In the last month I’ve noticed how much Elijah’s communication skills have improved. Long gone are the days when I had to try and decipher his cries. Now it’s very clear what he does or doesn’t want. In the mornings, when he first wakes up, he hands me his blankie. This allows me to put it straight on the radiator to dry out, as it’s been in his mouth the entire night. At this point he wants something to play with and will point in the general direction of his toy box. I then proceed to hold up a selection of toys, one at a time, for his approval. If he doesn’t want it he’ll shake his head and if he does, he’ll smile and clap his hands. What I can’t figure out is why he doesn’t nod his head. If he can shake it, surely he should be able to nod it, right? There’s probably some perfectly normal developmental reason for it, but for now I’m going to nod my head whenever I say ‘yes’ in front of him, to see if he starts to copy me.
A great way he communicates when he knocks something over or does something he thinks he shouldn’t, is he’ll put both hands on his head and say, “uh-oh” whilst looking sheepish. He can get away with pretty much anything doing this because it’s just the cutest thing ever.
I’ve been waiting for a number of weeks to hear Elijah say his first words. Although I’m well aware all children are individual and will develop at different rates, I can’t help but want him to do everything ‘by the book’. At his age (so the book says) he should be starting to say a few words and so I’ve been patiently waiting. I was hoping they wouldn’t be something inappropriate that would leave us feeling awkward when we’re out in public, shopping or walking around the park. Thankfully this wasn’t the case, as his first two words were ‘ball’ and ‘cat’. Phew! It’s no real surprise for us because whenever we change his nappy he sits by the window in his nursery and can often see next door’s cat sitting on our fence. I would tell him it’s a cat and we’d both tap on the window to get it to turn and look at us. He loves doing it and it always makes him laugh, so much so, he’ll tap on the window even if the cat isn’t there. Also, he was bought a set of balls when he was younger and has played with them all the time. It’s been great seeing him progress from not being able to throw a ball, to throwing it backwards (accidentally) and finally bouncing it off walls and trying to catch it. Emphasis on the word ‘trying’! There was an immense feeling of pride that he’d mastered not only playing with a ball, but saying the word ‘ball’ too. Since then however, I’ve noticed he calls quite a lot of things ‘ball’. Not just other round things, but pretty much anything. So I follow him around saying things like, “that’s not a ball, that’s a remote control” and “that’s not a ball, it’s auntie Rachel”.
Clearly he’s at a relatively early stage when it comes to talking, so we still have times where we’ll hear a high pitched scream and he’s standing in the kitchen pointing to the place we keep the biscuits. It doesn’t take a genius to work out what he’s saying and he knows exactly how to get our attention. Sufficed to say, he’s learning a valuable lesson about ‘I want, doesn’t get’ as I draw his attention away with the mini football and he immediately forgets about the snacks.
Another thing I noticed him doing is shrugging and I have no idea where he picked it up from. I’m pretty sure I don’t shrug, nor does Angellica, in fact does anyone actually ever shrug their shoulders? He isn’t just shrugging his shoulders either; he turns both hands palms up as he does it. It’s really funny to watch and I often ask him a question just so I can get him to do it. The one question that guarantees an animated shrug gesture is, “where’s your ball?”
There are lots more words for Elijah to learn in his favourite baby books
That’s just about it for this month. I’m now going upstairs to help Angellica who is busy ‘nesting’. Yes, there have been a lot of preparations in the Underwood household over the last few weeks, as we get ready for the imminent arrival of baby number two. Depending on when he or she decides to turn up, I’ll be writing about what happens in next month’s blog post. The scariest thing is I’ve only just got to grips having one baby, so I have no idea what’s going to happen with two. One thing’s for sure, Angellica and I are going to be the busiest we’ve ever been in our entire lives. There’ll be more nappy changing, more bottle sterilising and less sleep…again! There’s no turning back now!
Vicki Psarias is a key blogger and founder of Honest Mum, as well as an award-winning filmmaker and mother of two. Vicki is taking part in our Urbo campaign alongside Edith Bowman, Charlie Condou and Cherry Healy, giving us an account of life as a working parent and her views on celebrating modern parenting.
Vicki Psarias; blogger, filmmaker and mother of two
“I have to say I adore what the Urbo symbolises-that parenting is an extension of our current lifestyle and that’s what motherhood feels to me. I’m still the same Vicki as I was before having kids, slightly older, a *cough little more tired but head over heels happier than I’ve ever been having these beautiful babies in my life. Kids don’t have to mean a personality or lifestyle transplant. I often take Alexander to meetings with me. I’m proud to be a mother. We live in a modern world (thankfully) so the industry (and I work in a male dominated one-film and TV) need to acknowledge and accept this. They are part of who I am. I won’t hide my kids away or pretend I don’t have responsibilities. I have commitments but I haven’t lost my voice or vision, dedication or ability to get the job done like the professional that I am just because my womb has been put to use for 9 months, twice. *high fives my cervix.
