Monday, 22 October 2012

Just a splinter...

On Saturday morning DS (who will be 4 in January) had beenplaying happily in the sitting room when he came to find me. I was picking up things from the floor so was kneeling down and found myself looking straight into his face. He looked very unhappy, ready to cry but yet not crying, which is sometimes more worrying. I exclaimed something like "Oh my love, what's the matter?" He buried his head in my neck and we had a long cuddle. Afterwards he still looked upset but wouldn't tell me what was bothering him. I asked if he had hurt himself but he didn't answer.

I sat with him on my lap, thinking that if he had hurt himself in some way it would probably pass. Then I noticed that he wasn't using his left hand and kept it with his palm towards him. I enquired about it and he started crying and didn't want me to look at it. Eventually I had a glimpse of something, the fleshy bit at the bottom of the thumb looked sore and I thought I saw a splinter.

As he wouldn't let me have a look but looked in pain I went to fins my husband and together we managed to see that he indeed had a splinter about half a cm long and maybe half a millimeter wide. It looked really sore. I tried to remove it but DS was thrashing about and getting more distressed. I just kept cuddling him and he actually fell asleep, slept for 2 hours and was feeling better after (although he still has the splinter in his hand).

What really struck me is how quickly he retreated into himself, how the pain and upset isolated him and how he resisted any attempt to help. And it was only a splinter! But I have been wondering if he would react the same way for something more serious and I found the thought really scary.

What can you do when your children are suffering and they don't want to let you in...?

Thursday, 18 October 2012

#ONEMum against poverty - Breastfeeding

On the 6th of October two talented bloggers, Jennifer Howze - one of BritMums co-founders, and Michelle Pannell - Mummy from the Heart, went to Ethiopia with, an organization dedicated to fight against poverty and preventable disease. They're inviting other bloggers to join their voices to theirs and raise awarness towards ONE's work and their latest campaign.

As a student breastfeeding counsellor when I read what ONE is fighting against and how they campaign for 'putting nutrition on the global agenda', of course I think of breastfeeding.

So many lives can be saved from encouraging and protecting breastfeeding.
The babies' by :
- giving them the antibodies they need when they're born, the antibodies acting as a first immunization
- reducing the number of death from infection (particularly diahrrea and respirotary infections)
- providing them with the only food adapted for their immature guts
- also providing them with all the nutrients they need to grow more healthy
- overall reducing the risk of neonatal death

The mums' by :
- reducing the risk of haemorrhage after birth (associated with a third of maternal death in Africa)

UNICEF says "it has been estimated that optimal breastfeeding of children under two years of age has the potential to prevent 1.4 million deaths in children under five in the developing world annually" (see here)
Strategies are needed at a National level :
- developpement and application of young child feeding policies

- enforcement of the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes

Health-system :
- trainging health workers in breastfeeding counselling
- implementation of the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative

Community :
- support for mothers (community health workers, breastfeeding counsellors, mother-to-mother support)

"Exclusive breastfeeding tops the table of life-saving interventions for newborns. Babies who do not exclusively breastfeed are six times more likely to die from diarrheoa or respiratory infections than babies who do." (UNICEF, 2009)

Supporting breastfeeding in Ethiopia.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Earth and Fire

When we lost our first baby boy at 32 weeks there was no question about how we would say good bye. It was clear for us that he would be buried. It's in our culture and upbringing. In France, and in the Catholic Faith, the dead are buried.

We drew comfort in meeting up with our priest and chosing readings and hymns. I remember that we chose the Gospel where Jesus instructs his disciples to let little children come to Him.
A reading from St Exupéry's Little Prince.
A French hymn about the beauty of Creation (the equivalent of All Things Bright and Beautiful).

We carried the tiny coffin ourselves from the church. There was much love in that gesture, and pain too as I hadn't been able to hold him after he was born...

For a long time I needed to go on his grave every day. I received many blessings there, a shooting star, a young owl perched on the cemetery's gate, a particularly beautiful sunset, a cloud in the shape of a baby (yes, really!)...

When we lost our second son 6 years later I couldn't face the thought of having two graves for my children in the cemetery (we had denied the option to make space in the grave for further diceased members of the family). I couldn't face either to have family coming over from France and have to comfort them as well as smooth over the tensions between them.

So he was cremated and we scattered his ashes over his brother's grave.

