Baby’s first shoes, a photo story

So, it’s a big moment in every Mama’s life, the first pair of shoes for your baby. So many things to consider – fit, style, colour, make. So how do you choose? For us it was really important to look after foot health, which is why we went for a barefoot style shoe from Happy Little Soles, a lovely online boutique store which only stocks foot-healthy brands like the ones we chose. Wide fit, lots of toe-room, a great selection of colours and not horrifically gender-segregated. Even better, I found a pair I loved in the sale. She’s been walking for a couple of months now and is finally confident enough on her feet that it was worth finally buying some. She won’t wear them all the time, but she’s already had a bimble round the garden and was thrilled to be able to join her big bro on the baby trampoline.

Not sure what else I can say about shoes without turning into a complete bore, so I put together a little photo essay instead. Enjoy the cute baba feet (sorry there aren’t more of her wearing the shoes. She has her brother’s aversion to staying still) and the shot where she’s taste-testing her new footwear!

 

Just for full disclosure: I haven’t received any kind of payment or reward for endorsing this brand or retailer – just happy with the shoes and the service.

Edited to ad that yes, she does have truly enormous feet for someone who’s still only 10 months. If kids are like puppies then she is destined to be Great Dane sized. Eek.

Advertisements
9 reasons why all mums need a kindle or e-reader

9 reasons why all mums need a Kindle (or other E-reader)

First: a disclaimer. I adore paper books, I do not think they are redundant and they are my go-to gift for adults and children alike. Thank God for my local independent book shop – they rock. However, since I was given an e-reader for Christmas last year I am a total convert from my luddite, paper-book addict self and feel they are an essential piece of kit for all parents. I now need my Kindle and here are my reasons:

1 – backlighting

Oh my Goddess I cannot tell you how much I value this feature on the e-reader I use. It’s a Kindle Paperwhite, in case you were wondering and the backlighting is an essential feature for the mum of small children. I am blessed that The Girl is a fairly decent sleeper (The Boy was awake for hours in the middle of the night) but I still have to settle her at bedtime and don’t want a light on while she feeds to sleep. I also have a husband who doesn’t always want to stay awake reading at the same times as me, plus hideous pregnancy insomnia while I was expecting both kids. Being able to read without a light on is AMAZING. Whilst I still adore paper books, this is the feature I miss the most when trying to read them.

2 – free books

I’m a fast reader. Like really fast. Especially when I spend hours feeding a baby and am not limited by being in a dark room (see above). I can get through a book in a day if the wind is behind me. I also don’t really remember much of what I read afterwards and commonly find myself re-reading books and not realising until more than halfway through that I’ve read it before. The ability to ‘buy’ free books suits my style of readership perfectly.

3 – one-handed

reading and feedingMost of the reading I do is one-handed because I do it whilst doing other things – feeding babies, eating dinner, walking along pushing a buggy etc. The problem with ‘real’ books is holding the pages apart with one hand – not something that’s an issue with an e-reader. The ‘book’ stays open and you can flip the page with your thumb… or your nose if necessary.

Apparently there are other reasons one might find one-handed reading useful, especially when reading bodice-rippers for cheap thrills, but I’m a mum to two under-4s, so reading is the most exciting thing I ever do in bed, other than sleep 😉

4 – lightweight

This goes (eh-hem bad pun alert) hand-in-hand with the one-handed reading. No worries about choosing a particularly hefty book, they all weigh the same (about 200g). I am currently carrying around (in addition to a library-full of chick-lit and tat) the full works of Shakespeare, Dickens, L.M. Alcott and the complete set of Anne of Green Gables.

5 – silent

See item no.1 for the times I actually get to sit and read. I’ve tried reading paper books whilst feeding my baby – nuh-uh. Every time I flip a page she turns her head to look and, well, I’m quite fond of my nipples, you could even say I’m attached to them. And she doesn’t. let. go. when she turns her head. Buh-bye paper books.

