Dear Mum…

Dear Mum,

Thank you for helping us in every way that you do with Aviana.

Thank you for not being judgemental in how we choose to parent and supporting us in all our decisions. Even if they don't always align with what you would choose.

Thank you for your well considered advice on becoming new parents. We know you have lots of experience raising me and my brothers over the past 34 years, yet you recognise that it's been 18 years since you raised a newborn baby and things in the medical world have changed since then. But babies are still babies and the way you love them and show that love hasn't changed over those years. So your experience and advice matters still.

Thank you for loving Aviana, and spoiling her too. She's only been in this world for eight months or so yet she is so loved. And distance doesn't matter as much as you think because she now can show you that she appreciates that love with an excited smile and coo at you on FaceTime. It's quite clear!

I'm grateful that you are not a baby boomer grandparent like what is described in this article…Here about grandparent baby boomers …I don't think you are loathe to give help, but rather the complete opposite!

It's hard living thousands of miles away from you, so thank you for offering to do all that you can despite the fact. We miss you greatly and hope distance doesn't stop the love from ever growing.

I wanted you to know, granny, that you are appreciated by all of us and are grateful to have you, lots of love Xxx

Even if you are a crazy plane spotter!!!

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I need some answers!!!

Unexplained infertility, unexplained Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR), unexplained bowel problems – aka Irritable Bowel Syndrome, the bucket for all unknown bowel problems. Now I'm potentially facing unexplained joint pain and stiffness…I really hope that doesn't become the case, because I'm going to be pissed if I don't get answers!

Today I went to the doctor's because I have been experiencing progressively worse joint pain and stiffness for the past 4 months or so. A couple of months ago at my annual medical exam I mentioned that I had been experiencing numbness and tingling in my hands and feet. My doc said it was probably carpal tunnel syndrome, it's not uncommon after pregnancy as the body changes shape to experience this. She told me to try ibuprofen and if that didn't make a difference to come back and see her. I tried the ibuprofen and it didn't work. Without any sign of improvement I decided it was time to go back.

I wake up in the mornings stiff and sore in my hands, feet and more recently, my knees. It's most painful in my hands and it takes about 10 minutes or so to warm my joints up to move properly. I get out of bed and hobble as if I'm an old person. It's not getting better, in fact I say it's just getting worse as I feel sore from it during the day now. This week my little finger on my left hand locked stiff after waking up, it only lasted a few moments. But still, that's pretty freaky. I don't dare pick up Aviana as soon as I've woken up in case I were to drop her, in fact I probably wouldn't be able to lift her anyway.

The doctor thinks it is probably postpartum related because I'm breastfeeding still and my periods haven't returned yet. She's running some tests to rule out other things like Rheumatoid Arthritis, but because I don't have other symptoms she doesn't think it will be that. That would suck a lot if I have that.

Whatever it is I really hope they figure out what's going on because I am BORED of doctors not being able to tell me why I get this crap!!

Things I didn’t know I could do until I had a baby

Things I didn't know I could do until I had a baby….

…Undress myself with one hand whilst holding my baby to go pee…

…Redress myself with one hand whilst holding my baby after peeing. MUCH HARDER!

…Eat a plate of food in 2 minutes (actually I learned this skill in the military but it was only 5 minutes then!)

…Have the patience of a saint – whilst my baby slaps me in the mouth, pokes my eye out and scratches my chest whilst she nurses (no she doesn't do this on purpose, she's just a baby!)

…Have the balancing skills of a world champion gymnast…because my baby is precious cargo and I don't want to walk up the stairs for the umpteenth time.

And so the list begins!! Everyday is a school day as a new parent!!! What are your new found skills? What new skills do I have to look forward to as my baby turns into a toddler?

The staycation

It's been a while because I have been on staycation! My mother is visiting so I took a week off work, and took Aviana out of daycare for the whole week. Chris still was working so it wasn't really a whole family staycation.

First of all the weather was awesome. We lucked out there! We were able to get out and about without being roasted by the sun because the previous few weeks we had weather in the over 100F climes. Eughhhh!

