Archive for the ‘Babies’ Category
After seeing so many people in my Twitter feed talking about this book (French children don’t throw food) and asking me if what Pamela Druckerman says is true I had to read it myself to see.
In case you don’t read this blog often and want to know if I’m qualified to comment, here’s some quick background on me:
I am a Brit, married to a Frenchman and I have two half British/half French daughters, we spent the first 3.5 years of our eldest daughter’s life in France and have been in the UK for the last nearly 3 years. In total I lived in France for 13 years and I have lived in the UK for 24 years. I should also point out that I never lived as an expat in France; I have a degree in French, I am bilingual, the majority of my friends in France are French and I had a French boyfriend for 3 years before meeting my husband of 10 years (both of which came with a French family that I became part of).
So that out of the way, here are my thoughts/feelings on the book.
Whilst it is a very interesting read and sometimes has valid points, an awful lot of the book has no truth to it with regards to the majority of France and not a tiny minority in Paris.
I read it whilst on holiday in France last summer, and staying with various French friends who have small children. I loved seeing their faces when I read snippets of it to them – they varied from horror to amusement to utter disbelief.
The book has recently come out in France and has been highly criticised as it is so far from the truth. Interestingly it is entitled “Bébé Made in France”; just the English title made my French friends laugh, as they pointed to their own toddlers throwing food on the floor whilst we were talking.
France has a real problem with “Enfants Rois” (King Child) as Druckerman talks about in her book. But she doesn’t really go into detail about this phenomenon which is getting worse and worse. My MiL is a school doctor in the Avignon region and when I told her about this book she burst out laughing as she told me about the nastiness, aggression and lack of general respect that she gets from children as young as 3 years old pretty much every day, as parents are letting them get away with murder.
So what is true and what is false and what differences are there really?
- Children in France throw food. Children in the UK throw food. There are some children in both countries that don’t, but in general this is what small children do.
- Women in France have a lot more pressure on them to go back to being “a woman” very quickly. This includes everything from weight, to general appearance, to having a social life sans bébé to returning to work soon after giving birth. French maternity leave is 16 weeks and most mums return to work within 3-6 months of having a baby.
- As most women do go back to work soon after having a baby and as childcare is so affordable (with state help) in France, it means that most French children are raised on average 4-5 full days a week by a “nounou” (childminder) or in a crèche (like a UK nursery).
- French babies on average sleep in their own cot, in their own bedroom as soon as they come home from hospital (aged around 5 days). Co-sleeping is almost unheard of and definitely frowned upon. Some parents have babies in their room with them, but nowhere near as much as in the UK and not for as long.
- French parents shout at their children. At home. In the park. In the supermarket. I have heard the following being yelled at small children in public “tu me fais chier!” (you’re pissing me off!), “tu me gonfles!” (you’re doing my head in!) and “tu continues comme ça et je t’en colle une!” (carry on doing that and I’ll give you a smack/wallop you one!) Not exactly the picture that Druckerman paints in her book.
- Our eldest daughter is 6 going on 16 at the moment, as are most of her school friends in the UK, and the other mums and I are often talking about the attitude we get from them. On a recent holiday to France I had the exact same conversation with a French friend about her 6 year old daughter. It’s the same, people!
- School on the other hand is totally different. School in France is super strict, with children being shouted at regularly and kept in place by fear, with creativity shunned and learning done by rote (French children have to learn poetry and do dictations from a young age). I remember our nounou’s 6 year old daughter being terrified one day as she’d forgotten her ruler and would get in trouble for not having it. Her mum and her plotted that she would drive home and get it, the daughter would sneak to the toilet so the mum could get it to her without the teacher knowing. Wow, great lesson in life to teach kids: lying and deceit.
- School in the UK is more relaxed, creativity is encouraged and all the teachers that L has had so far (3 different ones) have managed to keep their classes of 30 children in line through being nice but firm. I have never heard any of them raise their voices to the children. I was recently on a school trip with L’s class and it’s amazing the respect and control that their teacher was able to command.
