Liquid gold for all!

The bottom drawer of our freezer has been otherwise out of use for a while. Well not completely, as it has been home to litres of breast milk. I’d stored it up thinking that Emily might take a bottle and that I could maybe have left her with Dan on the odd occasion. However that never really happened. Emily will take milk from a cup but she would rather not if she has a choice. This meant that my ever increasing stash of milk was sat in my freezer rapidly heading towards a date when it would be unusable. 

This led me to turn to Human Milk for Human Babies UK. I’d discovered this group a while back. They are essentially a platform for the sharing of milk. People post on the group whether they are looking for milk (expressed or a wet nurse) or if they have milk to donate. Participants are encouraged to get to know each other to ensure that they are happy with the arrangement and then you share. It’s what woman in this country used to do. It’s what woman in countries around the world still do. And it’s gaining popularity again here.  

 A simple idea really; if you’ve got lots of boob juice, give it to those that want it. Now before people start freaking out I have a couple of points to make. Firstly milk sharing is recommended by the World Health Organisation above the use of formula. It goes: breastfeeding, expressed breast milk, a wet nurse, donated breast milk then formula. Secondly the “normal” alternative, formula, comes from an entirely different animal, not just another member of the same species. Finally HM4HBUK recommends that those receiving milk do whatever research they need to be happy with it. This includes requesting copies of medical records from donors. This is a choice. No one is forced into this. 

Anyway I follow this group on Facebook and I knew that the milk would need using soon. I had been meaning to post that I had this milk available, however I was beaten to it. Another mother in my area posted that she was looking for milk for her little boy. He is a similar age to Emily and needed the milk to top up that he received from his mother by pumping. I made contact and before I knew it I was handing our milk over. In a carrier bag of all things. An M&S one though. Classy!

I can’t pretend that I didn’t feel pretty good about this. It’s quite something to have helped someone in a personal way. There’s a child out there who continues to grow and thrive because of milk I made. I made it! Therefore I’d encourage others to do the same. Some hospitals around the UK have milk banks where you can donate breast milk to help sick or premature babies. If you don’t have a hospital like this nearby, then think about Human Milk for Human Babies. Maybe you can find someone there who will come to your house and thank you endlessly for a gift that you can make in your sleep. 

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My child is not a genius (but yours ain’t either)

Emily is a smart cookie. She’s an early developer and is demonstrating new skills at a younger than average age. However I am under no illusions about her. Maybe it’s just the fact that my mum is great at spotting the things she does or maybe her curious personality inspires her to learn things quickly. Whatever it is, in my eyes she’s phenomenal, but she is still a baby. 

Now the reason I mention this is because I have recently become acquainted with a woman who seems to have given birth to the next Albert Einstein. Her wonder child is capable of doing the most amazing things. Or so she says. 

Please don’t think I’m a jealous mum or that this is one of those “let’s not compare our children” posts. I do compare Emily to other children, but I don’t get hung up on the findings and that’s the difference. This demi-god however has got me seething. 

This woman has put her kid (or should I refer to him as “Oh, Superior One!) down for a new baby signing certificate every week since his first lesson! So on the first lesson he was supposedly meant to have signed four bleeding signs, during the lesson! Unlikely! Well actually she claims that she has been signing to him from birth and that how he has picked these things up. Still I shout “un-bloody-likely”! I nearly put my hand up when he got his first certificate and said “I smell bullshit!” but there were babies around so I didn’t. 

This tiny superhuman is only 7 months old and was born 6 weeks premature, so he is actually like 5 and half weeks, but apparently he can sign this:

  

Again I say, “unlikely!”

I guess at this point I should apologise if I’m wrong. One day this mental powerhouse might grow up and save the world or at least invent some new piece of technology for me to waste away my day. If he does then I’ll do my best to hunt down his mother, then get on my knees and beg for forgiveness. Until that that day though, I reserve the right to roll my eyes, snigger at each certificate and bitch like crazy about her with my other baby signing friends. It’s practically a hobby!

Night-time cuddles!

