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Going out, staying in - shadows of echoes of memories of songs
Going out, staying in
We're long overdue a proper update here, aren't we?

Img and I have been getting out and about a lot more over the last couple of months -- it all got much easier once the breastfeeding got to the stage that I could feed her in public without too much struggle/pain and didn't need to carry bottles around for 'top-ups' (I was always too ashamed to bottle-feed her in public anyway for fear of getting lectures from militant lactivists which would have made me either punch them or burst into tears -- or more likely both). We still haven't done anything complicated like going on trains (yes yes, I know, most people have happily gone on round-the-world cruises by this stage) but we've done lots of buses and tons of walking. My knees are somewhat knackered from sitting for hours in uncomfortable positions (see above re difficulties with feeding) but fortunately this only seems to affect bending (stairs & kneeling are still really painful) rather than walking. I doubt if I'm going to be going running again any time soon though, sadly.

I'm not going to the breastfeeding-support groups as often any more (though the Baby Cafés are very welcoming so I do still go occasionally, especially the one at Rose Hill children's centre which doubles as a general play/chat session) so I've had to find some other things to do instead to get through the days without going mad: we go to baby singing group (also at Rose Hill) on Mondays, which is nice (who knew there were so many verses of "Row, row, row your boat"?) and we've started going to Donnington Doorstep (our nearest children's centre, which is practically actually on our doorstep, less than 5 minutes' walk away) a bit more for their general drop-in play sessions (& delicious lunches). A couple of weeks ago I met another mum H and her baby T who were there for the first time, the Doorstep staff got her talking to me so that she'd have someone to chat to, and we seemed to get on fairly well so we've agreed to meet there on Tuesday mornings as a regular thing.

Having Img with me has made me have to be a lot more sociable -- loads of people stop us in the street to tell me what a cute baby she is (why thank you! I think so too) and how adorable her strawberry hat is (can't argue with that), and I've even exchanged numbers/email addresses with people I've met on buses. Admittedly I sometimes wonder what on earth happened to my old misanthropic self -- OK, actually, she's still there, but she mostly stays hidden until strangers start recommending homeopathic teething treatments, sigh -- but I don't mind the "new me" that much. I've also been seeing more of our neighbours because I've been at home a lot more -- I finally learned the names of the nice guys next door, and I've been chatting to R a few doors along who also has a baby (she is, um, making some very different choices from me about how to bring up a baby, and doesn't have as many choices in some other areas -- which, at the risk of treating her as some kind of cultural tourist attraction, is useful for a sense of perspective), and I've chatted a bit more to the nice chap A who lives a couple of houses away (he works from home so he's around a lot in the day as well). He gave us a bagful of quinces from his tree so I gave him our spare apples in return as we'd more or less reached our limits for making crumble (my mum is making jam from the quinces now so hopefully I'll be able to give him a pot of jam too!). It sounds cheesy but I feel a lot more part of the community now that I'm chatting to people and recognising people -- it's a friendly area with lots to do and I quite like having time to enjoy it rather than always just dashing to or from it on the way to/from work.

As well as going out with Img I've managed to go out on my own a handful of times -- I try to ride my bike to the shops at the weekend while Owen looks after Img; I managed to go to a colleague's leaving drinks for half an hour (which felt like the most efficient party ever! -- one glass of bubbly, quick chat to all the interesting people, then run away); I've gone to two School Governors meetings (having missed several in the early days of babywrangling); I've sung in the choir at Choral Evensong at Bartlemas Chapel (Img slept through it in Owen's sling) and I've sung in the choir for a friend's wedding (Img didn't sleep through that one, so Owen had to take her out). I've even managed to join a proper choir (it has slightly earlier rehearsals than the excellent choir that I used to be in, so it's just about manageable with baby bedtime) -- it's very relaxed & you only pay per rehearsal that you attend, so I won't feel so pressured to go if there are weeks when it's all getting a bit much.

