Monday, 30 January 2012

29/366 - Brunch with Friends

My lovely friend Cathy (who I originally met through Twitter) came over from Sweden this weekend, on one of her regular trips to her beloved London.  I was lucky enough to catch up with her over brunch with some other girlie friends at The Swan at Shakespeare's Globe - a surprisingly elegant venue with a tasty brunch.  Pickle tagged along of course.  But this photo isn't of Cathy and Pickle (he fell asleep before I thought to get a photo of the two of them together), instead it is of Pickle and Lulah enjoying their food.  It's not the first time they've brunched together, but the first they've been seated together in high chairs, and it was a delight to watch.


Brunch was delicious - a perfectly executed Eggs Benedict for me, though I prefer creamed spinach as an addition.  A great Virgin Mary though - loved that it was called a Bloody Shame!  Pickle enjoyed some bread, spinach and ham.  I would definitely go back here for brunch again, and the Sunday roast looked superb.

Cheers, KangaRue :)

28/366 - Watching Ducks

I discovered the existence of Maryon Wilson Park by accident when I took Pickle to the playground last week.  It's across the road from the playground, and is more of a wood than a park, though it has cleared areas that will be great for picnics when summer comes.  But most importantly there are animals!  Goats, sheep, peacocks, a pig, a herd of deer... and ducks.  Quacking, flapping, swimming ducks!


Pickle slept through our first sojourn to the park, but on our second try, I strapped on the Moby, bundled us both under the wrap and jumped on the bus. I snapped this shot of us just as the ducks made a ruckus that grabbed Pickle's attention. 

Cheers, KangaRue :)

27/366 - First Bites

Pickle has been increasingly interested in trying food (i.e. he has a complete hissy-fit if I'm eating something and he doesn't get to try it).  Technically, Baby-led Weaning is not supposed to start until 6 months, but we're only a couple of weeks away, and his cues are kind of obvious!

His first go was on a bit of rusk.  No I didn't mush it down with milk (mine or formula), but gave him a hunk to gnaw on and he loved it.  He's tried a green bean (not a fan first time around), broccoli (which he had great fun sucking the florets from then gnawing on to help his teething), crusts of bread (he loved the onion bread from our meal out), and while avocado and egg white were tried, they were a little slippery and promptly ended up on the floor.  His favourite food so far is chicken, as you can see from his expression in this photo.


Eating food isn't about nutrition for Pickle at this stage, instead it's about experiencing tastes and textures.  He's still getting Mummy-Milk, so it's not important how much ends up on the floor!

Cheers, KangaRue :)

Sunday, 29 January 2012

26/366 - Mussels

BoyWonder and I had a lovely meal out at the Tudor Barn.  My foie gras parfait was light and fluffy, and BoyWonder's mussels were a success unlike the last couple of times he'd eaten them.  For mains, we had steaks which were perfectly cooked.  Pickle enjoyed some of the onion bread that came with the mussels, as well as some of the broccoli that we had as a side with our mains!


As a member of their VIP club, I received a bottle of bubbles to celebrate my birthday, but the glass each of South African Riebeek Shiraz Reserve was a full-flavoured delight when paired with our steaks.  Wines are available in three sizes of glasses as well as by the bottle, and are priced as a percentage of the bottle, with no additional mark-up, which was a pleasant surprise. Unfortunately - and surprisingly for me - none of the desserts particularly appealed.  Service was relaxed, and the Tudor Barn exceeded our expectations, especially being a local restaurant.

Cheers, KangaRue :)

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

25/366 - Swinging

On the way to meeting a friend for lunch today, Pickle and I stopped at the playground.  It was a cold day, and the slippery-dip was a bit wet, but Pickle loves the swings, and I could resist taking dozens of photos.  He was giggling away, which was an absolute delight to watch.


He also saw his first horse today!

Cheers, KangaRue :)

This is my favourite picture this week because of the happiness and excitement in Pickle's face, though it was a tough call between this and his self portrait.  Take a look at all my other Project365 posts. Each Sunday you can link up to the weekly favourites at TheBoyandMe's blog by clicking on this button below:  

TheBoyandMe's 366 Linky

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

24/366 - Pickle: Self Portrait

Pickle and I had a duvet day*.  Well, my version of a duvet day any how, which means I slob around in my favourite Gap track pants.  So we weren't going to get any amazing shots.  Pickle was flipping back and forth quite a bit today, and doing his caterpillar wiggle.  So I got down on the floor with him to play, and grabbed my phone to take some photos.  He grabbed the phone from me, and between him trying to eat it, I managed to press the shutter button.  So it's not the most technically competent, his hand and arm are blocking part of his face, but I love his big blue eye and THOSE LIPS! *mwah*


* does anyone actually really do a duvet day?  I put away two loads of laundry, folded and re-packed our washed swimming gear, soaked BoyWonder's shirts, did three loads of washing, unpacked then re-stacked the dishwasher, did the washing up, watered the indoor plants and bathed Pickle, along with the usual playing, feeding and resultant nappy changes of course. *phew*

Cheers, KangaRue :)

Monday, 23 January 2012

23/366 - A Ramble Through Greenwich

I decided to go for a bit of a wander with Pickle today, with the intention of eventually ending up at the National Maritime Museum, but neither heading there directly nor with any planned route.  So I jumped off the train a stop early at Maze Hill, a station I'd never been to before.  On entering Greenwich Park from a side I'd never come from before, I discovered a completely different park - much more open and less inhabited.  We headed straight up the hill, towards the North West and then into the centre of the park, up and down quite steep slopes.

