T’was The Night Before … Returning to Work after Maternity

Missuswolf mother and daughter in rocking chair

So here it is.

The night before I start my first day back at work since 11th March 2016 (I’m discounting the odd KIT day).

Since I joined The Motherhood.

Wow. It feels weird (but good!) to be getting into a routine of packing our bags and setting our clothes for the next day.

Something I’ll probably grow to hate. Or will I? I like being organised. Hopefully it will become autopilot and my future self (the tired head-less-chicken one in the morning) will thank me for it.

A nice bath. Early to bed to read a book and set an alarm.

Argh I haven’t set an alarm (bar the KIT days) since March 2016.

I’ll probably not sleep tonight for fear of sleeping in.

I know, I know. I’ve shouted from the rooftops how I’ve looked forward to this day. How I’ve longed to get back to work for some ‘me time’.

Ha.

It’s comical isn’t it? Who would’ve thought I classed work as  my time. 

But I do.

And I am looking forward to it.

However, do you know what I’m looking forward to the most?

Coming home to this gorgeous, happy little thing I’m proud to call my daughter.

I’ll look forward to having tea with her. To enjoy preparing it and then watching her eat it.

And bathing her. Watching her play with bubbles and the purple and yellow ducks. And the little spikey orange ball that lights up.

Splashing her little hands on the water and giggling every time she does it. Looking at me with those big blue eyes. Eyes that ask me to giggle back with her too.

Then wrapping her in her hooded towel where she resembles a baby Yoda.

Patting dry her utterly delightful skin.

Dressing her for bed.

Giving her a bottle of warm milk.

Reading her a story. Or two.

And then lying her in her cot. Her big girl cot which has been completely lowered now (when did that happen?)

Then tucking her in.

Actually, this is a daddy job as I don’t tuck her in tight enough. She’s like that magician that can escape being chained, bolted and dropped in water. Wriggles in all the right places and breaks free.

And do you know why I will look forward to all of this?

Because for nearly ten whole months, the monotony of everyday motherhood – looking after a small human by myself – takes it’s toll in the evening.

I’ve been too tired or sick of her by this time of day to actually embrace and enjoy these moments.

Gasp. What an awful thing to say.

But it’s true.

These moments tend to be flung at the other half. For him to try and embrace after his day at work.

So no doubt I’ll still be tired from my day at work.

But that’s just it.

I’ve been at work. I’ve had time away from her. She’s had time away from me.

So those moments that we are together.

Will be unbelievably special.

I can’t wait to see how excited she gets when I come home from work.

This festive period I’ve had the hubby on hand so I’ve had little breaks.

Little breaks like having a lie in.

Where I’ve surfaced and she’s already had her breakfast and her dad has dressed her. Dressed her like only a dad can dress his daughter – in obscure outfits that should never leave the house.

I inch my way through the living room door. As sometimes she’s crawling around right behind it (again – when did this happen?)

Then, she sees me.

With those innocent blue eyes.

Taking me in.

All dishevelled in my dressing gown and untamed hair. My make-up free face still puffy from sleep.

And she looks at me like  

I’m the most beautiful person

in the world.

Her  long little legs kick wildly.  Her smile lights up her cheeky little face and the excited giggles that escape from that tiny little mouth are breathtaking.

I do have a heart underneath all of this Warrior Mode.

And my god it explodes.

My little buddy for life.

I’ve come a long way in nearly ten months.

It’s been the toughest, hardest most emotional time of my life.

I’d go so far as to say it’s been the craziest.

I’m still me. Just a different version.

One that has been on a huge learning curve.

But I look back upon my time with fondness. There have been plenty of highs and there have been plenty of lows.

There’s also been some questionable parenting moments.

Like the time I couldn’t remember leaving chocolate in her cot, only to discover it wasn’t actually chocolate on her hand – that mammy had left the dirty nappy bag in the cot …

And as much as I’ve wanted this absolutely crazy time off to hurry up, I’ll reflect on 2016 in years to come as the year that not only broke me – but it also made me.

I’ve poured my feelings and frustrations into what can be looked upon as an online maternity diary. Like diaries, there will be some entries I look back upon and downright cringe, even regret. But for most of it, I’ll look back with pride.

That maternity leave not only gave me a chance to spend (albeit some frustrating and exhausting) time with this little human of mine.

It gave me the chance to take a step back from life.

To focus on something I’ve absolutely loved doing since I was a little girl myself.

Writing.

Last week, I watched the BBC film on the Bronte sisters To Walk Invisible.

And that was empowering in itself. Three women masquerading as men to get their novels published. What a significant piece of history.

A piece I want to share with my daughter. I’d like to think that by writing this blog I’m writing some history for her too. That mammy loved writing and her dream came true to share it with the world.