6 – discreet

God I read some right crap. Mostly I download free books and they’re mostly of the chick-lit/bodice-ripper variety (if you care to have a peek at the text visible in my feature image shot you might get an idea of how trashy some of the things I read are. His Captive Bride, in case you were wondering.)

Now, I do a fair bit of reading on the school run whilst The Girl naps in the sling and I could do without advertising my un-literary proclivities to the other school-run mums. I also don’t need my son querying me on “why is that lady no wearing no cloves Mummy?” as he did when I took a punt on a library paper-book copy of this type of novel.

Finally, The Man is well known for taking the piss remorselessly. Bad enough he knows I read this kind of literature without giving him further ammunition with some of the titles and cover art.

7 – immediate

For when you run out of reading in the middle of the night and/or need a parenting book on how to deal with your three year old’s aggression ishoos the immediacy of downloading a book is fabulous. No waiting. No postage. Super! Start taming the beast right away!

8 – don’t lose your place…usually

Have you any idea how often my children like to get involved with anything I do? Books are fair game as far as they’re concerned, and the number of times I’ve lost my page or had a page ripped out is absurd considering how rarely I read paper books these days. Now I can always be sure that my book will open on the page I left it… though I do get the occasional flailing hand flipping the page back or forwards whilst feeding.

9 – easy for others to locate

The Boy is often used for fetching/carrying. He doesn’t have many uses, but this is one of them (except when he gets distracted halfway through and disappears for 25 minutes only to reappear wearing a cowboy hat and tutu but missing one sock… but most of the time he succeeds in his task).

However his reading skills are still limited to CVC type words and his own name so sending him for “Mummy’s Kindle” is significantly more successful and less confusing than sending him for “Mummy’s book, the one with the lady with no clothes and the man with a sword, you know, with the word H I S at the beginning…? Not not that one, the man is obviously holding a pitchfork, not a sword. Never mind. I’ll go.”

The best day of my life

The Man and I have an ongoing in-joke about various TV programmes hitting certain cliches: a catch-phrase bingo as it were. Reality TV shows are the best for this. Take Strictly Come Dancing, for example (and this is the best known)”It’s been an amazing journey”, plus “I think this will be the best ever year”, “He’s such a fantastic partner, I think we’ll always be friends”, “I know we say this every year, but this year it really is too close to call” etc. (The X Factor is known in our house for the ‘dead Granny’ card – see if you can figure that one out).

The one that always makes me twitch a bit is the line “I think this has been the best day/experience of my life.” Not so much because of the exaggeration, after all, I haven’t walked in their shoes, perhaps it truly is the best day of their life. It’s because me makes me think of what people normally cite as being the best days of their life: their wedding day, the day their children are born.

Now, my wedding day is still the best, most memorable day of my life but, despite the fact that having each of them has been the best thing that’s ever happened to me, the days my children were born are the two worst days of my life. Without question, equivocation or exception. The very worst days of my life. The day my son was born was the day I felt most violated and under threat, the day my daughter was born was the day she and I nearly died.

Do people just say that the day their children were born is the best day of their life because they feel they should say it? Because they’re talking about the eventual outcome rather than the day itself? Or is this just something I’ve missed out on? Can you let me know? Please…

Don’t feel too bad for me, though, because although my wedding day has been my most memorable best, I have had many many ordinary days of love and fun and family since then and I anticipate many many more. It’s not about where you start, is it, but the journey, and this is such an amazing journey.

Bingo!

6 reasons to celebrate breastfeeding

I was offered the opportunity to take part in this blog hop about Christmas and breastfeeding, but I’m not sure what I can say about breastfeeding that is Christmas-relevant. I could state that it’s a gift and a blessing, in this season of blessings and gift-giving, but that would make a mighty short post so I thought I’d take a slightly sideways approach and write about celebrating breastfeeding. So here are all the reasons I can think of to celebrate the wonderful act of breastfeeding – please let me know if I’ve forgotten anything!

1 – free
Babies cost: everybody knows that. That’s why being able to feed them for free is so great, for as long as it lasts. Before you know it they’ll be throwing a shit fit on the floor of Tesco (or the supermarket of your choice) because they want every pot of jam in the confiture aisle and you’ll be fondly remembering the days when their nutrition cost you nothing.