In the last couple of weeks I’ve become increasingly aware of how much I love my late night Emily snuggles. In a few days time my little baby girl will be six months old, and she has grown so much. 

Six months is a big milestone. Lots of things seem to happen around the six month mark or you are told that they should and every single one of them makes me feel like I’m losing my baby bit by bit. 

1. Most babies are regularly sleeping through the night by six months. 

I’m not sure where I heard this one but I’m sure it’s in some leaflet that the health visitor handed to me. Fortunately this one doesn’t automatically happen at six months, and it certainly still feels a long way off for us. There are many nights when I’ve just wanted a decent nights sleep and for Emily to sleep through the night would make this a lot easier. It would also make my answer to the question: “is she a good sleeper?” much simpler too. At the moment I’m going with a “it’s what is to be expected from a baby” and people take from that what they will. 

However Emily sleeping through the night would end our night time cuddles and kisses. It would end her little hands roaming idly over my face in the dark. It would end the sleepy long feeds where I know she’s getting the good stuff. These moments really are quite special when I reflect. They are memories that only I will have. Emily won’t remember and Dan is usually asleep. They are perfect moments and I never want them to end. 

2. Co sleeping

As I’ve said before, we are not bedsharers. I’d love to be but its just too risky. We are roomsharers though. Emily has slept by my side since day one. In the middle of the night I can look over and see her breathing, or hear her do her little sleep-giggles, or reach out and feel the warmth of her tiny body or smell her sweet milky breath. It’s adorable!

Guidelines state that to prevent cot death your baby should sleep in the same room as you for the first six months. This was how it started for us, but it is what comes naturally. I wanted Emily by my side day and night, and I still do. 

Once that six month mark comes round though I know that I will be under pressure to move her into her own room. The most vulnerable and precious member of my family will be the only one forced to sleep alone.  Of course I am going to fight to have her in our room as long as possible but I can hear people saying that it’s time for her to be in her own room and she will sleep better once she is etc. I can envisage a time when lure of better sleep will be hard to ignore. 

3. Weaning

Yet another thing that’s meant to happen at six months. We will be doing baby-led weaning so I’m not expecting much to change in the way of milk feeds for a while. However it is the start of a journey that ultimately ends in Emily not needing me for food any more. Granted she might turn to me for comfort and therefore we could be breastfeeding for a while yet. At some point though I’m going to offer her milk and she’s not going to be hungry. Or one day I’ll go to nurse her to sleep and she will already have nodded off. I’m not sure how I’ll feel about that. 

I am however quite proud of the fact that we have exclusively breastfed until six months. Not a drop of formula or a mouthful of food has passed her lips. This, like cosleeping, has been hard to defend against external pressures. Many people have suggest offering some food to help her sleep at night and most have used the “it won’t hurt” or the “I did it with my kids and they turned out alright” statements. But Dan and I said we would follow medical advice and we’ve stuck by that. 
It’s been a quick six months and although things are going to change, there are plenty of things that will stay the same. But also there are lots of exciting things coming up. Food, crawling, talking and walking. I can’t wait. But I will always hold the memories of the first six months close to my heart. It’s been truly delightful!

My best parenting is…

When I get up without muttering (or screaming) profanities even though Emily has woken up for the sixth time in one night. 

When I power through the burn to lift Emily in the air one more time. 

When I continue with the bedtime routine and marathon feeding session knowing that my curry is getting cold downstairs. 

When I spend 45 minutes staring at the wall in silence because Emily fell asleep on me and I don’t want to wake her, but all entertainment is just out of reach.  

 When I let Emily gum my jaw or chin or hand, even though it hurts, because I know it helps her with teething.

When I manage to keep singing through a nappy change even though the smell makes me want to gag. 

When I spend an hour preparing everything then 15 minutes walking in the rain, to go to a baby class that lasts half an hour. 

When I burn my fingers taking the sausages off the baking tray because all my kitchen utensils are in Emily’s toy box. 

When I spend all my “me time” on Pinterest looking for cool activities for Emily and I to do the next day.  

 

When I hear my toast pop up but continue with the remain 307 verses of Row, row, row your boat. 

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. 

 

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.)