Amazon woman

Damn you, Amazon. Damn your ease of use, especially with only one hand on a smart phone. Damn your wide range of enticingly named and reviewed books. And damn you for your One Click, financially fatal, way of purchasing.

Amazon, in short, you are leading me to financial ruin in the early hours of the morning while feeding bimp. By purchasing kindle edition books that I don’t have a hope in hells chance of ever actually having time to read. But they sound soooooo lovely. And I’m a book addict, with a sleepless bump, a wifi connection and a smart phone.

I’m doomed.

First day back

Sorry for the lack of posts. I’ve been contemplating my return to work and then actually returning to work so its been a tough few days.

And by actually returning to full time work, the number of posts I write is going to reduce, simply through lack of time.

I’ve still so much to talk about though so fear not, its not going to stop completely.

Thank you to everyone who got in contact to say good luck. Day one done.


This link is an interesting take on the psychological issues affecting children, specifically ADHD. I don’t specifically adhere to the way the French or the Americans raise their children- there are fantastic points in both countries styles.
French vs American diagnoses

Points I was surprised at…

US children have a 1 in 10 chance of being diagnosed with ADHD; as compared with 1 in 200 French children.

Food Reaction and Social background is as important to French diagnoses as psychobiology.

The emphasis the US puts on psychotherapy in their adult life is apparently not carried through to childhood diagnoses. (I’m happy to be disproved with this).

The French use the Cry it Out method which has in other studies (such as one done by Harvard University) been found to be detrimental to children in the longer term and significantly distressing to them in the short term. Is this a societal difference?

Your thoughts?


This time last year, I was heavily pregnant. With the holiday season rapidly approaching. One of the benefits of being pregnant is looking forward to a whole two weeks of partys, work ‘do’s’, christmas drinks and watching the New Year’s Eve bells toll without one iota of alcohol. Awesome.

Don’t judge me as an alcoholic, but Christmas isn’t quite Christmas without a sniff of booze. Not only do you get to spend all of it sober. You also get the ‘oh, it’s alright, H will drive’ comments – will she? I don’t remember volunteering to squeeze 7 inebriated mates into my car and drive through the icy backroads of whichever english county we happen to be in to get to ‘a great pub’ (definition of great pub, by the way, is significantly different when you can’t indulge in the local fine ale, a decent glass of vino or a good healthy cider; a great pub is now one defined as good food, comfy seating and clean, wide loos). And its funny because when I’m ready to go home – which is generally about ten o’clock when pregnant and having just eaten- no one else is quite there yet – ‘just one more, H, won’t be long.’ – I hate you.

Its also impossible to enjoy music anymore. Get the image of a pregnant whale shark dancing out of your head because that is off putting enough. Now imagine the pregnant whale shark is fully conscious of how pregnant and how whale shark-like she looks, which immediately inhibits any type of natural rhythm and you end up moving about with the grace of a space hopper. It’s also interesting to note from your sober look-out post that there are generally two reasons why blokes dance – a) they fancy the girl they are dancing near (so its never you) or b) they are beyond legless (at which point they put their arm around you and say something like ‘dontchuworryHyorlbeealuverlymummy’). At which point you tactfully extract yourself and find a bar stool to lever yourself on to and from where you can view the rest of the evening from afar while you drink your lime and lemonade. Before retiring to bed at the extortionately late time of half eleven, exhausted. And to be honest a little bored.

At least you do get the somewhat comic morning after experience of watching everyone else turn up for work either hungover to hell or still drunk as a skunk. And the gossip is never about you. But the smell of stale alcohol makes you want to heave.

So, lovely preg a mamas, do yourself a noble favour and take the money you save from not boozing and treat yourself. You’ve earned it this holiday season. Every drop of it. Enjoy it, and make the most of a different way to spend the holiday season: being the sober hero to your friends who need a lift or a shoulder to cry on. And then go and spoil yourself too. Because you really will be a lovely mummy.

The Dividing Line

The dividing line between the maybe and the definite that is the 12 week scan is poignant and important for many reasons. Not least, at 12 weeks the likelihood of miscarrying dramatically reduces, albeit not to zero. Prior to 12 weeks, it is a different story – 1 in 4 pregnancies miscarries within the first 3 months. It’s the reason there is a cagey hush around declaring pregnancies to friends and extended families prior to 12 weeks. It’s the reason the maternity clinic will only see you once prior to the 12 week scan.

With one in 4 early pregnancies miscarrying, there’s a good chance someone you know has had one, but there’s also a reasonable chance that they haven’t told you.

