A Bare Foot Walk

I am pretty open about the fact that I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). I was diagnosed when I was twenty, but it something I’ve been dealing with a lot longer than that. I think probably from around aged ten or eleven. It affects my life daily, and influences a lot of things I do.

OCD-Uk describe OCD as:

“a serious anxiety-related condition where a person experiences frequent intrusive and unwelcome obsessional thoughts, often followed by repetitive compulsions, impulses or urges.”

In other words, I get a thought (and it’s usually a grim one) and then I have a behaviour to deal with that thought. Usually the thought will go on, and on, and on and I’ll analyse and perform the behaviour. Then the thought comes back, and I’ll do it again. Then I’ll beat myself up and obsess about why I thought that in the first place.

It can be exhausting, and I am lucky that my OCD is pretty mild, and most of the time I can manage it these days.

So, naturally, when my friend invited Pippin and I on a Bare Foot Walk at Rufford Old Hall, I immediately began thinking about everything her little feet could come into contact with on the grass. I also just as quickly said yes. Bare Foot Walking is a form of sensory play which basically does what it says on the tin: you walk outside with no socks on and feel the floor.

I don’t like Pippin to miss out on any experiences because I don’t see things in the same way as other people, but the idea of letting her walk outside with no shoes felt a little bit sickening. But I packed up her bag and off we went to Rufford.

Rufford Old Hall is a five hundred year old property run by the National Trust, set in small(er) grounds that include and Orchard, Vegetable Garden and canal.

Part of the ’50 things to do before you’re 11 3/4′ the Bare Foot Walk was a series of trays with different materials in, so one had logs and pine cones, one had grass clippings, one had sand, one had cut up kitchen sponges (Pippin hated that one) and the last had water.

So far so good really. I could absolutely cope with bare feet in a contained environment of plastic trays.

Then we sat on the floor to picnic. The girls were bouncing off each other, crawling and walking off. Pippin was pulling up tufts of grass and putting them in her mouth, they tipped the pasta I had made for lunch on the floor, then tried to eat that.

Argh!

Floor pasta.

But I didn’t completely lose it, just removed the pasta from reach and we carried on.

As we left the Orchard I put Pippin’s little shoes back on to let her walk, my friend let her daughter go bare foot. Poor Pippin was desperately trying to pull her shoes off and let her feet go free.

So, against my OCD’s judgement, I let her.

Her little face when she put her bare foot into a muddy puddle was a picture. She whipped her foot out so quickly and stood on one leg. Then she watched my friend’s daughter splashing happily and she jumped in. She loved it, and I loved seeing her so happy.

Of course I gave her a lovely soapy bath when I got her home, but I did it. Allowing her to put her feet in that puddle was as big an achievement for me as it was for her to put her feet in it! And I couldn’t be happier that I let her have that experience.

 

 

 

Baby Birthday Guilt

I’ve written about mum guilt before, and I’ve felt guilty a lot before. I’m not sure I ever felt as guilty as when I realised that Pippin’s first birthday wouldn’t be spent in her own home, and wouldn’t be celebrated with a homemade cake and party.

Logic dictates that she won’t know, and it also tells me that if she ever realises that we didn’t throw her a first birthday party she won’t even care. I have no idea if my parents had a party for me, I’m guessing probably not and I’m pretty sure that hasn’t caused me any hurt.

I guess I didn’t expect the renovation to be going on quite as long as it has been, I thought we would be home in plenty of time for her birthday. It wasn’t to be.

I shouldn’t be looking at this as a negative though. Pippin has enjoyed spending time with her grandparents, and I know they have enjoyed spending time with her.

She’s also hit lots of her milestones whilst living here; she’s learned to cruise, and to say her first proper words. She can now also show you Mama, Dada and her toes when asked, which I am sure will stand her in good stead for the future.

Living in another part of our town has also led me to meet some new people, who I can now count as friends and their children are now Pippin’s friends too.