Since then I have been thinking a lot about these two very different ways to say good-bye.
I know lots of people don't like burials. Is it because of what happens to the body? It's indeed a slow process, painful to think about...
But one thing that's really important for me in a burial is that earth is life and life grows from it. We planted lavender and roses on our son's grave : continuity of life.

Fire is clean and quick but there is no after. There is a certain poesy in the scattering of ashes, carried by the wind, mixed with everything, but still, for me, it doesn't create life. Earth and dust do. And in the end, it's just that, dust to dust.

I have also reflected that these two good-byes were in accordance with how I handled grief both time.
The first time I confronted and embraced the pain, thought and talked about my baby as every possible moment. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross described the feelings of grief as denial, bargaining (what if... , if only...), anger, depression and acceptance. In my grief for my first baby there was a lot of bargaining, anger (in form of guilt) and depression, all mixed together, sometimes one stronger than the other, sometimes going forward, sometimes, going backwards between them. It took me time, lots of time. And I took the time to be sad.

The second time there was denial, numbness, but also acceptance, finally... I still talked and thought about him but I needed to say good-bye quickly and keep the pain and tears for later, when I would be able to deal with them, numb the pain for it would have broken me otherwise.

Earth and fire...

Friday, 12 October 2012

What to do when you're stuck on the sofa with a poorly child in your arms

Last week DB had a bout of high temperature that lasted for two days. The first day she was very tired and didn't want me to put her down, so I spent most of the day sitting on the sofa.Mainly she breastfed and slept, so she got plenty of fluids and rest, and by the evening she seemed to feel much better although her temperature was still creeping up when the effect of the Calpol wore off.

So I have amused myself at compulsing some ideas of what to do in such a situation :
- Drink tea.
Well, when else are you going to have such a stretch of inuterrupted time to enjoy a cuppa? Exactly!

- Eat cake.
Unfortunately I didn't have any that day but if I was that kind of girl I would always have a freshly baked cake, in a tin, ready for any situation that could arise, like a poorly child pinning you to the sofa. Something maybe like that Banana Caramel Loaf from the lovely Recipe Junkie (actually I should just convince her to provide me with lovely cakes...).

- Watch a movie.
It's very rare these days to have the time to watch a movie from start to finish. So I watched Coco Before Chanel. It was nice for a change to watch something in French too, although arguably it's not the most cheerful of movies. But it had a slow pace and aesthetic quality that suited the day.

- Read a book.
Like many I think I have finally come over to Kindle. No it's not like reading a real book, but when you spend a lot of time breastfeeding, or waiting at schools or preschools' gates, or supervising bathtime, or waiting by a bed that a child fall asleep, etc. Having the resource of taking your phone out and having something to read, it's quite nice, isn't it?
My last read was Me Before You by Jojo Moyes, treating of a difficult subject with much sensibility, avoiding the trap of falling into mere sensational.

- Write.
It's so easy to blog, tweet, write, on a phone, a tablet, a laptop/notebook.

- Shop.
Once again, so easy from any device connected to Internet. I just love browsing on Ebay and tick things to watch : virtual window shopping!

- Think.
And why not?

- Plan your holidays.
Although maybe for some things it might be dangerous to act in idleness! I nearly booked us there and then in this lovely Roman flat.Well, there might be an idea into it...

- Plan to redecorate your home.
I thought about what I could do in the dining room.

- Catch up with friends by email.
I must confess to have kept in touch mainly with friends who have an email address and to rarely write 'snail mail' letters... What about you?

Well, with Internet and all the social networks available the possibilities are almost limitless, aren't they? And a time of inaction can be very busy indeed!

Thursday, 11 October 2012

My 'olden days' kitchen dream

Since I have been old enough to imagine in what sort of house I would like to live I have always thought that I would really like a big kitchen which would be the heart of the house, a bit like my grand-mother's. With a big table, a grand-father clock and a standing cupboard that smells of wood, tea and homemade cakes in battered tins.

In our present house we have a galley kitchen with fitted elements and an inox sink and there isn't really any way it could be any different. But I'm thinking... The kitchen opens onto the dining room and THAT could be an extension of the kitchen, designed how I dream it.

We are lucky to have a fireplace in that room. It's not being used presently although its twin, on the other side of the wall, warms up our sitting room on cold and grey winter days. That fireplace would be perfect for a small range like this :

Or even this :

Doesn't it look lovely?

