Right now I’m sat in Starbucks typing this alone as my lovely hubby has given me some baby free time so I’m going to start with my gratitude list.
Blessings and Highlights
Being able to sit alone in Starbucks alone for a couple of hours with my laptop typing away to my hearts content (thanks to my hubby) after a hard day stuck indoors with a baby who just wants to be stuck to me all the time (This too shall pass)
Enjoying a breakfast out with my parents and the boys – it was quite chaotic but the boy really enjoyed himself!
Having a lovely day at my mums house with the boys on Monday – watching ‘The Snowman’ with my Mum
Attending the first home birth meeting being restarted in my area
Meeting up with old friends for an afternoon/night out in Manchester – it was lovely to have some good food and drinks and a proper girly chat! One too many mulled wines and some prosecco later and I was in bed for 10:30!
Watching the boys having interactions together under the Christmas tree
Challenges of the Week
A beautiful 8 month old baby who’s only happy when stuck to my side – its hard, really hard
A beautiful 8 month old baby who feeds every hour or so throughout the night, every night
Trying to find the time to make all the handmade bits I want to get done in time for Christmas
Trying to find the time to do some things I need to do for work
Things still to do before Christmas
Post the Christmas Cards – They are written, they just need posting now
Wrap the children’s and family Christmas presents
Put the marzipan on the Christmas cake and leave it to settle
Write a list of food we are going to buy for Christmas
Get in touch with people we are going to see over crimbo limbo time to schedule a meet up
Make a CD of festive music for my mums car, for when she’s driving to see us on Christmas eve
Visit the Manchester Christmas markets one last time before they are gone for another year
Find and buy a 2015 diary I like so that I try to get organised for the new year as I’m going back to work after maternity leave – I’m fussy with diaries, I like to have somewhere each day or week to write notes so it has to be just right.
Breastfeeding its a journey!
If you’ve read any of my other posts about breastfeeding you’ll already know that before I had the boy my stance on breastfeeding was quite neutral. I thought I’d give it a go and if it didn’t work then I didn’t think I’d be that bothered. After all there are other options out there.
So when he came along I carefully tread on the first steps of my breastfeeding journey which took me to feeding him to around 18 months and I’m now feeding the Flixster who is 8 months.
But what’s it really like? A question I often get asked by pregnant friends or mums to be that I meet. I’ve thought about the answer and there isn’t just one answer I can give. Its beautiful, easy, hard, amazing, lazy, cuddly, addictive and fabulous all at the same time.
It certainly wasn’t easy for me to begin with. As with all new skills it has to be learned. Baby is born knowing how to find the breast and how to suckle. If you haven’t seen any videos of a newborn’s first breast crawl (yes they really can crawl to a breast all by themselves when they are born) then go and have a scout around youtube. There are some amazing tear jerking videos showing newborns finding their own way to the nipple once placed skin to skin on a mothers chest. For mummies however its a skill to be learnt and getting a good position and attachment of baby is key to everything. In years gone by this knowledge was passed from mother to mother, but in recent years this skill has been lost which is why breastfeeding peer supporters, volunteers and specialists are vital in the success of mothers who may be having a difficult time, or may be in pain whilst feeding. Getting that right position and attachment is everything. With that skill cracked I’d say you’d be well on your way to a successful feeding journey for however long you chose to feed for.
The Early days of Breastfeeding
The early days of feeding aren’t just about the right position and attachment they are also about establishing a good milk supply for the baby. Babies are born with tiny little stomachs that can’t hold much milk, which is why they feed so frequently. The milk may be of little volume at first but it’s of such great value to the newborn, packed with everything they need to survive. Don’t think that because you are feeding so little and often that you’re not making enough milk for baby. Newborns feed so often because they need to, because their tiny little tummies can only hold small amounts at a time. When the boy was little I’d set myself small targets. First I wanted to get to 10 days, then two weeks then four weeks. People would tell me that if I could get to 6 weeks then I’d have broken the back of feeding and things would get easier. They weren’t wrong. Six weeks seem like such a long time away when you have a newborn and you’re surviving on very little sleep, but in the grand scheme of things it’s such a short time.
