Wednesday, 31 October 2007

After months of absence.....let me share seven things with you

Hi readers

Apologies for the long absence.
So much has happened since my last post.
In short, various things in my life have changed for the better. Bringing with them a lot less angst, and therefore less matter with which to fuel my writing.
It is also autumn, and as such, I spend less time in the garden.
However, I have been roused into postfulness by my friend Steve who's asked me to take part in a blog challenge:

Share seven interesting things about yourself....

1. My great grandfather was a captain of the England rugby team (Shame none of that sportiness rubbed off on me). You could say I come from a 'rugger' family.

2. I can cook a mean Créole curry or Kari. In fact I made Kari Thon just the other night. It was delicious.

3. I am a REALLY bad dancer. I don't want to go into any more detail than that. But if my sister's reading then she could give you plenty of juicy evidence sourced from a now notorious primary school barbeque.

4. As I child I got smacked on the bottom by a farmer (or at least I THINK I did. He might just have given me a good rollocking) for building a child's version of a dam (using rocks) in a 2 ft wide 20 cm deep stream in the field next to my street. He claimed I could have flooded his field. I seem to remember being grounded for the weekend as a result. Horrible man. I remember he smelt funny.

5. I still shed tears whenever I remember, or think, about the birth of my son. Such is the depth of feeling I have for him, and the sense of achievement it brought to me. This happens most mornings on my bus journey to work. I am sure the other passengers wonder why an otherwise normal and suited and booted woman is subtly wiping away tears from her eyes.

6. I order the same meal everytime I go to the few restaurants in my post baby repertoire. Ask: Stromboli pizza: Carluccios: Breaded swordfish with those lovely minted, garlicy, crunchy haricots verts.

7. I have a secret crush on the scottish presenter of Coast, Neil Oliver. It's the accent, the long hair, the outdoorsy gear, and also the fact he's clearly rather intelligent.

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

A generation of overweight babies, and worried breastfeeding mums

A somewhat bombastic title you may say, but any of you who read regularly, or who know me, will know that one thing I feel very passionate about is quietly promoting all things breastfeeding. I am now considered an extended breastfeeding mother, since our son is more than a year old. I see putting in a year's worth of dairy duty as something to be very proud of.

Who, you might ask, do I have to thank for being able to continue this long (despite working etc): well certainly not the health professionals who 'visited' my son and I in his first six months.

But forget all that...what's the link to the title...???

Anyone who's been reading the news this week will have seen that finally, the government are making plans to trial, yes, only trial, a new set of child growth charts, brought out after scrupulous and sound multicountry research by the WHO.

These charts, surprise surprise, are based upon the growth patterns of healthy babies nourished by their mother's breasts exclusively at least until the middle of their first year. But hang on, why the excitement? you ask - surely that's not rocket science - to map children's growth against averages created from the growth of kids fed in the way nature intended?

Well actually it is.

For years, breastfeeding mothers have had to deal with guilt, anxiety, intrusive interference, and have even sometimes been frogmarched to a peadiatrician, or told to give up altogether because their babies were not growing 'according to the charts'. Charts, dear reader, based upon the growth of babies 20 years ago who were fed on formula milk which contains many more calories than breast milk.

But beyond anxiety for breastfeeding mums, it has now been revealed, in a number of broadsheets, that this staunch belief in growing babies per 'the charts' has possibility contributed to the burgeoning obesity problem facing today's kids. It's not often I quote The Daily Mail - in fact it pains me to do so, but here is an example of some of today's stories:

I am sure I am not the only mother reading this news to be at once horrified, but also secretly rejoicing that we are now free of the fetters of the formula charts, and not only that, but, it is now recognised that our once 'underweight' babies, are actually our babies are actually healthy and natural.

My own experience with the dreaded charts

Your blogger had to deal with some real tosh from her 'health visitor'.

