Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Ladies & Gentlemen, we have a Talker.....

Way back when, I chose the chatty-t URL for this blog because I am just that – chatty! If you call me up and ask me how I am, you won’t get a one word answer.....

I’m fine, just happy that I managed to make this food for LLC tonight so she’s all set with a meal for tomorrow. I’m trying to make a variation of our dinners for her, so tonight I.....

And so on. It was therefore clearly on the cards that I’d have a loquacious little one.


It’s like we flipped the verbal switch on in LLC and now it’s on for good. Just over a week ago her more random babbles, coos and shouts became more distinct vowel and consonant combinations and she loves it. Be it on her mat, in the supermarket, in my arms, in her crib - she now treats us to daily bursts of chatter.  She doesn't talk on demand, but when the mood strikes her, how it strikes!

Since words and talking have always been a love of mine, I look forward to the day LLC and I can talk to each other. I’m not attempting to rush her out of her baby phase, plus there may not be more development on this front for awhile.

But this week, I’m excited by her new sounds and I look forward to exploring them and more with her. Chris on the other hand is looking increasingly nervous that he now has two chatterboxes to deal with!

Do you have any endearing learning to talk stories with your little ones?

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Separation Anxiety - For Me, Not LLC....

This past week LLC spent her first full days with the childminder (CM) while I went to work. Everything went well for both of us, at face value, that is.

Our CM is lovely and I feel very confident leaving LLC in her care. Creative, caring and engaged, I can tell that she is dedicated to her charges and will be a stimulating and kind influence on my little one.

LLC parted company from me with a smile and a babble both days. There were no tears, from her, or from me. She treated me to big gummy grins when I collected her and the CM wrote detailed and amusing updates on her daily activities, nap length and poop color included. From these I learned that LLC more or less kept to her usual nap and eating patterns and enjoyed playing with stacking blocks and a squeaky toy. The CM observed her capacity to study and play with an object for long periods of time, and her joy of weight bearing on her sturdy legs. I see all these as signs of LLC happy and at ease, doing her regular thing.

Meanwhile, I had a couple of productive days in the adult working world. It’s encouraging to see that I still have it in me. It’s early days, but I feel positive about my work/life balance, and fortunate to have secured working arrangement that allows me to continue with a job I’m good at while not sacrificing too much time with LLC. I don’t think that returning to work full-time stops a mother from bonding with her kids but I do know that my mom was home with me full-time, and this has always impacted on my desire to have time at home with my children once I started a family.

So why did I feel so tied up inside this last week? Why did I develop such bad stomach cramps the day before leaving LLC with the CM that I needed to cancel going for coffee with my NCT friends? Why did I feel generally not right?

I thought it was because I ate some dodgy cheese the day of the NCT coffee. I thought it was because I stayed up really late and had had a few busy days of late. But stepping back from it all this weekend I realize that it probably wasn’t any of this (though I do need to go to bed earlier).

I think, more likely, I’m a little stressed about starting work, leaving LLC, keeping on top of the house while making sure I spend enough time with her, finding a new balance and doing it all justice. I'm sure I'll get there but maybe I took it for granted that this shift will take some getting used to.  Deep breath.

Friday, 20 August 2010

It's all happening....

One of the most amazing things about babies is their rate of development - each new week brings something new as their sponge-like brains take on the world!

Several weeks ago LLC learned to sit up.  Then a few weeks back her first tooth (bottom right) came through.  The following week her bottom left tooth made an appearance and last week she started rocking on her knees and attempting to crawl (but toppling over in the process).  It might be awhile coming but she's trying.  She's also been very vocal of late, happily screeching long streams of vowels and consonants and now today some more separate and distinct sounds.  It's mad, exciting, wonderful to see this little person emerging.  I look at her and I just want to eat her up, even when she is moody and has a big old paddy.

Next week will be the first week LLC goes to the childminder. It's only for a couple of day a week but it's still slightly daunting.  I'm sure LLC will be fine judging from her settling in sessions (where she turned toward the childminder when I went to kiss her goodbye) and since she's still small and not too sensitive about being separated from me in general.  Chris' mom visited this past week and LLC stayed with her for a couple of full days and all was well.  But still....it's strange....I'll miss her......

Yes, it's all go around these parts!

Monday, 16 August 2010

Weaning Wanders

I recently returned to work part-time and my blogging/reading/commenting has been pretty spotty. This frustrates me, because since I finally got on the blogging bandwagon, I’ve really enjoyed the ride. I’ve told myself to set this right, so hopefully you’ll see a bit more from me going forward if I can figure out a way to write and comment regularly without getting lost for hours on the Internet each night while my husband gets irritated at me (and rightfully so). So many do it so I should be able to find a way too, right? But I digress....

