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School Mum

 

I really wanted to write this before I become more involved with being a “school mum” and cant really write about it anymore! It a whole new world

Almost as big as Christmas, on Tuesday 3rd September, Arlo started school. There had been lots of preparation for this so the kids would settle in smoothly. However, I had not been given a booklet on “How To Be A School Mum”, do they not do these???!! (Who do I stand with in the playground? What do I wear to “create good impression”? Do I wear gym gear to look like i’m really active and fit?! Do I need to befriend the teachers on FB? Do I need to be on the PTA? Do I need to bake cakes and read the Dictionary for fun…..etc etc).

My feelings aside, it was all rightly all about Arlo. He was ready. I was ready (champagne at school gate after first drop off would be wrong yeh?). I still had a couple of moments of “aw he used to be a little baby and now he’s starting school” tearful moments, but on the whole I was excited for him as I KNEW he would love it. He needed so much stimulation and exercising each day that I could give him, I knew school would be able to provide that. And he LOVES learning stuff, teachers are way more equipped to explain “Mummy, why does snot come out of your nose and not your ears?”

I’m still 100% sure that Arlo actually realised he was starting school?!

 

First day

The night before I cried into Arlo’s baby album. In the morning I was feeling excited but then cried approximately 5 more times (school uniform going on, when husband got cross because of state of car, seeing Arlos friends in their school uniform, waving goodbye, seeing other mums cry). But then I was fine and binged on chocolate for 2 hours until I picked him and haven’t looked back since.

Arlo was totally fine, oblivious to everything like normal, just preoccupied with the fact that everyone has the same jumper as him. What are the chances

 

Teachers
I remember in one of the pre school meetings one of the teachers said that If your child comes out last it might mean they need to talk to you. Every day it’s a nail biting wait to see where Arlo comes out….he has been last a few times now for “incidences”. I dread that beckon over. I wont go into all of said incidences, but there was the day of the “protest wee”….

Poor tired Arlo had not enjoyed PE that day. So later on he was spotted having a stand -up “protest wee” on some of the toys in the corridor…….(
I accidentally responded to teacher with “oh fuck”……well if thats who the parents are)

And the day of the frilly socks…..

Arlo was very tired again today. He has unfortunately gone through 4x changes of clothes and finished the day in shorts and girls frilly socks and slip on “pumps”

To make light of the situation I tried to make a joke about how Arlo calls his little brother “Tit” instead of Kitt. (must-stop-trying-to-be-funny and perhaps bring raw carrot snacks and eco friendly arts and crafts school pick up). This was also the day Arlo went in with a black eye from the coffee table.
Etiquette

So much school mum etiquette…..I’m still figuring it out

First of all, will who you stand with now determine who your school mum friends are for the rest of the decade??! I want to make sure I talk to everyone. Everyone seems super friendly so far. And when its raining, is it a case of “hood up. eyes down, get the job done”?? Do you hang around after to chat? How long? Is it rude to dash off after if you have to be somewhere? Do mums get there early to chat to people/hang out? How long before you friend request your new mum friends on FB?! How “free” should you let your younger pre school child be in the big school kids playground? Kitt seems to be the most free so far.

Parties….do you invite the whole class? Just boys? Do you just “drop off” the kids? Could mean you end up with 30 kids ALL BY YOURSELF. How much do you spend on presents (say £10…thats £300 for the year!)

Spare clothes……do you take these back if your kid comes home in a new outfit?? Or you just acquire bonus clothes?

DO WE GET TO KEEP THE FRILLY WHITE SOCKS??

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PTA
Do I want to be a PTA mum??? I wasn’t sure I was up for the job as I would 100% buy cookies from Tescos and pass them off as mine. However, having seen the PTA mums at various pre school meetings, they look like a hoot!! They sit at the back and drink!! (obviously do lots of stuff for the school too). I want to be friends with THEM!! Need to figure out how to work the oven first though. I do enjoy being a school mum, feel like I’m part of a community?! I have a purpose! But a PTA mum I think might be a little too full on?! Sure they wouldn’t steal frilly white socks
First REAL Friend
So far Arlos friends have been basically MY friends that have kids the same age. So a few days ago a mum came up to me and asked if I was Arlos mum??!! Uh ohhhhhh…..but she said that her son and Arlo play together and her son (lets call him *Garry) are friends. And not only that, Garry thinks Arlo is really funny!! (dread to think). Its official, Arlo has a real friend that he’s made all by himself! I felt quite emotional about it all. I fear I may have gotten so excited and scuppered Arlos chances as came on rather strong to the mum. Going to play it cool now

 

What The F*ck Do You Do At School???
Do any school mums actually know what their kids do at school?? I think the expression is “water out of a stone”. I want to know everything (who did you play with? What did you have for lunch? Did you eat anything that wasn’t beige?! Who’s your favourite teacher? What did you do? Did you learn anything today?). So far the most I have got out of Arlo is that him and another boy *Alan go to the toilet together because they are both scared of hand driers?! I would LOVE to be a fly on the wall during the school day.

