Friday, November 21, 2014

Surviving life with a newborn

I'm not even going to sugarcoat it - life with a newborn is hard! There are emotional swings from low to high and back again. You run on little to no sleep. Better still, if you have other children, they don't understand that you're tired and they still want the same amount of attention. Same with the husband because he gets to sleep through while you're up breastfeeding so wakes up fresh as a daisy. It's exhausting, repetitive, and honestly, under appreciated by everyone except your baby. Luckily, I've pulled together a list of survival tips that help me get through!

1. Have a support network. Whether this is other mums, Facebook groups, a friend on speed dial, your partner... whoever. Have a network in place so you have somewhere to vent, chat, ask advice, and get some social interaction.

I tell you, having a friend who has also recently had a baby to chat to has saved my sanity! Even better if some of that support is online so you can scroll/read/chat while you're up overnight feeding and settling the baby.

Night time feeds and settling go faster with a phone in hand for selfies and support!
2. Prepare meals and snacks in advance. I'm not just talking about for outings here, but I'm talking about for the times when everyone is the house is bone-deep tired. Or when the spouse has gone back to work and there is no one to whip up something to eat while you're trapped under a hungry babe. You can rummage around in the fridge or freezer and unearth something relatively healthy and nutritious without having to resort to the takeaway pizza option again.

3. If people offer to help out, let them. Honestly. There is no shame in that - you have a newborn, you are allowed to have a messy house, accumulated laundry and an empty pantry. But if someone genuinely offers a hand, take it without guilt - and be specific, for example:

 "It would be great if you could bring me a loaf of bread and some milk on your way over. Oh ok, and a Malteaser Reindeer as well, thanks."

 "Would you mind holding and distracting the baby while I nap for 15 minutes."

 "Yes I'd love some of your delicious home made cookies since you're kindly offering."

 "You made me mushroom risotto? You shouldn't have! But I'm glad you did... now excuse me while I start eating it already..."

4. Distract the toddler. My toddler has the best of helpful intentions but sometimes things go awry. I don't want to keep her from her baby brother but she needs to learn to stop waking him, or trying to share her bottle of milk while I'm feeding him. Distraction is key here. I ask her to read me a story. To fetch something for me. Whether she would like me to scratch her back or give her a cuddle. To make me a (pretend) cup of tea. She is happy and attended to, I get a few minutes of respite. If all else fails, I send her and Mr Fork off on a daddy/daughter outing. This obviously does not suffice when he is back at work and I'm on my own though...

5. Connect with your partner. I totally get touched out on a daily basis. I have Jimmy on me all the time, and Ellie attached for a good part of each day and night too. I realise though, that poor Mr Fork needs attention also so I make a mammoth effort to snuggle with him, to chat about topics that aren't the children and to generally let him know that I appreciate all he does to help me. Even if he does get to peacefully snore while I'm up hourly with Jim each night... I acknowledge that he does bring me coffee and breakfast in bed, and he distracts Ellie so Jimmy sleeps peacefully while I get to eat it.

6. Take time for yourself. It's been hot in Brisbane lately. So hot. Jimmy is constantly snacking and cluster feeding, so there is definitely sweat, stale milk smell and a general feeling that I'm over having a babe attached at the end of each day. So when Mr Fork takes pity on me and pries James from my chest you better believe I bolt for the shower and lock the door before Ellie can follow. I leisurely wash my hair, scrub my face, shave my legs and because I'm a mum I scrub the shower too. It is seriously the best 5 touch free minutes of my life, and I emerge human, re-energised and enthusiastic once again, and ready to be reattached to the infant. Do something like that. Make a hot chocolate. Have tea. Go outside and walk around barefoot in the garden... just escape for a few minutes and take some me-time when the opportunity presents itself.

7. Babywear. Seriously. Sometimes, I just can't figure out what Jimmy wants. He is fed. His nappy is changed. He's been burped, he is not tired, but he just won't settle. Baby wearing to the rescue. He is just about 3 weeks old now and perfectly happy in both the ring sling and a wrap, as long as he is wrapped on mama.

Sakura bloom twilight ring sling gets the shopping done
I also think that it helps with his digestion (I mentioned his lip/tongue tie previously, well it makes him a little gassy and uncomfortable after a feed). In fact, in the interest of sharing, here's a picture of how I am writing this blog post, with Jimmy happily wrapped against me. He gets to snuggle, I get to move away from my room and get things done around the house. Win, win!

Didymos Inka in FWCC gets the blog post written
What are your tips for surviving life with a new born?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

5 ways the second baby is different from your first

I've got to be honest - Jimmy is a good baby. I hope I haven't jinxed myself saying that, but it's true. He's very zen and chilled out, and really, I'm just relaxed and enjoying him. Of course, he is snoozing in the ring sling against my chest as I type this, so it could be the sleep deprived mama hormones talking... but I think not.

