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Toby’s resistance to the bottle nearly had me on the bottle…

19 Jun

This post started out as a post about food fights with the toddler, but as I wrote, memories of our weaning journey flooded back. It’s strange the things you forget – and then remember – and it’s crazy how fast life moves and how far we’ve come. I can’t believe my little toddling monster was ever a wee baby.

Our weaning and eating journey with Toby has been interesting, challenging and plain messy.

When Toby was three months old, we moved into a camper van and set off on a three and a bit month journey around Europe. At this point, sterilising and preparing bottles became an unbelivably difficult task and so not one bottle was handed to Toby. Instead I opted for the easy breastfeeding option. This was a fatal mistake. I couldn’t drink, I couldn’t leave him for more than three hours and I was exhausted.

At five months we gave weaning a try. It was a daunting task; reading labels on the baby food jars was hard – I don’t excel at Foreign languages – and feeling confident that our plates and cutlery were as sparkly clean as they needed to be was not easy. I never feel hygiene standards are up to scratch while camping and had no idea how strong Toby’s stomach was yet. However, we gave it a shot with some stomach-turning bland foods like baby rice and mashed banana. It didn’t go quite to plan – does anything with a child? Though it’s hardly surprising – have you tried baby rice?!? Preparing bottles was incredibly time-consuming in a small camper van kitchen and I was too lazy to make a concerted effort. So, Toby continued to get Mother’s Best and he was happy, but my patience was on its way out.

He got so used to having the red top milk that when I finally put my foot down, Toby had other ideas. He rejected the bottle and I came close to taking to it. With the pressure of having to feed him every three hours I couldn’t have a proper break and after many, many dry months I was getting rather desperate to kick back and have a bottle of wine – especially as we were travelling around the vin yards of France. There is nothing like the feeling of being trapped by breastfeeding. Every way you turn guilt hits you in the face: guilt that I resented Toby for not taking the bottle, guilt when I did just *sod it* and have a glass of wine. Fear was also a prominent emotion: what if he never took the bottle?!? He might be walking before!

People tell you how hard motherhood is, but you never quite believe it. It’s fraught with emotion – lows and highs. Thankfully, the highs are THE. BEST. EVER and Toby gives me at least a dozen fixes a day.

Anyway, on my quest to get Toby to the bottle, I turned to every internet site going and tried everything. EVERYTHING. Then finally! We had friends over for Sunday lunch. They have a gorgeous four year old and while eating Toby clocked the other child drinking by himself.  We gave him a bottle and bang – he took it! Tears filled my eyes, relief pulsated around my body and the weight that had sat so heavily on my shoulders began to lift. Toby seems to take to things when he sees other children doing them (good and bad things!).

After that, things got a lot easier and now Toby loves his bottle… can’t get enough of his bottle…

Life is funny. I spent a great deal of time cursing life for Toby’s insistence on sticking to me like glue. Once he was fully weaned, I found myself missing the closeness. Nothing quite beats the bond you feel when your child is being sustained by something your body is producing. He would stare at me and play with my hair while eating and it was warming. Now Toby takes his bottle, totters around the room, finds things to throw at me, grabs my phont, throws his bottle at me and goes to bed. Thanks Toby!

Monday MuMenTum – why is it so hard to fit in exercise?

6 Jun

It’s MuMenTum Monday again, which means some hopping and skipping over at Liska’s (New Mum Online).

My mission in joining in on this fabulous blog hop is to reach the required level of motivation to get my fitness back and shift that last stone of ‘baby weight’. But I have a question for you: Can I really call it baby weight still? Toby’s 16 months old! Who am I kidding, it’s just weight.

This week I am going to use this blog post as a virtual couch in a psychologists office. It’s been a bad week and there are so many reasons why getting your fitness back – and maintaining it – is so darn difficult.  Following a major high point after completing a day of the dreaded Tour of Wessex, I failed to squeeze in no more than a couple of runs and a spinning session last week. I have let myself down – failed.  The problem is, there are too many things that take priority over and above exercise these days. When I was single and baby-less, I had no distractions. Since having Toby, I’ve started down the road of WAHMing (working from home mummying) and this new venture is more time consuming than the full-time office job.

With the office just upstairs, I’m finding it difficult to switch off – even on the weekends. Then there’s Toby; when I’m not working (or blogging) I really should be spending time with my little monkey. And if I don’t he’s taken to punishing me – like a rabid dog – with bites. The whole point to me working from home was to have more time to spend with him and though this goal has been met from a physical perspective I could do better with paying him attention. Why did no one point out how guilty you are left feeling – no matter what you do?

