Monday, 31 January 2011

Confessions of a Wannabe Eco Warrior: Part Three

A lot has been said in the media of late about our Carbon Footprint – the principle being that every human activity either directly or indirectly causes greenhouse gases to be released into the atmosphere and this contributes to climate change. I’d like to reduce my carbon footprint but its actually really hard! Funnily enough there is one thing I do which has a zero carbon footprint (CF), and that is breastfeeding! The production of baby milk substitutes has a high CF due to the rearing of the cows, the production of the cows feed, manufacture and transportation of the milk powder, the manufacture of the product itself, then there’s the packaging – tins, plastic etc. The long shelf life of formula milk means that a hard wearing container is essential. When I sit here and breastfeed, my carbon footprint is minimal… I say minimal because I do admittedly need to breathe… #justsayin

But as I’ve already said, living greener doesn’t just have to mean drinking out of used yoghurt pots and wearing only organic hemp clothing. It’s about the small do-able tweaks here and there that really do make a difference. So here’s a list of ‘all the small things’ I can do to minimize my impact on the world – in most cases is helps me to save money too which is a nice little bonus.

• Turn off the lights when you leave a room and use low energy light bulbs.
• AVOID Standby on appliances – TVs, Microwaves, DVD players, Stereos all use around the same amount of energy on standby as when in use! Turn them off where possible
• Use the lowest temperatures on your washing machine & dishwasher as possible to reduce energy use.
• Install a water meter – it will make you more careful about the amount of water you use so it doesn’t cost you so much, plus did you know that drinking water is actually only 3% of the worlds available water? Best look after it then.
• Put a brick in the toilet cistern – it reduces the amount of water flushed away, also consider not flushing every time… Turn off the tap while you brush your teeth.
• Collect rain water in a water butt leading from your gutters then you can use this to water the garden/vegetable beds rather than running it from fresh water taps. Use it to water the house plants too
• Don’t over fill the kettle, only boil as much as you need, result: less water waste & less energy used
• Consider swapping to washable nappies to avoid filling landfills with disposable nappies – the nappies we throw away now will outlive us. Chemicals released from the nappies are not healthy either for the world or for babies skin. The World Health Organisation has called for fecal and urine waste to stop being put into the ground, ie with disposable nappies and this is a great way to avoid it.
• Drive your car less. Your ’soon to be flatter’ tummy will thank you for it… not to mention your wallet and the ozone layer.
• Avoid air travel – the carbon footprint is uber high. Holiday local. I didn’t say that all these ideas would be popular.
• Buy your food local if you can to avoid travel costs (monetary & environmental), both to you and to the supplier.

Look out for Part Four where I delve into the issues surrounding ethical living and responsible shopping.

I would love to hear your ‘tweaks’ toward your greener living!

Part One :
Part Two :

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Confessions of a Wannabe Eco Warrior: Part Two

As a mother to three gorgeous children, the way I look at the world has changed somewhat. As I’ve explained before, I’ve always been concerned about world and environmental issues, but now it’s not just about the world that I live in, it’s the world that my children, grandchildren and great grandchildren will live in. More to the point, will there be a world left for them?

In my attempts to live a greener, more environmentally aware everyday life I don’t always succeed, I am not a perfectly green person but I am doing the best I can. I guess what I’m trying to say is just do what you can; whatever you do, it is one more person doing one more thing and all those one things add up. This is not a wishy washy philosophy, there is power in numbers and I really believe that. It does still mean of course that I have to get up off my chair and do something.

Here in the UK, the buzz phrase for reducing waste is REDUCE, RE-USE, RECYCLE.

How can I REDUCE?

• The landfills in the world can’t take much more, so humans are dumping rubbish in the bottom of the sea. Nice. Reduce the rubbish you produce! You can choose to buy food with less packaging. Ideally buy loose fruit and vegetables rather than ready packed. Better still, bring along your own cloth bags to put them in as you go round the market.
• Every day, families throw away food. Mountains of the stuff. The simple answer here is to buy less and use what we have more efficiently. Make up the weeks menu, buy only what you need and stick to it. Less consumer buying means less demand means less manufacturing. In principle.

How can I RE-USE?

• Buy second hand – charity stores aren’t grim, they are opportunities to save the planet! Not only that but hopefully the proceeds are going to a good cause (more on this later). Also remember to donate unwanted clothes to charity so that they can be re-used too and not added to landfill sites. Ask the shops if they are currently accepting clothes/books/toys though… if not, then try another shop, otherwise it may still get chucked.
• If clothes really are past it, tear them up for washing up rags for the car or use them in pet beds. Pretty fabrics could be cut up for patchwork or reworked into a new garment if you’re that way inclined.
• Donate toys to toddler groups and churches.
• Re-use plastic carrier bags – ideally as shopping bags but also as waste paper bin liners at home. When you throw the filled bag away though with the main household waste, don’t tie it up, allow it to spill into the main bag, this gives it a better chance of breaking down.

Time to RECYCLE?

This part is frustratingly area dependent. For example where I live, the local council will collect glass, tin cans, some plastics, and paper. The council in the next district will collect green waste and cardboard as well. I am prepared to travel a bit to take my cardboard to the amenity tip but I know I am in the minority; not that people don’t WANT to recycle particularly, it’s simply one more thing to fit into an already busy week. Try to integrate a fortnightly or weekly trip to the recycling centre into a trip elsewhere. Every bag recycled is a bag less in the landfills, polluting the earth with leaching chemicals and atmosphere with released gasses. Separate your waste at home and get the children involved.