In the last few months we’ve moved from what was a quite difficult time in a house that wasn’t suitable, to a very positive future, and I know that Pippin’s second year of life is going to be filled with as much, if not more, fun than her first.

When we get back into our home it is going to be a safe and wonderful place for Pippin to grow up, and I’m excited for the memories we are going to make there, but I’m going to look back fondly at the time we’ve spent living here too. She may not have the homemade cake, or the bunting and party we’d hoped, but she will have a birthday surrounded by all the people who love her and I am absolutely sure that whatever we end up doing her grandparents, aunties, uncles and cousin will make it a lovely day for her.

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Ten things I learnt in my 1st year of being a parent…

I think I’ve learned some things since I became a parent: I’m pretty good at putting a nappy on a wriggly baby, and I think I’ve got this breastfeeding thing pretty much sorted.

Here’s a few other things I’ve learned over the last twelve months.

  1. Get rid of all the preconceived ideas you had of being a parent. Just chuck them right out, because all they will bring you is guilt. When you planned how you would parent, and you made all these sweeping statements you forgot one vital thing: your hypothetical child wasn’t real. Your real child is probably very different.
  2. Bedtime is there to test you. I was not blessed with a child who likes to sleep, I was blessed with a child who likes to fight sleep with every fibre of her being. Then, when she has lulled us into a false sense of security by appearing to get into a bedtime routine then BAM she wakes up seven times in a night.
  3. Your child will have more, and nicer, clothes than you. Who can resist the tiny little outfits?
  4. You buy more stuff than you could ever need. I don’t know why this happens either, you can start with the best intentions of not falling into that trap, but gradually more and more stuff creeps in until you’re living under piles of plastic and gadgets that you have no idea how to use.
  5. You will be tired. Very, very tired. So tired.
  6. You’ll forget your basic needs. Especially in those first few weeks. Although it continues, whilst writing this I’ve realised I’ve had a packet of crisps and a muffin today, and I can’t remember if I’ve had a drink. My daughter on the other hand has had three lovingly home cooked meals. Which leads me to…
  7. Even if they liked something hours ago, even if you spent ages cooking it, small toddlers will refuse to eat it. Sometimes I think they plan it…
  8. Baby giggles are the best. They just laugh with complete abandon at the strangest things, it is completely wonderful.
  9. Bath time is terrifying, and then really fun. At first, you put this tiny little baby in the water and it is so utterly scary. Will it burn them? Am I going to drop them? What if they DROWN? But then they can sit up by themselves, and they start to play with their bath toys and they really, really love it. Bath time is one of my favourite times of they day.
  10. It is, hands down, the best thing I have ever done.

Happy 2nd Wedding Anniversary to Me (and my husband of course)

It really doesn’t feel like two year ago that I woke up in a panic at 5am, turned to my husband and said “Oh god, it’s raining. It is raining on our wedding day Liam and IT IS IN A PARK.” (Spoiler, the sun came out).

Or one year since we were sat in a hospital being told that I would be induced at 37 weeks because my baby was on track for an 11lb birth weight.

Last year we didn’t really celebrate, because I was 36 weeks pregnant, we were travelling straight from the hospital to Center Parcs and, well, I was huge.

This year we aren’t celebrating because we have a house that is mid-renovation, a very lively baby who, funnily enough, does not like fancy meals out and I’m working.

But I have got him a card.

It is ok though, because although I loved my wedding day and I love looking back at the photos, I didn’t marry him for that. I married him for the eight years that came before the wedding and the many years that will come after it.

So, Happy Anniversary to my lovely husband and here’s to many more.

 

A few thoughts on confidence

Someone said to me, you must really not give a fuck what people think of you. You wear circle skirts, and loud prints and big hair flowers. You stand out.

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I thought about it for a minute, and that’s just not true. I care far too much about what people think of me. I spend about 90% of my time thinking about what people think of me. I can’t walk into a room, or down the street to be with family without wondering what other people think of me.

I analyse every interaction with other humans, wondering what I could have done better or how I could have managed the situation differently.

