Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Guilt Trip

There are a lot of new feelings that I am learning to deal with now that I am a mom, but guilt is the most frequent and most annoying of them all. I am not used to feeling guilty for things I do, but now that I am totally responsible for another life I am constantly questioning if what I'm doing has the remote chance of screwing his life for ever. 

Everything that happens to this little person in your life is on you. From his belly button healing properly, to the nappy rash, or to even getting a cold, you will feel guilty about it. 

The worst part about this feeling is the fact that you cannot win...

If you use the dummy you feel guilty because you might be encouraging a lifetime of visits to the dentist, and if you don't you feel guilty because he cries, or because he needs to be latched on to you all the time. 

If he falls asleep on you, then you are encouraging a bad habit and getting him used to not sleeping by himself on his bed, but if you leave him to sleep by himself you worry he might not feel protected or loved.  

You might feel guilty for bottle feeding him (I know I did); you feel guilty for using the dummy (you can read why here); or you feel guilty because you are not using reusable nappies (you know who you are)... If you co-sleep, if you feed on demand, if you have a strict routine... EVERYTHING! 

Read Next: The Truth About Breastfeeding

To top it all off, the fact that everybody likes to contribute to how you do things. Why do total strangers (on the street) think it's ok to stop you and tell you that the baby should be wearing gloves because it's cold? In fairness to the lady it was middle of winter on a windy day, and the three layers of clothes plus the coat plus the two hats and boots weren't warming enough... Might be these things only happen to me...

What I realized though, is that his life has only just started, so this is only the beginning, which means that I have a life time to enjoy this guilt trip. What I will do then is learn from it and improve for the next baby... Or become that lady on the street, so watch out people.  

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The grass is always greener on the other side

I have recently made the decision to stop breastfeeding and start bottle feeding my little one (you can read why here). However I only just noticed some benefits about breastfeeding that go beyond the obvious that everybody tells you about. These are the benefits that you only think about once you are on the other side.

1. You don't have to think about cleaning bottles at 3am because your little one is going through a growth spurt and you miscalculated the night feeds.

2. You don't have to think about how the hell are you going to sterilize the bottles while you are on holidays

3. You don't need to carry bottles with water in your baby bag when you go for a walk in the park "just in case"

4. You don't need to entertain your baby when he cries his eyes out while you wait for the feed to warm up

5. You don't need to worry about going on a long haul flight. I was carrying 6 empty bottles and 6 ready made feeds and I was praying for no delays as it meant another feed I might not have!

6. You don't need to think about where you feed him. You can even do it while you walk if you have him in a sling.

7. And the best one of all, you have one hand free to change the TV (I know more than I should about The Only Way is Essex), or more importantly stuff your face! So jealous...

It was only by talking to friends who breastfeed that I realised there are also some hidden benefits from bottle feeding too:

Read next: The Truth About Breastfeeding

1. The chances are if your baby takes the bottle he would probably take a dummy, which are a godsend in some critical "melt down in public" moments

2. You can take a night off to catch up on sleep because your other half can take over

3. You can have a girly weekend away, while husband takes over

4. You can enjoy date night without worrying about rushing home for a feed (grandma is well trained on the bottle feeding from)

5. You can sleep on your front!

Ok, so there are not as many points as the breastfeeding list but I am sure the "catching up on your sleep" point counts for at least 3 spaces!

Oh well, you know what I mean... The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence...

Sunday, April 12, 2015

My son has special powers

Ever since he was a tiny newborn I have noticed he was different, special. Of course he is special, he is mine and I am biased!. But what I noticed was something different, something I couldn't really put my finger on. And after a few weeks into motherhood it hit me: he is a psychic! 

Let me explain how I got to this conclusion: 

1. He can sense when we are about to eat: EVERY SINGLE TIME! It doesn't matter if it's lunch or dinner, and it doesn't matter if we keep changing our meal time to confuse him! He knows exactly when the hot meal is on the table so he will kick up a fuss because he doesn't want to miss out. How dare us leave him out?! At the end of the day a warm unreheated meal is overrated, right? 

2. He wakes up at any attempt of laying him flat, except when it's on mom and dad's bed: you have spent the best part of an hour rocking him to get him to sleep. He is in your arms asleep and you feel victorious, so you start the walk to the moses basket. As slowly as possible, you are even tiptoeing, you put him down. But wait, your arm is stuck under his head, Damn! You consider sleeping on the floor like that or attempting to get it out. You try, but at the sightliest move he wakes up and resets all what you've done to zero. You need to start again! Slow, fast, with a hot water bottle to heat up his spot beforehand, nothing!!! Every time: fail! Unless... He is in the big bed. How does he know?!?!?