My directing twitter profile is rather telling: ‘writer/director/mother/ blogger in simultaneous order’ because that’s my life. I’m lucky that I have an incredibly strong support system so my family, Mum, Dad and husband help with my childcare when they can, along with nursery for my eldest and being freelance means I get the best of both worlds. I took a year’s maternity leave after having my first child Oliver, only getting back on set when he was 1 (after a move from London to Leeds to be close to my folks) but after the birth of Alexander, I felt so good, I gave a lecture about my film career at the Northern Film School when he was 3 weeks old. The 200 strong student- filled auditorium looked pretty shocked when I said I needed to get back to my newborn at the end of the seminar. I hope I inspired female students that day, that directing careers aren’t doomed by having children.
I started to return to writing and blogging commissions when Alexander was a few months old, while he slept in the day or I worked in the evenings here and there as my husband took the reigns. I was lucky to have the choice as to whether I wanted to return so quickly but I felt well physically and mentally, was sleeping (thank you chilled out baby) and was sure I wanted to keep writing and working, and being me as much as possible. I respect Stay at Home Mums and know first hand what a difficult but rewarding job that is; I feel my life flits from being just that to taking on freelance work here and there. I’m currently developing a TV series with a co writer and TV giant of a producer but again I work around my kids, they always come first. Writing is good like that. Looking at a blank screen trying to make the magic happen can commence at any time, day or night. Sometimes I joke to my husband that I’m on LA time…sometimes it works (nothing like a deadline to get you motivated) other days I feel like I’m spectacularly failing at everything-motherhood/ my career. It’s incredible to have that choice though, that choice to do what I love with all my heart while raising my family- that to me, makes me a better mother. My children have enhanced my work too, I prioritize the jobs I love and my children have even inspired my blogs honestmum.com and mummysgotstyle.com!
…Pregnant on set at 4 months old with my first child, a technician asked me if I was taking a risk having a baby as I’d just won some prestigious industry awards. I look at my two boys and know my answer every time. No. They are my biggest success of all.”
Images taken by Peter Broadbent
Images taken by Peter Broadbent
honestmum.com and mummysgotstyle.com
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This post appears as part of our How We Roll campaign, celebrating diversity and individualism that forms the makeup of the modern family, for whom parenting has simply become a positive extension of their current lifestyle.
As part of our Urbo ‘How we Roll’ campaign, BBC Radio 1 DJ and working mum Edith Bowman gives us a little snippet of what her life is like as a mum to two children and radio DJ!
BBC Radio 1 DJ and working mum of two Edith Bowman
I’ve always been pretty career driven, even before I had one. Determination is something I’ve always had in abundance. When I had my first child I was back at work 2 weeks after having a C-Section, presenting the television coverage of Glastonbury for the BBC. Looking back, my partner and I still say we wouldn’t do it any differently. I still remember halfway through a broadcast, feeling the tingle in the boobs and knowing that if I didn’t express within half an hour, Glastonbury would live up to its day job as a milk farm, live on TV!
Throwing to a Chemical Brothers performance on the Other Stage, I asked our producer Sally how long were we showing the Chemical brother set? “20 Minutes,” she replied. “I’ll be back in 15,” was my response. I trudged down the steep staircase from our treetop studio to a portacabin where I had my pump ready and waiting, right next to my minibar I’d bought specially for my milk. And that’s how we rolled.
I think I felt like I had a point to prove, to who, I am not entirely sure. I can be a young mum and work and still be relevant and do what I do. It’s what makes me who I am after all. Looking back now as I feed my newborn the only person I had anything to prove the point to was myself, and even I wasn’t paying much attention – I didn’t have the time!
Even though I did go back to doing my radio shows on BBC6 Music and Radio1 four weeks after having my second, I do feel differently about work now. I don’t have a point to prove and if I didn’t have to I probably wouldn’t work as much as I do. Who wouldn’t?
It’s quite strange how different you feel second time around with so many things. The sleep deprivation is more bearable, there is less worry and paranoia around most things. But one thing that I’m sure all mums and dads out there who work can relate to, is that however much you or other people tell you, you can’t totally remove the guilt of leaving them with someone else. We have the best nanny, we really couldn’t ask for more she is like a member of the family and I trust her with the lives of our children unquestionably. However, there is still that niggle that you are doing something wrong and you shouldn’t be working but spending every waking minute with your children. Why is that? I couldn’t love or be more attentive to my boys. I think they benefit from me working and doing what I love. In the same way I love hearing about what Rudy has been up to at nursery, he is fascinated by my work and the music and we love nothing more than watching films together and talking about it all. I hope I can continue to involve the kids in my work as much as possible. Since Rudy was 2 weeks old we introduced him to our world with his first trip to Glastonbury and he seems to love it and who could question that!
