Chatting with Iain Lee on BBC3C Radio about Mum’s ages – Is it selfish to be older

The other day I was on BBC3 Counties Radio chatting to Iain Lee about wether you are ever to old to be a Mum.

Check us out here:

 

I’m and ‘older mum’

Living in Hertfordshire means that there are lots of ‘older mums’.  Whereas when I fell miraculously pregnant with Curly Headed Boy at 36 I was considered ‘geriatric’ in Peterborough (I wasn’t meant to be able to have kids).

Falling again at 40 with Little Dimples, the difference in my body has been REALLY noticeable.  Plus it’s been very tricky since getting Fibromyalgia.

But I’ve often thought I would have been a great ‘young mum’, awful 20’s-early 30’s Mum, and am glad that it happened to be later.

 

What did everyone else say?

When I asked on twitter and facebook, I was really surprised that the age limit people were talking about was 40.  I was expecting them to be saying late 40’s as the upper limit.

 

Being the child of older parents

My mum was 43 when she had me (my brothers are 20yrs older than me).  That’s not a problem in itself, apart from the fact that I was a ‘young carer’ for both my parents from around 5 years old.

Some responsibility and learning about empathy and taking care of people is good.  The mistake they made was relying on me totally for things and not getting proper qualified help at times.

My Dad died when I was 20.  I didn’t have an adult relationship with him.

My Mum died when I was pregnant with Curly Headed Boy.

They smoked, drank a lot, didn’t keep fit or eat healthily.

They didn’t make sure that someone else was lined up to ‘watch over me’.

There is no one on the worst days or the best days to call.  There is no one who cares enough to listen to the boring, repetitive minutae of my life.

I’ve found the lovely Nanny Bets in Tesco’s who is like an adoptive grandparent for the kids (and gives me lovely hugs), and one of my brothers makes a big effort with his new wife.

Most of the time it’s OK.  Sometimes it isn’t.

 

So yes, I do think that it is selfish to have children when you are older, if you don’t try your hardest to be healthy.

Of course, this is why I am ‘ME’.  It’s why I’m so passionate about keeping yourself healthy.  It’s why I’m so good at my ‘job’ as I learned so young.  I wouldn’t change ‘me’, so why would I change this?

 

What do you think?  Do you worry about it?

Or do you think that a woman has the right to have a child whatever age she is?

Even push the boundaries of science and have them when her body has gone into the menopause and she is in her 50’s?

 

 

Brother and sister

#DoSomethingYummy: Can you love two children the same amount?

This post is being written as part of the blog prompt for #DoSomethingYummy  from Typecast which is the campaign for CLIC Sargent Charity for children with cancer.  It hit a note with me because just after Little Dimples was born I had a cancer scare for about 6 months.  The terror that hit me was immense, but there is one thing that I know would feel worse and that would be one of my children falling seriously ill.

Whilst I was writing this post I heard about a little 12yr old boy living near me who is suffering a rare form of cancer.  There is no treatment available in the UK but hope in Germany and the States.  Every little counts, but it’s needed FAST.  Here is his Facebook group and the article in my local paper with more specifics.  While he was in remission, this little boy raised £5000 for charity himself, so I’m hoping that he gets a massive dose of Karmic love back for him.  So far they have raised £21,000, but they need £500,000, so all we need is lots of Mums to give £1 or 100,000 to give £5.  Here is where you donate.

 

Many Mums worry about how they can feel the same about another child after their first.  How could you possibly feel that much love?  For me I felt that my love to Curly Headed Boy got even bigger when I saw how lovely he is with Little Dimples, and how close they are.  My brothers are twenty years older than me, and not close to each other.  So I hadn’t seen that sort of sibling love close up, and it’s really lovely.

I assumed it was obvious to him, but one day I asked my son wether he knew that I loved him as much as my daughter and I nearly cried when he shook his little head.  How could he not know, when I constantly told him I loved him and hugged him?  I was careful to repeatedly remind him afterwards that I love him and that I love him as much as my daughter.  I also remind him when she is naughty, that it was his idea to have another child in the first place!  (He nagged me for a year for a sister; good thing she came out a girl!).

