Thursday, 31 March 2011

The vintage jewellery box - part two

'The Lost Ballerina'

Many years ago, in a suburb of South Manchester, lived a little girl called Nelly.

Nelly liked to laugh and loved to play.
She had many toys, one of which was a 1980's style cream jewellery box containing a tiny ballerina who danced to her own tune.
Nelly would leave her most treasured possessions for the ballerina to watch over, including a random collection of china animals, brownie badges that for some reason never made it onto her uniform and other special trinkets.

For years the ballerina, a confident lady with a great sense of style (this being the 80's she had a tutu and legwarmers) danced happily in her box whenever anyone came to visit.

But the visits became less frequent and over time the ballerina's tutu gathered dust, she gained a little weight from comfort eating and her choice of clothes started to just look wrong (always the way with the 80's).
Nelly had grown up and no longer wanted to play with her jewellery box. Eventually the ballerina, in her outdated box, was packed away in the dark.

Then one day, some years later, the ballerina was woken one morning to the sound of voices and movement. She jumped to her feet just in time as the box lid was opened and her world was flooded with light once more. She quickly showed off her best dance moves, albeit slightly self consciously, in the hope that she could be loved once more.

It seemed to work and over the next few days her box had a full makeover. Apparently her clothes did not need much updating since they were back in fashion - who'd have thought the 80's would ever return. She was ready to guard over treasures once again.



And this time they were to be no ordinary treasures. This time they would be the treasures of a new little girl, one who was so special and kind and would love her forever (or at least until she herself had children). Nelly had given the ballerina and her world to a little girl called Mabel.

"This is all yours now my gorgeous girl. I hope it is filled with magical things for years to come" xxx

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

A simple case of paranoid parents!

So Mabel had her first injections yesterday. Not a particularly pleasant experience but with G Kisby off work there was plenty of moral support. I did well up slightly when she looked at me in horror as it took place but managed to keep it together and retain some composure.

A lovely walk home in the sunshine and a cup of coffee at the farm shop certainly helped proceedings.

However, at tea time she suddenly became hysterical. She very very rarely screams with such ferocity (during her injections being one of only a couple of times) so this was pretty alarming. After an age (in hindsight probably about 10 mins but time is seriously effected by noise at that level) we tried the 'fall back' option of a soother in the form of a nipple (I know I moved away from this following the 'regain control' regime of week 6, don't judge me).

However, said soother didn't work. She couldn't keep it in her mouth due to the screams, which continued unabated. At this point I really started to worry. Never before has the option of food been unsuccessful at calming her down and G Kisby even admitted this to be the case. We tried changing her nappy and her by now very wet babygrow (excessive saliva issue) to no avail, although we did notice that her leg where the injections had been was very red and swollen.

Force feeding attempt number two had even less success, at which point I suggested we rang NHS direct for advice. 10 minutes or so later, with me following G Kisby round the house (how annoying when you are trying to speak over a crying baby) asking, "what did they say" repeatedly, we had an appointment made with the 'out of hours' surgery at Huddersfield hospital. 

What a relief that she would be checked; I passed Mabes over to G Kisby whilst I went for the wee I had needed about an hour earlier.

Fortunately, or unfortunately (depending on whether you are viewing it from an understaffed NHS perspective) Mabel felt the relief also and fell asleep in G Kisby's arms.
Ahhh, maybe she isn't about to have major organ failure due to an allergic reaction to the injections after all, or if she is she seems pretty o.k with it right now.

We decided to go along anyway, since we'd made the appointment and I was conscious that if she woke and it started again we'd be back to square one. The doctor said about 3 words (not sure it this was because he didn't speak good English or because he was literally flabbergasted at us bringing in a perfectly settled sleeping baby to an out of hours surgery). I think we must have literally had 'new parents' in flashing lights above our heads. He prescribed us, and I'm not sure how he didn't laugh, calpol. Yep, we went to hospital to get some calpol.

Our baby appears to have been suffering with a sore leg which I am happy to report is now fully better and she is back on great form (sleeping no less than 7 hours in a row last night, woo).

Her parents meanwhile were suffering with a small case of paranoia (though I reckon I'd do the same again, is there anything more scary than your child being unwell?)

She is changing loads at the moment. Here she is with her Auntie Vicki:


And yes we are back to dressing her in boys clothes again, but who can resist a striped knitted Gap number?

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Homemade baby toys...

I read something on babycentre recently(http://www.babycentre.co.uk/baby/development/letsplay/2months1stweek/) about games you can play with your newborn.

So we made a hanging ball (G Kisby calls it her cat toy) for above her nappy change and she absolutely loves it.