*his name isn’t Alan

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Blank Canvas
Someone once told me that teachers like it if you send your child in as a “blank canvas” when they start school. That way they don’t have to un teach bad habit etc. Well I can reveal I have well and truly sent Arlo in as a blank canvas. I have tried to teach him to write/ recognise letters/ read etc but he was just not interested. So we have just played for 4 years. One totally blank canvas for you reception teachers. Star points for me?!

 

School Pick Ups
This is honestly the best time of day. I get so excited to see his excited face when I pick him up. I go all weird and squeaky and really enthusiastic when I say hello?! He normally falls over on his run to me (I bought school shoes to big “to last him”). He once bought home Tidy Up Trevor (or was it Terry?) for good tidying. After questioning if he had “stolen” Trevor, I then nearly cried because I was so proud/ disbelief. Trevor had seen better days, but emotional all the same. I’ve gone soft (er)

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New Chapter
Kitt now gets to do classes JUST FOR HIM and its lush to spend time with him, and my days are A LOT more mellow. I can blog again! Although, he has really found his voice in Arlos absence and become rather feisty no longer living in Arlos shadow. We both miss him though, its very very very (lovely) quiet. I’m sure I’m more lazy now I’ve just got one during the day, or maybe I’m just not used to not having to do things at a million miles per hour all the time.

Arlo is now so exhausted when he comes home that he SITS DOWN and “chills”. He’s almost become better behaved? Its like he was so wild because he was bored and needed more stimulation. Plus he does love a routine. He now also looks 18 years old. Obviously there has been a few hairy moments (needed staples to fix handbag he made at school but I couldn’t find any staples etc) and a few emotions (he wanted roasted potatoes not boiled), but in general school has been a success. Sure the novelty might wear off when he realises its for the next 12 years??!

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School also warrants earlier bedtimes

Winning

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ps. There is a grey area where you are still technically allowed to take children out of school until before their 5th birthday……. #travelling

pps. How many times do school mums day “put your shoes on” every morning????

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The Philippines…PART 3

Next morning we got up leisurely, had a cup of tea in bed whilst reading a book and then had a nice long shower….said no parent ever!!

We got woken up by the smell of children’s poo (ours) at 5am, rinsed the all-you-can-eat breakfast one more time, Kitt sat in his throne and chucked pancakes on the floor one last time, and we played in the paradise pool one last time. Then we hit the road.

We arrived at Bohol ferry port to get out boat across to Siquijor (pronounced ciggi- WHORE…true story). This tiny island was known for witchcraft and magic. I was intrigued, mainly to see if I could put a love spell on Rich so he thought I was hot-stuff again. The ferry port was a hustle and bustle of sweaty backpackers (carnage, but I liked it) and for the first time on the trip, I really felt like a backpacker again. That familiar carefree, nomad, adventurous, content feeling washed over me…albeit with 2 agitated whipper snappers in tow. Yes, most of our fellow backpackers were young, 20-something, tanned, beautiful specimens (could actually be on Love Island), but it didn’t seem to matter. I’m sure they were giving us looks of admiration?! Or it was a contraceptive seeing us, not sure. However, my eyes were drawn to other backpacking families. There weren’t many, maybe 2? But to me THEY looked like the cool ones in the crowd. Their tanned kids with wild hair, the parents super chilled with travely clothes that they probably picked up from a street stall in Vietnam……..They oozed freedom from every inch of their bodies and seem so far away from the “bedtime routine” and “school phonics” it was unreal.  I decided in that moment that THIS is my life goal. I WANT TO BE A COOL BACKPACKING FAMILY. The nicest thing was that you end up making eye contact with the other back-packing families very easily, and giving each other a knowing nod. Sort of like the nod that Subaru drivers give each other. It’s like a mutual respect and understanding that back packing with kids is fucking hard, but amazing, and totally do-able.

Anyway, we boarded the ferry, totally prepared with sick bags and spare clothes for pukey Arlo. We were pleasantly surprised with no pukes and the boys semi staying in seats (well seated area). We even enjoyed a chocolate Oreo.

We arrived into the port in Siquijor. I instantly knew we had picked the right place. There was a buzz of excitement and colour, and beautiful beautiful backdrops. For the first time this trip, our transfer was actually waiting for us. We had our very own Jeepney to Arlos delight. And, even though the ride was bumpier that a camel’s back, both boys fell asleep and Rich and I got our first glimpse of this quirky yet beautiful little island. And again, for maybe the 5th time this trip, I cried! THIS is what life is about. Showing your kids the world….well if they hadn’t been asleep!!

It had all been a little sketchy setting up our accommodation here, but it was perfect. A wooden shack right on the beach and 10 metres away from the pool. It was like stepping into a postcard, topped off with and over hanging palm tree (which was to feature in 263740 of my photos), coconuts and hammocks on the beach.

