Bye bye January, Hello February!

It’s finally the end of January. The longest month ever (how many weeks to payday!). The most depressing month ever (for those who hate saying goodbye to Christmas). The most exciting month ever (for those who love saying hello to the new year). But the end of January also means the start of February, and that means the breastfeeding blog series launches tomorrow *happy dance*.

Come join My Petit Canard and Medela in a month of talking and sharing all things breastfeeding. Whether you’re a mummy or daddy to be, a breastfeeding or formula feeding parent, or just interested in hearing or talking about breastfeeding then follow the blog and get involved. We don’t want you to miss a thing!

Anonymous guest blogger: Mother knows best – or does she?

Theatre seating

In the second of the new series of anonymous guest bloggers, we have the lovely Sarah over from Mitenska talking about one of the most annoying things you can hear as a parent:

What a difference seventeen months make.

My Partner and I made the decision to have a baby (despite my insistence throughout my 20s and early 30s that I didn’t want children) back in 2011. I knew he was more enthusiastic than me; I worried that I’d be the least maternal person ever, that Id be indifferent to a demanding, needy baby. But then (after a year of trying and a dose of Clomid) Joe came along. And I fell in love.

Now I know I am indeed maternal. And protective. The problem is, I’ve recently been accused of being over protective. Am I?

Lets go back a while, to when Joe was little. Very little – his buggy still comprised of a car seat clipped onto a base. My mother-in-law suggest a trip out so off we went, to Sefton Park in Liverpool, and she insisted on wrestling the pram from me and pushing. I let her – after all, I got to spend each and every day with my baby and she was the proud first-time grandparent.

Presently I noticed a smell coming from the pram. Dirty nappy smell. Really very, very dirty nappy. I suggested we go and change Joe in the toilets. Her response was to “just ignore it” as we were out in the fresh air and the smell would go away. At this point I firmly told her we’d go and change him. Good job we did – a diaper disaster awaited us which required an entire outfit change. She looked suitably sheepish. I didn’t say “I told you so” (just thought it instead) so off we set, her in charge of the pram again, and headed for the main road. It was busy with traffic and I instinctively put my hand out to tell her to wait (a large white van was speeding in our direction). Unfortunately my mother-in-law kept going, pushing Joe into the path of the approaching vehicle. I shouted at her to stop, that the van was coming. She replied dismissively “It’ll just have to stop for us, wont it?” and kept going.

It didn’t stop. It swerved around her and the pram and she kept walking across the road as though along an empty pavement. I was left horribly shaken.

Ever since then I’ve been wary of her taking care of Joe. Now he’s a toddler (16 months and into everything) you need eyes int he back of your head. There have been several other instances of scary behaviour from my mother-in-law (handing him fruit on the end of a carving knife, anyone?) and I just don’t feel safe leaving him along with her. He goes to his other grandparents house for hours at a time and they’re super-vigilant, but my guy feeling is I just don’t feel safe leaving him with certain people. Others I have absolutely no problem with. Thank goodness, or we’d never get an evening out alone together.

Over-protective or just sensible?

You see, Joe stays home with me. I took voluntary redundancy from a great job, then temped before he came along so had nothing work-wise to return to. More to the point, I found I didn’t want to go back to work. I still don’t. Not just yet. I’m a stay at home mum for the time being. I don’t cost anyone anything. We’re careful with our finances and its our choice. Joe goes to play group, sees friends and family regularly and is a happy, secure little boy.

Sadly, certain family members – trading on the fact that I don’t let him go to my mother-in-laws alone are saying im over-protective. That Joe should have been put into nursery from a young age, that he’ll end up socially inept or even depressed. Yes, really. I found that last comment particularly hurtful. Because looking after a small child is hard work. Hard, but rewarding. Every decision I make is based on Joe’s best interests. Our choices are our business. I don’t know when, or why it became acceptable to criticise someone elses parenting decisions. Particularly when the main critic in this case has no children of his own – in fact, he’s never even babysat. Doesn’t want kids. Wouldn’t fit in with the lifestyle.

I must remember to buy his parenting manual when it comes out…

The bottom line is this; I’m a mother. That’s my job. I take care of my son, and yes, I protect him because that’s what comes naturally to me. That isn’t for anyone to question. He isn’t wrapped up in cotton wool but he is kept away from situations I think could compromise his safety.

That’s not being over-protective. That’s being a parent.

Thanks again Sarah for sharing with us what its like to be labelled an “over-protective” parent. If you’re reading and can relate to this then I’d love to hear your experiences and thoughts on labelling or being labelled as an over-protective parent.

Like what you read? If you too would love to be a guest blogger on My Petit Canard then please get in touch!