Can you compost? You can now get quite small ones if you have a small garden, or as my Grandfather does, dig the food waste directly into the ground on a rotation basis.

Look out for Part Three – More things to do to reduce our impact on the world.

Part One :
Part Three :

Friday, 28 January 2011

Confessions of a Wannabe Eco Warrior: Part One

I was brought up to have an awareness of the world around me, my Nan was a green campaigner, specifically protesting against the development of nuclear weapons and so I feel like it’s a part of me somehow, in my genes if you like!

So it was no surprise to my mother I would imagine when I came home with the leaflet from a petition I’d signed to stop the testing on animals for cosmetics etc. I was as furious as any 12 year old can be and I started writing letters, to the Prime Minister, to the cosmetics companies, to my local paper, anyone who would listen, but mainly those who wouldn’t. At times, as a young person, I felt utterly overwhelmed by the enormity of the issues of animal cruelty, what could I do?

As I grew up I carried on with the letters etc and a couple of protests at school, I learnt about other issues going on in the world, injustices towards children in the developing world, continuing prejudices on my own doorstep… It really sometimes feels like too much. How is it that the world seems to have come so far and still have such things going on in the world. It would be easy to get caught at that stage of the process and though its not for everyone to tie themselves to endangered trees, break into testing facilities or get arrested for protesting at nuclear weapon storage sites (yes, I’m talking about you Nan), there is still something that the rest of us, everyday people can do.

It’s taken me a long time to realize the power in numbers. But my primary responsibility is my own contribution to those larger numbers. I’ve had conversations with people who say there’s no point in boycotting Nestle/recycling/reducing food waste etc because no one else will do it. But I can’t help what other people do, I can however do what I CAN do - there is nothing wrong with that and everything right with it. Also, by living according to your values, we set examples for our children. My kids separate their rubbish… they are 5 and 3 years old. Tomorrows eco warriors? Maybe, but what they will grow up knowing is that we all, individually, need to do our bit to make a difference.

What I’ll be looking at in the next couple of blog posts is firstly the simple, everyday things we can do to save the world. Next I’ll look at some of the world wide issues we need to be aware of so we can bear these in mind in regards to the companies we deal with and buy from. So do come back next time, feel free to comment and add your own top tips and thoughts. My own are by no means exhaustive!

Part Two :
Part Three :

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Wordless Wednesday

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Sunday, 23 January 2011


The last time I made a genuine effort to lose weight was before my eldest was born and I lost 33lbs. Quite impressive even if I do say so myself.

Now I have around 14lbs to lose, the byproduct of birthing 3 children. Not that I can blame them entirely of course, but everyone needs a fall-guy right? A small note on the picture I chose for this post - only I know the enormous amount of willpower going on in that picture of my son and his birthday cake! It's not a trait I possess in spades, nor a trait that his Father, who does admittedly have more than me, has passed to him. What a little angel.

I absolutely see the benefit and yes necessity of losing that weight and getting into shape but my inclination seems to have packed its slimline bag and trotted off into the chocolate laden sunset, leaving me wondering whether 'just one' makes a difference.

Believe it or not, I used to run. I ran the 5k women's challenge in Londons Hyde Park. It was a brilliant experience, I found out later that I was 6 weeks pregnant with my daughter. The difference that being fit made to my body shape was significant, I could fit happily into slim line jeans and I felt more buoyant, more cheerful in the mornings even. Must have been the extra happy hormones the exercise sent rushing through my body.

I need to do this really. How ridiculous to know how much better I'd feel from experience, but not do anything about it. Is one more chocolate really going to matter in the grand scheme of things? Well actually in my case yes. Because 1 simply isn't enough. Even the additional 500 calories I'm entitled to due to the breastfeeding don't cover the chocolate I occasionally consume!

So where the heck to start? Do I join a program like last time (Slimming World)? Do I count calories? Fat content? Do I try another program like Weight Watchers? I can get an App for that!

Shame I can't get an App that loses the weight for me!
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Saturday, 22 January 2011

All done bar the shouting (aka paperwork)

Now I only need to write essays for fun! Yes, its all done. All that's left is to put the folder in the post. It's out of my hands.

That's not to say I didn't enjoy the writing aspect of the course, as I did immensely, its just I feel ready now for a period of writing without having to worry about getting my references perfect. Or in fact, write without referring to anyone. Love blogging.

The relief is palpable. I sat down this evening without that moment of thinking "I should be writing an essay".

So now I can start looking forward. I have a break planned, as in, I'm not starting teaching until I've started back to work, settled in a little, when life has started to get used to the new rhythm if my being back at 'normal' work will bring. I'm looking forward to teaching, to start building to my own experience, to improve, to become a better breastfeeding counsellor. To start working with women. I've said it before and I'll say it again, women are extraordinary. The things they experience, in their hearts, bodies and minds... gracefully, creatively, stoicly, with patience, strength... To be involved with enabling women to be the woman SHE WANTS TO BE, that's a privilege.