The room is not massive and the oval table we have at the moment rather cramps it. A bench along the wall, a simple, rectangular, wooden table, and stools that can easily be tucked underneath, would be great and much more practical. Lots of lovely tables here, a bit on the expensive side but good ideas for the sort of design I would like.

Now that the longest bit of wall is used the trick would be to finf small pieces of furniture that would add to the 'kitcheny' feeling of the room.

I would love a small grand-father clock to go betweem the fireplace and the sitting room's door or between the window giving onto the garden and the door to the galley kitchen (but we would have to move the light switch!).
Something like this :

And maybe we could have a dresser top fixed to the wall, ideally under the stairs, above the radiator (although with the range we could almost get rid of the radiator!). This should fit :
I could finally display the china plates I got from my grand-mother and some odd lovely tea cups I found over the months in our charity shop.

We would have old wooden doors fitted in front of the shelves DH put up between the fireplace and the wall. And we would have ceramic tiles in front of the fireplace (there isn't anything at the moment, just concrete and at lower level that the wooden floor). I was thinking antic ones but something like this would be fun (but maybe completely out of budget!):

The table would always be clean and tidy (cough, cough), the children sitting around it to do colouring or homework or rolling out cinnamon and honey dough to make biscuits, me at one end of the table, blogging on my notebook. An old kettle on the range, ready for a cuppa at any time, maybe a cake baking in the oven, or a fragrant soup on the hob. The grand-father clock gently chimes the blissful hours while outside the rain hits the windows and the wind howls, the family oblivious to their spiteful voices...

Monday, 8 October 2012

About that male student midwife story - Monday club

Lots of tweets at the moment are about the student midwife who was denied to attend an NCT breastfeeding session because he's male.
Well, as usual and unsurprisingly, it's onbly part of the story. It was actually a women only breastfeeding session, and he was offered other options to attend, which he declined.

Belinda Phipps, Chief Executive for NCT, the UK's largest charity for parents,said:

"We want breastfeeding to be as normal as reading the newspaper, so normally partners do attend support sessions. We are also committed to supporting the development of health professionals. However, women who seek breastfeeding support are often feeling particularly vulnerable and some may feel uncomfortable with a male presence, so we also offer women-only sessions for those who want this.

"On this occasion, when a male student midwife wanted to visit a women-only group, we offered him a number of alternative options and did all we could to support him in furthering his professional development. It's disappointing that he was not able to follow up these offers."

Some could say, but he's a midwife, he will deliver babies and help women breastfeed. Shouldn't he be treated like any other midwife? Isn't it sexism?
But the thing is it IS women who give birth and breastfeed. Surely it's their needs that should take precedence over political correctness and not being sexist?

I find it admirable that men want to be midwives but I fear it might not be the only hurdle this student will meet with. He could meet women who won't want to be followed during their prgnancy or attended for the birth of their baby, by a male midwife. Will that be sexism?

My mother used to tell us this saying she had learned as a child in "education civique" (civics) : Everyone's freedom stops where that of someone else's starts.
Isn't that a bit what is happening here? This student sees it as his right to be treated equally to a female student and attend whichever antenatal session he chooses to. But NCT saw it as the women's right to have their "women only" session, well... only with women.

However hard it's been tried in the past, a profession doesn't make one asexuel. "It doesn't count, he's a doctor." Well, I'm sorry, but sometimes it does count. A person is surely more than their profession?

If a man was to have a coloscopy or a close examination of sensitive parts and refused a female doctor to do it, would he be deemed sexist? Well, there might be people to do so but I think they would be wrong.

To come back to that midwife student, as Belinda Phipps said pregnant women can feel particularly vulnerable and it's a question to decide whose needs come first: First time mums', hormones all over the place, body changed beyond recognition ;) , life turned upside-down by the upcoming arrival of a completely new person whose going to have somehow to come out of their body. Or a male midwife student's, with free time and choice and offered to attend a couples breastfeeding session?
It might sound sexist and not politically correct, but I think it's the mums'.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Monday Club : The baby princess of Fiddlydy

Oops! I had - already - forgotten that the Wednesday link to Sarah's blog had moved from Wednesday to Monday!
Here is a story I had posted on my blog when I was starting it. It didn't get many reads at the time...!

