Thursday, 23 June 2011

Boobs boobs boobs boobs boobs!

So, yeah, boobs! Boobs are super duper, aren't they? Boobs are smashing things. They jiggle in nice ways and look good in jumpers and come with their own exciting selection of accessories - bras, bustiers, corsets, tassles, piercings, pumps. Yep - doesn't quite go in the same category - but pumps are SUCH useful things for us breastfeeding Mummies! 

Breastpumps mean that you can share the feeding schedule or have back up milk in case something happens (like my hospital appointment last week) which means that I wasn't available to feed Jasper; breastpumps mean that you can relieve the pressure when your baby spontaneously changing their feeding schedule means longer between feeds and means you'll have great big engorged, sore boobs! 

I was loaned an electric breast pump after Roman was born and thought it was great - but I found this time that I prefer the hand pump as I can regulate the speed and pressure better. Different strokes for different folks though! 

Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature Manual Breast Pump

I got the Tommee Tippee "Closer to nature" hand pump - it was a very inexpensive piece of kit but, honestly, it's been a life saver. I got it at the asda baby event - you can get them on amazon too  and it's the easiest thing in the world to use and to clean and sterilise. I love that it comes with a plastic box to sterilise it all in - makes my life easy. 

Pumping is a good way to move on from exclusive breast feeding without losing the benefits of breast milk. Since this is National Breast Feeding Awareness week I think talking about this as an alternative to switching to formula or combination feeding is appropriate. (I hope that I don't need to point out again that I'm not AGAINST that - just pro this!) A lot of Mothers have to go back to work when they've been exclusively breast feeding - or just want a break and to be free from the 'tie' breastfeeding can have keeping you with your baby - if you do have to be separate at the time baby is due a feed, expressing milk and feeding baby that in a bottle is a super thing to do; I know that it isn't as easy - in my experience - to get a large amount out expressing as it is feeding directly but good tips are to either do it from the 'spare boob' as you're feeding - so feed from one side, express simultaneously from the other, or to do it when you can see your baby. If you have to express at work having a photo or even a little video on your phone helps a lot. There are scientific reasons for this but the simple truth is that seeing your baby makes you release hormones that mean you release more milk. A video of baby crying works very well because your body reacts! Another thing to make sure of is that you're drinking lots of fluids - if you don't drink enough you can't produce the milk. There are a lot more tips but those are my top ones and they're the tips that work best for me.

Hand pumps are also quiet so a bit more subtle if you're having to express at work - remember that if you want to continue breastfeeding when you return to work your employer has to ensure that they provide you with a space in which to express privately so make sure you mention it when you're ready to return. 

Some people choose to express and bottle feed from day one - some people aren't comfortable with feeding from the breast but want their baby to experience the benefits of breast milk. In some cases the baby is ill - or the mother is - and immediate breastfeeding isn't possible so milk is expressed to be fed either through tubes or from bottles and by the time baby (or Mum) is well the bottle feeding is established - but that's fine because it doesn't mean you can't give your baby your breast milk. There are schemes wherein you can borrow a breast pump or you can buy them second hand - if you do just replace the rubber cup part and sterilise everything else and you're good to go.

Remember that your midwife, your health visitor or your local peer supporter group will have information on expressing as well as breast feeding so if this is the direction you want - or need - to go in there's a lot of support available. Breast milk is natural, pure and good. If you struggle, don't be afraid to ask for help.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Whilst I'm at it!

I posted earlier tonight about how important I think the professional support network is for new Mums - see the post here - and I've posted recently about having struggled with PND since my second son was born. Things on that front are getting much easier and I'm managing much better but I had a bit of a set back last week that I'm pretty angry about.

When we moved I should, apparently, have changed to a new doctor's surgery - but I was being treated by the GP and health visitors team and because of that the surgery - on the advice of my GP - agreed to 'allow' me to stay there (I won't even rant about that right now but rest assured I think it's stupid that I practically had to beg to stay at my usual GP) so I was still getting regular home visits from my health visitors - until last week. My usual health visitor had been on paternity leave (that's not a type, he's a man, and he's great at his job) and I'd had one of his collegues for a while and then, when he got back, she was moved to a new area so wasn't available for me to speak to. My original health visitor stepped back in and we had a couple of home visits (he brought cake, proof that he's good at his job) and then last week when I was expecting him back for an appointment he never came. 