Breastfeeding is such a huge part of that. The act itself is life giving. It's effects are further reaching than we know at present. Did you know that the risks of developing female cancers decreases significantly with every year of breastfeeding? Apparently less than 1 in 4 British women know that.

So that in mind, keeping my eyes on the prize; women comfortable in their own skins with the decisions they make, I look forward to the future, leaving my essays behind for the time being... and picking up my knitted class boob in the meantime.
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Friday, 21 January 2011

Salmon on Gnocchi (better than it sounds...)

The last time I was served Gnocchi it was with a cheese sauce and it was almost enough to put me off for life. So it was with a certain amout of trepidation that I had a go at this recipe. It's very easy to put together and takes about 45 mins or so.

You'll need...

Salmon fillets
2 x Courgette sliced diagonally
A red onion in wedges
A lemon in wedges too
400g of potato gnocchi
Handful of olives
Handful of fresh rocket
Fresh parsley to garnish
Olive oil

Put the courgette, red onion, lemon, gnocchi & olives in a roasting pan, drizzle with olive oil and put in a preheated to 200'c oven for 30 mins.

Take out and stir the vegetables then put the salmon fillets on top, sprinkle with pepper and put back into the oven until the Salmon is cooked, around 10-20 mins, depending on the size of the fish.

Take out, set aside the cooked Salmon while you mix in the rocket. Serve the vegetables onto plates, place the fish on top and garnish with the parsley.

Eat and enjoy!

I was concerned that this would be a bit boring without some kind of sauce as I am a bit of a condiment queen (what? No ketchup??) but it was lovely and light, the lemon really lifted the dish, I bought the best Salmon I could afford (for once) and it was SO WORTH IT.

I'm getting into this following a recipe lark, so now I'm thinking about what to do next time. Two weeks to go. I think something oriental in flavour so answers on a postcard (or in the comments... probably easier!)

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

3 Cheers for Miranda Kerr & Orlando Bloom

What a beautiful way to announce the birth of their child. And might I say a welcome relief to those of us who have felt like breastfeeding advocacy has been an uphill battle this week. (the BMJ have a lot to answer for, not least my raised blood pressure...).

So congratulations to them both, I wish Miranda and their baby a long and fulfilling breastfeeding journey.
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Tuesday, 18 January 2011

My Baby Breastfeeds Too Often

Your new baby never seems to stop feeding and people seem to be giving conflicting advice. Some say baby feeds so often because you don't have enough milk - baby is hungry so best to think about topping up...

But consider this. What if, your baby was a human being with feelings, moods, preferences and social needs as well as physiological needs? Think for a moment about when you eat and drink. Is every time simply about nutritional value? No! We sit and eat together, we go out for coffees together. It's often a social part of our lives. Babies are social beings with social needs. Sometimes we just would like a chocolate bar... why? Just because.

Take a piece of paper and give it a couple if headings; 'Time', 'food/drink consumed' and 'Duration'. Now think about a 24 hour period in a normal day according to you. Then note down every single thing that passes your lips, it may look a little like this.

6.45am - Coffee - 3 mins
8am - cereal and fruit juice - 10 mins
10.30am - glass of water - 2 mins
11.30am - muffin & coffee - 10 mins
1.45pm - lunch, sandwich, fruit & soda - 30 mins
3pm - Banana - 5 mins
3.30pm - a chocolate - 30 secs!
4pm - coffee - 3 mins
6pm - dinner, chicken, potatoes and vegetables - 45 mins
8.30pm - Tea or a glass of wine - 15 mins
10.30pm - glass of water - 5 mins

So that was 11 times in a fairly normal day that food or drink was consumed. That was also only in waking hours, so probably in a period of around 16 hours. So why are we so hung up on babies feeding on a 2,3,4 hour schedule? Do we say to ourselves when we fancy a glass of water, "oh no, I won't have that water because I only had lunch a half hour ago". Of course not. Do we decline meeting a friend for a coffee and muffin on the basis that its nutritionally unnecessary? Again, no.

Babies get a little thirsty sometimes and fancy a drink, sometimes they want a little snack, sometimes they want a full 3 course meal. Other times they just want a cuddle with benefits.

Babies haven't read the books. But they do know how they feel. They are uncluttered by dieting, food fads and body image issues, they simply ask for what they feel they want. Is your baby feeding too much?
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Monday, 17 January 2011

My names Michelle and I'm a Phoneaholic

I saw a blog prompt courtesy of @socialmoms "what's the one thing you couldn't live without for a week and why" and it captured my interest.

My first thought was my phone. Like most people now, its not just a phone, its my access to the world... email, Facebook, Twitterland, texting, talking, calendar, note taking, blogging, internet... I even have my daily Bible reading program on it as well as the mini games like Angry Birds and Sudoku I play in the middle of the night while breastfeeding. Not forgetting that its my camera too; I het to instantly share gorgeous pics of my beautiful children with my family who don't live close. So not really an inconsequential thing in my life if truth be told.

I immediately felt terrible about that. Surely there's more to me than my Android phone! I could live without it, I know I could. And why am I left with the nagging suspicion I sound like some kind of addict?! Is being surgically attached to my phone an addiction? I've heard of people being addicted to video games, literally whole portions of their lives passing them by in a haze of The Sims and Call Of Duty.

