I realised last week that I had been subconsciously carrying a lot of weight on my shoulders – namely the load of being the only person who can fully look after Theodore.
Obviously this is a self inflicted problem as I (or we) chose to try and exclusively breastfeed our children for 6 months. But with disrupted sleep, another child to love and not ignore, and over 3 months of it, this does take its toll.
I started expressing semi-regularly at 2 months, and we have been intermittently trying a bottle with Theodore since then. With nowhere to go without him, I’ve just been building up a freezer supply for when there is stuff to do – like our haircuts! Woo hoo!
So, bottle feeding him wasn’t going very well, which was upsetting me and making me fret for any time on my own for 2021. Yuk.
But, luckily for me, I was simply making a superbly dumb mistake – and I can’t even blame the husband for this one! I had put a medium teat on the bottle instead of an extra small one. WHAT a cretin! Poor little mite was getting orally assaulted with breast milk!
When we tried a bottle again last Friday all went well!!! And when we tried again on Saturday, it still went well! And I went to the car wash on my own! Hallelujah!
Sam marked the event with this video, bwahahahaaaaa!
So very happy to have been a moron, and so very happy that Theodore was happy with a teat – especially as he has absolutely no interest in a dummy, which is the completely opposite of his brother. Thankfully he will self settle, and if not, we get out the white noise.
At some point in recent history, individuals and companies were allowed to start registering domains for a country that isn’t their own, hence lara.rufflecol.es. Why and when I’ve no idea, but I’m fed up with googling the subject, so you’ll just have to accept that I’m telling the truth.
Anyway, so when we got married and changed our surnames to Ruffle Coles, ‘im indoors suggested we also register new site domains to match. But because he’s a clever arsehole, he didn’t just plump for two new .co.uk domains, he decided to go for Spain’s country code top-level domain.es.
On top of that, lara and sam are sub-domains of rufflecol, which is in turn a sub-domain of .es. And yes, I had to look up domains before I could even write that sentence. Every day is a school day etc.
So, I have very occasionally been asked if we are Spanish, and no we are not, we are just a pair of smart-arses. And ones who will bore you rigid with an explanation if you make the mistake of asking us why .es…
After Theodore’s birth, a wave of emotion would keep washing over me whenever I thought about all the amazing midwives, doctors and support staff who were there for me throughout the pregnancy and birth. And even after I left hospital I would keep going to this little place in my head and heart where everything was warm and fuzzy and wonderful.
I was worried I would lose or forget these emotions, and was keen to write something down to mark the occasion, but as you can tell by the date of this blog, it took me a while to write anything down…
But in typing these words, I’m immediately drawn back into the moments and emotions surrounding his birth, and I can quite easily bring on the tears if I allow myself to wallow too much! And exactly the same thing happens if I think about my Dad’s death too deeply, tears galore.
I didn’t feel quite this way with Rafe’s birth, I think I was too knackered and in worse shape, and as I knew we wanted to try for a second child, I didn’t have the additional sense of something ending – the end of me being part of this world and this experience.
I’m nearly 37, I’m 99% sure we aren’t going to try for another child for a multitude of sensible reasons, and as much as I had a lot of dreams about raising a girl, I’m very very very happy to have my second little flump with a willy, and it will be amazing to see how Rafe and Theodore grow up, and hopefully be the best of friends.
So, I know something is over for me. The part of my life that will grow another human is done, and the part of my life that will labour and birth another human is done too. And that’s okay, and I can deal with it, but I don’t ever want to completely let go of these emotions, and this giant sense of love for a tremendous and amazing group of people who safely brought both my children into the world, and who looked after me so well.
And while I breastfeed and continue to be the only person that Theodore actually needs right now, the Lara who grew two humans isn’t too far away.
Just over a week ago I left hospital (for the second time in a month), after being admitted for mastitis, woop de doo…
I think it all started on the 3rd or 4th of February with a cold that morphed into a horrible headache, a high temperature, and a really sore, red, and hard right boob by Saturday the 6th. I even had a lovely sunny trip to Oxleas Woods with my aunt and both children on the 5th, but by the evening I was downing paracetamol.