Edith presents BBC Radio 1′s Review Show Tuesday’s 9pm, BBC Radio 6 Music’s Saturday morning show 10am-1pm and, from 26th May, Bump Club on BBC Radio 5 Live Sundays 11am.
Having a baby can be an exhausting time! We carry, feed and nurture another living being for 9, or even 10, months. Then we go through labour to deliver our mini-me. You just have to pick up a copy of a pregnancy magazine or look at one of the many baby-focused forums to find long and comprehensive lists of what to buy for baby, what to eat during pregnancy and what to pack for labour. For me, ‘Don’t forget the snacks’ is always a top priority!
Once the baby is safe and well, we are often discharged without a clue how to care for them, or perhaps that was just in my case! We muddle through though and our babies thrive. We can focus so much on the baby that we forget about ourselves. Often I have heard “I had to make cups of tea for visitors all day long” or “my family decided to come and stay just after I had the baby… and didn’t even lift a finger… or tried their best to help but were more a hindrance”. It’s important to remember that those first few weeks with baby are important for you both and it is best to set limits on visitors, even if they come with the best intentions!
I believe the first few days are a crucial bonding time for the parent/s, and possibly siblings, and their new baby. The next few weeks are then crucial for the mother to recover; to restore her hormonal balance, regain her sense of physical self and let go of any emotional anxiety from pregnancy. Everyone is different and some people genuinely do ‘bounce back’ but most women need to take time out and focus on the most important things – their baby and themselves.
The baby is often the easier part (go with me on this!). If they are hungry, they cry. If they are uncomfortable, they cry. Babies’ cries are designed to get to us, to make us react and respond. So we do, rightly so. Babies and children instinctively know what they need and how to make themselves heard. We as adults, especially women, aren’t quite as responsive to our own needs! We tend to nurture other people before ourselves.
Foods for recovery post labour:
• Oats. If there is just one food I recommend it is oats. They contain mucilaginous fibre to gently get the digestive system moving again. They are also known as an anxiolytic, which is essentially a naturally antidepressant food so great for your mood. If you are breastfeeding oats are, in my personal and clinical experience, the single most important nutritional source for increasing and maintaining milk supply. It is thought that the beta glucans in oats can increase milk supply and reduce cholesterol.
• Colour. Increase your intake of colour in the form of fruits and vegetables. Colour is formed by nutrients so if you eat a lot of colour you are getting a good basic broad spectrum of nutrients.
• Water. Good quality clean water, filtered or bottled if possible. We lose on average 500ml blood during labour, which doesn’t sound a lot but remember half of this is water. Blood donation guidelines recommend waiting 16 weeks between donations due to the time it takes to replenish haemoglobin and fluid, so maintaining your water intake at this time is essential. Ironically, fluid loss can cause fluid retention; it can also reduce fluid retention by flushing out the system.
• Minerals. Many ladies lose hair after pregnancy. While some degree of loss is perfectly normal, so don’t panic, mineral loss is unfortunately very normal too. The baby we nurtured and fed thankfully took everything they needed but this can deplete our vitamin and mineral stores. The most important minerals to replenish are Iron and Magnesium. Natural sources of Iron are red meat and black lentils. Alternatively, Spatone make a good natural supplement that doesn’t cause constipation like the inorganic prescribed ones do.
• Vitamins. As with minerals, we lose vitamin stores to the baby. Eating a varied diet can help but unless all our fruit and veg are organic and locally grown a supplement is often needed.
• Herbal tea. Green tea (only 1 cup a day if breastfeeding) is high in antioxidants. Camomile tea is great for calming mum and baby (if you have chosen to breastfeed).
• Keep it simple. Most babies are unsettled from 5pm to 9pm or thereabouts. You aren’t going to get a gourmet meal cooked in that time. Either accept help (this is when relatives or friends being close by comes in handy) or plan simple meals. Batch cook a warming vegetable soup for the first few days, then once your body settles down a little cottage pie, lasagne or casserole are good meals. Salads or steamed vegetables with a piece of meat were the staple in my house post baby. They’re especially good if you have a partner who is useful with a BBQ! There is a theory that meat is difficult to digest for the first 4 weeks post labour so I recommend keeping it minimal, just a small amount if you do have it and just a couple of times a week.
• Vegetarian. Vegetarian meals are ideal after labour.