My NCT friend Gill then gave me a great idea of using a 'thermal emergency blanket' to create a multi sensory learning experience, which again was a huge success. She loved the noise it made when she moved her arms and legs and was mesmorised by the reflection of light. So as not to furnish our front room with a large silver blanket I have now folded it up and put it under her usual play mat so it still makes a nice crunchy noise when she kicks. 

Notably this one needed some supervision since she tries to get everything in her mouth.

This got me thinking...what else could I make (or improvise) into a baby toy with a little bit of creativity. Not only would this save money but Mabel appears to enjoy her cat toy as much, if not more, than some of the other things we have bought.

[0774.jpg]I gained some inspiration from http://craftycupboard.blogspot.com/2011/03/monster-baby-toy.html who provide an online tutorial on how to make this monster toy. I'll be making my own shortly.

So I am going to do more research and get making, don't fear G Kisby will be around to approve any of my plans before they are launched to Mabel, I am well aware that common sense (health and safety?) is not my strong point.

Any ideas or home made contributions to her toy collection welcome...

Monday, 28 March 2011

Layers of sensitivity...

We have had a lovely, busy weekend spending most of the time out of Huddersfield.
I say busy, Saturday was spent with family, sat around eating cake and chatting. Literally for hours. Fee has posted some gorgeous pictures of Mabel enjoying her 'Easter tree'
(http://chippernelly.blogspot.com/)

Then on Sunday we drove to Nottingham to celebrate Jessica's baptism with our good friends Phil and Claire. Again far too much cake was eaten. By me mostly.

On the way to Nottingham we passed a field full of very new lambs. Beautiful tiny lambs prancing around their mums with their tails waggling in the sunshine. I seriously went on about these lambs for about 10 minutes, moved by the sight as if seeing for the first time in my life (G Kisby responded by saying, "Mmmmm rack of lamb", sensitivity apparently doesn't stretch to fatherhood)

I'm not sure how this happened that I am suddenly so easily moved. I think back to a visit to see Blood Brothers at the Manchester Opera House a few years ago. As the curtain went down and lights went on I turned to see G Kisby wiping a tear. As I started to ridicule him he rightly noted, "What have you got a heart of stone, everyone is crying except you". He was right. I had to fake some emotion so as not to appear an ice queen.

But since having Mabel I appear to have peeled back a few layers of sensitivity. I can no longer bear to watch a 'Save the Children' advert on TV, Comic Relief sent me over the edge and
I often think that I love her so much that it actually hurts.

I found myself saying to G Kisby, "When she is a bit older I think it will be easier since I'll worry about her less, you know because she will be a bit sturdier". It didn't take me long to realise this will never be true. After newborn fragility will eventually come teenage angst and so the torrent of emotions will continue. I think I knew this before having a baby but I'm not sure you can be prepared for it.

And bizarrely I wouldn't swap it for the world, it is still completely worth it.
I am well aware this may sound pathetic and a little dull (a year ago I would have literally been raising my eyes to these sorts of comments and perhaps even have muttered something under my breath along the lines of 'loser'). Perhaps the novelty of the situation wears of (does it?) and in another year or so I will look back and regret writing with such sentimentality but I guess that's the joy of keeping a diary. It records your feelings in the moment (admittedly not always publicly).

And it is true.

Completely and utterly life changing!

Saturday, 26 March 2011

The vintage jewellery box - part one

Through various house moves over the years I have kept hold of a few things in a box from my childhood. There is 'yellow rabbit' - the old, very shabby, well loved soft toy, a version of which I'm sure most people had and no doubt still have. 'Pink blanket' holds similar sentimental value (clearly i was very creative with my names as a child). Then there are two jewellery boxes. Nothing particularly special about them, not particularly pretty, but for some reason I haven't been able to throw them away at any point.

I am now really pleased I didn't...so begins my, 'vintage jewellery box project'.
I love the idea of Mabel having a jewellery box that was once mine (I nearly made her two but then realised I may have another girl at some point, suddenly very aware of second child syndrome). But obviously it will need some work first.

Here it is in its current state:

I also plan to write her a story about the ballerina to go with it. Part two will follow over the weekend.







Mabel was two months old this week (think we now talk in months not weeks?)
Here she is sporting a lovely chinzy babygrow for the occasion:



Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Random acts of kindness...

Yesterday in Manchester on a lovely walk with Katie and her boys she told me a really poignant story about something that happened to them the week before.

Herself, Colin and the twins were going for a walk around Hollingworth lake and stopped and sat down by the edge for something to eat. An older gentleman sat down next to them and started to talk about the twins. Now this does happen an awful lot (I have seen it in action at Trafford, seriously she needs to keep the conversation to a minimum or she'd never get anywhere. People are really interested in twins!) They made polite chit chat and the man started getting a bit upset and telling them how his daughter had given birth to twins but sadly they had both died and he was no longer a grandad (how unbelievably sad). By the end of the conversation he slipped a note into Kate's hand saying he wanted her to have it 'for the boys'.

