Don’t forget!

 There’s so many books on all aspects of pregnancy, motherhood and babies but I keep trying to remember the unexpected things which personally helped me… things I didn’t find in books. So much changes in 13 years and the last time I was pregnant there wasn’t the internet. I research everything now but that definitely has its down sides too. I did find my mothering intuition was being drowned out by the reels of perfect pregnancy body Instagram pictures, Facebook parent groups, google searches etc etc. At one point after having the baby, and not having the perfect birth or body or post baby lifestyle, I had to come off all the sites I had excitedly joined in my pre baby haze. I needed to find my help on my own.  Anyway, here are some of the surprise things which made a real difference to me. There aren’t loads but I swear by them as they kept me sane ( and this was no easy task):

  1. Kindle: My darling husband bought me this soon after baby was born and it has been a godsend! I’ve always been a reader but a book reader. I wouldn’t ever have swapped the gorgeous pages of a novel for a hard electronic gadget but I am so glad I did! This ‘hard electronic gadget’ has an automatic back light which doesn’t wake the sleeping baby, you can hold it one hand and feed baby without needing to turn pages, and if you’re like me and are feeding all the hours through the night then an escape into a book is just brilliant. The only times I really got a chance to read pre-baby was on holiday but during this maternity leave I’ve read loads! So, there you go – breastfeeding all night, not able to sleep but I still felt like a winner. I love you kindle!

2. Bluetooth headset: This has been another brilliant buy which I discovered for myself by accident. I noticed my husband was taking work phone calls and looking after baby while I was trying to catch up on sleep. I bought him the headset so he could make his phone calls and hold baby. Yes, I did benefit from this…I got more rest time. It turned out that it was also useful when taking baby for a walk. I could use both hands to push the pram and catch up on conversations. The cute thing was baby thought I was talking to her. Miles of walking,  talking, and a content mother and baby.

3.  Yoga pants and t-shirts: I was just grateful to have clean clothes and there was no way after giving birth could I fit back into my jeans. So, a stack of yoga pants and t-shirts which could easily go in the wash was my best quick fix clothes. All you need for the first few months are clothes that feel fresh and you can worry about whether they match later…much later in my case.

3. Slip on shoes:  I don’t  know if it was just me but my baby liked to cry and so when I was ready to leave the house I had to make it as quick as possible. Shoes which came off and on easily seemed like a miracle invention. Slip on shoes, loafers, trainers, whatever as long as they’re on and off in seconds. I think you can only completely get this once you have the baby in your arms, a baby bag, your handbag and keys.

4. Beautiful bath oil: All my relaxation time has centred around the bath since baby has been born. Buy yourself a gorgeous oil so when you soak you feel like you’re in a spa. Follow this with a good moisturiser – your body deserves this and when you start to want to claim your body back you’ll be glad you looked after it post-baby wilderness,

5. Cleanse & Moisturise. Spend time cleansing your skin and putting a lovely moisturiser on. I’m a real fan of facial oils and love the way they make my skin feel. For months I was too exhausted to wear makeup but I did massage a facial oil onto my skin night and day. Everyone tells me now my skin glows now and I think  it might be due to the one beauty routine I was able to hold onto…or to my next suggestion.

6. Smoothies: This has been brilliant for me and since baby has been born hubby has made me one every morning. I first started drinking milky avocado, spinach, mango smoothies when baby was born as my milk wouldn’t come in. As the months went on and my milk supply built up I drank smoothies for a morning burst of vitamins and energy. I looked ups all types – ones for glowing skin, strength, energy, combat tiredness. I can’t start my morning without one. I loved knowing that after a night of rubbish sleep at least my body is being fed a healthy and nutritious drink. I highly recommend drinking these every day.

7. Podcasts: If you are able to get a twenty minute soak in the bath then try and tune into a podcast. There are some excellent ones waiting to transport you to another world. I’ve really loved listening to Desert Island Discs. Music and words – what a beautiful combination!

8. Sleep Guide Meditation. I hope your baby sleeps through the night and you get lots and lot of sleep. Unfortunately, I haven’t and this resulted in a short spell of insomnia. It’s rubbish that less sleep results in no sleep! I found listening to guided sleep meditations  on my headphones helped me unwind and sleep. I still listen to them even now as a pre-bed ritual. I think I even have a better quality of sleep when I nod off to them.

9. Lush pregnancy massage bar: I loved this so much! Every time my skin started to feel itchy I would massage it over my skin and the itching would stop immediately.  I thought it was so amazing I bought it for my son who often gets itchy skin before bed and it totally worked for him too!

