A rant about breasts

It’s not often I get ranty here, but as a wise man once said: “There’s a time & place for everything”. I think it was Chef from South Park.

The Save the Children group are among a coalition of charities running a fantastic campaign at the moment called “Enough food for everyone IF”, highlighting child malnutrition & mobilising the powerful & the ordinary to make a change; showing us that we can.

I plan to write about it soon, and you can read the details here.

Alongside this Save the Children are also running a campaign called #firsthour, highlighting the importance of the first hour in a newborn baby’s life. Particularly how crucial for the baby’s survival  it is – especially where food is scarce & nutritional standards are low  – that they receive the miracle food that is breast milk.

There are some brilliant posts about it here & here, much better than anything I could put together. Myleene Klaas, Natasha Kaplinsky & Isla Fisher have been in the Philippines, Sierra Leone & Brazil for first-hand reports. Just click their names here to see their video reports. They are real eye-openers: for all our problems we  – I – often just don’t realise just how lucky we are here, in our relative affluence.

Photo credit: Save the Children

Two major concerns seem to have caught people’s attention from the #firsthour campaign.

1) Research by Save the Children has shown that an estimated 830,000 deaths could be avoided if every baby were breastfed within the first hour of life.

2) Save the Children have been reported as saying that they want cigarette packet style warnings to be put on baby formula products.

Many of us have seized on one or the other of these, myself included.

Now OK,  I know breast vs formula is a very emotive subject. Many women resent being told what to do or what not to do with their own bodies. I get that. And it’s not always possible for women to breast-feed & they should not be judged for not doing so. I really get that.

But hang on here, you who are so angry about this & who are trying to vilify Save the Children. Can we rewind a bit?

Please see point 1).

830,000 dead babies. Every year. That’s nearly a Birmingham of babies.

It’s likely that 3 babies died since you started reading this.

Simply for lack of breast-milk.

The research also suggests that 22%  – more than 1 in 5 – of newborn deaths could be prevented if breastfeeding started within the first hour, 16% if within 24 hours. Also that a baby given breast milk within an hour is up to 3 times more likely to survive than 1 fed a day later.

But someone wanting to put some writing on packets of milk substitute is what’s important here, is it?

Really?

I think we need some perspective here. Just a little bit.

I suspect that if Save the Children have said this that it was aimed at underdeveloped societies where women are less educated & simply don’t have the lifestyle choices that we enjoy.

I was really shocked to learn from this campaign that many women don’t even know that they can breast-feed. In many of these countries unscrupulous multinationals are spreading misinformation designed to keep these mothers in ignorance in order to sell their products. You can sign a petition about that here if you feel so moved.

Many of them as a result then buy the formula. It’s expensive, so many then have to stop buying food.

You get the picture?

This isn’t about us.

It’s about babies dying needlessly in impoverished societies.

It’s about women who are in ignorance regarding the most basic needs of their newborns & who are being kept that way, in many cases, just so some already rich people can get richer.

It’s about how we can stop these needless deaths & help these poor mothers.

I’d be quite happy if every time I switched on my beloved iPod Touch I saw a message on screen saying “You are fat & stupid & if you use this iPod Touch your testicles may fall off” – if it meant saving the life of just 1 baby.  I’d just tell it to shut up then put on “Gimme Shelter”.

So how about we all get together & save some lives? I hope to at least try.

And I’m sorry if anyone is offended by this post. That’s really not my intention.

And, for what it’s worth, our premmie twins were fed on both formula & breast-milk.

And were they breast-fed in their #firsthour?

Yes.

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What’s in a Name? (Part 2)

Do you know it took us over 2 years to twig that in naming them Jake & Ellie we may have subconsciously named our children after the Blues Brothers?

Both of us love not only the film but also its music. Jake & Ellie / Jake & Elwood. Although I’m pretty sure that ‘Elwood’ wouldn’t have been our first choice for a 2nd boy.

Seriously – 2 years!

We, or at least I, have a dilemna of a different sort now.

They’re 2 years & 8 months now. They’re not babies any more, & for some time now have taken great offense at being called that. From virtually as soon as he could talk Jake would indignantly tell us: “I not a baby, I Jake!” whenever we used the B word.

So we now call them toddlers. But, hang on – isn’t ‘toddling’ that thing they do when they’ve just learnt to walk & are still very unsteady on their feet? When they don’t so much as walk but move forwards with their feet going as far sideways as they do forwards, & fall on their plump little bottoms a lot?

They definitely don’t ‘toddle’ any more. They haven’t ‘toddled’ for a long time. Now they walk, they run, they sidestep, they jump, they climb, they roll.

In fact we had our first “I’m not a toddler!” from Jake at dinner-time tonight.

