Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Learning Fast!

Recently, Cian's been advancing so fast it's hard to keep up. He's 15 months old tomorrow (I know! Where did the time go??) and he's now absolutely mobile. He walks, runs, jumps, climbs, grapple-cuddles - cute but also kinda painful! - and gets himself into all manner of trouble.

We live in a first-floor flat (that's second floor to you people across the Pond), and have a floor-to-ceiling window in the sitting room. Cian likes to toddle over to it first thing in the morning and open it - only the top bits open and not enough to be a safety risk, before anyone goes white - before determined posting as many toys as he can out of it. We're deeply thankful for the window box balcony out there, without which I'm fairly sure we'd have had a lawsuit on our hands already from a badly-bruised neighbour, injured by a flying shape-sorter piece.

Matt installed window locks yesterday. Muahahahaaaaa.

We've also had to move the wastepaper basket into the hallway, to stop him climbing into it and getting stuck. He'd then wail until I lifted him out...before starting to climb back in again. There's only so many pulled muscles I can take, so the thing had to go until he's learned more common sense.

He loves the little wooden trike we bought him, and cruises around the wooden floor of our sitting room like a pro. I can't help but sing "Born To Be Wild" while he does it. Close your eyes and imagine the sight, and you'll giggle too.

He's getting more vocal now, though he obviously understands more than he says. If you ask him where the cats are, he'll point to Maliika, any on the TV, and the cat print on our wall. If you put up your hand and say "high five?", he'll toddle over and oblige. If I ask him to give things to me, he will...if he's in the mood. He says and understands a few things, though I probably understand his "words" better than a stranger would - mama, dada (or often DADADADADAAAAA!), Nana, 'at (for "cat"), hi, and nini (for "night night"). He sometimes just sits and practices sounds, repeating little "shh" or "st" noises until he judges himself competent by some Cian benchmark. It's very cute.

Talking of Nana, Matt's mum Pat is currently staying with us to help out, as I came down with the Dreaded Swine Flu. I'm fine now, just a few residual issues such as inflamed ear canals, wheezy lungs and rottenly painful sinuses, but the help's been invaluable. I've been able to rest and recover, knowing that Cian's being looked after by someone who adores him. She's returning to Bedfordshire on Friday, but will return at Christmas to spend it with her beloved grandson.

So...that's about it from the Full Moon of Motherhood camp! More news next time I have the time to sit and type, but for now I have to go and serve dinner. :-)

Thursday, 30 July 2009


Any of you who know me IRL, especially those of you who've been kind enough to visit me, will be aware that I'm a bit of a foody and I love to cook. Years of an eating disorder in the past mean that I don't take this for granted, and I really feel blessed that I can have such a good relationship with food now. Some of my most memorable times have been spent laughing and conversing with friends, over a home-cooked meal that's been prepared with love and attention.

Given my rocky past with the whole subject, I've been keen to instill a good attitude towards food into Cian from an early age. As a result, we decided to do Baby Led Weaning, which seemed a natural progression from his breastfeeding on demand. He was used to regulating his own appetite and only taking what food he needed from me, and as he had good hand-eye coordination, a good number of teeth and kept trying to steal bits of salad from my plate, when he got to six months old we embarked on yet another phase of our adventure. He was definitely ready for finger foods rather than purees.

Well, he LOVES his food. Really, really loves it. The first thing he ever ate was broccoli, steamed and cut into florets so he could hold them. Shortly after this he tried bananas, steamed apple, mango, courgette, potato, avocado...before he progressed to meats, fish and grains.

These days, he tends to have porridge with berries for breakfast - we usually fill up the spoon and hand it to him so he can feed himself, but I admit I've sometimes been lazy and helped him. For lunch in this warm weather, we usually share a big platter of things like cheese, bread, cucumber, tomatoes, avocado and fruit. His all time favourite fruit seems to be fresh cherries, but mango runs a close second. For dinner I'll usually serve something warm like grilled chicken and veggies, a casserole, cottage pie, pasta with sauce, or curry.