On Saturday, we had planned to meet my uncle at my great aunt’s in Essex ahead of my aunt’s return to Suffolk, but for the whole of that morning I felt like death and wasn’t sure about going. Stubborn mule that I am, I went anyway, and if I didn’t go then Theodore couldn’t go, and she’s 97 – how many more times will we have together as a family anyway. So, the journey there was okay, my uncle and great aunt got to meet the baby at a distance, and I managed to sleep on the way back, hurrah etc…
Come Sunday morning, the husband had an eye test booked: cue the shittest two hours I’ve had since all 3 of us caught a 24 hour tummy bug a couple of years ago (thankfully one after the other). I was feeding the whole time, felt bloody awful and could not move without my head spinning. Making Rafe’s lunch was a horrible experience, and then I went and burst into tears in front of him which made me feel like a terrible person. Longest eye appointment ever…
That morning we had agreed I would ring 111 for advice as we weren’t sure if my boob was simply engorged or had progressed to mastitis, and because the NHS page tells you to ring your GP if things don’t improve after a day. I’d also been massaging and pumping since Saturday after ringing the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birth Centre for advice, but neither of those things seemed to help. 😭
After a chat with an advanced paramedic called Philip, I was told to go to A&E to get checked out. So as soon as Sam got back from Woolwich, we all went to the hospital! Upon arrival the A&E nurse seemed a bit alarmed about my temperature, and as I was with Theodore, I ended up in maternity services where I had left only 17 days before.
After a bit of a wait in a calm and quiet delivery room with a baby that was finally napping after the freezing cold of outside – pure heaven after my morning, my observations were taken and I was assessed (upstairs and downstairs). I was then told I would be admitted! I honestly thought I would be given antibiotics and sent home, but no, my temperature was too much of a worry.
My remedies were paracetamol for my fever, antibiotics for the mastitis, ibuprofen to help reduce my boob pain, and fluids to keep me hydrated. But the midwives’ first priority was getting my temperature down as it kept spiking after even paracetamol, with a high of 39.3°C during Sunday night.
To be considered for discharge I had to have no spikes for 24 hours, and my first normal temperature without a resulting spike wasn’t recorded until 5am on Monday – so definitely no discharge til Tuesday morning. This 5am improvement also coincided with the most disgusting morning wake-up I’ve ever had, I was literally soaking in sweat all over and it was super super vile. But, it meant my fever had broken, yay!
And once I had recovered from being disgusted by myself, I felt SO MUCH better, I was walking around the room feeling like a new woman, it was amazing. My boob was more or less the same, but as the antibiotics worked their magic throughout Monday, the pain started to decrease and my colouring improved.
I was able to start binge watching TV (This Way Up is amazing), enjoy the hospital food (it’s not that bad at all), and look forward to a brief but welcome post-work-pre-end-of-visiting-hours visit from Sam where he got to cup feed Theodore with my expressed milk – and bring me snacks from the hospital shop.
So Monday was pretty great! I had my little mastitis buddy to look after and love, was cheekily able to put off solo parenting with two children for one more day, and I got to have more drugs – woo hoo! I totally missed out on the snow, but I was sent pictures of my mother-in-law playing in the snow with Rafe so at least he didn’t miss out. 😍
Monday night also went well and come Tuesday morning’s rounds – x2 midwives and x4 doctor’s all at once LOL, I was told I could be discharged, woo hoo again! And once the paperwork and my antibiotics prescription was ready, Sam came and met me for the premiere of Lara and Theodore Leave The Hospital Take 2.
As always, I’m 100% in awe of all the supremely busy staff I’ve met throughout both my pregnancies, everyone has been brilliant, and even during a pandemic, their care has been just as fabulous and kind and wonderful. And it’s been lovely to see some of the same names and faces over both periods as well.
I try to note names where I can, so for this visit I want to acknowledge midwives Selena, Priscilla, Chloe, Sophia, Natalie, Juliana and Mavis, plus another lovely but unfortunately nameless midwife who looked after me on Sunday afternoon. There was also a kind and friendly Healthcare Assistant who told me she is starting midwifery training soon. And thanks of course to the doctors I saw, y’know, the clinicians who NEVER wear those brilliant yellow name badges!
Particular thanks and love go to Sophia for checking up on me throughout Sunday night, and to Natalie for getting me discharged while also dealing with 3 urgent patients.
I finished my prescription this Tuesday and all has been well over the past week. And I’ve now had 2 solo days with Rafe and Theodore and things haven’t been too stressful! Also feeling very grateful that as Sam isn’t commuting (thanks Covid?), his job is not adding 3 hours to my solo days. 😃
And life can’t be that terrible when you have these kinds of people looking out for you:
Following on from baby #1 in April 2018, baby #2 was birthed safely on Tuesday the 19th of January at 13.19.
