How Time Flies…

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I came across an old photo album the other day and it only contained pictures of Sam as a baby. These were the days before Maisie and Isabelle, days when Ferg and I looked YOUNG! It was astonishing, I looked enviously at my own skin and my non bag-laden eyes. I wish I knew then that I had nice skin, I’d have enjoyed it a bit more.

Anyway, looking at the album, made me feel all nostalgic and warm, remembering how simple it was with only one child, how happy we were with our little chubby baby. We felt really grown up and even though it was only eight years ago, I looked at us then and thought about all the lessons we’ve learnt and all the things that have happened to us and our families since then. When that photo was taken we didn’t know if we’d have the three kids we wanted, we didn’t know what the future looked like but as a little family we were ready to go through it together.

Parenthood changes you doesn’t it? Not only in terms of looking and feeling older (Darn you to heck, you sleepless nights!) but in terms of priorities. Before kids you can afford to put yourself first, after kids that’s just not an option. One thing I didn’t realise though, was that you also have to make a conscious effort to consider your husband/wife/partner when children come on the scene. I’m not saying that as soon as you have a child you forget about them, I just mean that other things suddenly seem much more important.

I remember quite clearly, how Ferg and I would sometimes play the, “I’m more tired than you game,” when Sammy was small. We would take turns trying to get him off to sleep and Ferg would wander around the spare room for hours trying to comfort him. In the end though, the hours of wandering around would eventually lead back to me for a final feed. I remember nursing him In the dead of night, delirious with tiredness and struggling to ignore the excruciating pain of non-stop breastfeeding. I’d look at my sleeping husband and think, “I’m obviously more tired than you Ferg, I definitely win!” I’d imagine of all the opportunities he would have for a rest, on the train to work, lunchtime… Er… on the train home. In reality, we were both exhausted. Was it Ferg’s fault that he didn’t have breasts to feed the baby? Was it his fault I didn’t want the baby to be fed with formula? No of course not! That was our decision. At the end of the day, whether or not you’re more exhausted than your partner is irrelevant. When you have a baby, you both get really, really tired and struggle to function in the same way as you did before having a baby.

It’s sooo easy when you’re super tired to be snappy and argumentative. Little grievances can turn into big grievances, especially after a day alone in front of Cbeebies, feeling like nothing more than a tiny person’s milk-bitch. If you’ve given up a career or even just put it on hold, then resentment can easily worm it’s way into your relationship if your other half is off at work with their identity firmly still in check. At the end of the day, it’s mentally, physically and emotionally hard work having and looking after a baby. But it doesn’t get any easier by allowing resentment to creep into your relationship.

I remember a woman in my friend’s NCT class who decided to leave her boyfriend when her little boy was just a couple of months old. She had to do everything on her own. She did it brilliantly by the way, but it did make me stop and actively thank God that I had Ferg and that he’s a great dad and a loving husband. I thought then, “This is hard, but I’m really glad I’m doing it with Ferg.”

So eight years down the line, with three children all over two, we feel like we’re coming out of a tunnel. Don’t get me wrong, the tunnel has been great, if a little intense, but, we REALLY enjoy the relative freedom of having slightly older children. We recently celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary by going away for 2 whole nights. Nana and our besties looked after the kids and we wiled away the hours with spa treatments, eating good food, walking and chatting. It was glorious to be alone and not worry about cutting up food, wiping bottoms and defusing tantrums, but it was also just long enough to start missing our little terrors.

These days, my chubby baby Sam is now a lean, sporty big brother who looks after and winds up his sisters in equal measure. Life is more complicated now, but it’s fundamentally good and were still happy. I’m determined to actively treasure it and be thankful for it. You never know what’s going to happen tomorrow, so show your nearest and dearest know how much you love them today.

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An Update on The Status of my Breastfeeding Antics.

You may or may not be interested to know that I have finally given up breastfeeding Izzy. In total, I fed her for 34 months. My first ever midwife once told me that breastfed children are very clever, if this is true then Izzy’s going to be a genius.

I pretended to give up in August this year but really gave up mid September. This came about after Fergus, my very pro-breastfeeding and tolerant husband, began to hint that it might be time to consider life without a baby/almost fully grown child stuck to my boobs. I knew that when Ferg began to think enough was enough that maybe enough really was enough.

By this stage we were down to just one marathon feed at bedtime. I would love to say that I was reluctant to give it up because my breasts were heavily laden with milk and the desire to nurture my last child just overwhelmed me, but there was barely any milk left in the old dears by then. No, the fact is that an hour long breast-feeding session gave me the chance to have a ruddy good read.

Oh the joy! The other two kids were downstairs silently watching telly, (they knew better than to invoke my wrath by interrupting “Izzy’s bedtime routine.”) and I was lying in bed, snuggling my very snugly Izzy and reading a good book. Does life get any better?? Any Mum knows, that a bit of quiet time where you get to do something you love, is a very precious thing. So precious in fact that I was extremely reluctant to give it up. The idea of losing my little oasis of peace and calm in an otherwise hectic and full day was quite frightening.

Anyway, one day, when Izzy said she wanted, “dudu”, as we called it, (Bit embarrassing, but at least not as bad as “bitty”) I just said no. I told her she was a big girl now and didn’t need it any more. It was awful! She looked up at me with her big, mournful baby-blues and seemed so confused and sad. My resolve obviously wavered but I stood firm. She kept asking for a few days or so and then stopped. Just like that, done. I was gutted, I’d secretly hoped she’d put up more of a fight and give me an excuse to start again. But of course she didn’t because she didn’t need it any more.