Of course both Kate and Colin refused profusely for about 10 minutes, explaining that although grateful for the thought it would be wrong to take it. The gentleman, after insisting for some time, started to walk back to his car with Kate in tow still trying to give the money back. When they got to the car he explained that it genuinely would make him very happy if she was to accept and Kate decided she had no choice but to be gracious and thank him for the gesture.

When she got back to Colin and the twins she looked in her hand and realised that he hadn't given them a tenner (as she had thought) but £100! They went back to where his car had been he had already gone.

We talked about what she was going to do with the money (not buy shoes needless to say). I said, being the romantic, that she should invest it and in years to come she can tell the boys that story and maybe the money can go towards something really special like their first car... (obviously in my world deflation doesn't exist).

Such random acts of kindness very rarely happen but when they do it stays with you for ages. I love a story like that, one that is both touching and a little mysterious. It does remind you that there are such kind people in the world and sometimes small things happen in your life which are completely unexpected and have the potential to bring new opportunities, if you let them....

What will they do with the £100???

Monday, 21 March 2011

Mabel finds her smile!

Back to work today for G Kisby after a very lovely sunny weekend. Aside from finishing the nursery we also had a fab day out visiting Hebden Bridge which has some gorgeous shops and cafes (we'd like to live there if it wasn't mainly accessible only by one very busy road).

We learnt that a pram is not that helpful when visiting a small town with quaint shops and unfortunately G Kisby had to stay outside for some of them. In particular I LOVED everything in this lovely light shop (with a limitless budget I would have easily found something for Mabel's room here, in particular look at the fairy lights and tea lights)
 www.radiancelighting.co.uk

 Also this gallery showcased a number of designers that we really liked (they have a blog too)
www.heartgallery.co.uk


When it came to eating we really did struggle with the pram and were very indecisive as to how to get round the issue. In the end we walked back to the car and swapped Mabel into her sling in order to visit an organic cafe which was right up our street (cakes to die for, good coffee and roasted veg and homemade hummous sharing platters).

What a lovely day!

And Mabel has finally found her smile (it has been there a while, she has just been working out how and when to use it, that's what I am telling myself anyway, not that she prefers to pout). Mum, as always with her soft scottish dulcet tones, started the ball rolling and now they just keep on coming (ah something in return at last)

Finally, our menu for the week below, sticking to our commitment:
Monday -  Grilled masala salmon and south indian style green beans ('Curry Made Easy' great easy to follow book by Madhur Jaffrey)
Tuesday - Broccoli and sausage all in one ('Leon' - another great cook book)
Wednesday - Chicken with preserved lemon and olives
Thursday - Asian style fried pork meatballs
Friday - Chicken liver pasta

Yum...

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Nursery finished..at last!

So this weekend we did the final bits to complete the nursery, the nice bits like accessorising and actually putting the curtains up.

G Kisby even put a shelf up one night in the week. Not a huge undertaking I hear you say...it is in our house. It took about an hour, and you wonder why this nursery has taken us so long to complete. We were meant to have 2 shelves but somehow the first one ended up right in the middle of the wall leaving no other room,
"I've decided we'll just have one" he said with a limited degree of conviction
 I didn't have the heart to comment.
When he arrived home the other day he commented with surprise,
"Oh look the shelf is still up"
Hmmm
"What were you thinking of putting on it?" he then asked
"Books, that was why we got shelves"
"Yeah, I'd stick to cuddly toys"
"Great"
It's like the coat rack that, "should probably not have too many coats on it" all over again.


Anyway, here is said shelf, still standing (sitting?) and holding some beautiful (and light) candle holders made by Jane at Teawagontales
http://teawagontales.blogspot.com/


 In a changing rooms stylie here is how the room looked when we moved in and how it is now:


I couldn't find a lamp I liked (all disney or too pink) so decided we could do one ourselves. A quick whip up of a fabric corsage has done the trick (I wouldn't normally do matching but since we had spare fabric. The rest is going to be used to make Mabes a pair of bloomers).




These blocks were made by Fee and are lovely as always
(http://www.notonthehighstreet.com/partners/chippernelly/products for other gorgeous things)



And of course the curtains were made by me (hooray - using my sewing machine and supervised by Mum)

We still have some further things to add but at least Mabel now has her own bedroom. In a few months when she moves in I am sure she will like it, and in years to come hopefully I'll be teaching her to make corsages! She looked pretty, er, happy?


Saturday, 19 March 2011

A windy week...

Particularly in the latter half of this week Mabel has been suffering with bad wind of an evening (perhaps a bit of colic, though I don't know when wind becomes colic?)
Roughly 2 hours of unsettled inconsolable crying where we feel really sorry for her since its clear her tummy is sore.

