Mumma thought it would be rather jolly to share pancakes with her darling boy, on this, his very first Shrove Tuesday. She decided against her usual trusted batter recipe & unusually bought a pre-prepared mix to save time. Just add water it said. Perfect Mumma thought, until she realised (far too late; whilst giving it a vigorous shake) that the lid wasn’t attached properly & most of the contents had now spilled onto the floor & sink. Not knowing quite where to begin the clear up, she stood there for a few moments seriously contemplating her life choices. Luckily there was enough mixture left to make a couple of pancakes, so she began the cooking process. Mumma was particularly pleased that she hadn’t lost her touch when it came to effective tossing! She proudly placed it in front of her now grumpy son, (because Mumma had obviously taken far too long to cook for his liking). He grabbed it, got a handful of sugar, then daubed this straight into his hair, which now sticks out at a jaunty, curly angle?! Then, rather that just eat it sensibly, he insisted upon licking the lemon juice off of each pancake piece first; before inhaling it in one swift mouthful. Mumma decided that one half of a pancake was quite enough for an almost 9 month old, so took him out of his chair to play on his mat. He is now currently having a full on meltdown because Mumma refuses to give him any more. In his melancholy, he then decided to pacify himself by stroking the cat with his unwiped sugary fingers. He now has the look of a criminal who been tarred & feathered whilst the cat now seems a little ‘patchy’. Joy.
Mumma is now wondering why she even bothered & if the boy’s bedtime can come a little bit sooner tonight so that she can crack open the gin…
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m no Delia or Nigella when it comes to food; yes I can cook, I have a few ‘go to’ dishes & I enjoy making a Sunday roast. However, I’m not great at experimenting with new recipes, mainly because I begrudge buying a mountain of ingredients that may never get used again. I like to try new things when I’m out though & if I like something, will attempt to do my own version of it at home. My naïve self had visions of Benjamin enjoying whatever we put in front of him & have no texture issues whatsoever. I’d decided that my own OCD didn’t want him to explore his food too much with his hands, so created my own combo of baby-led & traditional weaning methods. I wasn’t going to blitz food to within an inch of its life, but nor was I going to encourage sensory food play in his highchair: he (purposely) doesn’t have a tray, as we want him to be sat at the table with us. Mostly, this has worked well. The faces he pulls initially are quite comical, then he realises that it wasn’t so bad after all, so just ‘gets on with things’ so to speak. He’s become aware that if he doesn’t eat something, Mumma offers no alternative; he will just have less. Mean? Maybe. But I’m not getting into the habit of cooking two different meals. It’s just unmanageable.
These last couple of weeks however, things seem to have changed. Apparently he’s started gagging at his Childminder’s house on some of his veggies & fruit. Disappointingly, he was nonchalant when presented with his turkey roast (maybe because it was sans gravy & on some subconscious level he felt cheated?! Which you can’t blame the boy for to be fair!) I was informed that he gagged on his mango, even though I’d mixed it with his favourite Petites Filous to make it less slippery than the day before: when an excited Benjamin, so pleased to see his Daddy, literally catapulted it out of his mouth onto the unsuspecting, unamused cat, who bravely sits next to his highchair in case he drops something tasty. However, regurgitated mango didn’t fall into this category for her it seemed. We don’t even speak of his sweet potato & red pepper textured mash anymore, as it apparently came out as quickly as it went in, in a very dramatic fashion & with two changes of outfit later, yikes! During one of his lunches, I’m sure lovely Tish (Sara’s Childminding Assistant, whom he equally adores) said that she ended up shelling his peas for him from his tuna bake! Seriously Benjamin, what is going on boy? Total diva. Personally I blame his eyelashes. This is the baby, whose party trick is to be able to put a single (whole) pea in his mouth, roll it around for a few seconds, then pop it back out of his mouth, holding it between his lips, before sucking it back in again & swallowing – complete with its shell! I was so concerned after hearing about ‘Peagate’, that the next day I went right back to basics & pureed everything (which I’d never really done before). I even whizzed up some raspberries, cherries & plums & mixed them with a Weetabix! I was particularly proud of my fruity creation (it tasted delicious after I’d made it) until Sara pointed out that it had literally set into a lump of deep red concrete & they had to use boiling water to be able to do anything with it. Then Benjamin, after plastering it all over his face first, turned his nose up at it anyway. Of course. Seriously, there’s just no appreciation for my efforts. I swear he’d be more than happy if every meal involved: buttered toast & fromage frais! I absolutely refuse to buy jars of mush, Tim & I don’t have things like that ourselves, so why would I want Benjamin to eat them? I conceded to Cow & Gate pureed fruit tubs, as my own efforts were clearly wasted on his now-fussy palette. I buy ‘baby snacks’ – rice cakes & veggie puffs; things that I just couldn’t practically make myself. Why is it that even though I decant these foods into plastic containers, Benjamin seems to instinctively know that ‘treats come in packets’? And when I’m sorting out the shopping delivery, he’s magically drawn to them whilst sat in his highchair: as they lie on the table, awaiting their new, yet temporary, Tupperware home. Just how does he know?!
