Teething trauma

I freely admit I’m the salespersons dream, when it comes to trying to relieve a baby of discomfort I will buy almost anything. So when the baby started drooling like a bulldog, stuffing his fists into his mouth and emitting a low grumbling noise I rushed out and got :
teething bears (rubbish he can’t even get them into his mouth), powders (I know this is a Marmite product but it just made my house look like I sold drugs) and a rattle teether which just always ends up on the floor. I still have to do the quick floor cleanliness mental quiz when retrieving and handing back a toy – how long has it been there, when did I last wash it, is there any fluff attached and the key – how angry is the baby. I know, bad mother!
Anyway my point is I think I’ve finally found 3 things that work, at least for this baby.
1. A cold dummy, good for quick relief I now have dummies on rotation, although I always suck it once to make sure it won’t actually stick to the baby!
2. Teething gel – he loves the basic boots stuff that tastes like spearmint.
3. And finally the Gumigem necklace, absolute genius, I love the person who created this. The baby can chew on it to his hearts content, entertains him , looks good and doesn’t fall on the floor. Saw a friend wearing one and am now a convert.
I don’t know how much longer any of these will keep working for so any more tips gratefully received!

Daytime community

Was anyone else not just slightly amazed by how many people there are not at work on a weekday? I had no idea until I joined them and now I love being part of this new group (might be a problem when I go back to work). Walking the pram round the park you get to observe so many different interactions that it’s a bit like your very own reality TV show or nature programme. There’s the fitness fanatic, the random drunk, the exhibitionists, the grandmother,
the teenage truants and the next messiah (no, really, we were lucky enough to sit next to him on a bus to Lewisham – what are the chances!) I find it endlessly entertaining to imagine what they are like, particularly if (being frankly a bit nosy) you catch a bit of conversation. Then of course there are the other mums, so many, why did I not notice how much breeding had been going on round here before? There’s that slightly awkward corridor moment when you’re approaching another mum along a path, when to make eye contact and smile without looking a bit manic or unfriendly, seeing if you can get a glimpse if the baby and being unable to help yourself comparing it to your own.
Another massive benefit of the daytime community is actually getting to know my neighbours. In the last few months I think I’ve spoken to my new neighbours more than in the previous ten years living in London. Having a baby has suddenly opened up a whole other world and friendships that I might never otherwise have made and I’m loving it.

Everyday basics

I woke up (was woken up) this morning full of good intentions to get a list of things done before the weekend. The baby was cheerful, it looked like it might even be sunny – good times!
Starting upstairs I got to work changing the bed and was frankly feeling pretty virtuous. However the baby is teething and within minutes he was lodging a complaint about his lack of attention. Propped up on a pillow he began his low monotonous grumbling. With only a fitted bed sheet to put on I thought I was home and dry but apparently every one of the sheets we have had shrunk in a magical Alice in Wonderland type way. After numerous attempts in an increasingly hot room at pulling the mattress up to stretch the sheet onto the last corner just to have the other side ping off and with the baby protests getting louder, I stood up and something pinged in my back. I may be alone here but it’s amazing how trying to complete even a simple task with an unhappy baby turns me irrational, emotional and uncoordinated. Finally I realised it was time to admit defeat before I started getting angry with the baby. Leaving the bedroom looking like a ghost massacre I took the baby downstairs. Now writing this I can see that I made the rookie error of starting anything without a very large cup of coffee. Re-fuelled and with a to do list revised to ‘make the bed’ I’m off to try again, wish me luck.



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Useless or useful?

Just when I find myself offering advice based on my one baby to a pregnant friend another survey, poll or article comes along to prove just how different every baby, and experience is. This time it’s the Which survey of over 2000 parents revealing the least useful items people purchased for their baby. I was pretty surprised to see a baby carrier (which I completely rely on) at number 5 and frankly a bit annoyed to see the door bouncer that I’d just got right up there at number 1! That said a nappy stacker (6) seems like being properly lazy (apologies to anyone who has one but really?!) and even though I got one last week I can see the Bumbo (7) retiring to the attic fairly soon.
That said while laughing at the person who buys a special baby washing bowl I have to admit there is a corner of the nursery where a pile of guilt inducing unused baby things are already building up. The beautiful wool blanket I got on holiday (in my defence pre baby) – non breathable, cold wash and too tiny for a pram blanket – nice work! The many tiny handmade cardigans and beautiful clothes with numerous buttons given to us that it feels rude to Freecycle, the tiny shoes that never stay on, the bottles of baby lotion that health visitors say you must never use and the ugliest of the stuffed toys (who knew they still made cabbage patch style cornishmen!)
On a more positive note the baby bjorn bouncy chair, baby gym, breathable airflow cot bumpers, Lamaze firefly and city mini pram have all been amazing – but then what do I know next time round I might be begging for a nappy stacker.