On the other hand, our getting better at going out has unfortunately coincided with the point where work stop paying me (can't complain, the maternity benefits are very generous), i.e. I go down to statutory maternity pay only (after Christmas I go down to No Pay At All, chiz chiz) so I'm having to be a bit more careful about how much I spend when I'm out and about (not before time you might say). My major weakness is buying baby clothes from charity shops -- none of them are terribly expensive but it all adds up and we probably don't need any more! Just as I like buying small things more often, though, I'm also enjoying trying to find small savings all over the place -- e.g. making my bus journeys go further by buying a 24hr dayrider in the afternoon so I can catch the bus somewhere (usually town or Headington) two days running; checking the supermarkets' reduced sections more often for cheap food -- that sort of thing. (Yes, I'm aware that it's a luxury to be able to see this as a challenge rather than a grim day-to-day struggle against abject poverty.)

In general state-of-the-baby news, Img is still not really mobile yet (she can roll, but doesn't do it that often) but is doing much more babbling and laughing. She's not sleeping very well at the moment (I thought it was getting better a couple of months ago, but now she's back to waking every couple of hours... ughh) but it's more bearable now we've given up on fighting to get her into a cot & are just letting her sleep with us -- she doesn't stay asleep any longer but she goes to sleep more happily and I don't have to go as far to pick her up when she wakes. The big development recently though has been SOLID FOOD -- we started at the beginning of the month (we're doing baby-led weaning) and she is clearly really enjoying her food. Also, it's such a relief not having to try to distract/entertain her with something different while we eat -- we actually get to eat our own food much more now that she's sharing the meal with us. Don't worry, I'm not going to list every food she's eaten, that's what the BLW forum is for; but she definitely loves mango and baked potato (not at the same time... though now I think about it, that could be quite nice) and seems to be able to eat a surprising amount for a tiny baby!

No further progress on the cycling issue I'm afraid (though many thanks to the people who gave constructive advice). I still want to come to Cambridge and investigate Dutch bikes in Hope Street Yard (as well as seeing all the Cambridge friends we haven't seen for ages!), but getting to Cambridge is awkward & we haven't made any concrete plans yet.

This post has been sitting around unfinished & unposted for a couple of days because on Friday night Img came down with a fever and a mystery rash -- after a struggle with rash-identification over the phone to NHS Direct yesterday (I wish they had skype so we could just show them the rash!) we ended up going to the out-of-hours doctor, who established that some bits of the rash were "non-blanching" (i.e. they don't fade when you press them...) & sent us to the hospital to get her checked out. Spent a miserable afternoon waiting around with an extremely grouchy slightly-feverish scratchy baby who does not like being examined, didn't get any lunch till about 6pm, finally they decided that it was probably "just a virus" & sent us home. Of course this is only the first of many illness-panics -- I hate being seen as the paranoid first-time-mum who runs to the doctor with every little thing, but I also have to admit that I just don't know enough about what's likely to be serious & what isn't, & I'd rather get things checked out if possible. I sometimes wonder if I'll ever feel unworried again. :-/ She is worth the worry though!

Phew, sorry for rambling on at such length. Apologies in advance if I'm slow to reply to comments -- it's rare that I get both hands free to type, & commenting via the iPhone LJ app involves clumsy one-finger-stabby-stabby typing, so I am a bit rubbish at commenting. (I'm also a bit rubbish at reading other people's journals, sorry. Feel free to use the comments here to tell me things about you that you think I should know & might have missed.)

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livredor From: livredor Date: October 23rd, 2011 03:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
Good to hear from you, and I'm impressed that you're managing to combine baby-wrangling with getting more connected with your neighbours and community! How do you pronounce the abbreviated name Img?
j4 From: j4 Date: October 23rd, 2011 05:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's hard not to get a bit more connected while baby-wrangling, as I end up walking around so much in an effort to keep her entertained/quiet/happy!

I don't really pronounce "Img", it's writing-only - I think of it as the <img> tag. 8-) When speaking we tend to abbreviate to "Imi" or "Imo" (not "Mojo" as one friend suggested!).
simont From: simont Date: October 23rd, 2011 08:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ah, so you'll be getting her a T-shirt with <img> on the front and </img> on the back? :-)
j4 From: j4 Date: October 24th, 2011 06:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
:) I keep meaning to get some plain white babygros on which to deploy my fabric pens... (I was going to do a "hello world" for her when she was tiny but it feels a bit late now!)
geekette8 From: geekette8 Date: October 23rd, 2011 03:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hello! Nice to hear how well everything seems to be going. I can't believe she's over 6 months already - if you'd asked me, I'd have guessed at 2 months or so! Time flies.