We’re on our fourth week of weaning. We started a week shy of 6 months and we’re doing a mix of finger foods and spoon-feeding. I really liked the idea of baby-led weaning but with all the pressure I’ve had about LLC’s weight, I feel more confident knowing that she is ingesting a bit more than she’d do if left completely to her own accord.  I do like the idea of hear learning to chew sooner rather than later though, as well as identifying a carrot versus a sweet potato so we're doing our own variation of the two methods.

This means avoiding really smooth purees and jumping straight into lumpy foods – veg & couscous; salmon, spinach and potato; stewed apple & pear after a week of just fruit, veg and baby rice. When spoon-feeding, she often takes control of the spoon and aims it at (sometimes in) her mouth, though I do all the spoon loading. From my reading on baby-led weaning I learned that the gag reflex on a young baby is fairly far forward in the mouth but it retreats with time; thus by letting her navigate some lumps and bumps and finger foods early, this reflex should kick in and help her gauge the size of food she can swallow, making choking less likely. I really hope so at least. But it’s going well so far and she hasn’t yet snubbed anything (let me live this dream before it’s shattered!).

In terms of finger foods, we’ve tried the likes of roasted vegetables (sweet potato, carrot, pepper, butternut squash), toast with unsalted butter, rice cakes, cheese, cucumber, cantaloupe, apple and pear. She definitely copes best with long, thin, baton-shaped foods that allow her to grab them with her fist and still have a bit poking out on top that she can suck on. She'll do this for a bit, before throwing the lot on the floor and banging on her highchair for more!  Fruit in particular often slips out of her grasp and I'm not sure about the way around this yet.

Naive to each new twist and turn of the parenting journey, I didn’t realize how very very messy this adventure would be. I also didn’t realize how much time organizing and sitting down with LLC for food would take. We’d fallen into a nice rhythm with her milk feeds and now that’s all subject to the dreaded “c” word – change. We operate on a routine of organized chaos, and now that “routine” is starting to shift, leaving me pondering what time I’ll serve her meals, how this will affect the time of milk feeds, what I’ll serve when....ironically I know in my heart a rough routine of sorts will probably start to emerge once she starts to eat more but sometimes it’s hard to shut off the planning part of my head.  But I'm trying.

So what's worked for us so far?
  • Investing in an easy to clean highchair, ideally one that doesn't break the bank - We went for a wooden fold up one from John Lewis. It doesn’t recline or adjust in height but it’s small, functional and really easy to get food off of. Since LLC is now 6.5 months she is able to sit up in the chair unaided.  My friend has the £12 plastic one from Ikea and thinks it’s fab, it just doesn’t fold up. 
  • Doubling up on bibs – we use a plastic washable bib with a shelf for catching food on top and a cloth bib underneath for absorbing anything that breeches the plastic bib.
  • LLC likes to take charge – I’ve taken the view that eating right now is not just about eating but also about exploring and learning so I’m letting her get as involved as I can.  She's happiest when in control. 
  • Wiping LLC’s face clean with a warm cloth – this may sound like common sense, but I kept wiping her face off with a baby wipe (got to love them!) and she hated it! My mom suggested a warm washcloth instead and in the spirit of mother’s knowing best, LLC took to that much better.
  • Trying to give LLC a variation of what we eat – again in the spirit of baby-led weaning, I’m hoping to avoid making LLC many separate meals and instead am trying to craft her a slight variation of what’s on our plates (though I’m finding this easier said than done sometimes....)
Now I need your top tips on weaning please. What foods worked best? Did you pre-plan special baby meals or just give your little ones a variation of your own dinner? How do you get the stains out? What will make this adventure all the sweeter for us?!

(I'm on the wrong computer now, but I'll post some of our weaning wanders tomorrow.....)

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Loving Huggies 'Little Bundle of Laughs'

Colostrum, bump-touching, birth, babies and parenting were the talk of the town at the Huggies ‘Little Bundle of Laughs’ at London’s Leicester Square Theatre last night. My ticket to this pregnancy and parenting comedy extravaganza came compliments of Huggies and it made for a great night out.

We saw a heavily pregnant Lucy Porter share the cookie baking moment when she decided she wanted children even though she is scared of small kids.

Hilarious Kerry Godliman gave her low down on pregnancy insomnia and why to aspire to a kick ass pelvic floor.

Then Father Ted’s Ardal O’Hanlon offered a male take on supporting his pregnant wife, coping with all the pillows that accompany a bump to bed and the awe-inspiring moment when he became a father.

I put on a dress and joined the fray of blooming pregnant ladies, yummy mummies, surprisingly many men, bloggers, journalists and even a few celebs (ohhhh, that chick with the really blonde hair two seats in front of me was Stacy Solomon off the ‘X-Factor’ - apparently Danielle Lloyd was also there looking ravishing one month post birth but I missed her....(sob).....) to hear about the ins and outs of pregnancy and becoming a parent.