Previously, not knowing otherwise as complete novices, when she squirmed and cried for no apparent reason during these times, and we became exasperated. And sometimes we still do. I also used to secretly wonder whether she liked me much (since I wasn't able to settle her) and thought she didn't like to be held (due to the wriggling). As they say, it takes time to get to know your baby, read the confusing signals and gain confidence in looking after her. I now realise this is very true and have gained new ways to help the situation. Now, when we have back arching / leg tensing and crying I hold her really close with one arm, bend up her knees with the other and move them in a clockwise (apparently the way) motion. It doesn't always work for the whole time but she stares up at me with her big eyes and inbetween the sharp cries and leg extensions (often followed by large noises) she does settle slightly and we certainly seem to be able to avoid her becoming hysterical. Obviously there is still room for walking the room, bouncing etc but we have moved away from the manic tense rocking and learnt what soothes our baby (of course every baby is different). Only time teaches you these things I think!

Anyhow I have been trying to work out what can help her with tummy ache from wind:
- Infacol seems to just make her bring up more milk - not sure if this is a good or bad thing?
-Colic massage strokes she likes, but I can't see any change if we manage to do a few sessions in a day or none, therefore again unsure if they work, though I will still do them
- Gripe water is my next attempt today..
- The bupa website (www.bupa.co.uk/individuals/health-information/directory/c/colic) has some good information and suggests cutting dairy out of my diet may help. This website also suggests some changes to diet may help: www.babycenter.in/baby/breastfeeding/breastfeedingdiet

Oh no, definitely no cereal now then. Will give it a go...after the gripe water! And a small amount in tea or coffee surely doesn't count?

Last night the normal bedtime routine even faced changes due to the wind issue. She went  down at 7 but was back up by 8 screaming. By 10.30pm and 2 potentially unnecessary feeds I was preparing myself for a tough night. However, at about 1 in the morning I think we found the problem.
Monster poo arrived.
And my oh my was it a monster. It was right up there with the largest volume of poo I've ever seen. Unbelievably the nappy held most of it with just a minor leakage up the back and side. So amazed was I by the quantity that this morning I have weighed it. That's right, I weighed the poo. And it was a huge 10oz (admittedly allowing some for the nappy, wee etc. Don't fear it didn't go directly into the kitchen scales)
No wonder she was fed up. And she was so so good whilst I pulled the soiled vest over her head and somehow got poo everywhere yet again (where is G Kisby the master nappy changer and his clean OCD when you need him?) I don't usually find any baby smells offensive but this one seriously made me heave, so much so that I had to keep turning round (maybe it was the infacol?) When I had finished the worst of the clean up I anti bac'd (gel) my hands before dressing her again. Then went to the bathroom to give my hands a proper wash only to find yellow staining right up near my elbow. Unbelievable.

Needless to say when we were all done and I put her back in the moses basket I swear I heard her utter, 'phew' under her breath before quickly falling fast asleep a much happier baby.
To be fair we all feel better after a good visit...

Friday, 18 March 2011

Ideas, ideas and more ideas...

I often find that my head is completely full of ideas. Admittedly some of them don't amount to much (so much so that I can't even blog about some of them, even by my lax standards an explanation of the 'toilet quietener' would be a step too far, don't panic G Kisby).
And more often than not I have an idea but don't end up taking it anywhere (ah my inability to finish anything & low boredom threshold are so self debilitating).

But none the less the ideas are there. I mentioned this at some point to my sister in law Janet who was lovely enough to remember and bought me this book for Christmas(http://www.sukie.co.uk/ for other nice books too)
Bright idea
I have since used it to write down my ideas, if nothing else making my head feel a little less full.
So ones such as the coat hanger storage device (how many people store coat hangers in a plastic bag and how annoying is it to try and get one out) and a hot water bottle shaped especially for use during labour (you use one for period pains, thinking the heat may be useful?) are all there, no doubt collecting dust for years to come.

However, I have also used the book to write down all the 'hobbies' or things I would like to do this year. Going back to my philosophical moment a few weeks ago I find it quite cathartic to write down these things (control freak? If I cannot control feeding patterns nowadays I must control something else?)
So currently I have:
Learn to knit and help Mum make a blanket for Mabel (job done, I am now looking for a pattern for a dress)
Use my sewing machine to start dress making
Make a mini film of Mabel's entrance into the world (not the labour itself you realise, have got the film clips and G Kisby bought me an editing package for my birthday)
Keep learning to play the piano
Grow loads more of our own vegetables
Keep writing (and improving) a blog

A website gave me some food for thought this morning, obviously since Mabel has been born my ideas have turned to baby products. I really like the concept of a website selling items created by those who know most what is required when having children.
http://www.moixx.com/

And it is Friday - woooo! The wine is in the fridge cooling, the glasses are on the side waiting (does that sound a bit desperate) and I am just looking for something we can do tomorrow as a family out in the countryside. Enjoy...

