Lisa

Nurse. Mummy. Wife. Life.


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Friends

Quality Not Quantity.

It is not how many friends you have. It is about having those few friends in your life that you can truly connect with and be your true self with.

I have recently been thinking a lot about the friends I have in my life, and how things have changed since having children. Having children changes your availability and priorities. Suddenly those delicious cocktail girls nights aren’t so important. Instead it is trying to figure out what is going to get your baby to sleep that matters.

It is very easy to drop off the radar when it comes to your social life after having a baby, and turning down invites. I always said before my son came along that having a baby wouldn’t change me, and he will just have to come along for the ride. I was in for a big shock, and it took some time to realise that if you want a happy baby, then you have to surrender to them running the show for a while. They are not babies forever, but they need you, and no mother can be in two places at once.

So thinking about friends, there is a shift and change when a baby comes along. I remember before having babies, having no interest in hanging out all the time with friends with babies. I wanted to be out partying and tanning on the beach. I wanted to go shopping, and go out for dinners. I had no interest in listening to someone talk about potty training, or breastfeeding, etc. And now after having a baby those are now the things I want to talk about and analyse. I am not saying I have dumped all my non-baby friends, but I have found myself naturally gravitating towards friends who do have children. People I can be brutally honest with and they get it straight away, and hopefully have some tips to help.

I have some wonderful friends around me, and not all have children. I am grateful for all their love and support. I guess since having a baby, my time is precious. “Me time” is limited, but as the kids get older it will increase. And hopefully through it all my friends will still be there on the other side.


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Anaphylaxis

My son yesterday was confirmed by a paediatric immunologist to have anaphylaxis to egg and dairy (all non human milk).

It came as no surprise, as we have been to emergency twice in the last year due to these severe allergies. First time was a year ago when he tried some formula for the first time, and the second was last november when he accidentally ate some egg.

It is very scary as a parent watching your child in such distress and pain, and unable to do much. You feel helpless, and blame yourself for causing it. He is so young, and can’t understand what is going on. All he would know is that he is in pain, itchy, and in a very strange place with strangers poking and prodding him.

As a mother of a child with these severe allergies it has always been a concern when leaving him in the care of others. Whether it be family or friends, it is sometimes hard to really rely on other peoples vigilance. I am not talking about people not caring, but quite often I have been shocked that people don’t realise how much food out there contains dairy and egg. Foods you wouldn’t suspect have these ingredients. So many foods are so highly processed with 101 ingredients, that it is easy to miss an ingredient that is derived from egg or dairy. I religiously look at ingredients, and if I don’t know what is in it, I will not give it to him. I cook all dinners from scratch at home, and try and give him foods that are nutritious and contain calcium. We don’t eat take away, as it is hard to really know what is in it. Main reason being is that I can’t count on others knowing what ‘dairy’ means. That might sound obvious, but people often assume I am just talking about milk and cheese, but forget the other forms of dairy such as cream, butter, sour cream, custard, mayonnaise, etc. All it takes is a smear of butter on a sandwich to cause a reaction.

The Western world is very reliant on dairy in their diet, but so many other cultures and countries don’t eat dairy like we do here in Australia. It took a while to shift my way of thinking and think outside the box, but in the last 12 months it has gotten easier to live with. There are alternatives, you just have to go searching for them. Australia is the number one country for allergies followed by New Zealand. We still don’t know exactly what the cause is, but we know it is something in our environment that we are exposed to. Whoever finds the cure will no doubt win the nobel prize!!

Living with a child who has allergies just becomes a way of life. It is always in the back of my mind whenever we are out and about. Toddlers have a tendency to eat food off the ground or grab some out of another child’s hand or plate. They are curious, and innocently exploring the world. I am always having to watch my son to ensure this doesn’t happen, and often feel like the paranoid crazy mother at play group. I look forward to the day when he is a little older and can understand a little better.

On a positive note, majority of children with milk and egg allergies grow out of it by the age of 10, so fingers crossed this is the case for us.


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Reflux?

I think my daughter has reflux.

I really hoped it wasn’t true, and hate the thought that my baby is suffering. It is also something I didn’t want to admit, because in my industry it is often a diagnosis mothers throw around as means to make sense of their newborn crying. Too many babies are labelled as being ‘colicy’ or having ‘reflux’, when infact they are just unsettled babies that need time to adjust to the real world. Some babies just cry and appear unsettled but actually have nothing wrong with them. So you can understand my hesitation at throwing this idea out there.

Here is why I think she does:
* She always arches her back, as though trying to get into a more comfortable position
* She is always vomitting, and it most often happens at least an hour after feeding
* She is always swallowing when not feeding, like she is trying to keep food down or clear her throat
* She is a very unsettled feeder, often pulling off
* She is not always settled after a feed, and has never fallen asleep on the breast like my son did (never has the drunk baby look after a feed) She may cry after a feed and always needs burping.

