Meal planning

I’m not sure about you, but during the middle of the week I simply can’t think of any ideas of what to eat and we’ve found ourselves eating always the same thing!

As we cook for the 3 of us (I don’t do a different meal for her), the challenge was to ensure we would cook something that she would mostly eat.

A few months ago I’ve bought a meal planner (magnetic) for my fridge. But I was not always using it. It was mostly for my husband to write whatever I would have to buy for shopping. He’s the one doing most of the cooking middle of the week but I’m always the one sorting out the shopping.

For the last 3 weeks I’ve been spending some time of the weekend to put together a meal plan that it’s easy enough for him to follow and that allows me to synchronise the shopping with the plan. It needs to be something simple enough that doesn’t require complex instructions. Here’s what I have for this week

Monday: Quinoa salad with olive oil, honey & lemon dressing

Original recipe from here 

Tuesday: Pasta Al Aglio (Garlic pasta)

Tuesday is our pasta day, so for this tuesday I’ve chosen pasta al aglio, because we all love it and because it’s one of his favourite recipes to put together.

Similar recipe here (I don’t use the pepper as per recipe)

Wednesday: Zucchini boats with cheese

My toddler is addicted to cheese, so hopefully this will be a way for her to eat some vegetables

Recipe from here

Thursday: Fish baked in foil with olive oil, honey and lemon + jasmin rice

Again, Thursday is our fish day. For a long time it was salmon day until I’ve got really bored with it

Similar recipe here

Friday: Open to whatever we feel on the day

Desert for the week: Banana ice cream with peanut butter

I love this banana ice cream and it’s guilty free, so I know she can have it as well. Similar recipe here

Grilled chicken is also a favourite in the house 🙂

Any meal ideas you would like to share? How to you plan your meals for the week? For the record I’m far from knowing how to cook or being known for my cooking, but I do try to find favourable foods which are also guilty free (e.g. replace mayo with yogurt dressings, or refined sugar with honey)

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Travelling with a toddler

One of the things I was sure I didn’t really wanted to give up after a baby was travelling. However, once she was born I didn’t really felt like travelling much anymore. I’ve packed my camera in the drawer and have barely using it ever since. But as she starts to get older I’m starting to wish we could venture out a bit more and have part of my old life back.

Her first trip

Our first trip together was during my maternity leave when she was 5 months old. Having read all the tips around flying with a baby I was more then prepared.

Rule nr 1 – take the baby carrier – (I used a babybjorn sling)

This will ensure you have a free hand to carry luggage and travel as light as possible. I can’t imagine flying any other way. Although on our first flight I had my other half, on our second flight I was actually alone! Thanks to the carrier it was all so much easier (for both of you!)

(similar at amazon here)

Rule nr 2 – Breastfeeding / feed / dummy during the flight

No need for any medicines or special ear plugs, all you need is to breastfeed (if you are breastfeeding) or just a dummy during landing and take off. I was breastfeeding until very recently and she never felt any discomfort in her ears. Nowadays it’s dummy. Normally you will get a window seat so except from whoever is sitting next to you, nobody else will notice you are breastfeeding, and even if they do, well it’s the most natural thing ever.

Rule nr 3 – Golden one for me – time the travel with your little one’s routine

This is the most important thing I’ve learnt really. With 7 flights already in the bag, I always time them when I know it’s her nap time. It’s far more comfortable for her if she’s asleep otherwise she gets frustrated of being in the flight when she doesn’t want to. Out of the 14 flights only 1 she didn’t sleep because the flight was delayed and the routine went out of the roof. Normally she does sleep comfortably in my lap.

So if there’s a time when your little one is especially cranky, avoid that. This means a bit more planning ahead to ensure the flights are not too expensive or even sold out. It’s worth the planning!

Rule nr 4 – Pack light snacks for your little one

(This is only valid from 6 months onwards) I always pack her favourite snacks for the flight as there might be delays and eventually she will want to eat. Mostly I pack bananas (which are quite resistent to temperature, fruit pouches, water, grapes or whatever is easy to carry).

Up to 2 years you can also carry milk (I used to pump at least 1 feed in case I wouldn’t find the time or the place to feed her) beyong the 100ml. This is only valid if you are travelling with your baby and you need to be reasonable about it. No point carry milk for over 5 days. Wherever you are going you should be able to buy milk for your little one (no such worry if you are breastfeeding!!!)