I’ve found myself Googling again. This time my searches are more “when can babies eat…” rather than “is it normal for babies to…” After trawling the http://www.netmums.com discussion threads, it’s still often down to my own intuition it seems. I went ‘all out’ on Sunday & ambitiously tried him on some washed Spanish olives & manchego at IKEA – whilst everyone else in the family was scoffing meatballs & gravy. It was a great success: he loved them, I’m so proud, as I love them too, but no one else in the house does. I really wanted him to like houmous as well, but unfortunately this was clearly too strong a flavour for him to handle. These days I often find myself becoming ‘Sam I Am’ from “Green Eggs & Ham” over-enthusiastically trying to tempt him with various foods on a ‘platter’ & these dipped toasted sticks were no exception…”Would you? Could you?” “Eat them! Eat them! Here they are!” It was a definite no & he certainly didn’t change his mind right at the end unfortunately. He even removed & mic dropped his bib in protest after that particular snack. I half expected him to hold up a whiteboard with a score on it, saying something along the lines of “Mumma, I give you 2 & your presentation could be better!” Back to the drawing board methinks. I will not give up on houmous!
I write a note to Sara with his menu on it everyday. I’m very conscious of being one of those ‘over-eager mums’ but I think it’s important that everyone knows what he’s having, which probably says more of my culinary skills than anything else! I like the idea that at least if the adults know what he’s eating, they can talk to him about it; rather than just giving it to him without the faintest idea of what it actually is. My aim is to instill a love of food, feel positive about eating & enjoy the social aspect of sharing a meal, rather than just fulfilling a basic need. I am determined that this ‘gagging’ is a phase & he will go back to eating everything, regardless of its texture. This lunchtime, the boy has just polished off a bowl of spicy bean chilli (hmmm, can’t wait for that one to pass on through!) & managed to chomp down on whole kidney beans quite happily with his single tooth! There’s hope yet…
Thank you for reading. I’d love you to share your favourite baby recipes; I really need some more inspiration!
So twice last week, two of the lovely ladies I’ve been working with recently were surprised to hear that I’m turning 40 in just under six months. I was shocked that they were shocked to be honest; maybe it was my hormonal breakout that fooled them or maybe they were just being kind. It certainly made my day, as since going back to work, I’ve certainly felt my age more than ever (it’s only been two weeks!) & it’s made me think about all that geriatric mummahood actually entails for me.