Weighing 7lb 8oz, Theodore was lighter than predicted, but still bore a big bruise on one of his upper arms (the left I think), possibly due to shoulder dystocia and the subsequent use of the McRoberts manoeuvre, which is like the coolest manoeuvre ever.
After a relatively long, low on energy, forceps delivery with Rafe, I am super happy to have birthed Theodore more or less by myself. I still had a lot of help from the brilliant team at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, but I did push him out and I am very proud of that.
And not only did he get to go straight from vagina to chest for vernix covered snuggles, Sam also got to cut the cord this time. ❤️ ❤️ ❤️
I’m planning to do a longer post on the birth in due course, but for now, here are a few more pictures:
With a baby due soon, I’ve got to transition from one type of life to another for a second time. This is fine, I’m okay with it, but it’s another jump for the brain and the body.
I’ve been working part time for a year and a bit and I’ve really loved it. The company is great, and even as a remote worker I’ve still really enjoyed the role and those I work with. I’ve also had the opportunity to work full time occasionally and apart from the additional income, it has enabled me to really sink my teeth into a number of projects, and to fully contribute to the development of the project in question.
And I know all that sounds a bit wanky, but after a year and a half of breastfeeding, pooey nappies and ‘just being a mum’, solely being judged on my ability to test the shit out of a website or app is really satisfying. My sense of self-esteem has been boosted as well, and as my husband also works in IT, we get to have all the loser conversations we always had before Rafe came along. It does make a difference!
I’ve also got to transition to two children, and not feel guilty about not giving my son as much attention. I’m trying not to focus on this too much as it is pointless, negative and unrealistic.
And I need to not compare how I raise them: I want to breastfeed like I did with my son but it might not be practical for as long, and my milk might not come in the same way as last time either!
Apart from the two examples above, there are a huge number of things that might be different from Rafe, and making a big fat mental list of how I might ‘fail’ as a parent with two children deserves a big smack over the head.
Things I am excited about are:
My son now goes to nursery 3 days a week and I know he gets so much out of it, and I really want him to have that time away from me and baby, and having to make him the second priority
My children becoming friends and everything that brings – good and bad! I am sometimes a little jealous of the friends and family who had that experience growing up, and I am so excited for them to experience that relationship
The opportunity to watch TV and do nothing for a little while, especially on nursery days, and before my husband goes back to work
Becoming a family of 4!
And when COVID is over, cinema, cafe and pub outings with the baby! And maybe with both when I’m strong enough for that! 🤭
With Lockdown 3 upon us and the last minute U-turn on school closures, it has been a bit of a mentally challenging week. “OMG what is going to happen to nurseries” was my mantra last Sunday and Monday, and luckily the husband hasn’t hit me over the head with an axe for being so stressy about it all.
Whether or not you agree with nurseries and schools being open or closed, it doesn’t change the realities of life for those with children, for those without children who work in education, nor for those who work in education and have children.
I’ve been tentatively making friends with the mum of my son’s best friend at nursery, and as a teacher in one school, with an older child in another school, and the best friend at nursery, talking to her makes me incredibly sympathetic to the constant mental strain our educators are under.
And whilst it is just one area of strain in our society, and perhaps not as critical as our healthcare sector, I’d be loathe to minimise or criticise anyone for speaking out about their professional and personal concerns – even if I really want them to say it is all sunshine and daisies and buttercups.
As for me, well, we got through the first week of nursery after Christmas, and we have one more week to go before the husband’s current contract ends. Worst case scenario right now? Nurseries are shut (bar key workers) Monday and I have to try and juggle work and Rafe for two days. That’s fairly tame.
And why does any of this matter or stress me so? Well, I’m pregnant and ready to pop come the 27th of January, so the idea of managing a newborn and a 2 year and 9 month old child with no nursery fills me with a bit of terror and dread!
Then my wonderful and adorable husband Sam tries to reassure me with the fact he has no work after next week, so can look after Rafe while I work for a few more weeks, and then will definitely be around to hit the ground running with Rafe for whenever I pop! And we get to have a support bubble for when he does get a new contract!
Lovely! Let’s just ignore the fact that we are going from a 1.5 income household to a no income household! Woop de do!
BUT. We have savings because we are boring and responsible, and because that’s what you should do when you have a mortgage and two children (nearly). So it is all FINE. IT’S FINE. FINE. FINE. FINE. Blah blah blah.
Oh that feels better.
