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Posts Tagged ‘breastfeeding’

The ‘How-To’ of Parenting

In It's My Year, It's Only Words on 07/01/2012 at 16:57

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It’s funny, since learning I was pregnant and then, nine months later, becoming a parent, my social circle has evolved to largely include fellow mothers, my conversation rotates around issues of nappy contents, which supermarkets are having sales on said nappies, weaning, sleep patterns, buggy model… Believe me, I could go on for days! And my sense of self-judgement has been questioned.

Mothers, and especially new mothers, are an interesting breed – we doubt ourselves constantly, look for reassurance on an almost daily basis and feel guilty over every action we have a hand in …and yet, ultimately we believe we are the only ones who know what is best for our child. Like lionesses fiercely protecting our cubs, occasionally we may look to the rest of the pride for help, but mainly we alone are the ones we rely on to make the right decisions.

We all do things differently. Some mothers are convinced that rigid routine is the way forward while others fly by the seat of their elasticated pants; some mothers feed their babies by bottle while others are staunch advocates of ‘breast is best’; some mothers know every nursery rhyme that was ever written while others rely on the musical numbers from their own childhoods – in the end, the differences are irrelevant because that is what makes us human but the most important thing and the one thing we have in common is the mere fact that we are all mothers.

Every mother I meet has her own way, her own neuroses and methods and while a handful choose to judge the practice of their parental peers – shooting loaded looks when they discover that Rudy goes to bed whenever he chooses to go to sleep while their little one is safely tucked away at 7pm sharp every night – the rest of us acknowledge that there is no right way to parent, there is just the way we each know how.

Motherhood, and indeed parenthood, is a remarkable adventure and one I am honoured to be taking. Being entrusted with the welfare of another person and the opportunity to enable them to realise their potential, their dreams and their own happiness – it is a huge responsibility but one that is hugely rewarding and exciting. Every step is paved with scary moments and moments that are wonderful and we want to share every single one.

Though we are all different, and may agree to disagree on a number of points, the truth is that my best references for ‘mothering’ are my fellow mums. They are the ones I call on for support, advice and reassurance. Because it is their experience, whether 30 years worth or just 3 weeks, that is so invaluable as I learn from how they have handled everything from labour to teething to potty training and beyond.

There is no ‘how-to’ for being a parent but you can always ask for directions along the way.

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A Novelist in the Making

In It's Only Words on 06/23/2012 at 20:35

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As of today my debut novel, ‘Choo or Faux’, is available on Amazon’s Kindle bookstore and I have to admit I’m really rather excited.
Since adding “mummy” to my repertoire, my writerly self has been somewhat sequestered to the back seat. Learning to juggle nappy changes and breastfeeding with my editorial yearnings, proved tougher than I had anticipated.
Struggling in the first few weeks to prioritise activities on the rare and opportune occasion that we were without visitors and the baby was asleep, writing was low on the list behind sleep and reading. In fact anything that warranted even an ounce of energy was abandoned as I desperately attempted to claw back the sleep that had been replaced with feeding, changing and winding.
I soon discovered – with the help of WordPress for iPhone – that I could at least write my blog but anything more than that evaded me. But 17 weeks into mummyhood I realise that it is easy to get lost in those adorable giggles, beautiful blue eyes and seemingly endless supply of baby-centric activities on offer to us. Before I know it, my baby will be attending school… and I don’t even want to think beyond that, but the point is that please g-d she will have her own life, her own dreams, goals and ideas.
And what of mine – I must remind myself not to lose sight of what is important to me – and while the most important is of course my family, my dreams are not far behind.

26 and Pregnant: First Expressions

In It's My Year, It's Only Words on 04/02/2012 at 16:30

Before I gave birth to my gorgeous daughter, I spent much time considering the enigma that is breastfeeding. Seemingly a simple, natural extension to childbirth, I learned from fellow mothers that it was not necessarily so straightforward.

Cabbage leaves, non-milk formula, antibiotics and nipple shields were all touted as remedies to a variety of issues from breast engorgement and mastitis to inverted nipples and lactose-intolerant infants. I could therefore be forgiven for making the assumption that I too would be more than likely to have problems myself.

Fortunately, I am relieved to say that I have taken to this particular element of mummyhood without too much of a hitch and despite having my wardrobe dictated by clothes in which I can easily whip my tit out, breastfeeding and me are getting along great.