I guess it made me realise that older, doesn’t necessarily mean wiser. Well certainly not in my experience. I’m not naturally maternal & I know I never have been. Even as an early years teacher, I loved my job, adored the children, but was more ‘Mary Poppins’ than ‘Molly Wealsey’ about things – but certainly not, “practically perfect in every way” that’s for sure! It gave me a great insight into how I wanted to parent: I’ve been lucky to have known some absolutely inspirational Mummas in my career & this, combined with my own parents’ methods & reading the fantastic “French Children Don’t Throw Food” by Pamela Druckerman (www.pameladruckerman.com) have shaped my ‘style’ so to speak. We’re strict with Benjamin already; he’s beginning to learn his boundaries & he knows if he’s over-stepped them. This may sound harsh for an eight month old, but both Tim & I are firm believers in setting ground rules early on, then loosening up a little later. We’ve both found it successful with Tim’s other two children (for all involved) to do it this way, rather than allowing a ‘free for all’ to start with, then trying to rein things in later when it’s all gone a bit wahey! It’s harder than I thought it would be, but I keep having to tell myself that I’m not Benjamin’s friend, not just yet. For now at least, I’m just one of his guides & mentors in this crazy thing called ‘life’. What a responsibility!
For me, the lows of being ‘an older Mumma’ have to be the extreme tiredness, the complete achiness & the occasional overwhelming feelings of frustration. I’m sure this is no different from other Mummas, of all ages, but at times I’ve felt like my age has exacerbated these negatives. Looking back, I don’t think I fell into the complete depths of Post-Natal Depression, but on some days, back in the beginning, I was definitely paddling in the shallows. My emotions consumed me: I was angry with myself that I felt ‘trapped’ in this new role of motherhood; something that I had wanted so badly, for so long. I hated the fact this beautiful tiny human, that I had, in part created, was dependent upon me for everything. Literally everything. And part of me wanted to run far far away. I’d had 38 years of just thinking of myself, I was (& probably still am but to a lesser extent) a selfish person to a certain degree. I like my own time, company & space & always have. It’s taken a lot for me to write this, it’s not something I’ve really vocalised, let alone typed. I’m lucky in that I had Tim to talk to, to shout at even. He listened to me vent & talked some sense back into me. Thank goodness. But I can see how easy it would be to slip into the vicious cycle of depression. I found: http://www.mind.org.uk to be a fantastic source of information. My other main ‘low’ has been the intense physical pain. For the first three months, I felt brittle, like an old porcelain teacup. Every movement was agony & some days I was genuinely terrified that I would ‘shatter’. Then I developed ‘de Quervain’s tenosynovitis’ aka tendonitis of the wrist. My age, my gender & my recent motherhood were all contributing factors apparently. Joy. So after seeing two doctors, a physiotherapist, being given exercises & a sexy black splint that I’m meant to wear 24/7, but found that I’m allergic to, so can only bear wearing it at night time (along with my fluffly socks & dressing gown) Tim’s a lucky man! Haha! I feel that things are getting better. I don’t have to think about how to pick the boy up & everyday tasks are getting easier again thankfully. Thank you NHS. I could go on with other ailments: breakouts, hair issues (various!), dry skin etc. etc. but I’ll leave it here for now!
The highs of my late motherhood on the other hand, are that I know how I want to parent, as I explained earlier. I have high expectations of Benjamin. I am confident to correct him in public, if necessary. My patience for his learning is high, although my tolerance for his whinging is incredibly low(!) On particularly bad days I have to walk away, then come back a few minutes later: ready to start again. Most importantly though, I appreciate the ‘now.’ As clichéd as it sounds, I guess I’m more aware of ‘the moment’ than ever before. I’ve always been aware of poignant ‘now’ markers in my life, scenes/moments that I’m drawn back to time & again. Things that I knew were significant, but I was unaware as to why at the time. I spend a lot of my working life listening to people reminisce about their interesting lives & I genuinely love it. I’ve always been fascinated by people; hearing about their memories of loved ones & the special times they’ve shared, holidays, laughter & their ambitions. Sometimes, these wonderful people can’t remember what they ate for lunch, but can remember the most intricate detail of years gone by: of fleeting moments when they fell in love, or when their children were growing up & homes they’ve lived in. I’ve decided that ‘mindfulness’ is not really a new trend, people have always been aware of the ‘now’ but not really realised its significance: it’s equally important to remember those ‘now moments’. It’s proved in our older age, as these are the things that we hold onto. Essentially they get us through life: they help us to cope.
