Hair today

Many many years ago there was a small poster which used to be plastered on the walls of one of the car parks in Truro. It featured three cartoon-style pictures of women holding their heads with the words; ‘We may be losing our hair now we’ve had our babies, but at least we’re not losing our minds!’.

As a young girl who only had to consider how she was going to pass her exams in case Plan A of becoming a backing singer for Michael Jackson and marrying Rob Lowe didn’t work out, the idea of having a baby was not something that ever crossed my mind. And yet, the poster fascinated me. What did having a baby have to do with hair loss?

Pre internet, my only option was to ask my mum, but a conversation about having babies could have strayed into sex and boyfriends territory and I couldn’t take the risk. So I pondered the question every time I saw the poster, trying to work out the link, like it was some kind of riddle.

And now I know the answer. Boy, do I know.

My baby will be six months old next week and clumps of hair are still coming out. It doesn’t stop. Strangely enough for a Google obsessive, this is one post pregnancy question I haven’t conducted a thorough internet search for.

As the only hair styling I do at the moment is to tie it back before E gets his hands on any loose bits, the steady stream of strands appearing on my clothes and in the shower are more of an irritation than a worry. But I am starting to wonder if one morning I’m going to wake up with a bald spot.

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Sleep scenes

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This is the view from my car window today as I waited for E to wake from his mid afternoon nap. We spent about half an hour at the nearby beach before I started to worry that sun would be able to penetrate through two layers of clothing and a sling and burn my precious baby. Naturally, it was I who ended up with the sunburn…

The W Word

I’m a ‘by the book’ kind of girl. I’ll have all the vaccinations, share a room with my baby for (at least) the first six months, put E on his back to sleep and sterilise anything that comes within a five mile radius of him (other than the dog, her tongue has an obsession with my son’s foot).

And then there’s weaning. Nothing seems to polarise opinion more than how we feed our babies in the first year. Your child can live in MacDonalds and snack on Haribo after that, but for now, their first food forays are everyone’s business.

Save for a few weeks in the beginning where we combi fed, I have exclusively breastfed E up to this point. Helping new mums to get to grips with breastfeeding is something I feel really passionate about and this subject will make a blog post on its own at some point. We should spend less money on the ‘PR’ around breastfeeding and less time vilifying mothers who reach for the formula and instead offer more ongoing support both in and out of hospital no matter what your decision is. Sorry, rant over.

Where was I? Oh yes, weaning. Exclusively breastfeed for the first six months, that’s the rule. So my plan had been to start no sooner than E’s six month birthday. That was until I saw my health visitor a couple of weeks ago for a weight check up and she suggested I could let him try some fruit and veg. Argh – surely it’s too early?! He’s not yet six months. The books say six months. The NHS and WHO say six months. How dare anyone suggest I try to do this any earlier!

Perhaps I need to chill out a little bit. Unless I want E to develop some sort of OCD.

I like the idea of baby led weaning (BLW) and in my head the process would go something along the lines of:

Me: putting a small selection of veg on E’s high chair table and demonstrating how to eat ‘ooh look at this! Don’t they look nice?’

E: ‘how delightful, this tastes wonderful’

Weaning: Done.

What actually happened was:

Me: small selection of veg etc ‘Yum, don’t these look nice’

E: picks up a piece of pepper, puts it to his mouth and gives me a horrified look. He puts down the pepper and continues to stare at me incredulously.

Yes, looking back, pepper wasn’t the best food to start with. But to be fair – once E started to trust being able to put objects to his mouth again – carrot, banana and grape had the same reaction.

So, we’re taking it very slowly. As a lazy chef, I’m a bit worried at the prospect of having to actually cook proper meals soon as opposed to relying on take aways and not so healthy foods. And I’m trying really hard not to eat cake, biscuits and chocolate in front of him.

I’ve failed spectacularly at this point, but the will is there.

So near and yet so far!

We very nearly achieved the ultimate in baby sleeping this morning, the gold standard, the dream all us mothers of poor nappers seek – the self soothe. E went down in his cot, yawned and rolled over as I waited for the start of the familiar grumble which builds to a wailing crescendo.

But there was silence. I backed out of the room barely breathing expecting to be called back and … Nothing. A couple of minutes later I congratulated myself on a job well done (I hadn’t actually done anything different, but I’ll take these victories where I can).

And then there was the loudest of poo explosions.