Like the magical Harry Potter Marauder’s Map, the pregnancy and parenting chapter of life completely evaded me until we decided to try for a baby. I started to take folic acid, learned new words lke meconium and phrases like quickening, started to think about birth and breastfeeding and lots of other things I never paid an iota of attention to when babies were off my immediate radar and more something I'd like to do one day. Then, pregnant, all of a sudden, I was in “the club.”

And last night's Huggies event really spoke to this "club" in a funny, easy to relate to way that engendered collective laughs, sighs and knowing grins. I wish I’d had the chance to attend something of the like while pregnant, because it really brought to life a lot of the issues that I had on my ten (yes ten!) month journey. So well done Huggies; thanks for a great night for which all proceeds went to Tommys, the charity dedicated to giving babies the best chance of being born healthy.

If you’re pregnant or have a little one and are not a member of the Huggies Club I’d definitely suggest joining so you can easily find out and take advantage of similar events down the line.

(Although Huggies sponsored my ticket to this show, this is my honest, unpaid & independent view, as always!)

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Fed Up!

I’m so fed up with the health visitor. She really pushed my buttons today. Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment for continuing to take LLC for weigh-ins in the first place....

LLC is now 12lb 6oz and falls between the 2 and 0.4 percentile lines on the UK weight charts. I’m still breastfeeding her but introduced one formula bottle/day a month ago.

(You may remember my dilemma in May about whether to combination feed LLC due to her slow weight gain. At the time I introduced one bottle for a week but then decided I was going to stick with exclusive breastfeeding. Fast forward to another weigh in at just over 5 months when the health visitor strongly advised me to introduce some formula as “LLC has always struggled with her weight.” I struggle with your detached and condescending manner and choice of words lady. But anyway, I reintroduced the one formula feed and all has been well)

Today I received a speech including gems like:
  • “If I was you I’d really be giving her more formula feeds”
  • “Her body may be fending off a urinary track infection, for which there are no signs, but it could be using up all her extra calories”
  • “She may be getting most of her nutrition from her one daily formula bottle”
  • “I’d suggest topping her up with a formula bottle after every breastfeed”
So I asked: LLC appears to be happy, healthy and thriving so is it not possible she is just small?

To which I was told that her weight really should be more than what it is.

She made me feel concerned for LLC’s wellbeing.  Should I be taking her in for a urine test to check for infetion?  She made me question if my breast milk is nutritionally sound. I think it’s ridiculous for her to suggest LLC’s main source of nutrition could be from her formula feed – surely what I have given her thus far counts for something? And does she really think I want to top up each breastfeed I do with formula? I might as well stop breastfeeding if I’m going to do this and save a lot of time, money and energy on preparing extra feeds I doubt LLC will take. She does not seem unsatisfied after her breastfeeds.

I’ve determined that while I’m mostly home with LLC, while I can give her the goodness of breastfeeding I’d like to continue. I am not someone who saw myself breastfeeding for an extended period of time; even now I really see a year as the longest I want to continue. Yet now I’m questioning if I’m doing right by LLC.

So I’d value your take. Is 12lb 6oz really unhealthily small for a 6 month old? Do you know anyone else who was this low on the weight charts for this length of time and then ended up thriving? I need some reassurance or to know if this weight does seem quite low from your experience.

For now I’m thinking of introducing a second formula bottle/day as some form of middle ground.  Plus, we've recently started weaning so I expect that to begin to impact on her weight, though perhaps not dramatically at first.  Geez, my head is all over the place about this. Sorry for the rant.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Halfway Around the Sun

LLC, you're 6 months old.

It seems like you've been with us for ages though simultaneously this half year has flown by.  You're still small, "like a little dolly," but what you lack in weight you make up for in personality.  You're a spirited little lady with the grunt of a champion and the inquisitive stare of a practiced detective.

The world is yours to discover - you observe always, and now often want to take part.  You enjoy chucking your food bowl on the floor and grabbing Rico's tail.  You're thrilled by animals, dancing in my arms and the playground.  You love to sit up and desperately want to crawl but for now need to settle for rolling from point A to point B, which you do with speed and skill. 

Moo Cow is back in your life; for this we are all grateful :)  You have two passports, lucky girl.  You turn the pages of the books we read; you have a penchant for off limits electronic devices like the remote and my phone.  You know the magic computer that mommy and daddy type on and grandma & grandpa " in a box" appear through.  You love being held but will entertain yourself for long periods of time too.

You rub your eyes when you're tired but like me, you resist sleep. You cry almost every time I put you in our crib for a nap and when you do, I give you solace through your friend white noise. You have no teeth yet but you razz and babble like a chatterbox in the making. 

You embrace life and I embrace you.