Is my phone then having a negative impact on my life? How much do I really want to look into this. Just from these few lines I can see that the logical conclusion is a break from said phone just in order to prove I am not addicted.

"My name is Michelle and I am a phoneaholic"

Though I think it would be fairer to say what really attracts me to my phone (addicts me to it?!) is the access it provides me with. I've already detailed the things it allows me to do. My friends, my support network, my work, my hobbies... all have representatives in these techy mediums. To leave my phone means leaving them and those are the things, the people I am not prepared to go periods of time without.

So back to the question. My answer is still my phone, after much deliberation and soul searching. It's because its not just a phone, its my access to everything outside of my immediate circle and we now live in a bigger world than that... made to fit in the palm of my hand.
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Sunday, 16 January 2011

Faith, Family and The Rest...

I'm a Christian. A Christian mummy. I know that my calling right now (and indeed for the rest of my life) is being the best mother I can be.

But what about the rest? I know I have other 'things' in my life - the breastfeeding counselling, writing etc, but what about the conviction I've had all my Christian life that I'm meant to be doing something. Else that is.

I've read Proverbs 31 inside out and I long to be the woman there, industrious, creative, an excellent wife and mother but it is very easy to hold Mrs Proverbs up as a yardstick and find myself so incredibly lacking. God loves me, weaknesses and all, I have no doubt about that but I know I have more in me than I'm giving out right now.

I was prayed for in church this morning and he said that God does make almost 'allowances' for the childbearing years and don't hear me wrong, but knowing that doesn't make me much less frustrated. I suppose desire wise I'm in a good place. My heart wants more to my relationship with God than I have at the moment and I know that thats a good place to be.

I need to spend some time waiting on Him I guess. I do know he has it in hand, that he has my days planned and they are good and hopeful plans, but my impatient human mind sometimes gets the better of me.

I think though that this year something will change. I know too that we won't be facing it alone.
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Friday, 14 January 2011

Yet another unfounded attack on Breastfeeding

Had a nasty surprise to start the day when I was unpleasantly woken up by the radio. I dislike early mornings at the best of times but to wake up to the news that comments in the British Medical Journal appear to undermine breastfeeding... bad start to my day.

The media are quick to spot a sensationalist story when they see one and so the headlines quickly became 'breastfeeding not best for first 6 months'. Utterly inaccurate interpretations of the comments anyway, but no doubt the outcome has had formula milk companies rubbing their hands in money grubbing glee.

An attack on breastfeeding is a direct hit in favour of baby milk companies who ultimately, no matter how much the advertising tells us that they have our babies health at heart, only really care about their bottom line.

3 out of the 4 contributors to the BMJ article are funded by, yes you guessed it, baby milk companies. They stand to gain financially by being mouthpieces for these immoral and unethical companies.

UNICEF published an excellent response today and you can access it through this link.

They address each ludicrous point with facts, figures, quotes and integrity, unlike the BMJ, which has obviously lost sight of that quality.

Breastfeeding is worth defending. It has sustained the human race for thousands of years and it is no small coincidence that actually food intolerances have increased since we started to feed our babies the milk intended for another species. Human milk is specially designed for human babies. Not a difficult concept to grasp.
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Wednesday, 12 January 2011

The Weather and The Economy

There's a few things at the moment that any Brit can be drawn on. Snow (aka any weather whatsoever, what can we say, we are a bit of an authority on it... weather that is. We are crap at snow) and the economy.

It cost me £70 to fill my tank with Diesel last week. My food shopping bill has gone up in the last year by approximately £30 per month (and I shop around). My insurance for house, car and pets has gone up. Tax credits are being cut, and child benefit will follow undoubtedly within the next couple if years.

My wage is frozen. I'm not blaming the company for that, but it really is a sign if the times when rather than being annoyed at no yearly wage increase, we're simply relieved to have a job at all.

So how do the big banks justify their massive bonuses when the normal people are struggling so much to simply lead normal lives? Their profits are creamed off the UK taxpayers and its simply not right. I'd love to see them feed a family of 5 on my budget.

Ok, rant over. *steps off soapbox and stacks it neatly to the side*
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Monday, 10 January 2011

Time to write?

Today, 3 years after making the decision, I took the plunge, put my money where my mouth is and signed up to a writing course.

There are a couple of reasons it took this long, one major one being I was already on a course which required me to write and I really find that writing uses lot of my creative energy and I didn't have 'enough left of me' after the essays I've been writing, to devote to creative writing. So here I am. The essays are done, I am well and truly set on that road that the course put me on and I'm happy with it. So happy in fact that I felt now was the right time to do this.

I know that there is a school of thought that says if you want to write, then write. You don't need to do a course, but for me, the structure will be helpful so that is behind my reasoning for signing up... that and the fact I have no idea if I'm really any good or not at this!

Another reason for going for it is that I turned 30 last year and I feel that if I want to make some life changes, then now is the time to do it.

I am wondering if it will have an effect on my blogging though. My Diploma did. I didn't feel I could blog that much about it owing to the strong self reflective nature of the course. I need to keep some of me for me if you see what I mean! Going to just see how it goes. I feel like my life has a certain organic quality to it at the moment so I am happy to go with the flow right now.

