Boobs on tour!

In previous posts, I’ve talked about breastfeeding out and about. This is now something that really doesn’t bother me. I know I’m allowed to do it and I know that it’s in everyone’s best interests for me to do it and, most importantly, I will feed my hungry child wherever and whenever she wants. 

I have big boobs. Therefore, being discreet whilst breastfeeding can be a bit of a challenge. If I try and expose a small bit of boob, Emily struggles to latch on properly, so I pretty much need full boob outage. I do my best to cover up a bit, mostly because if it’s sunny the glare off my pasty white boob is blinding. But if I can’t or don’t want to cover up then I won’t. It’s tough. 

Anyway today Emily and I went to visit my sister who lives in London. We headed down on the train and met my sis and her friend at the station. My sister had arranged for us to meet her housemate where she works, at the Houses of Pariament, so that’s where we went. We had a  quick look around and then had some lunch in the canteen. Now the canteen has a veranda that is right on the Thames. This was the view.   

 What an amazing place to have lunch, in the Houses of Parliament overlooking some of the most iconic parts of London. Emily had lunch there too. That’s right, I got my boob out in the Houses of Parliament. There was me collecting the local landmarks of Norfolk and then I go and breastfeed there. That pretty much trumps all of the other locations. 

It was good fun too. We joked that nobody would dare say anything there because if they did it would definitely get in the news. I actually got quite excited about this idea. But it was great to do it in the place where the laws were created to protect me doing just that. Quite something really. 

On our adventures today I got the boobs out in a few other places too: four times on the train and once in St James Park overlooking Buckingham Palace. It was an awesome day and I’ll definitely do it again. Emily was adorable and was melting the hearts of many Londoners. I’m tired but super proud and happy. 

 

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Parent-at-work mother!

This week at work it is our annual summer school event. During we this week we invite any vulnerable students, who are joining the school in September, along to the school to work with a circus team. It’s a brilliant event. Anyway I’ve been going into work every day for the last three days and taking Emily with me. Honestly it’s been exhausting!

So before I had Emily, I worked pretty hard. I’d do long hours, getting there at 7:30am and I’d regularly stay until 6/7:00pm. If there was a parents evening it could quite easily be gone 9:00pm before I got home. In teaching you don’t get breaks. If you eat, drink or wee at some point during the day then it’s been an easy day. My job requires an element of brain power too. I have to think about managing staff, utilising resources, budgets, funding, dealing with students and their parents and reporting all this back to the bosses. There’s lots more normal teacher-y stuff too. My point is that it can be hard work and I would regularly come home, eat dinner, stick on Bake Off and crash out on the sofa. 

Now my days are equally as challenging but in vastly different ways. I dress, feed, change and entertain Emily. On top of this I try and do some housework and cook dinner. I also try and go out and about so that Emily gets to see her family and have new experiences. In my head I’m constantly thinking about when the last feed/nappy change/nap was and planning when and how the next one will take place. My point is that it can be hard work and I regularly put Emily to bed, eat dinner, stick on Bake Off and crash out on the sofa. 

  
This week I’ve dabbled with doing both. In reality I did both to a substandard level. Work got snippets of my attention between looking after Emily and dealing with her basic needs. And Emily missed out on my full attention for which I feel genuinely guilty. I don’t think she suffered in anyway. She still got plenty of boob, regular nappy changes and naps. She also got loads of attention from adults and children. On top of that she experienced her first circus (ish), which she was enthralled by. I think it’s more that I missed her in the times when I was having a brief conversation about timetabling or looking over the provision maps for year 7. During these times she was normally peering out of her sling and babbling in attempt to have her say on the matter.  

 I can tell you for certain though that trying to work and mother stimultaneously is a near impossible task. I achieved it for a collective total of about six minutes this week and I’m bloody exhausted. I won’t be doing it too often that’s for sure and anyone that does is a hero. 

“My day”: Life as a five month old baby (Part 1)

6:40 It’s getting light now and I really need a wee so I think I’ll wake up. I’m not sure if my mummy and daddy still love me this morning though, so I better do a little cry to check. *cries* Oh they do still love me! I’ll have that wee now then.*farts* Yay! Booby time!

