The Mommy Journey

Step by step I grow as he grows

Advice & Bullshit and how to tell them appart

I realise that by writing this blog post I am giving advice, the irony has not snuck past me. However I will tell you right here, right now. Take it or leave it. I will not check that you did what I said, I will not follow up and I will most definitely not question you if you ignore me.

Most often than not advice is given by well meaning people with good intentions and other such things that pave the road to trouble. The truth is that advice is like laying the foundation for a rollercoaster, a rollercoaster fo guilt trips:

Well meaning person: “You must not eat spicy food while you are pregnant”
You: “I just ate peri peri chicken and nothing happened”
Well meaning person: “You’ll see”

3 days, and many meals later
You: “ooo I have heartburn”
Well meaning person: “see I told you to stay away from the hot stuff, if you are suffering from heartburn iiiiimagine how your unborn child is feeling”

Now that example is a little silly but it does happen. It happens on more serious issues too. Breast feeding, which nappies you use, which bottle you feed with, if you go back to work or not, if you let your child cry, co-sleep, room share, who looks after your child, taking your child out in public, sterilising, sanitising, socialising…you get the idea.

So here is my little words of advice that you can choose to follow or not. All I can tell you is that they work, FOR ME and MY CHILD. That’s important, that’s why I used caps for them. Discuss things with your healthcare team too.

1. Don’t fetch the baboon from behind the mountain
Ignore the “what ifs” and work with what you have, don’t go looking for issues that may or may not happen. Educate yourself of possible incidents (do a first aid course, find out which formulas give constipation, learn massage techniques that relieve wind, etc) but don’t stress about them, enjoy the moment.

2. Let sleeping dogs and babies lie
If your baby is asleep they are fine. If they have fallen asleep with a full nappy, leave them, waking them up to change a nappy will result in a very long night. If it’s been 4 hours and they are still asleep, don’t wake them to feed them, let them sleep till they are hungry you just need to keep an eye on things like how alert they are when they ARE awake and if they are bright eyed and bushy tailed (and gaining weight) then they are eating enough. There are very few reasons to wake a sleeping child, give yourself that time to relax, you WILL need it.

3. Stressing stresses your baby, RELAX 
On  hot days, baby will feed more. When they are uncomfortable, they will cry. Some babies are more fussy than others. These are small facts. Breathe, don’t stress. Your baby feels your moods, if you stress, they stress. If you cannot calm down, hand the baby over to some one who is calm. Step outside, go for a run, have a glass of wine. When your head is clear, make the decision you NEED to make to make the stress less, do NOT feel guilty about that decision. Do NOT feel guilty about taking a time-out. Both you and your baby will be happier for it.

4. Get off the rollercoaster, you have nothing to feel guilty about
Feel free to show the guilt-tripper the door even if it’s you. All mothers feel it, we all understand why we do it. Find someone with a more logical point of you, have them hit you over the head repeatedly with said logical point of view until you get it.

5. Take it or leave it, the choice is yours
Advice that is. Mine, you’re mother’s, your grandmother’s, the random person on the street, that guy in the queue to get coffee judging you for drinking caffeine while pregnant, the waitress that glares at you when you are 8 months along and order a glass of wine. You like the advice, file it. If you don’t, nod and smile and ignore or tell them where to shove it.

In the end you do what works for you. Those things that bring about the magical moments.

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Breasts, Boobs, Hooters, Jugs

I could go on. When I asked twitter for suggestions on slang for breasts I got sent a link with 138 of them (go on, you know you want to, some of them are hi-le-ri-us). Why would I want slag words for my breasts on a blog about being a mother? Well, simply because when you are a mother is when your breast become multi-functional, multi-purpose, multi-tasking.

For you they are still the same old breasts you’ve had since puberty. A little fuller at times, slightly heavier and warmer but still the same.  For your baby they are “jugs” full (if you are fortunate enough) of warm milky goodness that fill and soothes the tummy all at the same time. If, like me, you have taken to breastfeeding in mixed company and not slinking off into empty room all on your own, it is a time when more people than you could ever dream of get a peak at them (I use a cloth to cover but sometime baby wriggles or a wind blows, you get the idea)

Breastfeeding really is the most natural way to feed your child, some women can’t and I feel for them but this post is going to be about breastfeeding, how much I enjoy it and why I think it is wonderful. If you plan to be offended by that please stop reading. I understand the reasons why you wanted or HAD to move to formula and I don’t for one moment believe I am better than you or that you are a terrible person. My choice is “breast is best”.