Rule nr 5 – Pack enough nappies and extra clothing

Somehow she always manages to realease a big giant poop in the flights, so it’s worth being prepared for all eventualities. I normally travel with a small handluggage where I put some extra clothing for her (also in the case if the main luggage gets lost). Believe me, you don’t want to run out of nappies or clothing for your little one. Eventually you will be able to find a place where you are going to buy some extras, but until you do better to be prepared.

Rule nr 6 – Pack entertainment in the baby bag

For us it means 1 or 2 teddy bears, 1 notebook and a pen. I used to travel with a magnetic board but she broke it and in the meantime i’ve bought her a bigger one which is not so easy to carry. But a simple notebook and a pen will keep her entertained for a bit. So think about what your little one enjoys and bring something that will keep him entertained and it’s light packing. They can get distracted with things around us, so no point bringing all the house with you.  Even a cardbox, a pen, a bottle. If you need, think outside the box on how to match their prefered entertainment. Their favourite book should also work. I always travel with at least 1 book and they are light to carry (in her babybag as it needs to be within easy reach).

Now here’s some extra stuff I’ve learnt on my last trip to Rome

Rule nr 7 – Think about where you are going and the weather at the time of the year you are going

I’ve regret having said yes to go to Rome. But after 2 years of not  joining my family’s annual trip together (to celebrate my parents anniversery) I really wanted to go and wanted her to make part of the trip too. What I didn’t consider when I’ve booked the flights was that:

a) Rome is really crowded and between June to August is the worst time of the year to go
b) Rome is really hot, so being in the queues with her in the heat was really far from ideal

I even had rented a backpack sling but due to the heat she didn’t felt comfortable in there so I kept on using the pram. Rome is not very pram friendly with all the cobblestones. But the heat was seriously the worst. I spent the whole time wishing I had gone to Scotland instead.

So I would say it’s really import to consider where you are going, so it’s not too hot or too cold for them.

Any tips you would like to share? What worked for you?

Postpartum depression

I’ve been reading a book about post natal depression and have to admit it’s been so hard to read. My heart goes into a tiny knot…. I’ve seriously thought about stopping it but on the other hand I feel I have to be strong enough to carry on. The more we speak about it the more we can support each other. It doesn’t help that we are told that we need to get our shit together and be the perfect mums!

Postpartum depression (PPD), also called postnatal depression, is a type of mood disorder associated with childbirth, which can affect both sexes. Symptoms may include extreme sadness, low energy, anxiety, crying episodes, irritability, and changes in sleeping or eating patterns. Onset is typically between one week and one month following childbirth. PPD can also negatively affect the person’s child. (Source wikipedia)

1 in 7 women suffer from postpartum depression

So here’s my own personal story on this.

First I’ll start by saying I didn’t even know post natal depression was a thing! I knew about baby blues and how the first days/weeks feel so emotional and such a rollercoaster. It was only when I’ve started to read about motherhood that I discovered that some women will get really impacted and drove into depression… I’m sure we’ve all heard stories on telly when it goes to extreme. Exactly maybe because that’s we come to see we believe that’s only for really bad mums.
Most mums are perfect and they know what they need to do…

To me it started with birth. It was such a roller coaster and so intense that I’ve ended up having panic attacks (I still blame the general anesthetic). But reality was baby blues plus growth spurt plus the stress of the birth as I feared for her life. I went more than 48 with 0h sleep as I was afraid of dying while sleeping. I never had a panic attack in my life before so wasn’t expecting it. My family was fearing for me at that point knowing we were alone in this country without any help. Thankfully at that point I had the support of private midwifes who supported me a lot. And my husband who I will never be able to thank enough. Nowadays he’s still the one running the show but that’s a different topic.

On the 3rd week he was hospitalised with appendicitis. It broke my heart not to be able to be with him plus I felt panic and anxiety for being left alone with baby girl. What if something would happen? What would I do? I was so tired I’ve had to ask a friend to stay overnight with me as I thought I might let her fall from my arms or something. Bless her for letting me sleep in slots of 2h (I didn’t managed to pump in advance).

But I had no clue then I was going to spend 6m crying every day! I had pictured us going oyt for walks everyday and play with each other. I had pictures us going mum and baby yoga and swimming and other fun activities. I didn’t know reflux existed… I didn’t know I would be so powerless to help my little baby cope with the pain, nor that I would have to fight with doctors.

Having a really demanding job I thought I was tailored to handle exhaustion and stress but in the end I was not.

I gave up on activities with other mums and babies because I felt shit I couldn’t hold it together. That I had to think twice before changing her nappy because I had to wait at least half an hour before laying her down. I couldn’t leave the house clean and all her pain, refusal to eat… No I wasn’t ready at all.

