Day 1

Had it out with the bf over new years eve night. How I can’t do everything alone anymore. All the housework all the childcare, everything alone while he makes models. He said how the baby was never something he wanted and he resents her noise etc.
I told him he needs to be more positive, I’m not looking for massive changes, but no change means I have to walk.

So…. Today he went to the supermarket with us. Then bought us coffee while she crawled around, hit things, and drank milk.

Then my friend came over and saw us.

Then… We walked up to my parents house with baby in her trike (best present ever) and she “woooed” with delight. And when we were all in the kitchen playing with her (throwing a Clementine over the kitchen table. Handing it to people, throwing it at them or the dog and generally being mischievous) he watched and slightly participated.

And told me that he’d forgotten how much he loved me and all that stuff. Which was sweet but these things are usually very temporary so well see how it lasts!

And then he cleaned the bathroom.

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Tips for baby colds

All babies catch colds. Some more than others, but statistics in the public realm suggest that the rate is usually 8-12 a year!

I’ve had two major colds to deal with (poor breathing,  up all night, genuine horror, visits to gp because breathing isn’t right and three days of high temperatures) and have some tips for coping / trying to get through the next half hour.

1 – stock up on ibuprofen and paracetamol suspension fluid NOW – colds always seem to start as you’re winding down for the evening, when baby is most crotchety anyway. Getting to the shops and wandering around with a screaming, red-faced bundle of misery is no fun… especially as the baby medicine always seems to be hidden.  I’d also suggest own brand medicine – cheaper and exactly the same. But buy the branded stuff once to get the handy syringe!

2 – snuffle baby is a life saver. They’re too young and delicate for vicks,  but this can be rubbed on sensitive chests or between layers of clothing.  Helps a little and sometimes that is all you need.

3 – alternate baby wipes and super soft tissues for nose wiping – chafed faces are no fun, so try to avoid in the first place.

4 – babies can’t blow their noses. Mind. Blown. You can buy sucky things (“aspirators”) to clear the gunk. I haven’t used these and they don’t sound easy to use (tube inserted into babies nose).  I’d recommend the combo of snuffle babies and wiping, with letting baby wipe her nose herself. Gross but kind.

5 – don’t bother with plug in inhalators. Chamomile and lavender smell nice but won’t clear your babies nose or chest. But will clear your bank balance (refills needed a lot)

6 – try soothing baby while standing up so she is vertical.  Allows for easier snuffled breathing, so she (but obviously not you) gets some respite. I had two standing nights with my girl, but she slept!

7 – expect food regression and cater to it.  Often babies who are weaning will go back to milk for ease and comfort.  Let them. Eating when you can’t breathe properly is bad enough as an adult! And milk will keep their strength up to fight the cold off.

8 – don’t expect an overnight recovery. These things can drag on a bit when the immune system is not fully functional…

9 – expect to catch the cold. And for it to be awful.  You’re tired and run down from caring for your child (and possibly partner too) so it’ll hit you hard.  Slather your face in cream between blown noses and take whatever remedies you can. Don’t try and tough it out – you don’t have time to get sick!!

15 minute (or less) low cal macaroni cheese

My cooking style tends to be a bit fast and loose… I don’t weight unless baking (as a rule).  And using your eye sometimes results in a better finished piece. In fact this barely merits a recipe it’s that easy.

I do make a slightly more complicated version with friend onions, garlic and bacon, but this version is completely fool proof. And OH says it tastes as good. 

I’ll make this on a non work day and leave it to reheat the next night, so the mozzarella goes gooey and stringy.

There are none of the usual calories associated with a thick creamy sauce, and alright it’s less rich, but does mean you don’t feel bloated and know you’ve had at least one portion of veg (depending on how much you use!!)

It also costs about £2.50 to make (£4.50 if you include generous meat costs), using mainly stock ingredients.

Macaroni cheese in 15 minutes or less

Serves four

Ingredients:

Roughly 300g frozen broccoli and cauliflower (or any left overs you have)
About 200g Pasta (preferably not spaghetti, doesn’t mix as well)
1 large tub of cream cheese – full or half fat, your preference (and using garlic and herb flavoured adds instant flavour)
1 ball of mozzarella
Black pepper (preferably fresh cracked as easier to spread evenly and not overdo it!)