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We used the beach shack as our base for a few days and did lots of little adventurous from here. We hired a kayak (after persuading the guy that Arlo wouldn’t jump out to be eaten by sharks) and did laps of the bay. Not really my thing but good for the Instagram. Arlo LOVED it, Kitt tried to eat a jelly fish

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During our time here we played with coconuts on the beach, made weird flower wand things, went for 7am dips in deserted waters, found cool little restaurants, visited different beaches, watched dreamy sunsets, played in sandy playgrounds, went to little markets, napped in old school cots (Kitt) and went out on trikes just for the lols. I was really keen to go and see a wizard in the middle of the island to have my future told….Rich wasn’t keen. But I did manage to persuade Rich to take my “breastfeeding on a beach” photo that I really wanted.

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My favourite part of our time on the island was the day we went to the waterfalls……

You hire your own trike for the whole day and you pretty much drive around the entire isnad, stopping off wherever you want. So first we were asked if we wanted to stop off at a “spa”…HELL YEH! Not quite what I had in mind. It was a pool of ferocious fish with red eyes and fangs, foaming at the mouth (just normal fish but I have a fish phobia-long story). But when in Rome…..so I dived straight in. Well, dipped my feet. I think my feet look better now?! Youthful??! Kitt was 100% braver than me.

The next stop was the famous waterfalls. And everyone knows what happened last time I stood under “magic” waterfalls (bun-in-oven). It was a pretty gnarly climb down, I was trying to film for my Insta stories and realised that this was in fact not a good idea. Actually, didn’t see any other kids as young as ours trekking down to the waterfall. I felt pretty hardcore. The trees cleared and it was the most beautiful sight of glistening waterfalls, big lagoons and people swimming and bathing everywhere. There were rafts and best of all….rope swings. We choose the quietest waterfall to start and played on the raft and Arlo dunked his head under the water fall (he asked!). Rich had a go on the SMALL rope swing…..I was saving myself for the big dog! Obviously, Rich needed to warm up on the SMALL one first.

We moved into the big lagoon, and the big rope swing. I tested it out for Rich and went first. Under strict instructions “not to do anything silly as I was here with my kids”???!!! Guess he does know me. So I saved my quadruple backflip for another time and just swang and jumped into the water. LOVED IT. Thought I had lost my bikini for a second but it was just “displaced”. Rich had a go….now he knew it was safe.

We spent a couple of hours there and then hit the road again.

I can report, the “magic” waterfall didn’t have the same outcome as last time, phew

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We went to another beach with huge slides and cliff jumping into the water, but boycotted that one as the boys were “on the edge” literally. Saw a lady breastfeeding her toddler on the side of the road with the rice paddies behind her. I gave her a little smile and nod, she probably thought I was totally weird but I just thought she looked so beautiful and I was swept away with a hippy-jippy travelling moment. She was actually the only person I saw BF the whole time we were in The Philippines.

Anyway, I had an actual drink that night (I don’t drink!), 1 mojito. then had to take myself back to the hut as I felt familiar old feelings that I wanted to go clubbing and dance on tables. Oh dear Katie.

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Then it was time to move on again. I really freaked out though as we were due to fly to Manila in a couple of days and we had just heard that there had been an earthquake there, 6.5 on the richter scale. The word tsunami springs to mind. I definitely worry more about things now I have kids. I thought I would pack an emergency evacuation bag…just in case. But didn’t really know what goes in one of these. So I packed snacks, mascara, the iPad, passports, nappies, wetwipes, toothbrushes and toy diggers. All bases covered

We didn’t need the emergency evacuation bag. And when we got to manila it was like nothing had even happened. Guess they have to deal with this kind of stuff all the time.

We said a tearful goodbye to all of Arlo and Kitts girl fan club at the place we were staying (they gave Arlo free orange juices the whole time we were there) and headed back to the ferry back to Bohol.

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The ferry back was not so successful as on the way there. 5 mins in we saw some dolphins, it was beautiful. Then Arlo puked everywhere. I took him to the back of the boat and held him over a black bin. Kitt wanted boob so fed him at the same time as holding puking Arlo. Then I was sick in my mouth a little. The sea was so rough.

I didn’t even get a photo of this. Didn’t feel so clever and backpackery now

Hair update….not even bothering to brush it

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Final instalment coming soon……..last leg of trip, did the love potion work on Rich, weirdest accom ever, Manila, flight home and WHY travelling with 2 kids is easier than being at home……

 

 

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I Have Never…..

Is it just me, or when you become a Mum you become almost feral in your behaviours? The following may/ may not have been me…..

I have never…..

…….caught my childs poo with my hand rather than let it go on the floor

……..eaten what one thought was a raisin off the floor when in fact it was not……..