So fast forward to now, I’m quite an experienced breastfeeding mum and peer support volunteer. I love breastfeeding because I’m quite a lazy person when it comes to routine jobs, I love that if Flixster needs milk there’s no washing and sterilizing of bottles. No boiling up the kettle then waiting for it to cool again and finding the powder to add. Theres no need for me to think ahead to how long we may be out of the house for and how many bottle I need to take. Anytime he needs a feed I just lift my top and latch him on. There’s not, as many people think any need to expose anything, as long as you plan ahead slightly with your outfit then its pretty easy to feed discreetly if you need to.
The thing I love most though about breastfeeding is the feeling of love you get when you feed, the oxytocin high not long after baby latches on. It must be the same feeling people get who are addicted to exercise, I wouldn’t know though, I’d love to find time to exercise, I miss running. I love looking down at Flixster who’s hand is usually waving wildly or stocking my face gently knowing he feels comfortable and at home whilst feeding, he feels safe and secure, it’s the one place in the whole world that he is most familiar with. He’s so tiny still just 8 months and he’s not going to be feeding forever, so for now while he still does I’m going to try to remember every single minute because before I know it (and I won’t know when) he’ll have finished his last ever breastfeed and it’ll all be in the past.
As the festive season is upon us I wanted to tell you what Christmas was like when I was a child. I know it’s probably hard to imagine mummy as a child herself but it doesn’t seem very long ago to me at all. Once you are all grown up yourselves you will realise why I say that. Christmas as a child was magical and it still is up to this day but the magic is now seen through your eyes. My mum had a tradition of not putting up the decorations until a week before Christmas and we weren’t allowed to put up the tree until Christmas eve itself. I understand now why she did it as she didn’t want us getting over excited I guess but at the time I never understood. All my friends had their trees up and we weren’t allowed until the day before. It did I suppose make putting the tree up all together a very exciting time. As a child we always had an artificial tree, in fact I’m pretty sure we had the same tree throughout my childhood, I remember us getting a new one when I was in my early teens. I loved the smell of an artificial tree. As daft as that sounds they always have a certain smell and to me that was the smell of Christmas. Year after year we used to get out the same decorations and I loved them. They all felt familiar, felt like Christmas had arrived. It made my heart leap with excitement.
On Christmas eve one year mum surprised us with duvets, I must have only been about 5 or 6 at the time but up until then we had traditional blankets on the bed, I remember having to pull them up, we’d have a sheet and them maybe two or so heavy blankets. But that particular year we went up to bed on Christmas eve and Mum had bought us both a duvet and duvet cover. Seems daft ow something so simple but I remember it so clearly.
We’d always leave out a mince-pie, a glass of milk and a carrot near the tree for Father Christmas and his reindeer, alongside our neatly folded pillow case then head on up to bed. I never tried to stay up late to see Father Christmas but I do remember the sleepless nights, I’d toss and turn all night waking up every so often to see if it was morning time. That night always felt so magical, like there was glitter in the air. There were never present put under the tree until that magical night. I’d sometimes get up to look out of the window to see if I could see the big man himself flying through the air. In my childhood there was no internet so we couldn’t track his journey like we do today!
Each Christmas morning Father Christmas would leave a stocking on mine and your Uncle’s door handle, which would have small wrapped gifts inside. We still have the same stockings today from mum (your grandma) There was always some smells and without a doubt I’d get marshmallows as well. Often there would be some chocolate which would have been eaten by breakfast time! So we’d get our stockings and head to Mum and Dad’s bedroom and sit with Mum (dad would hide under the pillow snoozing!) and open the stockings. Once that was done we’d have to get dressed before we were allowed to go downstairs. That rule used to frustrate me as it seemed to stall the proceedings but obviously that was the quickest we’d get dressed all year! Once we were dressed we’d head downstairs to see if he’d been. We were very lucky children as he’d always make a stop off at our house. I remember marvelling at the half eaten carrot and crumbs of mince-pie and the empty glass of milk. It felt very exciting to me that the big man himself had taken the time to eat the goodies we had left him, I could never quite believe he’d come into our house. I remember loving the sight of a pillow case full of presents just for me, I still do!