Yes, you read that correctly. Our baby is a curry addict. If Matt ever has a crazy concern that I'm hiding a dark secret about Cian's parentage, he need only look to his culinary preferences.

Part of the joy of all this, apart from seeing the baby's face when I set a meal of lovingly-prepared food before him, is that it's given me an excuse to cook again - something that I've had scant time to do since I became a mother. I've always tried to consider nutrition when cooking, but having Cian means that I'm putting such concerns first now. So if I'm cooking, say, a pasta sauce for all of us, I'll find ways to add extra veggies and healthy foods into it, as well as ensuring it's baby-friendly in other ways such as having sufficient healthy fats, no added salt, etc.

We benefit from this as a whole family, and when we can eat together it feels really natural and joyful. Cian, as with all babies, loves to feel a part of our day-to-day life. Sharing meals is something I want to do all the time as he grows up, so we do it as often as possible now. Cian tends to have his dinner before we do, because Matt arrives home later than I'd like him to eat, but "the boys" have their breakfast together while I'm doing my physio or stretching out a bit, and I have lunch with the baby too.

Some of my mother friends on Facebook have been asking for my recipes, and I've been happy to share them...well, such that they are, as I do more a sort of "kitchen alchemy" than actually recipe-style cooking! One of my other friends suggested that I write a BLW recipe book, and I'm flattered that she thinks anyone would want to read my ideas. What do you think? Might it be worth it??

Either way, I'm thoroughly enjoying this phase of Cian's life. It feels so joyful to watch him exploring new tastes and textures, and we're blessed that he's so adventurous in his food preferences. His favourites seem to be his Daddy's lentil curry, spread onto warm chapatti fingers and stuffed into his mouth with an air of happy gluttony. He also loves my mango-rice dessert, steamed pears with ginger, and is currently really into my new beef and tomato noodles recipe.

In other news, Cian is now Destructo-Boy. We've had to install drawer and cupboard locks, a safety gate (with a cat flap in it so Maliika can escape from his attempts to hug her!), and place chairs in strategic positions around the sitting room to prevent him getting to places he can't. We don't have the most ideal "toddler-safe" flat, because quite simply we have too much stuff in too small a space, but we're managing with much running about and our mutual parental eagle-eyes.

He's also teething again at the moment, though he seems to be coming out of this latest phase. He got his first two teeth at 4.5 months, then had 6 by the time he turned 6 months. In the last week, he's cut a molar and two premolars, from what we can see (ever tried to get a strong baby to open his mouth and let you look??), and he's really been suffering for it. I wish I could go through it for him, especially since he's so precocious in the dental department! It seems so cruel to babies, that they have to endure such pain and discomfort so early in their little lives.

We have a friend arriving today and staying for the weekend, so we're all excited about that. Matt's father and his family are coming by tomorrow again too - more on this later, when I have a chance to write it. Next week we have a couple of outings planned, so it's all go for my mini social butterfly. I've had a bad flare-up of fibromyalgia recently, which has been getting me down and caused me to cancel a number of social engagements, but thankfully it seems to be subsiding again. I get cabin fever when I can't get out and about!!

And that's it from us, for now!

Sunday, 26 July 2009


WhenI first became pregnant, we obviously let the prospective grandparents know. My parents were concerned for my health but utterly thrilled, Matt's mum screamed with excitement, and then we called his father.

His dad said he was busy and would call us straight back when he'd finished doing what he was doing.

Fast forward three months, and he actually called. Vaguely asked how I was, then went on to ask Matt the favours he'd really called for - he needed advice on fixing his computer.

When the baby was born, I got texts and messages from my folks and Matt's mum (who sent a beautiful text message thanking me for working so hard to give her a gorgeous grandson). Nothing from Frank, though Matt did call to tell him the news - in tears, as he was a thrilled and overwhelmed, adorable new father. :-)

Matt's mum rushed up to visit when Cian was 3 weeks old, and helped me out. My parents, though they couldn't visit, arranged and paid for us to visit them (my father was dreadfully ill and couldn't travel), and I'm always receiving texts, cards, gifts and so on for the baby from them.