…….in the dark depths of the night taken a massive gamble and slid my finger into my childs nappy (rather than turn the light on and wake them up) to see if they have/ have not done a poo. The results are varied

……..had to prise my toddlers willie out of the hands of my baby after protests (on both sides) from my toddler claiming that it was “the babies toy”

…….turned a blind eye to my child eating dog food (pick your battles)

……eaten childs left overs as it was closer to your mouth than the bin

…….eaten childs left overs off the floor purely because you’re feral

………taken refuge in the toilet to eat (stolen from the kids) chocolate

……disposed of potty full of piss in various places including pretty flower beds, underneath cars, beaches, alley ways, gardens and drains outside people’s houses (sorry Helen)

……used various items of clothing (including socks/ own sleeves/ dirty pants) to wipe various forms of baby/ toddler grunge from child

…….been in a situation that has resulted in the dog eating your childs poo……visa-versa

…….left a nappy in the boot of the car for a few days (weeks)

……..used air freshener on child

……..used wets wipes as a legitimate form of cleaning…..on baby puke, shit stains, snot stains, toddler stains in general, dusting, shoe shining, armpit freshening, dog cleansing, window cleaning, toilet dribbles (boys), carpet cleaning, as a replacement washing machine, make up remover, baby teether, cutlery washer, high chair cleaner, shampoo/ conditioner/ dry shampoo, fly squatter and ear cleaner

…….picked my child’s nose and found great satisfaction in doing so

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10 Things NOT To Say To Your Sleep Deprived Wife

Disclaimer Part 1: My husband is AMAZING during daylight hours, he just doesn’t hear anything at night??!! (see point 9)

Disclaimer Part 2: Inspired by my husband but not all of them ARE my husband….

Disclaimer Part 3: Good job my husband never reads this blog as I may come across a little bitter?

1) “I’m tired” Number one on the list. Literally NEVER, I repeat NEVER say this to your sleep deprived wife (or make ANY noise that remotely suggest you’re tired ie: yawning, stretching, groaning)….who has been up allllll night feeding/ rocking/shushing/singing/ jiggling/ patting/ trying not to make eye contact/ stroking/ dodging squeaky floorboards/wet wiping/ burping/ white noising……whilst YOU slept through. I can guarantee that you are not even half as tired as she is. In fact, she is the most tired person in the world ever. And don’t sugar coat it by saying “ahhhh Daddys tired today”. It will make your wife want to stab you……in a non violent loving way obviously.

2) “I understand what Sleep Deprivation feels like…..that one time when I was travelling/ drunk/ on a stag do/ staying in a hotel with an uncomfortable bed/ away for work”….you definitely don’t understand what sleep deprivation feels like (unless you have been tortured whilst in prison?), SHE is the only one in the world that knows what it feels like (and other Mums of non sleepers). You understand what a few rubbish nights sleep feels like whilst you still got to sleep BY YOURSELF.

3) “I can tell your tired”……basically saying that she is not her spritely/ loving/happy self….and she is maybe a little tetchy/ grumpy/ sensitive??!! Its on the same level of saying to a girl when she’s on her period “I can tell you’re on the blob” Just don’t say it.

4) “Oh you had a lie-in this morning”….when his alarm (yes a real alarm, not a baby) wakes him up at 7, he rolls over and sees you are “still” snoozing. Problem is, she has only just got back to sleep after being up at 11/12/1/2/3/4/5/6. Glorious lie in though.

5) “It was a good night last night”……how the f*ck do you know?? In fact, it was up there with one of the worst nights ever. You were just to busy snoring (see point 6) away to notice. You didn’t even notice when your wife was angrily huffing and puffing and muttering under her breath “I’ll fu*king get up then shall I?!”.

6) “Snoring”…technically not saying anything, but still a noise coming from your mouth. If you make any kind of noise whilst you are peacefully sleeping whilst your wife again is feeding/ rocking/ shushing/ burping/ pacing/ Googling sleep aids….she will want to punch you. I’m sorry.

7) “You look tired babe”….no shit!! She hasn’t slept since YOUR children have been born. Sorry she’s not the hot pot you thought you had married. Sorry she now looks like a shrivelled up old granny prune that’s aged about 50 years. Sorry she only has make up on one eye as she didn’t have time/ remember to do the other (not that make up will help her face at the moment anyway). Sorry she has forgotten how to dress as she’s too tired to remember what people in the outside world wear. Sorry she sprayed air freshener in the garden and tried to wash the bread as she was so confused. Sorry she talks about the Unicorn she saw coming out of the wardrobe last night. Sorry she calls you by the dogs name. Yes, she’s a little tired.

8) “I don’t hear anything in the night”…..hmmmmmmm that old chestnut (but actually true, its been tested it by strategically placing a screaming baby by your head at 3am). Although, you have heard enough to be able to move the pillow over your ears??? And check your phone…..yes she saw you.

9) “Why don’t you just get an early night tonight”…….pahahahaha she already goes to bed with the baby at 7.30pm.

10) ” I don’t know what you spend the money on all those sleep aids, they don’t work”……Obviously they don’t work. But DON”T try and take these away from her. Yes she may seem a little crazy but the white noise toy/ lavender spray/ special sleeping cream/ stuff in cot that smells like her/ muslin with milk on/ lucky sleep-suit/ lucky sleeping bag are the only things of “hope” she can cling onto during those long dark lonely nights.

NB: Im working on my resentment issues.

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Things That Are Not Ideal To Do With A Toddler AND Baby

I started writing this a while ago “Things not to do with a toddler”. But now I have a baby, there is a whole different perspective on the matter. Sometimes the logistics just don’t work?!

