Tag: baby

I support you: It’s your baby. Feed them however you need to.

Support

I am participating in the I Support You campaign (1st to 7th November) run by Mama By the Bay. This blog post is in aid of supporting all loving mothers NO MATTER HOW they feed their babies or what parenting choices they make. 

#ISupportYou

Look, I’m just going to get straight to the point on the issue of feeding our babies. Despite how we feel when we have our first babies (I can’t speak for subsequent babies so I’ll stick to my own experiences – please feel free to add to the conversation if you have more than one), the way we feed them is not how we should define ourselves. Neither is the method by which your child is delivered. They are just facts on a timeline. Things that happened in our journey. A path we had to take (even if we chose it we did so because it was best for us and our babies). It does not define our child’s life. As I look at my almost 3 year old (how time flies!) I don’t fuss that he was mixed fed from day 1. I don’t care that he came to us via C-section. It’s just a memory now. It hasn’t determined the rest of his life. He sits at the dinner table with us, munching on whatever I make him (well mostly – he is a toddler after all). I have a scar, but I only notice it when it tingles after a couple of cocktails (true story – it’s weird). My Little Mister is funny, charming (most of the time), he is healthy and he is bright. Medically, all is quite well too. He has the immune system of …whatever only gets sick once a year (touch wood) and he is developing quite normally. While it took me time (about a year) to feel this way, I have NO regrets. None. Oh, except that I wish I didn’t worry so much what other people thought about my choices. THAT was the one thing I wasted time on. The one thing that kept me awake at night (even when my baby was sleeping).

Please allow me to do some very blunt myth busting in the name of supporting anyone who has ever had to feed a baby (it’s kind of a necessary task – you know, for keeping them alive and stuff)…

*ahem*

Brace yourselves.

Myth: “If you stop breastfeeding, you’re going to miss out on a special bonding experience with your baby.”

Um, no. No you’re not. While breastfeeding is a beautiful way to bond with your baby (I can attest to that), it is certainly not the only way. It is one of many gorgeous ways we connect with our children. If you cannot (or choose not to) breastfeed, you are not to buy into that BS, OK? You’re a loving mother who has many tricks up her sleeve. Cuddles while bottle feeding – lovely. Talking to your baby. Singing with them. Eye contact. Smiles. The gentle way you tend to them. Quality time getting to know each other. The love you have for them is pretty powerful stuff in itself. You really think your baby can’t feel that bond? How do we expect adopted babies to flourish in the loving arms of their new parents (a heads up: I’m proof)? How do we expect awesome new dads to connect so beautifully? They can’t breastfeed and that does not diminish the love. Have faith in yourself. If the love is there, you’re going to be just fine. Sorry to be a little feisty, but FFS. I hate that people perpetuate this kind of judgement.

Myth: “Feeding your baby formula is the easy way out. New mums give up too easily on breastfeeding.”

Look, I have not met one new mother who has found the decision easy. I know that for me, to give up breastfeeding was a huge decision. I tortured myself over it for a long time before I went through with it. I weighed up the pros, the cons. I was educated on the subject. I had a great support network. I could argue that for a lot of new mums it’s harder to give it up. We have to change our expectations of ourselves that we may have had since before we were even pregnant. We have to admit to ourselves that whatever the circumstances, our bodies may not understand what we’re asking (this can mean working through feelings that we’re failing – we’re not FYI). We have to face the judgement of others. We have to fight our inner critics (the worst ones of all). We have to do so much more work (sterilising/prepping/warming bottles), spend more money on formula and the extra bits and bobs that come with the job. You call that easier?? We are f*cking warriors too – don’t you forget that. All new mothers are.

Myth: “Formula babies are fatter than breastfed babies. It’s like you’re feeding your baby fast food.”

Some babies just need some extra help to thrive. I’m sorry, but a thriving baby is better than the alternative. Also? Some of the cutest, chubbiest babies I have EVER seen were breastfed. And they were gorgeous. And healthy. And they grew out of their Michelin Man features quickly enough. And that’s saying something, because the Little Mister was a chubby bub indeed! Was it the formula? Probably. But only because he was able to thrive, just like the other babies, despite my body’s challenges. He, just like the breastfed babies his age, has suddenly grown into a boy shape (eek – when did that happen?) and wouldn’t you know it? You look at him, then look at his little friends and *shock horror* you would not be able to tell the difference. I know some people argue about the long term effects, but formula has been fed to human babies for generations now and I would not be able to tell the difference when I look at my friends or even my friends’ parents. So many more environmental or genetic factors determine our health and our body shapes as we grow. Formula is the least of our worries!!

Myth: “Pick a side and stick to it. Breastfeeding or bottle feeding. Which one are you?”

Firstly, it’s nobody’s damn business. You don’t owe any nosey parker an answer. Secondly, why can’t you have the best of both worlds when necessary? The Little Mister’s life began with mixed feeding. For the first 3 days he was exclusively on formula by default as I had no supply and he was in a hospital an hour’s drive away from me. The next 3 days I was stressed, on a heavy course of antibiotics (which no-one told me might interfere with my supply – this would have been so much more comforting for me to know) and getting stir crazy in the hospital. No milk! After a terrible first night with the Little Mister when he returned to me (he cried because he was essentially starving), a kindly midwife suggested formula top ups. She made it OK. There was no point starving him and distressing everybody involved. The first days of parenthood are hard enough! After I got home, with the help of some medication, I had some supply. It wasn’t awesome but it was enough for him to reap the benefits. I fed mostly on demand during the day but he had some top ups at night (I would breastfeed first and then offer him a little formula if he needed it). If we went out, I would pack some formula, because my boobs were super messy and unpredictable. I couldn’t rely on them as well as I might have liked to.

In my mind, he got the benefits of breast milk, but his diet was also supplemented to give him the amount that would help him grow and thrive. It was hard work to do both, but it was worth it. It was the right thing for us. And there was nothing wrong with that. There is no need to pick a side. What side? How about we all stay on the side of keeping our babies happy and healthy? However we need to in our unique circumstances? Yes please.

If you have a super hungry baby cluster feeding and crying for more when you have no more to give, what is the harm in supplementing his intake with formula? Gives your boobs a little more time to restock and helps your baby to feel satisfied and to keep the weight on in those important early days.

I know that we were lucky and there was no nipple confusion with the Little Mister – he was stoked to have anything and I am grateful. But seriously, if you’re struggling – like really struggling – anyway, what is the big effing deal? The worst that could happen? Your child wants a bottle over anything else? Read all of the above. It’s gonna be OK. I promise. Give yourself a break. You’re awesome. You care about your kid. A WHOLE LOT. You’re not failing. A lot of factors have to come together just right for exclusive breastfeeding to occur (your body has to come to the party, the baby has to learn how, and a whole lot of other things can affect your experience). Some women are lucky and others, not so much. It is NOT a reflection on your ability to parent. YOU ARE AMAZING no matter how you feed your child.

Newsflash: No-one is better than another person just because of how they feed.

I am making my stance clear here. I support you no matter how you feed your baby. Not in some kind of passive aggressive BS kind of way, where I say it because it’s the right thing to say, but then make little judgey comments here and there. I actually really mean it. I really really do.

We are all doing our best.

If you could write a message of support to new mothers, what would it be (doesn’t necessarily have to be about feeding)? Leave a comment – it might make all the difference to someone x

You might choose to spread the word via blog or social media yourself. Share my blog post, write your own (you can find ideas here), utilise Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. Use the hashtag #ISupportYou or #ISYWeek

x

A letter to myself BC (Before Child).

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Dear Kez Before Kids,

Future Kez here – Kez with Kid. Reporting from 2014 as a mother of a very gorgeous, active and bright 2 old. See, even as you’re reading this letter, you’re thinking, “How do you know your kid is gorgeous and bright? That’s a little bit up yourself. When I have kids, I’m not going to describe my kid like that. It’s probably just a normal sh*tty kid. You’re just one of those mothers who’s gotten sucked into thinking that your child is the best ever. Yuck.”

Well, I’ve got news for you. You will be biased as f*ck once you have your own child. I’m not kidding. You’ll know your toddler is not perfect and you’ll endeavour to keep him grounded and disciplined, but seriously? You’re going to think that your child is sooooo cute and sooooo smart – even when their answer to everything is currently “no” and spilling snacks on the floor is their favourite hobby. Just maybe keep it to yourself around certain people 😉

Here is my advice to you – stuff you don’t know right now, that you will need to learn very fast when you become me (Kez with Kid)!

You’re skinnier than you think you are

Seriously. You don’t believe me? While you’re moaning and whining and wearing clothing that covers you up, you’re missing out on the best you’ll look in a while. I know you’ll get back to something really fit looking one day with a bit of hard work (we’re still not there yet), but trust me on this one. You CAN wear a bikini. You do look cute in that outfit. You just don’t know it yet and if you don’t read this letter, you won’t realise until it’s a bit too late and you’ve got these weird love handles, faded stretch marks and a C-section scar that is not as subtle as you might expect.

Live life to the fullest and stop worrying about your looks. Your vanity will fly out the window (of the maternity ward at the hospital) quicker than you can imagine. You’ll be tired. You’ll have less time to get ready each day. It will be harder to buy clothes (trying them on is near on impossible with a toddler in tow and did you know kids cost a lot?). You’ll learn to love yourself with all the extra scars, lumps and bumps, but you’ll also realise you wished you loved yourself before those scars, lumps and bumps came into your life.

Right now you have (easier) access to any groceries you want, any time (and all the time in the world to plan great meals). You have no excuse for not eating healthier or exercising. Trust me, it will get harder. You’ll be time poor and at times you’ll be so exhausted your motivation to exercise will be much lower. The full on, heart pumping exercise you enjoy right now (Zumba at the gym and your exercise bike) will only be possible if you can have time without your little one, which is another challenge. Don’t worry, you’ll find a way around it – even if it seems sporadic and harder to plan for. Wii games and exercise DVDs (you will find a couple that aren’t completely obnoxious) will be your best friend when you can’t get out and about! x

You’re going to have a rough pregnancy riddled with mystery rashes and gestational diabetes, so enjoy your free range of movement and comfort NOW!

Don’t take simple things for granted

See what you’re doing there? You’re wandering about the house alone in a t-shirt and undies (without a small child loudly asking where your pants are). On your lazy day off, you’re home alone just wandering from the TV to the computer to the fridge. You’re getting some yummy food, preparing it (taking as long as you like – you’re in no rush), you’re eating it in peace. You’re going to the toilet when you need to (ALONE). You’re watching movies/TV shows that feature sexiness or violence or swear words – in the open area of the house. You’re napping occasionally when you need it. Later you’re going to get ready for a night out on the town. Just you, your cute little purse clutch – containing your lip gloss, phone and keys. Off you go in a big rush at the last minute! Climb in the driver’s seat of your car and zoom you’re out of there! Tomorrow, you’ll sleep in. As long as your body needs.

Now don’t get me wrong, you won’t turn into that cow who loves to tell people without kids that their lives are sooooo easy and they have no right to whinge. You do have that right. I am not judging. You are studying hard a lot at uni and throwing your whole self into it. In between that you are working. You and Mr Unprepared go through some hardships and life throws some challenges at you that you wouldn’t wish on anyone. Life is challenging either way (kids or no kids). You’ll lose sleep over university assignments and you’ll fret over relationship/family stuff. You’re tired now and I validate that. Just so you know. I hope you’re relieved about that. I mean, we all hope we won’t be THAT person. Take comfort in knowing we are not one of them. At least I don’t think we are and we try our very best not to be.

Housework? Oh, I hear you thinking that can wait. God, you hate housework. So boring. Put it off all the time. Yuck. Well, one day, going to the supermarket alone and having time to do housework without a little person hanging off you and whining will feel about as exhilarating as a tropical holiday. No joke. So will driving in the car alone. AMAZEBALLS.

Sounds boring to you, right now, but one day you’ll look back on these weekend days off and think – WOW. I HAD IT AWESOME! None of the activities I’ve described above will be the same again for a VERY long time.

Enjoy your pre-parenting life to the fullest. Find joy in everything. Get rid of the things that make you unhealthy or unhappy. Those things won’t matter to you when you become me (Kez with Kid). You will enjoy your new life with a child enormously but it will be a different enjoyment.

You will do almost all the things you swear you won’t do as a parent

Right now you’re so optimistic. So full of great ideas and ideals. I think that’s awesome that you dream of being a wonderful parent, that you’re already thinking of things you can do to be the best parent you can be when the day comes. You’ve been watching other parents you know and weighing up the different things they do and even though you’re not prone to being an overly judgemental person, it has helped you form your own ideas of what you’d like to do and what you don’t want to do when raising your future child.

I know you want to be one of those ‘cool’ parents who doesn’t skip a beat in their social life, but did you know that your child’s nap time will quickly become the most important part of your day and come hell or high water you will not want to skip that? Which makes it difficult – especially when your future boy (yes – it’s a boy!) naps right over lunch time (from about the age of 1 onwards). Those SAHM (Stay at Home Mum) lunch dates you’re dreaming of will become almost impossible – except for those days you just don’t care anymore or the universe seems to give its blessing for (which won’t happen often)! Sometimes you’ll be just too damn tired to have a big girls’ night out. Other times you will find that plans aren’t always so child friendly and babysitting is not as ‘on tap’ as you might have once imagined (although all the grandparents are so helpful whenever they can be).

You’ll occasionally be so exhausted that TV is a tempting babysitter. You will give in. Your child will eat cake, ice cream and other ‘bad’ stuff (especially around the grandparents haha) – although, you’ll be pleased to know you will not completely abandon your will to keep him healthy. You will realise these things won’t kill him, but that moderation is important too. You’re doing an OK job!

You’ll start a blog and somehow it will become mostly about the fact that you’re a parent. Just accept it. In fact, you’ll meet a lot of other bloggers and parents through it and they will make your journey so much more enjoyable/enriched as you learn about each others’ lives and parenting stories/advice.

You’ll struggle to be on time. Yes you. Punctuality queen. You’ll find there are only two options with you. Too early or late. There is no in between. Just keep doing your best. I’m sure one day you’ll figure it out.

You’ll surpass your own expectations

Don’t worry. It’s not ALL worse than you were imagining before you got this letter from me (Kez with Kid). Sometimes you’ll surprise yourself with what you can achieve as a parent (or woman who just happens to be a parent).

After we cancelled the Contiki tour on discovery of our pregnancy (yeah – sorry – bad news I’m afraid – Europe is off – don’t cry), I thought that I would not travel on a plane until my children were like 10 years old. As someone who sadly missed the young adults’ rite of passage with drunken overseas travel tours (but luckily at least you’ll fit in a couple of trips to Thailand), I thought we were doomed, Kez Before Kids. Not so. Circumstances sent us to Tasmania twice with the Little Mister (do you like his cute blog moniker?), you make it over there once without him (and you are sorely disappointed with how sad and tired you are instead of revelling in your freedom) and right now I have a trip planned with the family to Japan and Korea! Yep! With a 2 year old! Who would have thought you would get so brave? Awesome, right?

You’ll grow some muscles. Yes. In your arms. You will be carrying a 16kg toddler in no time. Without even really thinking about it! Who would have ever thought the girl who couldn’t even do one chin up can do such a thing?! You’ll find it hard with a chubby newborn, but you won’t believe how fast your strength will grow with him. This will do great things for your confidence and you will dare to try more things because of this newfound strength. Also? You’ll be able to carry like 15 bags of groceries into the house in one go. Like a boss.

Sure, your life will never be the same and certain freedoms you took for granted will be limited, but the really cool thing? You won’t grieve for those things for very long or very often. You’ll laugh about them more than anything. You will learn to say no to things that aren’t best for you or your family and you will go through a lot that will teach you to love yourself and to be more assertive – something I know you struggle with right now. Also, you’ll be surrounded by supportive people – several of who will be in the same life stages as you – so you won’t feel like you’ve given up too much. You’ll just adapt to a new lifestyle – it’s healthier (apart from the sleep deprivation and occasional comfort food).You’ll be ready to be a mum when you start trying for a baby. It’s OK. You’ll be satisfied that you’re ready to give some things up in order to gain something really new and special.

Also? Your kid will sleep well (for a baby that is)! He’ll have a ridiculous sense of humour from the get go (so you’ll know for sure he’s yours). He’ll be caring and very sociable. He will have a smile that will melt you. He will be very healthy (just disregard the first couple of days of his life – he’ll bounce back better than you). WOOHOO! Now that’s something to look forward to!

Now go and enjoy your skinniness and your ability to use both hands at once! I urge you! 🙂

Love from Kez with Kid.

xoxo

I support you – no matter how you feed your baby.

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I found this post in my ‘drafts’ folder. I wrote it about a year ago. I think that I was scared to publish it because a) I didn’t want to just be another person going on and on about an issue that shouldn’t even be a favourite ‘mummy wars’ topic, and b) because I was scared that some of my readers might be put off by my stance on the issue. Yeah, I’m a people pleasing chicken sometimes…

I’ve decided to publish it today. A year late. I felt inspired by Mama By the Bay’s “I Support You” movement (in which she works alongside Fearless Formula Feeder and I am not the babysitter). It’s about supporting mums, no matter how they feed their babies – as long as it’s done with love, who are we to judge? I still feel the same as I did a year ago and I’m cool with that. 