The more I think about it, the more sad it seems.

It has become even more glaring obvious that I am far too quick to worry about others’ opinions since I became a mum. And what is worse is that I regularly adapt how I want to parent to fit what I feel other people want me to do. Why would I want my daughter to grow up seeing her mum’s opinion regularly discounted and trodden down?

That’s not other’s people’s fault. Everyone has an opinion, but I am under no obligation to listen to them. Much less actually act upon them.

I try to do the best for my family and daughter. The way I parent may not be the way others parent, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong. I must be doing something ok, she is thriving.

I want my daughter to grow up confident in her own decisions and in herself. I want her to be strong, and to continue being as wilful as she is now. I also want her to know that although her decisions may not always work out the way she planned, it is ok and she can dust herself off and try again. I want her to know that it is ok to disagree with the opinions of the people around her, and that she can forge her own path.

I need to find my voice, for her, and show her the strong woman I want her to be. Not the woman who allows others to dictate to her and lets her voice be drowned.

I want to be a role model for my daughter.

 

 

 

My Breastfeeding Story

I’ve been breastfeeding now for ten months.

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I never intended to breastfeed at all. I did say “Oh, I will give it a go, but if it doesn’t work it doesn’t work”, to everyone who I thought wanted to hear it (the midwife, other mamas-to-be, my Mother-in-law, my husband, the woman in the COOP). Really I had no intention of it working, I just wasn’t interested in breastfeeding.

I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and pregnancy was hard. I didn’t like losing my body autonomy and I wasn’t sure I could cope with the extra responsibility and the dependence of baby on me for all the feeds. Plus I wasn’t sure how to cop with my breasts’ new function.

Then I got gestational diabetes and moved very swiftly from a homebirth to being induced at 37+4 weeks.

I hated the idea of being induced and, frankly, I hated being induced.

I laboured, unsuccessfully, for fifteen hours before heading over to surgery for an EMC and a lovely big bleed.

I was shown Pippin, and then she was taken somewhere else in the room for her AGPARS and whatnot, whilst they sewed me back together. We got into recovery where we had our first cuddle. Then daddy got some skin to skin, and baby Pips decided she wanted a bite to eat and did her newborn crawl to daddy’s nipple.

So back she came to me, and they attempted to get her to latch on my right nipple, with no joy. I was struggling to get into position and she was struggling to get into position. So, as they were concerned about getting some nutrients in her, and how sleepy she was getting, they asked permission to give her a cup of formula. Which was given.

It’s all a bit blurry after this because I was both tired and still slightly drugged up. Drs kept coming in and taking bloods and looking for infections. Then they took Pip away because they wanted to fit a canula and do some tests.

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After a  bit I got taken back up to the ward, and they brought her back and I just looked at her.

It felt like two minutes later when they came a took her again. They wanted to fit a naso-gastric tube and do an xray.

So when my parents arrived to visit their granddaughter they found me, alone and fairly upset. I don’t want to dwell on that bit. But what it meant for feeding was that Pip was on a drip for the first day, as they were worried about her aspirating a feed. By the second day her oxygen levels increased enough that she was allowed to have colostrum and formula fed through the tube.

I did have loads of support from the infant feeding team. I was shown how to properly hand express colostrum, and then given a pump to try and stimulate my milk to come in so we could send it to Pippin.

On the second day I went and saw here. I can remember getting to hold her again, but I’m not sure when it was. I was a mess and I really struggled with feelings of, I can only describe it as inadequacy. Not about the feeding, but because she had ended up in that situation. I don’t know how I ended up fighting so hard to breast feed, I think it felt like the only thing I had left to give her. The thing only I could do. If things had been different, maybe I wouldn’t have breast fed. Who knows now.

Latching still wasn’t working well for us. She could managed the left, but my right nipple was just the wrong shape for her. I was still pumping religiously and she was having top ups of both expressed milk and formula. They identified a posterior tongue tie, but I was really reluctant for more medical interventions. We left hospital after a week with an appointment for the tongue tie clinic and a breast pump.

