Mum Guilt

When William was born I was as prepared as I thought possible. My freezer was full of healthy meals that I could eat one handed, I’d read books about newborns, I’d been to antenatal classes, and I’d watched more youtube videos on breastfeeding that I care to admit! The nursery was equipped, I had a bouncer chair and a baby carrier- frankly, I felt sorted! I knew that I would be tired (I underestimated how tired though), I knew that I would have less  no me-time and I knew that it would be a steep learning curve. There was however, one part of motherhood that I was completely unprepared for – guilt. 

I say sorry to Will literally hundreds of times a day: sorry I have to change your nappy, sorry but you can’t eat dog biscuits, sorry your milk isn’t ready yet, sorry your upset, sorry I don’t know what the matter is, sorry you have to have vaccinations today, sorry but you can’t play with plug sockets/mobile phone chargers/all wires! Sorry, sorry, sorry! It seems most of my day is spent apologising, and whilst some of these apologies are rather tongue in cheek, far more of them are completely sincere, guilt-ridden sorries.

This was particularly true in the first few months after Will was born. Despite attending all the classes, watching all the videos, spending a day back in the maternity unit, and getting help from various midwives, Will refused to latch on and breastfeed. This led to a huge amount of anxiety and guilt on my part. I felt that I was failing my son. It was supposed to be the most natural thing in the world and yet for some reason we couldn’t make it work. In the end I expressed milk for 10 months; it worked well for us and we fell into our own way of doing things, but the guilt remained. The rational side of me knew that I was a.) doing my best and b.) that formula feeding was also a perfectly acceptable way to feed a baby, but the new Mum side of me felt dreadful.

Breastfeeding wasn’t the only thing I felt guilty about – I felt guilty about giving Will dummy (I have no idea why I felt this was in some way bad, I just did), I felt guilty when after 9 months of no sleep we tried controlled-crying (controversial but a total life saver for us), I felt guilty when Will caught a cold off me, the list is literally endless, and quite often completely irrational!

Recently my Mum-guilt is related to my return to work. Will turns one on Thursday (where has my baby boy gone?) and I start work the following week. I have been determined to spend as much quality time together this week as I can. I  have been making the most of every day and doing lots of fun things together like swimming, going to the beach and playing on the swings. All this ‘making the most of my time with Will’ along with moving house in two weeks has left me with very little spare time. So today I made a compromise, and you guessed it, I feel terribly guilty about it. Will’s birthday isn’t going to be the sugar-free paddington bear cake I had planned, its a Marks & Spencer caterpillar cake. Will he get to eat any? No. Will he care? No. He would much rather play for an hour (or six) than sit in his highchair watching me panic over a sponge! I will probably look back at photos of Will’s birthday tea party and cringe that he had a shop bought cake that I wouldn’t let him eat, but I will also remember that by making that decision, I got to spend more time with my precious boy.

From what other parents have told me, the guilt never goes. There is something about being a parent that makes you feel like any decision you make is the wrong one. So as Will reaches his first birthday I have set myself a new year’s resolution. I am going to learn to embrace Mum-guilt, remembering that whatever the decision may be, us Mums are all doing what we think is best for our children. It may not always be popular, and it may not always be right, but its always with the best of intentions.

 

 

 

Roast Aubergine & Tomato Soup

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Will has been really poorly with an ear infection. It’s the first time he has been properly unwell (thankfully) and it has been horrible. He had a fever that wouldn’t come down with painkillers and it worried me a lot. As a pharmacist, I thought I would be calm and controlled when my child was ill but if anything it makes me even more neurotic! I also, despite being surrounded by medicines every day, hate to give him things if I can avoid it, so when he was given antibiotics I was weirdly disappointed – a completely stupid emotion as within two doses he had perked up no end and his temperature was back to normal. There is such negative stigma attached to antibiotics and it’s completely unfounded; of course they should only be used when needed, but when they are needed they are incredible, life saving medicines that we should thank our lucky stars for! Although he has been feeling better, he still hasn’t been his usual bubbly self and its been upsetting to see.

Anyway, as I was feeling hopeless at making my little man feel better I focussed on what I could do, making him some soothing, nutritious food. Soup is my go-to food when anyone is ill. Its quick to make, comforting, healthy and can be eaten at literally any time of day. Soups have always been a regular meal in our house, but even more so since we became parents. I love to batch cook soups and freeze portions to have for lunches or late suppers. Its also great to have something that is quick to reheat and can be eaten with one hand (or put in a mug when you have a cluster feeding newborn)!

