Tuesday, 5 October 2010

The Things No One Tells You About Having a Baby, continued

Physical Annoyance #2: Your hair will fall out

Like you can't believe.

To the extent that you'll be cleaning out the shower plug at least three times a week, at an absolute minimum.

This used to be a job I expected The Husband to do, but I am safe in the knowledge that it is entirely me, and me alone, who is causing the shower tray to become a foot bath on practically a daily basis. So for now, I have assumed this chore out of sheer guilt and at being so grossed out by the state I've got the shower into (as you know, we have no bath, so it's fairly critical the shower is a safe go-to area in the flat). Knowing it's my hair though really doesn't make cleaning it out any more pleasant. I think this is officially my Least Favourite Household Chore.


Admittedly I have long hair, but this really is verging on the ridiculous (although thankfully I'm reassured by my NCT friends that I'm definitely not alone on this one).

The most annoying thing is that as well as the handfuls that appear on the shower tray, my hair has a knack of turning up everywhere, especially where you least expect it.

Much to my horror there was even one in LTO's nappy this morning. This discovery has left me completely paranoid that a strand of hair will somehow get wrapped around his willy, restrict the blood supply and damage the poor boy for life - or perhaps give him an unwanted circumcision - so every nappy change will now include a very thorough inspection.

Urgh. Just writing this is making me feel a bit queasy.

Apologies to anyone if I've put you off your dinner.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

The Things No One Tells You About Having a Baby

You get pregnant.

You have a baby.

(I know, I know, it's not as straightforward as that but that isn't the point of this post, so bear with me).

You knew before you embarked on all this that your body would never be the same once you'd given birth, but little did you know exactly why that would be.

Surely it was just going to be a case of your stomach being stretched a bit, your boobs becoming a tad on the saggy side and putting on a few pounds that might prove tricky to lose?

For anyone who's reading this and is pregnant/trying to get pregnant, I hate to be the bearer of bad news but there's a much longer list you should prepare yourself for.

I don't, however, want to depress you too much in one go, so I'll start with just the top entry on my list.

Physical annoyance #1: Separated stomach muscles

I've mentioned previously that I was a keen triathlete before I got pregnant. If I may, I will admit that I was pretty good (PB 2.30h for Olympic distance), and because of the hours of training I used to put in, I had a decent stomach that I, amazingly (given what I looked like aged 17), actually quite liked.

Having had LTO, I naively thought that because I had strong stomach muscles beforehand, my stomach would slowly but surely return to its original state (or thereabouts) with a bit of exercise and a slight cut back on cake.

Unfortunately my plan has been foiled by that fact my stomach muscles have separated. This means that nearly 4 months after giving birth, I have a hole as thick as two fingers running the length of my stomach.

Why didn't anyone tell me this might happen? It makes total sense now why this needed to happen, I just didn't know it had happened until after I'd given birth. I fully expected to have a flabby stomach, but I really wasn't ready to have big hole where my stomach muscles used to be.

I'm told they might re-join, but I'm not counting on it. I don't even want to think about what will happen if/when we have a second baby.

Since sit-ups are out (apparently they can make the problem worse and may mean the muscles never re-join!), Plan A to rectify the problem is post-natal pilates which I start next week.

Let's hope the teacher can work miracles.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

What to wear to a wedding when breastfeeding: The Verdict

September wedding #1 (which incorported The First Flight) has been and gone - and was fabulous - but how did The Breastfeeding Dress fare?

I'm happy to report that it was a resounding success on all fronts:

a). I was able to feed LTO very easily in it by sliding each side of the V-neck open. I did have to use my Baby au Lait apron, but even though it clashed with the dress, I was willing to go with it to avoid flashing my whole boob.

b). The buttons stayed in tact, in spite of the vast quantities of food consumed. (This has led me to believe that Whistles must employ some very good button-sewers, unlike some other shops I could mention but won't on this occasion. How irritating is it to buy a shirt/dress/jacket only to find yourself sewing the bottons back on a week later?)

c). Lots of people commented on what a great dress it was and how good I looked having given birth just 3 months earlier - hurrah! Proof that it covers up a multitude of sins, including a flabby tummy, very nicely indeed.