We’ve had a great few days; it started on Friday when Benjamin & I went on a ‘Spring Hunt’ – looking for signs of new life & longer, warmer days. And although the boy slept for most of it, I rediscovered my mojo for snapping things on my iPhone that caught my eye, mainly flowers & landscapes. Saturday & Sunday were spent with some of our fabulous friends & it was great to entertain & make dinner for everyone. It was lovely to be just us again & this was highlighted to me. We were even allowed to enjoy our bed until 7am on Sunday. What a treat! Time with Benjamin continues to be precious & I cherish the subtleties of his weekly developments. Nothing makes us happier than hearing the boy properly belly laugh & giggle when I pretend to “eat him up” at the end of the day or Tim tickles him. It’s truly heart-warming & the troubles of the day just melt away for both of us.
For the first time since giving birth, this weekend has shown me how to reconnect with just ‘being me’ & combining this with being a Mumma. I can do both. The ‘highest of highs’ for me though, is that I actually can’t wait to reminisce upon my own family memories: all whilst not forgetting to be mindful of being ‘in the moment’ of course!
Thank you for reading. I’d love to hear the highs & lows of your Mummahood…
Wow, I don’t think I’ve felt quite this tired since Benjamin came out of hospital! Just one of the many joys of being a creaky geriatric Mumma I guess. We’ve both been waking up at 5am on the dot. Every. Single. Day. Benjamin starts his day with a large bowel movement, which I can usually hear resonating through the baby monitor & then, almost disgusted with himself, protests about it. Loudly. Tim continues to be oblivious to the boy’s grumblings & sleeps on for a good hour longer. So unfair! Mumma is surviving on vast amounts of caffeine & determination in equal measure. We also discovered this week that the Green House is unable function for 24 hours even without a kettle. After our numerous attempts to fix our trusty six & a half year old Kenwood, Tim was forced to buy a new one, for his own sanity/safety. Well there are only so many times you can wait to boil a saucepan of water for a cuppa.
Our ‘routine’ (I say this term loosely), after the initial first day teething problems, seems to work quite well: I run around like a blue bottomed fly getting myself & Jamin organised for the day, all while Tim leisurely breakfasts & showers in his usual way; only changed slightly as he now has an excitable car-share buddy on his journey to work. Where as I get a decidedly non-chatty, weary commuter on our way home. I think I messaged Tim most days, to check Benjamin was happy when he was dropped off. Every time he’s been absolutely fine: happy, smiling & apparently charming his lovely child minders by fluttering his ridiculously long eyelashes & giving them one of his dazzling smiles. I’m sure this will be the source of many a headache for me in the future *sighs* I’m also sure that if I dropped him off, he’d be completely different, as he was during his settling in sessions; giving me the face of a child who should be fronting the latest NSPCC campaign & breaking my heart in the process. We’re so lucky in that Sara (our wonderful childminder) understands my angst & sends us photographs & messages to reassure me. To be honest, it’s got me through the day.
My darling boy has changed in so many ways. He seems much older, after just one week of being apart. I always remember one of the mums at swimming saying, “they just get interesting as you go back to work!” And it’s true. And although I’m sad that I’m not with him all the time to see these milestones, I feel that I appreciate & notice them more somehow. Part of me also wonders whether these achievements (see below, except for the tooth!) would even have happened if he were still just with me. My theory is that humans are characteristically sociable creatures: we imitate those around us & ultimately want to please others, so the more people you’re with, the more you naturally develop. Well that’s what I’m telling myself, so I feel a little happier about things.
Benjamin’s milestones this week…
He can now wave & practices his new move to the other Mummies when leaving Sara’s. Such a smoothie already it seems!
His first tooth is coming through at last! * Y A Y *
He can reliably sit up for longer…tummy time is so last month Mumma!
He has the appetite of a small horse & is now eating three meals a day!
We’ve nicknamed him ‘Bamm Bamm’ (from the Flintstones) because he seems to like to whack everything with his favourite plaything: a wooden spoon! Let’s hope he’ll be a drummer?! Well maybe.