This particular soup is a firm favourite in our house. It really showcases summer vegetables so it is perfect for this time of year. The aubergine gives the soup a wonderful creamy texture which works beautifully to cut through the acidity of the tomatoes without having to add sugar. This soup is also able to make even the most tasteless, unripe supermarket tomatoes taste delicious. Although it goes without saying that the better your tomatoes, the better the flavour will be.

Soups are also a marvellous way of sneaking extra vegetables into children or babies. I spoon-feed Will food like this (my kitchen or my type A personality wouldn’t cope if he fed himself soup!) To encourage him to feed himself as well, I give him bread soldiers that have been dunked in the soup for him to chew on. I also added some live natural yoghurt to Will’s to give him back some of the good bacteria the antibiotics may have taken!

Any leftovers can obviously be frozen but this soup also works perfectly as a pasta sauce, two recipes in one!

Ingredients

  • 1 aubergine, chopped into chunks
  • 5 fresh tomatoes
  • 1 tin of tomatoes
  • 1 red onion
  • pinch of fresh or dried oregano
  • pinch of mixed herbs
  • black pepper to taste
  • olive oil

Method

  • Chop the aubergine and tomatoes and place in an oven tray to roast with the dried herbs and a drizzle of olive oil
  • Roast them at 180C until they are soft and browning
  • Peel and finely slice the red onion and sweat in a saucepan on a  low heat until it is translucent
  • Add the oven roasted tomato and aubergine to the saucepan with the onion, rinse out the oven tray with some water and pour into the saucepan so you lose no flavour
  • Add the tin of tomatoes and a little water
  • Simmer for 15 minutes
  • Season to taste and blend, adding water until you reach your desired consistency.

 

This obviously isn’t an adult bowl of soup, but ours was eaten very late and I was too hungry for the camera!

Weaning William

I’ve had a few people ask me recently whether I’ve done baby- led weaning or traditional weaning. The answer is that I have done both, and I thought I’d explain why.

Before having a baby, and if I’m honest, until Will was about 5 months old, weaning hadn’t really crossed my mind. Then out of the blue, my milk-guzzling newborn started staring at us when we ate, really piercing stares! His little mouth would open and close and he would try to grab food off our plates or out of our mouths! As a clueless new Mum, I did what I always do when I want to learn about something new; I bought a couple of books! I read about traditional weaning and baby-led weaning.

In brief, baby-led weaning involves providing your baby with foods they can eat themselves. The benefits of this include improving your baby’s dexterity and coordination as well as ensuring they aren’t over fed, leading to healthier eating habits as an adult. It also introduces babies to a variety of food textures and teaches them to chew. Traditional weaning on the other hand involves introducing babies to puréed foods which are spoon fed, and slowly introducing texture to these.

As a self-confessed greedy person who has always loved variety, baby led weaning really struck a chord with me. I love my food to be interesting and thought that giving Will finger foods would be a fun and  exciting way to introduce him to solids. The pharmacist in me however, wanted to ensure that Will was getting to vitamins and minerals that he needed, most importantly iron. Because for me, this is where baby led weaning could fall down. I have, on many occasions put a healthy, balanced tray of food in front of Will, and he’s rejected all but one food. You can’t force a baby to eat beef or egg if they don’t want to, and in the early days of weaning when babies are being slowly introduced to foods, it can be hard to disguise foods that they don’t like. A purée however can ensure your baby has the nutrients they require. Baby- led weaning can also be incredibly wasteful, especially when eating out. If Will drops food at home, he has a mat under his highchair so I pick it up and hand it back to him – in a restaurant, once it’s been dropped, that’s it. It can be so disheartening to see the food you’ve made thrown away within a couple of seconds of starting a meal!

I started weaning Will with a mixture of purées and finger foods, he enjoyed both and it became apparent that the most important thing to me wasn’t whether he was fed from a spoon or not, it was whether we were sitting at the table, enjoying family meals together. I wanted to cook one meal and us all enjoy it. So sometimes Will has our food blended, and other times he has our food as finger foods. It completely depends on the meal. Essentially; food we eat with a spoon, he eats with a spoon!

There seems to be a lot of judgement surrounding weaning these days, and people seem to follow either baby-led or traditional weaning, but I can’t help thinking that a mixture of the two can be a great option too!

This has worked really well for our family but I would never judge what another family choose to do. Becoming a parent makes you realise that all Mums and Dads are constantly trying to do the best for their children! How did you wean your children? What were your reasons for doing so? I’d love to hear about your weaning journey!