Heading up the first hill, I realised that 9 or 10 months ago, I would have struggled to walk up that hill with my SPD even without pushing Pickle in the pram.  In fact, even 3 or 4 months ago, I would have found it painful... but I was doing fine.  Pickle was getting tired and a bit bored in the pram, so I bundled on the Moby wrap for some baby-wearing time, which we both love. Sure, I'm a bit sore now, but hopefully after a good night's sleep (fingers crossed!), I'll be fine tomorrow.


We got all the way across to the Observatory, which is the subject of today's picture; I took it as I was heading back down the hill towards the museum, where I grabbed a bite to eat and wandered around.  There are some fantastic photo opportunities inside, and since it seems to be my latest "hang", no doubt there will be some further photos featured from here soon.

Cheers, KangaRue :)

Sunday, 22 January 2012

22/366 - Pickle's First Swim

We managed to take Pickle for his first swim today (a little later in the day than we'd planned).  He seemed to enjoy it for the most part - it was a little noisy, with lots of older kids splashing about, but he liked being pulled and bounced through the water.  He didn't go underwater this time - we'll see how he goes next week for that.


This photo was taken in the change room after his swim, and I think he looks adorable.

Cheers, KangaRue :)

21/366 - Stacked Up

My photo of the day has got to be the sweetcorn fritters I had at An Aussie Brunch.  Not only because I like the composition and colours of the food, and also the out of focus plate in the distance... but most of all, because I was there with some of my favourite people in the world: BoyWonder and Pickle*, my friend and fellow yummy-mummy Caroline, her husband Dave, and their lovely daughter Lulah*.


*not their real names... these are their online pseudonyms - I'm asked if I really named my son Pickle at least once a week.  Well, I suppose Gwenyth Paltrow did name her son Apple, but I'm not an international star!

Cheers, KangaRue :)

An Aussie Brunch

Bill Granger's restaurants are a Sydney institution, so I was excited to learn he was opening a restaurant in London.  Particularly well-known for brunch, it wasn't hard to decide what time of day to visit Granger & Co.  We arrived around 9:30am on Saturday, to a crowded, yet airy room.  I think we timed it well, as a six-seated table had just become available - I was brunching with BoyWonder, my darling friend Caroline and her husband Dave, and our babies Pickle & Lulah; it was popular venue for other parents as well, as there were a large number of other prams and carriers in sight.

We started with juices - a freshly squeezed orange juice, an elderflower cordial and a homemade lemonade were well received.  While delicious, BoyWonder's sunrise smoothie was a little on the small side, and at £3.50, I would have expected it to be at least twice its size.

I struggled to decide between two dishes for my meal, but eventually, I couldn't go past Bill's famous sweetcorn fritters.  Served with fresh baby spinach, a lightly cooked tomato and a slice of bacon, it was well-seasoned and delicious.  This dish could be improved by a bit more generosity of bacon, as it only comes with one slice.

An unfortunate theme, as the boys discovered with their Full Aussie breakfasts. An enormous portion of creamy scrambled eggs is accompanied by delicious sourdough toast, mushrooms and tomato, but only three chipolata sausages and another single slice of bacon.  A third less egg with one extra slice of bacon and two more teeny sausages would have seen them far happier.  Unfortunately, BoyWonder discovered a bone-shard in one of his chipolatas.  The first waiter he brought this to the attention of was, quite frankly, useless - he said "oh, OK" and wandered off.  The service up to this point had been relaxed, if a little slow - but it was a weekend brunch, so we weren't in a rush.  But that was a little too relaxed.  So he requested to see the manager. She apologised, spoke to the chef and returned saying they'd bring it to their supplier's attention.  He was then offered a complimentary coffee in apology.  We suggested dessert would be more appropriate (but more on that in a bit, as it was our SilverLining).

The soft boiled eggs with sour dough toast was enjoyed, but as it does what it says on the box, there's not much more I can say here.

BoyWonder decided to get a coffee.  Now in past posts, I've detailed that he is, shall we say, particular about his coffee.  He wasn't disappointed with his long black - it was rich, intense and full of flavour.  None of the dreaded burn.  Aussies know how to make coffee.

For dessert, we agreed to indulge (sensibly by sharing) the ricotta pancakes with honeycomb butter, banana and maple syrup.  And, oh my!  They were delicious - definitely the hit of the day.  The ricotta lends a creaminess that balances the sweetness brilliantly; the honeycomb butter is a delight.  I would definitely order this as my main dish next time, with a side of bacon (hopefully more than one slice!).  So yes, why there were some issues, I will be back, and would recommend popping over to Notting Hill for breakfast or brunch soon.

Cheers, KangaRue :)

Friday, 20 January 2012

20/366 - My Other Babies

Meet Lulu and Hermes, my other babies.  Lulu is the blue Burmese on the left, and Hermes is the chocolate Burmese on the right.  When they're not chasing each other like loons around the house, or up and down their cat scratching-post/tree, they are often found cuddled up together, often on a lap.