Miscarrying still holds a taboo about it, which, at least in the UK, still means its difficult to talk about. Perhaps its because we are a stiff upper lip society – things go wrong, oh dear, nevermind, chin up, move on, lets not talk about it anymore. Or perhaps its because there is a view that somehow you have failed – in body or perhaps in mind – perhaps my body isn’t healthy enough, perhaps I didn’t want it enough, perhaps I could have done something differently. Or perhaps it is because we need to grieve for our loss but there is no way we have in society to do this – no funeral, no memorial service for this tiny part of us and the loss of a future it represents.

If the 12 week scan represents the line between maybe and definite, miscarrying represents the line between giddy hope and quiet grief. If it happens to you, it is not your fault, you are not to blame, you and your partner are as much victims of nature’s strange ways as your unborn baby. And you’re entitled to be devastated. We must learn to listen, to support those we love through the loss, to allow them to grieve and, if they want to, to talk.

And we should also help them to be hopeful for the future; because 3 in 4 pregnancies don’t end in miscarriage, which means there is a strong possibility that the next pregnancy might be successful.

The final bit of the list

The final bit of the list

The list as written by my sister in law saved us from spending the wrong money on the wrong things but we still managed to wander into mothercare with that clueless look that pregnant new parents have. The look that is a combination of fear of the unknown combined with the realisation that there is now a new shopping Mecca in your life. The immortal phrases ‘but we don’t have to buy it all now’ and ‘what does one of those do?’. Weebling up and down the aisles of stuff, we knew our bank manager was about to start weeping.

The last part of the List -clothes, toys and yummy mummy goodness.

Clothes and toys- when baby arrives, very generally people buy you stuff. And very generally that stuff is either clothes (usually in a socially dictated gender based colour scheme) or toys. That’s not to say don’t buy your own but perhaps don’t go too mental; although the sleep suits with ears are very cute… And the baby grow is soooo soft. Hmmmmm, sorry, mr bank manager.
Actually the first thing you need to do is to figure out what the hell sleep suits, baby grows, all in ones etc are. And then figure out whether you’ll need long or short sleeved, long or no legs and what size to get. It’s all dependent on when your munchkin is born in the year. Ours was due in march and I made the mistake of thinking that would make him a spring baby so bought appropriately. The coldest march in fifty years descended and we did the day three dash to the nearest baby shop to buy anything that had a significant tog rating.

The yummy mummy stuff is in my personal view essential (of course!). Toward the end of pregnancy you’ll start developing the fear (another post in itself!) of what birth will be like. Give yourself a reward for getting to where you are and read up on what’s about to happen and how you can make it a good experience (another post too!). Also consider investing in; a birthing ball (like the balls for core work at the gym) for comfort, baby repositioning and taking the edge off contractions; a TENS machine for those contractions too; old towels if you’re having a home birth (and, sorry if you’re eating, if your hospital birth was difficult); bio oil for scarring, which will happen regardless of which type of birth you have; and badedas bath bubbles, for soothing lovely healing bath times (which you’ll never have again…). All that and decaf tea bags because caffeine is now one of your sworn enemies…

Anything else?

The List: Part Four

So those of you who’ve been paying attention will know that ‘the list’ is a wonderous gift bestowed on the Better Half and I by my Sis in Law. A gift of enlightenment. And no small amount of foreboding.  We were clueless.

The List: Part Four.  The All Important Safety and Travel Essentials.

When junior bounds in to the world you go from being a young carefree pair of happy go lucky socialites (or thereabouts) to paranoid worrywarts faster than you can say Epidural.  He sleeps in the moses basket next to your bed – why wont he stop crying? Is he too hot? Is he too cold? Is that a cough? Has it gone to his chest? Oh my god, is he developing pneumonia? … Hang on, he’s stopped crying. Can you see him breathing? Its so dark in here, is he breathing? Put small night light on, IS HE BREATHING? Poke him. Wakes up. Starts crying. Repeat.

He then moves to his own room. Down the hall from you. Which feels like it could possibly be on a different continent. At least for the first night. So you need a Baby Monitor. Or you can buy an app (3G Baby Monitor) if you’re smartphoned.  And so continue your worrying from slightly further away.  He’s quiet. Is the Monitor broken? Is it turned down? Is it turned off (said in an accusatory way to your Better Half)?  Its not broken. Oh my god, is he not breathing? Is his face covered and he can’t breathe? I shouldn’t have put the soft rabbit comforter in there. I’m a bad parent. Check on baby. He’s fine. It turns out to be you who isn’t breathing.

And then there is the room temperature which should be 18-20 degrees c or thereabouts so you need a room thermometer (some baby monitors have them). And it doesn’t matter because the central heating in your new house will switch off in the middle of the night during the coldest March on record and the room temperature will plummet. You won’t realise because you’re under a duvet but believe me baby will tell you he’s not happy.