So what are they then? Pre-schoolers? They’re not even at Nursery yet – we’re planning that for next year after they turn 3 – so aren’t they a bit young for that still?

Maybe it doesn’t matter, but so many toys & other children’s products are labelled as for ‘babies’, ‘toddlers’ or ‘pre-schoolers’, & I’m not sure what ours are anymore!

So what do you /did you call yours at a similar age? Does it matter?

Whatever they are, & whatever they become, to us they’ll always be our Jake & Ellie. I just feel privileged to be able to share in their journey.

After all, everybody needs somebody to love, right? (Sorry, couldn’t resist…)

The Two Terrible Twos

OK: they’re 2. Plus 2 weeks.  And I think they know it.

Really, I haven’t explained the semi-mythical, mystical, iconic cultural significance of being 2: the Terrible Twos. But they seem to know about it.

It’s possibly that I’m just noticing more, but I could swear that they’re getting (more) rebellious. They seem to be deliberately doing things that they’re told /asked not to do just to see what happens. And enjoying it far too much. Dropping food or drinks on the floor, being rough with each other or us, grabbing each others’ toys, for instance. And with that look on their faces. Yes, I think most parents will know the one: mostly gleeful defiance.

And they’re smarter. They enjoy doing ‘circuit training’: running at high speed & with great excitement around something, a cot for instance. It used to be that if I wanted to catch one for dressing etc. I’d just have to ‘wait ’til they came around again’. Recently though while I was employing this hitherto successful tactic Jake stopped, saw that I was wanting to grab him for a very wet Jake-bath interface situation, & seemed to decide that running around some more was a far more productive use of his time.

He looked at me, turned around & ran in the opposite direction! I moved over to intercept. He did it again! And again! I think I only got him in the end because he took pity on me. He’s surprisingly quick.

Live & learn though. I now turn it into a game, by joining in the chase, pretending to be a monster, holding my hands in front of me & saying “Rarr” a lot. Not the ideal activity for the end of the day when you’re already tired, but hey-ho, it works. They find it so funny that they seem to want to be caught. At which point they get tickled or I pretend to lunge & miss, falling on the bed. Much hilarity ensues. Next time around I grab one & plop them, protesting wildly, into the bath. Rinse & repeat. And they most times have a great time in there anyway.

Except: pouring water on the floor, on each other’s heads – those are 2 more of their little rebellions, come to think of it.

Yep – they’re 2!


For The Crumby Mummy’s ‘Terrible Twosday’ blog hop. Click the pic for more!

Fancy Words, Insects & Magic

I’ve been a bit lax in noting notable sayings & doings this week. And I have a bad, although selective, memory  – which is half the reason for my doing this blog-hop, & actually my blog in general.

Ellie I think has produced her most comprehensive sentence yet: “Jake & Ellie like jumping in puddles”. Makes me proud!

And she also excelled herself in sophisticated use of language. Pointing to the Mummy’s juice she said: “Yours”. A possessive personal pronoun! See above for my reaction…

It’s fantastic that their language is coming on so well. Ellie is getting to be a little chatterbox, & Jake is a great talker too. His pronunciation & vocabulary aren’t as good but what he lacks there he easily compensates for with his sociability & use of signs & gestures. We feel like we have two little adults here with us now, not just cute but insensible little babies. We can actually have proper little conversations with them, it’s great!

Ellie often grabs my hand so I can join her in a “Tea Party” she’s having; Jake does too. He does so though often to show me something that he’s been trying to tell me about: for instance when in the garden he spotted a tiny caterpillar hanging on a thread from a leaf, which I think was cocooning itself, & a bumble bee he saw flying around.

I also get dragged off the sofa to do “Tree Fu”magic with him. Recently he seems to have decided that the moves are too fiddly, sits down & leaves me prancing about by myself, saying “Ouch” a lot… Kids, eh!

This is for Chris’ ‘Things They Say & Do’ blog hop at her ‘Thinly Spread’ blog. Why not have a look at the other posts there, it’s a great read!

The Things They Say & Do: Walking Bears & Wagging Fingers

Ellie has taken to’ bear-walking’. It’s something that babies do as they’re learning to walk: on all fours with the arms & legs raised, knees & elbows off the floor, bum in the air. Like a bear, funnily enough.

I think she may be having the toddler equivalent of a mid-life crisis. She’s just turned 2: she’s getting old! So she tries to go back to the ‘good old days’, when life was simpler. When she didn’t have to worry about which shoes to wear, or have to decide between ‘Peppa Pig‘, ‘Tree Fu Tom’, ‘In the Night Garden‘ or ‘Bubble Guppies‘.