They were named after handbags, as I love accessories (see my earlier 17/366 post: Indulgence II); I adore Lulu Guinness handbags, and while I own quite a few, I can only aspire to a Hermes Kelly bag.

Aren't the just so snuggly.

Cheers, KangaRue :)

Thursday, 19 January 2012

19/366 - Cheeky Grins

I expected to get photos of Pickle at his first Bouncing Babies (sing & sign) class today... except he fell asleep about a minute before the afternoon class!  So it's just as well I took some photos after his morning nap.  I rotate Pickle's toys, and offer him a few things each day - whichever he reacts most to are the ones we take with us that day.  Today was a definite Peter Rabbit and Sophie the Giraffe day.


He was having great fun playing with Peter Rabbit, and was giggling away, so I quickly grabbed my camera for some quick shots.  A lovely way to start the day he turned 5-months old.

Cheers, KangaRue :)

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

18/366 - Bounce

Pickle loves his door bouncer.  While he figured out he could turn around quickly, it took him a little longer to work out he could jump himself.  He hasn't looked back since!


I loved the action shot where he was bouncing around, but love his cheeky grin in the other shot.  I finally figured out how to do a collage, so was able to have the best of both worlds.  I think he looks a little like me in the first photo (for a change!).

Cheers, KangaRue :)

16 & 17/366 - Indulgences

Pickle and I had a quiet Monday.  We went for his weekly weigh-in, and as usual, run a couple of chores then pop into Starbucks.  I often spend a chunk of time here studying, while drawing out a coffee then a sandwich, over a number of hours.  After the frustration of the Child Health Clinic, I felt like a bit of indulgence, so went for a Peppermint Hot Chocolate with cream.  It was delicious, and just what I needed!

16/366 - Indulgence I

Yesterday, we headed into the West End for a spot of shopping.  I needed some of my usual skin-care products from Selfridges.  I'd not been since July last year, so had missed checking out the new Shoe Galleries, and I do love shoes.  While I loved the Christian Louboutin boutique most of all, this pair of Jimmy Choos were my favourite shoes of the day (purple and - almost - turquoise, how could I resist my two favourite colours?!).  Absolutely gorgeous, but way out of my budget at £1,295!  Doesn't hurt to dream though - perhaps Kurt Geiger or Top Shop will do a knock-off?  While I wouldn't indulge with a purchase, spending the time wandering around admiring was an indulgence of time.

17/366 - Indulgence II

Cheers, KangaRue :)

This is my favourite picture this week - I just love the colours, texture and design of these shoes.  Take a look at all my other Project365 posts. Each Sunday you can link up to the weekly favourites at TheBoyandMe's blog by clicking on this button below:  

TheBoyandMe's 366 Linky

Fattening up babies?

I'll apologise now, as I think this might turn into a bit of a rant!

I was asked if Pickle was lethargic.
I laughed - it's the one word you
could never use to describe him.
We have a standing appointment at the weekly Child Health Clinic for Pickle to get weighed.  He was a small baby to start with (2.855kg), but other than losing a small amount of weight the first week (which is perfectly normal while my milk came in), he has gained weight every single week.  Despite this, the Health Visitors have been concerned at his level of weight gain, hence the weekly visits.  He has been a purely breast-fed baby, which generally have lower weights; I expect this is somewhat due to formula being higher in calories and/or because it may be easier to over-feed with formula.  I have no issues with anyone who chooses, for whatever reason, to formula feed their baby - I believe each Mummy needs to do what is best for her and her child.

I've seen other health professionals, including the nurse who has given Pickle his immunisations, who have said he is happy, alert and healthy and there is nothing to worry about.  While I know this in my heart, it can be very disconcerting to be questioned every single week.  I feel like I'm being scrutinised for under-nourishing my child.  Pickle is demand fed - generally around every two and a half hours... but if he's sleeping, there can be a four hour gap between feeds.  And if he's hungry, I'll feed him, even if he just ate half an hour beforehand.

He's hardly scrawny
I have asked three times now, for the breast-feeding only weight chart.  The first time I was told it didn't exist.  The same person went away on the second date of requesting to find out there is a separate chart, but they would have to get it in for me, to which I said "great, yes please"... the third time it was too busy being the first session since Christmas and New Year...

But then they wanted me to start him on a top-up feed with formula once a day.  I decided I was happy to do this, so off I trotted to the supermarket.  But after I picked up the cartons of formula, I really felt like I'd failed somehow.  It was a really horrible feeling.  I want to do the best for Pickle, and felt I'd faulted at such an early hurdle.  I didn't have the birth I'd wanted, but was happy that I was able to breastfeed him, as it was something I really wanted to do; and now I'd fallen short.  Not a logical reaction I realise, but it didn't hurt any less because of it.

I was told to top up his early evening feed, as Pickle seems hungriest at night. "He'll probably wolf down 150ml" they said.  Cue two hours of screaming while we forced 30mls (1oz) down him.  It wasn't good for any of us.