• Comfort foods. Denying yourself sweet, stodgy comfort foods is difficult and rarely effective! Eat some of your favourite foods but try to plan when you eat them and how much you eat. Setting aside a serving of your particular comfort food helps you to feel in control, as you know you have a treat and you know when you are going to have it.
• Nourishing foods. I recommend a recipe of what I have named ‘medicine soup’. You can find it here. This soup will nourish the body and soul, is warming, rehydrating and full of minerals.
Is there anything food related that worked well for you post labour? Let us know your favourite new mum meals. Please share this article if you like it!
Emma Nutrition MSc is a Nutritionist based in Essex who has experience working with many companies and currently writes articles while on maternity leave.
She can be contacted at: www.emmanutrition.com www.facebook.com/emmanutrition.com www.twitter.com/emmanutrition.com www.pinterest.com/emmanutrition
I’ve come to the conclusion this month that my son eats better than I do! I’m not talking about his food consuming technique (although he does chew properly), but about the quality of food we’re giving him. There’s an impressive selection of organic this and low salt that, alongside freshly squeezed juices, freshly baked bread and a range of homemade (horse meat free) meals. Don’t get me wrong, there are times when we just have to stick fish fingers in the oven or open up a can of tinned spaghetti, but on the whole he is totally spoilt when it comes to meal choices.
Fortunately, he has a great appetite and isn’t particularly fussy about what he’s given, so it does mean we can be a bit more adventurous when it comes to what we cook. This is particularly good because it keeps things interesting for him and us. Olives, avocado and trout are all on his favourites list, which I think is unusual, but maybe that says more about my own tastes rather than my son’s. He eats three times a day without fail with a healthy snack between meals too! I may have to start calling him Prince Elijah as he’s clearly living life like royalty!
The simple truth is though; I just need to get over it! All that’s happening is we’re feeding him like we should all be feeding ourselves. However, we will always go that extra mile for our children to make sure their first years on the planet are the best they can be. Whether that’s what they’re doing, where they’re going or what they’re eating. I have no doubt as he gets older and more independent, he’ll probably want a bowl of sugary, crunchy cereal instead of homemade porridge with fruit compote and that’ll be his choice to make…when he’s eighteen…or living in his own house!
Sticking to the subject of eating, there’s been a noticeable change in the times Elijah has his meals. This has been due to a number of factors including the times he wakes up, how long his naps are during the day and the time we begin his bedtime routine. Up until his first birthday, his average routine went something like this:
• 5.30am – wake up
• 7am – breakfast
• 9am – snack
• 10am – nap
• 10.45am – wake up
• 11.30am – lunch
• 1.30pm – snack
• 2pm – nap
• 3pm – wake up
• 5pm – dinner
• 6pm – bedtime routine begins
• 6.30pm – bed
Michael's chicken burger
This has worked well, although he was still waking up in the middle of the night and we’d have to give him some milk. He’d go straight to sleep afterwards, but we were keen for him to sleep through the night, so we could stop this extra milk feed. We also wanted him to have his lunch a bit later, so there wasn’t such a big gap between lunch and dinner. Things only really began to change as he got steadier on his feet running around the place. He was obviously using a lot more energy and you could see he was tiring himself out. We think this might be part of the reason his schedule began to change. This is how it looks now:
• 7am – wake up
• 7.30am – breakfast
• 10am – snack
• 10.30am – nap
• 12pm – wake up
• 12.30pm – lunch
• 2.30pm – snack
• 3pm – nap
• 4.30pm – wake up
• 5.30pm – dinner
• 6.30pm – bedtime routine begins
• 7pm – bed
It may have taken just over a year, but this routine is perfect and works well for a number of reasons. Firstly, it means we can now all eat at the same time, which he definitely prefers. Of course, he’ll also try and eat what we’re eating, but to be fair he does have his father’s appetite! He also sleeps for a full twelve hours which has a huge impact on Angellica and I, as we get to enjoy an evening together and still get a good night’s sleep!
Before I finish this month’s blog I wanted to apologise to the team working at the new Mamas & Papas store at the Trinity Centre in Leeds. Last week, Angellica and I joined Sarah Cawood to help open it and we met loads of great people on the day, including professional bloggers, shoppers and of course Luisa Scacchetti and her daughters who own the family run business. Anyway, the reason I’m apologising is because when we arrived there was a brand new sparkling store with beautifully arranged displays. However, by the time we left Elijah had managed to nearly trash the entire place, as well as leaving a trail of half eaten rice cakes and breadstick crumbs over the floor! Oh well, I suppose it’s good preparation for what lies ahead for the team now the store is officially open.
Mamas & Papas new flagship store in Leeds Trinity
I hope you and your family had a fantastic Easter weekend and I’ll see you back here next month.