I sent Frank messages about Cian, photos, response.

Are we seeing a pattern here?

Don't get me wrong, he and his family sent a lovely package of clothes and a blanket for Cian, and I love those. But love and attention mean far more than material goods.

Anyhoo... Two days ago we got a call out of the blue, saying that Frank is passing through on the way back from seeing family further north in Scotland. So, could he pop in for a couple of hours and meet his grandson? Of course, we said yes. But I'm not sure how I feel about it.

Of COURSE I'd never stop him seeing his grandson. But I might have problems keeping my normal, sunny and welcoming demeanour with someone who seems so obviously disinterested in his first and only grandchild. It's thrown into further contrast by the doting adoration shown by Cian's other three grandparents - they all adore him, take a huge interest, and are very emotionally supportive of us as a family. They're even all visiting Edinburgh for his first birthday celebrations, which given that it's during the Festival is no small achievement in terms of organisation, will or money!

I just...I don't know. I guess I really can't understand the mindset of a man who's so interested in his "new" family (relatively speaking, he's been with his current wife for many years since breaking with Matt's mum!) that he seems so ambivalent about his firstborn son's baby boy. I feel especially irked because he's always made a big deal about "approving" of me and thinking I'm a great partner for his son. To be honest, though that's a nice thought it doesn't mean much to me, but being interested in my little boy DOES mean a lot to me.

Ahh well, let's see how it goes... My opinion is that he's the one who's losing out, not Cian. Cian's surrounded by such love and care, from so many people, that I reckon he's fairly well insulated against the disinterest of a single family member.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Where did the time go???

Well, there goes my intention to update the blog at least every couple of weeks! Cian's now FAR bigger, and I can't believe he's going to be a year old next month. I seem to have had no time to myself in...well, forever, so I'm sorry this blog got left behind.

Suffice it to say that I will update with all the news whenever I have a moment - I'm hoping to do so this weekend. We're all well, Cian's wonderful, but he's currently getting some of his molar teeth and is in a bit of a mood. Understandable really, when you consider how much adult wisdom teeth can hurt.

I was recently published on a few websites, after I penned a quick poem about Western society's hypocritical attitude towards breasts and breastfeeding. I figured that I may as well pop it in here too, so I don't forget it!


A mother holds her firstborn child
So tiny, warm and small
Deserving of the best in life
So Mother gives her all

Eschewing any second best
And relegating self
Ignoring stares and whispered spite
To bring her babe good health

Courting disapproval
From a blind society
For breasts not making money
As a sex commodity

She gazes into baby's eyes
So trusting and so new
While girls walk on by, barely dressed
Accepted in full view


Yes, that's my beautiful baby son at about 3 months old or so, I think. I love this photograph because he looks so contented and cute!

How much LESS obscene can you get, than the sight of an innocent baby eating his lunch the way Nature intended? Nothing to be ashamed of, everything to go "awww" at... However, women are harrassed every day for this, told to cover up, go elsewhere or even just stay home. At the same time, scantily-clad women are used to sell cars, chocolate or themselves (think Hooters et al), and nobody blinks an eye at half-dressed women and men walking down the street or dancing in clubs. Context is all. The world would be a better place for everyone if public nursing was celebrated rather than denigrated.

Friday, 5 September 2008

Growing Fast

Cian was weighed yesterday at 3 weeks and 2 days old, and he's now at 9lb 15oz in his (negligible weight) nappy. I get such an immense sense of womanly satisfaction from knowing that I'm feeding him so well that he's thriving. The nursery nurse who visited said he's doing wonderfully, and growing very strong and healthy by everything she can see.