But it is different.  It’s the same amount.  But it’s a different feeling, and they have had different effects on my life.

Curly Headed Boy is my soul mate, its a deep intense love, and he has been a guide to me about who I am and what I want to be in this life.

Little Dimples is my sweetheart, it’s a much lighter love, and she has helped me to get stronger in myself and realise what I love to do in this life.

(Some people might wonder where the big northern hubby might fit into this; he teaches me what I want to have in this life)

It’s a really amazing experience to go from technically barren, to falling pregnant at 36 without trying and then most of all discover that you love being a Mum.  It’s a huge part of why I do what I do as the ‘Mummy whisperer’, because I think I am so, so, so lucky to enjoy it so much.  I love my work, but I love my children more and I hope that I don’t ever have to face the idea of losing them.

 

 


An Amazing Woman In My Life

It’s amazing what you can find in Tesco’s; I found a 73 year old, Irish grandmother with a huge heart.  She cares for Little Dimples while I work, gives Curly Headed Boy the security of a nearby grandma, and supports me in the way that my Mother would have wanted to if she had been alive.  She would say that she has gained so much from us, but I she doesn’t know how special she is.  So here’s to you Nanny Bets, an angel sent here to watch over us xxx

 

 

I am writing this post as part of the 90 words about 90 women for Breakthrough Breast Cancer, which was started by ‘Kate On Thin Ice’.  If you are a blogger and would like to join in and support Kate, click here for more info.

 

Happy Mum

How To Be A Good Mother: I have the answer

How to be a happy mum

I reckon I know ‘How to be a good mother’.

Mind you I don’t reckon I get it right all the time.

But I do think I know what I did when I don’t get it right.

Ironically, I was approached for that Channel 4 program with Sharon Horgan on ‘How to be a good mother’.  I was hesitant initially, and then they decided that I didn’t match the bill.  I can see why I didn’t match it as none of my ideas would be extreme enough for them, which is what I expected initially.  But it’s irritating too as I’m sure I do know how, and so I question whether Sharon (or her producers) really wanted to find out.

How can I be that arrogant you might ask?  Dunno, but I am, so heh ho!

This picture holds the key.  I look pretty happy and contented don’t I?  Little Dimples is too.  I’m at a work event, so I’m not just being a Mum at the time either.  The key is; I’m being me.

That’s how to be a good mother; be yourself, because that’s who your kids want and that’s who they chose.

Don’t eat placenta’s because someone else told you to, unless it’s something you feel in your heart you want to do.  Don’t breast-feed or formula feed unless it’s in your heart.  Don’t home school if you’d hate it.  Don’t stay at home if you’d go crazy.  Don’t do crafts if you and your kids don’t enjoy it.  Don’t cook using Annabel Karmel’s cook book if it makes your baby cry because it takes ages and then they aren’t interested.  Basically, don’t be a freak who worries about what everyone else is doing, and makes decisions based from the worry/fear of the gut or the logic of the brain.

Follow your heart, that’s where your wisdom is.  It’s a kind of balanced, centred place (not a sentimental gushy place).  It’s there in us all, but the worry, guilt, fear and ‘grrrrrrrr’ means that we don’t hear it.  You can get to it though ….

  1. Instead look after yourself, so that you are strong, contented, and know yourself.
  2. Spend enough time with your kids to really know them well too.
  3. Then you’ll be able to hear your own intuition and balance and juggle your needs AND theirs (not just theirs)
  4. Stop worrying about how other people do it and how much better their lives or their mothering is, and remember that the grass is never greener.
  5. Do a bit of research and get a bit of knowledge, but not too much; use discernment about what suits you and suits your kids
  6. Think about why you are lucky to have your life and appreciate what you have, rather than wasting time on what ifs.

That’s my answer anyway.  What do you reckon?  Do you really think your kids want someone else as a Mum, or someone trying to be someone else?