2 – cake
All that money you’ve saved on artificial baby milk? Now you get to spend it on cake and other goodies for you because – ta dah! Making milk burns calories. Alternatively you could do what a very disciplined fellow preschool mum told me she did and go on a diet plan whilst feeding and burn twice the weight, but if you’re like me you’re famished and exhausted and only sugar and caffeine keeps you running, so eat the damn cake and be guilt free.

3 – easy
It’s sterile. It’s the right temperature. It provides the exact amount required (except in those leaky first weeks when you’re boobs are still figuring it out). You make it with no effort (unless you count eating extra cake: see point 2). You can make it when you’re asleep and never have to get out of bed. To lazy mamas like me this has to be the biggest point to celebrate – hurray for extra time in bed!

4 – love
Yes, breastfeeding promotes bonding, you’re holding your baby in your arms, but you know bottle-feeding mamas do that too and I’m sure they’re just as bonded to their babies. What breastmilk provides that is completely unique is the hormonal oomph of oxytocin – a super-rush of liquid love that gives you and your baby a feelgood kick like no other so you can relive the moment you met every time you nurse.

5 – multipurpose
Squirt it in gummy eyes, wipe it on sore bottoms , dab on cuts – milk is seemingly magic and so gentle you can inhale it without damaging the lining of your lungs. Wouldn’t necessarily recommend doing this mind.

6 – perfect
Finally let’s celebrate how this milk is perfectly designed just for your baby – no-one else’s. You make the stem cell loaded, microbiome-rich, probiotic, immuno-boosting milk that your baby needs depending on their exact needs at that exact time. Easily digestible, full of fat, magic milk.


 

The code word for the Celebrating Breastfeeding Christmas Extravaganza is candle. 
With special thanks to our sponsors for providing the amazing prizes: ARDO, LoveyUsh, Milk & Mummy, Lorna Drew, Mummy Makes Milk,Thrupenny Bits, breastvest, Mothers’ Love Cookies and More4Mums.
Click here for T&Cs.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Make your own cheapie fleece liners for reusable cloth nappies

I have made a massive, bargainous, money-saving, effort saving attempt this week. I have made my own fleece nappy liners and it has cost me less than £2 for 12 – it’s £7.50 for 10 if you buy them ready made – and they’re so bloody simple and easy that I am making the effort to do a blog tutorial so others can benefit, even though it makes me seem like a total hippy saddo.

Whilst The Girl has been joining us for meals for a few months now, it’s only been recently that she’s actually started eating any substantial amount of solids and – please excuse the tmi – she’s now doing substantial poos to match. Cloth nappies have many benefits, but scraping actual grown-up-person shit off before they can go in the machine is seriously not one of them. I used the disposable paper liners with The Boy, but they were notoriously rubbish: crinkling up into his butt crack and utterly failing at their designed purpose. On a girl this is exacerbated even further by the extra creases it can work its way into.

Liners are useful for a number of reasons and whilst the biggest reason – clean up after a poo-nami – may seem to make a ‘chuck it down the loo’ dispoable the obvious choice, fleece liners may have the edge in other ways: more likely to stay in place, thus catching the poo. You can then just rinse it in the loo; protecting expensive natural-fibre nappies from bottom creams, thus maintaining their absorbency and protecting delicate derrières from wash-roughened sodden cotton inserts.

I was in a well known low-cost supermarket branch two days ago (starts with an ‘A’ ) and, I dunno, think they might have been running a baby event or something, but they were flogging a fleece blanket for £1.75 (marked down from a pricey £2.something) and on the spur of the moment decided to grab one to make fleece liners.

By God it was complicated. I had to trim off the hemming (why do they hem fleece blankets? It’s not like they fray or roll), then use an insert as a template and cut it up into pieces. Done. Bish bash bosh. I may have been lying about the complexity level. No sewing, no fancy stuff, no messing. 12 inserts for £1.75. That’s roughly 15p per liner. Bargain!

