Risky Business

I often find myself performing a quick risk assessment when my children appear to be happily amusing themselves. The fact that they are amusing themselves is rare. Aware that it may offer me 5 minutes peace and quiet or the ability to do some cooking or speak on the phone without them hanging off me, has meant that occasionally whilst I’ve noticed that what they are doing or playing with would not exactly be my ideal choice, I’ve been prepared to let it go.

An example of this is a few months ago.  I was in the shower, my now 19 month old daughter, pulled all of the contents of the usually child locked bathroom cabinet out and sat happily playing with a box of tampons. At first I was somewhat horrified that she was playing with something so inappropriate. Although they were of course all still in their wrappers I had the sudden thought my head often gets filled with of ‘what if?’.’ What if she puts one in her mouth, the plastic comes off, she swallows it and then it expands inside her?’ Of course, I’m fairly sure the chance of this actually happening is less than zero, however the thought still weirdly found a moment of time in my head.

I rationalised my concerns, accepting that it was highly unlikely and if it did happen I would be able to see and could step in quickly. I concluded my risk assessment with the acceptance that whilst tampons wouldn’t exactly be my first choice of toy for her, she was happy and it bought me an extra few minutes shower time. These precious extra minutes enabled me the luxury of shaving my legs – a treat usually saved for weekends only when daddy is around.

In my head there are many things that I thought I’d have not allowed my girls to do:

  • Eat food off the floor when out and about
  • Walk on walls
  • Eat food in the pram, car seat, on the sofa
  • Eat food such as bolognaise without being bibbed up and chained down
  • Play with the box of condoms they found in the drawer next to the bed
  • Put shoes in their mouths
  • Eat sand
  • Wipe their own bottoms
  • Eldest daughter feed/shove food into her baby sisters mouth (something that made them both roar with laughter)
  • Eat all of that chocolate
  • Eat all of that chocolate whilst wearing that beautiful dress
  • Scribble in our brand new notebook which is now 400 pages of squiggles
  • Play my biro instead of their washable pens whilst I was on the phone so they and every item of furniture is covered in pen.
  • Play with my phone whilst I was on the toilet which they have now dropped on the hard toilet floor
  • Unroll all of the toilet roll whilst I was on the toilet
  • Pour water everywhere whilst I was cooking in the kitchen (but they did sound like they were having so much fun)
  • Eat all of those hot chips that were covered in salt – with red sauce
  • Bang the remote control on the table
  • Both stand on precariously wobbly children’s toys so that they can both reach the sink and brush their teeth at the exact same time
  • Play hide and seek together in the curtains which does often result in a few head bumps but provides them with hours of entertainment and giggles.

The daily risk assessment list is endless.

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I remember a couple of instances in particular where my risk assessment failed:

The first one was when my youngest was about 8 months old.  I’d decided to give her some nappy off time. She had just done a poo, therefore my risk assessment concluded it was safe. I was enjoying a moment of freedom, cooking in the kitchen with both hands and no children on my feet. I looked over my shoulder regularly to check she was ok and whilst I couldn’t see her face I could hear her contentedly gurgling away. I continued to enjoy the time to complete whatever it was I was doing, relaxed in the knowledge that she was safe and happy. When I’d completed my cooking I walked over to her to give her some attention. As I approached her I was horrified to see what it was that she was playing with was actually s***t! I got there just in time as she had her hand raised and headed in the direction of her grinning mouth.

The other occasion that springs to mind when she was around 5-6 months and not yet crawling. I was at the playground with her and my 2 year old. I placed her on the soft padded ground by the climbing frame. I performed my usual risk assessment, scanning the area to check there were no small parts she could put in her mouth. Clear. Risk assessment passed. The risk assessment for my 2 year old highlighted a few more potential hazards so I focussed my attention on her. When I looked back at my baby I noticed something small and brown on the ground beside her. That’s strange, I was certain there wasn’t anything there before. As I approached the small brown thing I was horrified to see it was part of a dead cockroach. PART OF ONE!! What had happened to the rest of it? I looked at my beautiful baby, sitting there so innocently, and thought I might be sick. No! Had she eaten the other part of it? I will never know.

Risk assessments play a big part of my daily life with 2 such young children. I will of course always do my utmost to keep them safe from harm. However I’m sure there will be many more moments where what they are doing is far from appropriate or ideal yet if it makes them happy and gives me a break for 5 minute the repercussions are probably worth it!

 

 

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My Child

I carried you for 9 whole months, anxious full of hope.

When I felt you move around inside, my excitement hard to cope.

Upon meeting you my heart did burst, such a joy to see.

You made me cry a happy song, the world you mean to me.

Those first few months I held you close, you nursed and cried and slept.

My love for you so deep and strong, a secret I had kept.

I want to keep you safe from harm, forever and a day.

I know I need to let you grow without me getting in your way.

As you grow older and need me less it will not change for me,

Just how much I’ll always care – for you I’ll always be.

I hope one day when you have flown, the nest in which you grew

You always think of me with love, a friendship strong and true .

My child I’ll always love you so, for all the years to come

No matter what you say or do, I’ll always be your mum!

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©lucyslifeslessons

Breastfeeding – me, my boobs and them

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Minutes after giving birth to my first child, it was clear my breasts were no longer my own. As soon as the midwives cleaned her up, they took hold of my breast and nipple, placing my new baby firmly on top of both. Within seconds she was sucking away. I was relieved. Breastfeeding was something I’d hoped to do. Love drunk, full of endorphins and morphine, I stared in awe at this amazing little person attached to me. Apparently she was “a good sucker.”

