NOT: Bonds Baby Search controversy

Obviously, Tim and I think that NKOTB is the cutest thing ever. However, Tim doesn’t believe in ‘futile competitions based on subjective scoring’ (hence a lack of interest in rhythmic gymnastics, figure-skating and art prizes) so we won’t be entering NKOTB in any cute baby competitions any time soon. Even though I think this could be the only pathway for us ever being photographed with an oversized cheque.

The other reason we won’t be entering NKOTB in any baby beauty pageants is because of the recent controversy surrounding the Bonds Baby Search. This is a yearly competition where proud parents enter their babies to appear in a Bonds advertising campaign and what would be an ‘awww’ fest has turned into a nasty bitchfight.

It seems that:

The search for the ultimate cute baby has descended into nastiness after mothers angry at a voting glitch started to launch cruel and racist attacks on other people’s children.

Pippa Taylor was floored when someone posted a comment on a picture of her Eurasian daughter Lilli, saying “Bonds Australia not Asia”.

Another mum complained on the Bonds Bumps & Baby Facebook page that someone had commented on a picture of her daughter, saying: “A child only a mother could love”. Another baby was called an “ugly duckling.”

OMG. Can you believe it???

And closer to home for me, in this day and age in multicultural Australia what kind of person goes around making racist attacks (of a baby!) on a public Facebook page?

As a kid I was the subject of racial taunts but not so much that it’s scarred me. I figure that kids will always find a way to pick on other kids  whether because they’re fat, uncoordinated or Asian. My experience growing up Asian in Australia has been overwhelmingly a positive one and while it marked me as different as other kids as I was growing up, it barely registers on the radar in my life as an adult (except that I can order Chinese food with an air of authority).

I was hoping that by the time NKOTB goes to school that being Eurasian, Asian or any other colour or race will no longer be an issue of interest. NKOTB looks Eurasian as she has recognisably Oriental features coupled with fair Anglo colouring.  At this tage I have no idea how I’ll react or how I’ll teach NKOTB to react  if/when she ever becomes the subject of racist comments. But in my view, she’s the ultimate Aussie – a melding of first-generation migrant and generations-old Australian Anglo stock. So there!

HOT: Where Children Sleep – James Mollison

You’ve probably already heard of  “Where Children Sleep”, James Mollison’s eye-opening large format photobook taking readers into the bedrooms of children around the world. It’s been out for a long time and as a joint project with Save the Children, it received a lot of mainstream media coverage when it was originally launched.

However, I’ve just learnt that it’s  now available to read online here so I thought I’d take the opportunity to give it a bit of a plug here.

I really love the concept of this book.  The photographs are gorgeous and interesting enough in themselves to justify an adult audience. But the best part of the book is that it’s intentionally written and designed to be read with children – giving them an accessible insight into the lives of their peers around the world.

As the Amazon Product Summary outlines:

Each pair of photographs is accompanied by an extended caption that tells the story of each child: Kaya in Tokyo, whose proud mother spends $1,000 a month on her dresses; Bilal the Bedouin shepherd boy, who sleeps outdoors with his father’s herd of goats; the Nepali girl Indira, who has worked in a granite quarry since she was three; and Ankhohxet, the Kraho boy who sleeps on the floor of a hut deep in the Amazon jungle.

I’m a big believer in showing rather than telling as a parenting/teaching model – I think kids are more likely to really absorb a lesson if they can feel like they have come to a realisation themselves rather have simply been told what to think. I think reading Where Children Sleep with kids would be a great vehicle for realisations of this kind – without heavy handed exposition, the book offers triggers for a series of important lessons about cultural differences, shared experiences and privilege.

If I hadn’t already bought dozens of books since NKOTB was conceived I’d be picking up a copy for NKOTB now.   But when my self-imposed book buying ban expires…

You can buy Where Children Sleep for the very reasonable price of $20 here.

Via: Design Mom

Week 2

NKOTB has been hitting her milestones this week.

She’s still a relatively contented baby, eating and sleeping well, so it’s inevitable that she’s been stacking on the weight. The Maternal and Child Health Nurse who came to visit her was impressed that in her first 10 days she’d put on 400g (a good weight gain is 200g a week) which means she’s already back to her birth weight. Her voracious eating is evidenced by her cute roly-poly thighs and arms and filled out cheeks, making her even more adorable than ever (if that was possible).