Then I’ve started worrying she wasn’t getting weight and just throwing all out. And we were so exhausted!!! I didn’t sleep more than 3h in total for so long.
I know now that I’m sure she was feeling even worse because I couldn’t hold it together. I would be crying in the morning as well as at 02a.m

Maybe this was depression, I can’t tell for sure, but it was despair. What helped me out was the love I felt for her, sponsored by breastfeeding and oxytocin. It was only when I was back at work and her throwing up reducing at 6m that I felt a big change. We didn’t slept until 16m, but having part of my adult life helped me getting out of the black hole I was in. I feel really gutted that I didn’t enjoy our previous time together. I wish we could have!!!!

Nowadays I still feel I’m the mum who doesn’t know a thing and I don’t hold it together like other mums (I can’t even send her clean to the nursery) however I’m dedicated to be there for her, to make her feel loved and to play together. But now looking back feels like such a bumpy journey. I wish I have had other mums feeling the same as me so I could talk to and know I wasn’t alone.

So I would love to know your stories, the real ones and how you’ve faced the first few months and motherhood. Also what helped you go through it?

Further reading:

A breastfeeding journey (Update)

It’s been ages since I wrote here, well since I wrote at all! I’ve been writing my own personal diary for my little one, so while on a flight from work last week I took the chance to write a bit more, this time about breastfeeding. So I thought, why not share it? So here it goes