I do hope the fevery rashy thing clears up quickly.

You might have missed in my LJ that I shall be joining you in the nappies-and-breastfeeding stages again in January. It feels like a long time since those things were previously personally relevant to me :-)
j4 From: j4 Date: October 23rd, 2011 05:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
I had missed your news, yes, sorry -- congratulations & good luck with everything! :)

Time has simultaneously flown (I can't believe she's over 6 months already) and dragged (it's definitely been the longest 6 months of my life). Weird.
julietk From: julietk Date: October 23rd, 2011 04:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
Good to hear how things are going! And getting out more sounds good, too. I'm guessing that London is even more awkward to get to than Cambridge, or I would recommend Velorution on Great Portland St as another Dutch bike option. d & I were there the other day looking at Christianias (executive summary: awesome, v easy to steer first time despite being a trike, & would solve all of our kid-transporting issues* in one fell swoop; very expensive though :-/ ).

My oddson L (at about the same age & also doing baby-led weaning) seems to eat a surprisingly large amount at a sitting, as well. It does seem a highly messy business, but then I gather that most forms of getting solids into babies are pretty messy, so...

* In case you missed this (can't remember ...): uon & I are due to become parents in March, all being well.
j4 From: j4 Date: October 23rd, 2011 05:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
I did know you were expecting (sorry if I haven't said congrats yet!) - hope everything is going well so far! :)

London is actually easier to get to by public transport than Cambridge! And Gt Portland St is quite easy from Paddington. Hmm. That might be a possibility actually - thanks for the tip. I do have lots of other reasons to go to Cambridge but it might be more sensible not to try to do everything in one trip. :-}

BLW is quite messy but from what I've seen of people doing spoon-feeding purees that's even more messy! And at least with BLW the spillage tends to be discrete pieces of food which can be picked up, rather than splurgey mess.
jvvw From: jvvw Date: October 24th, 2011 06:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
BLW mess is generally solid and on the floor/on bibs whereas puree mess is liquid and on baby. Any amount of mess on the floor is easier to clean than even a tiny amount of mess on the baby. I think at the stage before babies want to spoonfeed themselves (which was as soon as we started for us but later for most babies it seems) puree feeding is much easier to do if you go out without making lots of mess on cafe/restaurant floors though.

I have got much better at dealing with the mess I think and have a pretty efficient system in operation so hardly notice it now, although Owen is a lot tidier generally than he was at the start but he now flings food regularly which misses the mat and wants to load his yoghurt spoon rather than letting me do it and then hand it to him.

I also found that the fact that I could eat breakfast and lunch at the same as Owen was one of the major pluses of baby led weaning. I've been meaning to write up our experience of blw and post it on my website, must do that.
julietk From: julietk Date: November 5th, 2011 10:18 am (UTC) (Link)
Yep, all going smoothly (keep intending to make another post but this has been WEEK OF DEADLINES argh).

I actually wound up writing about cargo bikes for someone's blog this week, should you be interested in my deathless thoughts ekt ekt. Decided this week to go ahead with the Christiania (though not ordering till New Year b/c blah blah new kitchen all belongings back into garage YET AGAIN) so need to rearrange all the garage shelving to make a space for it. (But it will be so very shiny!)
j4 From: j4 Date: November 6th, 2011 10:05 am (UTC) (Link)
Thank you for this -- really helpful! Thank you for the emailed advice from yr cycling colleague too (just realised I never replied -- I fail at email, sorry) -- it was useful but I got very confused by all the stuff about quill-heads and A-stems...

I definitely want to try out a Christiania-style bike -- just trying to work out when I can get to Velorution with Owen (I'll need someone to hold Img while I try things) given that weekends are rapidly getting booked up & he can't take holiday in termtime chiz chiz.

