For the realists amongst you. Yes I’m back from the clouds of baby euphoria and have landed with a thump into the reality of three hourly feeds, bum wiping and burping. (I can’t believe a nurse said that babies don’t need to burp, it’s not true. Prince No. 4 posits [that’s the polite word for vomits] without a burp. Why does it take forever though? In the end I lye him down to hiccup and posit in peace. [They’re very little posits])

Thank God baby blues is not post natal depression. I function through thick and thin (usually). Although in my pregnancy I had a huge fear of post natal depression, and for a moment thought I had prenatal depression. From what I have learnt from all my friends who’ve had post natal, it’s not something you can control. Just like birth really. Just like a baby’s burps. All out of our control. Maybe, and I’m thinking aloud here, that’s the lesson of a baby. Suddenly my life is (once again) run by a little baby’s very demanding schedule, which has nothing to do with my wants necessarily. I can’t exactly change the schedule unless I stop breast feeding or get a night nurse, or both. And I don’t want to do that. I love breast feeding (besides the unquenchable thirst and increased appetite. I’m one woman who does not lose weight breast feeding!) and I want to be with the baby at night (although I don’t like the disrupted sleep and I am grumpier and more tearful for it).

I’m finding myself flailing as I figure out how not to burn out. Of course I don’t figure it out and I do burn out. I have the flu, beginning a few days ago with my classic symptom – the grinding sore throat which have ended in the sniffles and sneezes. I don’t know how to put the brakes on. I thought I was doing well and I was. But somehow doing power hour after not just one night without sleep but 2 and a half weeks of broken nights is not a good idea. I’m short tempered and exhausted and it’s not quality with the Princes. So the good news is I’ve given up. If their homework isn’t done properly and if they go to sleep too late, or are late for school. SO BE IT. If it was up to me I’d have no homework for children and if a family has had a baby I’d give a two month amnesty from school strictures. Of course we all know that school is the best contraception – but that’s another blog…

So back to the topic. Yes I’ve had a couple…okay a few… maybe more than a few tearful breakdowns. I’ve almost refused to get up to feed some nights from sheer exhaustion – but how could I??? So I got up and kept going. But I have put in some survival strategies which I’m going to share.