 

Video Wed: BreastFeeding Awareness week: a Doctor’s ignorance and the importance of complaining

Two weeks ago I went to the doctor, it had taken me months to get sorted and I had a couple of quite important things to talk about.  The first was some pain in the back of my head, and the doctor was insistent that it was nothing to do with an infection I had just when Little Dimples was ill, despite it being in the same place.  So he recommended a nurofen based gell.  When I asked if it would be OK with breastfeeding, he looked around the room pointedly at Little Dimples (15 months) and Curly Headed Boy and then said “Why? Do you have a baby at home?”.  Shocked I said “But she’s only 15 months” and then I got ‘the look’.  It’s the one that Mums get if they breastfeed LESS than or MORE than 6 months; a mixture between disgust and ‘you are a freaky mum’.

How come didn’t he know that the World Health Organisation recommends that if you can, you feed until 2yrs old, and that the average around the world is 4yrs old.  I don’t need a pat on the back, I just didn’t need ‘that look’.  I’m not saying that you should breastfeed by the way, or that you have to feed for that long; just that I don’t expect to go into a doctor’s surgery of all places and get ‘that look’.

I do remember facing similar ignorance with the health visitors.  Now I know that many health visitors are probably really nice people, however I decided early on after the arrival of Little Dimples that their main reason for being was to make each Mum cry at some point in time.  When my health visitors did the weaning talk around the 6 month time frame, she automatically started to talk about weaning off breast milk as well.  To her it was the same thing.  I had to look on the internet to be sure that I ‘didnt have to stop’ at 6 months.  In retrospect I realised that to keep up to date with information on childcare does require some time and effort on the internet, and if you are not full of passion for your job then you don’t keep up.  But why hadn’t someone higher up done the research and passed down the information?

At the point with the Health Visitors I didn’t have the confidence in myself to complain about the misinformation.  However I’m a few years on now and after going home, and realising that in my shock I’d forgetten the other reason I’d booked to see a doctor, I was suddenly incensed and decided to complain.  I’m so glad I did.  When I talked to the practice manager she was both lovely, and very concerned.  I realised that sometimes it might seem like we have to complain and not get listened to, but it’s always worth it because eventually one of the people will listen!

So as it’s world breast feeding week, I thought I’d post this story and encourage Mums to stand up for their choices to use formula, breastfeed or do extended breastfeeding; because the one thing that is the same about all of us is that we all will get criticised for our choices by someone somewhere, and often the people that we least expect.

Here to cheer you up on a grey day is Jessie J with ‘Mama Knows Best’ – watch it loud and proud!

Mummy Went Out: Blogcampuk, TalkTalk, BangsInABun, SEO, BlogDesign, Blog Communities

Do you remember what’s it’s like to do that first independent thing purely for you after a baby, that required travel or something unusual?  Or are you still at the place where your baby is too young?  Well I went out yesterday, all the way into London for a Blogging conference no less.  It wouldn’t have meant much to me years ago when I was attending meetings and training courses all over the world.  But for me yesterday it was a big deal and I was insanely excited about it.

In all honesty I wasn’t totally baby/child free as Little Dimples is still breastfeeding infrequently and I’m a rubbish expresser.  So she also got a trip to London, with the lovely irish granny that helps me look after her.  She didn’t like the trip in, and cried all the way; I don’t think she liked the people on the train and they kept getting on and off!  But she had a fab day with Nanny Bets, and then got to come up to the conference for the last couple of hours and play with another little girl a few months older.  So it wasn’t entirely child free, but I felt like it was a big adventure, so it worked for me!

TalkTalk (the sponsors) arranged it to coincide with a new home internet security product called HomeSafe which I must admit sounds brilliant.  Basically rather than have the protection and control for the kids on the computer, it’s on the wifi, so anything that uses the wifi in the house can be protected.  Not it doesn’t protect them on their phone network, but it’s a great beginning.  I’m sure you are going to see a pile of announcements about it and that all the other companies will follow suit soon.  (No, they didn’t insist I write all that in return for a free blogging conference, I thought they were pretty low key and well behaved about not pushing us to market their new product, hence I have mentioned it).