All this I tell you as an interlude to my current dilemma… The Steriliser (a.k.a. My Nemesis/Foe/Arch Ememy – you get the picture). Truth be told it is not the steriliser alone who is at fault; the breast pump is also to blame in this current saga of motherhood, which I am referring to as “First Expressions”.

Countless midwifery/health professionals have imparted advice to me in the past five weeks leaving me baffled at conflicting suggestions to: establish a solid breastfeeding routine & introduce the bottle around week 6; don’t leave it too late to introduce the bottle as baby might reject it; only express in the morning and only administer a bottle before bedtime, not during…

The overwhelming process and machinery that one must operate to even transfer milk from boob to bottle has thus far stopped me in my tracks not to mention the fear that baby might reject my boob in favour of bottle/catch an infection through germs possibly getting in the bottle/not drink much of the expressed milk thus wasting it and not getting enough. Plus, the main point of providing a bottle and thus a means for hubby to aid in the feeding routine I had assumed would be so once in a while I could sleep… but if the bottle is to be had before bedtime then I don’t see much point besides the obvious father-child bonding.

As much as I would like to facilitate such bonding and free up an ounce of my time, my fears and anxiety over pumping in the first place are so far outweighing this one pro.

Some may call me lazy and perhaps there is an element of that but ultimately if it ain’t broke, why abandon the breast?

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26 and Pregnant: Centre of Attention

In It's My Year, It's Only Words on 04/01/2012 at 09:47

It’s incredible how a teeny person can make a grown man melt, encourage people to cross oceans and elicit a smile from everyone who crosses her path (though she herself is oblivious to this power)!

Plunging head-first into this world (literally) with one arm out a la super girl, my little princess has single-handedly brought our families together, put a permanent smile on my Mother’s face & showed her Daddy and me what true love really is.

From a stroll around Tesco to a Bat Mitzvah bash, baby Hine has proven herself the centre of attention (I knew she got something from me…) as people’s faces light up as she passes by in sling or stroller, fight over who gets to cuddle her (aside from just hubby and I) and can’t stop themselves from staring at her as she gazes back with enormous blue eyes (those she got from her Dad)!

Guests watch entranced as she… sleeps in her pram, friends are bewitched by her… playmat activities and her grandmother is enraptured by… her smile.

My days of course centre around her waking, feeding, changing and dressing needs and I have never been happier. Selecting her outfits is far more appealing than picking out my own, considering my wardrobe choices are dictated by anything that goes with breast feeding, and considering whatever I wear will inevitably end up with sick, milk, poo or a mess of my own making plastered across it, it hardly matters what I dress in. Yesterday morning for example, I arrived at synagogue (for my Godmother’s daughter’s bat mitzvah) to discover a leaked patch of breast milk on my French Connection top and then at the Kiddish I inadvertently squirted donut jam all over myself (and I wasn’t even holding my baby!)

Every thought turns to our daughter and every situation leads to questions about her role in them… A bat mitzvah (rite of passage for 12-13 year old Jewish girls) gets us thinking about where we will hold her party, a headline about gap year students makes us worry about the time when she will venture into the world on her own and a white dress in a shop window makes us realise that every moment counts as one day she will take steps to make a life of her own.

This wonderful, beautiful, special teeny person is the centre of our world, the centre of our happiness and of course, the centre of attention!!

26 and Pregnant: Mum’s the Word

In It's My Year, It's Only Words on 03/28/2012 at 07:51

So firstly, apologies for my delayed silence… I had a baby.

Yes, four and a half weeks ago I spent 27 hours pushing out my 8lb 8oz daughter, Miss Denny Lily (a.k.a the best thing to ever happen to me)! Four days past my official due date, and following a session of acupuncture and reflexology, numerous long walks, Indian food, sex and every other trick in the book, I went into labour. I won’t go into too much detail (this is not an episode of One Born Every Minute) but suffice to say, my “water birth” lasted about as long as I could handle the pain and then I was crying out for an epidural. The gas and air made me – the non-drinker or smoker or anything else in the substance category – completely high, which was a rather pleasant experience; so much so I was actually laughing through my contractions while I sat in the large birthing pool bath watched over by my husband and midwife! But the pain got too much so I ended up giving birth exactly as I said I wouldn’t – in a bed, strapped to a monitor, with an epidural… and boy, that was the greatest thing ever! I got to 8cm on gas and air alone but my marathon ordeal was too much for me and the pure bliss of pain free contractions after so many hours or agony was the ultimate relief.