Your Uncle was always a fast present opener, he’d be tearing at the paper on gift number 3 whilst I was still carefully removing sellotape from the first present. I really like to take my time. We were allowed to open our present all morning long while mum popped in and out of the kitchen to cook the dinner. When we were much smaller we would go to church on Christmas morning with my Grandma, I remember coming back from church one year to a big box, it was my pram. I loved that pram, it was a miniature silver cross coach build one. I wonder what happened to it, I’ll have to ask my mum about that. I’d love to get you a pram boys but you’ve never been interested in playing with dolls, I wouldn’t hesitate if you did ask for one though! As we got a little older and Grandma wasn’t as mobile we used to stop by her house for a while instead of her coming to us.
Christmas dinner was usually served in the middle of the afternoon and was turkey with all the trimmings. There was always pigs in blankets or sausages, all the veggies, roast potatoes, gravy, bread sauce, apple & cranberry sauce. The table would be heaving. We’d have crackers and wear the hats – although my head is massive so the hat always tore (I’m afraid you may have inherited this from me – I wonder if they make big head crackers these days?!) After dinner we were allowed to have the special tree presents, these were always hidden in the tree. Usually just a small gift, some socks, or a magazine etc. I don’t know where this tradition came from but it was something our family did and still do today. Some years we’d watch the Queens speech but not always, in the evenings as if we hadn’t eaten enough already mum would always do a buffet with cheeses and party nibbles. I looked forward to this every year. Dad would always moan that it was over the top and unnecessary but being a bit like Victor Meldrew we’d come to expect it. We’d carry on enjoying ourselves as we always did. By the time that was over it was time to collapse in a heap and go off to bed, sad that Christmas day was over but thankful for a lovely family day together.
As a young child I thought all people’s Christmas days were the same. It was only as I got older that I realised everyone had their own traditions and some people of course didn’t celebrate Christmas at all. I however looking back am thankful for the effort my mum must have put into our Christmas each year. All the unseen things I now realise she must have done for us. I remember Christmas as a child fondly, I wish I could go back and be invisible just like Scrooge does and watch on silently in the corner. There are a few back and white video clips of Christmas day when I was very young but nothing like we have today. I hope that when you are all grown up boys that you look back and remember magical Christmas’s in our house. I hope that you look back and remember the love most of all. The love we have for you and each other at this special time of year.
Please always remember I love you unconditionally ….forever.
Love Mummy x
P.S Don’t grown up to quickly and always, ALWAYS believe!
I love a good list and inspired by #TheList blog link up this is my weekly list:
Blessings & Highlights
Being able to finally put up the Elf door and let the Christmas advent countdown begin
Going late night Christmas shopping with my mum – it’s our yearly tradition for us and it was nice to be child free to look at all the fabulous decorated Christmas shops
Attending a Christmas party to celebrate another year of the breastfeeding peer support service in my area
Finding and buying matching Christmas PJ’s for the boys for Christmas eve to put in the Christmas eve box
Having a poorly baby who just wants mummy cuddles all the time – meaning I’m not getting much done
Surviving Monday with Daddy back at work – It was the first day I’d been alone with both children in 11 days
Getting the house back to normal after our holiday – the washing mountain is now smaller
Aims for next week
Get the Christmas decorations and tree out of the loft and up in the house
Make a donation to the local food bank
Get the Christmas cards written and sent before it gets too late
Make a list of all friends and family to buy for and make sure we haven’t missed anyone
Home Birth – Our story
My second son was born en caul at home in water at 8:38am on Sunday 13th April, this is the story of his amazing home birth.
I had planned a home birth for my first son but unfortunately things had not gone to plan and I ended up with a blue light transfer at 10cm and pushing due to meconium in his waters. It was the most horrendous ride of my life and subsequently I ended up with a horrible memory of a bad birth experience. I also had a retained placenta, which I always wonder if it was a result of having gone from the peaceful environment of home to the adrenaline fuelled ride to hospital where I was threatened with all sorts of intervention and eventually they tried ventouse. I look back and wonder if my body went into shock and decided to hold onto the placenta, so after a trip to theatre post baby arriving I was separated from my husband and left on a ward in the middle of the night to fend for myself, which is where I stayed for 2 nights.
Home Birth the Difference
This time I knew things had to be different, despite thinking I was prepared last time I hadn’t factored in not knowing the two midwives who attended my birth and them not knowing me. We were very lucky and blessed that when we decided to try for baby number 2 we conceived the first month of trying. It came as a shock to us both but I knew before the tests were even dry that I wanted to make contact with One to One midwives. I had read so many positive things about the service and had attended an open day information session they had held. I am extremely lucky that I live in an area that is covered by the One to One service. I referred myself to them and within a few days I had been contacted by our allocated midwife who phoned me to arrange a booking in appointment.