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Healthy breastfeeding?

We went for a fast walk yesterday, the first real bit of exercise (by real I mean that a shower was required following) that I've done since having Mabel. It did take slightly longer than I expected to feel ready to get going on this again, I could have no doubt started earlier but I do think your body needs a bit of time to recover so up until now have been sticking to the leisurely walk.

Whilst striding around the peaceful local countryside we are lucky to have, I contemplated how healthy in general I am currently. All through my pregnancy I made a huge effort to eat well and managed to do so I think. However, since then things have gone slightly astray.

I voiced this thought to G Kisby last night whilst tucking into a particularly dense farm shop chocolate brownie with a cup of tea;
"I think we should think about giving something up, you know kind of like for lent"
"Ahhh man, I've already given loads up recently" came the reply.
I only had to glance his way with my well rehearsed frown for him to back track on that comment.
"Like what? Didn't lent start last week?" he revised

Can't believe we are even late for lent, is there anything we are organised enough to do on time?

"Well, for a start I think I will give up eating cereal everyday for my lunch" I replied
"Babe, I think lent is quite a serious religious undertaking, cereal denial doesn't quite cut it. Please don't blog that you are giving up cereal for lent..."

So I'm not. Instead, after some discussion, I came up with a new plan, one which doesn't involve
lent or cereal. The main issue appears to be that we have got stuck in a cooking rut, which for 2 people with such a love of food is disappointing but I imagine quite common. We probably have a handful of default meals (prawn pasta, roasted veg pittas etc) which we seem to eat most weeks.  We are too busy, or forgetful to look up new recipes so stick to what we know, which although very tasty is unadventurous, often not that cheap (since doesn't make the most of seasonal or cheaper meats etc) and probably not always that nutritious.

So for 40 days (disclaimer: this has no links to lent) we are going to commit to cooking something different every evening. And we are committing to ensuring that every meal is nutritious and well balanced since Mabel is still 100% dependant on what I eat so it is as important to be healthy now as it was for the last 9 months!

The plan starts on Sunday and I'll blog our menu (we have already done the shopping for this week and it is prawn pasta tonight)...

Monday, 14 March 2011

Is this my worst moment yet?

Today I did something which I think was a bit wrong. Although I do feel I can justify it...
I went to return a small gift that was bought for Mabel (nothing particularly new there I hear you say). Actually it was only part of a gift and not the main part I must add. However, I couldn't find anything I liked to swap it for and the odd thing I did like wasn't in the right size. Somehow, and I don't know how, I ended up a few aisles down in the shoe section...and  I am afraid to admit it was not the childrens shoe section.

That's right, you see where this is going. I swapped a gift for Mabel for a pair of shoes for me. But they were in the sale and a bargain, the perfect pair of nude flats which will go with any number of outfits this summer. And Mabel would want me to look good carrying her, so really they are a gift for her just through me? Also, I am planning to buy her something for the price of the item I returned, just from a different shop, so actually I didn't swap her gift for shoes, I just bought myself shoes and delayed the purchase for her.

Oh God I completely justified it to myself on the way home but written down I am seeing how it was wrong on so many levels. To appease my guilt I am going online right now
 to buy her something in its place.

This is the exact kind of blog post that G Kisby will suggest I keep to myself, in fact it will probably be removed very shortly...

Sunday, 13 March 2011

A right Yorkshire day out...

Today we went for what I think was our first proper day out as a family. The weather looked pretty bleak first thing but since we spent all day making Ikea furniture yesterday we decided that another day in the house was out of the question. So we drove 40mins or so to Yorkshire Sculpture Park, having never been before but passed it numerous times in the car.