- Druckerman talks a lot about British parents being “helicopter” parents, but I have rarely witnessed this. I have seen as much helicopter parenting in France as in the UK and I think it depends on the type of person the parent is, rather than their nationality.
- French parents are more willing to leave their babies/children at a younger age and for a longer time than British parents. As an example I went back to work 4 full days a week in France when L was 3 months old, and when she was 2 years old Hubs and I went to the Dominican Republic for 2 weeks without her, leaving her with her nounou, who she called “Tata” (Auntie) as she was so like a member of the family. I have also just left C with Hubs for the weekend so I could have a girls’ weekend with my friends from uni – she turned 6 months on Sunday. (I am still breastfeeding so simply expressed whilst away and Hubs fed her bottles in my absence.)
- From experience I would say that the French are far more open to smacking (bottoms) than the British. I don’t know anyone in France who this shocks, yet a lot of my British parent friends would never do this and frown upon those who do it.
I don’t mean this to be an attack on either France or the UK. I love both countries, have great French and British friends (most of whom are parents these days), I think that both countries have pros and cons in their parenting styles, hence us raising our children the Franglais way (taking the bits of each culture that work for us). However at the end of the day babies are babies, children are children and some will be livelier/better or worse behaved than others, I’m not sure how much culture has to do with that, I’d say it’s much more down to the child’s and parents’ personalities than anything else.
One final thing to point out, this is based on my experience which is in the southeast of England and the French Riviera and Avignon area of France. Social class also plays a big part but I have friends from quite broad social classes, encompassing cleaners, bar-tenders, secretaries, teachers, computer programmers, lawyers, managers and business-owners.
So all in all I’d say you’re probably doing a good job with your kids, whether you’re British or French or any other nationality. It’s a war zone out there and if you can make it to the end of the day in one piece then you’re doing well. French or British or other – go and celebrate that with a glass of wine! Cheers!
If I can find the time (and energy) I might write my own book one of these days on my personal experiences of the differences in British vs French parenting, if you might be interested in hearing more then sign up for blog updates via RSS or email on the top right hand side of this page.
When L was a baby in France she would have 2 to 4 teeth coming through at a time, and she would scream for both France and England in the screaming Olympics when they did. This was a shock to the system as she was the most chilled baby apart from that. From the very first teething incident I was asked why I didn’t get her an amber necklace.
Amber necklaces are HUGE in France, and were recommended to me by paediatricians, childminders, mums, grandmas, neighbours, colleagues and pretty much anyone else capable of speaking. Hubs, who is a scientist, was convinced they are witchcraft and wizardry and have absolutely no effect on a baby’s ability to handle teething.
All I could think was “I’m not putting a necklace on my baby!”, the strangle risk just made this option a complete no-go for me. Then one day after about a week of no sleep and a screaming, howling baby pretty much 24/7, a friend suggested putting it on L as a bracelet or anklet. (The idea of it is that the amber rubs against the skin and relieves the pain of teething, so in theory its place on the body shouldn’t be an issue.)
Hubs stuck with his witchcraft and wizardry theory, but he wasn’t the one dealing with the night wakings most of the time. Once I’d assessed that it wasn’t dangerous I decided to give it a go.
I have no idea whether it was some kind of placebo or whether the amber actually does anything but within a week L stopped crying over her teeth, to the extent that her 4 molars came through at the same time without us even realising it.
Fast-forward a few years and C is 5 months old and beginning to dribble like a good’un and thrust her fist into her mouth incessantly. So I debated the amber miracle cure again, and she is now wearing a rather fetching amber bracelet, that makes Hubs roll his eyes.
The thing is I’m 6 years older this time round, and I just cannot handle the sleepless nights. So here’s hoping that by hook or by crook the old amber trick comes good for me again.
Have any of you used amber necklaces/bracelets for your babies’ teething? Did it work for you? Witchcraft and wizardry in your opinion? Or miracle cure?
Baby C is 5 months old today so I feel it’s time to finally share her birth story with the world. Warning: Long birth story containing too much information for those of a sensitive nature.
It took me less than an hour to give birth to C, according to my hospital notes, and it took us all a bit by surprise.
