Trying to conceive is an exercise in frustration – you ponder for months, years even, on when to have a baby and you psych yourself up for it and decide you are going to start trying. Out goes the birth control and then… Nothing. Months of nothing. Why were you ever worrying if you missed the odd pill when you can miss 100 and still not be pregnant?!
Selecting childcare is proving to be a similar object lesson in frustration.
First you reject other options; because childminders have too high a ratio of childminders to children with limited facilities and nurseries are too institutional, long hours, and dens of disease with too early closing times. But you only decide this once you have visited all the options in the area – just in case one was different. (To be fair, we found a nursery we liked – where the kids didn’t look like they were from Stepford and they took them out in a huge wheelbarrow thing to play in the park, but it closed at 6pm and with both our work finishing at 6pm, that put a bit of a spanner in the works).
Which leaves nannies as the only option – able to work in your home, to your childcare philosophy, to your hours. But they are properly expensive – especially once you have paid their tax, their national insurance and your employer’s tax – a going rate of £10 per hour quickly becomes £14.50, and this to be paid largely from your post-tax income (unless you can persuade your employer to pay you the amazing £28 per week, i.e. 2 hours’ worth, in childcare vouchers that you are allowed as a higher rate tax payer and find an Ofsted registered nanny to take them).
But you decide that your child’s happiness is the most important thing, and that it will be an investment in your career because you will be able to give it more focus as you won’t constantly be off with an ill child or having to leave early to get back in time to avoid penalties, and so a nanny it is!
After all that soul searching, you rather hope that the perfect nanny will drop from the sky when the wind changes. So far, no such luck…
Apologies for the lateness of this post, I have no excuse beyond it’s summer!
Now I am officially within three months of returning to work, it seems the time had come to retrieve my head from where it was firmly wedged in the sand and work out what on earth we are going to do about childcare for Elphie.
Photo credit: The Telegraph
So the options are nursery, childminder, nanny or a combination of the above.
There’s nothing like a spontaneous holiday – hopping in the car and driving somewhere, looking up hotels en route and hoping they are still serving dinner when you get there (or you can find the local Chinese takeaway before it closes if they are not – but I digress).
Some say that such spontaneity is impossible once you have a baby as they require so much clobber. Well “Pah!” I say to that. If your sense of adventure is still intact then anything is possible with a bit of ingenuity and a Tesco Extra.
So this post comes a little early, on Sunday rather than the usual Monday, because today is rather special – our first Mothering Sunday.
Now Elphie might still be a little small to be cooking me up some scrambled eggs and serving them to me in bed (thinking about it now, I think my Mum only got such Hallmark-worthy treatment a couple of times); and she’s a bit young to associate me with the word “Mother” or even “Mama”, so this Mother’s Day is more about the symbolic transition into motherhood that has been made than the sacrifice on the altar of my maternal wonder that will be Elphie’s honour in years to come. Photo credit: Dumpaday.com
I do rather wonder if there will ever come time when I don’t step back and wonder where this child came from, whether this really was my life or some weird dream and how on earth I became old enough to be a mother and a relatively old mother at that (average mothers being 29)!
It might be the eating, or the moves towards mobility accorded by a slithering action on her belly, but suddenly Elphie seems almost all grown-up and fast heading towards being a toddler rather than a baby.
The past seven and a half months have got incredibly quickly and at each stage I have felt behind the curve playing catch-up (don’t even talk to me about babyproofing). Before having a baby, it seemed like people had babies forever, that it took too long for them to learn to walk, to talk, to be an actual person. Now she’s on the precipice of all that, I miss her being tiny and wish I had taken more videos of her just being as it is hard to remember her being so small now she is a mega baby.
Although Lactation Consultant No.1 had informed me I needed a whole new appointment to get Pip’s mouth checked, before we’d even started drinking our tea Lactation Consultant No.2 whipped on her rubber gloves and delved right in there – a process which took approximately 20 seconds. No.2’s hunch had been correct: Pip had a posterior tongue tie.
I won’t go into detail about what tongue tie is, as if you have been paying attention you should already know all about it thanks to Elly’s post on the topic!
Like Elphie, Pip’s tongue had been checked early on by the midwife and health visitor and we were assured that his was untied. It had therefore never really crossed my mind that my continuing issues with breastfeeding could have anything to do with that. However, it all started to make complete sense: as his tongue couldn’t extend over his lower gums and cushion my nipples, his gums had been repeatedly chafing against me which caused the soreness. The thing is, Pip had been latching on well in his own way and always opened his mouth wide, so people who had checked my breastfeeding had reassured me that it looked like we were doing it right! LC No.2 also noticed that when he cried (which surprisingly enough, happened shortly after she’d been poking around in his mouth with a rubber glove) he didn’t raise his tongue up which is apparently another sign – but I didn’t know this was something we were supposed to look out for. No-one told me his tongue was supposed to be so rock and roll!
Other symptoms we experienced were as follows (taken from the comprehensive Milk Matters list also linked to by Elly in her post):
Persistent very sore or damaged/blistered nipples
Compressed nipples (change in shape) and/or blanching after feeding
Excessive sucking need – baby wants to feed or suck very frequently/constantly.
Baby only swallows infrequently or swallows well for initial “milk ejection” (letdown), but then swallows become less frequent/sporadic. In young babies this may result in falling asleep quickly at the breast.
Mammoth feeds – or falls asleep quickly and then wakes hungry as soon as breast/bottle is removed.
Very frequent feeds
Tongue tremor whilst feeding
Unable to protrude tongue
Displays stressed body language when feeding – hands up near face, fingers splayed.
Doing research for this parenting lark, I often come across message threads lauding the joy of co-bathing. On a post on Facebook, one mother was extolling the amazingness of a bath with her child – there had been candles, breastfeeding in the bath and a symphony of relaxation and contentment. This sounded quite fun – perhaps not the candles bit and breastfeeding while bathing might be a bit beyond my breastfeeding skills, but lots of skin to skin would be amazing for bonding right?
When Elphie was littler I had considered it as Maria said that she and Harold had done it and that it was by far the most convenient way to bath him, but I thought Elphie was too fragile – I was afraid I would drop her slippery body into the water. Also an episode of House I had seen involved a mother having a bath with her infant and having a fit, with not so good consequences for the baby, so that had traumatised me too.
But Elphie was bigger now and my confidence in holding her without breaking her was higher, and she loved her baby bath and being in the big bath in shallow water (as she is at Grandmama’s) and had coped with swimming, so why not give it a go?
I think the level of success of the exercise can be judged by the fact that Fred came up as we were getting out to ask what all the screaming had been about.