Thursday, 13 October 2011

That there Cherry Healey

So a few days ago I spoke to Cherry Healey - that blonde chick off the tellybox that does documentaries about the kind of stuff we talk about. I'd planned to do a properly structured interview, with notes, and questions and answers, and a few digs about that breastfeeding documentary - but when my phone rang I was halfway through changing an Emergency Situation nappy and still heading towards my first coffee of the day - so I just talked at her (poor Cherry) - and then she talked at me, and then we talked at each other with increasing frequency, lots of laughing and a lot of words-you-can't-say-in-front-of-the-children.

I wasn't sure whether I'd like Cherry - some of her documentaries I love, some I was less sure about; the thing with making a documentary is that you have an opinion - and the thing with me is that I have OPINIONS - and I'm not great at hearing other peoples. It turned out that Cherry absolutely cracks me up and I really enjoyed speaking to her. Now I have her mobile number I'm pretty sure I'm going to send her inappropriate text messages when I'm drunk. I even think she might reply. She might have me charged with harassment - but she MIGHT reply. 

The main thing we talked about was the difficulties of being a Mum and working - that people say you can't have it all; Cherry thinks that's 'so depressing' and that - evidenced by the modern women storming events like Cybermummy and Blogher conferences - women are changing the working structure and deciding for themselves what sacrifices to make, so that we really CAN have it all. 

"Not all women want CEO success, multi millions, 5 handsome children who are all good at hockey - it all depends on what you want; if you want a happy family, enough money, somewhere comfortable to live - it IS doable, you CAN have it all. That's what women are proving now; we're told that we have to choose, either work OR have kids, or you can have both but it makes you want to kill yourself because whatever you're doing you feel doesn't have to be so hard, let's change the system!" 

Cherry is of the opinion - and I have to say, I do agree - that you can decide what you want and really HAVE it - you can, if you find the right thing, have the work/life balance you want - you just have to find that right thing. That's the hard bit, right? Well - maybe - but more and more women are finding it. This is something Cherry wants to explore in future documentaries - and she's very involved with events like this year's Cybermummy (where I didn't bump into her) and next year's Blogher (at which I plan to). 

A big fan of women making their lives a success, Cherry loves to hear stories of entrepreneurial women, finding ways to make money around their lives - she herself loves that her work fits around her time with daughter Coco; 

"I do miss her but I find it easier (to work) - I absolutely love being a mother but I enjoy it more because I get a break; I work three or four days a week so our time is delish - full time Mums, it's a lot of pressure, you've got to be entertaining all the time; I see full time Mums doing it, day in day out, and doing it with a smile on their face. Until I had a baby I'd never thought about it - but a Mum's patience, it's endless."

Speaking about Cybermummy Cherry says that women finding these new ways to work - the networking, the media, the blogging, the online businesses being run from the kitchens of busy Mums - is incredible; very modern and carving something new. Since I'm one of those Mums she's talking about, I have to agree - obviously ;-)

My friends - knowing I was going to speak to Cherry and the conversations we'd had about her Breastfeeding documentary - wondered whether I'd broach the topic - never one to steer clear of a good old debate, I did ask; the problem, I said, was that so many documentaries about breastfeeding show people who breastfeed to be weird or bizarre in some way - and I'd thought parts of her documentary came across that way too. 
Cherry, to my surprise, agreed - but also pointed out that she thought, and said, that breastfeeding is something she's very 'pro' - speaking about the 'magical properties' of breastmilk. The journey they followed that Cherry loved the most was of the young Mum who struggled, but persevered and got help - and continued breastfeeding successfully for a long time. 
The difficulty - having decided to make a documentary about breastfeeding - was that, because it's such a hugely emotive subject amongst mothers, very few people were willing to be included or interviewed on film. Previous documentaries had made people wary - so it limited what could be done in the time available. 

Cherry, reflecting on that film, said she feels the topic is very emotive - that documentary is the one she's had the most negative feedback from, though she gets lots of feedback, positive and negative, on them all. 