All my appointments were held at home where I never felt rushed and had time to discuss all my concerns and worries. At my first appointment I chatted with my midwife about my previous birth and how much I was still angry thinking about it and the way I had been treated. She was amazing and took the time to listen and reassure me that things could be different. Over the course of the pregnancy I saw the same midwife at each appointment and was able to form a bond with her so that she knew all my wishes and hopes for the birth.
As the weeks flew by and we drew closer to my guess date, I talked through with my midwife all the options I’d have if things during the birth didn’t go the way I hoped, I really wanted a home birth. I had questions about what would happen if there was meconium in the waters again and if I had a retained placenta. We chatted through all the scenarios so that I knew exactly what would be available to me should that happen. I trusted that my midwife had given me all the pros and cons of each option and if the time came where I had to make a quick decision I knew I would be making an informed choice for myself and baby.
With my first pregnancy I had not known which day or cycle I had conceived so had to trust that the scan date was accurate, I happened to go into labour naturally 8 days after the EDD with my first son. This time around I knew exactly the day I ovulated so was able to work out my own guess date. I was so sure I would go over that date again this time around that I made plans for roughly a week following it to keep myself busy while I waited for baby to decide when to be born.
The day before my ‘guess date’ I woke at 4:30am in the morning with what I thought were trapped wind pains, so I went to the toilet to see if I could make myself more comfortable. I returned to bed only to become uncomfortable again just a few minutes later, so I got out of bed to stand up again. This happened a few more times before my husband woke up to see if I was ok. Up to that point I hadn’t even thought that it could be labour, I began to realise though that the pains were coming and going and the only way I could get comfy with them was by standing up and rocking my hips. I think my husband realised before I did that, in fact this could be labour. We began timing the pains and they were roughly every 3 minutes at this point. Not wanting to bother anyone too early I waited until about 5:30 to ring my midwife. As I dialed the number my call was redirected to another midwife who I’d previously met at one of my scans. My midwife had told me that the other midwife would probably be my second midwife at the birth so I felt happy that we had already met her. She explained to me that my midwife had been off call for the night but was back on later in the morning. She listened in while I had a contraction and as I wasn’t able to chat during it she told us to start filling up the pool and that she was on her way. My husband immediately rang my mum to come and pick up the boy as she was going to look after him whilst I was birthing because we were nervous that I’d end up in hospital and if that was the case then we wanted to be fully prepared to leave at a minutes notice.
We moved downstairs and the second midwife arrived about 20 minutes later and we had already started to fill the pool. She looked at my notes and chatted with me, she told me that she had rung my named home birth midwife too and she was on her way. She asked if I’d like to be examined but I declined as I had already discussed with my own midwife not wanting any internal examinations unless I asked for them. At around 6:30am my mum arrived to collect the boy shortly followed by my usual midwife. By now I had put on the tens machine to try to help with the pains and was rocking through each contractions on all fours propped up on the birth ball. The atmosphere was peaceful, I had my labour playlist on random playing in the room and I got through each contraction by zoning out and rocking on the ball. I could hear myself gently moan through each contraction as it helped me to remember to breathe slowly and steadily. I remember my midwife asking me if I wanted to get into the pool but I’m not sure what time it was by then. I took the tens machine off and got into the pool, which by now was ready. The warmth of the water was blissful, I was able to move around freely through each contraction getting into a position that suited me each time. My midwife commented that my purple line was by now quite long and she joked that she thought the baby would be here in time for her to get a McDonalds breakfast. I wasn’t convinced! I had been in labour for 24 hours with my first son, so naturally assumed that although this time may be shorter, as it had only been a couple of hours so far, I thought I was in for the long haul still. I felt down myself at that point to see if I could feel anything, but there was absolutely nothing there.