It really isn't like him to just not show up so I was worried that something was wrong - but then I heard that he'd been moved to the other location too. He'd been moved and had, in his new duties, been unable to call and tell me of the change; instead I've now been placed under the care of a new health visitor - who I've never met. I had a call and a message on my answer machine calling me someone else that said we needed to make an appointment and asking me to call - but not leaving a number. 

If I had been in the same place as I'd been in a few weeks before I don't think I could have coped with that - but because I was feeling good that day I managed ok. I'd have preferred to see my health visitor - my usual one, not some stranger - but I did ok. I went to clinic the following day and tried to introduce myself to my new health visitor. Clinic was very different to usual - the lady at the desk that welcomes you has gone. Nobody weighs your baby any more - you have to do it yourself. The health visitors don't chat to you the way they used to - they didn't acknowledge I was there; I get that they were talking to someone else but they didn't even give me a smile or a nod to show me that they knew I was waiting. I waited for twenty minutes and then left because still nobody had acknowledge me and my toddler was bored and grumpy. 

I really dislike these changes - I really dislike that they can take away a vulnerable person's support with no notice, and no communication. I dislike that the new people didn't get the chance to speak to me or introduce themselves, or that the change was so abrupt.

I don't know who it is  that's making these decisions but it hurt me, and I'm pretty sure that there were a good number of other women who were let down in the same way. That's not ok.

National Breastfeeding Week.

So, back to boobs - everyone loves boobs right? Well, everyone apart from the government apparently, who love saving money for their private boys club and bankers more. Wonderful.

Well, as a breastfeeder I try not to be all "pro pro pro" and naggy - and openly admit that there are days I really dislike it and days where it's just kind of messy and inconvenient. There are also days where it just feels like the most glorious, incredible gift not only for my son but for me; there are a great many ways I worry that I fail my children - but I can do this. It has ups and downs and I swing from love to hate - but my love for my children never wavers and though I might not give them designer clothes, expensive pushchairs or foreign holidays, I did this. I did it when it hurt. I did it when my nipples bled. I did it when I had mastitis and felt the most ill I've ever felt. I did it even though some people thought it was gross, or weird. I did it until my first son wanted to stop and I'll do it until my second decides the same. 

This doesn't make me better than anyone else - but it makes me the best I can be because I honestly believe it's better - I won't apologise for that, I'm not judging people who make other choices - this is just mine.

I found that I can cope better on the bad days because I'm surrounded by a strong support network. I am part of a peer supporter network - I start my own peer supporter training this Thursday. Some of my closest friends have already done the course and they are the people I socialise with the most. If I hadn't had them then I might not have achieved breastfeeding for as long as I have done - I might not even have stuck out the first toe curling few days - but I expected them and worked through them because of these ladies.

I heard today that the government are now talking about taking away the financial backing for training peer supporters - who work alongside the midwife and health visitor teams - meaning that there are even LESS people around to support those Mums who struggle or just don't know enough about breastfeeding to be successful. This makes me angry. Very, very angry. This is a service that helps people to make healthier babies, to lower the chances of PND, to improve the health of the post natal women. The small expense of training peer supporters and promoting National Breast Feeding Week is pretty insignificant in comparison to the expense of treating all the potential health or emotional complications that could come up WITHOUT that support. 

Even if it isn't breastfeeding, women need support just after having babies. They need a network that's strong, and consistent, and honest, and kind. The government (she says, using a catch all title) taking away any aspect of this leads to more cut backs - cut backs we don't even need, but I won't get into that and since it's a Conservative Government it was to be expected - these cut backs are counter productive. Cutting back on financing midwifery, peer supporters, health visitors - it's insane. Cutting the Sure Start centres - who offer a place to go, a network, friendship, education and socialisation for young women and their children and families - it's just so, so important. 

If we take it quietly then it gets worse. If we just accept it then we lose more and more. We need to shout, ladies. We need to shout about our rights and our needs - we NEED these services. Babies are a joy - but they are hard, and it's lonely, it's scary, it's hard. We need these networks. You, reading this? You're part of this network. Have your say! 

If you want to have your say follow this link to the campaign to protect midwifery services; if you have any other links to campaigns that are relevant to this post comment below and I'll add them to the post. Thank you. 