Then came my reward at 3.35am – having convinced myself throughout the pregnancy that I was expecting a boy – it was the most incredible surprise to meet my daughter at the end of 9 months. Deep down I had wanted my first to be a girl and 26 years after my mother gave birth to me at the Royal Free, I delivered my daughter in the same hospital.

I had no idea just how overwhelming the experience would be but I am overcome with love for this tiny person who is quite honestly the most beautiful creature I have ever seen.

The first night we spent in the hospital, her and I, as she startled us by stopping breathing shortly after birth when I attempted breastfeeding for the first time (poor kid didn’t know what to do with herself when her mother shoved her double D’s at her face!). That night was traumatic to say the least – she cried, I cried, I called the midwife every 3 minutes to help me figure out what to do, my lovely ward-mate and one fantastic midwife helped me through and finally at 4.30am, after two days of no sleep she settled and I fell asleep with her in my arms.

Once home I lasted barely 24 hours before rushing back to the hospital when on day 3 she became drowsy after I administered myself with codeine to help the pain of after-birth. She was fine, I stuck to paracetamol from then on and the source of my hormonal overload made itself clear that evening when I woke to discover milk leaking from my breasts. Having a baby is life changing and I don’t use this term lightly – it’s terrifying, amazing, frustrating, exhausting, overwhelming, surreal, fantastic and unique for every mother and father.

Every day presents a new challenge but every day gets a little bit easier as you learn more about this little person you brought into the world and grow in confidence. My incredible friend who shared the post-natal ward with me that night comforted me with the knowledge that though I felt helpless and distraught at my own incapability that first night, I would become the expert on my child and I would know more about her than anyone and that despite the crying etc she loved me… and she was right.

Stay tuned as I reveal how I solved the issue of the supermarket shop, learned how to multitask and more…

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26 and Pregnant: Week 36 and Counting

In It's My Year on 01/17/2012 at 13:30
What a cry baby!!

Completing my course of NCT antenatal sessions last night, it was rounded off with an opportunity to meet two new sets of parents who brought their one month old and two and a half week old complete with Maxi-Cosi car seats. Following a caesarean, the one month old had been giving her mother trouble over breastfeeding initially and though that had been solved the parents had been unable to instil any kind of routine. Having been observing my neighbour with her fortnight old baby boy who so far has been playing by the rules of a three-hourly sleep, feed and change pattern with minimal howlage, I found it hard to empathise with a mother who seemed to be allowing herself to be dictated by the whims of her newborn. 

However, the extent of my maternal experience over the period of the course had been to hold a doll – assigned by the course leader to each couple to provide a glimpse of how tricky daily activities become when your child won’t go down – and to cuddle my friend’s baby on a few occasions before handing him back to her.

What was interesting, and what I felt to be one of the more significant takeaways from these sessions was that witnessing different parenting approaches and different babies gave me the opportunity to ask questions that I may have just taken for granted. While I was sitting there judging this new mother, having not even given birth to my baby as yet, I wasn’t considering the individual requirements and temperaments of every individual baby. As the course leader pointed out, when I challenged the lack of routine in this family’s life, would I make myself wait for 3-4 hourly periods before allowing myself to eat or drink? No, I suppose I would not. 

It’s easy to assume righteousness in the matters of “appropriate” parenting but until that precious bundle of joy arrives, it is quite impossible to determine how we will cope and what their demands will be.

Having the opportunity to meet a wonderful crowd of fellow impending parents I know already that I will be grateful for the support and friendship of these women, and likewise for my husband he will have a support network of his own as he enters the unfamiliar territory of ‘Daddy-ville’.

Understanding and patience are but two of the qualities we as a group brainstormed at our very first session, as being important for parenting, but I believe these should apply to all areas of life. The wonderful thing is that we are all entitled to live our lives and parent in our own unique ways, using the advice we are given as and when it comes in useful; but the last thing we should be doing is passing judgement on those who do things differently. 

Parenting is one job that we should not be graded on – unless there are extenuating circumstances that call for severe intervention – but indulging our newborns in the first few weeks of their lives is not one of them. I remember running into that heavily pregnant woman at the elevators all those months back, the morning I had taken the contraceptive pill, and asking whether she was excited. ‘Nervous,’ she had replied and now that it is my turn and people are searching for my excitement, although I am beyond overjoyed to be welcoming my little one into the world, the reality of being a new mother is inescapable. So my answer is this: ‘It goes without saying that I am so excited to meet my baby, but I am remaining realistic that it will be a lot harder than the time I unwrapped my first doll from Hamleys. But though it may be harder it will undoubtedly be the greatest gift I will ever receive.’