I think there is a definite correlation between why I’ve not blogged since the end of Lockdown 1 and the start of Lockdown 3… LOLz.
Anyway, on a less whiny note, let’s share a few photos of the fun things we did do in 2020, and let’s repeat a better mantra ad infinitum:
Self education is key, and I found the process of writing about historical conflicts and events a useful way to process the somewhat overwhelming sense of uselessness I initially felt. Which is obviously a very lucky position to be. I get to feel, others just die.
But, to keep my brain more uplifted, I’ve also spent time getting excited about Rafe Going Back to Nursery. And this is something to rejoice in. And rejoice I have.
Today was his third week back, and he’s just having a ball. He’s getting covered in paint every day, spending time with other children, and picking up a ton of new phrases every week. It is amazing.
I’m so grateful that his nursery have opened their doors to the children of non-key workers, and I’m so happy that they seem to be doing okay after having to furlough a number of their staff.
The era focused on the civil rights of black people, the enfranchisement of freedmen, and the reforms expected in the former Confederate states. As well as gains for the black populace, the era featured a huge amount of violence with riots, massacres and lynchings a regular occurence, plus the establishment of the Klu Klux Klan.
After watching Ken Burns: The Civil War I really wanted to learn what came next, but was unable to find any documentaries on the subject. And reading a Wikipedia entry will only get you so far…
A year or so later however, I was watching The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and a historian called Henry Louis Gates Jr was on the show to discuss a new PBS series he had produced called Reconstruction: America After The Civil War. This got me very excited!
I managed to find a PBS station to watch some of it, but then my access expired. This was very disappointing as it was a completely fantastic documentary, and it was just amazing to discover that there were black congressmen in the 19th century – it seemed so contradictory to everything I had learnt previously.
Recently I decided to try and find it on YouTube, and was very pleased to discover that some kind souls had uploaded all 4 episodes. I’m still to finish episode 4 at the moment, but the series is just as revelatory and educational as it was last year.
It is definitely one to watch if you want to learn how and why racism and white supremacy seem so firmly entrenched in American society.
There is also a book accompanying the series, and Stony the Road takes the reader from slavery, through Reconstruction, and to the 20th century. It’s on my reading list for sure.
Using the power of photography as its base, the series graphically details each stage of the war, and really connects you to the stories of the politicians, soldiers and civilians involved in a conflict based on a man’s right to own slaves – or not.
And if you are wondering why it began in 1861, or the 12th of April 1861 to be precise, this date was only a few short months after the election of Abraham Lincoln on the 6th of November 1860. Lincoln ran on a platform “opposed [to] the expansion of slavery into the territories”, and with his election, the Southern States began to secede from the Union – the first being South Carolina on the 20th of December 1860. By the time of his inauguration on the 4th of March 1961, 7 states had already ceded, and less than 6 weeks later the first shots were fired.
Interestingly, Lincoln wasn’t opposed to slavery in its entirety at first, the full quote (shown partially above) should actually read as: “he opposed the expansion of slavery into the territories but did not favor the abolition of slavery in slave states”. Clearly, even a partial anti-slavery policy was enough for the Southern States to turn their back on the Union.
My key takeaway from the series was the ‘Lost Cause of the Confederacy’. This ideology teaches people that the war was not about slavery, but that it was about ‘states’ rights’. One could argue, however wrong, that such a nostalgic revisionist history of the war might help a group of people deal with the realities of being on the losing side of a war where between 620,000 and 750,000 people died, with much of the South’s infrastructure destroyed.
Oddly (you might think), this ideology didn’t gain much traction until the 1890s when the Civil War generation was starting to die out, and when the United Daughters of the Confederacy was formed. One of their keys aims was to erect monuments and memorials to Civil War generals, and their success with this, and other initiatives, helped to propagate the Lost Cause myth throughout the 20th century.
Learning about the Lost Cause helped me to understand recent events and protests about the use of confederate statues and flags in the Southern United States. One group views the objects as symbolic of oppression and the rise of white supremacy, the other group co-opts the objects into symbols of their ‘righteous fight’ against change, and their desire to recapture what once was.
If you would like learn more, and please do, the programme is currently available on Amazon Prime (it was on Netflix in 2018). And to whet your historical appetite, you can find the first episode on YouTube:
If historial fiction is more your bag, then I would thoroughly recommend Gettysburg. It is fantastic and harrowing and has a brilliant cast, and it is definitely not as jingoistic as the trailer suggests. Go watch: