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Christmas break

It has felt like a long time since I’ve had so long off. Well, in reality I’ve been on the go for months rather than weeks at a time. Being a full-time student and part-time worker has left me less than a full-time mum. There is guilt that goes along with that, but I know that I’m doing the right thing for us now, and I hope, for the future.

I had a whole three weeks off (minus two days at work) over Christmas 2013 and New Year 2014. It was fantastic!

Christmas street party

Christmas street party with my beautiful boy.

My baby really enjoyed having his mummy, and for five days mummy and daddy, around for playtimes and cuddles and general fun and laughter. I baked a lot. I had Henry help me eat all the cakes. We made a gingerbread house and homemade mince pies and pavlova and banoffee pie and probably 4 or 5 batches of cupcakes.

We told stories of Santa, and left out one of said mince pies, a carrot and a glass of milk for him on Christmas Eve.

He rode the train with daddy!

He rode the train with daddy!

 

On Christmas day, Henry woke up and said, ‘Merry Christmas, daddy. Merry Christmas, mummy’ and opened his stocking presents from Santa wrapped up in his duvet in his bed. He was so excited about the crayons and pencils and colouring books and cookie cutters I’d filled his stocking with. He couldn’t believe his eyes when he walked into the living room as saw a huge pile of presents, all neatly wrapped up, and a chalkboard easel ready for him to play with.

Presents for my sweet.

Presents for my sweet.

He has done lots of drawings already. Lots of squiggles that he tells us are trains, or rockets, or tractors. He also got a Peppa Pig spaceship. That was a successful gift. There was also his ‘main’ present; a Buzz Lightyear action figure. The proper one that looks just like the movies. It’s wings have lights on the ends and it has karate-chop action too. Henry’s daddy and I were very impressed. £25 worth of impressed. We now have a two-year-old who excitedly runs around saying ‘to infinity, and beyond!’, when he’s not singing Jingle Bells or Happy Birthday. I feel he’s a little confused about these different events.

My little artist.

My little artist.

We went on to have a lovely meal and evening at the in-laws. It was fantastic. We all ended up in onesies (2013, the year of the adult onesie…) and ate until we had to roll out of the door and into our beds, all sleeping like babies. If babies slept well, that is.

And now I’m back to work. Back to uni. Back to only seeing my baby evenings and weekends. I look forward to summer now. I cuddle him and don’t ever want to put him down. He’s so lovely, and perfect, and squishy and when he laughs, I laugh and feel so warm and happy.

The gingerbread house, demolished on Christmas day.

The gingerbread house, demolished on Christmas day.

It’ll be worth it, I keep telling myself.

At least I truly appreciate how special he is. When I see him, and he smiles and says “it’s mummy!” I feel like the best person in the world.

Such is being a mother.

This is happiness.

This is happiness.

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Not Keen on the Green

After trying lots of different foods in the past few weeks, we finally found a food Henry doesn’t like.

Spinach.

I can’t really blame him, it takes a while to get used to, and that’s when you know it’s good for you. He was so cute though. He kept eating it for a while, managing quite a few spoonfuls, but pulling disapproving faces and frowning. When he began to gag because of the taste, I decided to stop and give him some carrot instead. I’ll try again another day.

He’s so funny, he makes me laugh so much. I never knew a five month old could have such expressive facial reactions. He really is a joy to be around.

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Addicted to the Boob

Henry’s been really good today, but tempting him with formula milk has been harder than I expected. I naively thought that the big hurdle would be getting him to drink from a beaker, as he refused the bottle from a very early age. After successfully drinking cooled boiled water from a beaker, I moved onto trying him with formula milk in the sterilised beaker. Yesterday, he started drinking it, frowned and then cried until I gave in and continued to breastfeed him. Today though, he has done better. He drunk just over three fluid ounces, which is a big difference, even though he frowned at me as if he didn’t like the taste. I’m sure he will get used to it though. It will make things so much easier for when I return to work.

I know that continuing to breastfeed while returning to work can be done, but it requires dedication to the cause, and I have been wanting to get him onto formula milk soon anyway.

I think it is a comfort thing as well as the taste, but I still plan to carry on first thing in the morning and last thing at night.

And he has been doing really well with his weaning. He had apple for breakfast this morning, and sweet potato for lunch. He’s learnt so quickly how to eat off a spoon and swallow solid foods. I’m really impressed at how easy that was, especially with all the advice floating around about needing to persist even when the baby doesn’t like a certain food, or pushes it all out of his mouth again. We didn’t really have any of that.

Clever Henry, I’m just so proud.

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Sweet Potato Among Other Things

I spent quite a long time in the kitchen today, making massive batches of various baby food for Henry. I made him his favourite carrot and parsnip, as well as lots of sweet potato and some apple for him to try.