Are you going for a trike or a two-wheeler? I have never really ridden a trike (the one off eBay that I tried was terrifying!) so my instinct would be to go for the two-wheeler -- but hadn't thought of the problem of keeping it upright when stopping at lights etc.

BTW, how likely would Velorution be to have boxbikes in a size small enough for me to ride (I am only 5'1")? Would it be better to ask them in advance? (Would then feel v guilty if I didn't actually buy anything though!)
julietk From: julietk Date: November 6th, 2011 12:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
I got very confused by all the stuff about quill-heads and A-stems

sorry for being confusing! They're just different ways of doing the handlebars/wheel attachment (quills being older-skool than A-headset); can explain further if it would be helpful but will refrain in case it wouldn't :)

If you would be happy with a non-parent holding Imogen while you try stuff do let me know -- would be happy to come across & meet you there! Although I guess Owen might want to try bikes too.

Rather to my surprise, I found the trike much easier to steer than the two-wheeler. Having ridden a trike before & had a similarly terrifying experience, I was expecting to find it really tough, but for some reason it was actually pretty intuitive. (doop found it so as well, so not just me.) I *think* partly because the bars don't look like handlebars (more like a pram handle), and the box swings with them -- so you feel more like you're driving a pram or a BIG BOX around a corner & just happen to be sitting down & pedalling behind it. If you see what I mean? I think perhaps it looked different enough not to trigger my automatic 'bike' reflex.

The two-wheeler was actually harder to steer (because the wheel is *so far* out ahead of you, so the turning activity is happening about a metre up front). And yeah, the keeping-upright-while-stopped is a big minus point for me because one of the things I'm concerned about with all of this is buggering up my hips/knees AGAIN.

which is to say: we're getting a trike, contrary to my expectation when we went along.

Sizing: they don't come in different sizes; I think the theory is that the design makes it possible to adjust over a wideish range. Having said that, this review suggests that there is a lower height point & recommends trying it out at your sort of height. FWIW, Velorution were v helpful to us when we tried things out (we were clear that we were only considering our options, had no intention of buying on the spot, & might not buy at all!) so I'm sure they'd be happy to give you a hand. Or to advise over the phone whether they think you'd be able to get the seat low enough for you? I'm not sure if there are other box-bike options for shorter folk or if e.g. Bakfiets are easier to get lower on...

waffle waffle BIKES waffle :)
j4 From: j4 Date: November 7th, 2011 07:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
This is all really helpful - thank you!

I would be absolutely happy with a non-parent holding Img, but she isn't very happy with it at the moment -- I think she's going through a separation-anxiety phase, anyway whatever the reason she currently tends to howl like a banshee when anybody except me or Owen (& sometimes even Owen too) holds her. :-( So it might not be much fun for any of us! Also, yes, Owen would want to try bikes too (though he admits he's generally less keen on the idea of a boxbike than me) so I think it'd have to be a day we could both come down to London.

However it'd be good to meet up with you too if possible -- not just for bike advice but also to say hello! :-) Looks like the next Saturday we'd be able to make it to London is Nov 26th -- are you likely to be around then? No probs if not, but if you're not busy then maybe we could meet up? (We can take this to email if you want! gmail better than chiark at the moment though - same username.)
lnr From: lnr Date: October 23rd, 2011 05:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
Lovely to hear what you're up to and how you're all doing.

I don't think I have much news: holidays, family weddings and new bikes is as exciting as it gets round here. I do have a new (3-months old) niece though :)
j4 From: j4 Date: October 23rd, 2011 05:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
Congrats on the new niece! Your other not-much-news sounds like it's all good anyway - hope you & M are happy & well. :)
emperor From: emperor Date: October 23rd, 2011 06:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
Good to hear from you :-)
j4 From: j4 Date: October 24th, 2011 06:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thank you! :) Hope you are having fun whatever you're up to these days... (Do you still come to Oxford for Tolkeiny things, BTW?)
emperor From: emperor Date: October 24th, 2011 08:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm no longer a trustee, and the committedium no longer meets in Oxford, which only leaves the annual Oxonmoot...which I keep missing :-s
fivemack From: fivemack Date: October 23rd, 2011 06:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
Great to hear from you. I'll be in Oxford at a loose end in the morning on Saturday 12 November; would it be a hideous imposition were I to come round for tea? I can bring tea.
j4 From: j4 Date: October 24th, 2011 06:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
It would not be a hideous imposition, it would be lovely to see you! (Owen says "Wonderful!") We usually have tea & might even be able to supply biscuits. :) I have written you down on the calendar!