Before he came, I worried and questioned.  Would love him as much as I loved Ellie? How would Ellie adjust to being a big sister? How would I cope with two? Is breastfeeding going to be as hard this time around?

Turns out all of that worry and fretting was unnecessary. Yes, the first days are hard, getting used to sleep deprivation and cluster feeding and adjusting the family dynamic. There are definite silver linings though, so here are my thoughts on ways the second child is different from the first.

1. You've done it all before, so you know what 'normal' feels like

Yes, I complained that doctors were treating me like I knew what I was doing during pregnancy and labour because I'd done it all of once before. In reality though, you know what you're doing. Or should I say, you know what normal is and you know when it's just not right.

I pushed for extra testing when I got itchy because I knew what cholestasis felt like the first time around. I argued not to be sent home from the labour ward because I knew I gave birth quickly and I didn't want to do it on the roadside. I did not feel guilty asking for extra assistance or help in hospital, and for making use of all the available resources and knowledge there.

I got help for feeding early because I knew it wasn't right despite being told by several health professionals that everything was fine.

I've done it before, so I know what does and doesn't feel right. I'm also not afraid to speak up and ask for help or second opinions.

2. You know that it won't hurt them to cry for 2 seconds while you dash to the toilet

With Ellie, every little cry she made, I was in there. Is she cold, is she wet, does she smell, should I feed her? She owned me, which is not a bad thing at all. However, when it came time to choose her over the toilet for example, I would pick her and rock in silent discomfort (wouldn't dare to wake the sleeping babe) while my bladder nearly burst. Now, I know that Jimmy will be just fine while I dash off quickly. After all, I'm sure he'd much rather have a happy and comfortable mama when we settle in for those marathon feeding sessions he's so fond of.

3. Excretion is funnier

I have never been peed on so much in my life. Or pooped on come to think of it. Little boys seem so much more explosive. Just taking the nappy off Jimmy appears to be code for 'yes please, even though you've clearly just weed, aim some more my way'. Mr Fork and I had both forgotten how much newborns poop, and we've both made the mistake of taking off the nappy before he's done... cue screams of anguish as we get covered in streams of warm excrement. I'll be honest, I laughed hysterically when it happened to Mr Fork the first time. Not so hilarious when it was my turn (but still funny).

Cue stripping down the change table, the baby and gingerly removing our own outfits over our head and bolting to the shower. Spit up just seems so passé and normal now... oh, you've vomited down my back? That's ok, at least it wasn't poop....

4. It's lovely to see your older child with the new baby

Ellie could not be a better big sister. There is so much love there, and it really does bring a tear to my eye when she interacts with her baby brother (damn postnatal hormones). We made sure to include her in the pregnancy as much as possible, she talked to her baby brother in utero, came to appointments with me, we read books and tried to prepare her as much as possible to be a big sister.

She has taken to it beautifully - when Jimmy cries she gets frantic and runs to check on him, screaming 'Baby James, sad!'. When I'm feeding she wants to sit close and touch his head, or lifts her shirt to feed her baby too. She is always asking to hold him on her lap and loves nothing more than to rub his back to help him burp. There is no jealousy, and I often have to stop her from 'sharing' (read, throwing) her toys at his head as he sleeps. What would be awesome though? If there was a little less love at (the frequent) bed times so Jimmy could actually sleep instead of being woken constantly by a loving big sister.

My fears that I might not love Jimmy as much as Ellie? Groundless. I loved him the second I held him, and I don't love Ellie any less. Although, now that I have a newborn, she appears to be a giant in comparison!

5. You appreciate night time snuggles more

With a second child, your attention is split during the day. I can't give James the individual attention that Ellie got as a newborn. Toddlers are demanding and attention seeking little people. No matter how tired I am and how zombie like I feel after being up all night feeding, I make sure to spend time with Ellie, snuggling, reading or baking while he sleeps. I pack up Jimmy into a sling or wrap and we take Ellie to the park or the library and make sure that she doesn't resent this new little human who makes such demands on mama and daddy's time.

So, night time is my time with Jimmy. It's when I can stroke his silky head, inhale that unique new born smell, feel his little hands clutching me, and just enjoy the feeling that I made this tiny human and he will call me mama. We just enjoy our time together, he and I, without anyone else demanding their share of my attention. Sure, I'd love more sleep. Sure, I'm like a zombie in the mornings, but they're only little for so long, and years later I won't remember the sleep I didn't get, but I will hold those new baby snuggles in my heart forever.

By the way, I struggled a bit with what to title this post. Fun? Better? Chilled? Finally I settled on different. I guess I just wanted to compare going from one to two children in a positive sort of way.