Monday, 20 June 2011

Finding my mojo

When I started this blog I intended to blog daily - sometimes more than once. Initially I kept with that - and then I got very busy and had lots of other things to do in my time and kept putting it off because the other things were for other people and I felt that I had to meet the promises I had been making.

Whilst I think that's admirable it turned out I was making waaaaaaay too many promises. You know when you have a good day and get loads done, and everything runs smoothly - and how that can lull you into a false sense of security? That. That happened and I KEEP doing it - every time I have a good day like that I think "geez, why am I always so stressed, this is easy" ("this" being life, which as we all know can get difficult!) then I agree to more things and then realise that I've got way too much on my plate.

The problem then became that I wasn't blogging, and I was missing it - this blog is like that little corner of my mind where I hide the parts of me I like and I wasn't getting to it - and I wasn't writing (well, I was, but I've been writing as work and not as me) and I realised how much that was getting me down over this weekend when I actually made the time to blog (did you see my interview with Justin Fletcher?! If you missed it it's here  - not that I think anyone could actually have missed it, I've been talking about it a LOT).

Making the time to blog has made a massive difference - my STRESSYFACE levels have dropped considerably and I managed to sleep today. Not in the night like a normal person but the boys snuggled into me for a nap so I joined in (instead of peeling them off me and doing work like normal) and somehow I slept for hours, the work still got done and everyone had a nicer day. Who knew! 

So there you are people - this blog is my sanity (though it may never seem that way) and you're stuck with me. Cybermummy is fast approaching and I need to get my jiggy on to get the best out of it - it's too good an opportunity to stumble through in a brain fog! 

(I really wish I could get this, and drink it, and have it here always - fresh bottled mojo SHOULD taste of beer)

Sunday, 19 June 2011


This is just a mini post - just to show you the beauty that is my first son. Beauty.


I don't remember when Roman cut his first tooth - I don't remember how many weeks old he was or whether it was hard - I remember drool, and I remember buying him an amber necklace (because there is voodoo associated that magically cures teething pain - I doubt the validity of this but JUST IN CASE I got him one, and he still wears it because it's cute, and I'm so used to seeing it on him that he looks odd if it comes off!) and then all of a sudden he's two with a gobfull of 'teeths' and we're fighting over cleaning them.

So I don't remember whether he was early or late or average to cut his teeth, I don't remember whether it was difficult or surprisingly easy, I don't remember where I put his little first year book that I'm sure I wrote it in when it happened.

I do know, though, that Jasper has rumbly gums at the moment. He is wearing a bib all the time to catch all his gallons of drool and he's chewing everything he can shove into his gummy mouth. Part of me is really excited about seeing some tiny, perfect teeth emerge - but more than that I'm heartbroken that my tiny baby is grown up and then we'll be all out of baby. 

Silent Sunday

Silent Sunday

Father's day loves

Today is father's day and at the Mommatwo household it's been lovely - Daddy got a nice big lie in, Roman and Jasper were lovely company for me and Roman drew a great picture in his Daddy's card (ok, so it was kind of modern art and I had to interpret it but still!) and then we had a dirty big breakfast with sausages and pancakes and bacon, all covered in syrup, American style (mmmm, dirty) and then we went and had a big family swim (to excuse all the calories in breakfast!)

I was amused, at the pool, how it was packed with Dads taking their kids out for some quality Daddy time swimming for Father's Day treats - I bet it looks exactly the same on Mother's day! 

Anyway. In the usual style, I didn't post my Dad a card (I'm sorry Poppa, I am RUBBISH - I only bought Alex's at quarter to closing time yesterday!) so instead I'm dedicating this blog post to him - and to my two truly wonderful Grampas. 

This is my Poppa, in a not very flattering picture that makes me laugh every time I see it.

He had just got some nice new glasses and, as is his way, popped them - inside their case - into his top pocket as he set off for work. He didn't notice that he'd dropped them until he was at work - and when he got home that evening (having spent the entire day unable to read anything) he spotted them - still in their now totally crushed case - lying in the drive; he'd driven over them with his massive great big "look at how MANLY I am" truck (I don't KNOW what it's called, I'm useless, it's huge, and black, and pickupy with back seats and lots of chrome - it's swish and masculine and a fuel guzzler!) 