If it’s not too inestimably dull I’ll let you know how they work out.

Winter is here – fab fairisle photoshoot

I don’t think I’m alone in frequently dressing myself and my children in matchy matchy clothes. One hardly ever means to, unless you’re slightly freakish, but you just wake up in the mood for turquoise, or navy blue and white stripes with red, or jeans and a white Tee. If you’re choosing everyone’s clothes it’s no wonder you all co-ordinate. Well The Boy was recently bought a new jumper from Sainsburys which he insisted on wearing today and it was only after he came downstairs that I realised both he and The Girl were in Fairisle and looked like they’d stepped out of a knitwear catalogue.

They looked so damn cute I had to take some photos – well please remind me next time that no matter how stressful it is to try and get a decent photo of one small child, trying to get two of them to co-operate is one of the most stressful undertakings you can volunteer yourself for – kudos to professional photographers! We had blurring, funny faces, crying, disappearing children, half-in-half-out of frame and multiple photobombings of each other’s photos, but I got a few real corkers and I thought you might like seeing them. Please excuse the watermarking – I don’t want them being used without my permission.fairisleshoot1

fairisleshoot2

fairisleshoot3fairisleshoot4

Until you are grown – a poem

A poem, to my daughter.


untilyouaregrown

I love you more than I can ever own
to you or myself,
for how can I confess, when one day I know
that you will be grown

And I know the things that I would never have known
had you not come along and given me
the painful mother love I will feel
Long after you are grown

Holding you, sleeping by your side, I am shown
a sort of peace and promise in this world that is
…rare
When once you’re grown

And until you have a baby of your own
you will never feel what it is to belong
to someone who needs you only
Until they are grown

And this time that we have shared, where neither one has to lie alone
will then be lost and
I will stare at the dark and mourn
That you are grown

But, for now, you cannot even see the line
that separates you
from me.
For now; you’re mine

And that sense of something undefined –
that your soul came looking,
and found me,
makes you mine

And I’ll cling on to every precious second,
every heartbeat of time,
every sweet breath, murmured sigh, soft look, sleepy moan
that tells me
‘You are mine’,
Until you are grown.

5 stupid questions to ask a babywearer

stupidquestionsbabywearerI don’t know what it is about babywearing that invites comment from strangers, perhaps just the mystic nature of carrying a baby close to your body wrapped about by yards and yards of fabric rather than in some hi-tech buggy or buckled contraption with steel struts in – who knows? All I know is that living in a town full of narrow sloping pavements and cobblestones a carrier is not just more attachment-parent-y, but more practical! Whilst I don’t get that many stupid questions where I live (the perks of being a lentil-weaving hippy in Hippyville central) I’m never quite prepared for how many daft queries come my way when I travel abroad. Never quite certain what to say I usually smile politely and say nothing, but I mentally roll my eyes and think of the –rather rude– response I’d like to have made.  This being so, I thought I’d compile a list of the most commonly asked questions and finally lance the boil by answering them as sarcastically as I wish I could in real life. What’s the stupidest comment you’ve ever had when babywearing?

1 – Is she comfortable like that?

Nah, she bloody hates it, that’s why she’s smiling and gurgling at you/fast asleep. Honestly! It’s only holding a baby like you would in your arms, but arms-free.

2 – Can she breathe in there?

Nah. I like to suffocate babies. It’s my dream in fact.  Pfft. Always makes me think of that Eddie Izzard sketch from Dressed To Kill “I put babies on spikes” – I mean really. Not only can she breathe, but her face is just inches away from my face so I can (and do) check on her regularly.

3 – Oh my goodness, there’s a baby in there!

“What?! Where?! Holy hell – where did that come from?!”

No shit Sherlock. What, you think I stuck a sunhat to my chest?  I mean, OK, the baby is fast asleep and kind of concealed by the wrap, but don’t say ‘there’s a baby in there’ like you’re informing me of something I might not have noticed. Trust me – it’s not news to me.

4 – Can’t you afford a buggy?