Is there something you have been putting off? Don't let it pass you by.
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Sunday, 9 January 2011

In which my body read a different book to my midwife

When I was pregnant with my 3rd child, I mentioned to my midwife that I had an interest in having a homebirth. For a couple of panic stricken moments she simply stared at me. On that basis alone you would assume that she was anti-homebirth. But I happen to know she's not. Her reaction was purely to do with my birthing history. My first child was born by cesarean section.

When I got pregnant that first time, I was full of plans for a natural birth. My own mother had given birth naturally with no problems, 5 times. In fact of all the women in my life I only knew one who'd had a section and that was following severe complications.

So when it came about that I had to have a cesarean as a result of Jayden being in a transverse breech lie, I felt that my body had let me down without so much as a murmur of objection. They tried to turn him with an External Cephalic Version but no joy. I was booked to have him ejected through the fire escape a week later.

Incidentally I went into labour the day before my scheduled due date so I did experience some labour, and when my waters broke with meconium, it was a surprise all round when my elective cesarean turned into an emergency.

The feelings of inadequacy dogged me for months after Jayden was born, in fact for a couple of weeks I couldn't escape the feeling that someone would walk in the door and ask for him back... I hadn't given birth to him so therefore he wasn't mine to keep. I now know I'm not alone in those fears but at the time it was awful.

So second time round, I was delighted to have a natural birth, albeit in the hospital, rigged up to monitors etc as there is an increased risk of uterine rupture in a labour following a cesarean. I managed on gas'n'air alongside my TENS machine and Reuben made a fairly efficient entry into the world with 5 hours of established labour and 21 minutes of pushing. It was amazing and no lingering thoughts that I didn't give birth to him. In fact the borderline 3rd tear bore testimony to the birth itself. Eek.

So back to Daisys birth. My midwife basically said no to the homebirth. I absolutely appreciate I could have persevered and chosen to push on through (no pun intended) but I didn't really have the energy. Reubens birth had been incredible, I had no major objections to the hospital so I let it go. Also I was already worn down with SPD (symphysis pubis dysfunction, whereby in my case my pelvis started to come apart, excruciatingly painful) and I felt I didn't have that particular fight in me.

I was however sold on the benefits of homebirth which include feeling more relaxed in your own home environment, aided by an extra hormone dose of Oxytocin, the love hormone.

There's also a lower risk of intervention and subsequent cesarean. A real selling point for me. So as a trade off, I decided to stay at home as long as possible.

When Daisy was a week overdue, I was beginning to think she was taking me too literally and a sweep by my midwife got the ball rolling. I was very keen to avoid any other kind of induction due to the related higher risk of another section so I was very relieved when the contractions finally made a regular appearance at around 5pm.

They honestly were not bad at all, really manageable but I rang the delivery suite at 9.40pm to say that I was out here and labouring and I'd think about coming in in a couple of hours. A few minutes later, oops there goes my waters. I rang then back to say I was on my way as they're getting serious (the contractions that is, not the phonecalls) and I went to get off the sofa a couple minutes before 10pm. Immediately 'something' changed. I threw the phone at my husband, growling at him to ring 999, got into my knees and started to push.

The paramedics walked into my lounge at 10.09pm. Daisy had been born a minute before. It was the most extraordinary experience if my whole life. 20 minutes later I was sat cuddling my baby on my cushions with a cuppa.

Each of my births totally different. I'd recommend a homebirth to anyone who can see no logical reason why not. My only regret is not intentionally having my homebirth. It would have avoided that micro second of doubt when I yelled at Kev "I'm not having this baby here!". If we had got in the car sooner I would have given birth either in the car or at the roadside, which while might have been a cool story to tell post partum, was not in my list of ideal scenarios.

I love all 3 of my birth stories and this post could have been 3 times as long. Highly medicalised cesarean section, a natural hospital VBAC and a homebirth VBAC. Yes, even the c-sec because the net result was my beautiful boy.

Do I have a point? I guess I'd like to say to cesarean mothers a couple of things.1) The baby is yours. You gave birth and you are amazing (wish someone had said that to me) 2) a cushion post partum is your best friend.

To cesarean mothers expecting another child 1) However this baby is born, it is still your babys amazing birth and you'll still love the story 2) VBAC is worth a shot if medically possible, don't simply rely on your midwifes first reaction. If you want to give it a go, do your research and go for it.

It's your body, your birth, your baby.
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Saturday, 8 January 2011

Easy Peasy Stuffed Chicken Kievs

So here goes, another attempt at a recipe. It's really easy as even I could do it and its already established that I am no culinary goddess. I was given some chicken breasts which is how this came about, I can't normally afford to buy them, so I thought what could I do and here is what happened. (it looks pretty good too)

This makes 4 Kievs so you need 4 chicken breasts (well duh)

First I made the stuffing.

3 tbsp breadcrumbs
4 tbsp grated cheese
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp herbs of your choice, I used Basil

Mix it all up into a paste and set aside.


1 cup of breadcrumbs
2 rashers of crispy fried Bacon chopped finely
3 tbsp grated cheese
I also chucked in 1 tbsp of crispy onion bits I happened to have in the cupboard

You'll need these things to finish them up

1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard

How to make 'em.