7:00 I like these bits in the morning when Mummy lets me roll around naked on my mat. Ooh look a rattle! I better roll there and get it. It tastes nice, just like it did yesterday. Oh no! I’m on my stomach again. Mummy! Mummy! Mummy! Turn me over! Ugh! Ugh! Ugh! Oh thank goodness! I really don’t like that. Ooh look a wooden spoon. I better roll there and get it…  

7:30 Mummy does this every morning. She puts that spoon in that bowl and it comes out with stuff on it. Then she puts it in her mouth and bam! the stuff is gone. I just can’t figure this out. Maybe if I watch really closely one more time. Nope! Still clueless. And what the hell is with that cup?! I like the pattern on it though. I think I’ll try and lick it. 

8:00 Daddy! I love his beard! And his hair. I’ll grab a handful of both and try and suck his nose. That’ll definitely wake him up. Actually I’m getting quite sleepy myself. I’ll have a little whine and kick my legs about to let them know. WHAT ARE THEY DOING?! I’m tired that does not mean that I want to sleep. I just want to complain about it. 

9:30 Ok, so the nap was pretty good! Didn’t nap for long though, wouldn’t want Mummy to miss me. Plus I’ve got things to do today. Need more milk first though. Wahey! There it is! *glug glug* Oh no! Not the clothes again. I don’t want to put my head through there. No! No! Aah! That wasn’t as bad as I thought. Oh no! Not my arm. Please don’t put it in there. Aaaah! It’s in. Leave the other one alone. Leave it! Noooo! Oh! It’s over! This is a pretty dress. I wonder what it tastes like. 

10:00 Mummy is singing again. I love this one but I’m not sure why she keeps referring to my toes as piggies. The good bit is coming up! Hehehehe! That tickles! Do it again! Yes! Hahaha! Woo! I’m flying! It’s  so high up. I hope Mummy has got me. I’m a rocket going to the moon! Aaaah!

Fancy a cuppa (milk)?

Emily loves the boob! So much so that she has been very reluctant to have anything else. This didn’t cause us any issues really. I was never far away so she could have boob whenever she wanted it. On the odd occasion that I popped to the shop or something though, I would spend the whole time in fear that I’d arrive home to find Emily screaming and Dan tearing his hair out. The reality was always a happy, smiley Emily and a smug-looking Dan. This never stopped me worrying again the next time I went out though. 

Naturally we never even contemplated giving Emily a bottle in the early days to avoid nipple confusion. Then, because she didn’t get her tongue tied sorted until she was 8 weeks old, we waited a few more weeks whilst she learnt to feed with a new, freer tongue. Before we knew it she was three, nearly four, months old and had never had a bottle. I decided at this point that it was likely never to happen, but when she was four months old I offered her a bottle of freshly expressed milk. She licked it a bit, then chewed it a bit, looked at me, licked it again and then pushed it away. Great! That went well. I tried a couple more times but they mostly comprised of Emily putting her tongue on the teat and giving me the filthiest of looks. I gave up!

As she was now four months old, I realised that she could have sippy cups instead and thought that she might be more inclined to take milk from that. However I did a bit of research using my good friend Google (me old chum) and learnt that these can cause dental issues if used for too long. Blah blah blah! But one comment like this, anywhere on the Internet, is enough to put me off. Once again I needed another solution. That’s when my midwife friend (who’s not a midwife) suggested cup feeding, and I saw another mummy friend using a Doidy cup with her little girl. I ordered some.  

 Fast forward to now. We have being trying to give Emily a cup a day of expressed milk. The first day we tried this, she lapped it up. Drank until she was full and was happy and content for the next couple of hours. The last two days have been less successful, but she is still drinking some. I know now that she can do it and find a way to feed without needing me, or specifically my boobs. It certainly feels like a weight off my shoulders and it will allow me to give Emily more time with her daddy, without me loitering in the background. 

The downside is that I no longer have an excuse for not exercising. Bugger!

Potty time!

Regular readers of my blog will know that we practise elimination communication on a part-time basis. Most days this consists of me catching one wee a day. On other occasions I have a really bloody good day, where I am able to catch nearly all wees and poos. On those days, I feel like super mum!

Until recently I’d hold Emily out over the potty or the toilet. So I’d have her on my chest facing outwards and hold her round her thighs. Yesterday however I thought I’ll just see what happens if I sit her on the potty. Et voila! There was wee-wee. She looked so happy with herself too.  