So she was bear-walking around the lounge today, shouting “Bear-walking!”. And of course, Jake was meant to join in. So it became “C’mon! C’mon, Jake! Bear-walking!”. Quite a sight…

Jake this evening had grabbed the Mummy’s watch & had put it around his wrist. He then, looking straight at me, wagged his finger repeatedly in my face shouting “Ba ba ba ba ba ba ba!”. Me: “Are you being Mummy?”; him: “Yes!”,  with a big smile.

I found this somewhat funnier than the Mummy did when I told her later…

So that’s my mad household, why not have a look at others’ in Chris’ ‘Things They Say & Do’ blog hop at her ‘Thinly Spread’ blog.

Music Monday: Birthday

One of the things you lovely people out there in the blogosphere & the twitterverse may have noticed is that something I sometimes eloquently articulate upon bang on about with insightful  profundity monotonous regularity is music, my love of it, how I listen to it a lot, how my iPod Touch is now up to (just a sec…) 8,735 tracks so far, & how I should have been a singer in a rock’n’roll band. I even have a twitter account specifically for tweeting what I’m playing on my iPod, via YouTube. At least I don’t drunkenly tweet random lyrics late at night anymore as much as I used to…

So it makes sense for me to feature music in my blog. With the sad demise of Musodad’s blog I feel moved to blatantly take advantage try to pick up where he left off & do a post where I put up a few songs that have recently taken my fancy for one reason or another & write some words about them.

And… some may also have heard me mention that it’s Jallie’s 2nd Birthday today (yay!). So that gives me an obvious theme then for my first, & possibly last:

Warning: may contain traces of soppiness. I’ll try to add a little sarcasm & some bad jokes where appropriate.

Altered Images: Happy Birthday

An obvious place to start: it was either this or the Bjork-lead Sugarcubes’ “Birthday”. Altered Images’ lead singer was the scrumptious Clare Grogan: not only Gregory’s Girl, the object of Dave Lister‘s unrequited love (& the true Kochanski), but also the scourge of Craggy Island & Father Ted when she turned up there to tell him & the boys a thing or 2. So I’ll take her over Bjork any day! Also: Stevie Wonder’s “Happy Birthday” is a bit rubbish. And I don’t care if it’s about Martin Luther King.

U2: Two Hearts (Beat As One)

Say what you like about U2 & Bono, & most of us do, this is just a great rock song; from the pre-Joshua Tree “War” album. You know what I think of now when I hear this? Jake & Ellie inside their Mummy, entwined together, separate yet one, apart but together now & always, like two hearts that beat as one.

There ya go: soppiness, with rock’n’roll!

Steve Miller Band: The Joker

This was Jake’s early theme song. Yes, we give our children theme songs: doesn’t everyone? From a very early age he’s exhibited a terrific sense of humour, getting & making jokes long before we’d have thought a young child would. OK, some of the lyrics aren’t appropriate: if I find he’s a smoker or a midnight toker I may have to have words. And I don’t know what the “pompitous of love” is but I’m pretty sure I disapprove. But it’s a good song.

Elton John: Tiny Dancer

I adore this song: Elton John at his very best. It’s almost worth watching the film “Almost Famous”, about the ’70s music scene, just for the Tiny Dancer sequence. Shows the ’70s wasn’t just prog, punk & disco!

My Tiny Dancer, of course, is Ellie. This was my early theme song for her. She’s loved to dance virtually since she could stand, & has been much better at it than her Dad for at least that time. She’s always sung beautifully too.

I also used to jig her about to this, substituting in “Ellie!” & lifting her high up in the air at the appropriate moment. She loved it! Then she’d usually throw up all over me. Happy Days.

Bob Dylan: Quinn the Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn)

Jake’s current theme song: “Come on the juice, come on the cake: you’ll not see nothin’ like the mighty Jake”.  He has a great sense of humour; it’s sometimes a mystery where he gets it from…

Donovan: Mellow Yellow

Ellie’s current theme song: “They call her ‘Ellie-belly’ “…

I’m starting to think that the quality of the songs we choose for our children may be on the wane…

Beyoncé: Halo

From the ridiculous to…

Beyoncé: a bona-fide Superstar, supremely talented, ravishingly beautiful, jaw-droppingly sexy: you name it, she’s got it. And this song is just epic, beautiful & moving. Her music was playing in the operating theatre during their birth, & I’m pretty sure ‘Halo’ was playing as they were delivered into the world. I even gave it its own little post.

I can’t now listen to this already beautiful song without being profoundly moved. It’s Their Song. It always takes me back to those mad, magical moments when they came into the world & into our lives. They were so wanted for so long, & it took so many tears & trials before they finally became a part of us. When they did ‘it was like we’d been awakened’: “Baby, I can see your halo: you know you’re my saving grace”.

Happy Birthday, Jake & Ellie. We love you.