I can. In fact I own one. It’s great for putting all the slings on when I go to outdoor sling meets…

5 – But what if the knot comes untied?

baby in half wrapped sling

Almost completely unwrapped – but look – no hands!

OK, fair enough, I can kind of understand why people might be a bit nervous of this. If I have time, though, I like to freak these people out by untying the knot behind me and letting the fabric go suddenly and watch as they jerk forwards to catch my baby. Hey – I’m not putting her in danger. She won’t fall, I promise. In fact, I can even untuck these cross passes here and just let them hang so she’s only held in one layer of fabric and what do you know, still not hitting the ground with a loud splat.  Wearing a baby in a wrap is one of the safest ways to carry your baby, especially if you’ve been doing it as long as I have. I understand your concern, but trust me, my baby is safe – look – no hands!


Just editing to respond to a couple of comments I’ve had declaiming this post as (worst insult to hurl in the hippy-lentil-weaver world) ‘judgey’. To those people I would simply ask them to examine the kinds of questions I’ve mentioned and the tone in which they are usually expressed.

These are most often not people with genuine queries, to whom I would obviously explain fully if I had time and by whom I would not be annoyed. No, these are ridiculous queries framed to be funny or mimic concern but portray a whole world full of judginess. I’m an intelligent fully-functioning adult. I know when someone is genuinely concerned for the ability of my baby to breathe (and reassure them) and when they’re just being snotty (and ignore them). Sometimes I wish I wasn’t so polite…

Behind the birth story

So we’re coming up to the five month mark since our little girl joined our family earthside and, since she and I are healthy and thriving you might be excused for thinking that I would have no lingering concerns over her arrival.  Birth trauma is a bitch, though, if you’ll pardon my language and even the most outwardly straightforward births can leave a new mother with anything from a lingering sadness through to flashbacks, post-natal depression or even psychosis, because what so many people fail to recognise is that birth is not a purely physiological process.behindbirthstory

Bringing a baby into the world may happen through a physical process, but that physical process is brought about and supported by emotional and hormonal reactions. Other people* have written far more widely and knowledgeably about the birth process and, as I have no pretension to medical expertise, I’ll leave that to them.  No, I’m going to share something more personal. My daughter was born at home, as planned, with kind and caring midwives who had looked after me throughout my pregnancy. I laboured in a pool, birthed her with no medication at all, even gas and air, and my husband supported me through the whole thing. She had nothing to eat but breastmilk.

This is the story I tell to strangers. It’s all true. It’s just not all of the truth. Even now I’m not going to go into exhaustive detail, but she got her shoulder stuck on my pubic bone (shoulder dystocia). She needed resuscitation as she didn’t breathe on her own for ten minutes. Paramedics were called and responded with urgency.  We transferred to hospital where I had a haemorrhage and a general anaesthetic. She was given donor milk, hooked up to machines, given a lumbar puncture, roomed away from me for the four most painful nights of my life. She’s fine. I’m fine. But that’s not all that matters.

As mothers we have hopes for our births and our babies. Not every mother’s is the same as mine, but I hoped for calmness, peace, an intimate experience and a babymoon at home in my own bed with my new baby. I laboured for 8 hours, brought forth a 10lb baby with shoulder dystocia and had no pain relief. I worked damn hard for the outcome I wanted and I feel cheated. And sad – so so sad.

I’m not sure what I hope to achieve with this post. It’s not really informative, unless you’re desperately interested in my personal life. I suppose I’m just asking for understanding for any woman who doesn’t seem ecstatic about her birth, perhaps there’s a reason. Be sensitive. What she’s telling you might not be the whole story, so don’t assume. Don’t judge. Despite the outward appearance of calm and happy maternity perhaps she, like me, is dreading bedtime because it means being alone with her thoughts and a long, sleepless night of tears and bitterness.  Motherhood is a baptism of fire and it can take a long time to move out of the flames.


*I recommend Sarah Buckley and Ina May Gaskin if you want a beginner’s crash course in birth.

Extended breastfeeding – or just breastfeeding?