And then the munchkin has the discourtesy to start moving about! Just as you get into one routine and assuage all those fears, he’s crawling. And discovering whole new adventures of stairs and electric sockets and the gallons of household poison that you keep under the sink.  So you’ll need stairgates, fireguards, plug socket covers, table corner bumpers, and childproof cupboard locks. Or a play pen to keep him in til he’s say eighteen and financially independent. Try this excellent website for more information and a great (very long) checklist.

Babyproofing your house – Baby Centre

So once  you’ve figured out living in the house, you’ll want to get out of it. Baby induced cabin fever is tough so get out even if its only to get a pint of milk.  But you’ll probably need some travel stuff.

We’ve discussed the travel system and car seat. As part of this, you might want to consider an “isofix base” to more securely hold the car seat in the car (your car may not be equipped for them- look for two small vertical slashes in the base of the rear passenger seats).  And for the first few months he’ll be in a rear facing car seat (its safer) so you might want a mirror which you can attach to the seat headrest and thereby keep an eye on the baby rather than the traffic.

If you prefer to walk, slings (as mentioned in one of the comments to a previous post) are excellent and cover the spectrum from hippy earth mother ones to more engineered ones. We had one called a Manduca which was excellent and bimp would drift off to sleep in it while I did the morning chores – although it did hinder movement slightly- emptying the dishwasher took 45 minutes at one stage!

Finally if you’re away over night, a travel cot is a useful must. It gives bimp his own space and keeps him cosy, especially with the fifty layers of blankets and the sleep bag he’s wrapped in because the hotels ‘a bit drafty’. We have a nifty one that springs open like one of those Glastonbury tents, but there are others more substantial. Have a think about whether you’re planning on taking it on a plane as weight will be important if you are.

So there you are. Get out of the house. Don’t fear travelling. Don’t poke the baby. He’ll tell you when he’s unhappy.  Long live slightly paranoid parenting.

Anything else?

The last bit of the list is coming soon: clothes, play and yummy mummy stuff.

The List: Part Three

So my lovely Sis-in-law (BB) produced ‘the list’ and it was our focus as I, blissfully ignorant, weebled around the various shops starring wide eyed at rows and rows of ‘stuff’.  Which bottle type to get?  Why do I need a muslin (ha! one???)?  Who are Lasinoh? What’s a bumbo?  Oh bless our naivety.

Feeding and Changing…

This part of the list will no doubt inspire debate, disagreement, argument and downright name calling. I am not making judgements on anyones parental techniques. So I don’t plan to get in to the dummy vs no dummy, breast vs bottle or any other debate- at least not on this blog entry! I leave you to make your own intelligent, instinctive judgement.

Muslins (with an N!) – Lovely absorbant pieces of cloth. It doesn’t matter how many you buy, it won’t be enough and when you want them they will (inevitably) not be where you are.

Dummy and Dummy Clips – ohhhh and there starts the first mummy argument – to dummy or not to dummy?  We tried and bimp wasn’t interested until he started teething – then he was less suckling, more biting on it.  Arguments against – damage to teeth, looks awful, develops a dependency on it. Arguments for – can help to settle baby without feeding (its called a pacifier for a reason); if its not a dummy, it might be their thumb which is definitely less removable.

Breast vs Bottle. Again, this will be a matter of personal choice, taste and in some cases physical ability – there should never be any judgement on parents one way or another as long as the child is well fed and looked after.  But you will need different bits of kit dependant on which you opt for so pick and choose from the following.

Feeding cushion- helps to support baby when feeding.  Bliss for tired arms and backs. However, normal cushions can work just as well as long as you don’t mind them being covered in posseted (see glossary) milk.

Nipple cream (or cold cabbage leaves- yes, really!)/Nipple protectors – because it just isn’t funny.

Breast pads – you may not suffer from leaky boobs when you’re breast feeding… or you might look like the New York Harbour fire boats on parade day…

Breast pump/storage bags – Should you be keen to give baby breast milk but get Better Half to share in the 2 am feeding experience! So the sound of the motorised pump at 5 am will become one of the soundtracks to your life (the other soundtrack is provided by Fisher Price).  Warning, our wee man was totally freaked out by breast milk not being given to him from a boob – so languishes in the freezer several unused fl oz of breast milk.

Bottles – There are lots on the market and bimp may not like all of them- we tried several types with different types of teats (different levels of milk flow).

Bottle Bag – Like an insulated picnic bag to keep milk warm (or cool).

Bottle Warmer – An express bottle warmer for the middle of the night feeds when the weather gets colder.  Whichever you buy, it will still seem to take an age to get the milk warm when junior is having a screaming fit in your ear at 3 am.

Some form of Sterilising equipment – you can get the swept up fandango electronic ones, microwaveable ones, cold water tablets or use the good old boil in a saucepan technique. Dishwashers are also hot enough to sterilise.  Your child will still end up eating dirt and worms though so, at some point, sterilisation becomes futile but to begin with it’s an essential.