How was your second (or subsequent) baby different to the first?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Recipe: Apple oatmeal muffins

With a new baby in the house, it takes a lot of energy to keep up. When you add a toddler into the mix who is in turns enthusiastic about her new brother, and cross because she is no longer the centre of attention, it's a bit of a volatile mix. I'm well aware that Ellie is experiencing feelings of neglect and loneliness, so I make a big effort no matter how tired I am to spend time with her and let her know she is loved.

Part of that is continuing on with our mama/daughter baking tradition. With the large box of fruit we had available, we decided a fruity baking effort was called for. I decided that it should be something that would help enhance mama milk supplies, so what better to make than an apple oatmeal concoction?

Super easy, delicious, very forgiving in terms of ingredients and both toddler and mama approved! While I have called these apple muffins, they could quite easily be any other type of fruit as well.

Apple oatmeal muffins

  • 1 cup flour (I used wholemeal)
  • 1 ½ tsp baking  powder
  • 1 cup rolled oats (milk boosting qualities!)
  • 1 cup 'milk' (I've made these with both oat and soy options)
  • 2 tbsp  raw sugar
  • 1/3 cup oil (I used coconut)
  • fruit (I grated two small green apples, skin on) 

  1. Preheat oven to 180C and prepare your muffin tray.
  2. Mix all the ingredients together. The mixture will be quite thick. Spoon into your tray and bake 10 - 15 minutes.
  • Other fruit options could include grated  or chopped pear, apple, banana, berries, nectarine, peach, strawberry, cinnamon, apple and rhubarb, coconut - use your imagination! 
  • Any type of flour, milk, oil and fruit can be used - I have listed what I used but feel free to experiment.
  • For extra milk boosting qualities, I also added two tablespoons of brewers yeast to my mixture. I don't think that this impacted the flavour at all.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

What's in my kitchen, November 2014

In my kitchen is...

Bunches of flowers galore! Leaving work to go on maternity leave flowers and congratulations on the birth of Attila flowers. The house smells amazing and I light up every time I have to walk into that kitchen (which is a good thing, as I am tired, sleep deprived but also glowing with new mama happiness)

In my kitchen is...

A Sodastream play, which is patiently awaiting some attention. It is still in it's box because I haven't had the time or energy to get it out yet, but I am really looking forward to soda water on demand, reducing my eco footprint with the copious amounts of store bought soda water bottles and experimenting with delicious flavours. Shiraz cordial flavoured soda perhaps?

In my kitchen is...

An enormous box of fruit. This box was full to the top with locally grown apples, oranges, pears and mandarins. My father bought it for us because he thought it was something easy to snack on with the new baby in the house, and that Mr Fork and Ellie could easily help themselves. I need to start thinking up ways to use the fruit before it spoils though, so I'm thinking muffins, pies, cookies, juices and maybe even using some of the juice to make up more ice blocks for Ellie.

In my kitchen is...

Delicious vegan chocolate muffins, recipe courtesy of Kari from Bite-sized thoughts. She recently posted these up and I was immediately taken with them, and co-incidentally, Ellie had also recently gone off apple purees. Since I like to stock up on things when I see them on sale, I have lots of puree, and these muffins were crying out to be made. Also, Ellie and I needed some mama/daughter bonding time, so while the baby slept, we whipped up these little morsels, and then had the pleasure of snacking on them afterward. Everyone wins!

In my kitchen is...

Various things to increase milk supply, because, newborns are quite the little milk monsters!! I have breastfeeding tea which is a delicious blend of fennel, fenugreek, lemon balm, aniseed and caraway. I also have two flavours of Franjo's Kitchen tanker topper biscuits, in choc chip and fig and almond variety. The fig and almond one is more than a little bit scrumptious!

I am linking this post in with Fig Jam and Lime Cordial's monthly In My Kitchen event. Go have a peek through other kitchens around the globe!

What's in your kitchen this month?

Monday, November 3, 2014

Attila is here!!

Shortly after posting this photo on Instagram last week, complaining about how I was the most pregnant I had ever been and how uncomfortable I was, my waters broke. Maybe some of those bringing on labour methods worked?

A quick call to Mr Fork at work, some organising of care for Ellie and we were off to the hospital post haste (I tend to have short labours).

A few hours later, this scrumptious little man was born. Look what I made! Welcome Attila (now formally Jimmy)! Who knew that tummy was hiding a big 7lb 7oz baby? Not me... everything I'd packed for him to wear in hospital was too small. His sister was 5lb 12oz, so that's what I was going on. No wonder I was waddling around! Almost a whole kilogram of extra baby this time!!

Now excuse me. I have precious newborn cuddles to sneak in, a fresh baby head to sniff, endless feeding to do and much sleep to catch up on...

Friday, October 31, 2014

How does your garden grow, October 2014

Oh hey! Spring has sprung here at Chez Fork, and the garden is doing all kinds of wonderful things! Apologies in advance for the many images in this post. It's just managing to squeak in for the month too!