  1. Sleep in the mornings – Every morning I wake up shattered after a night with Prince No. 4 lying on me nursing on and off through the night. Literally. I feel like I can’t face the day. My hubbie is very sweet and brings me water as I’m completely dehydrated, being too tired at night to get up and drink. If it’s not a school day I cajole him to change the baby’s nappy (which is too full, because again I’m usually too tired to get up and change it in the middle of the cold wintry night). I then feed the baby and feed myself breakfast and put us both to sleep until the next feed. I lie down even if suddenly I’m not feeling that tired, and invariably I zonk out. Without the caught up couple of hours I cannot imagine what I’d be like (psychotic probably).
  2. Dress for Success – Getting dressed after having a baby, no matter how much or little weight you put on can shatter the best self-image. I’ve pulled out my fat wardrobe which thankfully fits. And I made sure to get myself outfitted for Prince No. 4’s bris so that I wouldn’t feel daft as I did at the other Princes’ brises, where I didn’t get myself so organised. It made a world of difference to how I felt. Wearing clothes designed for your body shape – whatever the shape is the trick. And I still assert a lovely scarf or shawl can go a long way to hide a multitude of sins or as in my case ‘baby fat’.
  3. Eat Muffins – This is quite an idiosyncratic comfort, but it’s helped me tremendously. My very kind friend Adina baked me the most delicious banana bread, wheat free, sugar-free from this wonderful American vegan baking book called, ‘Baby Cakes’. (Which another friend gave us – I do have such lovely, lovely friends!!!! Thank God.) It was delicious and felt light and healthy – although I’m sure my overdosing on it isn’t recommended. But it was so nice, and so comforting, it became my treat with tea. And when it was finished I had to make more. So blueberry vegan muffins it was. And again it got me through a few days until they too were finished. And so I made banana chocolate chip muffins. And alas I’ve eaten the last one just this moment! I’ve eaten six muffins today. Yesterday I managed just two, but then I did have Haagen Daz Chocolate Caramel Praline ice cream, my new official favourite flavour. It’s an utter indulgence but it’s giving me that sweet comfort that I’m needing. And it’s healthier than the amount of chocolate I ate when Prince No. 1 was born. Speaking of which he’s been reading over my shoulder as I blog and has joked that I’m going to get so fat that people are going to say I’m pregnant again, only this time with muffins. Ha ha ha… although he’s not far from the truth… so I will watch this indulgence. Maybe I’ll stick to zucchini muffins which my friend Naami introduced me to. I never thought I’d like them but to my surprise I loved them!
  4. My other vice – Coffee- go out for it. Since Prince No. 4 was born three weeks ago I’ve gone out for two cups of coffee each time was utterly heavenly. Just to be out and feel normal, after hours of baby imprisonment. Today we went to Melrose Arch for a cappuccino at Woolworths (the best) it was sunny and warm and we took our little cappuccino (Prince No. 4’s nickname) with. As soon as he got there he woke up to feed, and having no problem with breast-feeding in public (under a blanket of course) it was fine. I felt human again, part of the race of wonderful cappuccino drinkers and not part of the lonely rite of being in one room majority of the day with the repetitive task of maintaining baby. I guess at that moment we compromised me and baby. He entered my world after I’ve been so consumed by his. We both enjoyed it!
  5. Entering Baby’s world and banishing ghosts in the nursery. I’ve mentioned in a previous blog psychologist Mano Naidoo’s talk about ghosts in the nursery. How what we feel and experience as we hold our babies echoes back to when we were babies. I’ve been watching myself with Prince No. 4 as I hold him Watch myself as I feel myself disengaging, looking away, my mind floating somewhere else when I feed him, instead of looking him in the eyes and connecting. It’s humbling, frightening and at the same time healing seeing what I do and then correcting it. One of the things I’ve stopped doing is reading whilst I feed. I used to do this all the time with the other Princes when they were babies. I’ve been told that this is a no no. For attachment you need to be completely present as a mother. It’s been quite an effort not to read whilst I feed and I do find myself reaching for my phone only to have to catch myself, put it down and refocus on the baby. Look into his eyes and fall completely in love again. Or not. Although it is mostly a yes. I don’t believe there’s such a thing as perfect mothering or perfect attachment. And I have been reading Blink by Malcolm Gladwell in between feeds. This cuts into my sleeping time, but at least my mind is actively engaged and entertained (I love Malcolm Gladwell’s books. Highly recommend Outliers as well.)

So for now those are my mothering a new baby survival tips. I’m sure a lot of them work for all mothers with children at any age. It’s about taking care of ourselves so we don’t burn out, something most of us aren’t that good at.

Healthy Delicious Vegan Blueberry Muffins

This is a recipe from a lovely vegan cake book called ‘Babycakes’. It’s a bakery in New York that sells vegan goodies to celebrities (I think they also have one in LA). It’s perfect for that snack that hits the spot, and the Princes love it in their lunch boxes.

Ingredients

2 1/4 cups Spelt flour

2 teaspoons Baking Powder

1 teaspoon Baking Soda (Have once left it out because I didn’t have it in the house and it tasted MUCH better. So rather leave out Soda)

1/2 cup Coconut Oil (I use Canola Oil)

2/3 cup Agave Nectar

2/3 cup Rice Milk

2 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract

1 teaspoon Pure Lemon Extract (I just use fresh lemon)

2/3 cup Fresh Blueberries (I use frozen blueberries from Woolworths. Do not exceed recommended amount. There is such a thing as too many blueberries in a muffin. I learnt this the hard way.)

1/2 a cup or more quality Chocolate Chips (What I mean by quality chocolate chips is that it’s American. I used Hersheys that I got from Oaklands Fruit store, or use 70% Lindt chopped up. This is by far my secret ingredient that makes these, other wise healthy, muffins border on decadent.)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 325C that’s about 170C.
  2. Line a standard 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  4. Add the oil, agave nectar, rice milk, vanilla and lemon extract to the dry ingredients and stir until batter is smooth.
  5. Using a plastic spatula gently fold in the blueberries and choc chips just until they are evenly distributed throughout the batter.
  6. Pour 1/3 cup batter into each prepared cup, almost filling it.
  7. Bake the muffins on the center rack for 22 minutes, rotating the tin 180 degrees after 15 minutes (I never do that).The finished muffins will bounce back slightly when pressed, and a toothpick inserted in the center will come out clean.
  8. Let the muffins stand in the tin for 15 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack and cool completely. Store the muffins in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Note: She’s very strict on using proper measuring cups in order for her recipes to work.

And Enjoy!!!!