Then there’s the housework, the cooking, the garden, trying to find time for friends and family. Working from home and having Toby running around the house like the tazmanian devil creates the biggest amount of chaos. The house constantly looks like we’ve been burgled and no matter how hard I try, I just can’t make it tidy. I need some elves.  Since Toby turned up, I’ve had to shift things up three gears just to fit things in… And I’m still only treading water. Once that’s all done, I am shattered. So, how do these amazingly fit mums do it? I have so much respect for Paula Radcliffe, who months after giving birth won the New York marathon – amazing.

I used to get a lot of my exercise done before work, so I’ve tried this tactic, but Toby seems to beat my alarm every morning. I’ve never been great at evening exercise and frankly, once I’ve fed, bathed, read a story, given bottle, brushed teeth and got Toby into bed, I simply haven’t got the energy to spare.

Anyone got any tips on how to squeeze exercise into a hectic day with a toddler?

Save the Children: All children should be allowed to grow up

27 May

Save the Children has launched a very worthy campaign ‘No Child Born to Die’ and it aims to save 4 million lives in 4 hours at the global vaccines summit, London on June 13th. The objective of the campaign is to secure the shortfall in funding from donor countries (4.7 billion) for vaccinations for all children. You can help them achieve this by signing their petition.

As Red Ted Art points out ‘Every year 8 million children under five die from illnesses we know how to treat or prevent, such as diarrhoea and pneumonia.’ Now I don’t know about you, but since becoming a mummy I find reading sentences like this even more unbearable. Having a little toddler running around the house brings it all a bit too close to home. In the week’s that followed Toby’s birth my tired mind contemplated life issues in great detail. Bringing new life into the world makes you question everything so much more (either that or I was suffering from some sort of post traumatic stress disorder. And the long, lonely nights of breastfeeding a newborn gives you far too much time to think).

So, during these weeks, possibly months, I began an inner dialogue: What made Toby so lucky to be born a healthy 9 Ibs 1 with no major problems when other babies are born into poverty, undernourished and don’t survive? What made him so lucky to be born into a loving family (that’s not to say that poverty and lack of love are synonymous, just that there are a lot of unloved babies in the world). What made him so fortunate to be born with all the medical care he could want for? Not to mention the food and warmth? And I questioned how I would deal with things if they were in any way different. I was lucky too.

Now don’t get me wrong. Toby deserves it all, but every baby born into this world – indiscriminately – deserves the same.  So when Multiple Mummy tagged me into Red Ted Art’s meme, I began thinking about all those questions again. To help raise awareness of this campaign, Red Ted has devised ‘crafty challenge’. Our mission, should we wish to accept is to discuss what our children want to be when they grow up and get them to draw about it, teaching them about the sadder side of life through play.

So I began the impossible and sat Toby, 15 months, down and asked him: What do you want to do when you grow up? This question was met with silence, but a look of serious contemplation crossed his face. My tone was fairly serious, so I wonder if he thought I was telling him off. I repeated the question with a kinder tone. Still nothing. One final attempt and I got the response ‘tea’ (which, as of Tuesday, takes ‘first word’ status). So Toby wants to be tea when he grows up. Fair enough – I like tea, hence its place as word number 1. I then took the time to explain to him the Save the Children campaign and let him know that he is a lucky little boy and there are many little boys in the world just like him who don’t get to go to the doctor. I’m not sure he quite understood, but it was worth a shot.

Now for step two of the task. Toby had to draw his future job – tea! I gathered up his big crayons – which he prefers to eat rather than use to draw with – and sat him down with two pieces of white card. He looked at it for a while with a puzzled expression. Then – result – he picked up the yellow crayon and scribbled a very faint line. He has scribbled more in the past, but today he was not going to and I could read his mind: ‘I’m not a performing monkey, mummy’ and with that he put the pen down got on his choo choo ride along and was off, picking up a book on the way. Perhaps a sign that he has decided being tea is no longer a suitable career option, replaced by train driver or novelist.

I tried again, but he then got distracted by the bikes sat in our conservatory. So on to the next job – a professional cyclist. I’ll take that!

To conclude, I have no artwork to share, but I do have the memories and a few pics to show the process. I also hope that this blog post goes a very small way to helping raise awareness of Save the Childrens’ great campaign. Please take the time to sign the petition. If suffering is preventable, we should bloody well do something about it.

And now the final part of the task. I must tag eight others wonderful mummy bloggers to take part. Here goes, and sorry if you’ve aready been tagged!

The Gallery – My Back Yard

25 May

It’s Wednesday again and time for my weekly dose of photography fun, all thanks to Tara Cain over at Sticky Fingers. I have to say, I’m rather enjoying playing around with a camera and this week’s topic was infinitely easier than last week’s moustache malarkey. In fact, my back yard conjures so many options, I’ve had to post two photos this week. I hope I’m not breaking rules here, but I just couldn’t resist. You see, I recently became a work at home mummy (after walking out the revolving door of the office one last time) and with all this gorgeous weather, my garden has taken on lots of different roles in our house. It’s Toby’s play room, my office, my little piece of calm in the big smoke, my dining room and a source of food.

So, my photos this week, consist of Toby going so crazy on his first introduction to the paddling pool that he got in without giving me the chance to undress him and a picture of one of my luscious tomato plants. I’m not exactly Miss Greenfingers so we’ll have to wait and see if they survive and produce. We’ve started a whole patio vegetable area and it’s an education.

And just to let you know, I’m in my garden typing this and Toby is messing around in his sandpit. I’ve got everything crossed for this good weather lasting!

If you see a croc, don't forget to scream

One of my tomato plants

Fitness with a baby: MoMenTum

24 May

I’m joining in with the lovely MoMenTum girls in an effort to shift my baby weight. My quest isn’t so much about shifting the weight – though I’m still a disappointing 13 Ibs heavier than I once was – but more about getting back some kind of fitness. I’ve stepped into the MoMenTum gang on a hard week as there is no theme, so I thought I’d write about my struggles getting momentum and motivation back after the birth of lil’ Toby.

Throughout my pregnancy I found exercise harder and harder – which I guess is normal. By the end, I’d given up and having gone through the arduous task of pushing another human being out of you, I couldn’t be bothered to even contemplate exercise. I was once a huge endorphin junky, but that addiction had been kicked and replaced with chocolate and an overwhelming desire to sit on the sofa when Toby was running me ragged.

I was told that breastfeeding would see me fight off the extra pounds gained during pregnancy. I think that might be an exageration… the weight did not fall off. If anything, I gained as I had the excuse of sustaining another life through my produce. A few months after Toby’s birth I plodded round Blenheim Triathlon. It was an embarrassing pace and I probably should have pulled out as I had done NO training. The horrific pain I went through left me with a fear of exercise. Over the summer I can list the runs and cycles I did and avoided swimming due to my horrid shape. I consistently used Toby as my excuse to avoid the sweat and tears of exercise – things I once so loved.

This year, I decided was going to be the year I get fit again. Things are on track. I’ve been doing a handful of runs each week (though missed one this morning due to work) and have upped the activity on the bike with a couple of spinning sessions a week and a long bike each weekend. The bike is by far my favourite and I managed a 60 mile sportive (road bike race – race being used lightly here) two weekend’s ago and a hilly 53 miles during The King of the Downs sportive. It’s amazing how quickly you can get back into things. The first ride was hard. It really hurt and I was ridiculously slow, but while last weekend’s 53 miler started out slow and hard, by the end I was on fire and I suddenly remembered what it was like to push myself as hard as possible. I’m not sure how long the last 15 miles took my friend and I, but we paced it and I LOVED it.

So that’s the story of my battle so far. Exercise has never been a big problem to me and I think I’ve found my refound my mojo. It’s an amazing feeling and definitely worth remembering that there is hope after pregnancy and early motherhood. You just need give yourself a chance. Eating is a whole other story. Perhaps next time I’ll share my disgusting eating habits….

Running buggy: Am I bugging you?

23 May

Toby sleeping soundly on a run. Wish I could get in sometimes.

My partner – Tom – is quite into his gadgets and when I fell pregnant, not only did he tell me that ‘having a baby was going to be like having the best gadget ever… ‘ (read that as you like), he also took the view that buggies were gadgets and began his diligent search for the best buggy. My only request was that I could run with it – I sound utterly horrid and selfish now, don’t I?! (Those of you that read this blog regularly might be starting to pick up the vibe that my pregnancy was in fact a massive shock to me. It took me pretty much the whole nine months to get used to the idea.)

Anyway, Tom had reviewed every buggy going before the bump had even started to show and he decided the Chariot Cougar was our best option. I had managed to get away with not even the flicker of a thought or the turn of a baby related magazine page and thank goodness; shopping for buggies was not my idea of fun.

I LOVE OUR BUGGY. Toby loves our buggy, Tom loves our buggy. The reaction outside of this house is slightly more mixed. After pushing it to the top of the Eiffel Tower, my sister and I had a big falling out over the buggy. You see, it’s ENORMOUS. Designed for running, cycling, strolling and even skiing (yes you can buy ski attachments) it is robust, comfortable and gigantic.