First up, that grass tree flower thing has topped out at well over 2m of that brown spiny stuff, and is finally starting to develop little blooms on it. I think they look at bit like fairies with all the fluffy white stuff, and I've been watching with interest as they take over the stalk. That stalk also has a personality of it's own - at the beginning of each day, it stands straight and tall, and when I look at it again in the afternoon, it droops over sadly as though holding itself upright all day has been a chore and it's tired now. I've never seen anything like it before.

My poor sad citrus are finally starting to come good again. The little mandarin tree is covered in lots of new growth and seems to sprout up a few centimetres each night!

The lemon tree, which was decimated by grasshoppers is now sprouting lots of new leaves all over stems which I'd thought were goners. It's a pretty purple/red sort of growth and I think it looks lovely against the existing green leaves.

The little lime tree is just covered in blossoms and new leaves. Mr Fork is quite excited at the thought that we may even get some fruit this year. It's a possibility, but I won't be holding my breath about it!

You can see in the background that the passionfruit is still going strong, but it doesn't seem to be as luscious as I'd like it to be. I might get out there and put some organic matter into the ground to encourage it. There are a few flowers, and I'm pleased to say, three fruit on the vine at last count! Hurrah! I'm not really sure what I did to make that happen though.

Mr Fork set up my new garden bed too. I've filled it, added compost and mulch and I'm just letting it sit while I decide what should go into it. I'm thinking some carrots and some tomato and perhaps even some cucumbers as they've been hideously priced lately.

My existing bed has some silverbeet which is doing quite well (at the back of the below picture), and the bok choi I think has finally dried out enough that I can harvest the seed pods and use the space for something else now.

The eggplants seem to be making a revival, which is nice.

I need another tomato to seed up, so hopefully with the warmer weather something will sprout from the dropped seeds in there.

I have some green potatoes which are no longer good for eating but are starting to sprout, so they've been put aside to work on growing a bit more, and then I'll dig them into a spare pile of dirt.

I've put in a new chilli seedling and it's doing well (albeit a little eaten) in a Styrofoam box with a lonely little lettuce.

The turf squares of grass are starting to root in, although Mr Fork is sad to see the brown patches, which he informs me are due to lawn grubs still. He is also tired of me making jokes about how much the dogs are enjoying the grass. What?! It's a pooch on the cooch! A hound on the ground! A dog arse on the grass.... ok fine.

How is your garden growing?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Natural ways to bring on labour?

I mentioned previously that I am currently the most pregnant I have ever been. Also, lucky me, Brisbane is having some of the hottest weather of the season. Oh lovely! So suffice to say, I am more than a little uncomfortable. The heat doesn't help, but I'm also rather large and ungainly, so I'm more than ready for Attila to come out. Any time now... or now...

I spend my days at the moment trying to encourage Attila to start the process. I know that when your body is ready, it's ready, but I'm sure a little incentive doesn't hurt right? There are plenty of natural suggestions out there to try.

Foremost with the suggestions is physical activity. So I've been really into the cleaning, the gardening and as much walking as I can comfortably do with this horrible heat and/or a toddler in tow. The cleaning part is discouraging though, as every time a room is cleaned, a puppy, or Ellie or Mr Fork will mess it up again.

Next on the list is food. I do love food, so I figure Attila might have picked up on some of that and be tempted out for more. Here's some of the things I've tried, from top, clockwise into the middle:

  1. Candy buffet and sugary goodness at the Myer Giftorium launch
  2. Amazingly delicious dessert of chocolate fudge brownie, peanut butter praline, cherries and vanilla (Attila was kicking around on a sugar high after that one!)
  3. Spicy vegetarian Vietnamese noodle soup with extra chilli (I loved this, Attila spent the night giving me heartburn after)
  4. Iced chocolate on soy milk
  5. Spicy bean nachos with fresh guacamole 
  6. Avocado plate with tomato, feta, roasted turkish bread and truffle oil
  7. Grilled asparagus and cheese sandwich
Yes, Attila has been craving lots of dairy. While I can't stomach cow milk, I will give in and have animal-rennet-free cheese. I figure if the baby needs calcium, it's not really up to me to deprive him.

There are also the good old standbys, fresh pineapple and raspberry leaf tea (in a fancy glass with ice because... well, I'm classy like that, and it's HOT!)

Despite feeling like I have consumed my weight in (delicious, delicious, cold) pineapple and downed litres of tea, nothing.

So I'm waiting, with bated breath, which is about all I can manage as Attila is taking up so much room in there anyway. The house is clean, the nursery awaits, and every night Mr Fork encourages Ellie to tell Attila to "hurry up and come out".

Come on baby!

What other methods to bring on labour am I missing?


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