So fellow breastfeeding ladies, get yourselves to Whistles. You might have to brace yourself at the till, but believe me, it'll be worth it.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

The Great Shoe Debate

Without wanting it to, walking has become my #1 maternity leave pastime. I've always been a fan of walking, but I now seem to be spending an inordinate amount of time pounding the streets with my pushchair.

This isn't for fear of getting the bus (although I have yet to get the tube with a pushchair - full-on fear still reigns on that front). It's simply easier, means LTO is more likely to go to sleep, and reduces my guilt levels about the vast quantities of cake I seem to consume on a daily basis.

As great as this is for saving on bus fares and burning off those extra pounds that are still lingering, it presents a rather large challenge:

What to wear on one's feet.

All my shoes are completely unsuitable for the ridiculous distances I seem to cover. Flip flops, ballet pumps and plimpsoles all look great but mean I end up with very sore feet, legs and back, and get out of bed like an old lady in the morning.

As someone who used to compete in triathlons before I got pregnant, this does not make me happy.

The solution: I have resorted to wearing my running trainers.

This has never been a look I've wanted to channel (apologies to all those from North America who may not understand why I have such a problem with this), and I really don't dig it, but needs must.

As much as this seems to be improving my physical well-being, it doesn't do much for the Grazia-reading part of me who would really rather leave the house feeling a least vaguely attractive.

So my question is:

Is there an alternative?

Answers on a postcard please.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

The First Flight

I seem to be writing about a lot of firsts, but I guess that's what happens when you have a baby. All the things you used to do without thinking suddenly become huge challenges that require a massive amount of thought, planning and worry.

The next first looming ahead of us is The First Flight. To Ireland, for a friend's wedding, where I get to wear The Breastfeeding Dress (which is still too small, but hey ho. The buttons didn't pop off when I went on my First Night Out, so fingers crossed they'll stay put for another outing). I'm very glad we're only going short haul, but that doesn't mean I haven't been stressing about what to take for the past 2 weeks. At least when we went camping we could take pretty much everything we needed. But now we have weight restrictions in place, my inability to pack efficiently is really being put the test.

There's also all the worry about whether LTO will need a feed when we're going through customs? Should I express and take a bottle just in case, to save getting the boob out and embarrasing the security staff? What will happen when the cabin's pressurised? Etc etc. I'm sure you've all been there and survived, and I'm sure we'll get through it, but any handy tips will be gratefully received!

In the meantime I'll try very hard not to pack the entire contents of my and LTO's wardrobe.                                           

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

The First Night Out

12 weeks in, I had my first night out without LTO on Saturday. I had the choice between going to an engagement party with the Husband, or a work do. Being very conscious that work has been very much out of sight, out of mind for the past 4 months, I chose the work do. It would be good to get back in there, I thought, catch up with colleagues and contacts, have a few drinks and maybe even a dance. And it was the industry's Event of the Year after all.

The Husband went to the engagement party alone, so my wonderful parents came and babysat. LTO behaved impeccably and was in bed by 6pm, clearly unfased that we were leaving him for the first time. This allowed me time to fret about how I looked and whether my dress was too tight. I'd bought the size 10 because it made me feel better, but I really should have got the 12. I'd managed to convince myself that not being able to move my arms higher than shoulder height wasn't going to be a problem. Really not sure how I thought that would ever work. Eventually I made it out of the house, encouraged by the Husband and parents that it fitted fine and that the buttons weren't going to pop off half way through the evening, but it really did feel very odd getting on the tube in a dress and heels, without a pushchair.

Even more odd was being back in an environment that I'm very well established in (I've worked in the industry for 10 years), but feeling very much like I'm not part of it at the moment. Hearing all the latest goings on really did bring it home that things simply go on without you as soon as you're not there. I'm now trying not to worry too much about how it's going to be when I go back.