Read Next: 3 Things As Scariest As Birth

3. He can tell the difference between you standing and you sat down: the oldest trick in the book and the one that never fails is gently bouncing the baby while vigorously moving him left to right. It is the last resort and it normally comes accompanied by you walking in circles around the room in an attempt to calm yourself down too. Finally, the little cherub is calm and asleep in your arms so you slowly stop the walking (but continue all the other moves) and prepare to sit down because, who needs all that exercise?! you have to save your energy for getting in and out of bed ten times tonight. But he knows! As soon as you feel that comfy sofa on your bum and you excel with relief he starts crying again which only makes you bounce back to the standing position like a spring. But how does he... Oh, who cares...

Saturday, April 11, 2015

To Sleep or Not To Sleep

What is it about sleeping that we cannot stop talking about it? Or is it just me?! It is the main topic of any conversation, even when you don't even know the mom/dad: "You have a lovely baby, how does she sleep?". You just want to know if they are as sleep deprived as you are, and if they are not, you desperately want to know why? how? when? how?!? what? HOW?!?! . 

So it begins, the search for that mysterious recipe or knowledge that will bring back the full night of sleep (or at least more than three straight hours) that you desperately need... The Holy Grail of Sleep. 

I talked to everybody and tried everything they suggested, but for me it only got better when I learnt to roll with it. As soon as I stop fighting him and the fact that he didn't sleep more than two hours at a time, and fighting the fact that I had to be awake at night, then it got easy. 

Here is the list of all the things I tried to get him to sleep... with very little or no success whatsoever... 

1. Warm room: it got too warm so he couldn't sleep
2. Cool room: it got too cold so he woke up
3. Less naps during the day: almost impossible and super grumpy baby
4. Eat as much as possible during the day: only help him to put on weight, loads!
5. Bath him before bedtime
6. Massage him before bed
7. Wearing a plain sleeping suit: apparently one with prints got him too excited to sleep
8. Put a warm water bottle in his bed to warm his spot up before laying him down
9. Have the mattress on an incline
10. With the hair dryer on
11. With the vacuum cleaner on (all night long!)
12. With the white noise app on (he preferred the real sound from the vacuum cleaner)
13. In the car seat while driving him around the neighborhood 
14. In the car seat in the bedroom
15. Swaddle: he spent more time awake trying to break free than actually sleeping
16. With a sleeping bag
17. On the baby sling
18. With my hand on his chest: which meant I slept on the floor
19. In bed with us: I was too worried about rolling over so this didn't work
20. With the dummy: he spit it out and cried for it more times that I can count
21. Trying to reason with him: we are not fluent on "baby language" so it didn't work
22. Pray: all the Gods from all religions were off duty that day
23. With my mom, in the spare bedroom: Best. thing. ever. She didn't mind being awake in the middle of the night, and it gave us 3 solid hours of sleep 

Have you tried any other way to get your baby to sleep longer?

Friday, April 10, 2015

"Summer" is Here

The sun is shinning and I can't wait to go out to the park, with a baby that mostly sleeps and doesn't understand exactly what's going on... but still!

It's Sebs first summer, and I'm actually not remotely prepared to take him out under the sun. This was the perfect excuse to go SHOPPING!!! So I did...

I was on the hunt for hats, but which one is the best to protect his fair skin? There are so many options I couldn't make up my mind, and so I bought many!

Here are my favorite ones. The practical and obvious "fisherman" hat (you can see him wearing it here), and the cutest of them all, the beret (which I am sure won't protect him as much but he looks so cute!!!). Both hats are from H&M. 

The problem is that I couldn't stop my shopping spree there... I had to get him a whole outfit, and so I did. 

The chinos are from Primark, and the braces are from H&M. The best thing about the braces is that I can use them with any jeans/trousers/chinos, and I can adjust them so he will be wearing them for longer than a couple of weeks (he grows out of his close so fast that I can't keep up!). 

Now, let's get the picnic blankets out of the garage, the Pimm's out of the fridge and head down to the sunny park. 

The Knott Bump & Us

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

3 Things As Scary As Birth

When I found out I was pregnant there were two things on my mind. The obvious one:"I'm soooo happy" and much more worrying one: "He's gonna have to come out now". 

Birth scared the hell out of me, but only after birth I started thinking about other things that are as scary. And no, you cannot get pain relief for them! 