He’s happier & more sociable if that’s even possible.
His cheeky personality is really coming out & I think he’ll be a windup merchant just like his father!
I’m becoming a feeder. Rice cakes & Ella’s Kitchen Tomato & Basil Melty Sticks give about 5 minutes (at least) of peace while Mumma sorts out dinner.
Earlier, whilst listening to Time, in my opinion, the most beautiful piece of music by Hans Zimmer & watching the boy fall asleep in his cot, the tears were streaming down my face. This was the music that I first played to Benjamin, when he was a tiny baby, usually while I showered & watched him snooze in his rocker through the open ensuite door. The days were hot & my maternity leave stretched out before us. I thought we’d have those days forever. It’s crazy how quickly the time has passed; I haven’t even caught up with all my series-linked Homes Under The Hammer for goodness sake! Today also marks the day that Tim & I first got together, eight years ago in fact. We’ve been married for almost five & Benjamin is almost eight months old.
I’m not going to lie, these last eight months have been some of the best & worst of my life: the most challenging, physically & emotionally painful too. I have a feeling that these emotions will stay with me for life now! I don’t think I’ve missed my wonderful Mum quite as desperately as I have over the last eight months either. I’m sure she would have understood what I was going through & known exactly what to say. I wish we could FaceTime Heaven. I am so grateful to Tim, along with my amazing friends, both old & new, who have kept me sane.
But here we are, tomorrow (exactly eight months to the day) I return to work. I know that I’m not the first & certainly won’t be the last Mumma to feel overwhelmed with emotions about going back to work. Part of me feels sick that I will no longer spend my days just being ‘Benjamin’s Mumma’, but part of me feels excited at the prospect of having a brand new ‘proper big girl’s job’ & getting my old ‘Lucy’ identity back again. I think it’s even more daunting that, after lots of evening studying & twenty exams later, I’m going into a completely new profession of becoming an adult Social Care Worker.
I guess my biggest worry is that I’m scared Benjamin will forget that I’m his Mumma: the one who soothes away his tears, the one whose face he strokes so gently when he drinks his milk, or makes him giggle so much he snorts (much like I do!) I’m terrified that this magical bond that we have created will be lost & we’ll become ships that pass in the night, only seeing each other to wake up, drop off, pick up, then bath & go to bed. I know millions of families do exactly the same thing every single day. We are not unique in that respect. I need to remember that at least we’ll still have Fridays together & the weekends as a family. We are very lucky. I also need to tell the boy that he can only achieve his milestones on ‘our days’ too! He’s so close to saying his first word it’s crazy & I’m sure he plays us when we’re there, like training a reluctant parrot; “say Dadda. Jamin, say Dadda!” I bet he’ll come out with his first sentence this week, when neither of us is there to witness. Let’s just pray that his first utterance isn’t obscene or incriminating, although I’m sure his Daddy would be equally as proud! Another part of me, the ex-Early Years teacher part, knows that this is absolutely the best thing for him: the best time for us to start to leave him, for him to socialise with other children & the best time for him to learn from other adults; not just me & Tim: & we have found the most perfect child minder to do this. I want him to learn early on to be mindful of his audience & adapt his behaviour accordingly. I’m praying that he’ll ‘play nicely’ with others, be kind, be friendly, but not a push over, to stand his ground & be assertive when necessary. I guess it’s what all parents want for their children. We don’t mind if he’s not the sharpest tool in the shed, we’d rather him be practical, likeable, have people skills, be able to communicate & I am sure opportunities will present themselves to him in life.
As I sit here, now on the sofa: Benjamin deep in his slumbers, lunch boxes made, clothes ironed, alarm set (not had to do that for a while!) & tomorrow’s dinner planned in my head at least, my nerves are steadied slightly (although this might be the gin?!) And providing I don’t hear the theme tune of Howard’s Way, or Tales of The Unexpected (which would take me straight back to 80s Sunday nights before school as a child *shudders*), I am confident that things will work out for the best, for all of us.