Today I thought I’d continue this trend so when she gave me her cue I took her to the potty. Funny thing was she’d been chewing on a wooden spoon beforehand and took this with her. Whilst sitting on the potty she had the spoon end pointing up with the handle bit on the floor, so she actually did look like she was sitting on a throne. Combined with her cheery little face, it was adorable. 

  
After that I set up a little potty station downstairs to save all the messing around. Emily loved this because all her toys were still nearby and I loved it because it gave my knees a rest from walking up and downstairs all day. She was quite happy to sit there for a while even though she usually wees straight away. 

Anyway I’m feeling pretty pleased with both of us. Hopefully this will make the step to potty training that bit easier when the day comes. 

The Gluten Free Food Prescription Scandal

According to the Daily Mail yesterday, it is now the Coeliacs that are ruining the country. We officially join their list of people who’d they’d like to shove in a boat and ship off to some far away place where they wouldn’t dream of holidaying. To be honest I’m quite glad to be hated by the Daily Mail, it probably means I’m a nice, normal person. They’ve hated me before, that time for being a teacher and trying to defend my work-life balance. I quite enjoy it. It’s almost a hobby. 

  
Anyway this time they were whining about the fact that I can get food on prescription. Actually they were complaining that I get junk food on prescription, which is a complete lie. I haven’t found anyone who gets anything tasty and gluten free on the NHS. The main reason for this is that you have to try really hard to find nice gluten free food. I don’t mean home cooked dinners, or cakes baked from scratch; they are bloody lovely and I can eat what I want if I make it myself. I’m talking about the crumbly, holey gluten free bread or the gloopy pasta. Good versions of these foods are rare. 

I have had food on prescription before but until I became pregnant I paid for my prescriptions. This means £8 per item. I can get four loaves of white bread for that, which works out at £2 a loaf. That’s still not cheap. It’s more expensive than a decent loaf of normal bread and this bread is s***! You get a piddly little loaf, less than half the size of a normal one, and about 1 in 5 loaves will have a massive hole in the middle. And I mean massive. Like there’s the crust and half a centimetre of bread around the edge and the rest is hole. If it hasn’t got a hole in it then it is probably a pile of crumbs in the bottom of the bag. Neither is any good for toast. 

My dietician put me down for two 500g bags of pasta too. That’s a kilo of pasta for £8. And again terrible pasta. Obviously I didn’t pay these prices, I got prepayment card, but I never ordered more than I needed. I doubt I ever used it enough to make it worthwhile anyway. 

Lots of people have been saying that we shouldn’t be allowed this food on prescription because you can buy it in the supermarket. Agreed. You can buy it in the supermarket but every specifically gluten free item is £3 ish.  

 
That’s £3 whether it’s a pack of four rolls or a box of cereal or two choc chip muffins. It’ll be £3 ish. Today I bought a packet of six GF Oreos for £3.50 and had eaten them all before I got home from the supermarket. Poof! £3.50 gone. (Yeah I know I could’ve spread them out and it’s greedy to eat six at once. That said I had just carried Emily all around Tesco in the sling, whilst pushing a trolley fully of food. I was hungry!)

One major inaccuracy in the article was that coeliac disease is caused by obesity. No it ain’t. It’s an autoimmune disease that I probably inherited from someone. Many Coeliacs are worryingly thin from malnutrition before they are diagnosed. I wasn’t but I was hardly obese. They then went on to say that we get doughnuts and pizzas as part of the prescription service. So f****** what if we were. I can’t have KFC, Burger King, Subway, my McDonalds burger in a bun, Dominos do a gluten free pizza but their cross contamination is appalling so that writes them off too. I can eat at Pizza Hut but they only do gluten free pizza on a tiny little base. I can’t nip into Tesco Express for a sandwich. I can’t eat Krispy Kremes or even a Kit Kat or a Twix. Therefore if I want to pay £8 for one doughnut a month then why shouldn’t I? They also mentioned Battenburg. I can tell you this, if there was a gluten free Battenburg on the market anywhere, it wouldn’t be there for long. I haven’t had Battenburg for nearly two years. It is not available on prescription, that’s for sure. 

And finally, I’ve written this mostly because I’ve just been shopping and I remembered how much it costs me to eat like a “normal person.” £3s here and there soon add up, and this doesn’t include the food I have to buy because I’m lactose intolerant. But I buy it because it’s better for everyone that I stay away from gluten and lactose. Not to mention the cost I’d be to the NHS if I let my condition get out of hand. Also I wanted to stick two fingers up to the Daily Mail. The ignorant, racist, elitist pricks! (Not even gonna bother censoring that one.)