Missuswolf mother and daughter reading

Image credit to Pixabay

On the subject of the Bronte’s, I’m ashamed to admit I’ve never read Jane Eyre. Ouch.

I’ve downloaded it to my Kindle. I want to get into the routine of reading before bed again.

I digress.

This whole pregnancy and maternity experience has brought me new friends. Friends which some of whom I’ve not even known a year. But it’s felt like I have known them a life time. Who’ve been there on the toughest journey of my life. And that’s a strong bond.

Missuswolf Maternity Friends for life

Image credit: Pixabay

Then there are friends I’ve always had who’ve been on this journey with me too. Through the raw parts. Who have seen me at my worst and I have seen them at their best as they support and pick me up.

Friends who bring you pizza when you’ve got a teething baby and all you have eaten is a bowl of trifle for tea.

Those people are priceless.

And I thank them.

For sharing this crazy ass journey with me.

That’s Sisterhood for you.

That’s Motherhood.

Here’s to my next chapter. I’m off to make it a good one.

Love Missuswolf xxx

 

 

 

The Woes of Weaning

Quite Frankly She Said Sunday Best

 

Missuswolf woes of weaning

Image credit: Pexels

Yesterday I hit a brick wall in the ever-growing milestones of mammy-hood; weaning.

That magic six month mark (already?) approaches this weekend and all I’ve dabbled in is baby porridge and baby rice.

To be honest, I’ve been pushing it to the back of my mind. I’m so settled with our bottle and sleep routine now that it seems cruel to change things.

Six months of winging it and I finally feel like I’ve found my feet when bam! Let’s change things.

I suppose I need to get used to it.

This is just another obstacle thrown into the crystal maze of  parenthood.

And I had a Major Monday Meltdown.

Let’s start with the fact that the Health Visitor comes to visit you around the twelve week mark, armed with an enticing purple folder. Said folder contains books to read (blog post plug opportunity – Little Gems: What Ella is Reading) info and handy teeth brushing equipment (why didn’t I just type toothbrush and toothpaste?) as well as leaflets on Baby-led weaning and introducing solid foods.

Followed by the obligatory weighing of the baby. (Bad mam here left it three months until I weighed her again. Without someone coming to my house to do it, I’m rubbish at trying to get to the health centre. Ooops. Well Ella you outgrow your clothes so I presume you are growing).

Don’t get me wrong, the talk from the Health Visitor about weaning was really good and positive. I was filled with confidence; I can do this, I can cut veg up and crack this baby-led weaning lark.

Well, it went in one ear and out the other. I just remember the guidance, no earlier than twenty weeks. But then I heard somewhere you could do it from seventeen. Argh mind-fuck!

I was putting it off.  Yes she was paying attention to us when we were eating (scowling across the room as she’d been strapped in her swingy chair so we could scoff pizza). Yes she was drooling and shoving her hands in her mouth. But was it teething or was she ready to be weaned??

After speaking to a few people, baby rice was dropped in the equation.

Just shy of five months old I started giving her some baby rice after her lunchtime bottle (when I remembered!)

I use Cow and Gate Infant milk so it seemed only natural to use their baby rice. I must have signed up for something somewhere in my mammy haze as I’ve received their 5 step weaning plan book in the post too.

This ticks over nicely, the odd bowl of baby rice here and there, getting Ella used to different ‘textures’.

Then I throw in the mix a bit of Banana Baby Porridge at about the five and a half month mark. Again, when I remembered. I was still stuck in my old bottle routine so I kept forgetting to add this at breakfast.

Aside from January, September always feels like a month for new beginnings. It’s that old back-to-school feeling from (many many) years ago now. With my Facebook feed filled with first-day-of-school pics and teacher friends going back to work, it kick-started my ‘right, let’s learn how to feed this child – part two’.

It’s meant changing my routine. Sitting Ella in a high chair at breakfast for a start as a reminder to myself to give her porridge. This is as opposed to lounging in bed or on the settee bottle feeding while I flick through Facey and Insta.

Growing Family Bounty PackI’d had a trial run over the weekend of feeding her her first pouch meal. I’d received one of those free Bounty Packs you get over the course of your pregnancy and maternity leave (preggers ladies if you haven’t already, sign up to Bounty to get these. You get handy little samples in like nappies, creams and eventually weaning stuff. I got more toothpaste too, all else fails at least she’ll have sparkling bright teeth. When they eventually come in).

Inside this pack was a couple of samples of the HIPP pouches. Lunch for Ella this weekend was the pureed carrots, cauliflower and peas. The packs can be kept in the fridge for twenty-four hours after they’ve been opened. Brill. Lunch sorted for the weekend.