First was this gorgeous, tall, leggy brunette with a pink short dress and gorgeous heels and tights with little squares all up the side (Ok it might not sound right, but it looked fab).  What a brave woman!  She walked into a blogging conference, which was going to have a pile of different levels of geeks or mums in it, who are not known as the most glamourous set in the world, knowing that we were going to look at her and say ‘who the hell does she think she is?’.  It was a brilliant lesson for me about something that I have been thinking about in terms of being brave enough to put your head above the crowd in order for your blog to be found.  ‘Fight for every page’ she said, and she’s right.  Check out her blog <bangs and a bun> here.

Then there was a talk about creating a blogging community from Sian at Domestic Sluttery with some wise words about the difference between your friends and your community.  We had blog design ideas from Cite, and amazing technical advice from Lee Smallwood about SEO stuff, which I’m not going to share, so check out his blog and hope he writes about it!

The weird part to the day was wandering around staying at boobs trying to work out if you recognised the name of a blog.  I’m sure I missed tonnes that I wanted to meet, so a big *wave* to anyone I didn’t get to say hi to.  St Albans appears to be a prolific blogging area, so what I did get to do was meet up with the ‘naughty corner’ as we called ourselves.  If you don’t have kids and you’re reading this blog, you can’t possibly imagine the treat it is to see other Mum friends and be able to talk to them.  But that’s one of the blessings of being a Mum, you really start to appreciate the little things in life (well you actually get forced to, but it’s sort of the same thing).

So what a fab day, thanks to Sally Whittle (follow her blog, she makes me laugh every time I read it!) from Tots100 for sorting it out. Make sure you check out the Blog Camp UK website for more events, hopefully there will be loads more in future.  It’s even made me brave enough to consider ‘inconveniencing’ (if I was my own client I would so slap myself for that thought) the family and attending a course this weekend, to help me maintain my credentials.  You never know Mummy might get to go out more from now on, woohoo!

Selfish Benefits To Extended BreastFeeding

Do you know what, I’m a big fan of things being a fair deal, giving and receiving, and not being just about a Mum who forgets herself.  Ironically, that’s one of the reasons why I’m a fan of extended breastfeeding (that is after 6 weeks or 6 months, which is often considered more ‘normal’).  (Please do not take offence if you formula fed, I’m not against formula at all).

Let’s face it, for some of us the first few weeks of breastfeeding can be painful while our little ones get bigger and we get it all sorted.  I soon learnt the art of whacking on Lanisoh cream before Curly Headed Boy went anywhere near me, but I still got the most awful let down pains (for those not in the know, there are pains down the boob sometimes as the milk comes in, like a sharp stabbing pain).  I’m no hero, so there is no way that I would have fed him for as long as I did, if it didn’t also work for me, plus with a little time it got much easier.  I was worried with Little Dimples, but I didn’t have any of the problems that I did with Curly Headed Boy, and no pain.

What many people don’t know about though is the benefits to us the Mum after all that hard work, if we do breast feed after 6 months.  The 6 months deadline can be really hard.  Baby is getting ready for food, feeding much more sometimes, and it can be draining.  I remember my Health visitor just assuming that as I weaned onto food, I’d be weaning Curly Headed Boy off breast milk, like it was the same thing.  I didn’t fancy adding the complication of now getting him used to bottles and formula etc, so I just kept going, plus by then I knew that the WHO recommended it, so I just thought I would see how it went.

It was after 6 months that I really got the benefit and this weekend with Little Dimples I was reminded of it, so I thought I would mention it.  There are two big ways that it pays off.  One is that when they are older, it is the cutest thing that they can really cuddle into you.  It’s no longer as draining, so the feeling that they are sucking you dry (not everyone gets that, but there have been times when it felt a bit like it for me) has gone and it’s just much more relaxing.

But the second reason is even more compelling.  Little Dimples had a mega temperature at the weekend, which gave her a headache and made her puke.  I don’t know whether it’s worse for the Mum or the baby when they are ill, but my money is on the hopelessness for the Mum when she can’t help.  But the great thing is that often when nothing else will stay down, you can often still breastfeed.