It was lovely to spend quality time with Aviana because sometimes at the weekend we just need to get admin stuff done and that quality time is shorter than I'd like it to be. She also 'recovers' from her lack of sleep during the week at daycare and naps for much longer at the weekend. This week of staycation we saw some amazing progress in Aviana's milestones, which was cool…..these are her new grooves…

  • Aviana has started to take steps walking whilst we hold her hands. Ummmm I'm not ready for this kind of movement just yet!
  • She has become more vocal and varied in her words, dada, mama, Gaga and haaaaaa….which she uses when she sees the cats. It's sooooo cute.
  • She can really chew now and does quite well with her solids including minced and steewed beef!! Show her a piece of bread and she'll be your best friend forever ☺️ this staycation enabled me to try new recipes from the baby cook book that adults eat too, giving me a whole bunch of food to freeze for lunches at daycare and dinners if we need something quick. She loves ice lollies, we found some fruit and veggie ones she will devour! A real treat for both her to eat and us to watch her eat!
  • No teeth yet, although when we look at her bottom gums it looks like two are just hanging out there waiting to pop!!! I wonder how she will deal with it when they do decide to make an appearance!

I nursed Aviana the whole week and at first her distracted nursing was getting on my nerves and my patience was wearing thin, but after a few days we both got back into the swing of it. Occasionally I had to nurse her in the car or go somewhere quiet whilst we were out and about. But apart from that overall I loved nursing her more often and has made me miss her more this week now I'm back at work 😔

We have taken advantage of granny staying with us and so started our big project of paving and graveling our vegetable garden!!!

We've also had a couple of nights out too for date nights. Woohooo!!!

This staycation has been fun! I need to do more of them. In fact because I get more annual leave than Chris generally I should plan to use it up seeing the sights and sounds of the local area! And so this is our new way of life with a baby…and I feel so lucky I get to have it that way ☺️

The one working mother stereotype you are wrong about

Let’s talk about mis-perceptions and stereotypes about working mothers.  Here are a few stereotypes that are mostly wrong….

  • Working mothers don’t pay enough attention to their families
  • Working mothers only work because they want to avoid taking care of their children
  • Working mothers look down on stay-at-home mothers
  • It’s impossible to be a good mother and for a working mother be good at their job
  • Working mothers are only working because their husband doesn’t earn enough to let them stay at home

Are your eyes rolling yet??!

And it is this particular one that I want to talk about….

Working mothers must hate that someone else is raising their kid.

I don’t speak for all working mothers obviously, but for me this is very wrong.  Firstly, let’s talk about someone else ‘raising’ our kid.  Chris and I are BOTH raising Aviana, whereas the teachers at daycare are doing what they are good at…caring for and teaching our daughter.  Raising, teaching, caring for a child…they all sound very similar.  But there is a difference in these words, and saying that someone else is raising my daughter whilst I am work is simply wrong.  (Note, I am referencing here a teacher because that is what they are called at my daycare).

Would you compare a teacher to a parent?  No.  Would you compare a parent to a teacher? No.  Because parents don’t have qualifications and teachers do?  But just because a teacher has a qualification doesn’t make them a good teacher, just like there are many good and bad parents out there.  And, by the way, I am not saying that parenting skills aren’t transferable to teaching, they can be.  What I do believe is that we have chosen a care provider with teachers who are complimentary to the way that Chris and I raise Aviana.

I am not sure what “that way” is….I can’t label it as we are raising Aviana X way or Y way, but let’s just say it feels right.  Sometimes Chris and I talk about what is important to us in how we raise Aviana.  The values and beliefs that we cherish as a family.  I think we tested these out before we got married and we are quite compatible in our values in beliefs, although we don’t always have the same beliefs, we know generally what the differences are and why.  I am sure there are situations we haven’t thought of discussing and they may change in the future, ultimately if we keep the communication channels open between us we will figure it out.  That’s the only way to parent, right?! Because you don’t know until you are in that moment there and then. I digress…

As a working mother, I do not feel guilty or jealous that someone else is caring for my daughter whilst I work during the week.  I choose not to be a stay at home parent – if I had a job that barely covered child care costs then I may have chosen to be a stay at home parent if my job really sucked.  In my mind, being a stay at home parent is like a full time job…you just don’t get paid for it!  I also don’t have a choice to be a stay at home parent if we want to live here in the US because of my visa (but that’s another story).  The argument that we won’t be there to see her take her first step or say her first word is also not valid.  We won’t miss any of this, the moment will still be magical when she first does it for either of us.