And, although dubious of the flavour at first, she seemed to take to this. Hurrah!Inside of Growing Family Bounty Pack

Confidence boosted, Monday was the day.

I’d ordered by usual Asda online shop for Sunday night (still not ventured into doing a big food shop with a baby in tow. Online shopping is my way forward. Shop in pj’s with wine and it’s delivered to your door. You don’t have to get ready, juggle a baby or speak to people – apart from the delivery driver. Bonus). In this shop I’d included frozen broccoli, cauliflower and peas – ready to puree and cut up to do a mix of puree and soft finger foods.

Monday lunchtime came.

I’d done my morning buggy bootcamp – yey me. I didn’t have time to get changed but find pottering around in my gym wear makes me feel more productive.

Feeling all purposeful, I got the magic bullet my sister lent to me and all the various contraptions that go with it. I opened the weaning book to ‘Step One: Recipes’. I looked at the pathetic bit of broccoli that I’d taken out of the freezer that morning to defrost …

Wait – what??

Broccoli doesn’t need defrosting!

I can steam it from frozen!

Argh I’m going back to (for those who know me) my microwaving-carrots and turnip-boiling days! I thought I was getting better with age. Clearly not.

So rather than steam one piece of broccoli, I decide to get some more out of the freezer as well as the cauliflower florets. I’ll be healthy and eat some too and hopefully Ella will see how much mammy loves it(!) and she will love it to.

Veg steamed, broccoli placed in blender and mixed with baby milk.

Which has spilled all over the bench and the kitchen floor.

Messy Kitchen from weaning

Yep that’s the morning breakfast crap next to the magic bullet paraphernalia. And the how to use a magic bullet and wean books. Help me.

By this point the kitchen is upside down and Ella is wailing as she’s starving.

I go to feed her only for her to continue wailing. She’s got her bottle what’s her beef?

Oh – bad mammy has done a rush job of cleaning the teat and there’s a tiny bit of blockage.

Teat replaced with properly cleaned one a-la-blue-peter-here’s-one-I-made-earlier.

Round two.

Bottle drank successfully. Thank-the-lord.

Random tiny bits of broccoli scattered on her highchair tray ready for her to lead her lovely self into the world of weaning.

 

 

 

But first let’s try this pureed-mush-attempt.

 

 

Ella begrudgingly took a mouthful of my home-made goop.

Ella weaning

Mammy’s sorry for sharing this Ella but a picture paints a thousand words.

Maybe it wasn’t pureed enough??

Possibly, as after the next mouthful she choked (I panicked – major fear of choking) then promptly threw up the bastard broccoli puree along with nearly all her milk.

As sick seeped down her highchair, onto my leggings and all over the floor I put my head down and full on sobbed into her tray.

God who am I? I’ve worked in stressful and pressurised environments for years yet I crack when I try to feed a child. Get a grip!

The only saving grace was that when I lifted my head (and I said I was sorry for being a rubbish mam and making her choke) there she was – smiling right back at me.

She was laughing at me.

After my futile hour and a half which ended in my child vomiting, she still championed me. She thought I was silly for getting upset.

Cue whatsapp messages to sisters and fellow mammy friends for immediate advice.

And a well-timed visit from my sister-in-law and nephew.

Their wise words (from the sisters, sis-in-law and friends and not one year old nephew obvs) made me pull myself together.

No it’s not plain sailing, yes they choke but get used to it they have really good gag reflexes and most of all – don’t put pressure on it.

And do you know what? My instincts had been telling me to stick with the baby rice, porridge and pouch routine. It had worked at the weekend so why make life harder than it had to be?

Messy Weaning Kitchen

Ah my life summarised in one photo: Blender, Baby Formula, Bottle, Vanish, a messy sink, an overused slow cooker, and a pint glass that I now drink water out of instead of beer. #nofilter #nofilterneeded

I can practice perfecting my puree but in the meantime I’ll tootle on down to Aldi and grab some of their pouches.

Needless to say she hadn’t touched the ‘soft finger food’ of broccoli on her tray.

Sis-in-law had some great tips on this as she’s six months ahead of me. Cutting up bits of, say, my toast into little pieces at breakfast. Scatter this on baba’s tray and let her play with it while I eat. If she eats it – bonus! Likewise with other bits of veg.

Baby-led weaning takes time and patience (ha! My downfall).

So I added this in yesterday morning. Toast on the tray after her milk and porridge. She wasn’t the least bit interested but hey-ho. Maybe she was full.

No worries. I’ll keep doing what feels right for us both.

And that seems to be what I’ve learnt so many times in the last six months in this new crazy life of mine.

Plus – I’ve gone back over my Health Visitor leaflets and read them. Properly, not skimming.