As I looked back over my phone photos from the last couple of weeks, I saw one that really maddened me. I was cross with myself really. Tim had taken it & sent it to me as he thought I should blog about it. I was going to; trying to put a positive, funny spin on the fact that after a dramatic week of dealing with poo (Benjamin’s not mine I must add) I’d made him a lovely lunchbox of finger foods in an attempt to get his appetite back, but neglected to pack his bottle & milk, such a bad Mumma that I am. As we were having lunch out, we had to buy single-use bottles (I didn’t even know it was a thing) & ‘on the go’ milk which Benjamin is no stranger to, due to its wonderful convenience (& recyclable bottle). Anyway, what I’m annoyed about is that we’ve always been so particular about what we buy for the boy; ensuring it’s not wasteful, unnecessary & where possible, recycled.
I always thought that everyone loves a bargain, right? But it seems like it’s a dirty word when it comes to babies: even dirtier than ‘single use’ it would appear. Since finding out that we were having a boy (this time last year in fact) we began amassing things we thought we’d need: clothes, bed linen, toys, furniture etc. etc. You know, just as every other excited expectant parent does really. We were incredibly lucky to be given lots of wonderful pre-loved items from friends & parents of the children I taught. Not once did we refuse any items & we were (& continue to be) incredibly grateful for what we’re given. However, I know there are so many parents, who would never dream of having anything that wasn’t brand new. I am sure that this is, in part, due to clever marketing ploys aimed at mainly first time parents; creating a stigma that if it’s not new, it must be dirty, or worse still; you obviously don’t love your baby enough to buy him/her the latest pram, fashions, or nursery furnishings. Ridiculous. At times, that’s how I felt, but after giving myself a good talking to, I never let it stop Tim or I looking for more bargains. Blimey, I think of a pair of trousers at £40 to be a considered purchase, & I have full control of my bladder & bowels, & sadly won’t be getting any taller in the next month. So why would I buy something ridiculously expensive for my rapidly growing & sometimes explosive son?! It just doesn’t make sense.
I think our most ‘frowned upon’ secondhand item & the one I’ve found myself having to justify to others, is our car seat & bases. Being children of the 80s, we didn’t have Isofix bases, or robust safety seats; health & safety didn’t really factor into the everyday sense; rear seat belts weren’t even legal until 1989 for goodness sake! I’m sure I remember lying in my neighbour’s car boot with their children on a mattress on the way back from a holiday(!) & I survived.
Generally, people aren’t going to sell a car seat that has been in an accident, it’s just wrong & unnecessary: insurance companies replace them immediately. We buy secondhand cars without knowing their complete history, but still we drive them. As baby seats are used for such a comparatively short amount of time; surely, in our heightened awareness of obsolescence these days, it’s best to get the maximum usage out of them? We worked out that we’ve saved over £300 in car seats & bases alone & this isn’t factoring in us selling the outgrown items on again. We would rather use the money to enjoy family days out; using said car seat! So why is this not encouraged?
The only brand new items that we bought were: a crib (which was an ex-display model), a mattress, all his bottles/sterilising unit, a few muzzies & sleepsuits (because he was a little smaller than we’d anticipated) & my Dad very kindly bought us a pram; which was also a great price as we got it from Toys ‘R’ Us when they were closing down. We would have bought one second hand, but we just couldn’t find exactly what we wanted & time was running out.
Nothing gives me more pleasure (well nothing else that I’m prepared to talk about on here!) than searching for something on eBay, Facebook Marketplace, charity shop or a highly coveted nearly new sale, finding exactly what I want, then getting it for a fraction of its original price. It reminds me of when I was a child & occasionally used to buy massive job lots of Barbie clothes from car boot sales with my pocket money. I used to love meticulously sorting through the items, categorising, then carefully washing them, before doing a fashion show with my dolls. Same principles still apply now really. Lucky Benjamin hey!