He's already outgrown some of his smallest bodysuits, which really brings it home how fast he's growing. My mother joked that my milk must actually be liquefied meat and potato pie, and that I'm going to end up with a child the size of the Incredible Hulk.

Saturday, 30 August 2008

Falling through the days...

It's taken me a while to post this as life's been chaotic and sleep-deprived! I feel a common bond with all new mothers, who must spend most of their time feeling like they could carry a large shopping load home in the bags under their eyes... However, as I said in a status message on another site, I never knew exhaustion could be so fulfilling.

Cian and I had a rocky start on the feeding front. I've been extremely keen to exclusively breastfeed the little mite since I knew I was pregnant, and an advocate of breastfeeding since well before that. That doesn't mean I would look down upon any mother who makes an informed choice to formula feed - simply that I believe that this is one of the best things I can personally do to give Cian the healthiest and happiest start in life.

So...this rocky start. When babies are exclusively nursed, they lose some weight in the first few days as they're receiving only colostrum (a pretty impressive cocktail of antibodies and other active ingredients) in small amounts. It takes anything up to 5 days for the 'real' milk to come in, at which point the baby will start to gain weight if all's going well. Perhaps due to the somewhat trying birth I had, my milk took its time arriving and by the time I left hospital my little sweetheart had lost about 9.8% of his birth weight - at 10% the hospital would have kept us in to make sure everything was going well. Even though this sort of loss isn't so unusual, I was frantic - my instinct to make Cian feel less hungry, more comforted and generally happier was physically painful. His second night out was dreadful - he was hungry but could smell milk on me, and was getting frustrated and angry - neither of us got very much sleep that night in hospital. So I embarked, with the advice of the hospital midwives, on a rather gruelling schedule to ensure he got as much as possible in the days before my milk arrived. It went like this:

8pm: express (go on, sing the Madonna song "Express Yourself"...I did)
9.30: feed Cian, then feed him the supplementary colostrum I'd expressed
11pm: express (sing it, girls!)
12.30am: feed Cian, then feed....OK, you get the general gist here, right?

90 minute schedule, pretty much constantly for about 36 hours. As you can probably imagine, this was exhausting. I set alarms to wake me up, and thankfully Matt was extremely supportive and woke to bring me drinks and offer positive encouragement at the times I really felt I couldn't go on doing this. I was sore, shattered, worried and overwhelmed, frankly...but also determined to get through it.

After about 2 days at home, my milk finally came in! Cian started making the happiest noises, sleeping in a satisfied stupor after his meals, and intermittently looking extremely surprised (imagine HUGE blue baby eyes and a shocked expression) as he'd get a veritable mouthful of the good stuff. I was told that so long as he'd regained his birthweight by 2 weeks old, he should be absolutely fine. So I waited with bated breath for the health visitor to visit at 14 days...

She weighed him, and looked surprised. I worried that he'd gained scant weight or (please no) even lost more. Then she smiled and said "well you've obviously got this nursing thing nailed - he's 8lb 7-and-a-half oz now!". I could have cried - all that hard work and exhaustion, all that worry that I wasn't providing what Cian needed...and he's thriving!

So that was my first drama. It may not seem a huge thing to anyone else, but it was important to me that I could provide his 'life support' on the outside, having done so for 9 months whilst carrying him. He's now a demanding little milk monster, but at least he's got a full tum. In fact, he's such an addict that my new nickname for him is (fanfare please...)

"Oggyrops Milkychops".

Oggyrops was my mother's old word for someone with a big appetite. *grin* And Milkychops because...well, he's usually got milk all around his chops (his mouth). And he seems happy that way. Exhibit A, Your Honour:

Otherwise, life's been profoundly changed, as I always knew it would. It's exhausting, and amazing, and gruelling, and wonderful, and anxiety-provoking, overwhelming, fascinating and exciting. So many conflicting emotions all at once. The worst time is early evening when Cian's fractious and feeding constantly, and the best time tends to be morning (hence my posting this now) or mid-afternoon when he seems quite contented. Sometimes he cries because he needs something specific - a nappy change, some milk, relief from trapped wind - and at other times he just wants to be held, all close and cuddled, where he can hear my heart. Talking of which, he LOVES his sling, as it does all of the above. He tends to fall asleep as soon as he's in it, which means that we've already been shopping a couple of times together.