Written in August 2012…and published in August 2013. 

I am usually one to avoid controversial topics in my blogging. I want to entertain more than anything else. However, I am quite angry that the issue I’m going to talk about has to be controversial in the first damn place!

Of course. The age old argument: Breastfeeding vs. formula.

I just read a post on Mamamia by Bec Sparrow called, “Should baby formula be locked up in hospitals?”

In New York, Mayor Bloomberg is implementing a so called initiative that involves the locking up of baby formula (literally) and only prescribing it for new babies if there is a medical reason. If a woman states her choice to use formula or requests a bottle, she has to have a lecture (no joke) on why lactation is better.

I am glad to not be in New York but this riles me up nonetheless. I am neither pro exclusive breastfeeding or pro exclusive formula. I am pro choice. I choose for women to have the right to choose. I think that our babies should be nourished and cared for in the best way they can be at the time. Also, there is no frickin’ rule about the two options being mutually exclusive!!!!! FFS!

Here’s my story:

I had a difficult pregnancy. I had PUPPP rash when I was 20 weeks pregnant onwards. I had to treat it aggressively with a steroid based ointment. Most women don’t get the rash until late in their pregnancy (around 36 weeks onwards) and can simply live with it or be induced once it’s considered safer for the mother and the baby. Let’s face it, I am a freak. I was itching, uncomfortable, visually a mess and dangerously close to depression (somehow the love for my baby and my support network really came through for me and I was lucky to get through it). I cried almost every day (not just the usual pregnancy crying but real, sad tears). I felt like a bad mother already, because as I tried to soak my body in a lukewarm bath (in the middle of winter), trying every home remedy possible and feeling so itchy it hurt, I had terrible thoughts. I thought, if my pregnancy would just go away…

Which you can imagine I didn’t really mean. I wanted my beautiful Little Mister more than anything in the world, but my state of mind was getting unhealthy and I just wanted the discomfort to stop. This wasn’t how I had dreamed of it. Being adopted, I had maybe idealised what pregnancy might be like because I wanted all my life to feel the blessing of fertility and a biological relative of my own. This was a tough blow.

At 30 weeks, I found out I had gestational diabetes. It was borderline so it was easy enough to control. I just had to drastically change my diet. Which is already restricted as you would guess when you’re pregnant. My one guilty pleasure and comfort – food and baking was thrown out. I was keeping a meticulous food diary and pricking my finger every single day (4 times a day). I felt like there was stigma whenever I told anyone I had it. It was genetic and not my fault. I had not done any different to any of my other pregnant friends who didn’t have it.  This was tough news upon the rash experience.

Fast forward to the 30-something weeks of my pregnancy and while my state of mind had improved, my rash came back and no steroid treatment would fix it. I felt better knowing I was closer to the end but it was a mystery. Turns out it wasn’t PUPPP again. It was probably an early symptom of an infection (and a dangerous one at that). I was subjected to daily blood tests for the whole last week of my pregnancy and was being monitored at the hospital every second day for longer than that. No-one knew what was wrong. I cried at the doc’s (not on purpose but it did work) and he gave me a date to be induced.

The Little Mister didn’t want to wait. He wanted to burst into this world on his own terms! Four days before I was going to be induced, I came down with a fever. I felt like I was just fighting a cold or something, but I didn’t know it would be much worse. I woke from a nap (I felt so lousy my body kind of gave out to it – the first “sleep” in ages) with contractions. Long story short, I rushed into hospital as my fever reached 38 degrees (celcius). Three hours later the Little Mister was born via emergency C-section. He didn’t breathe for the first 4 minutes. I was mentally oblivious and in shock. He was taken to another hospital where I didn’t see him for three days.

I was hooked up to the bed with a catheter for two days (the usual procedure for a C-section patient is one day). I had no baby and I would go from feeling like he didn’t exist (being all jovial like nothing had happened – probably my mind’s way of protecting me) to feeling very sad. My parents were amazing and I truly believe that they saved my mental health because they printed out pictures of the Little Mister from his first night in the hospital nursery (I wasn’t able to visit him) and I could look at him and bond with the idea of him. It made him real. My husband was torn between visiting our little man and keeping me company. He was always on the go and did an amazing job also.

By the time my little man came back to me in the hospital, he had been fed formula for three days. There was no choice. I just felt like as long as he was fed and nursed back to health, that’s all that mattered (he had my infection too). He was still on antibiotics just like me, but he was doing better than I was!! I was encouraged to express whenever possible for the milk to come in. Nothing really happened (despite my colostrum coming in very early in my pregnancy). I was stressed. People kept intruding when I tried to pump my breasts. There was no privacy and I couldn’t do it without hearing yet another well-meaning midwives’ opinion on it. I was feeling immense pressure as every nurse who started a new shift (I was in hospital 6 days) kept giving me a new lecture and new breastfeeding instructions. The Little Mister’s first night with us was hellish. He cried and cried every hour of the entire night. He was effectively being starved. I felt hopeless and had been somewhat brainwashed, thinking there was no option but to endure it. The anti biotics, the trauma and stress, they did nothing for my supply.

In the morning a midwife who I will love forever, told me this was bad. We’d been through so much already. We needed to be strong parents and stay mentally healthy at such a trying time. She taught us how to measure out formula top ups. I would try to breastfeed and then if nothing happened on the milk front, formula could top the Little Mister up for the time being. This worked wonders. We got small snatches of sleep and the pressure to breastfeed (which can hinder it ironically enough) was lifted somewhat. I realised I could just do my best and everything would still be OK.

When I left the hospital my supply hadn’t come in. I’d been separated from my baby, was still on anti biotics and I was very stressed (hospital is not that fun after 6 days). I was prescribed something to help and I was relieved when I got home into my own environment to find my supply coming in the day after. It wasn’t a great supply but it was better than nothing in my mind. I wanted to try. We had to continue with top ups through the night but in the day I was able to feed on demand (it felt like we were permanently attached). I felt so much better, but I still felt shame when people would either a) assume immediately that I must be breastfeeding exclusively because every GOOD mother does, right? or b) ask me what choice I had made, with their judgey face all ready to go.

I found myself stumbling over my answers. Trying to justify myself at every turn. I felt ashamed when I gave up at 3 months. My hormones had gone nuts and now as well as rashes all over my body (it was now scarring), I was getting acne. I was struggling with my supply and my body had been hijacked in a difficult way for way too long. I found myself feeling down and I couldn’t take another scar to my battered body. I had carried my beautiful baby into this world and fed him as well as I could. I had tried and tried to breastfeed and I had enjoyed the bonding it did give us while it lasted (without all my illness I truly believe that the Little Mister and my body – as it naturally would have been otherwise – would have been a feeding match made in heaven).

In the ideal world I would have had my baby with me from day 1 and I would have breastfed for at least 6 months (as recommended), but this isn’t always the ideal world and beating myself up over it wasn’t going to help anyone.

To shame mothers into exclusively breastfeeding is a disgusting act. To make laws and rules about it is just big brother style bullying. We all deserve a choice. I honestly believe to be able to be a happy and stable mother, I needed to be able to make my own decision after everything I’d been through. It was thought out, educated and with the best of intentions. To be treated like a dumb, uneducated young mother would have been terribly insulting, disempowering and bad for my mental health. As sad (and embarrassing – there’s a lot of pressure) as it was for me at the time, formula feeding probably saved me from depression.  I also found that having to breastfeed and then warm bottles and feed the Little Mister a top up each time was a lot to deal with 3 times a night. To be able to cut down half the work in the wee hours was also a relief. This was not a decision to be lazy (!!!), it was a practical decision. Trust me. No hands on new mum is ‘lazy’.

I think that breastfeeding and lactation information is fantastic and every mother should be provided it in a supportive manner. Milk from the breast really is full of amazing properties that can only do our children a favour. I just also believe that women should not be pressured into it (rather than encouraged) and treated like imbeciles or sub-par parents when they bottle feed. I’m not even talking about the overtly aggressive anti formula people, but also about those passive aggressive looks, comments and “friendly advice” givers that pop up out of nowhere. Sometimes from strangers, medical professionals and even our own ‘friends’ and families – and that is bad enough!

I was adopted and I was formula fed for all of my babyhood. There was no choice. I grew up smart and healthy. I met all of my developmental milestones and I was rarely sick. Perhaps that skews my views on the issue, but I just believe that women need to have a choice, without fear of “mummy wars”. If formula feeding becomes the new social stigma, what does that mean for anyone who doesn’t have a choice? How will that affect the way they feel about themselves?