I'm glad I went though. It was great to catch up with my contacts - many of whom I consider friends - although of course even though LTO wasn't with me in person, he was all I talked about. I've come to the conclusion that I won't have a truly baby-free night for quite some time, since even if they're not with you, it's all you have to talk about and all anyone asks you about!

I only managed a glass and a half of red and a dance to 2 songs, so it was hardly the raucous night I had planned. The thought of having to get up the next morning with a hangover was too much to bear, so my sensible hat was well and truly on. And it was lucky I hadn't had too much more as I was awoken at 4.30am. LTO has been sleeping through until 7am for the past 2 weeks so it was a bit of a shock to the system to be sat on the sofa in the wee hours again, praying that it would be a short feed. Mum had only managed to get 3oz down him at his dream feed - not quite the 6 or 7 I was hoping for! But you know what they say, Mum knows best...

Thursday, 2 September 2010

How to bath a baby whilst camping

Option 1: In the campervan's sink.
Outcome: Unsuccessful. Bath lasted 30 seconds because the plug was immediately dislodged by LTO's bum. Disappointing as I really wanted this to work.

Option 2: In the washing up bowl.
Outcome: Successful - if rather on the small side. Very much helped by the fact it was sunny outside. Don't know what we'll do next year though, or when the weather isn't on our side. Presumably buy a bigger washing up bowl/leave LTO a bit grubby?!

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

What to wear to a wedding when breastfeeding

We're off to 2 weddings in September so the usual problem of What to Wear has raised it's ugly head. The problem is about a hundred times more challenging than usual though because I'm breastfeeding and still a good half a stone heavier than I used to be. You'd think a few retailers would have considered the needs of us breastfeeding mums who still want to look half decent and be able to feed our babies without having to strip off to the waist and sit on the loo. Unfortunately it seems this is not the case.

Just before I had resigned myself to squeezing into something from the back of my wardrobe and sitting on the loo whenever I needed to feed LTO, I stumbled upon Whistles' new A/W collection during a Sunday afternoon trip to Chiswick while the Husband was working. With the help of an extremely helpful shop assistant I made this rather delicious purchase, which I'm feeling rather smug about:

Depending on your colour preferences there were a good few dress options, so I'd head straight there if you're in a similar predicament. Getting into conversation with the lovely shop assistant, apparently I'm not the first breastfeeding mum to make this discovery, but I felt it necessary to share this piece of fashion knowledge to save at least one of you from a few hours of fruitless internet trawling!

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

More tales from the campsite

Once we'd fully dried off the next day, things were looking decidedly up. A decent night's sleep cosied up in the camper with LTO right by us on the baby shelf, a bacon sarnie and coffee for breakfast, a hot shower, and all was well. Mostly though this was because our chosen campsite really is The Perfect Campsite. We'd been last summer, fell in love with it, and will probably go back every year from here on in. It has everything you could wish for in a campsite: the freedom to pitch your tent wherever you want, an amazing shop selling the farm's own organic produce, 14 collie puppies available for cuddles, a private beach and the piece de resistance - you can have your own campfire. Just wonderful. And extremely child friendly.

Because it's so perfect though, I hate to say it but I'm very reluctant to share the name with you, for fear that the whole world will descend on it next summer. So letters on a postcard please if you want to know - I may divulge the name, but only if you're extra nice....

The camping trip outcome

After all the debate about whether to take the baby bath camping, we bloody forgot it! About half an hour after we'd left home I suddenly remembered it wasn't with us, but we'd gone too far to go back for it. So that was that - our inability to remember everything we needed had made the decision for us and we were just going to have to cope without it.

But bathing LTO really was the last of our worries on day one of the trip. The rain starting pouring the minute we set off in the van (after a mere 2 hour wait for the breakdown man to come and jumpstart it!), and was still going strong when we arrived at the campsite. Trying to pick a suitable spot to camp in and put up a brand new awning in crazy wind and lashing rain was an experience that really could have put me off camping for life.

