responsible for them going into landfill either. Eco disposables are better than the horrors that are pampers etc and I will add my thoughts to the ones I have used but I would whole heartedly recommend having a go with cloth. I have put a terry towelling nappy on my nephew so I know where the feeling that reusable’s are complicated comes from however there are just so many more options on the market now that make life a lot easier.
I would recommend bum genius flip nappies. I am well aware that as I don’t use anything else I’m not in a position to say they are the best on the market but there were reasons I chose them and they have really lived up to my expectations. They consist of a wrap that you put an insert into. The standard inserts are called stay dry but you can get organic foldable ones that are good for overnight and long journeys and disposable inserts that are good for when you need to be disposable! The disposable inserts are apparently 97% biodegradable which is better than even the most eco friendly of disposable nappies but I find they do not absorb as much wee as the stay dry inserts.
They are so so easy to use and leak no more than a disposable nappy would and probably less than some. The wraps and inserts are all adjustable in size so one set of nappies will last you from birth to potty training and obviously one set of nappies should last you for more than one child. We’ve got 24 stay dry inserts and eight wraps which means that I generally do a nappy wash every three days. They come up well on a 60 wash with bio D (similar to ecover) but would probably be fine on a 40. I stick a touch of ecover laundry bleach in but if you can hang them in the sunshine that should sort out stains. I tend to rinse them if she has had a poo otherwise the nappy bucket can get a bit gross. The wraps come in three colours at the moment (blue, green and pink) and once they’ve gone through six dark washes they can be washed with anything without bleeding.
The wraps are billed as being wipe clean but I have found that if the poo is explosive enough they do need to be changed. If there is no pooing then I tend to get through two to three wraps in a 24 hour period. It's relatively simple to use the flip nappies and reusable wipes when out and about but the great thing is that you can take the disposable inserts if you want things to be a bit easier. Washing and drying is also less hassle than you might think! We live in a small flat on the 3rd floor with no outdoor space and we don’t have a tumble dryer. The component parts of the flips do dry very quickly and take up very little drying space.
The flips are a bit expensive, check out the Cheeks and Cherries website for pricing (I’ve looked around and they don’t seem to come up cheaper anywhere else) but you can get fewer inserts and buy some terry towelling squares and cut them down to size or fold them to make your own inserts which can be a bit bulkier but are good for going through the night. To be honest you could cut up old towels to use for inserts too. Terry towelling nappies or cut up towels are also great for popping under your wee one if they go nappy free for a while (good for getting rid of and avoiding nappy rash). I don’t have any small squares like this and I can guarantee that if I take Jess’ nappy off and stick her on a towel she will instantly have a poo. Needless to say it’d be easier to wash a small square or two than a whole towel. I’m actually tempted to go and hack up some of our towels now.... Maybe John will let me buy some nice fluffy new towels if I destroy all the old ones.
Remember some councils, especially in London will give you a voucher to use to buy nappies or put towards a nappy laundering service (yes, you can have someone take away your dirties and bring them back clean!). See the real nappies for London website.
Said I was going to do a quick rundown of the eco disposables I’d used:
Tushies (about £10 a pack)- I didn’t have too many problems with these although I did tend to find the tabs were quite sticky and if they stuck to Jess I’d feel a bit shitty pulling them off.
Bambo (I think similar price to tushies) - again very good but I didn’t use them very much because the animal pictures on the front scared me slightly (how shallow am I?)
Nature Babycare (£6 or there abouts for a pack) - rubbish but that was more of a fitting problem than anything else. I did find that if Jess did a poo while feeding and was on her side it’d just come straight out and onto my leg- not handy at all.
Moltex (about £15 per pack) - supposedly the most eco friendly and generally very good but they don’t have any elastic in the back so a large poo will usually require a change of clothes (a really large poo may mean you need to hose your baby down).
One of the main problems with nappies in land fill is the faecal matter and if using disposables it is recommended to use a flushable liner so poo can be flushed down the loo and dealt with safely.
I know I can get on my high horse about real nappies but they are so easy and disposable ones are so bad for the environment and I honestly think that most people will be convinced just by having a go. Cheeks and Cherries do trial packs where you can try them out to see which ones you like before you buy a whole set.
Christ I could go on about this for ages! If anyone has used any other types of nappies and would like to add to the discussion please go ahead! Coming up- lily padz and other boob delights and sleeping.
Jess modelling a flip in pink (or zinnia to give it it's technical name...)