So let’s rewind a bit before I go into C’s birth story….My due date arrived and I turned up to the hospital with a baby tucked up in the warm still, I was examined, given a sweep and sent home. The midwife didn’t seem to think that the sweep would do much as I wasn’t looking overly ready to give birth.
That was the Friday morning. Friday came and went. Saturday came and went with no labour-like signs at all. Even the Braxton Hicks that I’d been having for about 4 weeks had disappeared. So Hubs and I decided that he would finally get to go and see Skyfall at the cinema on the Sunday with my brother (I’d been making them put it off for about 3 weeks as I kept thinking the baby was coming!), whilst L and I watched Madagascar 3 in another screen at the same cinema.
Just as we parted ways at the cinema I felt a very strange sensation, so popped to the toilet and discovered that what I thought had been a show in the last few days had been nothing, as this was a very clear show. I got to our screen and decided to text Hubs to warn him, but I knew if I texted “I’ve just had a show” he wouldn’t have a clue what I was talking about, so I texted “I’ve just lost my mucous plug”. The reply I got back was hilarious “What? In the cinema? Can you find it?”!! I’m not sure he had any idea what I was talking about. Once he realised what it was he freaked out a bit, but I reassured him that I had no other signs, so he could sit back and enjoy the 3 hours of his film!
Nothing happened during the film fortunately, and that evening I suggested we have curry and red wine to see if that might encourage anything to keep going/get properly started. I enjoyed them but didn’t feel that they’d done anything when I went to bed.
Around 2am I woke up with a contraction, but because that had happened so many times before with Braxton Hicks, I was annoyed rather than excited. I dozed until around 4am when I couldn’t sleep anymore as I was getting painful but irregular contractions. So I did what any other expectant mother would do, and I tweeted it to see if it could be labour. You’ve got to love Twitter, within 5 minutes (at 4am!) I got several replies from mums saying they’d had irregular contractions right up to their babies being born.
Right, time to take things seriously. I opened up my contractions app (loving the new technology since L’s birth in 2006) and started tracking them. 30 minutes apart. 12 minutes apart. 23 minutes apart. As my mum and dad were going to drive over for the birth (90 minutes’ drive into London) I sent my mum a text at 6am, “Morning! I’m having irregular but painful contractions and I’m having to control my breathing through them, it’s your call if you come now or not as you know more about this stuff than me.” Mum is a nurse, a trained midwife and has had 5 kids, while I had had one baby which I was induced for, so didn’t have a clue what “real” labour was like.
In less than a minute Mum called me, waking Hubs and confusing him as he hadn’t realised anything was going on. Whilst talking to Mum I had to stop talking to breathe through a contraction, at which point she said “I think we’ll get dressed and come up soon.”
Hubs was convinced it was a false alarm, as I’d already had Mum and Dad up for Braxton Hicks once before. We lay in bed until around 7.30am, trying to figure out if these were real contractions or more Braxton Hicks, at which point I got Hubs to get L up and ready for school while I had a bath to see if that made them go away or not.
When I got out of the bath the contractions were stronger, longer and every 10 minutes or so. I went downstairs in my dressing gown to have some breakfast and ended up eating peanut butter on toast whilst holding on to the table and rocking my hips to ease the pain. L must think this is normal behaviour as she didn’t bat an eyelid!
Around quarter to nine my parents arrived, and my contractions suddenly jumped to every 2 minutes. Mum took one look at me and sent me upstairs to get dressed while Hubs took L to school. At 9.05am we were in Dad’s (new) car on our way through London’s Monday morning rush hour traffic, with me mooing in the back and Mum fanning me and passing me water; Hubs was in the front cracking jokes while Dad kept looking anxiously at me in the rear view mirror, I’m not sure if he was more worried about my waters breaking/giving birth in his car or about the pain his daughter was in.
We pulled up outside the hospital at 9.30am and it took us until 9.46am (my official check-in time) to make it up to the maternity department and to get checked in. All I remember is stopping and starting my contractions app and holding onto walls in the hospital, hip-rocking and mooing. At this stage my contractions were coming thick and fast every minute.