Not long after that I felt that the baby had moved down considerably and my midwife also commented that she thought she saw him drop down a lot lower. Sure enough just a couple of contractions later I knew I had started to push, I couldn’t help myself, my body wanted to do it so I just went with it. It was at that point I recognised the signs, I felt suddenly quite sick, like I needed to open my throat up, I could also hear myself change vocally from a gentle moan to what I can only describe as a “mooing” noise! At that point although I had my eyes shut and my head down on the side of the pool I knew the midwives had moved from sitting on the sofa where they had been for most of the birth so far, to much nearer the pool. One of them said that he’d be with us soon. By this point my waters still hadn’t gone, or at least I didn’t think they had. My midwife saying she could see his waters, so I felt down again and sure enough there was a bulging sack just on top of his head, which I could also feel.
I moved my hand back to the side of the pool so I could grip onto my husband and with one more push as ‘Fix You’ by Coldplay was playing he was born en caul (inside his intact amniotic sac) at 8:38am, at that point I reached down behind me as that’s where I thought he was but in fact he had swum up to the side and slightly in front of me. At that point even though it was only seconds it felt to me like minutes as I tried to locate him in the pool! I picked him up in total shock and turned around to sit down and cradle him, I remember just looking at my midwife and exclaiming ‘I did it!’ I couldn’t believe how quickly things had changed from contractions to him being here.
We waited for the cord to stop pulsing before it was clamped and my husband cut it, something he missed out on first time round. I sat in the pool with him on my chest, offering feeds and waiting to see if my placenta would come without any form of intervention. We discussed the birth and the midwife explained that he was born with his membranes intact and as he swam up he had popped them himself with his hand, I wish I had seen that! The second midwife mentioned that it is thought to be a sign of luck. After an hour it was suggested I stand up to see if the placenta was just sitting there waiting to come out, so I handed baby to husband who sat on the sofa and had some skin to skin time with him while I stood up.
Sure enough as I stood up the midwife gently touched the cord and out plopped the placenta. To me that was an amazing moment as I couldn’t believe I’d done everything myself without intervention or pain relief. It was the icing on the cake to see the placenta!
I was made comfortable on the sofa where I was examined and found that I would heal naturally given time. I took the baby back in my arms for skin to skin time and just sat staring for the following few hours, thinking about the amazing home birth experience that I had just had!
For the rest of the day I had skin to skin time with him under a blanket on the sofa until I finally got him dressed at 5pm. We couldn’t believe that out of all the songs on the playlist it had been ‘Fix you’ that was playing as he was born. That song has always been special to us as a couple and one of the only singles I had ever bought on CD and kept, I don’t own many CDs anymore now that everything is digital. We had even been there when Coldplay had filmed the video for the single, so although you can’t spot us on the video I know we are in the crowd! It was also poignant as this birth really has fixed me after such a traumatic time first time around. His home birth song is fix you and I love it just as much as I loved my home birth.
I truly loved every minute of the positive pregnancy and birth experience and would do it again in a heartbeat if I could!
This year the boy is old enough to be aware of Christmas, he’s now 3 1/2 and never ever……ever stops talking. I love him for it but sometimes I do wonder if he’s capable of exhaling without making a noise! I’m sure all toddlers are the same. So when I was planning Christmas this year I decided I’d like to do something similar to elf on the shelf, the idea being that a magical little elf comes to live with us during December, not to keep an eye on the boys behaviour but to just have lots of Christmas fun! On my list of things to do before Christmas was make an Elf door, so here is how I made it!
1) I ordered a dolls house door from Ebay – it came from China so took a while but was only around £3
2) I painted the door red
3) I put silver glitter on the door (I love glitter!)
4) I wanted to mould the door to the skirting board so that the boy couldn’t see behind it and spoil the magic so I used some cardboard and trial and error to get the shape right.
5) Once it was shaped right I stuck it together with glue and sticky tape in the hope of covering up all the mistakes with paint!
6) I painted the surround green
7) I ordered some fymo from ebay but it hasn’t arrived in time, I was going to make a wreath and candy canes for decoration. If and when it arrives I’ll update the post!
8) The door was stuck on the skirting board downstairs in time for 1st December
9) The boy woke up that morning to the Elf bringing him a Lego Advent calendar, he was very excited
I’ve told him that the door is closed and only opens when no one is looking, he seemed happy with this explanation so far. He went to the toilet and asked if the door would open while he was gone. It’s so sweet. I myself have started to believe that the door goes to the north pole, I like to imagine that when the door opens a blast of cold air and a little snow comes through. I think one day he will wake to a little snow by the door (I need to figure out how to do that too!) Watch out for Elf door updates!