He had parsnip today for lunch and then sweet potato for dinner. It’s the first time he’s eaten two solid meals in one day, and he kept opening his mouth for more. He ended up eating quite a bit. He’s a very hungry little baby these days. I’m surprised at how quick the weaning is going, considering he is only four and a half months. It won’t be long before he’s on three meals a day!

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Struggling on Through

The hardest thing about being a parent is having someone completely dependant on you. They can’t do anything for themselves, especially in the beginning. It is okay, most of the time being quite normal, as you want to look after them and do everything you can. The problem comes when you can’t take care of them. Illness is one of those things that makes everyday life so much harder. Henry isn’t sick, luckily, and he still hasn’t been ill yet! I’m putting it down to the breastfeeding, but he has done really well so far. No, it is me that has come down with severe sickness and I’ve been struggling to look after myself as well as continue to be a good mother to Henry. On top of that, the other half has come down with the same thing. A few days ago, I couldn’t even get out of bed. Henry still wants to carry on as normal though!

Thankfully, I have my own mother to call in on, and she loves spending time with the little one, inbetween her own work commitments. I just can’t wait to be better! It’s just typical that I’m ill when the weather starts to get nicer and my brother comes to see Henry for the week and when I’ve just started to get into a nice routine of going out…

Between us though, we’ve managed. It hasn’t been pretty but we’ve carried on as best we can. Henry has now tried his little baby rice. He doesn’t like it half as much as the carrot and parsnip but he dives for the spoon with an open mouth anyway. I’ve been trying to give him more and more puree and food because since I have been ill, I know he’s not getting all the milk he wants. It’s a struggle, but hopefully it won’t be too long before I’m back on track.

Henry had his little injections as well, and he was very good. He flinched a little when the needle went in, and he moaned for a few seconds, but was fine after that and was more interested in other things going on around him. I’m just happy he doesn’t have to have anymore until he is a year old. Even though I know he’s really good about it, I’m still always quite tense walking into the nurse’s office.

I just hope it doesn’t weaken his immune system enough to catch whatever myself and his father have. I was really debating whether to take him in then or postpone his injections. I decided to just go for it, but we shall see how that goes. So far, so good.

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Different Tastes and the New Highchair

Henry has had carrot for the past couple of days, so I decided to introduce him to some parsnip today that I prepared earlier in the week. He loved it, and kept opening his little mouth for more. He is getting the hang of eating off a spoon a lot quicker than I expected him to. Yesterday he even grabbed the spoon off me and put it in his own mouth. I guess he really was ready to start weaning then. I hate all these guidelines that don’t take into account that every baby is different. I should really remember this and use my instincts and the advice from our personal health visitor over the governments guidelines in future.

We tried him in his new highchair that came this morning too. We bought a purple snack highchair from Kiddicare, and it is brilliant. Under thirty pounds and it does the job. They have a lot of the same highchair but with different designs, all for £29.99 too. I chose the purple one because it looks rather nice and it matches our rug and curtains as well…

I should make up some more food for him, as it is so much easier just to get out a little cube of puree from the freezer. I’ll make some more carrot and parsnip batches, and try some sweet potato, then apple next. It’s all very exciting. I’ve been using my new Tommee Tippee explora food blender as well. It works so well, and I am really glad I got it. I don’t have the space to store a full-size blender or food processor in my kitchen. Also, from experience, I know that they tend to just get left in the box most of the time until one day you feel like making a smoothie or a soup and then afterwards, realise that it’s just made a whole lot of mess to clean up when you could have just bought a carton from the shop for a few pounds.

Anyway, it is lovely and small. It’s just the right size for making batches of baby puree to freeze, small enough to leave out on the counter inbetween the toaster and the kettle, and it doesn’t make too much mess. It is also really easy to cold-water sterilise in a bowl of Milton solution.

I am glad that I haven’t gone down the ‘pre-made baby food in jars’ route. This has got to be so much healthier, and cheaper.

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First Food!

Our family nurse/health visitor came round to weigh Henry again today, and check-in to see how we are all doing. Henry now weighs 14lbs 10oz and is still right on track. We told her about Henry waking up again for feeds, wanting to feed all the time and all the other ‘signs’ to begin weaning that he has given us.

So, on her advice, we decided to start giving him solids. I made a massive batch of carrot puree (and parsnip seperately for later), and we started to feed him a little today. He loved his carrot. When the first spoonful touched his lips, the concentration on his face was immense. It was like a whole new world had opened up to him. Before long, he was opening his mouth as wide as he could for more, and slurping it all off the spoon. He didn’t even do that thing I was expecting of him that most babies do, when they push it all out again with their tongues. He only had a little, as it was his first try and we didn’t want to overdo it, but he was very happy to eat more.

I’m excited to carry on doing this. I’m so glad that it went well today, especially after the disasterous swimming episode earlier.