Thankfully LTO didn't start screaming until at least 20 minutes after we'd got there, by which time a very kind fellow camper had offered to give us a hand putting up the tent  - proof that camping folk really are a good sort. Once the screams started though, I had to figure out a way of feeding LTO in the van, which was completely chocca with all our stuff. As I sat there on a soggy cardboard box feeding him, I did wonder what the hell we were doing trying to camp with a 10 week old baby in the pouring rain. Serious sense of humour failure. If only we'd stayed at home and gone the next day, as sensible old me had suggested.....

For all my worrying about LTO though, he went down without a peep at about 7pm after his feed,without having had a bath! He was completely unfased by not being in the safe confines of home, which obviously pleased me no end. Quite what I was worrying about I don't know. The baby shelf was being put to use and by the time the Husband and I had changed into some dry clothes, sat in front of the heater with a big glass of red and some bread and cheese, suddenly everything wasn't quite so bad after all.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Update: first trip in the campervan

The Husband has won. We leave for Dorset first thing in the morning. Since he's the one who'll be driving the campervan in the pouring rain, I didn't put up too much of a fight. I have tried my hand behind the wheel on a couple of occasions, one of which was actually on the road, but I'm just too nervous to drive it again for fear of inflicting damage on the oh-so-precious van. The Husband would never forgive me if I crashed it, and although I've never crashed a car (I don't count driving into a concrete bollard in a multi-storey car park when I was 18), I don't know why I have such a fear of driving the van, but such is life. I figure I may as well enjoy the ride/snooze from the passenger seat.

So my challenge for the afternoon has been to pack. As little as possible. Given that I'm the World's Worst Packer, in spite of spending the last 10 years travelling overseas for work, this has been a tricky task. Packing for me and LTO? How many nappies/babygros/sleeping bags/clothes/toys should we really be taking? We've been away for a weekend with him, but 5 whole days, on a campsite? Although not a sicky baby to date, I do wonder whether he'll suddenly develop into one over the next 5 days, therefore requiring many more changes of clothes than I've carefully accounted for. But this is camping so surely we'll all be a bit scuzzy by the end of the trip, LTO included? Is that wrong though? It's obviously fine if I wear the same clothes everyday while we're there, but is it fair to inflict such camping rituals onto a 10 week old baby? I guess if my conscience gets the better of me I could do some rinsing out of clothes/sleeping bags etc on the campsite if need be? Aha! - use #3 of the baby bath. Maybe we should take it after all....

First trip in the campervan

We're supposed to be going camping tomorrow - our first holiday with The Little One. He’s only 10 weeks old but surely that’s not going to stop us, we said? We own a 1962 VW campervan (I say 'we', but really it's the Husband's – his baby before George arrived), and decided very early on that having a baby wouldn’t make any difference to our annual camping trips. The camper even has a self-appointed baby shelf inside, perfect for TLO to sleep on, and I have been fantasising about putting it to use from the minute the keys were ours. So what’s to worry about? Well, the camper has been in the garage all summer after failing its MOT. In theory it's fixed and ready to go, apart from the leaking roof and front windscreen, but I’m not convinced we’ll get there without the help of the breakdown man. The leaks wouldn't be a problem if the forecast wasn't for torrential rain tomorrow. Hmm. Husband still wants to go tomorrow (“we should be tough and just do it”), but I want to do the sensible thing and wait until Thursday when we’re less likely to drown on the way there. We’ll see who wins….

The question is, what do we do about TLO’s daily bath, which I’m convinced is the key to him settling so easily every evening? He’s been going down without a peep for some time now, so I’m very wary of upsetting his routine. Do we take the baby bath? Sub-ideal given how big it is and how we’re likely to be taking the entire nursery with us – just in case - although it could double up as a washing up bowl and even a pee bucket for those middle of the night emergencies?! That might be pushing it me thinks…The alternative is to subject TLO to a daily shower on the campsite. Think we should probably do a trial run in the shower tonight if that’s going to be the solution. Watch this space.