**meat if you want it. I used left over pork from a roast, but you could use ham, bacon or nothing at all.

1 – cook vegetables and pasta. Until you know they’re cooked. I’ll often cook them in the same pan, but that does carry the risk of soggy pasta

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2 – chop meat (if using) and then add to saucepan with pasta and veg and cream cheese

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3 – mix

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4 – put in bowl and cut cheese into slices on top.

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Social Isolation in New Parents: How A Childrens’ Centre Helped Me

Huddled up with my new baby, two weeks post-partum with an infected c-section wound (and antibiotics that gave me horrific diarrhea), mastitis and nipples bitten to shreds by my baby’s tiny mouth, things looked bleak.  I was reduced to a third of the speed I normally moved, could barely bend or get out of bed, and felt unsupported by OH.  I needed to get out.

The Health VIsitors had left information about my local childrens’ centre which I promptly lost.  But a few days later I looked on facebook and found my local centre’s timetable.  Monday lunch times was weigh in – where you could get advice from Health Visitors or just weigh your baby.

So every Monday I would force myself out of the door, baby wrapped up in fleecy sheets, me in a big woolly hat, and make some human contact.

It suited me because of the low pressure approach.  I didn’t HAVE to talk to anyone, there was no participation required (which a weekly class may have required) and I didn’t have to try and exercise.

Although I had attended NCT classes, like a good middle-class girl, these had not led to formative friendships that I had hoped for.  If you don’t really gel with people there’s not much that you can do.  OH had always been the first out the door, with me padding behind him, desperately seeking mummy-contact.  None of my friends have young children, I have no nieces or nephews, and until Shrieky was born I hadn’t held a tiny baby in over a decade.

So going to a simple weigh-in session, making sure that my baby was gaining an appropriate amount of weight, seeing similar faces every week and building the confidence to move on helped me.

I went on to attend Movement classes (nursery rhymes with ribbons and mirrors), attend coffee afternoons, and realign myself with NCT classmates at local classes.

It’s not easy getting out when you’re in pain, caring for a screamy thing you don’t understand, and knocked for six by removal of your adult life.

Childrens’ Centres are a great resource – if you turn up they are happy and caring, and if you don’t no one reprimands you (though they may ask if you were alright the week before).  They run free courses – from First Aid to Zumba to Job Seeking, often with free creches for under fives.  Most importantly they get you out of the house without forcing you into the full scale onslaught of the adult world.

My new challenge is to try and connect with baby world at the same time as working… women can’t have it all, but we can darned well try!!

Child health gaps

The health gaps data released by the National Children’s Bureau is interesting.

Culled from a variety of resources, with data from different years, and different methodologies.

The data is based on area, trying to affirm our national idea about “post code lotteries”. 

Yes, the area that we live in makes a difference, but the actual demographics of the area are sometimes the issue.  It sounds “racist” to say that engagement varies by community and that the local authority and health bodies connect in different ways with those communities.

The data shows that some different ethnicities appear not to engage as well in certain fields, for example Gypsy / Roma attainment in reception class is significantly lower than average.

The variations regionally really need to be viewed in a rational light, taking into account engagement and how it is encouraged.

If a community has different social norms (perhaps different foods are common, contacting social or health professionals is not accepted, or oral care is conducted differently) this needs to be taken into account.

Dental decay on a regional level could be to do with access to Special Care Dentistry, which often assesses and treats “difficult” patients, including socially excluded groups (looked after children, those with mental or physical problems which prevent them seeing a standard dentist, or children who will not usually respond to treatment). Many trusts are cutting these services to save money, assuming that local general practice dentists will pick up the slack.

It could also be to do with the price of Dental Units (how much nhs dentists are paid for their work) – if you’re getting £20 to fill a whole mouth due to the way costings work, you’re less likely to take your time doing it and to treat children with fissure sealants and other preventative measures. Even NHS dentists recommend their family go private.