Get A Filling At The Dentist
Bless my Dad, he had been roped into sitting with the baby and toddler in the waiting room whilst I “nipped” into get a filling. The clock was ticking away, then a panicked text arrived from my dad saying he was caught in traffic. The dentist called me through. He took one look at me, toddler hanging off my legs, baby hanging off my boobs and said “ooh”. Yeh Ohh indeed, there was nothing I could do, they were both just going to have to come in with me. There is nothing worse than being constrained to a chair with your mouth wide open, looking at a peaceful fish painting on the ceiling, whilst hearing your toddler running riot through the dentist draws and pressing buttons on the chair (“wow mummy up”), and your baby crying frantically as you’ve taken him off the boob too soon. Then trying to “shush” and “no don’t touch that” whilst the dentist is sucking the excess spit out of your mouth. Perhaps karma for eating too much chocolate?

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Go To A Gynecoloy Appointment
Another similar medical scenario, but with a different area of the body. I wont go into details, but as the doctor is saying “the more you relax the easier it will go in”, you are trying to access snacks from your bag to stop toddler climbing onto the doctors chair and get “digger” (stethoscope), hearing the keys on the keypad type as he goes (prob accidently perscribing a 2 year old Nicotine Patches). There is nothing more disconcerting than whilst baby is crying (again) the doctor is trying to shush and sing “twinkle twinkle little star” whilst inserting a certain metal instrument into nether regions. Just altogether a weird experience.

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Loose Phone In Foam Pit
My friend and I took 3x toddler plus one baby (mine) to I-Bounce (massive trampoline place with foam pits). We thought “we’ve got this”. And we HAD got it, it was all going swimmingly. No toddlers had been catapulted, not babies had been lost in foam pit (worse than phone??) and we were all pretty stoked with our free (ish) socks. We took it in turns holding the baby (car seat). I had been taking lots of photos (for my Instagram Stories obvs.) and then suddenly realised that my phone wasn’t in my pocket anymore (big gaping open pocket of hoody), it was in fact somewhere in the foam pit. It came down to a choice, concentrate on finding my phone…..or keep track of toddlers/ baby….luckily due to some strapping toddler fathers, we managed to do it all. Everyone pitched in and it wasn’t long before it was made into a fun game for the toddlers/ parents involved. Thank god to a pink glittery phone case, the phone was retrieved from the dark depths of despair and peace was restored. I did feel like a complete DICK, I mean, who takes a phone in a into a foam pit??!

Soft Play
Joyous places. My toddler is at the age/ the type that he wants to go into the soft plays but he wants me to go int with him. Fine if there are others there to hold the baby. A juggle if not. Usually ends up with me carting the baby round with me, taking it in turns to lift toddler/ baby up and through the tower of mesh netting, then crawl through tiny tunnel hooshing baby along on his back, then along wobbly beam holding toddlers hand/ baby clasped awkwardly into boobs, navigating ball pit in similar fashion, finishing up with both of them sitting on my lap to go down the wiggly slide that launches you off into the air (due to weight?!). Next time I’m wearing my gym gear.

Changing Synchronised Poos When You Only Have The Sling
The baby carrier is amazing, I’ve used it so much, way more than the pushchair this time. Leaves your hands free to (control) toddler. But there are certain situations where it just doesn’t work. One of these times I’ve found is if you are out and about and BOTH toddler and baby have pooped. Who do you do first? I’ve tried changing the toddler with the baby in the sling, but just can’t seem to get the right angles and ended up with the toddlers poo covered winky (gets everywhere) smearing a brown patch onto the babies back in the sling. So change the baby first, he comes out of the sling, then where do you put him whilst you change the toddler? Balance on the changing table at same time as toddler change? Do toddler standing up whilst balance baby on changing table (poos are hard do standing up!). I normally end up making a little make shift “cave” on (skanky) toilet floor out of empty sling and backpack to prop the baby up whilst I attend to toddler. Harder now he wriggles more (see photo, not on toilet floor but a reconstruction of events).

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Breast Feeding Uncovered!!!!

At only a couple months old, Arlo got his first taste of solid food….Red Velvet Cake!! It fell onto my nipple whilst breast feeding and before I could stop him, the little bugger had suckered it up!!! A taste sensation for the young baby, but panic for me. I’m sure Red Velvet Cake wasn’t allowed this early??! Why hadn’t they warm me about this in my Ante Natal classes? I had no idea that this could even be a potential danger whilst BF.

So I wanted to write my own guide to BF through my experience, things that they don’t tell you in the classes. Although nothing I have learnt would have affected my decision to give BF a good go, there are things I wished I had known before so I could mentally and physically prepare myself for what was about to hit me…….