Yep.

Your baby is ready if they can:

Stay in a sitting position and hold their heads steady (Ella can’t sit up properly just gets propped awkwardly in the high chair. Hmmm)

Co-ordinate their eyes, hand and mouth so they can look at the food, pick it up and put it in their mouth all by themselves (ah – she’s not yet fluent in mastering all this together)

Swallow food. Babies who are not ready will push their food back out, so they get more round their face than they do in their mouths …

Ella feeding

Says it all really. At least she’s got a sense of humour about it here

But if you do have any tips please share for this mammy who has been in despair.

Love Missuswolf xxx

Nobody Puts Baby In A Corner – Baby Power Ballads 

Last Friday we had the time of our lives(!! couldn’t resist) at Baby Power Ballads.

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Image from Gateshead Library

I’m not so sure I would’ve ventured to something like this on my own (which in hindsight is a trifle sad as I would’ve missed out on what was an epic afternoon out).
One of the mammy friends who I met at Pregnancy Yoga (which was awesome – shout out to Lush Tums) invited me along and how could I refuse? An hour of introducing Ella Bells to power ballads while I unleash my ‘voice of an angel’.  Perfect!

Tickets were £4 with a £1.07 booking fee and I booked mine online through a link on the Facebook page. I intended to print the ticket off but got caught up in all the mental checklist of things to do to get a baby out of the house that I forgot. This dawned on me as I drove towards the Tyne Bridge with a whingeing Ella in tow (drive time was meant to equal nap time – but no. I blame myself, I put her car cover down so I could see her in the mirror. She took this as an invitation to fight for my attention instead. Not ideal when fighting Friday afternoon traffic).

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Image from Gateshead Library

 

The event was held at Gateshead’s Central Library in their Caedmon Hall and ran by a company called Chalk.

Chalk are Jen, Jilly, Roxy and their mini Chalkers who are the inspiration behind the family focused organisation based in the North East.

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Image from Gateshead Library

The Baby Power Ballads was part of their Cineplay Festival held 19th-21st August across Newcastle and Gateshead.

 

Gateshead Central Library had plenty of parking but it did fill up quick. Luckily there is on street parking and a smaller car park just opposite. There is a lift from the ground floor to the first floor but it’s only big enough for one buggy at a time. This wasn’t a problem for me, I seem to think lugging a car seat around is an Olympic sport at the moment – which I’m sorely regretting!

Never the less, I needn’t have worried about my ticket, a lovely lady from the Chalk group greeted me at the door of the Caedmon Hall with ‘The List’. Flashbacks to numerous-not-getting-into-VIP-areas-in-clubs ensued. But have no fear – my name was well and truly on this list. Hurrah!

By this point Ella was on top form, flashing her biggest smile with no trace of the whingey

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Image from Gateshead Library

tired baba from the car journey. We got settled in the middle of the floor, where there were musical instruments laid out on a circle of rugs and cushions in front of a projector screen.

 

Songbooks with lyrics were handed out – I think I squealed in delight. One of the members from Chalk sat with us and played the guitar, leading the tune-fest that included  (I’ve had) The Time of My Life, I Will Always Love You, Dolly Parton’s  9-5, Here’s To You Mrs Robinson and – wait for it – Bohemian Rhapsody! That was hilarious introducing that one to Ella.

Even more exciting was that the films the songs belonged to were projected onto the screen!  The atmosphere was incredibly jovial; babies happily playing with instruments while the mammies pelted out the songs – like we used to with a hairbrush in front of a mirror (or was that just me?) It seems that by having a child, you loose your inhibitions somewhere along the way.

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Ella loved it and powered through for forty-five minutes of sitting on my knee doing what she does best – people watch. I saw the signs that an imminent hunger cry was threatening to escape and quickly shoved a bottle in her mouth – to which she promptly passed out just before the end of the event. She lasted longer than my friend’s little boy – he slept through the whole thing! Way too cool for school that kid.

Once it ended, we were encouraged by the Chalk team to sit around for a bit and not rush off, which was nice. Especially as Ella had done what she rarely does and fallen asleep on me – I didn’t want to move. But it was short-lived and as soon as she was awake, out the car seat came and along with it the suggestions of what to do next.

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Image from Gateshead Library

 

So us mammies did what we did best – sought out the nearest coffee and cake establishment, which fortunately happened to be downstairs in the library. It just took a while to get there as the mammies got in the lift one-by-one hurrah hurrah. Gotta love a coffee and a chocolate brownie after a baby event.

This is why I need to run.

Which I did yesterday. I’ll tell you about it sometime.

Thanks Chalk for a fab afternoon.

Love Missuswolf xxx