Having got through the first three weeks of the postnatal period, having dealt with retained placenta, a minor post partum haemorrhage, and a readmission to hospital, I had, amazingly, mastered breastfeeding and had very few problems with doing it happily. At a voluntary check up at the 'well baby clinic', I was then told that my son was extremely slow to put on weight, and was I, was I absolutely sure I was feeding him correctly? Did I not know that I couldn't go out, do anything, eat less than 6000 calories and drink 20 pints of water a day to make sure he gained weight? Was I definitely feeding him every 1.5 hours?
(yes, I exaggerate, in some places)

Amongst this barrage of useless advice, there was not even one mildly encouraging word, or 'well done' for breastfeeding, nor did she spend anything more than 2 seconds looking at my overtly well, plump, happy, baby - oh no, a piece of paper with a line on it was a much better gauge to my baby's wellbeing.

At the end of this productive meeting was I sent away with the number of a breastfeeding group, or LLL counsellor*? No. I was only sent away with a red book which told me 'any baby which drops 2 centiles in the first six months will be referred to a paediatrician' , and, a verbal warning 'you must go straight home and rest now, and we will want to see you next week to check his weight again' ringing in my ears.

Thus started a spiral of fear, self doubt, concern and confusion about what I had done to go so wrong. This led me to interpret every cry of my son as a cry for hunger, or was it even dehydration, I panicked, as I tried to make up a bottle of formula to urgently sate what I imagined must be weeks of hunger (which he refused)

I started making notes about urine output and poos, and the relaxed, demand feeding approach I'd adopted was swapped for a rigid one hourly feed rota. But then should I even continue this harmful, risky breastfeeding at all....might it not lead me to the Peadiatrician's door?

Fortunately my wonderful husband told me to forget packing in the breastfeeding, and to give the well baby clinics a miss from now on. I followed his advice, and here we are one year later.

One year on, we're still going strong. For sure, my son is by no means plump - he's tall and slim, but he's terribly bright, happy and well (touchwood).

So, rant over, but finally, I am so glad, that those bloody charts are on their way out.
*La Leche League - who offer fantastic breastfeeding advice at a grassroots level

A grim October day

Except it's August.

Yes, the week of summer we had, has now all but disappeared, to be replaced by an autumnal pallor and dankness to the sky and air.

A shame I spent my monthly clothing budget on three dresses which really would look better framed by sun, bare legs and sandals, rather than worn over jeans and boots. Oh well.

We had a relaxing weekend and finally paid some attention to the garden. Our friends F and S were due over for lunch, and since F is a skilled gardener, and often brings us a lovely gift of a new plant or shrub, we wanted to make an effort. Well, I say we, actually my husband made the effort, whilst I watched over our son, who very cutely found an empty plant pot and a trowel to play with.

I took some photos yesterday: amongst which, the sensorially pleasing wall of sweet peas, the lavender flowers, and our baby figs - oh and the olives on the lithe olive tree which F and S brought for us - which is now standing proud over the garden. A lovely thing it is too.

Of course, the camera battery subsequently died as soon as I tried to upload, and since the charger will no doubt be hidden in some obscure place, I have currently no means to post them. As soon as I can, I will.

It was lovely to see our friends again, and eat a good meal in the outdoors, and our son was excited by the extra adults to talk to, and show off to!

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Slovenly posting

Hi to all and sundry

I'll be the first to hold my hands up and say I've been slow to post recently. What with our holiday in Cyprus, and then the onslaught of coming back to work, I haven't had either the time, or the inspiration to post anything much.

Our garden is looking wild, although my sweet peas have bloomed and smell as sultry and wonderful as I could have hoped they would. My African lily also bloomed with a wonderful reddy orange flower, but due to the heat, the flowers wilted very quickly which was very disappointing.

I desperately need to train my climbing rose - the Maigold. Perhaps a job for the weekend.

So there you have it - a post, but nothing of any interest, I am afraid.

Monday, 16 July 2007

In support of Bobby Goody/Brazier

I read today, in the Mirror, I think it was, that the parents of a well to do private school in Loughton, Essex, are up in arms about the awarding of a place to Jade Goody's son, Bobby.

I do not like a lot of the things that Jade did in the BB house. But as for her kids, well they're innocent, and have the right to be considered as individuals, and not judged through the lens of their mother's recent behaviour.

In its nuts and bolts form I see the situation like this:

Small child enrolled at school, parents seek to bully head of school into barring, or withholding school place for said child, some even threaten to remove their kids if small child takes up place.