1. The first poop: This one was obvious. Everybody tells you about it, and inevitably it will happen, the question is: how fast?! You can try to get over with it quickly, or like me try, to avoid it like the plague by not eating anything... 2 days latter and it happened anyway. By the way, make sure the bathroom is not far or you might not make it. Conveniently they forget to tell you that it's not just bladder control that goes on strike after giving birth!

2. The first time you have sex: this is the elephant in the room nobody really talks about. Let's be honest, we are all thinking about it, even your other half - you just popped a watermelon out of your privates, how could everything be ok down there?! After the emotionally scarring labor, together with the sleepless nights you promise to yourself you will never have sex again, NEVER! After all, that careless drunken night of sex is what got you into this mess. But some time passes by and curiosity gets the best out of you. Is everything on its place? Is everything stretched now? You open the bottle of wine ready to let history repeat again, with one difference though, birth made you wiser, so this time you are using two condoms! 

3. The first wax: The thought of someone putting hot wax into my recently tear and repaired parts makes me look back on the birth with fondness. Do I need to say more? I wish I could have an epidural for the first wax after birth. 

I have passed the hoops from the first two, but for this one I am just hoping the "jungle look" comes back into fashion before summer arrives.  

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Being Spontaneous

One thing I've learnt while living in England, is that you need to be spontaneous if you want to make the most of a sunny day. Chances are you will wake up to a sunny morning and decide right there and then to make the most of it by having a picnic near a lake or river, or driving down to the beach or having a BBQ. 

Well, being spontaneous has a whole new meaning once you have a baby. It's almost impossible to leave the house quickly when you have to consider nap times, feed times and sudden poop explosions. By the time you actually leave it'll be raining or it is so late that the idea of being stuck in traffic with a hungry baby makes you set up the picnic in the living room of your house. 

To avoid disappointments here are some tips that will hopefully help you leave the house quicker. You have probably been awake since 6am anyway so you will most likely beat the traffic!

1. Keep at least one picnic blanket, cool box and a beach towel in the car

2. Before the weekend comes group the beach/picnic essentials and put them somewhere they are easy to find and reach. There is nothing more time consuming that running around the garage trying to find the beach umbrella, recliners, etc. 

3. Keep the baby sunscreen and a spare hat in the baby bag

4. If you know the baby is due for a nap but you're still not ready to go, put him on the car seat (or push chair) so if he falls asleep the disruption is minimal

5. Always, and I mean, ALWAYS be prepared for the rain

6. Stop quickly by the supermarket to buy snacks: when you're trying to be spontaneous there is no cooking involved, just get some crisps and sandwiches from the supermarket

7. Go somewhere you have been before: there is no time to waste trying to discover new picnic places or beach spots, you can't plan ahead the route, so just pick somewhere you have been before 

8. Go with the flow: if you manage to get out of the house at all then you should consider yourself lucky, so if you change your mind and decide to stop by the country pub and have a family lunch instead then enjoy it. 

Carrot Cake

This cake is a family favorite, and it is so quick and easy to make! For the cake on the picture I used two different size cake tins, but I have also done it before using just one cake tin and cutting the cake through the middle to fill it with frosting. Let me know how you get on! 

300g caster sugar (or brown sugar, or any sugar)
3 eggs
300ml sunflower oil
300g plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
300g grated carrots
100g chopped shelled walnuts

Cream Cheese Frosting
300g icing sugar
50g unsalted butter at room temperature
125g cream cheese, cold

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C

Put the sugar, eggs and oil in a bowl and mix using a handheld electric whisk like me (or if you are lucky use your KitchenAid) until the ingredients are well incorporated. Now add all the dry ingredients: the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, salt and vanilla extract and continue to beat until well mixed. 

Finally, add the grated carrots and walnuts and mix by hand with a spatula. 

Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin (I coat the tin with butter and flour, I am rubbish at using greaseproof paper) and bake in the preheated over for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown or like me, use a skewer or toothpick to see if it's cooked. Leave the cake to cool down before putting the cream cheese frosting over it. 

Cream Cheese Frosting: Using your hands, mix together the icing sugar and butter until there is almost no more loose icing sugar. You can use an electric whisk or mixer to do this but a cloud of icing sugar will raise from the bowl and you be tasting the sugar from your utensils for all eternity (so you might want to cover the bowl when mixing). Add the cream cheese in one go and beat until it's completely incorporated. Continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy. Do not overbeat as it can quickly become runny.