Dear Emily,
I’m not sure exactly at what point I’ve decided that I wanted to breastfeed you, but once I’ve made my mind after a lot of research online, I was totally into it. I guess in a way was because I was reading all about hypnobirthing but also because I thought it would be the most natural thing to do and would reinforce our bond as mother and baby. I did the classes – which made it all look so easy (point the nipple to the baby’s nose, wait for the big yamn and then go for it). While pregnant I would massage my breasts and even try to hand pump. Corina (the midwife) told me I could try to collect the colostrum (the first time milk which is really fat and rich and literally gold like!) in case you couldn’t be fed from me for whatever reason. So there I was, taking any shower chances to try to pump. One month before you were to be born the gold juice came out but I didn’t found a way to store it. Was just happy that I could produce milk and was ready for you. Started to sleep with pads as I would leak. 2 weeks later it stopped leaking and I couldn’t hand express anymore. I could have used that as a sign that something was wrong (that and the increased sickness) but until your due date I was clueless. Funnily enough on the morning you were born I told Corina I was leaking again and that was sign. You were born less than 1h later (c section but oh well). Interestingly enough I was starting with contractions too. Amazing how your body gives to many signs of things changing if only we could read them. In a way I also wished I could read your cries although know I kinda recognise the differences of some of them. Really looking forward for you to speak and tell me what’s going on or even tell me what are you thinking about.
Anyway back to the breastfeeding business. I knew I was committed to do whatever it takes to get going. You see your grandma was told that her milk was weak and that she had to give me formula. She didn’t had other info or Internet to check it. So the more the reason for me to carry on.
You seemed aligned with me as I woke up with you already feeding from me. I felt so lucky that at least one of us knew what she was doing. Corina helped a lot with my wish to do skin to skin and bf as soon as possible. You were so starving from the 4 weeks of poor food supply that you even try to feed from daddy as he was the first to hold you (can you imagine that, from those hairy nipples yuck). When we went home, powered by the 1st days baby blues, you were feeding loads. You barely lost any weight at all and were doing great. But then a growth spurt came along (I will explain about what a growth spurt is at some point) and everything changed. I also had panic attacks and insomnia and didn’t slept for a good 3 or 4 days at all. Everyone was so worried about me! Eventually I did fell asleep and had a dream which I wrote on a notepad as it was so nice. But then the breastfeeding problems started to materialise. I had pain pain and pain and you would take sometimes a full hour feeding. I was told I should feed based on your cues for it but that meant all you did was feed to throw it all up a few minutes later. I changed you a million times a night. Also I had my nipples in blood and they were completely torn apart. Corina told me to try the nipple shields with caution as they generate nipple confusion ij the early days and they lead to a drop in supply. So between nipple cream, nipple shields and no nipple shield I was going on. Eventually Cherryl (the other midwife supporting us) thought that I was doing everything right so she decided to put a finger in your tiny mouth to see the tongue movement and she said most likely you had tongue tie but she would prefer an expert lactation consultant to check it. I was puzzled because I asked a few times at the hospital and they’ve said you were fine. They made me feel I was a stupid mum and I couldn’t just follow a simple nose to nipple but in the end they had not examined you properly. It made all the sense in the world! This was it, my little baby had tongue tie, so you were struggling as much as I was to feed. The expert confirmed what Cherryl had already said and did the tongue release with scissors straight on the spot. You went straight to the breast and I just felt good. The pain was gone!
I thought it would all be sorted from that day onward and that it would finally be easy. But your colic and what I’ve discovered through Cherryl reflux were there to stay. So you see they say bf babies suffer a lot less from colic and reflux than formula fed because you swallow less air. But in case of tongue tie this will not hold true, so you can see how I had high hopes this was salvation but no. You were in pain, crying all the time, arching in pain. After reading a lot on the matter I’ve decided to carry on bf and stop dairy. Now, try to cut dairy from your diet (well hope you don’t have to) there’s milk everywhere!!!! I was reading every label before I could eat something. Then I was also cutting chocolate and coffee (surely you know how I love both) and tomatoes (my Mediterranean diet out of the window) and any acidic foods and fruits. But nothing was helping out. I had pressure from friends and family to put you on reflux formula but I knew that could make it worse and I didn’t wanted to stop. I was willing to do the sacrifice. I’ve spent almost 4 months like that but nothing was helping. Also had a food diary but couldn’t find any specific triggers. I was crying every single day. I felt gutted I couldn’t use this special time of having you 24h with me. I was depressed. But not even that was enough to stop me. Then you started to refuse feeds and I had to pump to feed you. I still remember starting to pump at 18h to have your milk ready for 19h as you were uber fussed by then. Oh my dear, you couldn’t sleep and you were in pain so no wonder!!! Having to pump was dropping my supply. I was also pumping in the morning to save for when I was going back to work at 6 months. I felt like a mini cow! There was milk everywhere! In the first few months I had lots of milk, as soon as you would get anywhere near me milk would come up as if you were in a shower. Oxytocin doing its magic. I could even feel the milk coming up when it was time for you to feed. Or if I wouldn’t feed on time my boobs would be enormous and rock solid, I can tell you that hurts!
Because you discovered the bottle (first time I think you were over 3m, they advise you to avoid bottle until the supply is well established and to avoid nipple confusion) and you’ve got lazy. Why would you have to suck hard if from the bottle it would just come without an effort. Obviously being my daughter you had to be a lazy but. Another reason for me to end in tears as I didn’t wanted to stop. I was not willing to lose this war. I would have you on my arms playing with you with boobs out until you would latch again. So I’ve managed to carry on.
At 5.5 months we finally saw a gastro paediatrician and she told us to go back to a normal diet and for me to just try the thickener. I was so stressed at that point as you were losing weight. I felt that my boobs were failing me and I was thinking that maybe I was being selfish for wanting to carry on bf.
So there I was back to pumping so had the thickener. You were feeding every 3h and it was taking me a good 1h to pump so you do the math. At 6 months, right as I was back to work you’ve started to barely throw up and recover weight. The reflux battle was won (but not the sleep one)! But being back at work was a challenge for our bf journey.
I had to pump for 1h30 initially and the milk started to drop…. The first time I’ve pumped at work I’ve managed 360ml, then it was around 200 ml and then could barely achieve 120ml (1 feed) and my frozen milk supply suddenly was gone. At around 8m you had formula for the first time at the nursery. I felt so sad that my milk was no long enough for you.
I felt so powerless…. I’ve kept on pumping in the office after lunch. Meaning I would breathe my lunch at my desk to save that time for pumping. It was hard to manage between meetings. At your birthday I’ve decided I had enough of pumping as I hated it. Also you should be moving over to more food and less milk. You still had 1 bottle of formula at the nursery but oh well. At night it would still be boobs out.
Just right after that I had to spend my first night away from you for work. It’s just so hard. Your heart almost stops knowing I wouldn’t be able to hold you or even see you. I know it was just 1 night but it was hard. Plus I was worried on the impact on my breastfeeding journey. The first time I left the pump at home so spent 1h pumping in the shower before bed and the same when I woke up. My flight got cancelled and I’ve ended up in tears in the airport. I’ve cried for a good whole 30m until I had another ticket to go back home the same day. I just couldn’t control my sobbing. I had strangers telling me it was just a flight, that we would be back the same day. How could they know?? It was my first time away from you. Couldn’t bear the thought of another night without you plus I was in so much pain as my boobs were engorged. I had no clue it could hurt as much as it did. When you started feeding from me that night I felt so grateful to have you in my arms!
Fast forward, you are now over 16 months and I still feed you. People are amazed I still feed at this point. But I’m sad because I barely have any milk. I feed you before bed but barely anything comes. You pull my top down and you want it but then you get cross that nothing comes. If I had pump some drops come out but I wonder if you’re just playing or actually feeding anything. We have to give you a bottle before bed because it helps you sleep but I want to stop it in the next 2 months. Not sure how long I will be able to say I still bf but hope we can carry on for another 2 months. Would love to reach 2 years but doubt that. I just feel proud of our bf journey together. I feel quite passionate about it because I had to work really hard to keep it up. No one tells us how hard it is! I was not prepared for all I had to face. And worse, there’s barely any support. I’ve relied on internet forums and my own research to keep it up. A lot of mums don’t even know about tongue tie or baby reflux (well even some doctors don’t seem to know much about it).
I’ve felt I’ve learnt a lot. I’m still online to support other mums where I can and I feel quite protective towards them.
One point I’ve missed. Breastfeeding in public. Initially I felt awkward like any mum would but then I was like I couldn’t care less. I would try to cover you with a scarf but you hated it, so I’ve stopped. Being quite shy it’s quite funny I’ve accepted that boobs could be out and could be seen. But if you needed feeding I would feed you right where I was. You wouldn’t feed quietly and would keep on moving legs in positions that I doubt even yoga masters could achieve so boobs would be out. Your dad would be more embarrassed than I was. It was a natural thing to do so I’ve ignored any potential looks. In the house I was also walking quite often with boobs out. It feels quite liberating actually.
So yes, aside from how hard it is, then theres the whole bf in public debate!
I’m hoping if I’m alive to see grandchildren (geez, now I’m feeling uber old!!!) I will be there to support you no matter what choice you do. Because this is a journey you can’t really do alone!
Love you loads