It is probably fair to say that the day didn’t start well. I wasn’t in a great mood to start with, one of those days where everything possible is wrong. Added to the fact that G Kisby seemed to be in similar form, though he would deny this- I'm not sure he has ever admitted to be in a bad mood, the outlook was not particularly positive. So more than ever we made an effort to get out and about. However things got slightly worse before they got better. We forgot the sat nav, thought we knew where we were going, didn't. Needless to say if ever there is a way to make our relationship tense it is through an issue with directions. I managed to do a detour down what became a dirt track. Need I say more.
We then arrived to see it was pay and display but we had no change.
Finally we realised that most people were wearing walking attire. G Kisby had on his converse and lightweight (work / city) mack on and we only had the pram for Mabel not the sling. Apparently there was a walk with disabled access, don't think I would have been happy attempting the mud in my wheelchair and we discovered our pram was very much not for off roading. After a couple of comments about turning back we managed to negoitate some sort of walk around the grounds and actually, with the right equipment, it is really good and great for kids.
Here is one of my favourite sculptures, I like the stance of this hare-like creature...
It was lovely and sunny which meant we left our bad moods behind. Our trip was then finished off with a decent coffee and cake for me, a bottle of Yorkshire Blonde beer for G Kisby and Mabel went for the milk option (she is very unadventurous with her food choices, it is something we are working on).
And talking of good food and drink we had a lovely evening with Fee and Al last night featuring slow cooked lamb, pittas and a great chickpea and feta salad. Mabel was brilliant and then slept for 7 hours in a row. Obviously I woke up after about 5 then lay awake convinced she was ill but should I be less of a paranoid mother (I since googled it and 7 hours is fine as long as she is putting on weight and doing wet nappies) I would have truly appreciated such a feat. Can't quite believe how big she looks in this picture...

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Picture updates!

We realised today that we haven't taken any pictures of our little lady for at least a week or so which spurred us into action. G Kisby particularly likes this blue stripey baby grow and calls her rumpelstiltskin when wearing it. Do you think he secretly wanted a boy?!?
I finished my fourth book since Mabel was born today, it is another benefit I am finding with breastfeeding since I read through the night feeds to keep me awake. I tend to love reading but get stuck half way through a book which I find tough going, then don't read for months. The most recent one was, 'The hand that first held mine' by Maggie O Farrel. Coincidentally, since G Kisby bought these books for my birthday without knowing much about them, one of the key themes in the latter is motherhood. I almost cried twice whilst reading it which either shows it is a good story or that my hormones are still playing havoc. No, I do think it is a good story, I would recommend it...


Friday, 11 March 2011

Bring on the dummy...

Prior to having Mabel we had both said we'd rather not use a dummy. I'm not entirely sure why, I think possibly because it brings to the mind images of a 3 year old with a dummy permanently in his or her mouth, not a good look.

I kind of feel it is frowned upon, it certainly wasn't mentioned at NCT as an option for soothing your baby. But Mabel is a real rooter and would happily sit on my boob all day long happy as larry, particularly when she has wind or is tired. So in a moment of desperation a couple of weeks ago we turned to the dummy (and indeed a few weekends ago in Manchester, when without a dummy but with a pesky baby, I did find myself, whilst nipping to Co-op for a bottle of wine to go with our curry, purchasing a spare dummy. Oh yes I bought wine and a dummy at the same time, I surely cannot judge anyone following that).

And I have to say it has been a real god send and hugely helpful in settling her, particularly in the evenings. Yet for some reason I still felt slightly guilty about giving it to her. As if I might some how be confusing her and ruining her feeding habits or just simply doing something wrong in the eyes of the NCT middle class masses (one of the other NCT girls made me laugh by saying she'd brought a dummy to the NCT reunion but wasn't sure if she'd dare use it - I know what she means). However, this really shouldn't be the case. I realise now that when trying to manage a newborn you need every bit of help you can get. In face I have become a bit of a dummy pusher, encouraging others to take the plunge too. Using a dummy for a few months, if it brings calm, relaxed and more importantly sane parents, is surely worth while.
After that spiel, today I found myself in Dunelm Mill without a flaming dummy (not sure what that shop is exactly since it sells the most random things but yet I seem to come away with something every time, and if nothing else for blinds it is brilliant). I hadn't given myself lots of time following her last feed and knew I was on borrowed time. Apparently so did she and following a huge and unladylike piece of wind which woke her up she decided to make her presence known. I swiftly made my way to the cafe (completely unprepared) to buy a cup of tea and sit down so I could feed her. Pleased with myself for managing the situation I even picked up a paper from the rack on the way past to read during the feed. However when I sat down I realised I'd made a pretty big error. This morning I had found a dress in the wardrobe I had forgotten about through the depths of pregnancy. Ooh, I thought, I'd forgotten about this little number.
Well it turns out there was a good reason for that since said little number had a very high neck. So I was faced with a bit of a dilemma. By now a reddening Mabel was beginning to lose patience. It appeared that my only option would be to pull up the dress from the bottom, surely a step too far in a public coffee shop. Instead, by this point in a bit of a panic, I pulled my luckily large boob up to the neckline to poke a nipple out the top, yanked the neck of the dress down as far as possible and sat Mabel upright on my knee. I then literally had to lean over to get her on, my forehead getting far too near the table top for comfort. Read the paper? I ended up with my head practically in a cup of coffee instead! So much for being discreet, I looked like a complete weirdo.

Tell you what though, I was pretty glad to have my boobs to hand, would have been even worse if she was bottle fed and I didn't have one...that's what I told myself anyway whilst I made a sharp exit from the store and tried to massage out the pain in my neck on the way home!!!