As I mentioned earlier I chose to breastfeed in public. Not to the point of just whipping them out with no care for those around me but I am not going to find a bathroom so other people won’t be offended (as my friend Tinkerbella says “do YOU eat your lunch in the toilet?”). There are women who have no skaam at all and don’t care who sees what and where. Here is why I do still use a cloth or blanket and find a more secluded place to feed my boy.

1. I don’t believe breastfeeding has any sexual content at all. ME. Other people might still and I really would prefer not to fuel their fantasies. This is something between me and my child and I don’t wish to share it quite in that way.

2. I don’t believe breastfeeding is offensive but others still might find the exposure of a breast, for any reason , to be offensive and I try and be respectful of other people’s feelings. Just as I would expect a smoker to go smoke somewhere where I am not subjected to their 2nd hand smoke.

3. I have not completely disconnected from the fact that my breasts are not just for feeding my baby, they had a purpose before and they still have that purpose.

Breast feeding for me was the one thing that worked according to plan. My little boy loves it and no matter what people warned me about, whether it was giving him a pacifier before 6 weeks or having him drink from a bottle once day, nothing has affected the way he sucks. In fact he seems even more excited to be getting my nipple and not the chewy plastic thing that doesn’t give him ANY milk or the other plasticy thing that gives milk just too damn fast.

I have been extremely lucky, we have had very few nights with multiple feeds and most time he sleeps till at least 4am. At which point I stick him on my boob and doze slightly until he is done. I think the lovely hormones that are released when he eats help me fall back into a deep sleep as if nooothing had ever happened (and if it’s not the case, who cares).

Breasts were also meant for soothing, either grown men after a long hard day at work or babies who have just gotten a booboo, Non Nutritive Sucking is just as important. For the most part his paci serves that purpose these day (better than a thumb in my humble opinion) but sometimes the warmth and smell of mommy are key to the relaxation.

Let’s not forget the extra help with losing the baby fat, now if I could get the eating under control too this will work perfectly.

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Husband, father, rock and fluffy blanket

Throughout my little flashback my husband wasn’t mentioned very often but it does not mean he wasn’t there. See he is a tourist guide, and not the Hylton Ross kind that can just call in another guide to take over a tour mid way. His clients are high end, they pay a lot of money to have him at their beck & call and so when he got the call that I was going in for surgery there was little he could do. They had just gotten onto the  Table Mountain Cableway heading up. Being with him as long as I have I know how it works, I know that he can’t just drop it all and come running. I also know that most of the people he has are decent and understanding but you get the few who have the attitude of “I don’t care, I am paying you to be mine for the day, your life does not matter” and there is no way of knowing which it is until you test it so he doesn’t. It turned out that these people were super friendly and as soon as they discovered what had happened cancelled the rest of their plans and had Jack take them to the airport so he could come be with me.

Jack & Bug on his 2nd day

He was by my side for every moment he could, he stayed till he had to leave and then went to go fetch the pram from the one set of friends out in Muizenberg then to fetch the crib from friends in mowbray, he cleaned the flat, he ran errands. He did not have a moment to himself the entire time I was in hospital. When he wasn’t with me he was BBM’ing me at every chance he had and making sure I was ok and checking what I needed for that evening when he came to see me. Then we would message each other, each on our own in our respective beds, missing each other. For me that was the most difficult part about staying in hospital, not having my husband by my side.

Jack & Bugs first nap together

The support has not stopped for a moment. From helping me to stay calm and level headed to helping me change him, burp him, shower him. There were nights (although very few) when JP would be unhappy and uncomfortable and would not settle, on those nights Jack would tell me to go to sleep and proceeded to calm JP down. If it took a minute or an hour it didn’t matter he left me to sleep and took care of the little man.

Having the job that he has also means that he is often at home when I go to work (I went back to work after 6 weeks) and so he looks after him on those days.  He keeps making comments on how beautiful he is and how well we did and how special he is.

I think this shoulder will always have a space for this boy

He has given me confidence to do stuff with our boy, taken him exploring, talking to him and teaching him. He is totally in love with him and is not shy to show it. From dancing around the flat to loosen the stubborn winds to passing out on the bed together, the 2 of them together makes my heart swell to unhealthy sizes.

Like the title says, rock and fluffy blanket. Jack is my strength when I cannot find my own, strong and firm. He is also my comforter, soft and gentle when I need it. A shoulder to cry on or to lift my burdens and the voice of reason when I am unsure. His confidence makes me confident and through him I think I have grown to be who I am today.

The miniature version of his dad

He is an incredible father and husband. I am so lucky to have him in my life and even luckier that he takes all my crap, my insecurities and my tantrums all in his stride and brings me back down to solid ground while still giving me the space I need to dream and grow. I feel he will probably do the same for our son (and when the time comes, his siblings) and when I look at them together I realise what love truly is.

ssshh Daddy is napping

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