A bumbo – or equivalent. An awesome little baby seat, not just designed for feeding but a great little asset when you start weaning. And wipe clean.

Weaning spoons – not needed immediately. But these flatter, more rubberised spoons make it easier for junior to get the food off the spoon and hence spread it round the kitchen with greater ease.

And for changing…

A changing bag – A big bag with lots of pockets. Ones specifically designed for the job often come with a changing mat which is really useful.  Fill with nappies, wipes, nappy bags, muslins, change of clothes for junior, change of top for you, barrier cream, hand sanitiser, hair band (for you), calpol, teething gel, teething toy or comforter, bottle of milk (and teat) and your baby’s medical notes.

Nappies/Wipes/Nappy bags – these are definitely personal preference and cause of the third mummy argument, disposable vs recyclable. Whichever, it may take a few goes to find which type of nappy fits your baby best – those that don’t will demonstrate their failings by leaking over you.

Barrier cream – for nappy rash/teething blisters (on his bum not his face!) and any other sores.

A dirty linen bag for the nursery – because the sleep bag, pyjamas, changing mat, muslins will all need a wash at some point; probably daily.

Any other ideas?

The List Part Four will be out soon –  Safety and Travel essentials!


The List: Part One.

Better half and I are slightly older than average parents ( no numbers) so have had the benefit of watching both sets of family go through the early stages of family life. You’d have thought this would have warned us but we naively jumped in both feet first anyway.

My younger brother’s wife, after we’d told them and the shock had subsided, sent me what is now known simply as ‘the list’. An excel spreadsheet that managed in 100 lines to convey to us how little we knew, how much we needed to buy and how wildly life was about to change. It had words on it that, at the time, we had no clue about. ‘Breast Pump’, ‘sleep suits’ and ‘a travel system’.

It was daunting but also a life saver. Here on our computer screen was now the first guidance as to what to buy and how to do this, from someone we trusted and we knew had got it about right. And we followed it, added to it, highlighted it, researched it and finally ticked off all the bits we thought we needed. And then we sent it to everyone else we knew was having a baby too. And we still do. So…

Part One

The Travel System

This merits an entire post all of its own. What used to be called a pram or a push chair has been techno-geeked, health and safety-d and posh-and-becks-d. No one can have just a pushchair any more. I looked cluelessly around at the huge number, types and styles available with no idea what I was doing -the last time I’d even looked at a pram, it was for a doll, not an actual baby. So Better Half did the manly thing and whisked me and impending bump down to nearby John Lewis and interrogated the nice lady in the baby department for an hour. I then weebled (I was 30 weeks, walking was no longer possible) round the fourth floor pushing each of them and trying not to hurl in the Haberdashery department. There were things I hadn’t thought of like the fact that I’m tall with a penchant for heels means that some of the handles were too low. Others were quite heavy. Some were just a bit too cool or frankly not quite us. But here’s what we learnt…

The wheel chassis is now an individual entity upon which varying attachments can be added, albeit you buy them as a set. The wheels themselves range from your super sleek, about town designed by nasa types to your ruggedised, off road trikes designed to scale Everest. Are you a stroller, a walker, a hiker or a runner? City slicker or country bumpkin? Don’t let your baby carriage limit your lifestyle. Ha!

On top of the wheel chassis, is the baby carrier itself. And again lifestyle dictates but there are other practicalities in there too. For the first month or so, bimp is basically an eating and sleeping mini machine with no head control. The first part of the carriage bit then is probably the bit that looks like a pram. Somewhere bimp can sleep post feed and you can get on with shopping or your lifestyle coffee when you finally manage to get out of the house. The second attachment is more of a seat. We didn’t really start using this til about month three when neck control was good and he was less asleep. The seat we got can be rotated however and that’s really useful. It can either face you (probably best to begin with) or away from you (junior loved this, like a whole new world had opened up to him!). It can also be rotated from a pretty aggressive upright position through a couple of in between stages to a laid back Kipping position. Ideal now the little dude is six months and super curious but still needs his nap times.

The final attachment in terms of baby carriage is the transferable car seat. From safely attached to whatever mummy bus you drive to safely attached to the wheel chassis without so much as waking the bimp up. Word of warning, there are plenty out there who will warn you not to keep junior in his car seat too long because it might give them back issues.

Be sensible with the amount of time junior has in the car seat. He will let you know when he’s had enough though.

The final thing to add about travel systems is the cost. They can easily run into four figure sums of money. Of course, junior is worth it but do your research and the same super deluxe, super safe travel system in a smart store might be a few hundred quid cheaper online. And that money you can spend on starting a savings account for the wee man or buying the rest of the stuff on ‘the list’.