* Using a Sharp knife, cut into the chicken breasts creating 'pockets'
* Divide the stuffing and push into the pockets.
* Put them into a greased baking tray
* Spread them with the remaining butter and the wholegrain mustard.
* Divide the topping and press it over the chicken breasts
* Put in a preheated oven (200'c) for 30-40 mins, or until you're sure the chicken is cooked and the topping is golden

Serve with veg of your choice and enjoy. You don't need ketchup ;)
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Friday, 7 January 2011

A risky topic

A few blog ideas bumbling around my sleep deprived brain currently but I didn't feel I could let this moment pass without a thought for the twin boys who were aborted in Australia for being the wrong gender.

I would definitely consider myself to be pro-life so this would come as no surprise to those that know me. But I do think that this goes beyond a simple pro-life argument.

Currently most places that have laws particular to abortion say that abortion can be granted if there are health risks, including psychiatric health, to the mother, or if the fetus/baby has serious health problems. (obviously there are great variations across the world, but this is I would say a simple catch all).

So where does aborting babies because they are the wrong gender fit into that?

The parents had incredibly sadly lost a baby girl in the past and as a mother I can only begin to imagine their heartbreak. They have 3 other sons and when they found out they were pregnant with twin boys through IVF treatment, they aborted them because they want a girl.

They are quick to stress that they don't want a girl to replace the girl they lost but seriously... do they honestly believe that? Would having more boys cause her to develop psychiatric problems?

In my previous life as a youth worker, a girl told me that she could get an abortion by telling the doctor that she'd kill herself if she couldn't abort the fetus. Thus to avoid the endangerment of the mother, an abortion would be granted. She told me this is the 'best way' to get an abortion.

This Australian woman already has 3 boys. No one could tell me that she would be considered a suicide risk if she was to have those babies. She surely wouldn't leave them. The article went on to quote the father as saying its their right to have the exact baby they want. But is it anyone's right to have a baby?

I know that pro-choice advocates believe that a woman has the right to do whatever she sees fit with her body, and that includes aborting as she wishes but surely there has to be some line? A line that says that choosing a baby based on gender is no different to discriminating on any basis.

Perhaps I'm flogging a dead horse, afterall I do know that a fundamental part of the pro-choice argument is that the baby isn't a life of its own until it is born, that up to that point it is a part of the mother, but I do feel that this is no real reason to abort babies.

I can see and even understand the reasoning behind abortions following rape, incest, too young mothers, severe health issues on the part of the mother or child, in fact my husband has always said that in that situation ie, my pregnancy put my life at risk, that he'd choose me. Abortion was envisioned as a kind if protection I guess when it was legalized. So I get it, I'm not that tunnel visioned, but this, I don't get.

Those baby boys were discarded simply because they were not girls. I feel sad that this is the point the human race has got to. 1000's of people across the world are desperate for children, they don't care about the gender because the gender really doesn't matter. We want children because we want children.

I think I've run myself out if steam on this, I am very tired, but more than that, I feel helpless. I can't help the feeling that those babies didn't need to die, pro-choice, pro-life aside.

I think I'll choose a more cheerful topic next time.
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Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Biological and Laidback Breastfeeding

There has been a bit of a revival around this subject over the last few years. However its not a new topic by any means.

Before breastfeeding books and gurus, new mothers had to rely on their instincts and on the women around them. Women and girls would have seen breastfeeding happening all the time, it was perfectly natural and to be blunt, there was no other choice. Babies who were not breastfed, either by their own mother or by another lactating woman in the group, would die. Choice was not a luxury of the pre modern woman.

So back to instincts. Suzanne Colson wrote about biological nurturing and the principle of breastfeeding being a continuation of the baby being in the womb (source: Womb to World, A Metabolic Perspective in Midwifery Today, 2002) and I've long found the idea that a baby is born with all the 'tools' it needs to breastfeed truly fascinating.

Mothers have historically misread the signs of a newborn baby. Where thrashing hands and feet are seen, it is often presumed that the baby is fighting with the mother and actually doesn't want to breastfeed. In fact, those movements are the babys attempt to propel itself toward the breast. Another common one is the head bobbing. Sometimes this is perceived to be baby trying to get away from Mum. This is just not the case. Baby is bobbing his head around to locate the darker areola.

Colson carried out research and actually filmed babies making their way, virtually unaided to Mums breast. It's extraordinary.

So how to do it?

Mother needs to lie back with all parts of her body totally supported. Yes... relax! Then baby lays on top of mother, completely supported by her. The baby can be at any angle but I've seen it generally with feet lower on mothers abdomen. Then basically wait. Allow baby to take the lead and the bobbing, arm and leg movements will get the baby where they want to be.

A note of common sense. If the baby is already screaming their little head off, then this is unlikely to work. This idea is based on the premise that the babys cues have already been followed in the lead up to a feed. Baby can tell you when they're hungry without resorting to crying.

* Hand to mouth
* sucking movements
*head bobbing and rooting
* lip smacking/ pursing
* hands wriggling/massaging

These can be observed even before the baby has woken. Babies really are amazing and by looking out for these cues, life with a newborn can be much less stressful all round.
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Tuesday, 4 January 2011

They forgot his name tag

Reuben started his first afternoon session at nursery today. He'll be going Tuesday to Thursday afternoons then 8.45-3.15 on Fridays. He loves it there and has been getting on so well and then today we arrived, he was excitedly taking off his coat, throwing his bag in the box then went to the name tag table.