It took the midwife 15 minutes to do an initial check of me as she kept having to stop when I had contractions. All I could think was “this baby is coming very soon, I must be about 8cm by now”. Can you imagine my disappointment when she told me I was just 4cm and that it would probably take another 4 hours or so?!?
I had been saying I wanted to give birth in the midwife-led suite with no drugs etc, but when I heard I was only 4cm I turned to my mum and said “there’s no way I’m carrying on like this, I’m going to need an epidural”, or something to that effect, probably with a few swear words thrown in for good measure!
Mum looked at me knowingly, nodding her head and saying “let’s just see”. She had warned me beforehand that the women in our family tend to do very quick births with labour being jumped through, but I couldn’t really compute that at the time.
Some time after 10am I was escorted into a delivery suite, I vaguely remember a midwife introducing herself but I think I had my eyes closed most of the time. I had bought a comfy new outfit to labour in, had brought hairbands to keep my hair out of my eyes etc but that all went out of the window as everything was so fast and furious.
I was leaning on the edge of the bed as I couldn’t face lying down at all, and all I could do was bark instructions at Hubs and Mum: “Water!”, “Fan!”, “Sick bag!” The most I managed to get out was to yell at the midwife “Get off my back” as she kept putting her hand on my lower back which was where the pain was.
I really felt like I wanted to push but all I could think was “you don’t push at 4cm, you’re crazy”. Finally I said to the room at large, “I need to push!” and the midwife warned Hubs that as I wasn’t on the bed he’d need to be prepared to catch the baby as it came out. The thought that flashed through my mind was “he’ll never manage that, he’ll let the poor thing crash to the floor on its head”.
Around this time the midwife asked if my waters had broken yet, and it was only then that I realised they hadn’t, so she told me I could push, and lo and behold, there went my waters, all over the floor in the delivery suite – taking Hubs a bit by surprise (Mum and the midwife seemed unfazed by this).
The midwife then decided she wanted to examine me and got me up on the bed, on my knees as there was no way I was lying on my back. Then I was given the green light to do what I needed to do, so I pushed like I’d never pushed before.
I was convinced when I had L, that even though I’d had an epidural, that I’d felt the pain of labour as I could feel when to push with the contractions. I can safely say that was a big, fat lie. I had no paracetamol or anything for C’s birth, in fact the gas and air arrived just as I started pushing and I ended up breathing through my nose and just clamping down on the tube in my mouth. I certainly felt this baby coming into the world! And was she ever ready to get here!
In 5 minutes of pushing (L came after 12 minutes of pushing) she arrived on the bed, but as I was knelt up against the back of the bed I couldn’t see anything, and no one said anything. My baby was here, but was it a boy or a girl? I asked “What is it?” and finally Hubs announced “It’s a girl”. And that’s when the (happy) tears came.
She had come out with the cord wrapped around her neck and was distressed (medical speak for there being meconium in the waters) so they kept an eye on us, but she was healthy and I was fine (apart from the minor case of second degree tearing of course!), and L had the baby sister she had wanted for so long.
So all in all my official labour on my hospital notes is 59 minutes, and I went from 4cm to fully dilated in less than half an hour, with 4cm to delivery in just a mere 45 minutes. Not bad work by 10.45am on a Monday morning!
I’m not sure my English birth could have been more different to my French birth (which you can read about here), but the most important thing in both cases was the safe delivery of my beautiful baby girls
This post is dedicated to my cool, calm and collected Dad for getting me to the hospital without freaking out, to my amazing Mum for being my other midwife (I loved having you there this time, Mum), and most of all to Hubs for being there and still wanting to be with me after seeing me in that state!
It was so worth it.
I don’t know about you but time just seems to be flying for me at the moment, which means it’s hard to find the time to tell the important people in our lives how we feel. So in honour of Mothers’ Day I have written a letter to my mum, to say all the things that I don’t take the time to say.