Thanks for hopping over from Renegade Feminist and welcome to my post for the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Scavenger Hunt Day 5 Extended Breastfeeding we have over £700 worth of breastfeeding and baby goodies up for grabs including prizes from More4Mums providing a set of ‘Hot Milk’ Lingerie, a signed hardback limited edition copy of Milky Moments and a £30 voucher from Milk Chic  Full details of the Grand Prize can be found here and all entries to be completed via the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.


I dislike the term extended breastfeeding.  I, and many of my lentil-weaving hippyish friends, prefer to call it natural term breastfeeding, but only other lentil-weaving, hippyish people know what that means so I’m forced to use extended breastfeeding, because, in our modern-day 6-months-of-boob culture, anything past six months is seen as extended.  Just in case you’re still in the dark, though, allow me to enlighten you: extended breastfeeding is feeding your baby from the milk in your breast until an age where your family (either blood-related or in-laws) start openly asking you when you’re going to stop.  Naturally this is different for every family.extended breastfeeding

Yes, that’s right. In this age of tits on every billboard, buy a daily newspeper to admire some cleavage, décolletage being the selling point of every brand imaginable – whether relevant or not – it’s the sight of a mother feeding a child who (to quote a relative who should know better) “is old enough to ask for it” that really gets everybody clutching their pearls in abject horror.

I never set out to shock and dismay. I knew for sure that I wanted to breastfeed and, like many other mothers, had six months in my head as the goal I was aiming for. At the time I think I just believed this was how long you were ‘supposed’ to do it for. After three years of in-depth peer supporter training, I now know better.

Six months is just how old a child should roughly be before introducing anything other than breastmilk. Formula companies are banned from advertising in this country for babies under that age, so all their advertising (behind which there is much money) is aimed at ‘follow-on’ milks and so on for babies older than six months. I, like most others, mentally converted this into a maximum age limit for breastfeeding and honestly thought anything beyond that was unnecessary and, perhaps, a little odd.

And then I had my baby. My precious Boy. I held him in my arms, watched him stroke his cheek, my breast, his cheek, saw his wonder that he and I were the same person and two different people all at once. I fought to feed him despite birth trauma, bad advice, pain and post-natal depression and then, at about eight weeks it began to get easier, by 12 weeks it was easy (except for the sleep deprivation – oh God, was I deprived!) and by six months, when he started to mess around with bits of mango and fingers of toast I was laughing.

“Why would I give up now?!” I laughed to myself as I sailed out of the house with no paraphernalia other than nappies when he was five months old.
“Well I’m not giving up now!” I declared to myself, and others, when his molars started coming through aged one and feeding in the night was the best, easiest, quickest and most natural way to resettle him.
“Thank God I hadn’t given up!” I exclaimed through several stomach bugs at all ages where the only nutrition and fluids he took was endless, comforting suckles at my breasts.
“I don’t want him to give up now…” I murmured as I held my big two year old on my lap and stroked his hair and cuddled him in the only time he stayed still for more than a minute in his busy day.

By about two and half he was only having milk every couple of days and when I got pregnant and suffered horrendous pregnancy sickness for the first four months it was game over and the last of my milk went. He stopped wanting to suckle, even for the comfort.

If you’re wondering about feeding until your child weans themselves then I can honestly tell you it’s wonderful. It’s special. You can have time away from them (my son stayed away from me for five nights on two separate occasions and both times we managed to pick back up where we left off), but you don’t need to set yourself a goal now.  One of the very best things about breastfeeding is that (once you’re over the initial hump) it’s intuitive. You do it as and when. You know when it’s necessary and when it’s not and you can change your mind as you go.

For the family who wonder why you still do it, well, it’s none of their business really, but I always found “There’s a reason they keep their milk teeth until they’re five or six you know!” was a very effective deterrant. If nothing else the look of horror on their faces as they picture you still feeding a six year old is totally worth it!


For more extended breastfeeding experiences please hop on over to My Moo and Woo where you can gain further entries into the grand prize draw. Full terms and conditions can be found on the Keeping Britain Breastfeeding website. UK residents only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

d7c05-kbb_scav_blue_15