(BTW last time I phoned NHS direct they told me that flat lemonade is as good as diarolyte when your kids are getting dehydrated.  Plus if you ever want advice about how long to leave giving your child a drink and what to give them after they have vomited, there are great online resources like http://www.babycentre.co.uk and http://www.babycenter.com).

So don’t think that I still breastfeed purely for my baby or that I’m in any way clever for it.  Nope, much of it is because it really works for me an so in a way it’s ‘selfish’.  Don’t worry, I wont be one of the Mums who continue long after it’s ideal for the children, but I don’t think it will be my choice anyway; Little Dimples knows her own mind!

I’m yummy and you are too – it’s official!

It has been officially announced this week that I am a Yummy Mummy!  And the source and reason means that you are too ;o)

I’ve never had a problem with the title ‘Yummy Mummy’, it’s just that looking around me in St Albans, I never classed myself as such, because there’s a hell of a lot yummier around!  I was a bit in awe of how they managed it, but not worried about not getting there myself.

Then when Curly Headed Boy started going to nursery in a place called Radlett nearby, I met the true Yummy Mummies, which was initially very scary and intimidating.  But it’s OK, I can forgive them for being Yummy, as they have become fab friends and very forgiving of my not quite making it in the Yummy Stakes.

However, that all changed this week as Curly Headed Boy has officially announced that I am Yummy!

The reason?

Because ‘does yummy rhyme with Mummy?’, ‘Yes’, ‘well then you are definitely Yummy Mummy’!!  So there is it, because Yummy rhymes with Mummy, I am now officially dubbed yummy by my 5yr old son!

This also means that you are yummy too!

He maybe a little biased I admit, but even though he is now 5, he still thinks I’m gorgeous naked.  In fact I think he will be strongly disappointed when I get my act together and lose the cuddly bits.

So, in lieu of me being officially yummy, I now pass on the title of yummy to you too.  Go out there and embrace your yumminess, because there are always people who think you are yummy, you just need to hear them.  Grab a little lip gloss, and a tinted moisturiser and be girly for a week!

Baby Led Weaning, dogs, mess and smelly houses!

I’ve been meaning to post for ages about how the whole baby led weaning went on, having asked people their opinion on whether to be a purist or mix it up a bit.  In the end I’m rubbish at following any kind of technique, so I just did what Little Dimples wanted, which was no puree, let her feed herself until she had cracked it, and then be allowed to help with the odd spoon full of yogurt.  I did use some baby porridge for a few weeks, but dropped it quite quickly.

She pretty much eats everything we eat now (she turns 1 this weekend), just cut up a little smaller, and has been for the last couple of months.  I have only just given her little sips of drinks other than breast milk, so she went straight onto using a cup, or sometimes a cup with a top if I can’t watch her carefully.  The good news is that dinner doesn’t take an hour any longer, and she can pretty much get through her meal in the same time that Curly Headed boy does (mind you, thats not that speedy!).

I just followed the rule that if she could pick it up, she could eat it.  With yogurt I would dip the spoon, give it to her, and then get another ready.  Soon she was eating it herself (but I hold the pot for obvious reasons until it is nearly empty).  Now a days, she is less bothered about being independent because she can do it, so if she is tired I help out (not very purist), and if she isn’t she gets to do it all.

It has been quite messy, luckily the guys in Starbucks thought this was funny, but I don’t recommend the blueberry yogurt!