The staff in the village charity shop know me well & back in the early days, when I was trying to build up a bank of toys, the manager used to save me all the wooden things that had been donated, so I could have first dibs! I still love going in there, but not as frequently, as Benjamin has quite a large collection of toys now, thanks to these lovely thoughtful ladies.
I feel like a woman possessed when going to nearly new sales; I literally scour the stalls twice or three times over; just to ensure that I haven’t missed a gem. I’m sure it’s genetic as my Granny was exactly the same at jumble sales. I can’t haggle for toffee though; I’m so British in that sense. But usually I’m more than happy to pay the price; smugly knowing that it’s a darn sight cheaper than it would have been originally. I’m still very picky though: I’m not a fan of ‘character prints’ (I may have to pick my battles when he’s older on that one though, maybe), anything loose fitting or shapeless is a no-no too; I can’t bear baggy jeans on teenagers, let alone babies & I try to avoid red outfits – as it really doesn’t suit his fair complexion! I’m only just ‘allowing’ the boy to wear a trackie bottom, but they have to be ‘smart’ & even better if it has a stripe! Gees, poor Benjamin hey, he has such a fussy, bargain-hunting Mumma! I’m sure I’m going to regret this later down the line, when he rebels by refusing to wear anything other than a gaudy George Pig two-piece with matching wellies, but we’ll cross that bridge when & if we come to it. Hopefully he’ll be sartorial savvy by the time it comes to him having his own choice of clothing?!
It infuriates me that shops tend to stock mainly girls’ clothes & the range of items appears far greater than for boys. It hardly seems fair. Boys have a limited choice of tops, trousers or shorts. High Street shops stock an eclectic mix of separates that just don’t work together. I’d been looking for more clothes for Benjamin for a while (in preparation for when he goes to his fab child minder), when I stumbled upon a wonderful ‘bundle’ (love that search term!) on Facebook late one evening. After a few messages to get the seller’s address & arrange a date, the boy & I had a mini adventure trying to find said house: which is one of the many joys that add to the whole experience. The lovely lady put in more things than I thought I was paying for & the only item that I’m giving to the charity shop is a bobbly Toy Story top (please refer to my character prints policy). Everything was from Debenhams’ designers & we even had a quick jaunt along the beach on the way home. Winner!
I suppose the point I’m trying to make though is that there are some beautiful, stylish, clean & most importantly safe secondhand items out there; with still a lot of life left in them. Things can be washed & sterilised, & if they’re in that bad a condition, then they can be put in a fabric bank, or taken to a local recycling centre. You don’t have to settle for ‘poverty chic’ just because it’s not shop-bought. There should be no shame in buying or re-purposing them, after all we’re encouraged to recycle as much as possible everyday, so why should baby items be any different? Thank you for reading.
This was the blog that I wanted to post on Tuesday, but things got a little crazy in the Greenhouse, so here we are, a little later than planned…
I want to talk about last Monday, when for the first time since our initial visit back in August, our wonderful osteopath Mark signed Benjamin off; satisfied for us not to return, unless we were still overly concerned ourselves & really wanted to cross his palm with the best part of £40.00 again, for half an hour of his incredibly precious time. He thinks he could do a little more: if we wanted Benjamin to be completely fine-tuned, but for the most part, he was happy & that makes us happy.