"Before each goes out I brace myself; I'm quite a sensitive person so I have to try not to be too receptive. Any opinion encourages debates - some responses will help, some won't. The thing I have to remind myself of is that I can't be responsible for people's reactions. Production isn't infallible - like any form of media the people involved are human beings. Some comments I get really hurt me - but I do try to reply to those; you can tell the difference when someone's really thought about their response and is making a valid point, and when someone's just being pissy. You'll always get that.

We can only film what we see; if it's a sensitive topic we always show the footage to the people involved before the show goes out - nobody has ever said no, or that it's an unfair representation. We just film what we see of people. 

It is hard, though, to see people doing things sometimes. I can't tell them not to - all I can do is keep saying "are you sure, are you sure this is a good idea?" -  my policy is that I can't assume I know better than them, that's so arrogant, sometimes people need to make mistakes. Unless you're qualified in that particular area you can't do anything. It's hard though, because I genuinely care about the people - so I do try to encourage them to think about things. I ask a lot of questions if I think it might be damaging."

I asked whether Cherry kept in touch with all the people she'd worked with. The answer is some; she said that she would love to do follow ups with a lot of them - even if it were only for her blog rather than the TV (you can find Cherry's blog here, by the way, if you aren't already a follower) but that she can't keep in touch with everyone;

"I couldn't work, be a Mum, be a friend and a daughter and keep in touch with everyone - you just form an organic relationship, but it would be fake of me to keep in touch with everyone - I'd just be doing it to try to look nice and say 'look how lovely I am' when I'm just normal. Some I keep in touch with, but I can't do it all."

After a lot more giggling, some squeely excitement about watching a helicopter take off from Kensington Palace as she romped her way through the park and wondering if it were Prince Wills, some chat about the benefits of exercise clearing your mind (and helping us to feel smug when we fit it in) Cherry had to end the call to get on a train to Eastbourne where she was meeting someone 'brilliant' to interview for her next documentary - another for BBC3, this time about losing your virginity; I've since managed to stalk Cherry on twitter (not that I'm addicted or anything) and hopefully she'll hold off on that restraining order for a while! 

I said before I called her - "I'm not sure if I like her - she might be too like me" and I think I was right - but since I'm my own biggest fan, it worked out well! Cherry is hilarious, swears as much as I do and, behind the strong opinions and making good TV - which always involves some controversy and extremes - she's a normal Mum, finding the balance and hoping the good parts outweigh the occasional mistakes. I even understand That Breastfeeding Documentary! 

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

I only went for a wee!

Places that were out of reach - and thus safe - are no longer! Must buy more sudocrem...and find a new safe place that's actually out of reach...

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

A story from Jellybean...

This morning Jellybean told me he wanted me to put him back to bed with a story - so I did as I was told, tucked him in, sat by the bed and started a story - he took over pretty quickly and I'm amused and impressed with how it went! Here is his story ;-)

Once upon a time there was a king called Jellybean who lived in a big castle (he pronounces this "Caaaahhhsul" because he is posh and Southern like his Daddy) he was the best and the cleverest and the most brilliant of all the boys in the town (his ego is much like his mother's). One day the peoples ran away from the scary forest because there is a scary monster shouting. The peoples asked Jellybean to tell the scary monster GO IN THE CORNER because he is scary and noisy. 

Jellybean is a very brave, so he runs into the scary forest and the scary monster is shouting A LOUD A LOUD and Jellybean says "STOP SHOUTING - calm down tell Jellybean what are you need" and the scary monster he calmed down and Jellybean said "don't having a tantrum it is silly". 

The scary monster it is sad because the peoples didn't share nicely of the trees and he is sad. (I prompted a little here - Scary Monster was trying to build a house but the townspeople took his logs to build their houses and didn't say please - how rude - and that is bad sharing) so Jellybean he got the peoples and they said "Oh I am sorry, scary monster, here am your trees again" and they all shared nicely and the scary monster he is got a nice house and he is not having a tantrum now.