I don’t know what I’m doing

Road Signs

Last year I didn’t want to leave work to go on maternity leave because I was scared of what I was going to miss out on. Scared that the momentum that I had built up over the last few years would be lost. Scared that people would forget me. Because in the fast paced world that I work in, where things are constantly changing, people coming and going, it’s a very real possibility. Fast forward eight months and now, at times I don’t want to go back. I want to stay in this new world that my daughter and I have built together. Where I get to live the stay at home mum dream, all day every day. Of course, at times it’s very hard living the dream. Its hard work being a full time stay at home mum. But its a lovely privilege that I am enjoying every minute of. One that has caused me to daydream what it would be like not to go back to work. Not to go back into the city that I so love. Something that I never considered in my pre-child world. Because I never anticipated that becoming a mother would change me so much.

I haven’t even been back yet to give it a chance, but the anxiety already has me contemplating a move. A change of career. Perhaps even an opportunity to reinvent myself a little. I can’t quite see consulting fitting in with having a family. But then in the same breath I’m thinking about going back and scaling the career ladder, picking up where I left off and hastily setting up meetings with work. I thought I was ready to go back in a few months. I thought I had decided. I thought in my head, that it was a done deal. But an informal call with work yesterday suggested otherwise. I’m a mess. I’m all over the place. I’m not quite sure I know what I’m doing. I’m not quite sure I want to know yet, and I guess that’s ok. When we confirmed our childcare arrangements a few weeks ago it set off a chain reaction, one that threw me back into my working mentality. One that I don’t think I was quite ready for. I don’t want to return to work feeling as uncertain as I do now about my decision of when the right time is for me to go back to work. I need to be confident and sure that the decisions I am making are for the right decisions, and if there was anything that the call showed me was that I’m still not sure.

So I’m not sure where that leaves me. I don’t know how much more thinking and talking I can do around this. I’m not sure what I need for me to make a final decision that I feel happy about. It feels like such a big decision and I don’t want to regret anything. I really don’t know what to do. But I’m not sure that I need to just yet..

I would love to hear from other parents on how you made your decision about when the right time was to go back to work? What things helped you make your decision and how did you feel when you made it?

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/lori_greig/5331407245/”>Lori Greig</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

Ten reasons to look forward to going back to work

London

As the days and weeks start to fly by I am only too conscious that my impending return to work is drawing near. I can feel it over my shoulder, like a shadow or a monkey on my back. Quietly reminding me that it’s getting closer and closer. Whilst I’m not dreading the return to work, I can’t say I’m particularly excited about it. In a bid to psyche myself up, I’ve composed a list of the best things that I can think of about going back to work. Here’s ten reasons im looking forward to going back to work:

1. Having the time to actually think about and decide what to have for lunch rather than reaching for the quickest and/or easiest thing to make. Being able to actually taste what I’m eating rather than hoovering it up in record time will be an added bonus.

2. Having the commute to read a book, listen to music, have a nap, daydream or just generally wonder about things. Actually having some “free” time that isn’t filled by doing or thinking about something child or household related is a rather exciting prospect.

3. Getting to wear all my lovely work clothes and having an actual purpose to get dressed for is pretty exciting too. I might actually start thinking about what I wear again.

4. Going to the gym at work. A little ambitious perhaps, but I love the fact that I’ll have the option.

5. Getting my Friday nights back. Since being at home full time, I’ve lost a bit of that Friday night feeling. Fridays do mark the start of the weekend still, but not like they used to. Going back to work will definitely make me appreciate the weekends a bit more again.

6. Finally enjoying and finishing a nice, hot cup of tea. No more luke warm or half finished cups of tea for me!

7. Being able to un-pause. A number of our plans as a family are temporarily on hold until I return to work. So going back to work means that we can actually make a start on, or progress some of our exciting plans.

8. Not having to deal with nap time drama. I love spending time with my little lady. Absolutely love it. But when it comes to nap times, both of us tend to get a bit stressy. So in all honesty, it will be really nice not to have to deal with stressy nap times anymore.

9. It’ll be refreshing not to have to plan my days in 3/4 hour blocks anymore. If I want to skip or slack on breakfast, lunch or dinner I can. If I suddenly want to nip out for a hot drink or to do my banking, I can. Time will suddenly be mine again (sort of) for all nine hours of the working day.

10. Having a full second income again. No explanation needed!

So there you have it, ten “exciting” things to look forward to about going back to work. I have a feeling that I could probably find more exciting things about staying at home a bit longer but that probably defeats the point.

What were the things that you were, or are most excited about going back to work for? What would you add to this list?