I wasn’t in a good way when I got home. The birth had crushed me, I was on daily injections (I hate needles) and I was shaking and felt sick every time I had to feed her. I wasn’t in a good place mentally, but somehow we just carried on.

 

In hospital I had begun to recognise her hungry cries, but sometimes the crying just wouldn’t stop. We would pace for hours with a screaming baby. We were changing more nappies than we could keep track of in a day, all of which were filled with mucousy poo. We were struggling. Then, after a particularly bad night during which we changed seven nappies in an hour, my midwife asked when we had considered the possibility of a dairy allergy. So I put measures in place to removed dairy. It would take a whole other post to talk about that, and I probably will do at some point, but over a number of months it made a massive difference and the smiley, contented baby we’d had glimpses of was around more often and things got a little easier. With hindsight I know that the screaming with red face and balled first wasn’t, as I had been led to believe in hospital, hunger, it was pain. Pain as her tiny body tried to process dairy. In reality those ‘top ups’ were probably not needed and actually might have been making things worse. But nobody was to know that, and it couldn’t be helped.

I wish I hadn’t spent those weeks blaming myself – researching colic, foremilk and hindmilk and thinking it was my fault for feeding her too much, or too little or not swapping breasts enough. When it was inevitable.

Around the same time we worked out the dairy allergy I got mastitis. And it is every bit as horrible as they tell you. At first it felt as though I had glass in my nipple, then I started shivering and felt freezing cold, but I was boiling hot. At some point over the second night it started to break; I was alternating between shivering and sweating so heavily I had to put towels down on the bed.

The midwives suggested having the tongue tie snipped (I had cancelled the previous appointment because we were managed well) would be advisable. So we had it done. It wasn’t pleasant, but it was over quickly. Although as she learnt to latch again it was like going back to square one: sore nips.

From there we haven’t really had any issues. I kind of, enjoy is the wrong word, but I feel some sense of achievement I guess. Which is funny because I haven’t really done anything exactly. I am glad I have breast fed her. Ending up breastfeeding has influenced a lot of my other parenting choices too. We ended up co-sleeping, which wasn’t our intention, and I haven’t gone back to work quite as quickly as I thought. It has worked for us though, and with Pippin’s allergies I am quite glad she wasn’t exposed to more dairy through formula. I like the way things have turned out, for the most part, I could do with a bit more sleep, but that’s probably a common complaint for parents!

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I do think it has been harder than we are probably led to believe, and that leads to, in some cases, women thinking there’s something wrong with their breasts/supply when there might not be. I was lucky that I had a lot of support, but it was completely by chance. I know two women who gave birth around the same time as me who were desperate to breast feed, but it didn’t work out for them. I feel a bit sad that I got the support when I was pretty set against breast feeding and they didn’t have that.

As things stand I have no intention of stopping breastfeeding until Pip decides she is ready to. With her allergies it is probably the healthiest thing I can do for her right now. Although I am holding out hope she will take a bottle of ebm eventually.

If we ever did this again, and there’s a slim to none chance of me ever going through labour again, I think I would breastfeed. I think I would trust my instincts more, and hopefully panic less about whether they are having enough milk (babies and bodies are clever, they know) although I would do bottles and dummies as well as breastfeeding, to allow me a little more space.

Sod the nipple confusion, mama needs a nap.

 

Pippin’s 10 month update

There’s been so much going on of late that I haven’t really had the inclination to write much. Not just in our own lives, although that has been really busy with the renovation, and I’ve also started therapy in order to deal with some of the feelings I have around Pip’s birth. It also seems that every time you turn on the news right now there’s another terrible thing happened. There seems to be so much sadness right now.

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Pippin continues to grow, as babies do, and she’s thriving. We had her 9-12 month check this week, and the health visitor said she’s in the top end of the bracket for development. I try not to look at the lists of things she should be doing, but it is always good to know she’s doing well.