I may be wrong, and maybe it is just her temperament and personality. It is a hard one to really confirm, and I haven’t gone specifically to the doctors about it because there is really nothing they can do. There is no magic cure, and babies do tend to grow out of it in time. I just make an effort to keep her upright after a feed and always burp her. If it does get worse I will of course have a doctor check her out, but otherwise will just sit on the idea for a while and see how she goes.

It is hard not to compare your babies. My son was a fantastic feeder, and very easy to settle on the breast, so you can understand my confusion when breastfeeding didn’t have the same effect on my daughter. How could a baby not want to be breastfed to sleep? It is what mothers are told not to do but works a treat.

Every baby is different, and it takes time to learn their individual likes and dislikes. For instance my daughter loves being swaddled but my son hated it. It is a lot of trial and error till you get it right. Or sometimes you never do really figure it out, instead just fumble your way through it. What I say is do what ever you have to do to get through the day, and which helps settle your baby.


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Battle Scars

I recently read an article about a women who was tormented at the beach by strangers for revealing her belly at the beach. She has had 5 children, and as a result has stretch marks, and loose skin. She was brought to tears by the nasty comments 3 people made to her, and decided to do something about it. If you want to read the full article :
http://m.essentialbaby.com.au/wellbeing/mind-and-body/one-mums-awesome-defence-of-her-bikini-body-20140804-3d3kg.html

Anyways after reading that, it got me thinking about my body. At first I thought how lucky I am to not have any stretch marks as a result of my first pregnancy, but then instantly was brought back to my antenatal appointment I had last week. The doctor and midwife told me as a result of the traumatic previous caesarean I have had that I am probably going to have a lot of scar tissue around my uterus and especially where the incision site is. They said due to my circumstances it is not safe to have a natural labour, and that there may be complications during my elective caesarean due to the scarring.
It goes to show that you can’t judge a book by it’s cover. Just because someone looks all nice on the outside doesn’t mean they aren’t all messed up on the inside. Western culture is so caught up on the superficial things, and forgets that it is what’s on the inside that counts.
Having a baby is a miracle, and to give a woman a hard time because her body isn’t flawless post baby is hard to imagine. But we see it all the time. Woman have so much pressure to get their “pre-baby body” back and to lose the “baby weight”. Why are we so hard on ourselves, and fellow mothers around the world? Why are we not putting that energy and focus on the really important things regarding having a baby. How about asking how mother and baby are doing? How about asking the mother how she is coping? How about asking the mother does she need any help?
I am guilty of being caught up in the weight loss obsession, and being super critical of my post baby body, but I am coming to realise that there is no such thing as the perfect woman. Every woman has battle scars from having a baby, whether they are on the outside or the inside, having a baby has a profound impact on you whether it be mentally, physically or both. It will change you to the core and those battle scars will stay with you for life. You can have the perfect post baby body, but be suffering from terrible incontinence as a result of childbirth. You could have had a drug-free natural birth but have needed 50 stitches due to tearing during labour. You really can’t judge at first glance what a woman has had to go through to have her baby.
There are thousands of women dying everyday from childbirth, and yet there are just as many women out there beating themselves up because they have been left with stretch marks and are ashamed of this fact. If I could say one thing to these amazing women, I would say “Be proud of your battle scars, be proud of the fact that your body was able to create life, and don’t ever let yourself or anybody else for that matter make you feel ashamed of that fact. You are amazing!”.


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Sweet Potato

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Sweet Potato is without a doubt one of my favourite vegetables for so many reasons. If my son could talk he would say the same thing.

Coming up with baby food ideas can be hard, so when you find something that works it’s only logical to stick to it. Sweet potato was that food for me. It’s a guarantee every time with my son.

I recently looked up the health benefits and was pleasantly surprised at what I found. Firstly it’s so versatile- You can bake, steam, boil, microwave, fry, puree and even eat raw. It comes in various colours like purple and orange, and is super cheap.

It’s packed with Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Folate, Potassium, Calcium, and antioxidants. It’s low GI, and has anti inflammatory properties. I love it if, you haven’t noticed.

Lately I have been steaming pieces of it, and giving them to my son to eat by himself. He loves using his hands to feed himself now, and sweet potato is perfect for him at this stage. Anyways, I’m sure this info is nothing new to people, but thought I would share 🙂


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Breast In The West

Breasts are a wonderful thing. They look good, they feel good, and come in all shapes and sizes. They are unique to each women, and serve many purposes. Women have learnt to use their breasts to their advantage, and it’s safe to say that men can be very easily persuaded when they have a beautiful set of breasts staring them in the face. They can be a lot of fun, and make a woman feel very feminine.