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Being Prepared for Weaning

I like to think I’m an organised soul, the state of my wardrobe would tell you different, but I am very attached to my Filofax. I love it so much, and it is so exciting when they release the new year’s diary. Or when I treat myself to an extra map or some stickers or even a new pen! Anyway, I digress…

As Henry is about to take the plunge into the wonderful world of baby purees, I have decided to prepare for the event. I don’t have the money for pre-made baby jars and more importantly I don’t want to give them to Henry on a regular basis. Making them myself means I know exactly what goes into them.

I’ve breastfed him exclusively for four months now. I’ve given him the best start I possibly could have, and I want to continue giving him the best. I know what it is like to struggle with weight issues, diets and sometimes having quite an unhealthy relationship with food. I don’t want Henry to have to experience any of that, and if I can start him on the right track, I’m surely going to make the effort to prepare him a few purees.

Jars only on the odd occasion, like a takeaway treat.

I’ve ordered the Tommee Tippee Explora baby blender, bought some lidded ice cube trays and freezer bags, dusted off my steamer and arriving in my Tesco delivery this morning is a whole bunch of fresh fruit and vegetables. Carrots, apples, bananas, parsnips, spinach, and brocolli to name a few!

I am very excited. As you can keep them for up to a month as frozen cubes of baby puree, I an going to start preparing some now. He is going to learn to love healthy food, and there’s no better motivation for me to be a little more careful with my diet than having a baby to take care of.

Not just for the here and now, but because I want to live a happy and healthy life so I can be there for Henry as long as I possibly can be.

This is, of course, a benefit of having Henry young.

So, it will be time to start making Henry’s dinners just as soon as the blender arrives. I’m very excited.

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He Wants to Eat Constantly

I can’t tell if it is a growth spurt or a sign that he is ready to try weaning, but after the short while where we settled into a nice three to four hourly routine, Henry now wants to eat all the time. Where he used to sleep through the night, (it was getting to become a regular, ten hour, uninterrupted stint) he now wakes up four, maybe five, times a night. It is just like having a newborn again! He is just constantly hungry, and I have decided that I’m going to leave it another week until he is the recommended 17 weeks. If he is still desperate for more food, I will start to slowly introduce food starting with baby rice then fruit and vegetable purees.

I’ve got the Annabel Karmel ‘Top 100 Baby Purees’ book and I’ve got the cute, little, plastic spoons and bowls, the little beaker cups and those really excellent freezer trays. I ordered all my weaning products from Kiddicare, just because they are really reasonably priced, and their delivery is so quick and easy. There are so many different types and styles and brands out on the market, it’s really quite hard to make a decision when it comes to purchasing for your baby. Personally, I just went on a combination of price and previous customer reviews.

I’ll update with how I get on with that. I’m going to start boiling and freezing food for Henry in those tiny portions, as you can keep them in the freezer for up to a month. I think I’m going to start with carrot…

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Eating a Roast Dinner With One Hand

I had a lovely lunch with a good friend today. Henry was only a little moany, but I think that was because it was sweltering in the restaurant. He was crying and refused to settle down, so I attempted to eat my roast while holding him. There was a few well-meaning fellow diners around that offered to hold Henry while I ate. I smiled politely and rejected their offers. One kind lady even asked if I had a bottle she wanted me to feed him so my food wouldn’t get cold, but I informed her that he was a breastfed baby, and we all made a joke of it.

It isn’t that I wasn’t thankful for their willingness to help, it’s lovely that they understood the difficulty of juggling a crying baby and dinner in a public place, it’s just I don’t feel comfortable letting strangers hold my child let alone feeding him. I’m sure they are lovely people, but for all I know they could be one of those few psychotic child-snatchers. I’m pretty sure they aren’t, but I can manage, so why take the risk?

My friend had the good sense to suggest maybe sitting outside. It was cooler and we were the only ones out there so it didn’t feel so stressful. If Henry cried there would be no one to tut or to make judgement, and no one to make me feel like I was ruining their dinner by being there. I know I have a right to be there too, but sometimes it’s nice having the seclusion and privacy. He was calm after that, and fell asleep in his pushchair, allowing us to eat our lukewarm vegetables in peace.

I love my little munchkin, and I am so proud of him. Sometimes I over-stress about him crying in public, which I know is ridiculous but I do get the occasional glare from someone who has obviously had no experience of babies whatsoever. They must think that if he is crying, surely I have done something wrong.

It really helps to have a friend there too, especially the lovely lady I spent lunch with today. She’s a calming influence, the type of person that says ‘oh dear’ with a smile when Henry grumbles, then picks him up and plays with him instead of panicking that they don’t know what to do. I used to be the one who panics, because I’ve never had that mothering instinct. I was never too fussed by babies growing up, unlike most girls. I’m turning into a more natural mother, quite slowly, but I’m definitely getting there.