I’ll admit, I did think twice about going in. E was silent and almost asleep, but the sound and the smell was a pretty good indication that this was the big one. So reluctantly, very reluctantly, I picked him up and changed his nappy.

To his credit, E made all the right noises and rubbed his eyes suggesting that the return to the cot would see a repeat of the self soothe miracle. But, I’d been lulled into a false sense of security by my wiley five month old.

Crying ensued as soon as his little body sensed the mattress and I resumed my usual position of rocking while mentally giving myself a telling off for resorting yet again to sleep props. Ah well, there’s always the next nap…

A scary moment

E fell off the bed on Saturday. We’d gone through half an hour of not wanting to be held, lie on a blanket or go down in the cot, when laying him on the bed finally led to calm. As I left the room he was on his back happily trying to eat a toy.

In these rare moments where I don’t have to haul around a 14 pound five month old, I try to fit in the various jobs which have woefully fallen by the wayside since E’s arrival. In this case though it was to go to the loo and get a glass of water. I was out of the room for maybe two minutes.

Sufficient time for E to shimmy away from the safety of the middle of our king sized bed and off the side. The bang and cry sent a shiver up my spine.

Thankfully he was ok, a bit shocked, but other than that, recovered quite quickly. I had a teary conversation with someone at NHS 111 before spending the rest of the weekend checking for signs of swelling, bruising and irregular breathing.

Convinced that he could not have escaped unscathed, it felt like I held my breath for the 48 hours following the ‘incident’ as I monitored E for signs of injury.

It sounds daft and I don’t know if this is the best way to explain it,but something has changed in me and the way I view my relationship with my son. Caught up in making sure he eats, sleeps, has enough mental stimulation, opportunities to move around and tummy time, I didn’t stop to think about how his every bone and breath are more important to me than my own.

E’s not the first baby who has had a fall and this won’t be the last time he gets hurt. It’s something I will have to deal with. But for now I’m going to wrap him up in cotton wool and never let him leave his cot again, if that’s ok with you.

In praise of mums’ groups

The school summer holiday is approaching. For the last 15 or so years this hasn’t meant much to me, except for the influx of tourists to Cornwall and the virtual impossibility of finding a parking space in St Ives after 11am.

But now the summer holidays herald the hiatus of the majority of mums’ groups me and E attend. Usually my week is mapped out with meet ups in caf├ęs, community buildings and churches, places where E can people watch to his heart’s content and where I can have a two-way conversation (E and I have ‘chats’, but I suspect neither knows what the other is talking about – there’s a joke in there somewhere…).

With these groups breaking for the next six to eight weeks me and several other mums are wondering what we will do. Yes, we will meet up in the park or cafe, but for some reason, it’s not the same.

Part of the reason is because these groups have played a vital role in helping me to feel like me again. I went to the first group, Mama Cafe (www.mamacafe.org.uk), when I was heavily pregnant. The mums were able to juggle conversation while dealing with the inevitable distractions of the many babies who ranged in age from newborns to crawlers.

I returned to the group when E was three weeks old. It was my first trip out on my own with E since he had been born and I was still recovering from the birth, both physically and emotionally. We were welcomed into the fold.

Looking back, I think this might have been the first day that I didn’t cry and the first day that I could see a light in what had felt like a very dark tunnel. Of course I still had dark days after this, but I knew there were people I could talk to who had gone through similar experiences. It was also the first place I felt able comfortable enough to breastfeed in public. Now, the boob is out whenever needed, but back then this was a BIG DEAL.

I’ve gone to other groups since then – if I don’t like the ‘vibe’ then I don’t go back. The groups are fantastic and all offer something slightly different.

They say it takes a village to raise a child. But it takes mums’ groups to keep the mum sane.

Extreme blogging

No, I haven’t just moved to Afghanistan, extreme blogging in this instance refers to my current physical state. I’ve put E down for a nap in his cot and as you can imagine, this has pleased him no end. He’s currently making angry noises, but as it’s just short of crying, I’m leaving him to it.

Unfortunately, in trying to keep the room dark while settling him, I’ve shut the door and as this makes a loud noise when I open it, I’m now stuck in the bedroom. To make matters worse E keeps opening his eyes from time to time and looking around.

So at this moment I am kneeling next to the cot, just out of sight, but close enough to soothe the boy if needed. And as my first born struggles to get himself to sleep, whinging all the way, what do I do?

Blog about it, of course!