I tried a doidy cup the next night, and got - I think, as a fair amount went down his front - about 50mls down him.  Spooning went well, though was a slow process.  We tried a few different bottles and cups at my friend Caroline's house, and have bought the cup that he seemed to get on with the best - it's in the steriliser now, so hopefully we'll have better results tonight.

Pickle did put on 180g (7oz) this week, and is now 5.18kg.  So you think the Child Health Clinic would have been happy, right?  Nope, we have to go back again next week.  I was less passive this time though, as I pointed out that I'm 5'2", BoyWonder is skinny with a very fast metabolism, Pickle will be starting Baby-Led Weaning in just over a month and he also does 2 poos every single day (which is a lot for a breastfed baby, so he's obviously getting enough in him to produce waste), so I didn't see the point of talking to the Health Visitor when he'd had a good weight gain.  They didn't push it.  But no, I haven't seen the requested chart; though it's a moot point now I suppose.

All these photos were taken in the past month
- before his latest, big weight-gain
Since then, I've discovered that babies weight-gain tends to slow around 4-months, especially in breast-fed only babies (World Health Organisation, 2002; cited in Rapley & Murkett, 2008).  There seems to be an trend to fattening babies up to see them as "healthy", yet we have a growing obesity epidemic... surely not unrelated?  And making a new, and first-time Mummy feel this bad, isn't supportive and could lead to Post-Natal Depression; Mum's tend to judge themselves the most harshly, and need consistent knowledge provision, not unfounded criticism.

*rant over*

Has anyone else experienced similar with their child's weigh-ins?  What did you do?

Cheers, KangaRue :)

Rapley, G. & Murkett, T. (2008).  Baby-led Weaning: helping your baby to love good food.  Random House Group: Chatham, UK.
WHO/UNICEF (2002).  Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding.  WHO: Geneva, Switzerland.

Monday, 16 January 2012

15/366 - Home Fire Burning

I'm currently running a day late posting my photos.  While I was expecting to have a photo of Pickle having his first swim yesterday, the day ended up a bit of a comedy of errors.  So this photo of our recently installed fire-place, with a well-stoked fire burning and my birthday cards on the mantle is my photo of the day.


Cheers, KangaRue :)

Saturday, 14 January 2012

14/366 - On the Allotment

BoyWonder and I recently took over a neglected allotment plot.  While I was studying, BoyWonder has been slowly clearing it, though there is still a lot to do.

I found a convenient place to hang my lovely new baby bag when we went over today.  I'm baby-wearing Pickle in the shadow of this shot and we're warmly wrapped in a cloak - while it was lovely and sunny, it was cold today (when I left the house at 7:30am it was -2'C!)


I am looking forward to the day Pickle can dig about in the dirt and find wonder and fascination in planting something, then watching it grow.  And don't forget the worms; wonderful, squiggly worms... after all, that's what little boys are made of!

Cheers, KangaRue :)

Friday, 13 January 2012

Opening the Pickle Jar or Out Through the Sun-Roof

There is so much negativity surrounding the birthing process - all forms of media cite the pain of childbirth and mothers try to out-do each other with the horror stories of their labour.  HypnoBirthing endeavors to act as a counterpart reaction to this; with deep relaxation, breathing and meditation techniques the birthing process doesn't need to filled with screams and writhing in pain.

Months of reading Marie Mongan's HypnoBirthing and listening to her CD, and attending HypnoBirthing classes with Dany at Tums2Mums, and listening to her mp3s, had me looking forward to a calm, natural birth.  The techniques I'd learned had already helped with the SPD pain I was experiencing, so I was confident they would also be useful during the birthing process.

My due date came and went.  I always thought the date was wrong, and my hunch was that Pickle would arrive two weeks early.  Hastily I booked my bump photo shoot for week 37 with Harriet of Buckingham Photography (future blog to follow on both this and the baby shoot, though you can see some pics already here and here) and BoyWonder and I also did a bump casting at home.  Then I waited, but was surprisingly not terribly impatient, despite my growing enormity.  I figured (thanks to the HypnoBirthing teachings) that Pickle would arrive when Pickle was good and ready.

I "grew" for another
6-weeks after this!
Then, the Thursday during week 42 (i.e. 2 weeks after my "due date"), a nurse suggested induction.  On the spot.  BoyWonder was at work, so I declined, and said I'd come back on the Sunday if necessary.  With BoyWonder's birthday on the Saturday, I thought we'd wait to see how things progressed naturally.  I had a feeling things would start happening any day now, so after chatting to Dany that evening, I went to bed as usual.

1:28am I awoke with a start.  That was not a Braxton Hicks (practice birthing sensations).  I waited to see if it happened again.  Sure enough it came pretty quickly, so I woke BoyWonder up, and received a "oh, ok... can I go back to sleep now?".  Umm, no, we have to time them.  My surges (contractions in HypnoBirthing-speak) were coming five to five-and-a-half minutes apart.  Another request to go back to sleep from BoyWonder, and he lobbed his phone at me to time my surges.  Now, I was trying to use HypnoBirthing techniques and listen to Dany's calming voice on my laptop, so coming out of a relaxed state to press a freaking button on a phone was not particularly helpful.  But I was calm enough, and soon got fed up laying in bed.  So I got up to get a top out of the dryer* that I wanted to wear to hospital, and decided to phone my Mum in Australia at the same time.  By now my surges were about four minutes apart, and I chatted away to my Mum after telling her I was having her grand-baby.  I did get quiet every now and again during our half-hour or so call, and was doing pregnancy yoga moves along with my Hypno breathing.  Eventually, when my surges were coming between two-and-a-half and three minutes apart, I told Mum I should call the hospital and she hastily despatched me!