Here is a list of her big favourites, just incase it’s useful for anyone thinking about what to feed their babies

  1. peas/sweetcorn – especially one at a time – arrggggh
  2. toast with marmite/bovril/humous/squashed avocado/banana/jam/philidelphia
  3. cheerios, corn thins
  4. Pasta, potatoes, rice
  5. blueberries, strawberries (be careful of allergies), apple, pear, satsumas with the middle bit cut off the segment, grapes cut long ways, basically any fruit.
  6. broccolli – very fun!  Little tomatoes also very popular cut into 4.
  7. chicken, ham & fish, she’s not keen on beef
  8. quick snacks are: raisins, yogurt covered raisins, breadsticks, pink wafer biscuits, fig biscuits

When she is getting full, there is lots of squashing and feeding the two doggies who are now very banned from the kitchen during feeding time.  As you can see below, they are very keen on baby led weaning, but OMG the farts!  I also miss the sweet smell of a breastfed nappy, one of the prime benefits of breastfeeding if you have a sensitive nose!  All in all, I’m using a lot more of those smelly bottles with sticks that send out constant yummy smells!

If you’re thinking about baby led weaning (but not in a purist kind of way), then I can really recommend it.  You don’t have to face all the problems with lumps later on, and it is pretty incredible what they can eat straight away with just a couple of teeth; really you won’t believe it, but stuff just doesn’t have to be squashed up.  Plus, if you are a rubbish cook like me or you are working, then it’s a hell of a lot easier to be cooking one meal for the whole family.  The criteria I used to decide was that she was sitting up really well, she had a few teeth, was very dextrous and she seemed to easily handle it if she had a little choke/gag.  But I can totally see that for some babies this would be tricky, plus some mums might find it worrisome because you can’t get the quantity of food into them and puree is a lot easier in the first couple of months.  They all eat properly in the end, so don’t worry if you make a totally different decision!

Hope for Mums with PND from a little black bear

I watched an amazing TV program a couple of weeks ago, and have been meaning to post about it for ages.  It was all about black bears in America, so it had big time cute factor.  But then it had the most incredible story about a Mummy bear.

I’m particularly fond of black bears having accidentally ended up on one of those ‘working’ holidays, counting acorns in Shenandoah Virginia for Earth watch (it’s a long story, we were meant to be picking up orangutan poo in Indonesia, but someone got kidnapped and their head chopped off the week before, so they sensibly moved our trip!) .  We saw lots of very unattractive deer (they aren’t like our cute english Bambie look a likes and they smell when you weight them), but hubby got a video of the cutest baby black bears climbing/falling down a tree).

Anyway, back to the TV program; A black bear called Lilly abandoned her cub, the kind of sad animal watching event which we often see, which ends up in sentimental music and them cutting to a sad picture without showing us the poor dead cub.  But this time the people involved couldn’t bear to see the little cub die, <big cheers> so they helped it along a little, so that it tried to survive on it’s own and then held their breaths with little hope of a happy ending.  Suddenly something AMAZING happened.  A couple of months later they found the cub back with it’s Mummy; They were together, playing, hugging and loving each other.  big tear shedding time!

Even more amazingly, the mummy bear had managed to re-lactate.  Now I’ve read about this care of the Breast Mates posts from the lovely Aly at Plus 2.4.  But I’d never heard of an animal doing it.  But there it was, clear as day, feeding the baby bear.  So it shows how even in the animal kingdom a Mum can change it’s mind and go back to breast feeding.

So if you are a Mum with Post Natal Depression, or even just feeling a bit knackered and wanting some time to yourself for a bit, I’m hoping that this little story might give you some relief.  It is possible to get over it and come out the other side, and your child doesn’t have to be damaged by the process.  It’s a ‘normal’ condition that even animals suffer from (i.e. feeling separate from our babies is something that many experience).  And when you overcome it, you can have a great relationship with your baby.  It’s only guilt (which the bears don’t feel like we do), which will get in the way.  Try to enjoy being back, and keep the image of a big black mummy bear rolling in the leaves with it’s baby.

If you are a Mum who has given up breast feeding and is now feeling that it is premature; for a start I don’t believe in mistakes, do don’t beat yourself up, but if you want to learn more, check out the breast mates posts for information on relactating.

The program was called ‘The Bear Family and Me’ on BBC2 with Gordon Buchanan a wildlife cameraman.  It all ended up happily, with the baby bear eventually building up enough fat to be able to go into hibernation just after all the others (it was a little underweight for a while), and with them surviving the hunters; phew!