She’s still in the 91st for weight, which surprised me a little because she never stops moving! Although she has lost a little. She’s also just under the 50th for height at 71cm. Her dad says she takes after her parents: short and stocky! It is true that she has little legs, just like me. Her trousers always have to be rolled up.

She’s surprising us now with everything she can do. In the last couple of weeks she’s moved on from walking whilst holding both of your hands to just one hand. She has also mastered climbing the stairs, which is a little scary to be honest.

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Her sixth tooth also cut this week, so she’s dropped the amount she’s been eating. She has also dropped her milk feeds to three per day, although she still feeds massively overnight.

Still exclusively breastfed and unfortunately although we’ve seen a bit of an improvement in her allergies Dairy is still a no go.

She is loving turning the pages of books right now, and is having a go at putting the rings on to her stacker. She still absolutely loves knocking over towers, but has also started kicking them down too. She can also kick and throw a ball, although it very often doesn’t go where she intends it to.

Pippin and I had a joint trip to the dentist and we’re starting to get somewhere with the teeth brushing – although I think she likes the toothpaste a little too much!

Her birthday feels like it is coming along at a really rapid pace now, and I’m just hoping to get back into our own house in time for us to throw her a little party!

The Wall is Down

I knew this was happening, but it still shocked me.

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I have no wall in my living room. Just a big hole open to the outside world. I guess this is one way of bringing the outside in…

This is one of the nice, optional things we thought we might as well do whilst we’re having to have a rewire anyway. It is also completely practical when you have a small child. The actual doing of the work is completely impractical in every way (here’s a tip for you, if you want to buy a 1930’s house, buy it and complete all the work before having children), but the end result will mean a much safer family home all round.

Our house was built in 1936, and the layout must have remained unchanged for many years, but at some point after 1970 the owner at the time built a garage and utility room extension. This was incredibly useful for housing things like a washing machine, dryer and freezer that wouldn’t fit in the tiny, 1930’s kitchen. However, it meant that the only access to the garden was via the garage, which isn’t particularly safe if you have young children. There are plenty of things within that garage that I don’t want small children anywhere near.

So we fixed it by putting a bloody great hole in the wall. Now we have garden access.

But oh the shock.

I can kind of see how this is going to work out, it is going to look nice. But this is the first big job of the renovation and it is a little bit scary.

 

Walk all over Cancer: Day 1

Step Count: 2467

Pippin’s Steps Count: 1

Total: 2468

Deficit: 7532

Surplus: 0

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Ok. Clearly today went absolutely terribly, for two reasons.

1. I have lost my fitbit, which is devastating. It is somewhere either at our house or in one of the boxes we’ve moved to my in laws, but where it is I can’t be certain. I’m reliant on my phone and it isn’t the best. So, I actually did a walk into Beaumaris too, but it didn’t count that.

2. We went on what should have been a lovely long walk to South Stacks Lighthouse in Anglesey. It was so windy that I didn’t feel I could walk parts of it as I was baby wearing.

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Tomorrow will have to be a new day, and of course that makes my new goal 17,532 steps for tomorrow – so I will have to do plenty of walking.

Today it is June

So, a while back I signed up to do something different in June.

This June I am going to walk 10,000 steps a day, and hopefully raise £40 for Cancer Research UK by doing so.

Which is funny, because I currently average about 1000 steps a day, so I really, really need to get moving.

I don’t know anyone whose life hasn’t been touched by cancer, whether they have lost someone, had someone beat cancer, know someone with cancer or had cancer themselves.

We are lucky enough that we know many cancer survivors, people who beat Breast Cancer, Bowel Cancer and Skin Cancer. Sadly we know more people who lost their fight, and cancer took my husband’s nana earlier this year.

I’m doing this for all of them, I want more people to have treatment and survive cancer.

So, this is me. Dragging my dodgy post-partum hips on 10,000 steps a day, and if you fancy donating then that would be wonderful.

https://fundraise.cancerresearchuk.org/page/rebeccagina