Breastfeeding you on my wedding day

A weekend away with baby

Oh boy, it’s been quite a while! It’s not like free time is much of a thing these days, and I only have 1 baby. I can’t even imagine for those crazy families who have a lot of kids. I mean how can they survive? I barely keep my brain alive (in very limited functionality) most days. It’s very common for her to be awake for a good 4h in the middle of the night and then I’m up at 06h. I’m sure nature makes babies so cute and adorable so we don’t throw them out of the window. I love my little one loads, even when she drives me bananas and I struggle to keep it up together.

One of the things we’ve missed the most from our pre-baby life was our weekends away. Up until she was born we used to go away in December before Christmas.  So I’ve decided why not keep the tradition alive even with baby? In case it would all go pear shape, I’ve decided to select a hotel close to home, the last one I had gone to before she was born (you can read all about it here).

The hotel had the perfect Christmas mood and so cosy! Unfortunately my main camera died, so except for a few unfocused photos, all of them are black and white

Camera was already dying

and died

We only left the house after she had her nap to ensure she wouldn’t spend the whole day crying because she would be too tired. After we arrived we had a drink in the lounge, although I couldn’t stay still and she wanted to explore all over. Once our room was ready we went to change and took her to the pool. She was afraid at the beginning – first time in the pool – but then she really enjoyed it. No photos as I didn’t took the phone with me

After that time for a bath before dinner. Bless the kids menus, as at least she was entertained.

And we’ve decided to enjoy a glass of wine

And then steak

And finally the sweet moment

She behaved quite well overnight, she only woke up once. However, because of my cough, I was the one waking her up at 06h30. We’ve decided to take an early breakfast. It was snowing outside (I hadn’t seen snow in south England for almost 5 years so was really excited. Also her first time in the snow!)

 

Then realised she didn’t had proper shoes and she would get soaked 😦 So we went indoors while daddy was taking photos in the snow. She loved exploring around

And then it took us 2h to get the car out of the car park and let’s say the drive home wasn’t fun as the streets were not prepared for the snow and it was really slippery. But overall, it felt good to venture a weekend away with baby 🙂

Baby personalities

One thing I love about a growing baby is their growing and developing personalities. Little baby Em is for sure a baby that likes to make herself notice. She’s really vocal and loves to touch other babies and adults alike. I can see she’s a bossy one too.

So with this in mind, was checking for the fun, her astrology. She’s a virgo. It’s quite funny that I never really believed in astrology. I’m a scorpio myself, so most people would say really bad things about scorpios. My sister is one as well, and we couldn’t be more far apart.