He got there and stopped. Stood staring at it blankly. It took me a moment to see what was wrong, and a millisecond to see what was coming next. He turned and looked at me, confusion written all over his little face. He looked back at the table. Frozen. He literally couldn't move on because he was stalled. His next move had been unexpectedly taken from him and he was now totally thrown.

Surely Mummy can save the day? Apparently not. I asked what happened to his name tag and they replied that they hadn't been able to find it and they'll probably have to make a new one.

Tried explaining that one to a child who has limited understanding and even less communication skills? Hmm. It's obviously not the nurserys fault, these things happen, that's not the point here. Poor Reuben is stuck at the launch deck because of a small piece of laminated card with his name and a Penguin on.

He went from excited, chatty and happy to be running in to play, to uncertain, virtually mute and hand-wringing in the space of 5 seconds.

I do know that abrupt mood changes are not uncommon inn toddlers, but as part of the bigger picture which is my son, this is one of the many things I worry about for him. He took quite a while of coaxing to engage with the room again, he kept looking at the table. Almost like he expected it to appear again, not quite believing that this had really happened.

I also know that people looking in may think that its just something he has to learn, flexibility. But I know in my gut that thia is not that simple. He can be flexible and distractions do occasionally work but not with certain things and certain routines. The safety of some routines give him freedom. I'm not a routine driven person so this doesn't come easily to me but where it is helpful to him, I'll do it.

So Dear Nursery, please please have found the tag by tomorrow, it might seem a small thing to us, but its the difference between being stranded in the pit stop and flying round the track to my little boy.
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Monday, 3 January 2011

Boobtastic Media Storm

I'd like to say I'm surprised bit unfortunately I'm not. Today is the day that Facebooks double standards strike again. The Leaky Boob, a wonderful online breastfeeding support community has had its pages disabled.

Apparently it is perfectly acceptable for a page to stay online that gratuitously celebrates leering at breasts, but a community of like minded women supporting one another is deemed obscene.

What's going on? In many countries in the world now its illegal to move on a breastfeeding woman (UK, Indonesia, some US States to name a few) so why can't Facebook get with the program?

Facebook listen to us! There is nothing obscene about breastfeeding! We show less boob than most clothes you'll see out and about on a club night in town.

Its been amazing to see the wave of support come out, with literally 1000's of people signing up to temporary pages in support of The Leaky Boob and its still early days. Never underestimate the power of community!

4000+ women supporters can't all be wrong so before this gets too out of hand, have a go at doing the right thing for once and reinstate the page.
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Sunday, 2 January 2011

New Year etc...

I couldn't quite bring myself to type 'resolutions' as I invariably disgrace myself by failing miserably. So this year I'm going to do things a little different. I have one, yes ONE proper new years resolution.

* Stop biting my nails. As my mother says, "you're 30 now, its time you gave that up".

The rest of my 'new years etc' are as follows. The theory being that by not having a list I can't fail. How very defeatist of me...

* Find a bible reading plan that actually works for me. Not sure why I end up bombing out on this with such alarming regularity.

* Finally finish my daughters bedroom. It has such marvellous pink potential. The fact that she won't be in it for a while yet is neither here nor there, its half done and as such is making ME feel half done. Annoying.

* Perhaps add a bit more structure to my blog. Eg, Feeding Friday, something or other Saturday. Hmm, may need some more work but you get the general idea. More on that in a later blog presumably.

* Lose 14lb. Ok so that does sound a little like a new years resolution.

* Get a short story published

* Graduate as a breastfeeding counsellor finally and start teaching

* Still be in some kind of gainful employment at the end of the year. And by that I mean that if I do get made redundant, that I quickly find another decent job... though closer to home would be nifty.

Add to the above the "doesn't really need to be said but I'll say it anyway in case someone thinks I'm a bad person" stuff such as being the best mummy and wife I can be, remain hopeful that Reubens heart will be perfectly ok, and actually I may have just written a list of new years resolutions after all.


What list haven't you written?
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Saturday, 1 January 2011

A New Years Story for you...

Clare bit her pencil and she read back her list of New Years Resolutions. The usual suspects appeared, as expected, year after year, flowing unprovoked from her pencil tip and of course year after year, here she was, writing the same list again.

She broke off to get herself a cuppa and stood staring out of the kitchen window. On this clear Saturday morning there was a slight mist and a glaze of frost on the grass, transforming the garden into a sparkly winter wonderland. Of course the garden was on the list again, ‘keep garden tidy’ was up there with ‘buy a composter’. Like it was every year, no surprise there then.

Likewise, ‘eat less biscuits’, ‘keep on top of housework’, ‘stop biting nails’, ‘do more arty things with the kids’. The latter had actually made a valiant attempt at sticking power, the potato prints and homemade cards lasting well into March but even that had trailed off into leaving them to it with the posterpaints, albeit with a brief foray into toilet tube rockets in October.

Clare sighed. This was not going very well, at this rate she would talk herself out of writing them entirely and that was surely not the point. People make new years resolutions all the time, well once a year anyway and the tradition apparently continues so there must be something in it.
Also where would the stop smoking and the weightloss clubs be without the annual resolutions she mused, mentally adding another one to her own list, with a little dotty line leading from ‘eat less biscuits’.