It’s usually such a joyful occasion when our kids reach their milestones, but sometimes it’s quite sad and signifies the end of an era. At least I can say with certainty that I gave this particular era all I had. Bye bye milky boobs, you’ve been super.

My little Izzy. So totally OVAH breastfeeding. Yeh, she is quite big and yeh it did look a bit weird.IMG_3061.JPG

Can I have my boobs back please?

I started breastfeeding on the 6th of September 2006 and I’m still doing it. That’s almost seven years! My poor old boobs, they really could do with some time off for good behavior, they’ve “done us proud”, as someone might say if they were from the East End and very pleased with my breast’s achievements. But you know what? I think I’m done. It’s time to pack away the now grey and frayed nursing bras, and bring out the new pretty push-ups! Oh but I can’t, can I, because Isabelle is obsessed with breastfeeding.

Our word for it is dudu, which apparently is what they call milk in some parts of India. My dad was born in Burma and that’s what he used to call milk when he was little, it was therefore what we called milk when I was little and has now stuck for us. Unfortunately Izzy has also stuck, stuck to my knockers! Whenever she wants some she lies prostrate across my lap and squeaks, “dudu, dudu” just in case I’m not sure what she wants.

I thought when I went away to Sheffield for a few days, (with Mum for her op) that she might simply forget about the joys of dudu. Fat chance! For the first few hours of my return she didn’t ask for any, but then it was like she suddenly remembered what she’d been missing and demanded some right there and then. To be fair, I’m now only breastfeeding her three times a day (that’s still quite a lot isn’t it?) which is less than previously, but really I’d like to have stopped completely by the time she’s two.

The question is, how do I stop? With my other two I stopped breastfeeding at 14 and 19 months and it just sort of seemed quite natural. But with Izzy, I just can’t see an end. If I try to deny her she FREAKS OUT and not mildly, oh no. She SCREAMS and SCRATCHES and HITS and ROLLS ABOUT (too many caps?). We’ve tried formula with which we’ve had limited success but at the end of the day she just likes the real deal.

Really though, who can blame her? As the youngest of 3 kids she has to fight for my attention all the time, so I guess it’s her way of having me all to herself. I can’t really say I hate it either, she’s so cuddly and sweet and she is my last baby. I just hope she’s ready to give up before she starts school…

Any time, any place, any where. Literally.

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Mum’s Op and an Unexpected Review of the Nuby, Breast Express Breast Pump

I’m currently staying in a hotel in Sheffield as my Mum has just had an operation to repair her (recreated) bladder. The operation is over and thank God it went well, although she’s still in lots of pain. Honestly, it seems rather ridiculous to me that they (you know, those medical people) can clone a sheep but can’t create decent post-operative pain relief. My poor mum’s had 3 big operations in as many years and it’s been the same for all of them. Para-bloody-cetamol they offer her! She hasn’t got a hangover, she’s recovering from major surgery for crying out loud!

Sorry, I’m ranting. I’m here alone, Ferg’s at home taking care of all the kids as children under 12 aren’t allowed on the wards. I wanted to be free to see Mum whenever I could as she’s miles from home (Cambridge) and miles away from her army of wonderful friends. At least I can be her familiar face for a few days even though I just feel helpless and powerless to do anything that makes this any easier for her.

I’ve never been away from my babies for this long and it feels particularly strange as I’m still breastfeeding Izzy. I’m not sure I realised how much she feeds, as one major and hugely underestimated by-product of being away is that my boobs are continuing to produce lots and lots and LOTS of milk. I woke up this morning with boobs the size and consistency of unripe melons and two massive wet patches on my pyjama top. They were so sore, that I felt like running out into the street, grabbing the first baby I saw and forcibly offering my services as a wet-nurse. I’d forgotten how painful it is having engorged breasts and although I tried expressing by hand I only got three drops out which, believe me was NOT worth the agony.

So what to do? Buy a breast pump that I would never use again or or, or what? Well, I called the maternity unit at Sheffield Hallam Hospital and asked if it’s possible to donate breast milk and it turns out that it is! Unfortunately though you have to register and have your milk tested which would take quite a while. This was not going to be a good solution, especially as I’d had a large GnT and a pint of cider last night (apparently it’s dangerous for babies to mix their booze). I then asked if they could lend me one but apparently they don’t randomly offer out breast pumps to passing strangers which I thought was rather rude.

Anyway I reluctantly found the breast pump section in Boots and discovered a little beauty of a pump. It was only about £11 and teeny. Most importantly it’s very, very simple with only two bits to deal with, a pump and a bottle, super diddly ooper.

I can’t really give you much more info about this breast-pump other than the fact that it successfully gets milk out of my boobs and doesn’t have a million pieces to put together. Therefore, as far as I’m concerned it’s brilliant. It’s small, the little container it comes with is nicely squishy and and er that’s it really. In my experiences all breast pumps kind of hurt. It’s not a fun experience expressing milk, but when your breasts are so full of milk that your nipples go completely flat, then breast pumps are very useful. Don’t bother with more expensive ones that will hurt just as much, get this one which does the job at minimum cost and with minimum equipment.

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