Things my mum did that I swore I wouldn’t do, but do

As kid there were certain things that my mum did that grossed me out. At the time I was like I will never do this to my kids, never ever. A couple of months in and I’m already doing them.    

1. Weeing with the toilet door open. 

Actually it turns out that this one is fairly sensible. You need to have the door open so you can hear what is going on. If I’ve left Emily in her cot or playing downstairs I need to be able to listen out for any cries of distress. Not sure what I’d do if it happened though. It’d probably be a drip dry and a hop, skip and a jump down the stairs whilst pulling my knickers up. The only alternative to this is…

2. Taking my child to the bathroom with me. 

Yeah I know there are some situations where this is unavoidable but I’m talking about the ones where you really didn’t have to. Sometimes it’s just easier though. I stick her on the bath mat and she giggles at the sound my wee makes in the toilet bowl. I’ve even been for a wee with Emily in the sling. She’ll hate me for that one day but when you’ve got to go. 

3. Using spit as an all-purpose cleaner. 

A classic mum trick. I think the reason I hated my mum doing this was because she’d do it everywhere and anywhere, regardless of who was watching. In my mind, it seems like she was still doing this when I was about 18. However, when you’ve got a wiggly baby with something on their face/hands/clothes and nothing else in reach, then spit is the most sensible option. And it does the job. 

4. Take embarrassing pictures of my child naked. 

This turns out to be one of the joys of being a parent although from the perspective of the child it is positively traumatic. You live in fear of your parents digging out THAT photo in front of your friends. There is a photo of me wearing nothing, yes nothing, but a paper crown from Burger King around my waist when I was of an age much older than I should’ve been. It makes me cringe thinking about it, but my mum and dad think it’s cute and hilarious. Ugh! I have already got some great pictures of Emily that I fully intend to save and have printed on her 18th birthday cake. She’ll never forgive me. Mwahahaha!

5. Talk endlessly about how wonderful my kids are.

I mean my parents have been so damn lucky with their kids. My sister and I are awesome but I swear their friends must think that they go on about it a bit. Before having Emily, I was under the belief that I would be able to hold conversations about things other than her. Turns out it’s not possible. She is so amazing, funny, clever and cute that I don’t shut up about her. I even started a blog so that I could talk about her even more. Probably write a book next or produce a film. It turns out I’m even worse than my mum at this one. 

There you have it. I’m sure this list will grow with time. One day Emily will tell me that she is never going to do these things when she has kids and I’ll scoff and tell her to wait until she’s got some. Then point and laugh at her when she does them. 

My daughter must think she’s a twin!

All my family sleep in one room. We are cosleepers! Naturally Dan and I share a bed and Emily has a crib next to me. It’s cosy and convenient! When Emily wakes up at night I barely have to move to feed her and I’m off to sleep in no time at all. 

We were motivated to have Emily in our room initially because it lowers the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) and this is something that terrifies me. It’s Dan’s fault! Dan is a SIDS near miss. When he was three months old he just stopped breathing and had to be resuscitated. Apparently it is genetic and there are other (distant) members of Dan’s family that have also been affected. Therefore I’m determined to do everything that they advise to prevent it. 

So Emily is in our room. And actually I love it. I barely have to get out of bed at night to feed her and I can pop her straight back in her cot once she’s done. I hear every movement which is reassuring but it also means that I can intervene at night before it escalates to full blown screams. Emily likes to be able to see me first thing in the morning when she wakes up and sometimes this is enough for her just get on a play for a bit. It’s win-win! I really don’t intend to move her out of our room until she is sleeping through the night, and the way things are going at the moment I don’t think that will be any time soon. 

  
The only annoying thing about this little set up is that her cot takes up rather a lot of space in our bedroom. Currently it is pushed against our wardrobe doors, which are mirrored. This is only a minor inconvenience to us though, and Emily loves it. She smiles and laughs at her reflection. It’s super cute to wake up to in the morning. She definitely thinks she’s got a twin sister though. Bless!

All Aboard the Expressing Train!

It’s been quite a while since my last post but in my defence I’ve been busy. Emily and I have been visited by lots of friends and been out and about. I’ve been trying to do things I want to do too, so I’ve been knitting Emily some leg warmers and sewing me up some cloth sani pads. Fun fun fun! Another thing I’ve started doing again is expressing and this is what I thought I’d talk about today. 