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/simon__syon/10151230905/”>Simon & His Camera</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

Anonymous guest blogger: Let’s talk about sex (baby!)

Theatre seating

Some of my blog resolutions for this year are to both guest blog and to find guest bloggers. So in an attempt to lure over some lovely bloggers I have created a monthly series of “Anonymous (or not so anonymous) Guest Bloggers“. An opportunity for fellow bloggers to come on over and blog about all things parenting.  To kick us off in style with a subject that nobody talks about but everyone thinks about after having a baby,  we have the lovely Sarah from Toby Goes Bananas:

I was trying to think of a better title for this post but I just couldn’t get that Salt ‘n’ Pepa lyric out of my head so in the end I just had to go with it! So first I just want to say a big thank you to My Petit Canard for hosting this guest post – I would have posted it on my own blog but, well, my mum might see it and there are just some things your mum doesn’t need to know.

I wanted to talk about sex after having a baby because, for me, things just haven’t been how I expected. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has felt like this so I thought I’d share my experience and I’d love to hear whether you’ve felt something similar. I know everyone sort of half jokes about how you won’t want to have sex for months and months after having a baby. I remember being at our antenatal classes and talking about when you can have sex after giving birth. The class leader told us that you could have sex once the postpartum bleeding has stopped…and one of the women piped up that she wouldn’t be letting her husband near her for months. Everyone gave an embarrassed chuckle and that was that. End of discussion.

Of course I was prepared for the fact that giving birth was going to hurt ‘down there’ and that if I ended up with stitches things would take a while to heal which might put me off sex for a bit. But I had no idea how birth, and then actually having a baby, would affect my emotional response to all things sexual.

I was very lucky to have a straight-forward birth. It was all over in eight hours – from the first twinge to holding a new baby – and I escaped without any tears or stitches. Sure, it burned like hell to pee for a few days and that first week of trying to poo seemed worse than having the baby at times, but in the grand scheme of things I was relatively unscathed physically. A couple of days of struggling with breastfeeding ensured my nipples were somewhat the worse for wear, however, and in fact I think that has led to one of the major hurdles when it comes to sex. I’ll come to that in a minute though.

First I want to talk about what happened in the first couple of weeks after having my baby. Of course both me and my husband were in a complete haze of sleep deprivation and general ‘what the hell hit us’-ness. The baby was sleeping, when he actually deigned to sleep, in our bedroom and you would think that sex would be the last thing on my mind. But I was actually (and I can’t think of any way to put this delicately) horny! So much so that I remember waking my husband up for some kissing and a bit of a fumble under the bed clothes after a 4am feed one day! I still wasn’t ready for full-on sex but I surprised myself. I don’t know if it was hormones, or just a need to connect somehow with my husband, or maybe some sort of attempt to reclaim my pre-pregnancy, pre-baby self. That phase didn’t last long though. In fact after that initial burst of lust I went off sex altogether. And since our baby was born six months ago I can count the number of times we’ve had sex on one hand, and still have a few digits left over.

There are a couple of many reasons for this. For the first few months it was mostly because we were both knackered. When I went to bed it was for much needed sleep and nothing else was on my mind. And then, as the months went on and the baby was in his own room and we were all getting a bit more sleep, the main reason I was (and still am) avoiding sex was all to do with body confidence. I know, I know. Women’s bodies change after giving birth and we should be proud of those changes and blah, blah, blah… But the truth is I feel fat, I have a massive, wobbly, stretch-marked tummy that I can’t bear my husband to touch. My boobs are still huge and even though I stopped breastfeeding after five weeks my nipples feel different and it just feels a bit odd when my husband touches them –  and when previously we both very much enjoyed my boobs during sex it somehow changes the whole dynamic. Now, my husband is absolutely awesome, and don’t worry, I’m not writing anything here that I haven’t talked to him about. He constantly reassures me about my body, and tells me he still finds me sexy. And I believe him. I really do. But I don’t find me sexy and therein lies the problem. My lack of self confidence in bed has really freaked me out if I’m honest, because even when I’ve been overweight before it has never affected my confidence in my own inherent sexiness. Now though, it actually got to a point when I was so embarrassed of myself that whenever we started kissing and cuddling in bed and things started to get a bit steamy I would just burst out laughing and couldn’t stop. And I feel so bad about it. My husband is incredibly understanding about the whole thing but I’m sure me laughing in his face is not really his ideal scenario!

Anyway, I’m on the road to getting my pre-pregnancy body back (which still wasn’t perfect but a return to that has got to be better than what I’ve got now) and hopefully with it will come the return of my self confidence and the return of something approaching normality in the bedroom. It had better, if our plans for a second baby are ever going to happen!