Once upon a time in the faraway land of Fiddlydy the King's daughter was expecting a baby.
Babies in the land of Fiddlydy are fed with the juice of the dontmakesuchafuss plant.
The plants are harvested exactly on the 1st of Firstofthesummermonths, the same day that the last juice of the last plant of the harvest from the previous year is given to a baby of Fiddlydy.
It so happens that the Princess's baby was due on the 2nd of Firstofthesummermonths.
It so happens that the Princess's baby was the only baby due that month.
And... it so happens that two days before the harvest of the dontmakesuchafuss plant a terrible storm hit the land of Fiddlydy and blew away all the plants!
Fortunately Fiddlydy babies are born with such reserves from their time in their mothers' tummy that they don't absolutely need to feed in the first week after they are born.
Still, the fact that there would be no food for the royal baby or any Fiddlydy baby born after the lost harvest was a huge concern.
The King gathered all his  counsellors and put the problem before them. The counsellors thought, scratched their heads, tapped their lips and picked their noses. Eventually a short round lady with a high pitched voice said "Sire, I think that in some lands babies are fed the milk of the moocow...
- Excellent, excellent, said the King. Send royal messengers to our Provinces to find milk of the moocow!"
The messengers were sent and the milk found.
On the 2nd of Firstofthesummermonths a baby girl was born to the Fiddlydy Princess.
A bottle of milk of the moocow was brought in great fanfare to the Princess, who gave it to her daughter.
The milk had barely passed the baby's lips that it went straight out at the other end in a bright rose bonbon. Rose bonbon is not the colour you want to see in Fiddlydy babies' nappies. It is sign of very bad digestion.
The milk from the moocow was discarded and the royal counsellors gathered again. They thought,  they scratched their heads, they tapped their lips and picked their noses. Eventually a very tall and thin counsellor with a very deep voice said : "Sire, I believe that in some lands babies are given milk of the maagoat.
- Excellent, excellent, said the King. Send royal messengers to our Provinces to find milk of the maagoat!"
Messengers were sent and the milk found.
A bottle of milk of the maagoat was brought in great fanfare to the Princess, who gave it to her daughter.
The milk had barely passed the baby's lips that it went straight out at the other end in a dull avocado green poo. Avocado green is slightly better than rose bonbon but still not the right colour for a Fiddlydy baby’s nappy.
And so the King gathered his counsellors again, and again, and again. By the end of the second day the royal baby’s bottom was resembling a rainbow.
The King then called for his royal town crier. “Tell everyone, said the King, that we need advice on how to feed Fiddlydy babies!”
The proclamation was read everywhere in town and further away in the surrounding villages.

A woman from the land of Straightfoward was visiting her sister and heard the proclamation. She set forth at once to go to the Palace.
The royal guards took the woman straight to the King who in turn took her to his daughter.
The Princess was bathing her baby, having tried yet another food which went out of her daughter in a rather toxic looking fluorescent orange poo.
A washing line was crossing the Princess’s chambers. Hung on it were all the clothes the baby had worn in the past couple of days, still bearing faint traces of the variously coloured poos.
“Your Majesty, said the woman, I think I know how you could feed your baby.”
The Princess looked wearily at the woman. She had given so many different foods to her poor baby that she was despairing to ever find a solution. She would just have to give her what was the least bad and hope for the best.
“Where I come from, continued the woman, in Straightforward land, the mothers feed their babies themselves.”
The Princess’s eyes lit up. She walked to her visitor with her baby in her arms. “Show me!”
They first had to remove the Princess’s dress, blouse, chemise and corset so that the royal mother was only wearing a camisole that she opened at the top. Then the Princess made herself comfortable and the woman put the baby on her mother’s chest. The baby nestled, snuffled, tasted, touched, until she found her mother’s bosom, latched on and fed contentedly.
“Oh my, said the Princess, she is a strong little creature! I have never felt such a thing.” The royal baby soon fell asleep. Her mother had a faraway look in her eyes and a wide smile on her face. She thanked the woman again and again and asked her to stay a bit longer.
Some time later unmistakable noises originated from the baby’s royal bottom and the Princess eagerly went to change her daughter’s clothes. In the baby’s nappy her mother found the most beautiful sky blue poo, the most perfect poo for a Fiddlydy baby.

Copyright 2012 Mother Goutte