The baby stayed in that position for hours. Every now and again I’d feel a little tugging and pulling sensation as she latched on in-between naps. As the initial ecstatic loved up hours went by, the toe curling pain began to set in. The tickly, tugging sensation was replaced with a feeling more akin to being sliced with razor blades. My nipples began to crack, one started to bleed. It was agony. It seemed like self-harm to keep placing the baby back onto my red raw, cracked, bleeding nipples. This couldn’t be right, I must be doing something wrong.

My sister (breastfeeder to 3 herself), stressed to me the importance of using Lanisoh cream before and after feeds. I did as I was told. Mum was staying with us and also encouraged me to persevere, promising the pain would ease and it would be worth it in the end (breastfeeder to 3 herself).

I did as I was told again. What did I know? This baby thing was a whole new world to me, one in which I was learning the truly amazing capabilities of my body for the first time in my life. My body had made, grown and housed a little human. My boobs had suddenly started producing milk, apparently to provide enough nourishment to sustain this little human for the next few months. This still amazes me. It’s all so natural, so why does it hurt like hell?

I remember references to milk ‘coming in’ on day 3 in the antenatal classes. Mine followed this rule to the letter. Day three, I stood up to go to the bathroom and nearly fell to the ground with the weight of the two balloons hanging from my chest. Not blessed with the largest of breasts previously, this was a new one for me. I looked down, initially in shock at the enormity of them, followed by a little internal smiling at my perfect, round, enormous boobs and then…ouch! Throbbing, heavy, achy, hard and sore.

After day three, the thick creamy colostrum turned into a more familiar type of milk, the kind of milk I was used to pouring on my cereal. It was at this point I experienced ‘engorgement’. My body, not yet in tune with the baby’s needs went into overdrive, producing more milk than the containers could cope with as the milk leaked out of my nipples.

I picked up my baby to feed her and within seconds she was coughing and spluttering, drowning in a fountain of milk as it squirted in her face and down her throat. I felt an instant relief as my balloons began to soften and deflate. Meanwhile my little bubba was doing her best to keep going, gasping for air and pulling away at regular intervals.

It was soon thereafter that I learned the benefits of cold cabbage leaves on engorged breasts.

As often as I’d craved larger boobs throughout different phases of my life, I wasn’t too keen on the heaviness and discomfort that went along with these two treasures. It soon became apparent that breastfeeding breasts were about the furthest thing from sexy imaginable. I was a soaking, soggy, sore, cabbage smelling breastfeeding mummy.

Luckily, within a couple of weeks things improved. Lanisoh, gritted teeth and some hard core nipple weathering enabled the rawness of my nipples to ease and the cracking to heal. As the engorgement happened less, so too did the need for cabbage leaves down my bra.The leaky boobs continued, however less frequently, as my milk supply became more in sync with my daughter’s demand. At the early stages of breastfeeding I daren’t leave the house without a breast pad firmly in place. On the odd occasion I forgot, I’d find myself blissfully unaware of a big wet patch spreading its way through my bra and across my top.

I am currently breastfeeding my second child. My breastfeeding experience has, on the whole, been similar. I was lucky to have two “good suckers.” I’ve surprised myself with my comfort and ease at breastfeeding anywhere and everywhere when my babies require.

In the beginning I awkwardly covered up in an effort to preserve my own modesty and ease others’ embarrassment. As my breastfeeding journey has progressed I’ve relaxed, and sometimes, in a panic to get the screaming baby to my boob – I just forget to cover up all together. My youngest currently climbs on me and helps herself, no care in the world for where we are or who is around.

To me it’s the most natural thing in the world- just as we use our mouths to eat and our feet to walk, breasts are a vessel with which to provide babies with the food and nourishment they need for the first few months of their precious lives as well as offering them comfort.

Often breastfeeding is ‘on the go’, when the baby is in the carrier, or I’m on the phone, typing on the laptop, eating etc. However, now and again I’m stopped in my tracks, suddenly aware of her presence. I feel her stroking or patting my chest, fiddling with my necklace. I look down at her, her mouth swallowing up my breast, and I see my child. Her vulnerability and need for me never more apparent than at this moment. My love for her and the connection we share ours alone. I tickle her leg and see her eye glisten, a quivering smile forming at the side of her mouth. The smile forces her to pause sucking, however she doesn’t let go. If I could bottle up this moment and save it forever, I would.

My youngest daughter (15 months) is a breastaholic. As I mentioned, she climbs on me to help herself whenever she fancies a top-up. As soon as access has been granted and my boobs are in her sight, she squeals delightedly jumping up and down in joy.

We have now reached a point where I am having to accept the time has come to wean her.  The reasons for this are practical: I often breastfeed her to sleep, so she now depends on it to get to sleep, making it impossible for my husband to put her to bed, leaving him feeling frustrated at not being able to comfort her.

The end of this era brings mixed emotions for me. On the one hand, I’m looking forward to a little more freedom, hopeful she will learn to self-settle and be less attached to me. On the other hand, I’m completely heartbroken to be ending the beautiful connection and special time together that only we have shared.

Whilst I’m sure there are many people whose preference is not to breastfeed, I do have friends who have not been as fortunate as me with their experiences. The initial pain too much to bear, unable to produce enough milk, the baby not latching on properly or continual bouts of agonising mastitis.

As my mummy journey continues, the fact that all babies and mummies are different, is continually reinforced. Some can’t do as they wish, some wish different things. I wished to breastfeed and was fortunate to be able to do so. Breastfeeding gave me, my boobs and them (my babies) so much more than just milk. I will always be grateful for that unique bond we shared.