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

The many uses for olive oil...

I took Mabel to be weighed yesterday and she was a good 9.9lbs (no wonder she can't move her toes in some of her babygrows). Think we can probably now say she is feeding well and that regular weight gain isn't a concern. Although does that mean it is time to start thinking of my weight loss - since if so then I think I need to carry on eating for 2 for the time being...just in case (how many times do I need to pull on those skinny jeans to still find they won't go over my thighs?)

We also asked what to do with the very dry skin on her head, one side of which seems a little red and rash like. She has shown signs of sensitive skin since birth (just one extra sensitive wipe on her bum led to that major nappy rash). Apparently with sensitive babies the rash can be caused even by being held by different people who perhaps have perfume on or use different fabric conditioners etc. Poor Mabes, is it wrong to ban her being passed around? Anyway the answer is olive oil, which we were already using on her legs and arms. Now when I kiss her head I get a nice olive oil lip balm. No need for anything in her bath or on her bum for the time being.
Anyway, yesterday I had left the small basic bottle of olive oil upstairs so nipped to the kitchen to grab some more. Left it next to the changing mat only for G Kisby to shout through, "wo there, using the extra virgin, don't think that's necessary" - so much for only the best for our baby.

I forgot to mention that he did get a smile on Sunday, his first one, in response to a kiss on the forehead. Thank god, it was being seriously contested that I had ever had one (apparently Al was not a valid witness)

I'll post an update on the new night time regime, sorry routine, we are trying tomorrow. It is going well so far but don't want to tempt fate....

Monday, 7 March 2011

'Mucky Mabel'

On Saturday we had our NCT reunion where all the couples met up with their babies for a celebratory lunch. It was very strange to have so many babies in one room but a really lovely idea and we had a very pleasant afternoon eating cake and drinking sparkling wine. Mabel was on good form and stayed awake pretty much the whole time (seemingly the only newborn to do so, think there was far too much going on to sleep). However, if there was one moment not to play ball it would be the group photo. All babies lined up in age order on the sofa - lovely. Suddenly very much wishing she was peacefully sleeping like most of the others were (prior to her screaming down their ears and attacking them with her flailing arms that is). She threw a proper tantrum about having her picture taken, we had pouting, frowning, wriggling then full blown red in the face screaming. I put it down to one of two things:
1. We had just had to change her baby grow for a 'backup' option we had in the change bag due to a nappy leakage and said new outfit was not a good colour on her. I'm pretty sure she knew it (I was just pleased to know it was a nappy leakage since she was on my knee and I suddenly realised I had very wet leggings, for a moment was cursing not doing those pelvic flaw exercises)
2. She was happily sat with me then suddenly dumped on a sofa being stared at by a load of parents like she was some sort of doll. Think she was probably thinking, "wo there, who are these fools looking at me and why the hell can I see another 5 versions of myself" - a confusing thought one must admit. 

Anyway it is safe to say we ruined the photo, pretty sure we'll be photoshopped out. I told her this...she wasn't bothered. See below, it is not very clear admittedly:

Then on Saturday night we had Amy and Matt over for dinner. G Kisby cooked up a treat of fish broth with mussels and chorizo, followed by pancakes with banana, toffee sauce and ice cream. Amy also brought a very special book which she had sourced second hand from the internet. Apparently a favourite of hers when she was little. She then had the pleasure of reading Mabel her first story, "Mucky Mabel".
It was an interesting tale, clearly from the 80's, including the word 'gristle' - Mabel seemed to enjoy it and we very much appreciated the thought.

Yesterday morning I awoke at 5am with a very wet top coming from a large and extremely hard and painful right boob. I couldn't get comfy to get back to sleep and so lay awake willing our baby to wake up and save me from what I could only imagine (things always feel worse in the night I find) was a boob literally about to explode. I seem to have developed a fault with my right boob in that it is producing just too much milk (maybe I should become a donor?)
Anyway after lying awake for about 20 mins I realised I could be waiting some time (how ridiculously frustrating) so had to go down and express some milk. Sat in the lounge, in semi darkness, watching bbc 24hr news and milking myself - another very surreal moment to add to the bank. Made worse by the fact that suddenly G Kisby turns up to announce that Mabel has since woken up and was screaming (he said he wasn't alarmed to see me gone when he woke up but I do wonder) - typical.
When I eventually got back into bed I was shivering and cold. I literally could not get warm despite having layers on and being under the duvet. I also felt really achy and despite the draining my boob still feels really sore. So I think I may have mastitis, apparently the symptoms can come on quite quickly but luckily there are self help measures. The NHS direct website http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/mastitis/Pages/Introduction.aspx is very good. I am also going to go to the 'milk cafe' (yes that is really its name) which is a drop in centre on a Monday run by midwives to support women breastfeeding.
For once I am willing Mabel to be very hungry and want regular feeds...