I woke BoyWonder up again, he phoned the hospital and they told us to come in.  Not before I had a shower, as I had no idea how long it would be until I got the next one.  So we both showered and dressed and drove the few minutes up the road at around 3:30am.

My birth plan detailed an active birth (using the pregnancy yoga moves I had learnt) followed by a relaxed and calm water birth using deep relaxation.  But first an examination was required to monitor Pickle and see how dilated I was.  Apparently I was only around 2cm (10cm is when the baby is ready to emerge), however the midwives were concerned with Pickle's heartbeat.  While it's natural for a baby's heartbeat to slow during a surge (or contraction), Pickle's was taking a while to recover after each, which could indicate that he was getting distressed.  A doctor was called.  To say she was abrupt would be the understatement of the century.  I wasn't allowed to sit on the yoga ball, stand, squat or lie on my side.  Instead I had to lay flat on my back - the most unnatural way for a woman giving birth, and one that increases discomfort considerably.  Not once did the doctor ever look me or BoyWonder in the face - she sort of just gazed in the middle of us while telling us what was going to happen.

During all of this, the surges were coming every two minutes or so, and I kept with the Hypno techniques and breathing.  I registered with amusement, one of the midwives saying "she's so quiet".  They would ask me "are you having another one" and I would nod.

BoyWonder - despite his initial reserve at having his sleep interrupted - came through wonderfully and questioned the doctor about changing my position, and then about what would happen if we waited ten or fifteen minutes before the sweep; then the breaking my waters.  I said it was OK to go ahead, and he checked I was sure - this is all part of the HypnoBirthing training, and it meant I felt in control of the process, and didn't feel pressured (mind you, the doctor wasn't best pleased).  And let me assure you, neither procedure is one I'd choose unnecessarily!  When neither procedure produced the results the doctor was looking for, she suggested an emergency Cesarean-section.  Now this really wasn't on the birth plan!  BoyWonder asked again what would happen if we waited even ten minutes, but I could hear Pickle's heartbeat and said it was OK, we needed to do what was best for the baby.  As long as I didn't have to have a general anesthetic.  I'd previously had an anesthetic consultation and the anesthetist at the time had insisted that is what I would need due to my previous back issues.  However, the lovely anesthetist that was present on the day said an epidural would suffice.

So off I was wheeled to be prepped for surgery.  BoyWonder was gowned.  I was tilted on a bed so the weight was on my left side to avoid the main vein that links to the placenta and also so my feet were raised which I think is supposed to help my blood pressure.  BoyWonder was seated on my right, so I really had to twist to see him.  I could feel tugging and pulling, but nothing else.  I kept using the breathing and visualisation exercises throughout.  And chatted to BoyWonder and the anesthetist when I felt like it.  The other medical professionals discussed music downloads amongst themselves.

Finally Pickle was out - it was 6:28am on Friday 19th August 2011, a mere five hours since I'd first awoken.  Though I still couldn't see past the sheet that had been placed in front of me, BoyWonder had a peek and discovered Pickle was a him!  Next on my birth plan was immediate skin-to-skin and breastfeeding.  But Pickle had been distressed and was covered in meconium (basically he'd pooed a little on the way out).  So BoyWonder got to hold him briefly while I caught a glimpse of his adorable little face out of the corner of my eye, but I loved him instantly.  I wasn't quite prepared for the depth or intensity.  And then they whisked him away as his breathing was a little fast (inhaling meconium can cause respiratory issues) to place him under a heat lamp and monitor him for a while.

I headed to recovery, and must have drifted off briefly, as the time seemed to whiz by - I was taken to the ward, what seemed like minutes later, but was almost two hours.  My little boy was brought to me about 15 minutes later, but it seemed like much longer; I finally got skin-to-skin contact with him just before 8:30am.  He was closely monitored, and at 2am that first night, he was whisked away as his breathing was still a little too quick.  His blood gases were checked, and I think it was something about not enough CO2 that required him to be taken to the Special (Intensive) Care unit.  I felt like I'd been punched in the stomach when they took him away from me; when the bought him back at 5am, I had the same physical reaction, but because I was so glad he was back with me - I can't even begin to comprehend how families cope with babies in there long term.
BoyWonder wasn't aware I was taking
this shot at the time  (in fact, I'm not
sure he's even seen this photo!) , he
was  completely entranced with Pickle,
which was lovely 

So while my birth plan - for all intents and purposes - was shredded and thrown to the wind, both the HypnoBirthing techniques and pregnancy yoga moves I learned, were invaluable and I'd highly recommend it to any Mums-to-be.  I'm not going to say that there wasn't discomfort, but my experience of the surges that were coming every two minutes while intense, were manageable.