It’s like a motorcycle side-cart and it’s been great for pulling on the back of the bikes and running with. It’s even pretty handy when trying to get off the train; the big wheels can’t get stuck between the train and platform. However – if you’re talking about taking the bus, or a trip to the shops, or even a trip up the Eiffel Tower – this is not the buggy. Bus drivers take immediate offense. I’ve been told to get off the bus before and there was plenty of room.

It’s not only bus drivers that sneer at me as I approach. Normal people on the street look at me with a twinkle of outrage in their eyes. Walking this gargantuan buggy around the streets of London – and being on the receiving end of such hate – must be what the drivers of Land Rovers in London  must feel.

This morning, I went to music class with Toby. I had planned to run home after so I attached the big wheel at the front. This makes the buggy even bigger and one mum at the class, in a very rude tone, said ‘what a ridiculously big buggy’. She wasn’t saying it to me, but she definitely wanted me to hear. Now, I can cope with the bus drivers, but I cannot tolerate the judgement of other mums. As a mum you quickly come to realise that every other mother has opinions. Some are kind and keep them to themselves, others are not so timid and it can leave you feeling a bit fed-up. Why would another mum – who understands the pressures of parenting – want to make a sister feel rubbish?

On the flipside, Toby’s buggy gets a lot of good attention too. Mainly when we’re outside of London or come across runners and cyclists. It’s been a fantastic conversation starter and regardless of all the haters, the lovers make up for it. I wouldn’t choose differently. Toby is always so happy being pushed, run and cycled in it and uptight Londoners need to get over themselves sometimes.

How, when and where I found out I was pregnant

20 May

Celebrating Mums is doing a linky-up to share stories about the ‘reality of motherhood’. This is the first (I think) and its looks at how mums found out they were ‘up the duff’.

My story is simple. I wasn’t trying, nor was I even considering trying. I was on the pill and putting in at least 12 hours of running, swimming and cycling a week for a half ironman (mid-distance Triathlon). I was putting so much strain on my body I should have been pretty much incapable of conceiving, even without the pill.

The weekend before I realised, I completed the Tour of Wessex sportive (a very long and hilly road bike race). On the last day, I threw up on my handlebars. I put this down to either overdoing it, or consuming one to many energy gels. That evening, my body felt very odd. I put this down to the cycling. The thought that I was pregnant hadn’t even entered my mind.

The next few days were pretty normal. I went to work, but felt knackered and wanted to ingest copious amounts of full-fat coke. Very odd for me as I generally hate coke, but I put both the fatigue and the craving down to the miles I’d spent in the saddle and carried on as normal.

On the Thursday of that week, I headed to the changing rooms at work to kit myself up for a run home. When I stood up I caught sight of myself in the mirror and overnight I’d turned into Katie Price – without going under the knife. My flat chest has been on the receiving end of jokes from my friends. One birthday I was even made a breast cake to make up for my lack thereof. At that moment there was a very loud pop and the idea I may be pregnant entered my head.

Panic and fear started pulsing through my body. Regardless, I pushed the thought to the back of my mind and began my run home. Of course, trying to forget something like this is impossible and with every strike of my foot on the pavement, my heart beat faster – and not because of the running. My body turned to wibbly jelly and I could think of nothing else than how awful it would be if I really was.

En route, I picked up a pregnancy test. When I got home, I ran up to my bathroom and did the deed. 1 second, 2 second, 3 second…. The wait took an eternity, but when it was over, I faced the biggest fear of my life – a positive result. Deep breaths, it was one test. I had two more and this one has got to be wrong. I went to the kitchen and began knocking back the pints (of water) like a woman possessed. Thank goodness my housemates weren’t around.

Second test – positive, must be wrong. Third test – positive. I must have brought a dud pack. I threw my trainers back on and ran down to the shop and brought two more packs. Back home, more water and four more tests. I spent a small fortune on pregnancy tests that day and the result remained defiant. I was pregnant.

I sat on my bed and began to process the news. Thoughts of all the training I’d been doing ran through my head. It would be wasted. What about work – how would I tell my manager? I couldn’t possibly tell my dad I was pregnant – I was too young (I wasn’t, I was 29). How could I tell Tom?

None of my feelings were positive, but after a week, Tom and I had both decided we’d probably end up moving in together and having kids anyway, so why not now. Over the previous months, we’d become very close and had begun planning some time out from work for some travelling. I’d been spending more and more time at his house and, while moving in together was incredibly daunting, it only meant a few more nights a week there.

Since the week I found out, I’ve not looked back. Having Toby was the best thing I’ve ever done. Motherhood is hard work, but the rewards, love and happiness it brings to your life are endless.