In a nutshell (excuse the pun), Benjamin has a ‘wonky bonce’ as Tim so eloquently puts it, or plagiocephaly if you want to be really technical. Basically he has a slightly flat spot on his right side, all because he suffered with torticollis (or ‘twisted neck’) since birth. The abrupt nature of his arrival (right at the end) was a little overwhelming for Benjamin (including his Mumma!) So much so, that he kind of froze in shock because he’d been evicted so forcefully, but very necessarily! After much research, aka late-night Googling, I’ve found that both conditions are becoming increasingly more common in babies. Plagiocephaly in particular since the Back To Sleep Campaign started in 1994. It is obviously desperately important to ensure that babies are safe while they sleep & I am 100% in favour of any advice I can get regarding best sleeping positions. However, no information about these conditions is made available to expectant parents. I wish we’d been told about torticollis/plagiocephaly in Antenatal classes. Learning how to breastfeed is well & good, but it shouldn’t be the main focus. Things like: signs to look out for regarding head movement & shaping, when to worry, things to try in the first instance & even contact details of amazing professionals like ‘our’ Mark should also be included. We were recommended to Mark by one of my amazing Mummy Friends, yep, I’ve used that expression, the one I really hate. This was after I was hitting my own head repeatedly against a brick wall with the Health Visitors, who weren’t taking my concerns about Benjamin’s lack of neck movement seriously. In my experience, they have been next to useless with all of my concerns. Being told, “it’s normal, just put all your baby’s toys on the left side so he’s forced to move his neck, or turn him the opposite end of his cot” multiple times doesn’t treat the problem itself. The poor boy was literally ‘locked’ into this position, so all of these suggestions were of no use at all. As far as Benjamin was concerned, only half the world existed & he literally couldn’t investigate to find the other half: because his neck forced him to always look to his right.
Tim & I arrived at a fairly modest private residence in Dorchester in late August last year, not entirely sure what to expect. My friend had said, he’ll just talk to you & Benjamin & you won’t even realise he’s doing anything. And that’s exactly how it went. Every visit. Yes, he examined him, he held him in fairly standard treatment positions, but what he was actually doing was invisible to the untrained eye. He is such an interesting man, with a mass of curly grey hair, earrings & an incredibly dry sense of humour, which I appreciate. Benjamin was absolutely intrigued by him from the start. Although you’re never quite sure if he is joking or not; for example, in one of our sessions, he flew Benjamin around the room steadily supporting his tummy & back, they were both chatting away to each other as always. I was convinced that I’d witnessed some really technical pediatric osteopathic move & intrigued, I asked what treatment he was doing. He just laughed & said, “well you’ve got to keep it fun with children, can’t be serious all the time!” Of course. Silly me. As the weeks & months went by, everyone could see a massive change in Benjamin & he now has a completely full range of neck movement. It’s amazing to see, especially considering how bad it was to begin with. His head will never be perfectly symmetrical though, but then whose is? As hard as it is to acknowledge that your child has flaws, I’ve decided that he’s perfectly imperfect & that’s more than good enough for us. We won’t send him back just yet. He’ll just have to have a long mane of hair instead. We enquired about the recently celebrity-famed ‘helmets’, but the poor boy would have to wear it for 23 hours straight a day, they are quite restrictive, designed purely for changing aesthetics & with a starting price of £2k, we decided that he can be beautifully & naturally unique.
The best advice that he gave me was to keep Benjamin on the floor. Lots of tummy time, as much as possible in fact & let him work things out for himself. He explained that this is how all babies learn best: plenty of opportunities to explore for themselves & time to get frustrated, all without too much adult interaction or distraction & he is right. I’ve loved & continue to love watching Benjamin figure things out in his head: how to move objects, how to move towards objects & learning about pressure points, all in preparation for crawling (which isn’t far off!) Sometimes I can literally see the boy thinking. It’s magical.
With this in the back of my mind, I’ve always tried hard to keep tummy time fun & varied: to hold his attention longer than 30 seconds. This week we’ve been looking at different kinds of lids on a tray. Even though I washed each of them to within an inch of their lives, he still seems to be instinctively drawn towards the alcoholic ones! Hmmm, I can’t think where he gets that from? I also changed his sensory light bulbs from their festive contents to lots of random Playmobil accessories, colourful rainbow beads & Lego bricks. See the photographs below.
I will always maintain that osteopathy is 50% science & 50% witchcraft, but it works & that’s all we wanted & hoped for. We’ve given Benjamin the best possible start, all from chance conversation with a good friend. I’ll happily give out Mark’s contact details, just leave a comment below or drop me an email. I honestly can’t recommend him enough.
Thank you for reading.
Gotta love a bit of Playmobil!
Lego…because no one wants to tread on it!
Happy tummy time!
I caught you Benjamin – sniffing the corks, again!