I think (aside from Alex) that my Dad is the handsomest man I know - he's got lovely sparkly eyes and a sense of humour that's all his own (and sometimes cracks me up, and sometimes makes me tell him off!) and he gives great hugs and always shares his wine. He only shares his whisky on special occasions, but I'll forgive him because he introduced me to kalvados and walking home from the pub so you can spend the taxi money on a burger. Oh, and skipping the burger and eating peanut butter on toast when you get home instead - always works to avoid a hangover! 
My Dad is great. He lets me borrow books (sometimes him letting me is without his knowledge, but shh!) and likes the same music as me and we're geeks about the same TV (Dwarf!) we have our own in jokes ("Hey, nice castle" - "it's sexier than the white lines in the middle of the road" - "better than TWO flasks!") and I know that I can knock on his door at 3am crying and get a cup of tea if I need one.

I love you Poppa <3 you're smashing. Thank you for being you xxx

This here is my Poppa with HIS Poppa, my Grumpa. 

It's a slightly blurry, blown up shot of them at my wedding - but I treasure it because it's the two of them together, looking very handsome, having travelled for ALL ETERNITY to get to Dorset to be at my wedding and it meant the world to me to have them there. They scrub up alright don't they :-) Actually - they both look this smart most of the time (aside from in the olden days when Dad had that dodgy mullet and wore a lot of grungy band t-shirts - he's pretty much grown out of it now) and I love them to bits.

My Grumpa is a hero - he turned 77 last week and is apparently celebrating by buying a motor home because his two dogs (who have real names but are called "Stop it" and "Get out of there" more often) can't stop in the hotels he would normally stay in and he likes to go away a lot! He spends a lot of his spare time as a hospital taxi taking people to their appointments and gives, and always has given, a lot of himself to others. He's a wonderful, loving, beautiful man and I'm proud to be his grand daughter. (He also has beautiful, sparkly blue eyes. They are what my Grandmother fell in love with even though he was Northern!)

This picture is my other Grampa, my Mummy's Daddy. 

He is wonderful. His Scouse accent has almost gone but he can't say Sarah (my Mum's name) without it. He has the most amazing stories and a really dirty laugh from his time in the army (bomb disposal) and is in the process of having his second book published about his time. He seems to know everyone in the world and says things like "You remember John Fisher, he's Eric's brother, from the bookshop in Windermere in the seventies" (no Grampa, I really have no idea) "well he married Elsie's boy, from the corner, you know, in Ellesmere" (no Grampa, I still have no idea) "well anyway, he was talking to Norman Smith the other week..." and out comes some story full of people I don't know or remember that never ceases to make me laugh and Grampa always finishes it (eventually, having told three other stories on the way) guffawing, then jingling the coins in his pocket as if you're holding him up - then presses marks and spencers cakes on you (what a hardship) and tells you to hurry up and drink your coffee because he needs to take the dog for a walk. 

He is awesome. 

To my Poppa, and to my Grampas, I would like to say thank you, and I love you (and I'm sorry I didn't send any of you a card!) 

Bloggy book club!

My ever so super chum The Domestic Anarchist has started a book club for us book loving bloggy types - I'm about a week behind everyone else who went out and got the book (I am too stingy and am waiting for it to arrive in my library so I can read it for free - as for paying £8 for it as an ebook, pah, £8? My bum!) but I'm really excited about reading this one. 

The Second Coming

It's probably not a book I'd have picked up on my own, but that's because I get shoppers panic in bookshops or the library and don't know what to pick, because there are TOO MANY BOOKS so I just paddle up to the "quick pick" shelf, grab three with interesting covers and hope they get me through a week. This isn't aided by usually having a shouty toddler with me who climbs onto the tables and runs out of the kids room in the library shouting "LOOK AT ME, I RUNNING AWAY!" so unless I'm sitting with him reading kids books (about dumper trucks or monster trucks or actual monsters, something that holds his attention) he's OFF - so selecting books for myself is arduous! 

This book club, then, is genius - I can just go in and collect the title I've requested online from the shelves that are, handily, right beside the kids area - then unleash the toddler terrorist for his hour of mania and stories before dragging him kicking and screaming back to the flat (apologising for the noise and flying books on the way out) and then I can read it and chat to the other lovelies about it when I get home, with the child asleep (he always falls asleep in his pushchair after the library - a combination of burn out from the running around and laughing hysterically as I shush him furiously and the lulling of my dulcet tones reading him thirty seven books in a row...) win win! 
So thank you to all the ladies involved - looking forward to starting this one and catching up so we can chat about it!