I suppose the main aim of this letter is to say thank you. I always knew you were a fab mum, when growing up you taught me “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again”, when you always encouraged me to be the best I can and to follow my dreams, when you listened to what was going on at my 15 and 16 year old parties without judging, when you let me have totally unsuitable boyfriends so I could figure out for myself what worked and what didn’t, when you took me to hospital (on your day off from being a nurse) to have my broken arm fixed after falling down some stairs drunk and you comforted me in my hungover and nil by mouth state, when you accepted with no reproach, criticism or negativity my decision to move to France even though it was hard on you, and so much more. But I really discovered quite how amazing a mum you are when I became one too.
In 2006 I gave birth to L, in a foreign country and in a foreign language. You had been staying with us for 2 weeks around my due date, but had to fly back home empty-handed when L refused to be born, only to fly back a few days later when she was finally born, for a 24 hour visit. That meant so much to me.
Over the last 6 years I have come to realise more and more what a great mum you were to us when we were younger, and what an amazing mum you still are to me now as I need you in a different way (not to mention what a fab grandma you are too!). I have two children who I love more than words can say, but who can also drive me crazy at times, but you, you had 5 children over a 10 year period and you didn’t even get to escape to work like I do. How did you do that and stay sane?!? I have no recollection of you attempting to kill us, but you must have wanted to so often!
You were, and still are, so selfless as a mum, far more than I have ever been with my own children, yet you have kept your own identity and although you are “Mum”, to me you will also always be a nurse, a bereavement counsellor, an NCT counsellor, someone who does yoga, plays badminton, squash, swims, reads and who instilled in me that I can be who I want to be, regardless of my gender.
Whilst I wouldn’t call you a feminist you taught me that gender has nothing to do with what is achievable in life, or who should play what roles, raising your sons and daughters identically whether it be regarding goals in life or chores around the house.
The most special moment in our relationship came in November last year when you were present at the birth of your 5th grandchild and my second child, not only were you helpful and knowledgeable (I suppose that having 5 children and being a nurse and trained midwife count for something in these situations!) but you were also a calming influence during this high speed labour! Thanks for bringing a fan to the hospital too – I didn’t realise I’d need one!
Thank you again for being the best mum anyone could hope for, if I manage to be even a quarter of the mum you are to my daughters then I will be happy.
Happy Mothers’ Day!
Lots of love,
We’ve recently got back from our first family ski holiday to the French Alps. Hubs learnt to ski when he was 3 and was doing competition skiing by the age of 10. He is a God on skis. End of. I, on the other hand, “learnt” to ski in my early twenties after moving to France (where EVERYONE seems to ski), a good 15 years later I still look like Bambi, in slow motion, as I attempt to come down the slopes.
Despite that fact, for the last 3 years I have been saying we should have a family ski holiday so L can learn to ski while she’s young enough to not have The Fear. Finally 2013 is that year. L is now 6 and I’m glad to say we haven’t left it too late.
Our week was amazing with Hubs and L bonding on the slopes every afternoon, just the two of them, doing something they’re both passionate about. While they were doing that I was chilling with C and doing baby things, but also reading and doing a bit of writing for this poorly abandoned blog while she slept.
This is the summary of our first family ski holiday:
- L learnt to ski, has no fear, loves it and skis like a little champion. Proud mummy moment.
- C learnt to roll over from her tummy to her back. Not quite so momentous, but equally exciting and proud mummy moment. (Also scared mummy moment as that means we’re getting closer to a mobile baby and I can still remember the absolute joy of that from when L was little!)
- I ate my body weight in cheese and charcuterie, but surely that’ll all be burnt off by breast-feeding, non?
- Hubs totally chilled out, switched off from work, skied about 1000 miles and spent the whole week bursting with pride over his daughters’ accomplishments.
- L also caught us out on the second night by pulling a tooth out that was only starting to wobble, leaving it on the bedside table and not telling us as she wanted to surprise us with a coin from the tooth fairy (La Petite Souris in France) in the morning. Eek! Cue some quick thinking from Mummy in the morning when the tooth had not been taken and the coin had not appeared.