So what happens when you have a baby, and you and your breasts are faced with a new challenge? When suddenly their main function is now about feeding, and keeping a baby alive for months. How do you balance your need to nuture your baby, but still feel feminine and attractive? Is it possible for your breasts to serve two functions when nursing your child?

It’s a known fact that the western world has over sexualised breasts to the point where some women feel uncomfortable to feed in public, and some men are uncomfortable seeing the naked breast unless it is for arousal purposes. I wonder and can only imagine how many difficulties some women face while breastfeeding because of the pressure their partner or society puts on them. And I wonder how many men make a woman feel like breasts are there only for their pleasure and not for a babies nutritional needs.

Are there really any cultures in the world that don’t sexualize breasts? And when did breasts become sexualized? Or have they always been that way? I personally think there can be a healthy balance, but it starts when both the mother and partner have realistic expectations. I believe it can work if there is mutual respect, patience, and understanding of each others needs. From my experience being a mum, and being able to breastfeed made me feel beautiful. I feel accomplished as a mother that my body has worked the way it is meant to, and supported me and my baby through breastfeeding. I know this isn’t the case for all women, and I haven’t taken this blessing for granted.

So how does one balance feeling beautiful, sexy, and woman while breastfeeding? Or when you are breastfeeding should you just stick to the main task of being a mum? Is it unrealistic to expect a mother who nurses her child to also dress and feel sexy?

I know for me I have felt very guarded about my post baby body. I have been reluctant to wear tight fitting clothes, or anything that is like my old wardrobe. For two reasons- Firstly I feel like my body has changed and still coming to terms with it, and secondly most of the clothes I used to wear just aren’t practical for breastfeeding and chasing after a little one. I miss the days where I could wear what ever I want, and not always have to think about dressing so I have access to my breasts for feeds. But I also feel that during the whole pregnancy, labour, birth, and baby journey I shared my whole body with so many people, that I just want a moment to myself where no one is poking or prodding. I have felt a shift in who I am as a woman since having my son, and breastfeeding is a big reason for this. This is because my body is still not mine. I am still sharing it with my baby.

Some people refer to the months you breastfeed as the fourth trimester. Because in essence your baby is still relying on your body for the majority of its nutritional needs. It is a huge commitment. So don’t put too much pressure on yourself to be superwoman. Just focus on being a mum in those early months. The time flies by you, and before you know it, your child will no longer need to breastfeed. It will just be you and your breasts left once again, to feel and look how ever you choose.


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Cosmetic Surgery

Nothing changes your body like having a baby does. Over a 40 week period your body swells, and stretches in ways one thought impossible. It does what it has to do to support life. Then you have the baby, and while some ladies bounce back, others can be left looking like a deflated balloon.

I have never put much thought into cosmetic surgery. It is not something I see myself ever doing. But there are two things I would do if I felt it would improve my confidence after having my children. A breast lift and a tummy tuck. Two major surgeries and not to be going into lightly, but I think any woman would agree that these are the two areas of your body that suffer the most during pregnancy. The tummy and the breasts.

I came across a fascinating website the other day. http://theshapeofamother.com Now if you don’t want to see REAL post baby bodies then don’t click on that link. But basically it’s a website where women post a picture of an area of their body that they know has changed because of bearing children. It’s a place where women can share, and compare, and hopefully come to realise that you aren’t the only one out there. Stretch marks, wobbly bits, sagging, cellulite, weight gain – all normal things that happen when having a baby.

We are our own worst critic, and quite often what we see in the mirror is completely different to what everyone else sees. Why do we hate ourselves so much, and focus only on the bad. Why can’t we be kind, patient and loving to ourselves. Having a baby is a miracle, and all women should be proud of the scars and changes to their body. So will having cosmetic surgery really fix things? Maybe, maybe not. My thoughts are if it will make you feel better, then do it. Who am I to tell a women who has had multiple babies, and ended up with saggy skin on her belly how to feel about their body. I reckon if having a tummy tuck will help you become a more confident women, give you the freedom to wear what you want, be comfortable being naked in front of your partner, and in front of the mirror, then go for it!! Life is meant for living, and I am all for living it the way you want.

Having a baby is no walk in the park, and I feel that every woman after having a baby, deserves to feel beautiful, sexy and truly happy with themselves. Whether it is getting a haircut, losing weight, cosmetic surgery, new make-up, exercising or new clothes, do what ever you have to do to give yourself a chance to be at peace and happy with who you are as a mother. There is nothing selfish or vain about wanting to feel and look your best, and truly loving the person you are.