If I am blessed with a second child (not for a while yet – hold your horses), I will be doing both if required. I know my mind now and I believe I’m a good mother who will always do what is best for my child/ren in my circumstances at the time. To hell with what everyone else thinks.

 

Don’t bother having a birth ‘plan’.

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I honestly don’t know why they call them that. The fact is, you can’t PLAN your birth process. Even if you have a wonderful labour, you didn’t plan it. It was just a wonderful surprise to know that you were able to have a relatively good experience! To suggest that we can plan childbirth just seems like bollocks to me. Big sweaty ones. It says we’re in control of the process. I’m sorry, but while that thought is nice and sometimes keeps us sane, it just isn’t true.

My advice to first time pregnant mums is to throw out any notion that you are in charge and that everything will happen the way you want it to, because you’ve thought positively, avoided all negative horror stories and you’ve got a birth plan. Hasn’t anyone heard?? You have a birth plan! You did research! People who do research are better at this, right? Everything’s going to go just as you want it to! The truth is, positive thinking and making smart choices are never a bad thing – in fact, I recommend them. However, they don’t make a ‘good’ labour (ie the one you hope for) a sure thing. I feel like society keeps telling us we’re in control of everything. It feels like a comforting thought, but when despite all of your best efforts, something goes wrong…you feel like a failure. You’ve been fooled and pressured into thinking that you’re in charge of such a crazy biological process.

It’s actually liberating to realise you can’t be in charge of all of it. When my pregnancy started to get a little bit nuts, I blamed myself. I was ashamed that all these weird things were happening to me. I thought that those around me (the lucky ducks who have pregnancies that make them feel great) would think that I must be doing something wrong. That I must be thinking negatively, making some erroneous choice with my lifestyle or my diet etc. I knew it wasn’t my fault on an intellectual level (and was told so by more than one doctor/medical professional), but the fear of judgement was probably my biggest mistake of all! It’s just that we have all been brainwashed. It’s misguidedly comforting to tell ourselves that the other person over there with the pregnancy problems or the terrible labour must have done something wrong, because then we can just do it all ‘right’ and we’ll be fine. In a sick way, it reassures us.

In some ways, my crazy pregnancy was the greatest gift. It taught me that I’m not the one driving this bus (at times I looked like one haha). That you can do all of the ‘right’ things, think all of the most positive thoughts, and nature will still take its course. By the time I got closer to my due date, I threw all ideas of a birth ‘plan’ out of the window.

I had birth ‘preferences’. Birth ‘hopes’. Birth ‘wishes’.

I wrote a list of what I hoped for. I wrote a list of things I was willing to do to save myself or the baby (I kind of knew it wouldn’t be straight forward – intuition perhaps). I wrote a list of guidelines for my husband and my family – who I wanted there and when. It wasn’t fancy. It was pen scrawled all over an A4 piece of scrap paper, written off the top of my head. Maybe a list of only about 15 items. Some being very significant, like what I hoped would happen if something should happen to me (incapacitating me in some way), to the not so earth shattering, “Here’s my iPod, if my labour gets long just play it on shuffle – the songs on it keep me calm and inspire me.”

I was obviously hoping for a natural, vaginal birth, but I knew that drugs might help (I was quite unashamedly open to the idea) and that a C-section might be an emergency necessity. I knew from the start of the whole process that I would just be happy to have a healthy baby. I would not spend time mourning the death of a ‘plan’. I had already mourned the smooth, normal pregnancy I hoped I would have. I wasn’t going to do that to myself again.

My new attitude paid off. Because, as you may know, sh*t got crazy. I was in hospital for a mere 3 hours before I was in surgery. I only knew I was in labour about 2 hours before that. My labour was brought on by an infection. I got to 9cm dilated before they had to get me in for an emergency C-section. The epidural was administered in full dosage ahead of time (which made it a bit weird when I tried to push in a last ditch effort – can’t feel ANYTHING down there). I had no choice. I was then tethered (by catheter) to my hospital bed for two days (rather than the customary one day), while my firstborn spent the first 3 days of his life in another hospital without me because he was sick too.

If I had been all about a ‘plan’, I would have been exponentially more devastated and traumatised. Instead I was just shocked and dazed (perhaps it was the pethidine too) and later realised the enormity of what had happened to my baby and I. It took weeks to come to terms with what had happened. It was the biggest thing that had ever happened to me, my baby, or my body and of course it was going to take some getting used to! I am just glad that I didn’t also have the added sadness about things not going to ‘plan’ during the birth. I’d made my wishes known and they’d been respected, but I hadn’t outlined my preferred labour process without having an open mind. I knew anything could happen.

The important things happened. My parents were there to share in the experience (they stayed at the ‘right’ end of me haha) for the first time (I am adopted so it was hugely meaningful for the three of us as my mum has never experienced a pregnancy and I wanted to share this with her – I was so moved by my parents’ gratitude at being invited into such a special and private ‘event’). My husband got to the hospital quickly and was there for just about the whole time – by my side, encouraging me and saying all the right things (seriously!). I was kept safe, as was the Little Mister. No-one tweeted or Facebooked my labour process to the world in real time. I was given gas right when I needed it, surgery before things got horrible, and my baby was alive and likely to stay that way.

What didn’t I expect? What didn’t go to plan?

By complete chance, a top obstetrician just happened to be present when I came into the hospital. He was amazing and kept everyone calm in a tricky situation. Including me. I got optimum attention and care because while the time of my labour was unexpected (I was due to be induced almost a week later), I was the only person giving birth in the ward that night. The ONLY one! If I had been induced when I was expecting to be, the ward would have been FLOODED with people hoping to have their babies on the 11/11/2011 (as I found out later that week after a 6 day stay in the ward). Resources and manpower would have been stretched. The paediatrician who was present was also very good at her job (and to my mum’s delight – the wife of her favourite former professional AFL footballer)!

While not much went remotely as predicted, a lot of things went really right. I am so grateful. I am so glad I can see those blessings. Blessings I could never have planned for.

I’m calling on everyone to stop telling each other that we can plan our destinies. We can’t. We can’t be in control of everything. We can put our ducks in a row. We can be educated. We can make the best choices possible to encourage a great outcome. We can be positive and keep a great mindset. We can work hard. All of this might put us in the right places at the right times, but ultimately not all of it will always work out how we expected. Childbirth is no exception.

I love the way Mia Freedman of Mamamia puts it in her article about “Birthzillas”:

For many, it’s about control. One of the most confronting things about pregnancy and birth is the unpredictability of it and women often believe they can regain control by planning. Babies, however, like to raise their middle finger at your plans. They come early, they come late, they get stuck, they get suddenly distressed or tired or tangled…

After my personal experience, all I think we should care about is what’s best for the baby in that moment. I’m not going to compromise my child’s safety, by refusing treatment (or at least prolonging the inevitable) because I want to stick to a plan. Birth plans? Total first world problem/privilege. I’m sorry to put it so bluntly. My baby was in real trouble (as was I) if I did not have the first class care that I received. Who cares what that care involved as long as everything turned out for the best? A child who was/is alive (even if he didn’t breathe for four agonising minutes). Healthy after a little special attention.

Childbirth might not feel like the magical miracle everyone dreams of (at least it isn’t for everyone), but the result is what matters. It’s really important to go in knowing what is the most important.

If you got out of it healthy (if not worn out and needing some stitches somewhere) and you got to hold your healthy baby, take him/her back to your hospital room for cuddles and bonding for the first few days of his/her life… YOU ARE LUCKY. Your birth went well.

The birth of the Little Mister was shocking, surprising, a blur and hard to wrap my head around later, but I do not regret it at all. It went the way it needed to go. I wouldn’t and couldn’t change it. It brought me the most amazing gift and we all survived! I feel like a much stronger, more resilient person for it. I am proud of the fact that I was able to accept what happened (it took some time but had more to do with the trauma of being separated from my baby – as an adoptee since birth this was difficult to accept – my little man had to experience an immediate separation from me – something I’d dreamed he’d be spared of ever experiencing) and I feel like anything that brings you your gorgeous baby alive and well (even days later) is a success. I refuse to think of it as anything else.

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My advice to mums to be is to accept that life brings no guarantees. Know stuff. Do the stuff you can do. Then let the universe (and your beautiful baby you are so excited to meet) take its course. Some things are just bigger than us. Our self esteem and our pride should have nothing to do with something we can’t really control. We should not feel ashamed if something turns out differently to how we hoped. We did our best and life had other plans. That’s OK.