- We also used these holidays to work on L’s French; her ski lessons were in French, we only spoke in French and met up with various French friends. We also decided to do some French reading with her, now that she’s pretty solid with her English reading. We were playing a game and she had to pronounce the French word “lapin” (rabbit), however she pronounced it “la pine” which means “dick” in French. On seeing her parents in uncontrolled fits of laughter she decided to shout this louder and louder. In France. Where everyone could understand her. Ah the joys of bilingual children! (We didn’t tell her what it meant.)
It was a ridiculously expensive holiday and may mean we have no other holidays this year, but I don’t regret it one bit, as it was an absolutely fab family break, even if my 6 year old now puts me to shame on the slopes. At least I can roll over better than my 3 month old!
Wow! I haven’t blogged in ages. Since just before going from being pregnant to a mummy of 2! So hopefully I can be excused for being lax on the blog as I’ve been too busy being a mummy to my two wonderful children.
For those of you who don’t follow me on Facebook or Twitter, I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl on Monday 12th November. This time round it was an all natural – and incredibly fast – birth, and C was born at 10.45am, weighing 3.2kg /7lb (more on the birth story to come in a later post).
Hubs, L and I couldn’t be happier – L in particular as she was desperate to have a baby sister.
Hubs with C when she was about 5 hours old.
L with C when she was about 7 hours old.
Me with C when she was about 7 hours old.
L will be 6 years old in December and with the imminent arrival of her baby brother or sister have come various questions about where babies come from and, what she is more fascinated with, how they come out of mummies’ tummies.
The first time she asked me about how they come out of their mummy’s tummies I was completely caught off guard, I hesitated for a milli-second, wondering if I should go with the “zip on mummy’s tummy” theory, but decided I couldn’t carry it off believably; I did also wonder at what stage you then tell them the truth. So I simply said “babies come out of their mummy’s foufoune (this is the French word that we use)”, she replied with a passionate “yuk” before moving onto something different entirely.
Since then we haven’t had much of an issue with it, so I tend to think that the honesty is the best policy. I do have friends who have told their children that babies come out of their mummy’s tummy but are now struggling to back-track, and that gets tricky.
Whilst I love the fact that L is grown up enough to take it all on-board and in her stride, it does make for fun times when she wants to share this knowledge with others in the playground.
Today she wanted to take this book to school with her for show and tell:
This is a classic book from the 1970s that my parents got to share with my siblings and me. The funny thing is that at that time my dad had curly ginger hair and beard and my mum had long blonde hair, so for us it was pictures of our mum and dad! Then when L got to asking these types of questions my mum passed me the book to help out.
I’m quite happy for L to look at the pictures and ask me questions, but I’m not sure the other parents or the teacher would have appreciated her sharing it during show and tell, as you can see by the clarity of images and description in this children’s book:
Maybe a little bit intense for Year 1 show and tell.
I’m pretty certain that this picture is the main reason I didn’t have my first baby until I was nearly 31, it haunted me for years. Could this be any scarier?!?
What is your take on telling your children about the facts of life? Do you go for the truth or not? At what age would/did you tell them? Did you use any books/films etc? I’d also be very curious to know if any men have told their children about the birds and the bees at this young age, or does it always fall to the mums? As L will always ask me and not B.
I’d also love to know if anyone else had the facts of life explained to them by this book, as I’m pretty certain it’s a classic!
Today I am 39 weeks and 3 days pregnant, and doing my utmost to get this baby out naturally. Which is funny really when you think that I was happy to go to 42 weeks with this pregnancy and was in no particular rush for the baby to get here. However that all changed a couple of weeks ago when I started itching crazily one night, and then my blood test results showed that there was an issue with some of the levels linked to my liver. I was in and out of the hospital 3-4 times a week, seeing midwives, having blood tests and abdomen scans to check my liver, kidneys, spleen and gall bladder.
Initially they diagnosed it as being Obstetric Cholestasis which affects 1 in 140 pregnant women every year in the UK, and there is a chance of your baby being still-born if it is not managed, which means in general having an induction by 38 weeks. If you think you might have OC there is a great video about it over on Honest Mum’s blog who suffered from it during her first pregnancy, and which I found really helpful as I was getting my head round it initially.