Every day I anxiously check whether her eyes have turned brown and so far, they’re still dark blue. The Chinese side of the family are crossing their fingers that they remain that way – we want a Eurasian baby with blue eyes!

NKOTB is still sleepy enough to be taken out to socialise, so on Saturday we took her out to the pub to meet some friends. She was an angel for most of it, sleeping through noisy conversations, rain and dinner. We congratulated ourselves on another successful outing with a docile baby…..

….until yesterday, the most challenging day so far. From a routine of 2-3 hour sleeps and 15 minute feeds everything was turned upside down and we had one cranky pants baby on our hands. She barely slept, cried big distressed crocodile tears and seemed to be want to be fed every hour. It’s possible that her unsettledness was a result of the Indian curry that we had the night before (which gave me a mild case of middle-of-the-night food poisoning, another story) or she was simply hitting another milestone, the 2 week growth spurt.

I braced myself for a night of no sleep but as with every time I brace myself for a difficult time, it didn’t transpire. It was back to the usual 2-3 hour sleeps and a quick drift off to sleep afterwards. Thank God!

 

HOT: Hypnobirth

As you may have gathered by now, neither Tim or I hold particularly hippie views. Yes, we may live within walking distance of at least 6 organic stores/vegetarian restaurants, we don’t own a car (preferring to walk, bike or use public transport) and we eat quinoa, brown rice and home-grown veg, but that’s about the extent of it.

So when I tell people that we did a Hypnobirth course during my pregnancy, the most common reaction is raised eyebrows. The word evokes swinging timepieces and people unknowingly clucking like chickens on stage, but in fact it is a method of relaxed, natural childbirth education. That is, giving birth without drugs and using only breathing, visualisation and self-hypnosis techniques to get you through.

I first became aware of Hypnobirth after a very practical, non-hippie, lawyer friend put me onto it. She said that the strategies she learnt during the course (two Sunday mornings of 4 hours each) helped her remain calm and relaxed during pregnancy, labour and early motherhood. Her husband was also a little freaked out after the clinical, medically-based hospital prenatal classes and the Hypnobirth classes made him feel more confident about the whole process and especially his role as a support person.

Let me clarify right now that I am not judging any woman who chooses to use pain relief of any sort when going through labour. In fact, there were moments during my 12 hours of labour where I wondered whether I was abstaining from pain relief for any good reason.

So why give birth without drugs? According to the Hypnobirth book (pictured), it’s supposed to create a better physical experience for mother and child, encourage mother-child bonding and ease of attachment post-birth.

Tim and I both attended the course and put aside our cynical preconceptions. Some of it made a lot of sense – a person who is feeling fearful or anxious will naturally tense up their muscles too – which is the opposite of what you want your uterus to be doing when you’re in labour. Learning to take long, deep breaths is more conducive to creating a sense of calm rather than short, panicked breaths. Visualisation techniques, such as those used by athletes for peak performance, help with creating a positive approach to birthing and encourage associated physical reactions.

Other techniques were a bit more left-field. We practised relaxation scripts where I could feel myself falling into a state of deep relaxation but not sleep or where we numbed our hand and transferred that numbness to other parts of the body (a technique I never mastered).

The most impressive part of the course were the videos of real-life women using Hypnobirth techniques during labour. My perception of labour had been cultivated by TV and the movies – red faced screaming, crying and swearing. These women barely looked like they worked up a sweat – they would close their eyes as a contraction started, breath slowly and deeply and basically remain silent for most of the time. Their babies didn’t come out squalling and kicking, but slipped out in the most serene manner. It was so inspiring to see another way to give birth that didn’t involve high stress and extreme pain.

 

I highly recommend attending a Hypnobirth, even if in the end medical intervention is necessary or desired. I found the relaxation techniques and scripts really invaluable for remaining calm and focused during my relatively long labour. Unlike some other Hypnobirth mums, I can’t say I’d describe the contractions as painless or just ‘intense pressure’ and in the end I chose to birth NKOTB with a suction cap….but I am crediting my current non-anxious state and NKOTB’s calmness and general ease with attachment to having had a drug-free birth. Also, NKOTB was quite a large baby at 3.7kg and considering my size 8 frame, I was really frightened that I’d need an episiotomy but again I think the muscle relaxation helped that from happening (I had three small internal stitches only).

Both the midwife and obstetrician told me that they were impressed by how well I handled the labour using only the breathing techniques, even though I didn’t feel like I did a great job myself and felt somewhat traumatised by the pain I endured (the memory of which is slowly waning, as promised by all mothers).