Here’s what Em’s says:

The bossy streak can shine through in a Virgo child and they love to lead, yet it can irritate siblings and friends at times so you may find yourself frequently reminding them to consider others and hear what others have to say.

She’s still too young, but yeah can see the bossy streak. My closest friends who say that she follows mum’s lead on that one hahahah

However, they like to be little helpers and will often be found at your side when cooking and even be more than happy to help clear up afterwards too! This helpful nature will spill over into school and your little Virgo is likely to be one of the teacher’s favourites. Partly due to their helpful nature but also because Virgos are known to be smart and are often ahead of their years and need constant stimulation.

Hope she’s keen to help. As a child, I wasn’t! The thing about constant stimulation is so true! She’s infinite battery. As I write this post, she woke up at 10h from her nap. It’s almost 14h and you could think she would be sleepy by now…. I’ve tried for almost 1h to put her to sleep and gave up. She’s taking all her toys our of the box

Sleep is for boys

A touch of the OCD’s can be found in Virgo children, you will probably never need to utter those words ‘go and tidy your room!’, well, not to your Virgo child anyway!

Responsibility is a strong trait in Virgos and little ones will often be found taking care of their friends and siblings. Insecurity can also be a trait of a Virgo despite their leadership skills and their feelings can be easily hurt and they need reassurance they are loved.

Oh she is loved for sure and every single day I’m with her I always remind her of that

Qualities: Rational, smart, nit-picky, sensitive, bossy, helpful

Parenting tip: The more praise you give your little Virgo, the more their confidence will grow

To be honest, the parenting tip should be for all babies / kids alike.

How’s your baby personality? Are you finding any traits similar to your own?

The baby start sign info was taken from the bounty website here.

Do I have a broken baby or am I a broken mum?

Each baby is really unique! The same 2 parents can produce very different parents. I can think about myself and my sister, we are worlds apart. She’s sporty, I’m lazy but the geeky and clever one. She’s very feminine, I’m practical. As babies, I was the grumpy one and she was the smiley one. But can’t stop thinking that my mum was lucky.

For the first 3 months they went to visit doctors and non doctors to find why I seemed to be “broken” as I wouldn’t stop crying and couldn’t sleep. Eventually it turns out I was CMPI (Cow’s milk protein intollerance). In those days there was no information on the topic, but my mum was then advised to give me special formula and she gave up on breastfeeding. She was also told that her milk was too weak. Oh mum, if only there was the same information as there is now, and I would have been a breastfeed baby. Apart from that, I slept beautifully and once starting solids I would eat beautifully.

So watching my baby displaying the same behaviours as me: being really curious about everything and enjoying silly stuff like plastics and paper boxes more than any other toy I thought that maybe she could be a bit more like me.

Why doesn’t she eat? Why doesn’t she sleep?

Then by watching her peers and my friends’ babies I came to the conclusion: that’s it, by baby is broken! But then, it hits me very slowly… there’s nothing wrong with her, I’m the one who’s broken!

#1 – If she doesn’t eat it’s because I might be trying the wrong foods
Why am I giving her more solid food? Maybe she just likes soup, more liquid, or maybe it’s too boring for her. That’s it, it’s my fault that I’ve tried foods in squares, rectangles, liquid, less liquid, baby lead weaning, puree, combo or maybe jumping in the air while trying to land with a spoon on her mouth. I’m doing it all wrong!

#2 – If she doesn’t eat it’s probably because I’m still giving her too much milk
How couldn’t I have thought about that earlier? I shouldn’t be feeding her milk, I should just let her understand I’m the adult and until she eats her food (e.g. the solids) she won’t have her favourite food (breastmilk). Instead I let her rule me. Shame on me, I’m a terrible one!

Now let’s talk about sleep

#3 – If she doesn’t sleep it’s because I don’t understand her sleep patterns
If she woke up from her nap (wow she napped??? what sorcery is that?) at 14h and hasn’t sleep ever since, why did I try to put her in bed at 18h30? Why did we bother to keep on trying until 22h30 at which point she gave up and went to sleep? Because we don’t understand that maybe she’s super-baby and doesn’t need any sleep before 22h30. It should be so obvious!

#4 – Or maybe she’s too hot
Why do I dress her in the sleeping bag? She’s probably too hot

#5 – Or maybe she’s too cold
Cold hands? Obviously she’s cold

#6 – Or maybe she’s hungry
Even though every time I go up I pretty much offer her boob, my milk must be just water and she keeps on asking for more. Bad milk! Shame in you mumma!

