Toys or Plastic Bottles?

Why is it we can buy our children all these wonderful colourful toys that are all singing and dancing and our child will reach for the empty water bottle, or in Annabelle’s case the empty pack of wipes?

 

Gimme those...

Gimme those…

I watch the kids on the street here, and it was the same in Kenya where I grew up; the children love items that weren’t designed as toys. In Kenya the children used to make a wheely toy out of a ball of string (old cloth) and a wire then they would wheel, or drag, this thing around for hours on end. In fact we used to give the street children old tennis balls and pens. This seemed to be what garnered the greatest smiles.

Giraffe or water bottle?

Giraffe or water bottle?

I have always said that I don’t want to spoil Annabelle with material items and sometimes I feel like a bit of mean Mum as she certainly isn’t flooded with toys. But then, I throw some of her toys down for her to play with and she reaches for my old plastic water bottle or the packet of wipes…not the snail with a mirror that rolls and sings to her, not the Lamaze octopus that crackles and clicks. Nope, she’d prefer the very simple paper fan made for her buy a friend.  I actually find it heart warming to witness that at this age, children (babies) really don’t care about material things. We have web articles, journals, doctors and other mums telling us what we must stimulate and entertain our children with but the beauty is they just don’t care. So long as Annabelle has something to reach for and shove in her mouth she is happy. Long may it continue!

Advertisements

Got Milk?

I think it’s fair to say that wherever in the world you have your children, the benefits of breastfeeding are constantly put to you. This can therefore make it very difficult if you are unable to breast feed or choose not to. I know some mothers have felt as though they are failure if they can’t produce enough milk or can’t get the hang of it altogether.

Annabelle trying a cup!

Annabelle trying a cup!

I have recently joined a Facebook group where mums can pose all their weird and wonderful questions and other mums can respond with their experiences, suggestions and top tips. It’s a remarkable support network. This morning, someone asked for help with retorts to The Question “are you feeding him/her?” (Which means “are you breastfeeding him/her”, but in some places folk drop the word breast for fear of causing a chuckle!!).  The lady who posted this question has said she found it really difficult to respond to people when they were almost looking down their nose at her expecting her to say “of course”. The responses that some of the mothers gave did make me titer, yes, pun intended:

“Of course not, we have a wet nurse”
“I actually don’t have nipples, it’s the weirdest thing”
“His father is taking care of that”
“Feeding him? Am I supposed to that?”
“Yes I am, when she’s hungry I give her a bottle of awesomeness”

I thought some of these responses were great and moreover it’s nice to see the support for this lady who has chosen (for whatever reason) not to breastfeed.

I am a massive supporter of breastfeeding; I am astounded daily at the ability of our body to make such an incredibly nutritious meal and all the long-term benefits never cease to amaze me. I could read and learn about breast milk all day long, and I feel incredibly lucky that it worked out for me (perhaps a pay off for not getting the birth I wanted?). But, with all that said I think we need to lay off the pressure some what. Some women choose not to breast feed, others can’t, whatever their reasons, we should try to support each other in any way we can. After all, if we can love and nurture our child, that’s all that matters.

 

Reminiscing…

It’s been 6 and half months since Annabelle was born and it’s safe to say things are now considerably easier. Whilst going through these 6 months I have thought how easy Annabelle is, but the truth is it’s still pretty hard work and it’s not until you get to these easier times that you realize this. That, and when a close friend has a baby; you start to reminisce!

A good friend of ours just had their first baby, she’s a perfect little girl and her parents are of course over joyed. It has got me thinking back to when Annabelle was that small. The feelings of such overwhelming love that you almost feel sad. The not sleeping and not because that baby is crying or feeding but because you want to watch her. Or because you are too scared something might happen to her if you close your eyes. I remember thinking someone would soon come to ‘take her back’.

Annabelle at hours old

Annabelle at hours old

It’s also nice to reminisce about the slightly more undignified parts of having a baby (in my case, it being a caesarean, the bed bath and the catheter etc…) and remembering how little you care because now you have bigger things to worry about. I remember thinking how amazing my body is, not because it was toned and slim (ha, far from it), but because it had cooked up this perfect creature and now it was still providing it with warmth and nutrition.

Those early days can be exhausting, trying to get used to the onslaught of emotions and physical changes to your body is hard work. I remember a friend asking me, only days after having Annabelle, “you must feel so light now”, I replied with “quite the opposite, I feel heavy and cumbersome”. My body trying to keep up with everything was quite overwhelming.

It’s fun to think back to the ‘dark days’, as another friend refers to it. I found the first 6 weeks comparably easy as I was running on adrenaline. Weeks 6 to 8 were utter hell. Adrenaline had dwindled and Annabelle was starting to become more alert and therefore sleeping less. Bad combination. Weeks 8-16 were a mixture of good days and bad and then week 18 or so, Annabelle started to sleep through the night. That really was a turning point! Now Annabelle is eating three solid meals a day and taking far less milk from me. This means I can have whole mornings to myself and leave Annabelle with friends or sitters…  Again, I feel like it is a real turning point. The next stage will be crawling and toddling and that’s going to mean a lot of up and down and following her around!!

There’s no denying that having a baby really does change your life. Every thing you do, you do because you want the best for your child or because you want your child to respect you and love you as much as you love them. As I write, news has come in about another close friend who has just delivered a beautiful baby boy. I feel very emotional thinking about my new parent friends as I know what they must be feeling and I know how wonderful it is! Congratulations!!

The New Indian Princess

The New Indian Princess

 

 

Work-Baby Balance

It’s been a month now that I’ve been back at work, you may have noticed there have been many fewer pieces since then! It’s certainly gotten pretty busy pretty quickly.

I work for an NGO (Foundation for Mother and Child Health, FMCH), I am on the Managing Committee and help with marketing, communications and events. It’s always been a ‘working from home’ set up which has suited me perfectly and of course suits me even better now. I try to get through my emails during Annabelle’s morning nap and during her lunch time nap I will get on with any projects or reading, but I find I never quite finish before she wakes up and if I have something on in the day, that requires me to be out, then you can forget me even getting a chance in front of the computer.

I had taken Annabelle to a couple of our early meetings and she always laid quietly listening to our ideas, or sleeping. But recently she has become a lot more vocal and somewhat less interested in our ideas! The days of taking her along to meetings are certainly numbered. This is frustrating, as I don’t have anyone to watch her on a regular basis and this city doesn’t seem to understand the idea of babysitters; you either have a full time nanny (in addition to your maid), or no-one! I have actually found a couple of lovely British ladies who are keen to take on some babysitting duties, so watch this space.

Welcome to my office

Welcome to my office

My Executive Director at work has even suggested that I take Annabelle down to the clinic for one of our Mum and Baby sessions; Annabelle could be the ‘demo’ baby whilst I spend some time in the office. I like this idea!

I am also keen for Annabelle to start spending time with other people. Currently she will go to anyone and doesn’t seem to mind whether I am around or not (charming!), but I know this will change in time and so want to pre-empt the clinginess. All suggestions gratefully welcomed…