Sometimes life might put us on a path that will teach us the most, if we’re willing to learn.

Did your birth/s go to plan? Did you have a plan?

For some women, a traumatic birth or a birth that did not go to plan can be a trigger for post natal depression. If you are struggling, please click here for some resources. 

(More) Useful Stuff for an Awesomely Unprepared Mother.

OK, so once I posted five must have items for a new mother after being inspired by the purchasing of gifts for a baby shower, I kind of spent the next million years thinking about other ideas to add to the list. Once my list started in my head it wouldn’t stop! My brain wants to explode with all the stuff I’ve found useful and I just have to be obnoxious (but hopefully more helpful or relateable) and share them, as it feels like every female with ovaries that I’ve ever met is pregnant right now 🙂

Clothing for the baby in larger sizes
All those newborn sized jumpsuits in the shops just make you want to squeal with embarrassingly exuberant delight and buy one of everything for an expectant mother! Sure, she’ll definitely need them, but perhaps throw in a few clothes that come in the 3-6 month and even 6-12 month sizes too. I was so thankful to those who purchased me slightly larger outfits for the Little Mister, because at the 6 month point he was running out of things to wear! Of course I never mind the excuse to go shopping (YAY!) but I had to build his entire wardrobe for each new size range almost from scratch (as you do)! Just keep in mind what season it will be – for example, don’t buy a fluffy, snuggly winter outfit in size 00 if the baby is going to be wearing it in the heat of summer!

At least 7 hooded baby bath towels
OK, so they don’t really have to be hooded. The hood is really a nice touch to keep the baby’s head warm after a bath (which a big enough normal towel can do quite nicely too), but it’s also damn cute.

I rest my case!

I say 7 because that way there’s a fresh one for each day of the week and you have enough spare that you don’t have to worry if you can’t get all of your washing done at once. I bought a few new towels to round off my collection and now I STILL don’t have to worry about running out if I’m struggling to catch up with all my washing right away! It’s a constant rotation of loads of little man clothes (whites or colours), adult clothes, baby towels/bedding etc and adult towels/bedding! Same goes for wash cloths. Have heaps of those too 🙂

Swaddle-Mes
These were/are amazing. They come in different sizes and they’re so easy to use. Forget all that fancy folding and tucking they teach you in the hospital with a blanket that never stays on. Just use a Swaddle-Me (or similar brand) that has velcro and is shaped perfectly for tucking crazy baby arms inside! Our older relatives call them straitjackets, but don’t listen to them. A lot of babies like the security and as they are uncoordinated early on, their arms can flap about too much keeping them awake. I used mine for what felt like a really long time and now have swapped them for sleeping bags (we made the swap somewhere around 4 months but some other babies can switch a bit earlier or even a bit later)!

Colourful, soft educational toys
When I had my baby shower, I was inundated with all these bright, crinkly, noisy, soft toys for the Little Mister. I looked at the massive pile of them and thought – what the hell? There’s too many! This child is going to be so spoilt! Trust me, they will all be used. When the baby is very young they can’t do much more than look at the bright colours or listen to any music or crinkly sounds that the toys might make, but they’re a welcome distraction from grumpiness and they make the day interesting when you’re staying in. I felt like the Little Mister would get bored of them before he could play with them properly. I was so wrong! At six plus months he began to see them as completely new toys, able to hold them and manipulate them (and shove them in his mouth)! He still has toys that he is yet to discover the true potential of (!) and that makes me really happy! You can switch toys out so they seem fresh when they’re reintroduced and I honestly feel that at this age there can’t be too many (within reason haha)! As a baby he was too young to realise he was being spoilt and was just really excited at exploring everything. They kept him busy. You get a lot of life out of them so they’re a worthwhile addition to a new mum’s swag! Right now at 18 months he still loves the bright colours and he’s into sorting them into categories. Balls go together, then teddy bear type things, stuff that makes sounds and so on! I try to hide some away, but he loves digging around for them anyway!

Nappy wallet
My friends with slightly older babies had alluded to these clever inventions when I was preggo, but I didn’t fully understand at the time. A nappy wallet is just that. It is a streamlined way to keep a couple of spare nappies, some wipes and whatever else your baby needs at change time. If you get an awesome one, it will also fold out into a small change mat! The reason I didn’t understand it at first was because I was in that new mummy phase where I wanted to pack my whole house just for a five minute trip to the shops. I figured I already had everything I needed with me (and then some). Why would I need a nappy wallet too when the stuff was all there in my bag? Here’s why. Sometimes you’re in a rush in a public place (or someone’s house). You can grab the nappy wallet right out of your bag, knowing it has everything in it. There’s no clumsy lugging of your entire nappy bag, trying to use fifty hands/arms you don’t have as you try to change your gorgeous bundle of joy (who may not be a fan of change time) in a small space. Just carry bub and a nappy wallet (which is already stocked up) with you! You can re-stock it after each use (from your surplus supply in your massive nappy bag), so it’s always ready to go! This would be particularly useful in cafes and other eateries when socialising (if you’re lucky enough). You can dash off, leaving your stuff with your trusty friends/partner/doting family 🙂

Do you have any other great gift ideas for new/expectant mothers? x

I was too scared to publish this a year ago. I shouldn’t have been.

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I wrote this post a whole year ago (March 2012) when the Little Mister was about four months old. I just found it saved as a draft today. I remember why I didn’t publish it now. I was scared that I would reveal that I wasn’t a perfect parent and that I might be inviting criticism of my parenting abilities. At the time I was very nervous about what other people would think of me as a mum. I cared too much and I gave toxic people/books/expectations too much power over how I felt about myself. I read it now and I’m cool with it! I even have some new thoughts to add to the theme of this post! I might start digging back through my drafts every now and then – have a look at what I was too scared to post and reassess.

I always knew that having a baby would be one giant learning curve – probably the steepest, most Mount Everest-est one there is. I anticipated learning sooooo much about having a child. Things like their needs, their physical development, the impact it has on your life as a person who didn’t used to be a parent, the joys, the tough moments. What to do when they don’t feel well. How to figure out what their cries mean. Stuff like that.

I am constantly surprised by how many things there are to discover about my Little Mister. He changes literally every single day and there are constant new challenges, milestones and celebrations.

One thing that shocks me is that I didn’t really think too much about what I would learn about myself. That learning curve seems just as steep and full of crazy revelations (lots of which are fantastic and pleasantly surprising may I add).

Let’s just say it took having a baby for some of my … issues to come to light. Well, for me at least. I am sure those who know me in real life would have figured it out years ago and are just waiting for Slow Learner Kez to get around to it!

Apparently I have a fear of being seen to “make a fuss” or waste anyone’s time with trivial matters. No, I never thought that would be true about me in a million years. Turns out it’s not a problem when it truly is about trivial matters (I can annoy you no end quite happily if that’s the case), but I have this thing where, when it isn’t a waste of time, when it IS really important – that’s when I decide I might waste peoples’ time or seem like a drama queen. You know – those occasions where it’s not just warranted, but necessary.

I don’t even know if I’m making any sense, but please try to follow…

Case/s in point:

I didn’t call anyone about possibly being in labour until I was almost halfway. I timed my contractions, just you know, on a whim out of interest and when it appeared that my contractions were 4 minutes apart, followed by 2 minutes apart, followed by a painful period where it seemed there was no beginning or end to each one…then I decided to get serious about going to hospital. The baby was delivered 3 hours after I arrived at hospital and it turned out I had a serious infection and needed an emergency C-section ASAP. Yep, that “kind of fever” I had – didn’t wanna bug anyone. Didn’t want to call the hospital in case it was a waste of the busy staff members’ time. Didn’t want to interrupt my parents’ nice weekend. Didn’t want to call my husband’s work number in case I disturbed him at work or annoyed his colleagues.

Yep. Ridiculous.

Of course I was very lucky with the outcome we had. Although the Little Mister and I weren’t super healthy at first, we were OK, alive and going to recover and enjoy each other.

Next time? I’d bug the hell out of everyone at the first sign of a fever or any crampy contractions. What’s the worst that could happen?

This last week the Little Mister was reacting a bit badly to his four month old immunisations. He’d had a slight temperature for the first couple of days (treated well with paracetemol and lots of love), become constipated and was quite gripey in the tummy area. I’d worked on those symptoms making sure he was hydrated and introduced some fruit puree to his diet (which he was so ready for and loved). I massaged his little belly and I gave him a break between being fed and having play time. I’d noticed some little lumps around his bottom, but thought perhaps they were maybe haemorroids or a temporary reaction to his needles (seriously – all bets are off after immunisations – so many crazy things happen to their poor little bodies).