There is a huge drive for oral health starting out there, but if the message reaches children is another matter. Especially as parents are apparently meant to supervise children brushing until they’re at least twelve.

With regards to reception attainment I feel we have something more important to do. Engage our boys.

39.6% of reception class students do not have “good” development. Ignoring the fact that some students always have to be less than “good” for “good” to have any value whatsoever, this breaks down into ethnic distinctions, which are not generally drastic, BUT the most telling fact of all is that gender-wise 31% of girls are not “good” compared to 48% of boys. Clearly we are failing to engage and educate our boys.

Figures aren’t always as clear cut as they seem, and the stories behind the headlines need closer investigation.  Probably by someone more scientific than me!

First week back at work after maternity

My Shrieky and I have been in training for my return to work for some months.

I’ve worked a day a week for the past month without any problems, and we’ve now upped it to three.

She and I agreed I’d only work part time, and that when I was gone she would look after her grandma for me. This involves supervised visits to supermarkets, hairdressers,  garden centres and to see various family members.  Generally Shrieky insists on eating out twice a week, to make sure the old woman eats enough.

We haven’t switched to formula (so still have nightly suck-fests) and are trying to get her to drink expressed milk or formula out of a bottle with no success. She has decreed that eating solid food is best during the day.  Whether it’s baby puree (not her favourite), porridge, whatever anyone else is eating, or hunks of bread.

Shrieky has shown no sign of missing me when I’m not there, as I’m always around in the evening when mummy is mandatory (for hugs, feeds and bedtime).  It usually takes her a few seconds to acknowledge me when I turn up. I do not receive the same veneration as her sister (the terrier) or the same stop-crying-he’s-funny as daddy. But I am allowed to give her a hug.  And she will very kindly take my glasses off my face, covering them in sticky fingers.

The best thing about being back at work is that I really look forward to seeing my little girl in the evening.  I just wish I was working a few hours less. But that’s negotiable down the line. For now, she’s a happy little baby fully stimulated, and I’m earning money to buy her pretty things. Sounds good to me!

How come he gets to sleep??

As the mummy and milk machine, I always knew I’d have to bear the brunt of baby night shift (and day shift, but that’s another story).

My little miracle has never been a fan of sleep. When she was tiny she’d wake up if I ever dared to put her down.  Sometimes I’d pass over to sleep just because I couldn’t stay awake any longer… and then have nightmares about dropping my baby.  Highly unpleasant for sleep-deprived mama with a wound infection and over-productive mammaries.

Now she’s eight months old Shrieky will sometimes let me put her down when she’s asleep (but usually means a shorter nap and thus a less cheerful baby)… but the amount of sleep she is getting is low. At one point (for about two months) she rarely had a nap at all during the day. Sometimes she’d nod off in the pushchair, or my mum would persuade her to fall asleep. Not regularly though.

But now we have the issue of late bedtimes – she has so much energy that she spends half her day jumping in the jumperoo or crawling around the floor after her best friend / sister / pet dog.  She can often be persuaded to have one, or if I’m super lucky two, naps a day (generally preceded by twenty minutes of top of lungs shouting as I try to comfort her – she’ll start wailing once I try to make her sleep).

There is getting to sleep which is hard and often not accomplished until 9pm or later. Then there is First Wake Up within an hour, where I just rock her. About two hours later (usually as I’m about to drift off myself after doing some housework, spending time with OH, or showering) she wakes again, feeds and then doesn’t want to be put down to sleep. So often we’ll go off to bed together and co-sleep. I’m not one of the lucky girls who can feed while asleep.

So the point of this rant… having fallen asleep around 1am and sleeping lightly until 7am, when my OH comes trotting down the stairs at 8am, has a smack amd then goes back to sleep I want to scream.

It’s the weekend now, but I’m working three days a week (yes, he does work five!). This sleep may be unsustainable but I won’t sleep train (she’s a BABY!!) so I guess it’s my own fault.

Still want to damage OH when he gets an average of two hours sleep a night more than me… excluding the middle of the night wake ups.

And he asks me, without fail every day “did you sleep well?” And I grit my teeth and say “no” or “not really” in a bland tone, without stabbing him.

Rant over.