To those parents I say: Pick on someone your own size.
Why punish a child for its parent's behaviour.
Why shouldn't Bobby go to this school?
What possible harm is a four year old going to inflict on their kids, beyond the usual playground rough and tumble.

I really detest parents who behave like this. Singling out a CHILD and trying to block its right to come to school. I suspect, these are the same types that colonise my son's nursery, barging into the car park in their chelsea tractors without so much as looking to see if there are any small kids or pedestrian parents like me, crossing the path to get in or out. These are the parents who refuse to say thank you upon having the door held open for them, or, who seeing you carrying a small baby and a rucksack, do nothing to move aside for you, whilst little Tarquin has a tantrum in the middle of the thoroughfare. These are the kind of parents who, to be honest, I see as a bigger obstacle to children's life success than any four year old child born of a mother who behaved badly on TV.

'He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone...'

My Toddler

Well that' it, it's official, my son has passed from babyhood to toddlerdhood.
Yes, it was his first birthday yesterday, but in a way the change had happened before that day.

In the space of a week he's started to walk properly, talk, point at things and say 'wotsat?' and 'at', greet people with 'aiya' and wave to greet and say goodbye. He is now an active participant in the world, shaping out his own experiences, rather than being brought to various activities, strapped in a pushchair, or carried everywhere by me. It feels so strange to walk ahead of him, and usher him to follow me. It's wonderful to see the delightful, inquisitive little boy he is growing into.

The party was wonderful, although I have to say I was rather disappointed with the cake, which took hours to make and yet was as dry as the sahara. Whilst making it, I was absolutely convinced the recipe had prescribed too much flour, but followed the instructions anyway...and of course I end up with a madeira cake which actually feels more like stale bread than any fluffy kid friendly sponge. Oh, and rather than looking like a lion, it ended up as more of a koala bear......Hmmmmm. I will not be recommending that particular recipe to anyone else!

But the main thing was that all who visited us had a good time, and the boy raced round like mad, holding court with his fanclub, and was, of course, suitably covered from head to toe in dubious looking food stains by the end of the day! He's also developed a liking for Monster Munch. (Yes, call the health visitor, bad mummy alert!)

In a kind of romantic, poignant spirit, I had planned to mark the exact time of his birth (9.06pm) with a glass of bubbly with his dad, but, suitably enough, 9.06pm saw me cradling my adored boy, stroking him to sleep. A lovely sense of circularity, since at the moment of birth, the midwives put him straight onto my skin, enabling me to hold him close, thus forging the start of the most wonderful bond of my life. And one year on, exactly to the minute, there I was doing the same, with a boy tripled in weight and length, with completely different colour hair, but still the same little tiny, flat nose and slightly pointy out, but rounded chin he had at birth.

I promise a gardening post soon. I am sure you are all getting mummy boredom!

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Long time no see

Well at last some good news to report on the garden front: We have raspberries!
Not many, admittedly, but there is nothing more pleasing than having planted something yourself, nurtured it from time to time(Well actually our unseasonal weather has probably done more of the nurturing), and then suddenly, without fanfare or showing off, it bears fruit.

Also in time for St Swithin's day on the 15th July, the St Swithin's rose has bloomed en masse. Although it is certainly more of a delicate fragrance than a heady one - which, for a fragrance junkie like me is a slight let down.

Also, the sweet peas are climbing nicely up the fence, and I can't wait to savour their perfume - one inhalation transporting me back to my parent's garden and my childhood....

photos to come tonight....

On the birthday party front:
Well, I've decided on a cake - chocolate, lion's face, looks impressive but low maintenance.
We've bought the main present - the Fisher Price Ramps Around garage
but we still have a considerable amount to do in preparation...
I decided against inviting the other kids along from childcare- since each and every parent I came across this week has exemplified everything I detest about middle class mannerless, grumpy, stuck up, unwilling to exchange greetings, or common pleasantries - so why on earth would I want to reward them for being rude by inviting them into our home? What is it with these people? What kind of example is it giving the kids, always in tow, to refuse to thank someone holding open a door, or greet upon bumping in to each other in the playroom. Well this has become a rant, but it gets to me!