Baby rap

The baby has eclectic musical tastes, he loves a bit of wheels on the bus but he also adores Eminem, is partial to a bit of rock and adores jazz (don’t know where he got that one from). Most of all however he loves songs about him or rather ones with baby in the lyrics, but I need more – I’m surviving on a few that are frankly a bit retro (and lyrically also pretty wrong) for example – Baby love by the Supremes, All that she wants is another baby (err not yet thanks!) by Ace of Base and Hey Baby by No Doubt – at least this one is from within the last 15 years!

Any better suggestions before I drive myself and baby mad???

Identity crisis

I realise that i’ve used Amazon a lot in the last four months (tax dodging b**tards… but cheap nappies!), and Ebay, and Gumtree, oh and Freecycle – basically any route to getting slightly cheaper than extortionately priced baby things – but I’m a bit worried I’ve now lost my entire online identity. My spam mail used to be a healthy mix of penis enlargement, big prize wins, cheap flights and bank queries but now I get Pampers, Boots parenting club and, randomly, adverts for family activities in New York Harbor?! Not that I don’t, mostly, enjoy being a mum but I’d rather not be completely defined by it. So, next time the baby is asleep I’m getting straight online to order some punk rock, car wheel trim and glow sticks to rebalance my profile.

Breastfeeding bullies

Call me massively naive, it’s o.k I know I am, but I always thought breastfeeding would be pretty straightforward. Baby comes out and innately knows what to do, you lift it up, plant it on a nip and away it goes. I honestly had no idea it could be so tricky and the source of so much emotional blackmail.

While pregnant I found the NCT breastfeeding class made me really quite angry. I took exception to being lectured at  by a woman holding a knitted tit and was slightly horrified when she refused to accept that maybe, just maybe, there might be a reason why someone didn’t want to breastfeed. Oh and also the suggestion that you’d  be killing your child by exposing it undefended to deadly diseases if you didn’t.

Cut to when the baby has arrived and the first thing the night shift midwife dumps on my bedside table (alongside the drugs – woo) are a couple of tiny purple syringes. About 10 hours later she comes back to tell me what to do with them and the rest of my day is spent squeezing tiny drops of collostrum into them. I know it’s sad but I actually quite enjoyed the process and was pretty proud to have produced a bunch of full syringes before being told I had to have given them to the baby within 2 hours.

So the first couple of days were spent expressing and feeding with no sign of milk while also trying to encourage the baby to clamp on. Sam’s particular issue was that when he did attach he fed for maybe a minute and then promptly fell asleep. I went to the hospital feeding workshop and numerous midwifes told me to keep trying. The baby was latched on right but still wasn’t getting much colostrum/early milk and I was sore (it hurts! Get lanolin). The relief I felt when a wonderful doctor finally let me off the hook telling me to top up with a little cup of formula was huge, I could have hugged her.

The pressure to breastfeed is huge and while I agree that it’s a wonderful thing to do sometimes for whatever reason you can’t or don’t want to and that’s your decision not anyone else’s, don’t let the pressure get to you. I still mix feed, it means I get some sleep and if you knew what I’m like without sleep you’d agree that’s best for everyone.


He looks just like his father….

Yesterday I met up with an old friend for coffee, the first thing he said when meeting my son was how much like his father he looked. Now, pushing the baby round the park for the 112th time since he was born (yes I know it’s sad that I’m counting) I’m wondering why it is that this phrase increasingly annoys me.
I may be being over sensitive (quite likely I have been up since 2am) but is there not an undertone of it being an approval that you’ve been faithful to your other half and relief that this isn’t a prince Harry situation. Or is it maybe the frankly slightly Oedipal weirdness of feeding and wiping the bottom of a tiny version of your partner. Or perhaps it’s just that having put in the majority of the effort in growing, giving birth and generally caring for a baby I feel that the least he could do in return is look a tiny bit like me. That said I think my husband is getting just a tiny bit worried that he looks like a baby.