Now let me begin by saying I only have experience of groups I have attended in my area, but I have attended a few. I now volunteer at my local one as a BfN helper.
When the boy was just a few weeks old I was encouraged to attend my local group by the peer supporter that came to see me at home. My first thoughts were no way! Not only am I new to the role of mummy but I’m only just getting the hang of this breastfeeding business (and I’m not too good at that either!) I really didn’t want to go to a room full of people who knew what they were doing to sit there and have them all stare at my breasts when he needed a feed.
I seemed to only be able to feed with a cushion under the boy and using one awkward hand to hold my breast while holding him on with the other. How on earth was I going to do that at a group? I didn’t want people looking at me and my crying baby.
They would all know each other and I would know no one. So a couple more weeks went by and I was getting cabin fever stuck inside, but I certainly wasn’t ready to venture further than round the corner. So I thought about it for a few days and made the decision to give it a try, just the once and if it was awful I’d never have to go back again.
So Tuesday came and I packed myself up knowing it started at 10:30 I tried to feed the boy before leaving, which resulted in me leaving the house late. I debated on the way there if I should just turn around and go home. But I’d not been out for days so carried on walking. It’s not far to the place where it is held – a 15 minute walk. I glanced at the time as I reached the gate, it was now 10:45. I was late. I hate being late to anything. I hurried into the centre and asked the receptionist where I should be going. She told me which room it was in. The doors were closed and the blinds down so I couldn’t even see inside, I pushed the door open nervously and glanced around the room. There were some mats down with blankets and toys, a few chairs laid out and a sofa as well. I gave a nervous smile without making eye contact and walked in. I had only been there about 30 seconds before a lady with a wide smile on her face approached me and introduced herself as a volunteer helper. She asked my name, cooed over the boy for a moment and encouraged me to take a seat. She sat and talked with me for quite a while and my nervousness had gone, without me even realising I was fine in the room full of other breastfeeding mums and I was fine. Thankfully the time went quickly and before I knew it 12 o’clock had arrived and the group was finishing. The boy had slept all the way through, I didn’t even have to feed him, I couldn’t believe it. I walked home and reflected on how grateful I was that the lady had come to talk to me. In my professional life I talk to new people all the time but in my new role of mummy I was a different person!
The next Tuesday seemed to come round quite quickly and I ventured out once more. This time we didn’t have time to feed before leaving the house so I knew I’d have to feed at group. The same helper was there and she greeted me by name. When it was time to feed I asked her about a cushion and as if by magic she produced one. She also sat with me during the feed and gave me some great pointers on position and attachment. I was able to feed for the first time in public! All be it amongst other breastfeeding mums, but it was to me a massive step forward. Perhaps I could leave the house after all? As time went on I kept going back to the group week by week and made some friends there who I am still friends with now. I loved it, it was more of a social group than a support group as I thought it had been before I went. You defiantly didn’t need to have a problem with feeding to attend the group. I went to the group for a year then as I went back to work I had to stop going. I cried at my last time there because I was going to miss everyone. My little baby had grown into a 1-year-old at that group and often when times were hard with being a mummy and I’d consider giving up breastfeeding I’d think about having to leave the group and realise that I didn’t want to so carried on feeding.
After going back to work I explored my options around becoming a helper and being able to give back to other mums the help and encouragement I had been given and found the BfN helper course. I expressed my interest but had to wait quite a while to get a place that suited me and the ability to attend all the course. Finally I was able to attend and I am so glad I did. The course was amazing, I learnt so much about myself and my own listening skills. I really enjoyed every aspect of it. The tutor was such an enthusiastic teacher that the positivity around helping other breastfeeding mummies really shined through for me. I couldn’t wait to get started. I now volunteer each week as a breastfeeding helper at the very group I nearly didn’t go to three and a half years ago. So if you’re reading this now and wondering if you should go along, please do. You’ll more than likely find that there are lots of like-minded mummies there who just like you were unsure at first. You may make some new friends. You may just end up loving it so much that you too want to be a helper too. I’ll be forever grateful to the helper who welcomed me into the group that first time and I hope as a helper myself that I too make people feel welcome, and help them to continue their own breastfeeding journey to fulfil their own feeding choices.
Have you been to a group, were your experiences similar or different? I’d love to know.