BTW do you know where we are? Email/facebook/DM/whatever me & prod me for an address etc if not. Could probably meet you in town if you prefer.
ghoti From: ghoti Date: October 23rd, 2011 10:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's always good to hear from you.
Is the Rose Hill playpark a good one? I figured it probably was as it's signed from the. main road, but haven't gone and looked yet.

We decided not to do BLW, then at 6 months J grabbed a piece of asparagus off my plate and we didn't look back. She still likes 'sparag' (and Jon(who was respondible)'s cooking).
j4 From: j4 Date: October 24th, 2011 06:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
The children's centre at Rose Hill is good - dunno about the playground as we're more about the indoor play-mat stuff at this stage. :)

Do give me a shout if you find yourself in Oxford with time to spare! Have you got my number/address/etc? Poke me via email/Fb/DM/etc if not (& if you want them, obv!).
ghoti From: ghoti Date: October 25th, 2011 02:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
That would be lovely. I don't expect to be in Oxford before the baby's born though.
venta From: venta Date: October 24th, 2011 09:38 am (UTC) (Link)
I don't think that was all that long or all that rambly :) It's nice to hear what's going on with you and Img. Also nice to know I can stop feeling guilty for reading the name as <img>!

I'm still overawed with impressedness that anyone would even consider taking on the massive project that is Having A Baby!
j4 From: j4 Date: October 24th, 2011 06:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
It doesn't feel like a massive project as such, just a sort of relentless ongoing worry-making thing. :-} I think the big difference between it and other "projects" is that a baby will grow up no matter whether you've managed to do all the things you think you ought to do (well, provided you keep feeding it). I am sure most of the things I plan to do will just be overtaken by events, & she'll still be basically OK. Doesn't stop me worrying though...
taimatsu From: taimatsu Date: October 24th, 2011 09:55 am (UTC) (Link)
It's lovely to hear from you and to know things are mostly ok :) I hope Imogen's rash etc. is better!
j4 From: j4 Date: October 24th, 2011 06:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hello! Her rash is fading & she seems generally better (though still a bit waily). :) I am sorry it's taken me so long to re-invite you over -- are you free next Sunday? Assuming we don't have any more PLAGUES OF BOILS etc before then, it'd be lovely to see you! Email us & let us know (and/or feel free to suggest other better dates)...
k425 From: k425 Date: October 27th, 2011 07:13 am (UTC) (Link)
I hardly met anyone in the village until I'd had YoungBloke, then I had baby clinic and parent and toddler group and the health visitor did some 'survive your new baby' classes and I got to meet a group of mums regularly and 8 years on the only ones I don't see are the ones who moved away. Otherwise all the babies are at school together and the parents keep in touch at the school gate. I still hardly know my actual neighbours though!

Img sounds great and you seem to be getting on okay. She will eventually either sleep through the night or stop needing you to help her settle when she's awake - I used to remind myself that YB wouldn't leave home still sleeping in our bed or breastfeeding.
brightybot From: brightybot Date: October 31st, 2011 03:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
Glad things are at least a bit better on the sleeping front. You might find that weaning means she wakes less often in the night, too. F has got a lot better at night lately, but as it's still very early days I don't know if it will last. Glad to hear you're managing to get to do some things just for you, too. Joining a choir still seems a long way off to me - but there is one in Charlbury I'd like to join eventually.
rysmiel From: rysmiel Date: November 2nd, 2011 04:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hey. *hug* This is just a quick comment to say work and other things are eating my head, but it is good to hear from you and that things are going basically well, and I will probably drop a line in a bit when the head-eating eases off some.
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