Then Jellybean is run into the town and the peoples are all follow - it is a fast a fast - and the Story Train is follow and Driver Dan is follow and the little car is follow and Thomas the Tank is follow and Peppa Pig is follow and the lorry is follow and the aeroplane is follow and the peoples is follow and Jellybean is the winner and they all go in the castle and a bounce a bounce a bounce! THE END.

He truly is the clever one! 

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Weekend highs and lows

This has been a weekend of lovely times and difficult times - I was very proud tonight when Jellybean sat on the toilet and did a wee - hurrah, I thought that he'd never take that step - he was so pleased with our whooping and celebrating that he asked to get out of his bath early and sat on there again to do a poo - but told me he was "All empty in the bottom" and ran away after a couple of minutes! 

Midget Gem cut two teeth in the night on Friday - so now he has two front teeth top and bottom; when he cut the bottom two he started to bite when I fed him, meaning I was getting little cuts and grazes on my boob at every feed; it really, really hurt but I was told it wouldn't last long so I kept feeding him through it, just moving him to different positions to try and avoid the most tender areas where I had scabs as I fed him the next feed - he tended just to do it at the point where my milk let down - which is a bit overwhelming for him - and towards the end of a feed when he was full. 

Now that he's cut the top two he's started biting again - but this time it's SO MUCH MORE PAINFUL - just so, so much more painful - I can't move him to another position because there's no part of me that isn't cut or scabbed when it comes to the next feed - the whole thing is sore and swollen and bleeding. Not like the cracked nipples I had when I first fed - but really bleeding from him clamping his jaws and grinding his jaw from side to side.

When he does it I say "NO!" and put him down - as advised - but he has to be fed and so I have to feed him - and then he immediately does it again - he seems to think it's funny!

I've given him some milk in a beaker, and some in a bottle, because I'll be working full time again in a couple of weeks and he needs to take his milk in another way since I won't be here to feed him - he's not done great with it but he's getting better now he's had it more than once. 

I made the decision (after much agonising) to get ready - mixed milk from the shop because though I can express small amounts it's not enough compared to what he wants - and my new office is all open plan; I can't quite picture myself sitting at my new desk on the first day and saying "Don't mind me, these are my breasts, carry on with your sandwiches whilst I milk myself with this battery operated machine" on my lunch break. The health visitor I chatted to about it all said that he doesn't need much milk through the day as I'm feeding in the night, and for bedtime and breakfast still. 

The thing is - I don't know that I can ride out another week or more of this grinding. I know a week isn't a very long time - but I spent time today standing crying at the sink with milk pouring out of me, handwashing my bra to get the blood out of it. That's not a nice place to be. 

I don't WANT to stop breastfeeding - partly because I'm so FOR it and so proud that we've made it so far - partly because I'm a skinflint - partly because formula smells so disgusting. It's also because he's my last baby and if I stop breastfeeding it's admitting that a lot of months have passed and he's not a tiny newborn any more - that he's growing up. I'm not sure I'm ready for that! 

I just don't know right now that I can carry on. The thought of the next feed is making me feel sick - my nipples are stuck to the inside of my bra with blood. It isn't just a tiny cut - it's a lot of cuts, over the top and beside one another, over and over again - it's so, so horrible - and painful - and I don't know that I can bring myself to give one more feed, never mind one more week, one more month, not knowing if and when he'll stop this grinding! 

On the positive side though - as well as cutting two new teeth, of which he's very proud, Midget Gem is almost pulling himself to standing - he kind of slithers places slowly on his bum (crawling is RUBBISH Mummy) then tries to pull himself up - but then thinks he's so clever and brilliant that he gets a fit of the giggles and falls over! 

Jellybean helped me to tidy his bedroom today, sorting out toys to take to the charity shop - he was very helpful and delighted that we found all the pieces from Mister Potato Head (he has a beard in his BOTTOM Mummy - what a funny one!") and he sat very nicely on his bed reading stories to Midget Gem whilst I sorted all his jigsaws! I'm impressed daily with his memory for stories and new capability to make stories up from the pictures when he doesn't remember! 

In other news - I made the BEST roast chicken dinner I've ever eaten today. This may or may not be because I spent an entire week on Slim Fast. 

Silent Sunday...