 

The benefits of the Hypnobirth techniques extend beyond birth. I am still listening to the relaxation tapes every day to help me get to sleep at odd hours. Whenever I feel my anxiety levels rising I draw on the breathing techniques to calm down.  Tim also uses light touch massage on me to help with muscle tension caused by stress.

So whether you choose to use drugs or not, I highly recommend that all mothers and their support people attend a Hypnobirth course to create a feeling of calmness and confidence during pregnancy, at the birth and in their role as a new parent.

HOT: Replica Eames Hang It All

There’s not much to say in this post other than that we love how this colourful Replica Eames Hang It All looks in our nursery!

We’ve hung it at kids height in hopes that it encourages NKOTB to pick up after herself as she gets older. We’ll see.

Also – don’t you love the purple Le Petit Bateau coat NKOTB received from a London based admirer with an eye for fashion? It’s a little big for her just at the moment, but we’re hanging it next to the cot in anticipation of her reaching a suitable size…

HOT: Week 1

A recent email from my mum, one of four excited grandparents:

“Perhaps you can start a daily blog/e-diary for grandparents on both sides to keep us in touch.”

Umm, maybe not. I explained her that while I am feeling reasonably energetic given the amount of sleep I’m getting, I spend most of my time (much like NKOTB) eating, sleeping and going to the toilet, as well as doing housework, running errands, managing a small business and writing a couple of blogs already.

However, I understand her sentiment. When she had me she wrote a diary of my first year of life and it makes for lovely reading. So I’ve committed to writing a weekly post, for as long as it’s interesting, of my life as a new mum and tracking NKOTB’s progress.

So, Week 1 gets a HOT. Ever since NKOTB was born a week ago, I have been bracing myself for baby blues, bone-aching tiredness and extreme confusion. While I don’t want to crow about my good fortune at this early stage, I’ve been very lucky that NKOTB is a pretty easygoing baby and I’ve had support from other people.

In the first two days in hospital, before my milk came in, she slept quite peacefully for 4-6 hours a night. In the mornings, Tim was able to take over from baby-watching duty so that I could put in my noise-cancelling earplugs and catch up on more sleep. She’s not much of a crier even now – I’ve found that she generally cries for a reason such as wind, dirty nappy etc, not just because she’s feeling cranky or wanting attention. In fact, the worse sleep exhaustion I’ve experienced so far in the first week was when she was born after a 12 hour labour.

As for feeding, after a couple of tries she has attached well. While I was in hospital I got the midwives to check her attachment every time and one midwife in particular showed me how forcefully I could actually clamp her to my breast by pushing against her shoulders.

I have quickly adjusted to 2-3 hourly feeds and am feeling reasonably energetic most of the time. It helps a lot that Tim is around at the moment which means that I can catch up on sleep during the day without having to cock an ear at the baby monitor every time she stirs. I’ve become the Queen of Catnaps – 20 minutes and I feel refreshed again!

My doctor had warned me that over the course of the second day, she could get cranky and want to be fed all the time. Also, it is well known that on the third day mothers often get the baby blues due to exhaustion and changes in hormone levels. Neither of these events transpired.

In fact, I’ve been feeling remarkably calm about everything so far. The first day home from the hospital she appeared to be crying for no reason but I called the Maternal Health Helpline and was advised it was probably just a change in circumstances and some wind. I’d say that the only change in my mood is that I have even less patience than I did before for indecision or faffing or people not getting to the point. My abruptness is a function of only having a 2 hour window to do non-baby stuff and probably also a result of not getting more than 2 hours sleep at a time.

Due to NKOTB’s feeding cycles and my energy levels, I keep my outings to 2 hours max. I’m trying to get out of the house everyday for some period and that has helped with keeping a balanced mindset.  Her very first social outing was to a noisy restaurant with a group of our friends. She was a dream baby, sleeping in her capsule the whole time. The only time it became difficult was when we overstayed for about 20 minutes past the 2 hours and she started crying for milk. It was a little stressful rushing her home on a crowded tram on Saturday night, but once fed she settled down easily. Just a little lesson for the parents next time to keep an eye on the clock.

Finally, she’s just so cute! All of the hardships (of which there haven’t been that many, really) are definitely worth it when I look down at her downy soft cheeks and her dark blue eyes. There is nothing more heart-warming.

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