Through the last six months though, one thing has remained. I kiss and cuddle my husband every day. In fact, as many times a day as we can manage. I might not be ready for sex but the need (and desire) for physical, loving contact has never left me. I guess that everyone has different experiences after giving birth but I don’t really know because, despite our openness in this age of blogs and Twitter and Facebook, it’s not something that we often talk about. Maybe there are lots of you out there feeling the same way as me. Maybe not. But I am sure that whatever you’re feeling, it’s normal.

Thank you again Sarah for sharing such a great post! We’d love to hear from other parents on how they felt after having children. Can you relate to this post?

Like what you read? If you’d too would love to be a guest blogger on My Petit Canard then please get in touch!

Im falling apart

Facial massage

My poor husband. He probably wasn’t prepared for the barrage of verbal assault that was just unleashed on him this morning. But he did dare to comment on my rather unkempt toenails. You see in another life he was used to seeing beautiful manicured fingers and toes, but these things seem to fall by the wayside these days. I was wondering when it would come though. The moment when he would dare to pass comment on something. Because I am only too aware that I am a shadow of my former self, if you lean in closely enough to look. But that’s ok with me. You see, I did look at my toes just yesterday and consider doing something about them, but then there was something else that seemed to take precedent. There is always something else. As I had to remind my husband this morning. I don’t have time to go for a pedicure or paint my nails, I don’t have time to get a wax or do my hair or my eyebrows or pretty much anything that needs doing far more regularly than it is these days. Because I always have something to wash, or sterilise, food to make, cook, freeze or defrost, things to clean, tidy, iron, put away, sort out, shopping to do, baby groups to go to, so you see where exactly is the time to sort myself out. There just aren’t enough hours in the day, enough days in the week or enough hands to help. I don’t know what will happen when I go back to work, but that’s probably a whole other blog post. Goodness knows how many times this week I’ve thought that I really should make a trip to the hairdressers, sort out these caterpillars above my eyes but resigned myself to the fact that once again, it won’t be this week. Maybe next week will be the week. My husband, a little taken aback by the very long list of things that rolled off my tongue with barely a breath in between, seemed to register something akin to surprise, uncertainty, defeat and love all at the same time. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not exactly hard done by. When I have a catch up with the girls the husband will look after the little lady no problem. When it comes to Christmas and birthdays, anniversaries and special occasions I’m always spoilt. But when it comes to the day to day, well, things could be a little better. A little more balanced perhaps. So the result of my little tirade this morning? Rather surprisingly and unexpectedly a day of being pampered by yours truly, and for the first time in six months I have finally been able to exhale..

photo credit: Vook tv via photopin cc

February breastfeeding blog series

2014 My_Petit_Canard LogoNew logo_medela_color

As most of you will already know im a fairly new blogger, so imagine my surprise at the start of this year when one of my all time favourite parenting brands – Medela responded to one of my tweets on Twitter mentioning that they were one of the top brands I would love to work with this year. Fast forward a few weeks, and it is with much excitement and delight that I can finally share the news that I will officially be collaborating with Medela on the blog.

I say collaborating with because that is exactly what it is. There will be no sponsored posts, no paid for reviews or recommendations and no paid for advertisements. I have chosen to collaborate with Medela because they are one of the parenting brands that I like, trust and believe in as a parent who uses their products. I feel this arrangement also then allows me to remain true to my blog and maintain the same approach and tone to my blogs that I usually take. This is important to me and hopefully to my readers too.

So now that the formalities are out of the way, I would like to announce our first collaboration – the February Breastfeeding Blog Series.

The blog series will run throughout the month of February with a number of personal blog posts that I hope will inspire, comfort and encourage readers. We will also be sharing your breastfeeding stories (more on that in a bit), have access to Medela’s lovely lactation consultant for a bit of a Q&A, have a list or two on all things breastfeeding thrown in for good measure and a fabulous competition to round things off at the end. Hopefully you’ll agree, February is shaping up to be an exciting month on the blog!

Now for the ask. As much as the series is about me sharing my personal experiences and infusing some of the expertise of Medela, I also want to hear from others on their experiences with breastfeeding so that we can create a blog series that is engaging and provides a balanced perspective on breastfeeding. If you have any breastfeeding stories that you would like to share to be featured on the blog as part of the series please get in touch. I would love to be able to feature as many of your stories as I can fit in. There are no word or content limits or restrictions, just the usual rules apply on not using any profanity, not posting to the detriment of others and using your own or attributable images.

So make sure you follow the blog or diarise February in your calendar. We don’t want you to miss it!