Matt's mum is arriving today from Bedfordshire, and she's SO excited about meeting her first grandchild. I hope she won't pay too much attention to his normal common newborn irks - baby acne and milia (they'll clear within a couple of months) and gummy tear ducts (ditto, anytime in the first year) and think he's as utterly beautiful as I do. She's promised to help out and give me some time to rest, but I still feel stressed and like I should be tidying our (very untidy) flat before she gets here. I get on very well with her, but still get this anxiety that she'll take one look at the mess and think I'm an utter slattern!

We did notice, to our chagrin, that in a certain light, when being burped and lolling his little head forward, he looks a bit like one of the Slitheen from Doctor Who. But a very cute, small, toothless, sweet, cuddly version of said alien, and hopefully one without the dastardly plans towards humanity. On reflection, we should probably stop referring to him as 'our little Slitheen' before he develops the skills to know what we're talking about.

Finally...Cian is now an Official Scottish Baby! We took him to be registered yesterday and we now have all the relevant documentation. I'm quite disappointed that they didn't stamp him with a small thistle or tartan design, but I guess we can't have everything.

And that's it. The news for now. Will post more if and when I get time off from the dairy business.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Birth Story the end, a baby will come along the way it wants to, all plans aside and wishes notwithstanding. I knew this from the start - have stated it several times like a mantra! - but my whole story still went a little awry from my expectations. Here, without further ado, is my birth story.

I left you last, Constant Reader, with news of the hospital's plans to perform a membrane sweep on 11th August - my EDD - as they were slightly concerned about rising blood pressure. I was relaxing on Sunday night when I suddenly realised I couldn't read a full sentence on my laptop screen. Everything looked...well, weird. I had a clear window of vision in the centre of my eye (for those who don't know, I'm congentially blind in one of them anyway), but everything to the sides was akin to looking through one of those special-effects insect-eye lenses, if you've ever done so.

As visual disturbances are a known symptom of pre-eclampsia, Matt insisted that I call NHS24, the Scottish medical advice phone service, who were alarmed enough to send out the emergency paramedics. I was convinced they were overreacting, but later hospital tests showed that my kidneys were under pretty serious stress, either from pregnancy-induced hypertension or pre-eclampsia. The baby was fine - but in order to prevent kidney damage to me, the decision was made to induce labour.

At 11am-ish on 11th August, a prostaglandin gel was tried on me, and I must have been fairly ready to give birth anyway as it worked so well - contractions started immediately with about 2.5 minutes rest between them.

For those who aren't aware, in a normal, spontaneous onset of labour the contractions gradually build up in intensity, becoming stronger and more frequent. In an induced birth the body doesn't have this gentle build-up, and contractions tend to be more painful, frequent and so on. Because of this and my status as a first-time mum (apparently induction's usually more painful the first time), I was advised that I'd almost certainly require an epidural. There was also concern that the frequency of my contractions would mean I'd have no energy come 'push-time', especially given that I'd had less than 3 hours sleep in about 30 hours at this point. My father was taken into intensive care following emergency surgery on the morning I was induce, and the stress wasn't helping much either.

At that point I said I'd forego the epidural, but keep an open mind about it. The plan was to break my waters and use another Prostin gel, but Cian did a pretty thorough job of breaking my waters on his own! At that point, the contractions became far, far more intense. My TENS machine was up to maximum and I was cursing the fact that I couldn't use a birthing pool as all induced births need more careful monitoring. Matt and I decided that an epidural was probably the best idea, as it would allow me to conserve some energy for later in the day.