Chewing a nail thoughtfully, Clare sat back at the table, picking up her pencil once again and wrote carefully in the squashed space between ‘New Years Resolutions’ and ‘stop biting nails’; ‘keep New Years Resolutions’, and sat back, staring at the line.

Now, she thought, I have overstepped the line. I have well and truly set myself up for failure and there’s not a chance of lasting past February with any of them, nevermind flying to the moon on a cardboard rocket in October. She added ‘try to’ at the beginning of the sentence and stared at it again. Yes, that seemed a little more forgiving.

She sat for a while longer looking at the list, then in an attempt to clear her head, got up from the table and got started on the housework, starting in the lounge where there was a carpet of building bricks and pony figurines, intermingled with a couple of empty breakfast bowls, abandoned as the culprits raced out the door with Clares sister who had promised them Ice skating this morning and Clare had been too pleased to get a couple of hours to herself to bother insisting they tidy the place before they left.

Taking the bowls back into the kitchen, she picked up the debris of Daves breakfast from the dining room, again, abandoned as he too rushed out the door to an emergency gas leak job. Almost too late, she avoided stumbling over his trainers in the middle of the floor, then scooped up a towel from the chairr, noting the dust bunnies hovering at the side of the bookshelves on the laminate flooring.

She put the dishes in the sink, returned to her list and wrote ‘get family to agree to tidy up rota’ and immediately scrubbed it out, laughing silently to herself and wrote on the next line ‘hire cleaner’. Allowing herself to laugh out loud to that one, she again put a line through it and wrote instead ‘photograph all flying pigs’, threw the pencil on the table and went off around the house collecting up the laundry, returning a few minutes later to the kitchen, separating it into piles with a martyred air.

The first load safely installed on its wash cycle, Clare once more sat down and looked at her page of Resolutions. She scored a line though the flying pigs comment and wrote on the next line ‘join pottery class’. Pleased with that one, she leant over to the biscuit barrel and scooped out a custard cream, and promptly dropped it again, guiltily glancing at the 2nd resolution regarding biscuits on the list.

She reached for another piece of paper and wrote ‘Shopping List’ at the top and the first item was ‘low fat biscuits’. Returning to the resolutions page, she scrubbed out ‘biscuits’ and replaced it with ‘fatty foods’. She then added ‘download fat free family friendly recipes online’ and drew a line from it to the previously written ‘join weightloss club’.

After starting the shopping list with ‘low fat biscuits’ it seemed rude not to continue and once the list was more or less complete, Clare added a new line to the Resolutions page; ‘do online food shopping in order to limit impulse buying’. She then hurriedly added ‘spend less time on the computer’, wincing as she remembered playing Solitaire for hours on end one evening while Dave was out on a job and the latest TV talent show had ended so there was nothing on the box to watch.

Looking up at the clock, she realized that the children would be home soon and the peace would be shattered, closely followed by Dave, the whirlwind who had passed his energy onto his offspring. Where has the time gone she thought, and added ‘be more organized - make more time’ to the list of resolutions, squeezing it in at the bottom, squashing it up so the word ‘time’ was hardly visible

She surveyed her handiwork, which now looked more like a spider diagram than a list. All these things vying for attention. Offshoots flying off in different directions, creating a chaotic image of a life needing resolutions to restore order. Glancing at the clock, she picked up a new sheet of paper, wrote one word on it then made a couple of phone calls and made lunch ready for when her family returned.

That evening, Clare sat in the lounge with Dave after putting two very tired children to bed; freshly made toilet-roll robot and rabbit in pride of place on the mantlepiece. Looking up from the footie on the telly, Dave said “few messages on the phone for you, Lovely Landscapes and Carols Cleaning Services, both confirming appointments for Monday and a weird one from Potty about Pots, saying they have space on Thursdays, hope that means more to you than me”, and promptly turned back to his match.

Reaching for a chocolate chip cookie, Clare thought of the new sheet of paper stuck on her fridge, one word in the middle of it, nearly three hours in the making really, replacing the spidery list, now crumpled in a ball in the waste paper basket. It’s what it all boils down to really. The only thing that is important, and her only New Years Resolution this year was to make it happen. TIME.
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Comedy of Errors vs Greek Tragedy

That's how this whole thing with Reuben feels right now. An eclectic mix of the two.

He had an ENT appt yesterday (Ear, Nose & Throat) in Eastbourne hospital. He was seen by the consultant rather than the registrar due to his severe speech delay and after checking his ear drums again, he said he wants to schedule grommets surgery straight away, can we come in next week.

He said that though Reuben can hear generally, its muffled, so not much clarity and this is likely to be having an effect on his speech development. The window of real opportunity for speech development is 0-5 years and he said that as his speech is so affected he doesn't want to delay at all.

But here's the kicker. We are whizzing through some surgery stuff and heart issues are mentioned and I asked would it be ok... consultant looks at his notes... there's nothing there about Reubens heart.

So he then says obviously he can't do the surgery without a go ahead from the consultant anesthetist (sp?) and he would in all likelihood say that he's unhappy to put him under without the go ahead from the cardiologist.

So we are back to waiting for the 11th Feb. Could anything else hang on this date?! It's also my last day of freedom as I return to work on 14th Feb. Happy valentines me!
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