I didn’t want to be that parent who rushes to the doctor over every single little thing. See, I didn’t want to be a silly time waster. Of course things got worse and the rush to the GP happened at 4:30pm on a Friday afternoon – I must have been reeeal popular! I felt heartbreakingly awful when I found out he had an infection that was only going to get worse. I could have sucked it up, seen someone about it earlier and it might not have got so bad that he was crying whenever my husband or I sat him on his bottom. Lesson learnt. He needed anti-biotics and if I’d left it any longer, we would have had a trip to emergency at the hospital.

In all of this, I ignored my gut feeling and let my fear of wasting someone’s time or appearing stupid/paranoid get in the way. I didn’t even know that stuff was an issue for me until this past week!

I was completely and utterly unprepared for all the revelations I’d make about who I am when I had a little one of my own. I am certainly going to work on this because it’s one thing for me to be completely stubborn, proud and concerned about my ego when it’s just myself to worry about, but it’s another thing if I let it get in the way of my baby’s care. I won’t make that mistake again (I hope)!

In the year since I wrote this, I have actually taken my own advice (would you believe it?). I’m no longer afraid of being impolite or inconvenient. My son’s health matters and so does mine 🙂 The worst that can happen is somebody says, “No.” Whoopee-do. Eventually someone will say ‘yes’.

I’ve made doctor’s appointments (why does everything always happen on a Friday afternoon?!) where I’ve had to insist that they fit me in because I’m not just some whining mum with a silly complaint. I know something’s not right. I’m not rude and I’m not inconsiderate. I show my appreciation when someone has to make special changes to accommodate me. I just refuse to let my self consciousness get in the way of the care of my child. I’m proud of how I’ve grown.

It was scary having a little baby. My first little, real, right there in my arms, baby. I put so much pressure on myself to get everything right, despite not having a clue! I would research everything to death and worry all the time about the tiniest decisions. The worst thing I did was let my fear of “other people” take over. What if this person thinks I’m wasting their time? What if that person thinks I handled this wrong? What if people think I’m just some paranoid new mum who thinks she’s all important and sh*t? Pffft. I AM important. My gut feeling and my parental instinct IS important. Too bad what other people might say. Besides, they’ll just give me something to rant about on my blog 😉

Have you listened to your gut feeling (and taken action) lately? How did it work out for you?

Puppies are not babies. Sigh.

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OK, so it’s time for a little bit of light heartedness around here…

Throughout my lifetime, I’ve seen several puppies grow into successful adult dogs in my family homes. My husband (then live-in boyfriend) and I even adopted one when she was about five months old when we became an adults who felt capable of keeping something alive (which I imagine is what my parents thought about when they adopted me haha). I still can’t keep plants alive, but that’s another story…

Since then we’ve also raised a very rambunctious Labrador/German Shepherd cross, from puppyhood and let me tell you, that was an eye opener. My husband was working away for the first couple of weeks of her life and I saw myself imagining what it would be like to look after a human baby – alone. This canine infant cried all night, escaped every barrier I created for her and was certainly not toilet trained! She chewed on everything in sight (including my hands) and ate a lot. I remember thinking, it was lucky she was SO cute as I recovered from three hour nights of sleep and got on my hands and knees daily to scrub the tiles she had soiled quite comprehensively.

I used to always laugh that having a puppy was like having a baby and that it was all good practice for parenthood. Similarities? Both are cute, they grow up way too fast and your love for them is unconditional.

However, there are also many differences between human puppies and dog babies.

No way! Get outta town!

It’s true. Apparently, it’s not OK to bathe your human infant outside on the lawn by simply dousing him in shampoo and rinsing with the garden hose…even if he is particularly filthy. Also, you can’t put nappies on your dog. Well, you could, but people might think you were a bit weird. I can’t decide which way I’d rather go. Let the baby poop all over the yard, saving money and time where nappies are concerned (just doing one big clean up every few days), or put nappies on your dog, saving the unsightly view of your garden if you fall behind in your lawn clean ups. Hmm.

You have to buy a sh*tload of stuff to have a baby. When you get a dog, you just get a bed, bowl, squeaky toys (that will be half eaten within days), a collar, council registration tags and a few vet bills. No-one really analyses these decisions with you, asking “What colour collar are you buying? Will it suit the puppy’s gender and match your puppy’s style? What kind of bed should I get for my puppy? I want one that will last for more than one puppy’s puppyhood and can convert into three different types – bassinet level, cot level and toddler puppy bed! It must also match the decor of my house and the theme I’ve chosen for my dog’s space. Are the dog toys I’ve chosen educational?”

OK, so some people do. There are a lot of hardcore dog lovers out there. I’ve probably been a lot more casual about the whole thing. I just ask, “Can she eat it and will it be spread all over my lawn by tomorrow morning? No? Well, I’ll take two.”

Usually when you get a puppy, it can already walk. Even the adorable rescued puppies who have three legs instead of four can do this adorable hop/walk thing. For reals. I’ve seen it on YouTube, Oprah and Ellen. Human babies have to be carried or wheeled everywhere. If you put them down anywhere, they just kind of flop about and they can fall off things. Which is scary. Although, I am nervous about the day my Little Mister can walk around. The thought of having to childproof everything to the nth degree terrifies me.

Another thing: You can’t leave your baby home alone with a bowl of water and some biscuits, while you work/party/do the grocery shopping. Apparently that can get you into a lot of trouble. Also, there might be some ethical issues around the idea of microchipping your child so you can be contacted when they get lost. Sounds like a great idea, but apparently it’s not the done thing…yet. I’m sure someone’s working on it.

I guess there are pros and cons in having either a dog or a baby. I’m lucky enough to have both. We’ll see which ones eat us out of house and home first, shall we? 🙂

Do you have a fur baby or a human baby? Both?

Useful Stuff for an Awesomely Unprepared Mother.

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I recently went shopping for a friend’s baby shower gift. While I myself am a fairly green mother (four months in – he’s still alive – yay!), I thought back to when the Little Mister was so brand new and I was so bewildered by all that baby stuff everyone (parents/friends/magazines/books) told me I’d need. I thought to myself, what would my friend need to know/have?

I then had to restrain myself (it didn’t get physical but it was quite the warzone in my brain) from buying the poor mother to-be the entire local baby store (and every baby department in the bigger chain stores). Oh, also I haven’t won the lottery quite yet (I buy a ticket maybe twice a year) so I guess my finances might not have liked the gesture anyhow. I settled on some very cute gender neutral bibs (at 10 weeks a new mother suddenly realises why those bibs she received at her baby shower are necessary – baby becomes a drool factory before attempting messy solids later) and an insulated bottle bag that comes with a special instant heating pad – you just click a thing on the side of it and it gets hot right away without needing to be plugged into anything or requiring batteries! I also checked the side of the box and there are no nasty chemicals involved! Something I wish I had back in the old days…8 weeks or so ago!

I used to dread baby showers like crazy. Of course I felt honoured to be a part of the celebration and I was always so excited that one of my close friends was going to pop out a mini-human of their very own that I could love and dote on. I just felt so damn awkward! I had no idea what to buy them and not a clue how I would feel if they already had one! I felt lost when I’d sit there at what is usually a fairly alcohol free event and people around me would be talking at a million miles an hour about swaddling, clothing sizes (so many zeros!!) and the latest brands and gadgets to help make a parent’s life easier!

This has got me thinking. What are those super useful must-haves that have saved my life time and again in the last four months?

The “Boring Stuff”
Somehow my husband and I accumulated a crapload of samples and gifts that had our baby supplies looking quite healthy! It’s the stuff that everyone thinks of as boring every day baby stuff, only when you’re heavily pregnant and a little overwhelmed it’s less stuff to tick off the list. We’re talking nappy rash creams, wipes, newborn nappies, powder, baby oil, baby lotion, cotton wool balls, tissues and even teething gel (not to be used until required of course). It might not seem that thrilling, but if you put that stuff in a hamper for a first time mother-to-be, she will be thanking you later when she has baby brain and needs something in a hurry that she forgot to grab from the supermarket (it’s not so easy to get out in the early days)! These were the things I just never really got around to buying before the baby came. I had all the big stuff, the fun stuff and the read-it-in-a-trendy-magazine stuff, but the “boring stuff” just fell off the radar (and then the Little Mister made a surprise appearance three weeks early)!

Digital thermometer, room temperature thermometer and bath water thermometer – thermometers everywhere!
Besides being a really strange word to type over and over, thermometers have been my best friends since the early days. As new parents, my husband and I weren’t sure if we could trust our instincts just yet when it came to the temperature of the bath water, the temperature of our bedroom (where the Little Mister is STILL sleeping even though all three of us are totally ready for him to move) and his body temperature.