I really wanted to breastfeed, and it was tricky at first - I had to express colostrum (the thick yellow liquid that comes before the milk) into a syringe a millilitre at a time.  Pickle latched on really well, but he didn't know he had to suckle.  It took us a couple of days (and one very long night), but with two fantastic breastfeeding support workers at the hospital (thankfully one on the day shift and one on the night), who were able to show me different holds and provide practical and supportive help, I persevered and Pickle finally "got it" the second night.  And that was another long night as all he wanted to do was catch up on the food he'd been missing!

As for the C-section... I've no idea why anyone would want to do one electively.  I understand if there are medical reasons behind it, but jeez, it's major surgery and has a much longer recovery period.  I was bed-bound with a catheter for the first 24 hours.  The SilverLining of this is that I got to avoid the meconium poos, and BoyWonder or the nurses changed those!  But the act of sitting up and then turning to pick Pickle up from the bassinet next to the bed was difficult and painful - I had to call the nurses if he was crying to be fed the first couple of days, or if they weren't quick enough, would struggle to do it myself.  Of course, BoyWonder helped me when we got home.  And this goes on for weeks.  Neither of us was prepared for how little sleep you get with a newborn!  But somehow your body just adjusts to cope.  It helps that Pickle is so darn cute the rest of the time!

Cheers, KangaRue :)

PS. For the record, though I thought Pickle was a boy from the day I found out I was pregnant, we never actually knew... think I must have inherited my Mum's white witch abilities.

*my friend Caroline had a dream that night that I was doing laundry and went into labour... perhaps she's got a bit of white witch in her too?

13/366 - Future Blogger

Pickle was helping me type my latest blog post, which inspired today's photo. I've also used the image on my "Contact Me" page.


Not long 'til he starts his own blog then?

Cheers, KangaRue :)

This is my favourite picture this week - I just love Pickle's pudgy hand!  Take a look at all my other Project365 posts. Each Sunday you can link up to the weekly favourites at TheBoyandMe's blog by clicking on this button below:  

TheBoyandMe's 366 Linky

Thursday, 12 January 2012

12/366 - Heavenly Repose

Pickle and I had an impromptu journey to the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich today to meet a mummy friend and her daughters for lunch.  This gorgeous figurehead is not far from the entrance, and grabbed both our attention.  It's definitely piqued my interest for a deeper exploration of the museum on a return visit.


Do you think I'll be able to twist BoyWonder's arm for a visit this weekend?

Cheers, KangaRue :)

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

10/366 - Pickle playing and 11/366 - Pickle reflecting

Another double post.  We had a quiet day yesterday, so I took some photos of Pickle playing with his activity gym.  He looks so relaxed and happy.


On returning from running a few errands today, I loved the pensive look on Pickle's face as he gazed out the window, and enjoyed the play-on-words with him "reflecting". 


PS. Great outfit coordination with his Funky Giraffe bibs on both days!

Cheers, KangaRue :)

The Pickling Process

Photo used with permission.
I feel like I had an easy pregnancy with Pickle, though with hindsight, it did have its tricky moments.

I came off the contraceptive pill in August 2010.  And then... nothing.  I wee'd on a stick a couple of months later, but it came up negative, so I went to the doctor to say that my periods hadn't returned and was told to be patient.  In my late 30s, and with patience never my strong suit, this was difficult to say the least.  So off to Australia on a planned holiday BoyWonder and I  went (along with my brother Wayne).  It was a surprise for my Mum and this, along with my parents wedding vow renewal, TV cameras in tow, deserves a blog post of its own.  One day, while walking on the beach, my Mum asked if I was sure I wasn't pregnant and I'm pretty sure I snapped back at her in frustration (sorry Mum!).  Back to London, and back to the doctors; it was now 11 weeks since I came off the pill and I still hadn't had a period.  A different doctor tried to put me off by telling me to come back at the three month mark... which would have been the following week, so having private health insurance, I pushed for a referral on spot.

The following week, I went to see the loveliest doctor.  He planned to do three investigations that day, but after the internal exam (not the most comfortable experience!), he switched the process around to do the internal ultrasound.  "I can see why you're not having your period" he said.  I held my breath imaging him saying polyps, cysts etc.  "You're about 7 weeks pregnant".  How I sat up from the position I was in I don't know, but I was thrilled and more than a little stunned - I really had imagined the worst.  And I do consider myself lucky to have become pregnant so quickly, as I've had a number of friends struggle with various difficulties.

The next thing was to keep quiet... probably my next greatest failing after patience!!  We held out until Christmas to tell our parents and a few close friends.  And just made it to the 12-week mark before telling work.  While I felt really tired to start with, I barely had any morning sickness, just the occasional day of nausea.  Again, I count myself lucky; one of my close friends threw up every morning of her first pregnancy, except for a week right in the middle.

So on I pottered, getting bigger.  I actually lost weight the first trimester, which I'm sure was due to not only being more conscious of what I was eating, but cutting out alcohol.

Then one day, at around the half-way mark, I was walking through Soho when I slipped on a grape that had been dropped to the pavement.  I went flying, but the worst of my injuries appeared to be a badly scrapped knee.  I still bear a large scar.  My lower back hurt, but I didn't think much of it.