10. The Wonder Weeks: With my first pregnancy I read every baby book I could get my hands on. I enjoyed it but I knew I didn’t need to read the same material all over again. But this book was totally different – it didn’t try and sell me a parenting philosophy or tell me how I should be caring, nursing, winding my baby. It simply covered in weeks the baby’s developmental leaps. I learnt so much and even know when baby is going through a fussy period I turn to the number of weeks she is and read about the changes she’s going through. It makes me understand her better and be a more patient parent!

My Daughter? I need to first see to my sons!

Last Saturday I was  very lucky to have a front row seat to an interview with Chimamanda Ngozie Adchie about feminism and her new book ‘The Feminist Manifesto & 15 suggestions.’ It was a superb talk that created many light bulb moments for me. Adichie, much like a literary rock star, held the floor through wit and wisdom. Of course, having my own little girl I was now thinking about the lessons I would pass onto her, and so I had begun to revisit the lessons I had learnt growing up. There were many, many important things she said but I’m still mulling over her words that girls are brought up to be liked and in doing so, reduced themselves so their intelligence,, creativity, passion didn’t offend. This spoke volumes to me, and transported me back to many instances where I had not just been told to be this way but had  consequently chosen to be this way. A thousand fires had been lit in me and I wanted my daughter to have her voice, to be strong. But how could I focus on my daughter when I hadn’t addressed any of this with my sons. Feminism doesn’t just belong in the realms of the female – men – my sons also had to understand and want equality. Would  I have expected my son to do more housework if he was a 16 year old girl instead? Would I have expected to him spend more time with the family? I like to think not but I don’t know. So, I decided I must to take action  and create a plan. I told them both I  wanted them to think about Feminism because it was really important to me I raised sons who treated women as equals.  I told them I had a plan – we were going to watch Adichie’s Ted Talk – We should All be Feminists, watch Emma Watson’s speech ‘He for She’ speech and then I was going to read them a suggestion from Adichie’s manifesto each day for us to reflect on. They thought this was all unnecessary and were only appeased by the fact that I said we would do this all over dinner, and not in one day!

Yesterday we watched Adichie’s Ted Talk. My 16 year old laughed at the jokes and only attempted one escape. My 13 year old got distracted half way but did stay until the end. And, my one year old yelled throughout demonstrating that she was always going to make sure her voice was heard. I don’t think it was their light bulb moment but I thought an important point was made. We were going to think about a better world for men and women together, and we were going to start with us.

 

The slow & difficult goodbye…

My relationship with breastfeeding this last year has been difficult. I breastfed my first son until he was 9 months and then I exclusively breastfed my second son for 14 months. So, of course I was going to do it again for my daughter. I’d done it twice before, I was prepared for the leaking milk, painful nipples and night time feed marathons. I was going to be just fine. Right? Wrong.

A traumatic birth meant my daughter was delivered through C-Section whilst I was under general anaesthetic. I nearly died, she almost didn’t make it so when everything turned out ok I expected my body to do what it had done before and produce milk. Except it didn’t because my body was confused. One minute I had been pregnant and literally the next minute I wasn’t. When I woke up my body wasn’t flooded with hormones like it should have been, and my milk didn’t come in. That was a shock but irrationally I felt like my body had already failed me by being unable to birth my child and now I wasn’t going to let it fail my baby by being unable to nourish her. Yes, I was kinda angry with myself. Many people advised me not to put this pressure on me, and move her onto formula. To be honest, I would have advised anyone the same. I had lost almost 3 litres of blood, replaced by  blood transfusions. I was exhausted even before I’d come round from the anaesthetic.  But I insisted I was going to feed her and kept her on my breast night and day until my milk did come in. We did top her up with formula but mainly she was breastfed. My milk never came  in like it did in my 20s. Then, I had breasts bursting with milk and nipples that leaked every time I looked at a baby. But I was doing just fine. However, my method to bring milk in meant that she became dependent on nursing to sleep, for comfort and generally stayed on my nipple all night. I am VERY sleep deprived! Anyway, after a rubbish week at work last week (generally highlighting I couldn’t carry on, on so little sleep) I decided to stop breastfeeding through the day and for now, only when she wakes up at night. It’s taken me a while to do this because actually I didn’t really want to give it up, I wasn’t sure how I would put her to sleep, how I would comfort her and the list goes on! Since Saturday I have only fed her after 11pm and you know, I’ve had more energy through the day. She still on my breast most of the night but I thought if I can carry on like this for a whole week then maybe I’ll be able to give up the night feed without punishing myself with the bad mother stick.

This morning was tough though. I have Wednesdays off work and for the first time I didn’t put her to sleep during the by nursing her. She drank from her bottle fine and then couldn’t get herself to sleep. Poor little baby …but I persevered and so did she with her crying. I sang her nursery rhymes and whispered to her how glad she was so good at making her voice heard. There’s no silencing this girl’s voice:) Eventually, I took her out for a walk and as the sun rays kissed her soft cheeks she closed her eyes and nodded off.