The anaesthetist tried 4 times to site the catheter in my no avail. So he asked a more experienced collegue, who tried 4 times to site the catheter in my no avail. Eventually the head obstetric consultant anaesthetist was called, who managed to install the epidural first time - I sucked on gas and air to enable me to stay still during contractions, so that he could do so.

About 15 minutes later he came back to ask how the pain was now...and was surprised to hear there was no difference. To cut a long story short, over the whole time of my labour 4 different consultants (including the senior anaesthetist for the entire teaching hospital) tried to get epidurals to work on me. Three were sited perfectly, with two different types of drug being tried. None gave any reduction in pain and I could still move my legs and walk around the room, much to the surprise (to say the least) of the doctors now having a conference by the side of my bed, wondering how on earth this could be.

Works out I'm one of only two cases they've ever seen where a labouring woman is genuinely immune to epidural pain relief. Go figure.

Around 5am-ish on Tuesday morning, I was examined. The midwife was sure that, given how strong and frequent my contractions had been showing on the monitor, I'd be well-dilated by now. I was at 2cm, at which point I felt extraordinarily frustrated.

Eventually I got about an hour's relief from a spinal block which was supposed to last a number of hours. It gave me just enough rest to get a little energy back. I was also given about an hour on a patient-controlled pump containing a very short-acting opioid. I'd stated a refusal of opioidssuch as pethidine from the outset as I didn't want adverse reactions in the baby, but I was informed this one was designed to leave the system in around 4 minutes, so caused no such problems. The PCA wasn't very helpful, but the staff were fantastic in bending over backwards to try to help me. I was offered another spinal block and possible caesarean section due to the unusual circumstances, but refused both as they could have posed a risk to the baby.

With the possible help of a syntocinon drip, I suddenly progressed from 2 to 5cm dilated in 2 hours...then up to 9cm in another 90 minutes. By this point I had no pain relief except gas and air, so there was nothing to do but go for it when I felt the urge to push.

After an hour's pushing, shouting, manically changing position (which should have been impossible, if not for my freakish epidural immunity!)...little Cian Matthew Sebastian Slane came into the world. Beautiful, perfect, completely unperturbed by any of the day's events, he let out one almighty yell, then took a big breath and looked so calm a he was laid on my chest. Matt had been planning to catch the baby and cut the cord, but in the event was unable to do either. He was crying, saying "You did it, you really did it! The baby's here!", shaking and looking awestruck by it all.

I had an episiotomy and a second-degree tear - a scissor cut, and a tear to my muscles for the uninitiated - so Cian stayed on me for 10 minutes on me before I had to be repaired. Matt was fantastic and proved an instinctive daddy by stripping off his shirt to snuggle the baby skin-to-skin. About an hour later I was all stitched up, and the three of us were left to get to know each other.

I had to recover for a couple of days in hospital, and I'm still very sore - between swelling, stitches and a severely bruised spine, I feel like I've been hit by a train! - but we're home now and getting used to each other. Sleep is difficult, and I'm trying to locate a 12-step programme for mummy's milk addicts, but I never realised exhaustion could be so worthwhile. Cian is just breathtaking - all little pouts, big eyes and hair like spun gold, with a touch of the Irish red. He's confused by the world, but loves to be cuddled and has passed all his screening tests so far with flying colours. I'm so proud of him...there just aren't words for how much I love my little golden boy.

A number of midwives and anaesthetists have approached me about my labour, and have said they consider me a very rare case of a difficult, induced birth without significant pain relief. They seemed to feel guilty that they couldn't help me, but that's nobody's fault - just one of those random things. All the staff who helped me were, without exception, supportive and fantastic during my labour. Matt was simply amazing, doing everything he could to encourage me and make me more comfortable, and I genuinely couldn't have done it without him.

Not the birth I'd been hoping for, all-in-all - I'd hoped for a much more gradual onset and more control over my situation. However, I got the RESULT I was hoping for, as my beautiful baby boy is safely in my arms, currently sleeping cuddled up to me.

No regrets from this lassie. No regrets at all.