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Registering our baby...

We went to Calderdale yesterday to register Mabel. Even though they said it would only take 10mins we felt it a bit of an occasion so wanted to go together. The registrar was clinical to say the least and it did indeed take 5 minutes but it was a nice moment and we took some pictures to mark it (I realise I ruin the second one but it is hard to hold the camera yourself). 



At least they provide evidence in later life that she wasn't adopted when she gets to the stage of disliking / disowning her parents during puberty. And yes her cardigan is way to big for her...

We then had our very tasteful friends Sarah and Paul round for tea which was lovely and great for Mabel since she received lots of cuddles and great gifts - is there anything from The White Company that one doesn't covet? Check out her gorgeous new baby grow....

Today I went with Katie and her boys to Trafford for Mabel's first (of many?) shopping trips. I suddenly understand why Trafford is so full of kids, the facilities, may I say, are excellent. We visited the 'breastfeeding' room, not because I care about getting them out in public, but with 3 babies wanting milk at once it seemed a sensible thing to do. It was a very surreal moment sat with Kate in a small toilet like room with 2 open plan 'cubicles' whilst the speaker blasted out directions on what to do 'if you lose any of your party whilst in the Trafford centre' (meet at the customer services centre FYI for those who don't know). Even more surreal when a lady with a crying baby starts hammering on the door and trying to force her way in. A few minutes later she brought back a 'red coat'  (seriously you'd have been quicker finding yourself a seat in a cafe somewhere or going to another set of toilets) and next thing you know said red coat, who had mistaken her job title with upholder of the law, is barging in with an accusatory, "you shouldn't have a man in here." Not exactly sure what she thought was going on since clearly with Kate's twins being fairly vocal the whole time we weren't just using it to hang out. Upon seeing the child to adult ratio she apologised and made her exit promptly telling the lady with her misplaced agression outside to back off since the room was full. Who'd have thought we'd experience breastfeeding gate on a Thursday morning in Trafford.

Anyhow our trip was very successful and with Mabes now managing 3 hours between feeds in the day she was a dream baby. I have thoroughly enjoyed every moment we've spent together this week!

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

A philosophical moment...

Over the past week or so I have had a number of conversations which have reminded me how important it is to live for the moment.

Firstly on our Sunday morning walk G Kisby and I went past a 'youth' of around 18 in a beaten up Fiesta dropping off his girlfriend (possibly?) who was still wearing clothes from the night before. We reminisced on how much we loved, and now missed that era of being in sixth form, free house parties, no responsibilities and plenty of drinking.
I then chatted to Fee over the weekend who described a similar moment of reflection she'd had but for a different era, the one which we are in right now. The one where her boys were little babies, commenting on how you don't appreciate the time when you are in it but only afterwards.

I suggested to G Kisby that should I have had that 18 year old era again I would have gone out more, drank more and generally enjoyed the time more. However, he reminded me that in the moment we were actually really happy going out as much as we did and besides which we absolutely would not have listened to anyone who told us so at the time.

This got me thinking. I imagine that throughout life you do look back and miss / reflect with fondness certain eras, that is pretty normal. The key thing though is to truly appreciate the moment whilst you are in it. Something which can be easy to forget as well as tricky at times (a day of constant crying being a good example).

So I decided to remember exactly what it is that I love doing and spend as much time as possible doing it. If I found out I had a year of life left what would I spend it doing...

So on Sunday night as I tackled the huge ironing pile I thought about how lucky I was not to be having that 'back to work' feeling that one normally has on the eve before returning to work after a weekend. And aside from my 'to do' list for the week including all the jobs like sorting car insurance / food shopping etc I also wrote down all the things I would like to do this week so that I appreciate every single day and can review everything I've achieved. G Kisby would say to check that I win. Whatever, as long as it works!

And so far the week has been lovely. We finally finished the curtains and they look great (I learnt how to use my sewing machine in the process) and yesterday we went for a lovely long walk with Amy & baby Imogen in the sunshine, followed by the obligatory stop at the farm shop for a bowl of mushroom soup and a hunk of homemade bread.

Operation, "regain control" has started to pay off. I think she was just probably starting to need more food so now she gets to feed on both sides, with a wind or change inbetween, so that I know she is properly full. Then where necessary we have used the dummy to prolong that stretch between feeds so I've been able to be strict all week on ensuring it is no less than 2 hours. I think, or hope, I am starting to break the assumption that with crying she will automatically be given a nipple dummy.
We are going to register her today, that's right, 5 weeks and a day prior to the 6 week deadline!