I warned you that there might be soppiness! I can’t think of any sarcasm or bad jokes at this point, sorry. Maybe next week…


The Things They Say & Do: Bum!, stairs & a stroller

One afternoon this week the twins kept yelling at me repeatedly & excitedly what sounded like “Bum! Bum!”. This is odd even by their standards. I couldn’t work it out. I kept suggesting possible words that they might be saying, to which they responded “No!”,  then more “Bum! Bum!”, getting increasingly agitated. Eventually I figured out that it was a new cbeebies programme, ‘Tree Fu Tom‘. We’d watched the first one the day before & they absolutely loved it, jump-up-&-down-&-yell-with-excitement loved it. I’d kept it, in case of emergencies (as you do), but when I went to find it on the Box it wasn’t there! Apparently they’d asked the Mummy to put it on earlier, she’d watched it with them, didn’t like it & deleted it! Thanks! (I’ve kept all the episodes since; I quite like it too, but don’t tell anyone…)

We live in an odd house. Whaddya mean you’re not surprised?! It’s tall & thin – unlike me! – & has 3 storeys. The bedroom & nursery are on the top floor, the lounge & kitchen on the ground floor. We carry the twins all the way downstairs for their morning milk & breakfast, then usually back up again for a morning play & to dress them, then back down again ’til their bedtime. It’s OK when we’re both at home & we can take 1 each, but when I’m looking after them by myself it can be tricky. I have to carry 1 up or down then come back for the other. Almost always there’s grizzling & upset by whoever’s been left behind, although by the time I’ve come back they’ve usually calmed down. Thursday however I was getting ready to take them back downstairs. As usual I’d decided to take first the one who was most keen to go, this time Ellie. I explained to Jake, as I always do, that I was taking Ellie down then coming straight back for him. Instead of making a fuss he just sat there quietly, saying “Ellie then Jake. Ellie then Jake”. He was still sitting still, quiet & calm, when I came back up for him: what a little star!

On Friday they played together in the most independent & cooperative way we’ve yet seen. They were taking turns – that’s right, you read that correctly; I’ll write it again: taking turns  without any prompting at all from us, in getting into a stroller & pushing each other around. There also appeared to be a ritual involving a pretend onion on a plate which had to be carried by the occupier of the stroller & transferred with great solemnity as they swapped over. The Mummy & I had our flabbers truly ghasted & were very tempted to leave them to it, get a brew & go watch telly. But it was nearing their bedtime so we didn’t. I did take a stroller upstairs though so they could carry on!

Another eventful week! I’m looking forward now to reading about others’ in Chris’ ‘Things They Say & Do’ blog hop at her ‘Thinly Spread’ blog. Have a look, it’s a great read!

And I’ve just realised, as now it’s past midnight, that’s it’s now their 2nd birthday! 🙂

Saturday is Caption Day! #2

Got a witty, profound or just plain silly caption for this picture? Then leave it in the comments below!

Then click on the little boy’s head here & you will be magically transported to the funsome Mammasaurus’s blog for many more pictures crying out for a witty / pithy #satcap caption. Have fun, I know I do 🙂

Saturday Is Caption Day

The Twins They Are A-Changin’

Whoever of us is looking after the twins during the week – usually me – takes them to an activity of some kind every day, & all of us try to go out as a family at least once on the weekend. We think it’s really important for their social development to be mixing with other children of all shapes, sizes & backgrounds & their parents & carers. They also learn & develop new abilities: for instance arts & crafts, signing, singing. It’s also just good to get out of the house sometimes, not just for them but probably also for us.

These pictures (taken in December) are from one such activity, called Tumble Tots. It focusses on teaching physical skills like climbing up & down ladders & ramps, rolling, jumping, throwing, stepping over & on obstacles. It also features action songs & dances, but they’ve figured out that if they don’t take part in that then they get the apparati to themselves, the little scamps…

Ellie peeping through her window
King Jake on his throne?

I think it’s their favourite activity, they’re always so enthusiastic. They run around excitedly, especially at the start, often making it difficult for me to keep up – although 1 of the staff usually helps out. They seem to like to push themselves, something they didn’t seem sure of 1 week they’ll be more confident with the next. And they like to claim & sit in their little perches, as you can see…

In preparing this post I remembered I’d posted about these classes before. Looking back at that post from 8 months earlier  it amazed me how much they’d changed & grown in the intervening time. Not just physically but emotionally. Here’s a picture from then, of Jake looking really scared about crawling up a ramp: 

I couldn’t help but contrast how physically & emotionally confident & at ease he seems now as compared to then. OK, 8 months is a fair old whack of their young lives, & probably translates as *ahem* quite a few years for someone like their old Daddy. But even so…

We see them day-to-day & share in their joys & sorrows, their triumphs & frustrations; it’s easy to lose track of how far they’ve come in such a short time. Sometimes you just have to take a step back & a look back to see how far they’ve really come.