Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Baby swimming

Today we, that is me and the girls went swimming.  We have swimming lessons every Tuesday, and I have to admit that it's something that I love.  I've taken all four of the children swimming from when they were babies, and it's something that I highly recommend.  Of course you don't need to do formal 'lessons' although I've found them really helpful.


Underwater swimming

The one area that I've found that they really help with, is having the courage to actually get your baby to do things.  I'm sure that you've seen the famous Nirvana cover, as I had before I went swimming with Kai, and I knew the theory behind it.  (Basically, babies under one automatically hold their breath when underwater) but to actually dunk your precious little one?  It's not so easy.  We did baby swimming lessons in the UK with Kai, which is where we got these amazing photos, (I want to say that it was little dippers that we did them with, but they don't seem to be in the North Midlands, where we did them, although six years or so on, that may well have changed).  The photos were actually a freebe, after the instructor was late for one of the sessions, but they are fantastic.

Baby swimming

Water Confidence

With Kai, we had quite a big break between the baby lessons and starting again, which was a bit of a shame, and Mahe lost a bit of his confidence, although he still loves going swimming.  My girls have bags of confidence in the water, sometimes a little bit too much, although of course the lessons have helped with that too.  Knowing what you can't do is just as important as what you can do when it comes to swimming and being in and around the water.  I've loved swimming with all the kids and if you haven't been with your little one yet, I'd suggest you give it a go.

Toddler swimming

Monday, 9 June 2014

Two years ago

Yesterday was Anja's birthday, and I've been thinking a lot about two years ago, and when she was born. It's funny, but a lot of the experience of birth fades quickly after the event, probably for very good reasons, I doubt I would have had four children if I remembered too clearly (and with numbers two, three and four, I remember thinking how I'd forgotten that it hurt quite THAT much), and of course the emotions that come with a new baby, can over ride everything else that happened.  There are some things though that stand out and I suspect (and hope) will never leave me and always be clear.  I remember very clearly the first time I saw each of my children for example.  Kai, who was slightly blue coloured and all arms and legs, Mahe who was calm and relaxed while I got on with the business of birthing him, Lena who was ready for action before she was fully here, and Anja, being passed to me from behind where Daddy who caught her, and seemed enormous.  But there are other things as well, so I thought I'd look back at her birth, and fill in some of the other detail from her birthstory.

Newborn, two years ago

With all three of the other children, I'd expected them to be late, and Lena was the only one that surprised me by being early, all be it only three days.  I thought that Anja would also be earlier, that would follow the trend; nine days late, six days late, three days early....... and sure enough two weeks before her due date I was getting all the signs, huge amounts of practice contractions, loosing plug in huge, golf ball sized blobs (sorry) and most importantly, I felt ready.  It might sound a bit odd, but with the other three, I'd not been ready at all, until just before they came, that I'm really not ready to be a mother/have another child feeling that seems to descend in mid to late pregnancy suddenly lifts, and it's all systems go.  I was ready, it was the weekend, I'd spoken to the back up midwife as mine was off (of course) and I was pretty sure that this was it.  And then I got ill. Nothing major, just a bad cold that went straight onto my asthmatic chest, I was a bit frightened at the though of a full on asthma attack mid labour.  My midwife assured me though, that they had all on hand to deal with such a thing, but more importantly she'd never known it to happen, the adrenalin took over.

Being born is hard work

All weekend I waited, a few niggles more nothing more, the next week came and went and still nothing.  I couldn't understand it.  My midwife did say to me that sometimes your body just wants to hang on until all is perfect, and looking back I wonder if that's what happened.  If I hadn't been ill just then, would I have ended up having Anja a week or so earlier, of course I'll never know, but it's an interesting thought.