#7 – It’s because I’m not trying either the right combination of white noise and a sleeping sheep

#8 – It’s because I fart too loud and keep on waking baby

#9 – It’s because daddy snores too loud

Nah, no reasons required really. It’s pretty obvious I’m a silly broken first time mum who doesn’t have a clue on her baby.

I feel so tempted to invite all those parents that are lucky enough that don’t understand that they should celebrate every day the fact their babies eat and sleep well to come over night and see if they can fix her. Something tells me it wouldn’t matter. shhhhh don’t worry I can take the stamp of the broken mum 🙂

 

We are only human

I honestly think that everyone is expecting super mums, who do all the magic stuff and babies sleep beautifully, they also eat so well and they still manage to make the house sparkling clean, so clean you could almost eat from the floor directly. Expectations are so high, that anything below the perfect standards and you are left to feel like such a bad mum.

Once baby is born, everyone will tell you: “oh if you need me, please just ask for help”. I guess it’s the polite thing to say, but most would expect that you will be a super mum and get on with it.

So I think we need to start to talk more about the realities of being a mum (doesn’t matter if just the first baby or many of them). It’s really hard! I thought I could manage stress and difficult situations, as I have a really stressful job, but nothing had prepared me to the perks of being a mum.

The first days I had the baby blues, we were both listening to lullabies and crying like babies at home while staring at her, her perfection and how she was the result of our love. Then reality starts to kick in. The growth spurts, the days with less than 3h sleep in total. I had a few days without any sleep at all as I suffered from insomnia (I believe that was a side effect of my birth trauma and from the general anaesthetics – you can read more here) but ah, the worst was yet to come.

Before I go into detail, I would like to add that because I thought myself of being really resilient and that I could handle pretty much everything (at least on the surface) I never ask for help. I’m the one who typically goes and helps. But maternity changed everything for me. Sometimes we need to admit we’re only human and ask for help.

That situation arrived when he ended up being hospitalised with appendicitis when she was just 3 weeks old. I remember my despair when he called me to stay he would have to stay in the hospital and I wanted to run and meet him there. I was so worried, on the other hand I was at despair because I was not yet ready to take care of her on my own. I still remember that night when I was trying to enter the bus with her pram so I could take some basic stuff for him at the hospital. Had to ask a nurse to look out for her while I would go inside and kiss him. Then returning back home and feeling so powerless. I had tears in my eyes all the way back home. When next day I told a friend about what happened, she offered to come in the afternoon and prepare some food for me. Old me would say, no thank you, I could manage, but new me said for the first time ever, yes please! I was so grateful for her help. No words really! 1 day later, I had to ask for help to another friend so she could help me at night as I had not been sleeping anything and was afraid I would let her fall from my arms. She stayed overnight with me, and was making baby sleep while I was resting in bed until the next feed. Again, no words can describe how this was so important to me and baby.

So yes, in the end we’re only human and it’s ok to ask for help and to admit we need it!!! Any stories you would like to share?

A Breastfeeding journey

I would say that breastfeeding is quite an emotional journey. It’s far more than just what the word says “feeding”. It’s a unique bond between mum & baby and it’s quite an emotional one. Once I discovered I was pregnant I’ve decided that I wanted to breastfeed. I hadn’t defined for how long, just at least the 6 recommended months, but the more time went by the more protective I’ve become of it. I now see myself as a breastfeeding advocate even though it’s really hard!

The first months

They say the first 3 months of breastfeeding are the worst and I have to agree. I was lucky that my little one knew what to do straight away, the fact that she was born low weight and starving probably helped on the matters. I felt really frustrated with the lack of support from the midwifes. Yes they would encourage to breastfeed, fortunately in UK there is a lot of encouragement for mums to start breastfeeding but on the other hand not a lot of support. There were so many things I wish I had known before. In the classes they just tell you “Nose to nipple, wait for the big yawn and go”. My little one never did a big yawn and after the first weeks I was in a lot of pain. I had bloody nipples and had to rely on nipple shields. I thought it was just me being a failure and not being able to master something so simple as “nose to nipple”. Turns out that she had undiagnosed tongue tie. I’m sure I’ve asked at the hospital if she had a tongue tie and was told she was fine. It was thanks to the support of my private midwifes that we’ve identified that she had it.