Unfortunately, the lower back pain got worse.  I have a great Osteopath, so went to see him.  After a few treatments, when I realised that the pain wasn't so much in my back, as in my hips and across my pelvic bone, he diagnosed Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD).  Pregnancy hormones help loosen the ligaments and joints in order to gain room for the baby to grow and for the actual birth.  In some cases, the loosening can happen too soon and/or too much - in my case it was both, likely brought on by my slip and aggravating a prior injury.  The ligament that joins the pelvic bone at the front was over-stretching and tearing.  SPD isn't common, and isn't particularly well known.  It probably helped that my Osteo is married to a midwife, and he suggested a Maternity Support Belt - not exactly the sexiest thing alive, but it helped.  My GP had been fairly unhelpful up to this point, just putting it down to regular pregnancy heaviness, though he did later refer me to the hospital physiotherapist; my appointment was lost twice and the third appointment was eventually scheduled for after Pickle's due date.

I was - quite frankly - in agony.  I only realise how bad it was now that I'm no longer in constant pain.  I struggled to walk, and stairs were extremely difficult.  Getting up out of a chair was a struggle - and this was before the third trimester "I've swallowed a watermelon" ensued.  Living in a Victorian Terrace, which was also undergoing renovations, was less than a joy.  If I left something upstairs it generally stayed there, or I'd ask BoyWonder to go and get it.  While he was understanding, he couldn't really comprehend the extent of the pain, and eventually got fed-up with my constant requests.  Now that I will happily go and grab something from upstairs he has realised I wasn't 'putting it on'.

While Transport for London kindly supply "Baby on Board" badges, there is a certain person - generally young, male and wearing a suit - who will spot the badge and proceed to avoid eye contact at all cost.  I'm aware this is a sweeping generalisation, and was indeed offered seats by young men wearing suits during my pregnancy, but the number that fit the stereotype was laughable.  Early on in my pregnancy, I stood right in front of one of these guys, who was also sitting in a priority seat.  While I felt able to stand most days at this point in my pregnancy, I was getting a hot flash; it was -2 degrees Celsius outside, but I started stripping hat, gloves and scarf off and was fanning myself.  Eventually I had to ask to sit down (there was a little old lady sitting next to him and I wasn't going to oust her from her seat!).  He got up, but would it have killed him to offer?  I gulped down my bottle of water I'd thankfully brought from home - I think I would have fainted if I hadn't sat down at that point.  Standing on public transport with SPD though was ridiculous - I went three stops on the tube one day, and the act of balancing aggravated my pelvis so badly I was bed-ridden the following day.  Out of necessity, I would be the one saying "excuse me would you mind if I sat down?" to someone youngish and healthy looking.  I only had one person say no - well actually, the middle aged guy shouted "what, what!" in my face, and the chavvy looking guy sitting next to him that I thought would be unreceptive, hastily offered me his seat.

Years ago, my friend Joe studied hypnotherapy in London before returning to Australia.  At the time he mentioned that one day when I was pregnant, I would have to look into hypnotherapy for giving birth.  When telling him about Pickle, I asked him about it again.  He gave me a few questions to ask, which freaked out the first consultant I contact whose response was, shall we say, less than positive.  Luckily, I discovered Dany from Tums2Mums on Twitter, who was happy to answer my questions, and offered to meet BoyWonder and I prior to signing up for a HypnoBirthing course (which we started the following week).  The techniques and mp3s Dany provided not only helped me to remain calm and focused during the birthing process (more on that in a later post), but also for the remainder of my pregnancy AND helped with pain control for the SPD.  I was doing Pilates and yoga prior to becoming pregnant, and continued these for the duration of my pregnancy, which I'm sure helped with focus and calm... the latter not necessarily being one of my most natural states.

Photo used with permission.
I did end up on crutches for the last month of my pregnancy, but regardless of this, and other than the pins and needles that appeared in my hand, and the day I partially lost my eyesight for a couple of hours with subsequent headaches, and the cankles I was lumbered with towards the end, I still consider myself lucky to have had a relatively easy pregnancy, with my SilverLining no doubt being the gorgeous little boy that I am very thankful for.

Cheers, KangaRue :)

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

9/366 - Pickle discovers a feather

The latest addition for Pickle's sensory box is a feather.  We sat in our local Starbucks yesterday and I was in peals of laughter at his expressions.  Everything from utter concentration while he felt it, to giggles and then utter horror when it tickled his nose.  He kept going back for more though, so I think he must have enjoyed it.

Cheers, KangaRue :)

Monday, 9 January 2012

One of the best meals ever!

Last year for my birthday, BoyWonder surprised me with a trip to Kent for lunch at fabulous The Sportsman restaurant in Seasalter, Kent.  While our meals was gorgeous, I didn't blog it at the time - I'm sure out of spite, as I was newly pregnant with Pickle, and BoyWonder was the one who got to try all the culinary delights that were banned for me: caviar, oysters, soft and smelly cheeses, and the complimentary wines we were he was lucky enough to be treated to. I think this deserves a renewed acquaintance with The Sportsman, don't you think?