However, having told me at 37 weeks that I was likely to be induced by 38 weeks, my levels settled down, which made them think that it probably wasn’t OC. This was naturally a huge relief, but the problem now is they don’t know why my levels went haywire, so to avoid any unnecessary risks it looks like it’ll be induction time for me this Friday when I am 39 weeks….unless I can get this baby out naturally by then.
Now I had an induction when L was born (read her birth story here) and was so hoping to avoid medical intervention and inductions this time round, so my initial reaction was shock and disappointment. Then I realised that the main thing here was the safe arrival of this baby, however that might be.
The good news is that when I saw the consultant last Tuesday she told me that I’m actually looking quite promising for an early natural labour – at 37 weeks and 4 days I was already 1-2cm dilated and my cervix was soft and looked promising. She gave me a sweep and since then I’ve been having lots of contractions and lower back pain, which haven’t led to anything but which make me hope that natural could still be on the cards.
I’ve been reading up on natural ways to kick-start labour. Again. I went through all this with L last time and none of it led to anything, but then when they induced me with her I was nowhere near ready for a natural labour, so I’m hoping that this time I might just cheat the induction….
So what are natural ways to start labour?
- Sex seems to be the biggest suggestion from everyone, which is convenient as it’s so the easiest thing to be doing when you’re the size of a house!
- Slightly easier but not everyone’s cup of tea is another suggestion that you hear more in whispers than being shouted about, and that’s oral sex. Something to do with the prostoglandins in semen working faster/better if they go into the digestive system rather than onto the cervix. Hmmmm, maybe. Sounds a bit like male propaganda to me, but who knows?!
- Pineapple. Eating it. Lots of it. The only problem being you need to eat about 7 to get the desired effect. I ate one whole one when pregnant with L and burnt my mouth something chronic. Do you know how acidic a pineapple is?!?
- Raspberry leaf tea or the tablet version. I tried taking the maximum of this from weeks 38 to 42 with L and it never did anything for me, but others swear by it. I’d say the jury is still out on it.
- When I had an antenatal check-up with my GP he suggested (along with lots of sex with hubs) that I have a couple of glasses of wine, now that was the best suggestion I’ve heard in a while. But after 9 months of sobriety, the two glasses I had in Pizza Express to celebrate the start of half term on Friday made me happily merry, which is not a bad thing. Although I’m sure I looked like the worst kind of mum, with my big bump and my glass of wine!
- Hot curries. Hubs is delighted as normally I’m all about the korma so there’s no sharing to be done in this house when it’s takeaway time. That all changed last week and he’s loving watching me sweat my way through the hot curries he loves to order.
- Walking. In the last week I have done two brisk 3 mile walks, and all they’ve done is tire me out.
- I even tried the Wii Dance with L and realised we really should get some net curtains, as I’m sure that wasn’t a pretty sight for the neighbours and passers-by!
There are many other old wives’ tales which I won’t list here, but so far nothing seems to be working here. We get the contractions. We get the back pain. We get all excited, thinking this is it. And then, nothing.
So it’s back to see the consultant tomorrow, another sweep and no doubt a date in the diary for an induction sometime before Friday. Until then you might see me pounding the streets of London, in between swigging wine and getting jiggy with it with hubs!
We are approximately a month away from the birth of our second baby, and as with L we don’t want to know the sex. So we are cast back into a world of neutral colours – yellows, greens, beiges, reds – so far from the world of pinks that L has inhabited from a very early age. I wouldn’t say that yellow is my favourite colour, but it’s a nice relief from the never-ending pink.
To see more yellow, wander on over to Sticky Fingers The Gallery to see what else is yellow in the world of blogs this week.
As a Brit, married to a Frenchman, raising our children first in France and now in the UK in what we call our franglais way, I know that we shock some people with our style of parenting. It is amazing to think that so few miles separate the UK from France but that culturally these two countries are so different.
Before I go on to explain our style of parenting it’s probably good for you to get some background on B and me, and how we were raised, to see where we are coming from.