Haha that reminds me…a side note…we did miss a funny ‘first’ new trick Aviana had yesterday.  When Chris picked her up from daycare yesterday the teacher told Chris Aviana’s new trick of the day – holding other babies hostage.  Apparently whilst Aviana was sat in her ‘throne of power’ two other babies crawled over to play with her and she grabbed both of them and wouldn’t let them go.  Not in an aggressive way because she is only 7 months old, she just didn’t want her class mates to leave her 😉

So all in all, I don’t hate that someone else is caring for my daughter 40 hours a week, I’m not jealous and I don’t feel guilty.  I also certainly do not believe that someone else is raising my daughter in those 40 hours, Chris and I are the ones doing that, aka – parenting.

 

 

 

 

When you and your care provider disagree

When I interviewed our nanny to care for Aviana one day a week I wasn’t really sure what I should be asking her other than the usual interview questions. I mean Aviana was only 4 weeks old and I only had 4 weeks of parenting experience, I had zero clue what kind of parenting style I would have. I knew when I hired her that she wasn’t a professional nanny, she was in between jobs after being made redundant and was looking for part time work whilst she waited for her ideal job which she would probably be starting around April time. It fit well with us because many of the nannies we looked at were seeking full time employment, so inevitably they would leave us at a moments notice, plus I would be back at work so Aviana would be in daycare we wouldn’t need her after April anyway. At the interview I felt like she was right for us…she had a teenage son, she was already looking after another baby who was a few months older than Aviana and she had been a night nurse for her sister’s twins, so she had some experience, but I knew there was a risk because she may have her own parenting views and not overly experienced. However, that has never turned out to be a problem.

Fast forward six months later and our nanny now picks up Aviana once a week from daycare and looks after her for the evening so Chris and I can spend time together either on date nights or to just get stuff done around the house. Aviana gets some loving attention, her washing gets done, And she will even do a bit of cleaning when Aviana goes to sleep!! It’s great. 

Last week we had our first disagreement over Aviana.  It was my fault really in how it happened. I had put aside some pureed veg with some pieces of Broccoli, peas and watermelon for Aviana to eat for dinner. I didn’t think twice about it. 

I left a note explaining how with the peas Aviana couldn’t quite pick them up yet on her own, but I leave them out (squashed) for her to practice and will feed her one or two so she gets the idea. We are doing baby led weaning (BLW) and purees- it’s the mixed approach we decided to go with. Aviana’s eating skills has been pretty good and she will pick things up and chew them-we’ve given her pieces of broccoli, sweet potato, carrot, banana, bread and toast soldiers with butter, pancakes, watermelon, peas, teething wafers, avocado….she is capable of eating these. So when I left the bits of food for Aviana our nanny tried ‘giving’ her the watermelon rather than let Aviana do it it herself. Aviana gagged. Nanny panicked and therefore didn’t give her anything else. As part of Baby Led Weaning it’s important to learn the difference between choking and gagging. Gagging is part of the learning process for baby. But it can be scary so you have to watch carefully. When I got home she said she didn’t think Aviana was ready for solids (i.e. Not puréed food) because she choked on the watermelon and it was too soon; not even the other baby she looks after is on solid food yet. I said I disagreed, Aviana had met all the signs for BLW and was already enjoying solids. Yes she’s not perfect at it yet, but that’s the point, she’s learning. Nanny disagreed and said that babies usually start solids when they start crawling. I disagreed and said that’s not the criteria. Anyway, we may be waiting forever for Aviana to crawl because I think she will skip that part. So we agreed to disagree and she left and I felt annoyed. And then I questioned myself. Was I putting Aviana in danger? Am I a bad parent? 

A few hours later it clicked with me. Our nanny is not familiar with the BLW method and how it works. I completely neglected to discuss with her what our approach was and ask if she felt comfortable with it. I felt stupid. So I sent her a message late into the night:

I must apologize! I should have asked you if you are familiar with baby led weaning, I forgot it’s relatively new here as an approach but is very common in the UK. I should have discussed it with you 😳 here is an overview on BLW if you are interested… https://www.whattoexpect.com/first-year/feeding-baby/baby-led-weaning/ If it’s something you are not comfortable with, that’s OK, not everyone is! because we are doing a blended approach anyway we can stick with the purees, but thought I should explain it a bit more ☺️

She replied:

Thank you so much for your message. I must say, I didn’t expect caring for Aviana would turn into caring about her as much as I do, and I believe she senses that from me. When she smiles from across the room as soon as she sees me, it truly melts my heart. My main goals when I’m with her are to keep her safe, happy and comfortable. So I do appreciate the info and your understanding if I can’t follow the method exactly. 

And so now I realise that with things like this communication is key as Aviana gets older, I need to keep checking we are on the same page. I see Aviana everyday and as our parenting evolves everyday I forget we are growing. So I need to keep in check that I’m communicating our decisions to our care giver and make sure we can iron out any differences we may have. 

I’m just nervously waiting for that day when our nanny tells us she has been offered her full time job and we have to say goodbye to her. I think its not easy to find someone as reliable, kind and caring like her.

Never give up on a bad day

They say you should never give up on a bad day. Well today was not a bad day, but yesterday, it felt like it was. So should I give up breastfeeding? Here’s what is running through my mind…

What would I’d do with the 2.5hrs a day I currently spend attached to a pump? I could exercise in the morning because I wouldn’t be engorged when I wake up. I could help get Aviana ready for daycare in the morning.

Would I miss escaping to my ice box ‘lactation station’ private room at work? They can’t do anything about the temperature in the room. I am wrapped in a fleece blanket and still cold. I hate it. I want to work from home so I can pump quicker, but it’s not so easy with some of my projects.

I would probably need to stop sending formula coupons to a lovely lady I met through my local infertility support group who has twins just a few weeks younger than Aviana.

What would I use my giant work pumping bag for if it wasn’t carrying my pump?

Will Aviana get sick more often? Chris is ill at the moment and Aviana and I have both stayed well…this has happened before but when he caught the flu which would potentially have been serious.

Will my nipples stop hurting after Aviana has recently learned how to bite me? 

I wouldn’t need to lug my pump everywhere and figure out how to get my milk back from different foreign countries when traveling with work, navigating different customs rules.

I might feel sexy again and not feel like a human milk machine? I could wear bras that I like!! 

BUT…..

I would miss those nursing moments with Aviana that are so precious to me. And it’s not for long. She will only be this young once and this will be my only chance to nurse her before she decides she doesn’t need me anymore. She likes to be an independent girl so I fear it would be sooner than later, and makes it even more precious. 

The past couple of days at work I felt like quitting. And yesterday as I sat nursing Aviana in the middle of the botanical gardens behind a random bush because she still gets easily distracted, as I batted away the mosquitos and tried not to shout in pain when Aviana clenched her gums around my nipple, I wanted to stop there and then. But today? Today was a good day, even though she bit me, even though she got easily distracted, even though I’m sat here pumping late at night in bed whilst Chris is asleep next to me. Because Aviana looked up at me with a cheeky smile as I nursed her and my heart melted. Still, 7 months later and she gets me right there in the heart.

It’s all about my perspective on the day. Today I don’t want to quit. And this, this is why they say ‘don’t quit on a bad day’.

Just one of those days

I don’t know what it was about yesterday but it was just one of those days. You know, the ones where stuff doesn’t go your way?

First of all, my second pump session of the day, which is normally at about the 1030-1100 time of day,  happened late at 1230 because of a series of events at work. I thought my boobs were about to explode. Then, I got carried away with work and the next time I look up, it is 4.40 and I needed to leave by 5pm so I could pick up Aviana from daycare. (I really need a ‘pump alarm’). Then, I made the STUPID decision to make my third pump of the day to wait until I got home. STUPID because….

When I picked up Aviana I remembered I forgot the sweet potatoes for dinner. So I decide to go to the shops (still not pumped yet) then realize I have no device to carry Aviana in on me (stroller, wrap or shopping cart cover thing). So I stop off at home to pick up the stroller and realize the stroller was in the back of my car all along! So head back out to shops (still not pumped). 

All this time Aviana is a grumpy girl for some reason. When I picked her up she was screaming- apparently because one of her baby friends was also screaming. They like to work together and cry at the same time the teacher tells me! 

By the time I get home with Aviana with sweet potatoes, it’s her time for her dinner. Have you heard Aviana’s food alarm? No? I’m surprised because it sounds like an incoming missile rocket warning alarm! It’s instantaneous and loud! So here I am with boobs about to explode and screaming baby! Sounds like a perfect combination right? Well…daycare sent home a spare bottle of formula that I send for ’emergency’, just in case Aviana rejects my high lipase Milk or we can’t pick her up til late and it’s dinner time. Being a Monday I just send a bottle of formula in until I catch up on my milk pumping after the weekend. So. Not wanting to waste the formula I decided I’d try to be clever and pump whilst feeding Aviana her bottle of formula. 