So I was intrigued where BoyWonder would take me this year.  I fathomed we were going to Royal Tunbridge Wells from the postcode on the invite that arrived on my phone, but managed not to snoop investigate further.  When we strolled up to Thackeray's, I was intrigued.  Was this restaurant dedicated to Jake Thackeray, the singer I used to torment my Mum with?  (She has never heard one of his songs through, as she bursts into laughter well before the third bar starts... and my Mum has a very unique laugh.  Go on Mum, click on the link, I dare you!)  Indeed not, the restaurant was named after William Makepeace Thackeray, author of Vanity Fair, who once stayed on the premises.  And a book I've been meaning to read for some time.

It turns out, Thackeray's is the restaurant Richard Phillips started when he branched out for himself after working for the likes of the Roux brothers and Marco Pierre White. It looks quaint from the outside, but has elegant and theatrical interiors which remain sympathetic to the character of the building.  We were a little early, so chose a glass of Mercier Brut champagne, which was biscuity and refreshing, and I managed to nurse it through the first four of our courses - we were having the Chef's Tasting Menu!

The amuse bouche of the day was a crayfish terrine, served with caviar and a watercress foam.  Absolutely delicious, perfectly seasoned and beautiful presentation.

Next was a ballontine of Landes foie gras, with caramelised spiced white peach, brioche pan perdu and white peach jelly.  This was divine, but it is pretty hard to screw up foie gras!  The jelly was a perfect accompaniment to the foie gras and brioche, though we weren't as thrilled with the taste of the caramelised peach which was a little bland, but did lend a complimentary texture.

We had a choice to make for the next course, and decided to go for one of each option and share.  As it was, we only got a brief taste of each others as we were happy to stick with our preferred option.  I went for the Roast Fillet of South Coast Brill, served with haddock brandade, roast cucumber, and cockle and cucumber ketchup.  The "ketchup" led a fresh tanginess to the dish that lifted it to a delightful level, allowing the freshness of the sweet flesh to shine through without being fussy.  BoyWonder went for the Pan Fried Diver Caught Sea Scallops which came with a pumpkin and caper puree,
smoked eel, pickled Kentish apple and smoked hollandaise.  The small morsel I got to taste was delicious and perfectly cooked.  Both dishes were beautifully presented yet again.

To refresh our palette, a clementine sorbet was then served.  Oh my, it was delicious; though more a granita than a sorbet, the fervent flavour was refreshingly tart, and we could have quite happily consumed a bowl of the stuff!

While we again had a choice for the next course, we both decided to go with the Roast Fillet of 28 Day Hung Herefordshire Beef.  Rosemary scented layered
potatoes, a Kentish blue cheese beignet, creamed celeriac and a red wine and bone marrow jus accompanied.  The potatoes were delicious, the jus had an amazing depth of flavour and I loved the beignet, which was basically a posh cheese popper! The d'Arenberg The Stump Jump Shiraz 2008, was a perfect match, with deep plum, earthy and spicy flavours and scent.

Rather than go for a typical dessert wine, BoyWonder made the inspired choice of the Domaine Schlumberger 'Fleur', an Alsace Gewurztraminer which went brilliantly well with both the cheese and dessert courses, where a sticky would likely have been too cloying.  The Brillat Savrin a la Truffe was a soft cheese from Burgundy layered with sliced black truffle.  While it sounded impressive, in truth this was the least inspiring dish of the day.  Perhaps they should have checked closer to home, as the Tunworth I bought from Neal's Yard Dairy as part of our Chrismukkah cheeses on Essex Eating's recommendation, was far more impressive.

A choice for our desserts again, and we decided to split and "share", though we were both so enrapture with our individual choices that it was a mere smidgen of the other's dish that we got to try! BoyWonder went for the Kentish Raspberry Souffle with cherry sorbet and raspberry soup.  The "soup" was ceremoniously poured into the souffle at the table.  Hats off to the pastry chef on my Assiette of Chocolate, as I believe this was the most visually impressive dish of the day, and that really is saying something. It tasted sensational too with macerated
cherries (and I don't normally like booze and fruit combined), the red cherry sorbet made an appearance again, along with a chocolate tuille and a white chocolate and pistachio ganache.  I'm drooling just remembering it.

Now BoyWonder is extremely fussy meticulous about coffee.  The most infamous being the dining-disaster of Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester.  Miraculously he was extremely happy with the coffee.  My fresh mint tea was also well received - more restaurants should take note, as it's not hard to impress with a well-considered caffeine-free option.

There's nothing worse than a disappointing sweet end to the meal. Luckily our Petits Four continued the impressive standard.  While one was covered in marzipan - evil stuff - the sponge inside was light, the chocolate one was rich and balanced with cocoa, the jelly-gum was bursting with berry juiciness, but my favourite was the home-made marshmallow.

The Chef's Menu was £69 per person and there is also the option of ordering a glass of wine per course for a very reasonable £30pp extra.  We chose to order just a few wines by the glass, and there is quite a wide selection of wines that have this option.  The staff were lovely: knowledgeable and helpful without being intrusive.  We believe that this was one of the best meals we've ever had and I'd highly recommend making a beeline to Thackeray's.

So some questions for you:
  • How will BoyWonder top this next year?  (Suggestions welcome!)
  • Will Vanity Fair make it off my bookshelf soon?
  • And most importantly, if my Mum opens the Jake Thackeray link, will I hear her all the way from Australia?

Cheers, KangaRue :)

This is not a sponsored post.