Knowing the bath wasn’t too hot or cold meant there was one less thing to worry about on our long list of brand new parent worries! It gave us a base to start from and let us feel for ourselves what the correct temperature is. It’s actually warmer than I would have thought it should be at 36 degrees celcius. I probably would have spent the early days chilling him too much and wondering why he was always upset! Little babies hate being naked as it is – it’s not as cosy out in the world as it was in the womb!

A few times in the first six weeks or so, our bedroom would be a bit too hot for the Little Mister’s liking. We wouldn’t know and while he wouldn’t always FEEL warm or sweaty to the touch, having the thermometer for the room confirmed our suspicions and more often than not, an adjusting of the air conditioner settings and his amount of bedding/swaddling would fix everything.

I used to freak out about the Little Mister’s body temperature because knowing that babies can’t really regulate their own temperature just seemed to mess with my mind! A couple of times I was able to reassure myself by using his digital thermometer. It might seem like something you can just buy later, but if I hadn’t had it ready and on hand when I was worried, my stress levels would have gone off the charts! Sometimes when you want to check, it can be the middle of the night or a time when you can’t make it to the pharmacy to purchase one. I use it after his vaccinations (a horrible terrible necessary evil) if he’s not himself, so I can see if he’s got a fever (a common side effect). It also helped because they would take his temperature every day in the hospital (I don’t know if this is normal or because he was recovering from the infection that brought on my labour), which probably got it into my head that temperature is something to worry about!

Books!
I am not a super parenting nerd (believe it or not, despite the fact that my having a blog might lead you towards this conclusion), but sometimes reading a book that is written with new parents in mind, with up to date information (relevant to your country or culture’s practices) can be incredibly reassuring. Sometimes a lot more reassuring than googling your crazy mind to pieces in the middle of the night because you woke up and you just have to or else).

The three absolute bibles I go by are:

Save Our Sleep by Tizzie Hall


Kidwrangling by Kaz Cooke
What to Expect the First Year by Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel

I won’t review each of them for you, because that would bore the pants off you, but I have learnt everything from what’s “normal” for every month of my little man’s life so far, what developmental milestones to expect, how to deal with common worries or problems and (perhaps most importantly) how a baby’s sleep rhythms work. Knowing how the Little Mister’s body works at each stage of his very young life has helped me to deal with everything from his tummy being very immature the first few weeks, to knowing that a good sleep routine can make all the difference to how well he sleeps through the night. I love that these books aren’t promoting extremist parenting in any way, they use plain English that anyone can understand (and sometimes even humour which lightens the mood somewhat – why is parenting so damn serious?) and are organised in a way that makes it easy to figure out what you’re looking for!

People shy away from books because they think they’ll become overwhelmed and worry more. I felt the same at first, but these books are the ones that didn’t give me that freaked out feeling and for that I am grateful!

Muslin Wraps
These light weight cloths are SO useful. I use so many of them on a daily basis and have done so since the moment we got home from hospital. They’re a fantastic vomit/regurgitation shield for your shoulder (and more importantly your clothing) as you burp your little one, they are great to have on hand when the Little Mister has drool coming from seemingly everywhere and sometimes it’s good to wrap him in one when he needs to feel safe and secure while napping (but the weather is warm). I also drape one over the front of the pram if he’s sleeping in it (helps to give him a safe, quiet spot and a way for him to block out all the stimulus the world has to offer). I find that because the wraps are breathable, they’re great in summer.

And look. A confession. On the odd occasion, when all else fails and you don’t have any other options (ie you were caught the f*ck unaware and that sh*t is EVERYWHERE), the wraps can sometimes help to wipe up some crazy spills of the poos and wees variety. Of course you have to make sure the wraps are cleaned thoroughly and sanitary for next use!!

Stuff for the Mum
Year after year I would get a little bemused by all the pampering stuff people would give me for birthdays and Christmases. It seemed like everyone in the whole wide world had the same idea! I don’t think they realised just how low maintenance (read: lazy) I was with that stuff! My skin mostly did what I wanted it to and I wasted most of my time in the shower just thinking or washing my hair obsessively (don’t ask – it’s just this thing I do).

As that stuff stacked up, I wondered how many tubs of body butter one little person could possibly need?! How many body scrubs?! Loofahs? Geez!

Now I know. My skin has not been the same since pregnancy. Hormones, stretch marks and that rash I kept banging on about are now an issue. Not to mention the drool that dries out my upper arms (the baby’s drool – not mine haha). I love nothing more than quickly rubbing body butter on myself or giving my face a quick, gentle scrub in the shower to freshen up. It’s funny because I have less time to pamper myself than I ever did, but I appreciate it even more now. When I buy baby shower gifts, I sometimes make sure that the baby isn’t the only person getting a present. I know the mum-to-be might look at me funny, like “great – more pampery stuff – everyone gives me this stuff”, but afterwards I know it’s appreciated!

It’s nice to know someone’s thinking of you just a little bit, because your world becomes all about the baby very quickly!

Well, I could go on forever (perhaps this could be a regular instalment) but I’ll stop at those five lifesavers, shall I?

What stuff can you not live without?

Oh, baby. It’s a hard life.

Pic I’ve found mine!

Look, I’ve been thinking. Being a (loved and treasured first world) baby doesn’t seem like such a bad gig. I don’t know why I ever gave it up. Really, the perks of the job seem quite appealing and there are things you’d never get away with as an adult. You know, things like napping however much you like throughout the day, demanding that you are carried (or wheeled) around everywhere and never having to find a toilet when you’re out and about in the middle of nowhere! Not to mention you hardly ever have to pay admission to get into any fun places and you don’t even have to save money up for flights (in fact if you choose the right airline they even give you a special bed to sleep in – in ECONOMY)!

Really, it seems like quite the dream job – it’s even like broadening your horizons and working in a foreign country. You don’t really speak the same language as everyone else and everything’s always new to you! What an adventure!

The hours seem pretty good. Sure, being a growing baby is a 24/7 kind of job but you achieve things even while you’re sleeping and everyone celebrates everything you did while you were out to the world (grew another centimetre or faced your head a certain way or even just stayed swaddled up all night without getting free and panicking that your arms had come to murder you)! Even the fact that you slept is celebrated! Imagine having a job where the more you sleep, the more people tend to adore you?!

It’s great when you’re your own boss as a baby. Everything gets to run on your time. When you want to eat, you eat. When you want everyone else to eat, they eat (if they’re not busy running some other errand for you). Your colleagues/employees are pretty awesome too. You can get them to do all your dirty work and they still smile at you and never give up! Nappy changing, spew collecting – the works! The work culture is pretty good too. You can get daily massages, time to read your favourite fiction books (or have them read to you by someone who is willing to speak in a silly voice) and at the end of a long day you get to relax in a lovely bath run by your butlers/servants/parents. The world revolves around you and no-one seems to have a problem with it!

You don’t get paid to be a baby, but you get lots of gifts and your position is all living expenses paid. The job comes with a home (fully furnished of course), any clothing required, health care, some wheels and personal drivers (for when you’ve drunk too much milk and can’t get yourself home – which is like, all the time). Your meals are hand delivered, pre-warmed and served to you while you recline in someone’s loving arms.

Hell, you can even “motorboat” as many breasts as you like and people will just laugh about how it’s all “instinctive” – basically you get away with anything. You can’t be arrested, be sent to prison (well I once saw some documentary on babies in prison but it was their mothers’ faults) or serve community service for committing a crime. You’re like a human version of a cute labrador puppy. You can’t do anything wrong. Butter wouldn’t melt in your mouth! Also, I’ve seen documentaries about cute labrador puppies who go to prison to be trained by convicted criminals, but let’s ignore that. You get what I’m saying…

The uniform is great. Each day you get to wear something new that is flattering, has been personally shopped for you and says, “Hey – look at me – I’m a cute baby!”
As you grow, you are able to wear new things. Each day, spare outfits are packed with you in case of embarrassing spillages and you are never stuck looking (or smelling) icky for very long.

Look, I know I’ve sold the job of being a baby to you all, but in the name of full disclosure I am bound to let you know that there are some downsides to the position.