****But before go on, I just want to say that I feel very lucky that I have been able to BF as I know it’s not physically possible for a lot of mothers, even though they have practically sold their soul through trying.  I love Breast Feeding (now), but it was a very long, painful and emotional battle to begin with and I know how hard it can be. I think anyone that even tries it deserves a medal!!  I am now one year on and still going…. initially I told myself 3 months, then 6, then 1 year…….now I cant stop…..actually beginning to worry he’s going to be a teenager before I can stop!!******

So let me start with an important point……

You will eat a lot of cake! Something about Breast Feeding makes you crave sugar, like you’ve never craved it before. I could’ve happily had cake for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Unfortunately this “healthy” diet makes you a bit plump around the edges, not pregnancy fat but actually fat fat! I kept telling myself that I needed to have the extra weight/ calories to feed another human?! Apparently you burn an extra 500 calories a day whilst BF, thats like 2 slices of cake. Totally justified. Then when you meet up with other mums, its an un written rule that there is ALWAYS cake involved. Some would believe that perhaps Arlo didn’t sleep for the first few months as he was high as a kite on sugar from all the cake I ate???! They eat what you eat (ps. having a very small whiskey in the hope that it might help your baby go to sleep unfortunately does not work).

This brings me onto the next point…..

You will get fat. None of this ” the baby weight just drops off you when you BF” malarky. That really didn’t happen for me. The fact of eating whole Chocolate Gateaus for breakfast and being chained to the sofa 24/7 feeding a milk monster, meant there was certainly no weight loss in the first few months. In fact, there is even a Katie/ cake shaped dent in the sofa now where I used to sit for hours. We created an “eating chain”, I would feed Arlo, Rich would feed me, and Rich….well he would feed himself. Bon appetite!

It’s a battle to begin with. I always thought, boom, pop out a sprog then attach them onto your boob. Not that easy. Some babies are total naturals and just know what to do somehow. However some babies are a lot more challenging. I remember this “moment” in the hospital when I realised any little shred of dignity I had was now gone;  I looked down and I was totally naked, a Catheter in, I was hemorrhaging/ having a blood transfusion. I was milking myself on one side with Rich trying to get the couple drops of colostrum into a syringe. Then the midwife was on the other side, also milking me. I hadn’t look into a mirror since I had become a mother and certainly hadn’t brushed my teeth for at least 3 days. Lush. Then some visitors arrived… “Hiya!!!”

Try as I might little Arlo just wouldn’t take the boob. JUST TAKE IT GOD DAMMIT!!! I was that annoying person that rang the buzzer every half hour “my baby wont latch on”. Then they discovered he had a tongue tie. That snipped, and he still wasn’t having it. His blood sugar was low and he was shaking/ screaming, then he was jaundice etc etc. A week later and we were finally released from hospital, still not really having a BF baby. My milk was massively delayed due to a traumatic birth (aren’t they all traumatic??!) After visiting every breast feeding clinic under the sun and having countless professionals watching my “technique”, we finally cracked it. But I honestly think it was a good few weeks before he learnt to latch on properly. And probably 3 months before I actually started to enjoy it.

Milk Drunk. Is the best thing ever. Appreciate it as it doesn’t last forever.

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It hurts SO much!!! They all go on about “Breast is Best” but no one tells you how bloody painful it is. There were points that I felt like my nipples were actually going to fall off (I asked my husband if he would still love me if I had no nipples, he said he would, this gave me the strength to carry on). There’s blood, there’s blisters, there’s lumps, there’s rocks, there’s milk spurting everywhere….and then there’s no milk at all. You’ve tried that purple cream that no one quite knows the name of, cabbage leaves, nipple shields, ice, salt water boob baths…..a nipple massage….but alas. Should’ve dipped the nipples in acid in preparation (someone told me this worked??). When Arlo used to latch on at the start I really had to hold back from wanting to throw him across the room. I found biting down on something helped. I just really could not see why people enjoyed this??? And although the pain does get better over time, it keeps coming back; cluster feeding, nipple twanging, using nipple as dummy, teething/ teeth, milk blisters, Rusty Pipe Syndrome (an actual thing, google it!!!), mastitis, blocked ducts……At one point Arlo was treated to Strawberry Milkshake as there was lots of blood in my milk ( apparently its fine for them to drink still).

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It’s really awkward. When trying to figure out feeding positions I found I pretty much had to be topless at the start to try and manoeuvre him around. And at the start is when you get the most visitors, so this just ends up really awkward too. Friends boyfriends/ father-in-laws don’t quite know where to look??!! Plus the fact you cant really sit down after child birth (esp. after an episiotomy…..that goes wrong, ouch!) so trying to get into a feeding position whilst avoiding sitting on that area can be most difficult. But then you find “your position” and it starts to feel more natural. So next you have to master how to do it discreetly out and about. At the start the only way I could keep myself concealed was to create an actual tent with a muslin over my head and the baby. In hindsight this probably drew more attention to us.

Remember to put your nipple back in. With painful nipples, there is nothing better than just walking round the house O-Natural and getting some air on them. You must remember you have windows/ neighbours and that people do knock on your door. Even if you’ve managed to put a top on that day, remember to put your nipple back into the top before answering the door if you are interrupted half way through a feed. Postman of Exeter, I’m sorry.

Watch out for Hickies/ Love Bites. At the start the babies don’t know their noes from their toe, their elbow from their knee and their willy from their ear (if a boy baby). Unfortunately they might also confuse your nipple for other parts of your body and accidentally suction themselves onto it. Think the professional term for this is “Nipple Confusion”. And wow they have a strong suck! I had a lovely little love bite on my neck when Arlo was in his confused newborn state. Im sure people must have thought this was an odd stage of my life to be getting hickies. Who knew that this was something to be aware of.