How to diagnose a tongue tie?
The proper assessment is done by inserting a finger into baby’s mouth and analyse the movements. Only trained midwifes can do a proper assessment

Once the tie was cut nipple shields were gone and the pain was no more

The reflux days

But the journey was far from being an easy one from me.  I thought I had a fast let down, whereby milks comes to fast for baby to handle it and this is why she was suffering from reflux. So I was trying to feed in upright positions (so her head would be above the nipple and beating gravity to handle the fast let down). Also went on dairy and soy free diet for a couple of months in the case she was like me, CMPA (cow’s milk protein intollerance or allergy). She wasn’t. But it takes at least 6 months to see the difference. Because of the reflux I’ve also cut tomato, oranges and any acidic foods. For a couple of months had a really restrict diet, but I was willing to do anything that could potentially help my little one.

Everyone told me: why don’t you get the special reflux formula? Me stop breastfeeding? No way! If it was a dairy problem I could deal with it. It was more than just feeding her, it was our bond together and I was not willing to let that go. And let’s not mention the horrible nights without sleep. Because I was food and comfort, I was the one getting up all the time, sleeping around 2 to 4h per day.

Did you know what if you use breastmilk you can cure a conjunctivitis in around 24h? Oh yeah, the beauty of human milk 🙂

Currently, still a struggle

One of the things I had to do while she had reflux was to pump so I could had a thickener. At 5 months my supply had dropped so much (she had a phase where she was refusing to eat) that it would take me 1h to pump a feed (around 120ml / 4oz). Did I say how much I hate pumping? I do, with all my heart! Also she wasn’t getting much weight, so at this point even my dear one started to say we should give her formula so she would get weight.

Once I went back to work at 6 months my supply dropped even more and then I had no other option but to pump during work. I’ve been trying power pumping and teas, and trying to drink loads of water to keep the supply coming, but it has been hard. At around 7 months I had used all my frozen stack and was in tears when he told me he had to give her formula for the first time as I was still at work. I felt like a failure, that my milk was no longer enough to hold her. Fortunately she takes bottle really well and it’s a pleasure for me that she actually prefers my milk to the formula (a few times she will reject formula). My family is like: “why are you still feeding her? she’s 8 months now, you’ve done your best already for 6 months”. But oh, it’s so much more that just a feed matter.

Booby juice is the best!


Breastmilk adjusts to the baby needs, can become fatter or more watery depending on what baby needs. If someone sneezes, mum’s milk will start to produce more antibodies to protect baby from infection.

Breastmilk protects baby’s developing immune system and it’s said that breastfed babies will be sick a bit less than formula fed babies even though they tend to be lower in size.

Breastfed babies will tend to be less fussy children in the future as they get used to different flavours through mum’s milk (this one doesn’t feel quite true at the moment for us as she’s really fussy but oh well)

Then the fact that I’m holding her to offer boob it’s more than just feed her. It’s to offer her comfort and knowing that I’ll always be there for her. It’s love and protection! Everyone keeps on praising me for her being such a happy baby. I’m sure she wouldn’t be like that if I would let her cry or just send him to give her a bottle as opposed to mum’s cuddles.

Yes I am tired. Yes I am exhausted. It’s so bloody hard to go to work with just a few hours sleep. Yes it’s hard this dependency on me to make her sleep and comfort her. But I’m not willing to stop, not for as long as I can keep some supply up!

Are you breastfeeding? How is it going for you?

My baby is a fussy eater, now what?

How many of you are in this situation? Well I certainly am! She started solids at 6 months although she had sweet potato pure at around 5m as recommended by the ped to ease the reflux.

I’ve started with soups / vegetable purees but it seems that she only wants fruits. Maybe the culprit is that at 6 months she tried banana and since then she can’t stand any spoon feeding, any purees or whatsoever.

I’m doing combo between Baby Lead Weaning and classic puree style. At the nursery they just do purees, at home I try pretty much anything to try to get her into eating. (You can read more about both methods here)

Her ped told me that she definitely needs at least 3 solid meals. Breakfast, lunch and dinner with some finger foods in the middle. As for finger foods / snacks it’s easy as she is a fruit lover. I’ve also introduced yogurt with her fruits to give her more fat. But the meals are a pain. Every day I try to offer something new she can try on and just move away from dried fruits / nuts / seafood / honey.

Each baby is different really, so you need to adapt and keep on trying until you find what your baby prefers. My little one even dislikes breakfast cereal which is quite sweet! I’m the one who ends up eating 99% of what I had prepared for her.

I haven’t found a method that works, but keep on trying and always speak to the ped for guidance if you are concerned. Most important thing is to give variety of vegetables / meat / fish / fruits / cereals and a bit of dairy.

A really good post on introducing solids here