– When you’re a baby you do have to endure a few things medically. Immunisations and the like (which can leave you feeling quite ill sometimes). However, it’s great that you don’t have to go to the dentist for a while on account of not having any teeth yet.
– You have no choice but to “go” in your pants each day, which can make you feel a bit squirmy and grossed out, but it’s never for long at a time.
– Sometimes there can be communication breakdowns. You may be hungry but someone will end up changing your nappy instead, that kind of thing. It can take trial and error but eventually all of your needs will be met.
– Occasionally you will become overwhelmed with the job of being a baby and this will distress you. A nice sleep on company time should do the trick.
– There is a bit of stigma attached to being a baby. Just google “adult babies” and you’ll totally get the wrong end of the stick, so to speak. There will be insults thrown your way such as “cry baby”, “you’re so immature you big baby” and that kind of thing. Don’t worry about it. They’re just jealous.

Really, it’s all a very small price to pay.

What’s your dream job?

Three Months Worth of Stuff I Didn’t See Coming.

Pic

OK, so I feel more and more pleased with my choice of title for this blog. It just sums up my whole life in the last year or so. Anyhow, the Little Mister is now three calendar months old. Tomorrow he will be 14 weeks old. Except I will only say how many weeks he is in age in front of other new parents because I do recognise how silly it sounds to go around telling everyone your baby is 1654 weeks old just because you want everyone to know how your baby is still so cute and new, even though by my calculations he/she would be approximately four and a half years old by then.

I made a vow with myself that I would stop announcing the Little Mister’s age in weeks (out loud) after he turned 3 months of age. I also now make a vow that after he turns 18 months old, I will stop announcing his age in months. That’s not cute either when you’re telling everyone your kid is 8723 months old, when really he/she’s …726 years old. Um…I never said I was good at mathematics.

So, where was I?

Yep, the Little Mister is three months old and so far his life has been one big surprise made up of tiny little daily surprises along the way. Kind of like one of those Russian doll thingys where there’s one inside the other, inside the other, inside the other…you know the ones.

I used to think that babies this young wouldn’t really be that aware or so attached to the adults in their lives. Perhaps it was a defence mechanism for me to believe that because I was adopted at five months old and all my life I’ve believed that I wouldn’t have really noticed what was going on when I was taken from my biological mother at birth, placed with a foster mother and then flown to Australia to be with my real family five months later. Each day I see the Little Mister recognising me with a huge grin on his face, looking for me when I am out of his line of sight and doing the same with his dad. He also has a special relationship with my mum. He will never remember any of this time of his life on a conscious level when he’s older, but it makes me realise what a special time this is in shaping this little being. When he’s five months old, I will be looking at him as he is at that time and reflecting. For me that will be a very significant time. Each day I am so happy for him that he will never be given away.

On a less serious note (sorry for a sudden change in tone): OMFG. The drool. So much drool. I mean, I knew that little kids dribble and that babies are supposed to be notorious for this, but I must say I was not mentally prepared for that at all! My firstborn child could fill an olympic sized swimming pool every day! I actually have dry spots on the top of my arms from where he has dribbled daily. I now have to moisturise my upper arms. Because of the drool. Who would have seen that coming?

He drools on my clothes, his clothes, his playmat, his toys, the couch, and every part of his own body from the lower facial region down. He immerses himself in a thick, gooey slick of saliva. If I let my guard down for just a minute I find myself having to wipe him down completely. His chin, his shoulders, his legs. Even his poos are more runny now because of the sheer volume of saliva he swallows. His productivity levels are at an all time high! And he’s not even teething yet!

I am a mushy, gushy mess. I always knew that I’d be a sentimental old crackpot one day. Probably because I’ve always had a corny greeting card kind of brain all my life. I thought, oh yeah. I’ll pop out an infant and he’ll be cute and I’ll be all oh my gosh I’ve got to protect this child like a mama bear and celebrate all his tiny developmental milestones and I’ll finally know all that crap other mothers go on about when they say that having a child is when you realise just how much room is in your heart for another little being blah blah. But let’s be honest, I kind of thought I was a bit cool. I thought I wouldn’t get all weepy and annoyingly sensitive about it all. Now I can’t watch a TV show where someone has just given birth and I certainly can’t watch an item on the news about someone’s baby being ill or worse, dying because I become a soppy, sobbing mess. All I have to think about is what it felt like to finally have Little Mister in my arms (after being separated from birth for three long days due to illness) or to imagine what it could have all turned out like if I hadn’t had amazing hospital care and I just well up with tears. Yep. Ever seen the opening scenes of the movie Jersey Girl? The part where J-Lo dies in childbirth of an undetected aneurysm and Ben Affleck is torn between grieving his wife and loving his new baby???? Holy sh*tballs. I watched that the other day (for the first time) and let’s just say my tear production was as prolific as the Little Mister’s saliva production levels.

Right now I am a stay at home mum. I don’t have a paying job to go back to (it’s a long story that started long before I got pregnant), so I’m really living the life of a housewife. I keep myself busy socially and fill my days with Little Mister as much as I can so that we’re both entertained and learning all the time. My hubby works shift work which is great in some ways (he gets a bunch of rostered days off in a row each swing), but not so great in other ways (when he’s working his shifts the baby and I don’t really see him for four days straight). This can get very tiring while my husband is working as I am tending to the Little Mister from the moment he wakes in the morning until the moment he wakes the next morning. I don’t get any assistance during those few days (my own stubborn decision) so I look forward to my husband’s days off when I can spend time with him, enjoy being a little family together and have some time “off”. Firstly, I never thought about it all that way before the birth. I just thought it would be so easy because my husband’s job is so good. Now I realise it’s more challenging than I anticipated, although I am still very fortunate as a lot of new mothers in my area have husbands who have to fly out for a week or two at a time to work.

Another thing is that I can be absolutely freaking exhausted and grumpy. I can be tired of the constant nappy changing, drool wiping, baby soothing, sleep settling, bottle warming, feeding, carrying of baby everywhere, having to do everything while he’s napping, sleeplessness, baby talking, skill building activities, the juggling and the usual daily new parent worries. I can be SO excited about my husband taking over for a night so I don’t have to wake up and deal with it. I can be SO excited about being able to leave the baby with his daddy while I go out for a bit (even to the supermarket). Yet, no matter how much I think I need a break, I can’t help but wake in the middle of the night to secretly peek at my baby’s gorgeous little head of hair while my husband bottle feeds him. I can’t help but feel a little sad when I leave the house. I can’t help but get excited when I’m on my way home. Even when I am on middle of the night feed duty, if that little bugger gives me a cheeky grin because I’ve come to prepare him for a feed at 3am, I can’t help but still feel a ridiculous amount of love and affection for him.

That, most of all, blows my mind. I am the kind of person who has been grumpy when tired since day dot. You (an adult) wreck my sleep and I will hack you into tiny pieces and hide you in the walls of my house (or at least threaten to very very loudly and sincerely until you are scarred for life and promise to never ever do that again). My husband would know. When I was working full time, he was DEAD MEAT if I lost even a minute of my precious eight hours of sleep. To think that a little tiny human can change my perspective so much is just craziness! Just when you think you can’t go on another full day or night, something just pulls you through. I realise I have so much more energy and love to give than I ever gave myself credit for in the past. If I’d known I had this in me all along, man I would have done things so much differently! I think this is my favourite job so far in life and I’ve had some pretty cool ones. Now if only I could figure out how to get paid for it…

While most of this blog post is very deep and meaningful, there is something else that I was Awesomely Unprepared for. I have become vain and baby proud. I can hear you audibly gasping. Kez? Is that you?? NO YOU DI’INT!

When I can’t dress the Little Mister in a super cute outfit for the day I am super not-so-cutely disappointed. The idea that people of the general public may be viewing my baby and he’s not wearing a super cute outfit just disappoints me so much ( disturbingly too much). And when he’s dressed in the best outfit ever, but no-one ends up seeing it I feel a similar disappointment. Like I wasted his outfit for the day. Kind of like when I would dress up so beautifully to go clubbing with my girlfriends on a Saturday night only to find out it was just going to be a crappy night and that I’d wasted an outfit on it when I could have just worn a potato sack for all anyone cared.

Ha! Clubbing. Ancient history…

The reflective glory I seek out via adorable/quirky baby outfits is quite worrysome. I never thought I would become so shallow! I post so many pictures of my son on Facebook that it’s ridiculous. I never thought I would catch that disease, but I have. I am now your annoying friend who thinks everyone should click “like” on her plethora of boring baby photos. I am so sorry. But don’t you know? It’s only OTHER babies that are boring. My baby is so much more interesting even though he’s doing all the same things as the other babies in all of the other baby photos on Facebook.

I’m only a smidgen away from entering the Little Mister into modelling auditions and hiring an agent for him, before ending up on some kind of horrendous, exploitative reality TV show. I disgust myself!

So in summary, I don’t even recognise myself anymore. My life has been turned upside down in the last quarter of a year!

What have you been up to in the last three months?