You learn to do everything with a baby attached to your nipple. Then when they finally learn to attach to your nipple, they want to have it in their mouth CONSTANTLY. So you learn to do everything with them attached. This includes: making cups of tea, going to the toilet, opening the front door, phone calls with friends, cooking (pahaha who are you kidding…..unwrapping chocolate bars), cleaning (as if). You are really taking muti tasking to the next level!  NB: This obviously gets harder as the baby gets bigger. You may even go through the phase of “the baby will only sleep with my nipple in his mouth”. If you can sleep through a little Piranha suckling away for the night then amazing, but I couldn’t master it. You try the “swap nipple for dummy really quickly” technique, but they always notice.

Then they will get more wriggly. At the start I could literally do anything with my baby attached to my boob (even the full make up routine at one point, feed from left boob, mascarra with right hand).  Make the most of this. It gets harder. It begins with gentle “pawing” but then over the months moves onto kicking, pinching, thrashing, arching back, hair pulling, fingers in your mouth, playing with other nipple, watching other people whilst feeding, using nipple to help go for a poo, and how on earth has he learnt to blow raspberries on my nipples?? This also makes it harder to do discreetly in public as they like to whip the muslin off/ top up without a moments notice. I used to be able to eat a full dinner whilst he fed, now he thrashes around so much I cant even send a text message. If people are wondering why I have been “liking” so many things on Facebook recently, blame it on Arlos flailing arms.

It takes you to some interesting places. It’s a great tool to have as you can literally do it anywhere. But then on the flip-side, it does mean when your baby wants boob, you have to stop in your tracks and whip them out. This means feeding in some pretty interesting places. Some of mine include on the loo, on the beach, in the car, on a ski chair lift/ walking off ski chair lift (see photos), on a cliff, behind a tree, in a field, in a swimming pool, shop changing rooms and on a bus….

Again, this brings me onto the next point…..

Take a feeding backpack around the house with you. When you get struck down for a feed, you want to make sure you have everything with you. You could well be in for the long haul, especially in those early stages. So just carry a little back pack around the house with you, just to make sure you are ready. In your bag you will need……your phone,  the TV remote, a TV,  a bottle of water (wine), CAKE (obviously), tissues (emotions are still all over the place, WHY ARE YOU CRYING AT JEREMY KYLE???!!), book/ magazines, bank card (perfect time for internet shopping) and muslins (bound to be milk and puke). I always like to have lots of cushions within arms reach so you can prop yourself up and make a little BF den around you.

At some point you WILL spill that tea over the feeding baby. There is nothing more frustrating than watching a cup of tea go cold (actually when was the last time I had a hot cup of tea??!!) whilst you are confined to the couch with a feeding baby. So trying to ignore the feelings of “I’m such a bad mother”, you try to drink the HOT cup of tea over you milk guzzling baby. Even thought you’re so careful and it’s never happened before, one of those times you WILL accidentally pour tea over your baby. And even though your baby hasn’t even noticed and its only on their baby grow, you feel like such a bad mother:(

Milk in tea. If you are sleep deprived, and if you have expressed some milk and left it in the fridge, at some point you will really have to question yourself “what milk did I just use for my friends tea??”

You will attract animals. Have I ever told you the story about my friends BF cat??! Well lets just say, cats love milk and she found she had company every time she fed her baby. She once woke up, baby asleep, cat licking dried milk off her nipple………This also applied to my mums dog who would always settle herself on the feeding pillow next to Arlo. A bit odd but quite nice at the same time. So keep an eye on the animals and just make sure they know their boundaries. Remember, they were BF once too and nipple confusion is a serious condition.

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Babies smell the milk. This is what everyone kept telling me. I wondered why Arlo would cry way more when he was with me. I thought he maybe just didn’t like me, but apparently they have this amazing sense of smell and they can smell your milk. So they just think of you as a milk cow, and want to graze whenever they are with you.

Milk squirts. I’ve never really had massively leaky boobs, but I do remember at the start they used to squirt sometimes. I managed to get Arlo a good one in the eye accidentally and also my husband one just for fun. But squirting is actually a good tool to have as milk can be used to cure medical conditions ( it’s good for everything apparently, people even sell it). I used it to help with Arlos conjunctivitis, my friends spots, my dry skin………FREE MILK FOR EVERYONE!!!!

Only get small windows of time to do things. At the start you really can be BF CONSTANTLY. Then eventually it mellows out and you can actually put clothes on and leave the house. But I found I only got 1 hour gaps to do things. For instance, I could go to the gym…..feed in the car park outside the gym, put him into the creche for an hour whilst I worked out (watched Loose Women whilst on Granny Bike). Then I would quickly retrieve my baby from Creche, mad dash to car, then feed again in car park.