Getting cleaned up

After two weeks of waiting, which of course felt like at least two months, things seemed to be starting again, and I wondered if things would be happening soon.  The night before her due date, I was up in the night with contractions, and then again the next night, but I wasn't holding out much hope.  On the third night, I'd just about given up on the idea of them taking me anywhere, but it was pretty clear that these were more than that.  I remember posting on-line to a friend about it, just trying to distract myself for a bit.  She advised that I try and go back to bed and get some rest, in case it was the real thing.  Great advice, but next to impossible.  Of course you should try and rest, but when they really start, there's no relaxing, and I found that keeping moving was far more comfortable that lying down in any case.   I was excited too, that old adrenalin I suppose.

Ready to come home two years ago

There's a huge part of me that loves the idea of a home birth, but I've never had one and never planned to have one.  With my first it didn't even register, and after that, I wasn't keen, having had the emergency section before.  Even so, I managed to continue at home for quite some time, even hitting the self doubt that is transition.  Even though I knew what it was, it didn't seem to stop me thinking "I can't do this, what was I thinking, can it all stop now."  I suppose I was lucky that it didn't all happen unplanned at home, with the children arguing about what they wanted to watch while Daddy got them ready for Grandma to come over in the back ground.  By the time I did reach the hospital I was already fully dilated and ready to go.  I won't go into the full details of her birth again, you can read them in her birth story, but it was fantastic, amazing and wonderful.

Just having given birth, two years ago.

Skipping forward a little bit, so we really are thinking about two years ago, I stayed in hospital for a couple of days after having her.  Not because there were any problems really, but because I was so tired the midwife thought I could do with a bit of a break.  She told me to pretend to look a bit ill, while they installed me in a room on my own.  Bliss, or at least it was during the day, I just lounged around and read.  I didn't sleep well, only partly due to a little newborn, hospitals are just too noisy.  It was also so hot, I remember asking for a clean night shirt so I could shower and change again.

Newborn littlest miss

So there we have it, two years ago my Littlest Miss arrived.  I can't believe how quickly it's all gone, and at the same time, I can't imagine life without her now.  I don't suppose I'll ever do it again, and it's a bit sad really to think that I'll never have a little baby again.  Of course they'll all always be my babies, but they'll never actually be babies again. Happy Second Birthday Anja.

Happy second birthday Anja

Monday, 2 June 2014

Going shampoo free

I don't use shampoo on any of my children, they are all shampoo free.  I'd like to do the same myself, but I think my hair is too used to regular washing with shampoo.  It didn't start out as a concious decision to never use shampoo, but that's just how it's turned out.

Newborn toiletries

When all of the children were newborn, I didn't use any toiletries at all with them.  Newborns don't really seem to get dirty, and to be honest there isn't really any need for lots of bubble bath and shampoos when they they are really little.  Newborns smell lovely with out any artificial scents added, and their sensitive skin means that it's best to avoid toiletries, I'd always intended to start using shampoo at some point though.  As Kai got older, he just never really needed it though, and now at 7 1/2 I've never used shampoo on his hair, or on any of the other children.

shampoo free

Beautiful hair

Kai has got the most beautiful, soft hair, I'd love to have such lovely hair, and I'm sure that it's down to it being shampoo free.  It never looks dirty or greasy, and it does get washed regularly, with water, just not shampoo.  I read that soap actually cleans hair really well, but only if it's not hair that's been washed regularly with shampoo.  If I were to try and use soap on my hair it would go all dry and funny, because I do usually shampoo my hair.  But on the odd occasion that I've actually needed to wash the kids hair with something a bit stronger than water, the soap works fine.

Going shampoo free like Lena

My girls both have lovely curly hair, and I suspect that as they get older I may well need to use something to de-tangle their hair, it can get a bit knotted as it is, but for the time being I'm going to stick with the shampoo free.

Going shampoo free myself

I'd love to be able to cut out shampoo on my own hair, but the problem is that when you use it regularly, it takes quite a while for your hair to get back to managing without it.  I've heard of people cutting it out, and ending up with lovely soft, non-greasy hair, but to get there you have to go through the horrid, greasy, unwashed phase.  I hate the feeling when my hair needs washing though, so although I would love to go shampoo free like the kids, I don't think I can do it.