- B and I were born 6 weeks apart in the mid 1970s: him in the south of France and me in the south of England.
- B’s parents are both doctors (a retired GP and a school doctor); my mum is a (retired) nurse, who trained to be a midwife and set up a local NCT branch in the 1970s, as well as being a breast-feeding counsellor for the NCT, my dad is in IT.
- B is one of twins; I am the middle child of 5 (all from the same, crazy parents!).
- B’s mum went back to work when B and his brother were still very small; my mum stopped work for 15 years to raise us 5 unruly children.
- B’s mum, like most of her generation in France, didn’t breastfeed; my mum breastfed all 5 of us.
- B’s mum weaned B and his brother on pots and purées; my mum weaned us the BLW way before it even had a name, as otherwise nobody would have got fed.
- B and his brother slept in their own bedroom from birth; my siblings and I slept in my parents’ room (but not bed) when we were small babies.
- B and his brother only ever had disposable nappies; my siblings and I only ever had washable nappies.
So that gives you an idea of the parenting style we grew up with, this is the one we developed for ourselves, and that shocks the French in France and the Brits in the UK:
- I breastfed L. This shocked several of my French friends and in particular my MiL who warned me “it’ll ruin your chest”.
- L slept in her own room from day 5 when we came home from hospital. This shocked pretty much every single Brit and Anglo-saxon I know, but was accepted as the norm in France.
- For the first 3 months I did everything on demand and had zero routine. This shocked my French paediatrician and numerous French friends. The only reason we got into a routine at 3 months was because L was going to the childminder’s…
- I went back to work 4 full days a week when L turned 3 months old. This was very early for most of my friends in the UK, but was standard for France.
- We put L in washable nappies from about her first week onwards. This was very uncommon in France and I kept being asked why I was doing something so unhygienic.
- When L was a few months old I started thinking (worrying) about weaning and I came across Baby Led Weaning (BLW) on the internet, I loved the sound of it and this is what we did with L. You can’t imagine the reactions I got in France, “are you trying to kill your baby?” and “she’s got no teeth, she’s going to starve to death” etc. I had to lie to my paediatrician about it, translate Gill Rapley’s report on it into French for our childminder and basically defend this decision every single day. It was very hard and it’s funny to be in the UK now where BLW is just another totally accepted weaning option.
- Whenever we were invited out we took L with us, and when we had parties at our house she generally stayed up and partied with us until the small hours. Fortunately she wakes much later if she goes to bed late which makes this doable. This is not a big deal in France, whereas many of my UK friends are shocked at us letting her stay up late.
- We first left her to go out for the night when she was 5 months old, we drove for an hour to meet up with some friends for a night out. We first left her all night when she was 9 months old as we had been invited to try out a posh hotel in Cannes for the night. When she was 2 years old we left her for two weeks to go off on holiday, just B and me, to the Dominican Republic. Every year we try and leave her for a week to go off on holiday as a couple, to reconnect, and to be simply B and me again, not Mummy and Papa. Now this one shocks the hell out of 90% of my UK friends, but all my French friends do this regularly with their kids.
- When L was 5 years old she flew unaccompanied to Marseille to spend a week with B’s mum in the run-up to Christmas. French parents frequently send their kids across France by plane as the school holidays are so long and everyone works. My UK friends were astounded that I might consider this.
- L started school in France when she was 2 and 3/4. This was 4 days a week, from 9am until 4pm; as B and I worked, she also went to the before school club, the after school club and the Wednesday club (no school in France on Wednesdays) at the same place. So Monday – Friday 8am-6.30pm she was at “school” from the age of not even 3 years old and she loved it! I know many British friends who think this is far too early, but it worked so well for us and for L who excelled there.
- When we moved to the UK, L was 3 and 1/2 so was too young for school. She started full time school when she was 4 and 3/4 and my French friends and family kept asking why she was starting so late.
I am sure if you are French then parts of the above shock you, and if you are British then there are certainly areas you disagree with. But this is what works for us and for L, it’ll be interesting to see if we end up raising baby number 2 the same way too seeing as he/she will be raised in the UK and not France. Watch this space…