Feeding to sleep. BF is going great, you’ve really got into it. Good thing to help get your little one get off to sleep. The midwife is happy, you’re happy, your baby is happy. Then it all changes (maybe around 6 months), and all of a sudden its a bad thing to feed your baby to sleep??! But you have no idea how else to get your baby to sleep. Little suckle on you, then a snooze, or if you’re brave, “THE TRANSFER” from boob to bed. Then when they wake in the night, a quick boob and they are back off to sleep, job done! I’m not sure why, but somehow you feel this pressure that this isn’t the right thing to be doing and your baby should learn how to self settle etc. BUT, i’ll let you in on a little secret, 1 year old and we still feed him to sleep at night. Oh well, sure he will grow out of it one day!

You don’t know how to comfort other than boob. Everyone told me to “feed on demand”. I had no idea which cry meant what, so basically anytime he cried I would feed him. At times, milk was practically coming out of his ears. It’s an amazing way to comfort your baby  and to stop them crying so you can talk to your friend!! But it does mean that I didn’t really learn other ways to comfort him. It was all too easy to just stick my boob in his mouth. And because he got so used to that being the way I made him feel better, he would scream and scream until he got it. Nothing else would do. Still to this very day its my go-to method for comforting him. However this does concern me as I don’t want him to think that the whole way through his life he can have a suckle on a nipple anytime he’s feeling low!!!

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Write off the first 6 months if you’re BF. You are literally their only source of food, which is a nice feeling to have that they NEED YOU. But it does mean you have to sacrifice yourself to them completely. You need to be on hand to feed them for the first 6 months. If they take a bottle AMAZING, you can have a break. If not, you are milk-on-tap.It is an amazing feeling though to know that your boobs alone have grown this little human.

Cluster Feeding. At no point did anyone at all mention the phrase “Cluster Feeding”. I had no idea why my baby between the hours of 5-12pm was behaving like he was at a “Drink The Bar Dry” party. After much googling, I discovered it was an actual thing! Babies Cluster Feed (meaning feed continuously) to try and increase your milk supply and set them up for the night. Or if they are having a “growth spurt” (term for anything wrong with a baby). This doesn’t help the nipple situation in the slightest. So most evenings you will need to be a feeding machine, get a good box set (remote control within reaching distance) and some good snacks and just roll with it.

Partners get out of night times. It is true that if you BF that your partner cant really help at night. After all, it would be very concerning if they had Moobs (man-boobs) with milk in??! But I do feel that this can be an easy cop out for the men a lot of the time. So even though you know its your choice to BF, you can’t help feeling angry and resentful towards them as they sleep peacefully whilst your baby is up for a feed for the 7th time that night. I would recommend  a lot of loud huffing and puffing and mumbling stuff under your breath so THEY KNOW YOU’RE ANGRY.

Can only wear clothes you can BF in. So pretty much write off most of your wardrobe. None of those lovely little dress (have to lift the whole thing up to feed!!), tight tops, maxi dresses etc (jump suits are the worst!!) You need to wear something that has easy boob access and you don’t mind having milk puke on. Plus, you probs wont fit into any of your old clothes anyway as your boobs are so HUGE. So unless you can afford to buy a whole new BF collection, you end up wearing the same old feeding tops allllll the time. Also, feeding bras make you look like a granny. Just to warn you.

Expressing. If you’ve mastered this then it means you can have a break, yeeeeeey!!! But its SO hard to fit expressing into a routine of also feeding a milk hungry baby. It may take you a few days (weeks) to build up a supply in the freezer long enough to leave them for a day. Then you have to take into account that you will need to continue to express whilst you are away so your boobs don’t explode/ your supply doesn’t drop. This isn’t alway easy. If you use an electric pump, you will need a plug. These always seem to be in public places. And expressing machines aren’t the quietist of things. Only a couple days ago I had to hang out in the disabled toilet at Munich Airport for 30 mins, pumping and dumping my milk (seemed such a waste!!). It sounded like an aeroplane taking off in there, but it was a hell of a lot better than the middle of the departure lounge (see photo). Once I went on a night out (bed by 10). Whilst my friends were getting ready I was milking myself. I didn’t want to waste my milk so joked about taking it out in my handbag so I could take it back home with me. I was going to ask the bar man to put in in a bucket of ice for me to keep it fresh!!!!!!

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Teeth. Then they get teeth. Enough said.

What you’re left with. Then you come to the end of your breast feeding journey and start to massivley reduce the feeds. Unfortunately your Pamala Anderson physique has been replaced with what can only be described as empty tea bags. Lopsided ones at that. Your boobs may never be the same again and your nipples are unrecognisable. But it’s so worth it, you feel like you’ve done the right thing, a small sacrifice to make for your baby. Although wish I had appreciated my boobs a lot more pre BF. If only I’d known!!!

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What now?! Now I feel like I have turned into a total hippy and I never want to give up BF. Its so easy/ portable and I love the time it gives me to cuddle Arlo. I keep making excuses to keep going……. after his next injections…..after the next holiday (will need on the flight for air pressure)…….once he’s walking…..once he’s finished teething…….when he goes to University (hahahah only joking). But you know what, he likes it, I like it, I’m managing to juggle it around working, so I might just keep going for a bit:)