Then chris calls to say he won’t be home for another half hour.

So I warm up the bottle of Formula for Aviana and prepare for my pumping session. Trying to do this with one hand as Aviana is crying. I then step in cat vomit. Not once but twice! My head wants to explode! Then I’ve heated the milk up too warm because I got distracted with cat vomit, so now I’m trying to COOL the milk! I then am also trying to get dinner started and the same time. There are microwaves buzzing, phones ringing, baby crying, bottle warmers pinging. Aghhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!

Finally, I sit down attached to pump and feed Aviana the bottle. Even though I’m handsfree in the pump I never thought about how to hold her when I have two bottles attached to my boobs! I try sitting her up in front of me, supporting her neck and head, but she doesn’t like that, she wants to recline or lean against something. I don’t blame her! So I try leaning her against my chest between the two bottles attached to my boobs. She starts to play with the tubing and pulls it out. Why did I ever think it was a good idea??!! Even though she is hungry she thinks the pump is way more interesting than her food!!! I stress, my milk stops flowing but I’m still full I can feel it in my boobs still. It’s self perpetuating. 

Fortunately Chris comes home, I shout to him to watch out for cat vomit, counting down for him to come into the bedroom to take Aviana away so I can pump in peace! He’s walks in and just laughs at the sight he sees! Baby with bottle half hanging out of mouth with stressed looking mum and bottles clinging with dear life to her boobs. It was a bit ridiculous. It was a ridiculous day. We all have those days when we wish it was over quick! Yesterday was that kind of day for me. Bye bye yesterday!!!!!!!!

An apt t-shirt for me!!

Things you never ask a lady

Things one never asks a lady…

1. How old are you?

2. How much do you weigh?

3. Are you pregnant??

I am super sensitive to question number 3 for a couple of reasons. 1. Infertility, 2. When I was pregnant my baby was growth restricted, 3. Baby loss.

Whatever the reason. It’s never any of your business, whether you are a stranger or a friend. And if you are my best friend I’d have told you already if I was pregnant! So basically, no. You don’t ask a lady that question. EVER.

So you can imagine the horror when someone asked my friend who was not drinking alcohol shrieks “oh are you pregnant???!!” In an excited voice. Everyone looking down at her tummy, she replied “ummmm, no!!” Not knowing quite what to say. The other person pretending to joke about it saying, well if you’re not drinking alcohol then the only other explanation is pregnancy….

STUPID. 

I don’t think you have to be infertile to realize that this is a rude question to ask…or do you?? I don’t know!!! It baffles me even today!!

The first Independence day

Independence Day/4th July – a conflict of emotions for a dual US-UK citizen? I wouldn’t know because I’m a UK citizen, but I live in the US, so I know a bit about it. But my daughter is a dual citizen, so in sure some day she will tell me about that.

In the UK we are not taught at school about the revolutionary war, or much about US history as a matter of fact, we have quite a bit of our own history to get through first ;-p. So much of what I know about it is what I have learned since moving to Virginia. Which turns out to be a great place to live and learn about the war of independence. So whether we decide to stay long enough for Aviana to learn about it at school in the US or not, we will be able to teach her the history. 

So what about the celebrations? Well, much of what I have experienced for 4th July is about getting together with friends and family to eat, typically have a BBQ party (grill out), wear red, white and blue, see a parade or two and watch some fireworks! It’s a lot of fun. Until you bring out the Union Jack flag…..ha! Just kidding. This year we went to the beach, hung out with friends and then went to a friend’s house to hang out at their pool. It was fun! I think we can continue a tradition of celebrating Independence Day for Aviana’s sake. But we must not forget to teach her the British holidays too whilst we are here in the US. Like the Queen’s jubilee and Guy Fawkes night. However, seeing as fireworks are illegal here it won’t be much fun on the 5th November!

Having a dual citizen daughter without one of the parents being one nationality is a bit strange because we should learn the traditions, but we don’t have attachment to them so they probably won’t be genuine? I don’t know, perhaps if we stay here long enough we will learn them, if we left the US tomorrow I’m not sure how much of the American traditions we would take back with us, but I certainly want to try. I think it’s important to create opportunity for Aviana to take some American cultural identity if she wants it. Until she is old enough to make those kind of decisions herself we will offer that opportunity at the least! 

Hope those of you who celebrated had a wonderful holiday! 

Celebrating with a red white and blue French toast – how apt 😝