My first experience of expressing came in hospital when Emily was three days old. The midwives taught me how to use the ward’s electric pump so that I could top-up Emily’s feeds. I’d shove it on and leave it running for about half hour and probably got about 30ml. I was proper chuffed with that! I’d have a few little bottles full of milk lined up next to my bed and I would keep a record of how much I’d pumped, when I pumped it and which boob it came from. I started doing this just as my milk came in so it was really thick and yellow. Kinda looked like that medicine you had as a kid, amoxicillin I think it’s called. 

Anyway aside from appealing to my slightly OCD nature, I quite hated the ordeal of expressing. In hospital it was forced upon me and reflecting back it was unnecessary. Using the hospital pump was fun but the washing and sanitising of equipment wasn’t. Nor was the sitting up for longer after night feeds. So when I left hospital I was quite happy to leave pumping and expressing behind. 

When Emily was six weeks old the health visitor came to do a check-up and asked if I’d thought about expressing any milk. She said it would allow me to go out and leave Emily with Dan for a bit if I wanted and I could use it once I started weaning in her food. I nodded politely at the time and told her I would keep it in mind. Then I went for a cuppa with another mummy friend who was pumping to create a stock for some planned nights out. She told me that she set herself a target for the day and pumped until she reached it. I could do that I thought, so I did.

Next day I assembled my sterilised manual pump, whipped out a boob and got to it. I had waited until after Emily’s first feed of the morning and had given it another half hour to replenish a bit. The first day I got about 50ml in five minutes. Meh. I was happy it hadn’t taken forever. The next day I got about 90ml in the same time. The day after that 110ml. It was so easy and I could tell that the supply was improving along with my technique. After a few days of this I could easily get 150ml a day. The bottom drawer of my fridge freezer was filling up rapidly. 

  
Eventually I realised that the drawer was actually full. Plus Emily hadn’t had a single drop. Why was I wasting my time? I stopped. By this point I must have had about 4-5 litres of milk stashed away in my freezer. A tidy little amount that kept me satisfied that Emily wouldn’t immediately starve if my nipples fell off from over use. 

After that I left it a couple of months, until the other day when I looked in my freezer and thought “We don’t really use the top drawer for much. I wonder how long it would take me to fill that with milk.” So that’s my current challenge. Set by myself. I’m back to modest quantities at the moment, between 100-120ml but I’m sure it will pick up. Funny thing is Emily still hasn’t had a drop. That girl is all about the boob. 

The Cloth Nappy Stash Shot

The stash shot is a fairly common occurrence amongst cloth nappy mums (and dads). I’ve never really been that bothered about how the nappies looked in a drawer or cupboard. I am infinitely happier with the way they look on Emily’s bottom. 

Many cloth nappy manufacturers and distributors are keen to see your stash shots though. Some even offer prizes for their favourite. Therefore it seems that it is always handy to have a photo somewhere to whip out should you see a comp on Facebook or Twitter. I mean who wouldn’t want a free nappy. So here’s mine:

  
This is probably only about two thirds of my stash at best. Naturally there were a load on the washing line, some in the changing bag, some in the swimming bag and one on Emily’s bum. Looking at it though is oddly rewarding. 

As you’ve undoubtedly figured out I bloody love cloth nappies. No chemicals. No regular outgoings. No nasty disposable nappy smell. No contribution to the landfill. Cute prints. Soft fabrics. I just love ’em! However they do come with a bit of a commitment. You commit to washing them practically everyday. This means whilst Dan gives Emily her bath, I collect up the dirty nappies from the nappy bin and the changing bag and chuck them in the washing machine. The next morning I sort them all out and, weather permitting, chuck them on the line. A couple of hours later I take them off the line, restuff them and popper them up. It takes minutes of my time in reality but it can feel like a massive chore whilst I’m doing it. 

There’s also the fact that when you take your changing bag out, it never gets lighter. If anything slightly heavier. Dirty nappies get carried around after use so there is no shedding of stuff as the day goes on. 

These are the only two downsides to using cloth nappies and, in my opinion, they are nothing compared to benefits. But a photo of freshly washed and prepped, ready-to-go nappies is somewhat satisfying. That is a photo of my hardwork, of my commitment to a cause, of my determination to raise Emily as naturally as possible. I get it!