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I'm a married mum who loves chocolate & music & having an opinion on just about everything! E-Mail summermama@hotmail.co.uk

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Dogs Behaving Badly

I call my dogs the Hairy Hounds of Hell because, on the whole, they are a law unto themselves. Boy dog used to have basic training skills, but since we adopted Girl dog he seems to have lost his skills. Girl dog is impossible to train – I’ve tried every way I can think of, and she’s still as dumb as a daffodil.

Both will sit and hold their paw out to shake when offered a treat. Both will take the treat calmly and without nipping fingers. That’s really where it stops. Both are a nightmare on the lead – Boy dog barks and bounces around at anything and everything, flipping around so violently at the end of the lead that he slips out of his head halti, leaving you grappling with the lead attached to his collar only, which is dangerous as he could do himself an injury. This reaction is, according to our vet, a reaction of fright. When he was a pup we shared a house with another couple and their two dogs, one of which was a complete nightmare and would torment our Boy dog pup relentlessly. Now, even though Boy dog is six years old and a fairly large size dog, that fear is instilled, so when he sees another dog, or person, he reacts by shouting at them to tell them to go away even if they haven’t yet posed any threat. He sees this as protecting us, and he goes absolutely crackers. I can understand why people cross the street to avoid us, but it does leave them under the impression you’ve trained your dog to be an arse and have a go at everything and they give you some awful looks and make some scathing comments (One I had, when I was seven months pregnant and trying to get him to the vet, was “Get him neutered if you can’t cope with him, love” – My reaction was, “He is neutered!”) In addition to this, Boy dog is frightened of funny noises – at home, having him scared of the Hoover and the hairdryer isn’t much of an issue, but when you’re out walking him and he’s trying to run away from the lorries, buses, coaches (the air brakes freak him out) from motorbikes (loud and buzzy) and many cars (a certain deep pitch can freak him out too) it becomes a battle trying to walk him anywhere. When he was younger we used to be able to let him off the lead for a run about, as where we lived we could take him to the common where sometimes you wouldn’t see another sign of life for hours and his recall was very good – while we have access to a vast forest here we wouldn’t be able to trust him anymore to come back to us when we call, as his recall has gone since we got Girl dog and now he flounces off without a second thought. Girl dog, in contrast, despite being smaller, is a lot braver; But to the point of stupidity. She’ll run over to the lorries, buses and coaches to investigate the funny noise; she’d step out in front of the motorbike or car to see what it’s doing, if she was able to. So trying to walk these two badly behaved freaks is a mission and a half, and not possible for me to do alone, so I have to go out for walks with them with The Hubby, which means that they only get evening walks as he’s off out first thing, and if he’s not finishing til late they won’t get an evening walk as The Boy is already in bed and we can’t (obviously) leave him home alone. The Hubby is also unable to walk both the Hounds of Hell single handedly, which adds to the ongoing nightmare.

It would be unfair to walk Boy dog without Girl, and vice versa, but the breed that they are denotes that they need a hell of a lot more exercise than we are currently able to offer either of them. We try to get them out as much as possible, but sometimes it isn’t possible and for the most part they have to make do with running round our (generously sized) garden. We investigated the option of training classes, but were faced again with Boy dogs problem with other dogs – it would mean paying extra for special one-on-one classes for him, which isn’t an option. I found out that Dog Borstal was filmed fairly locally and I was all up for taking the pair of them, but it would have to be something The Hubby and I did together with them and The Hubby refuses resolutely to be involved in anything that involves a video camera and him appearing on TV.

To add to our woes, Girl dog isn’t well housetrained. She is up to the point where she won’t squat and go in front of you, and she won’t do it in her cage, but despite having her for almost four years and countless efforts, we’ve only just managed to get her trained thus far. We’ve stopped the pair of them going upstairs at all by keeping the kitchen and front room doors shut, so they’re limited to downstairs only – when we allowed them the freedom of the house she’d disappear upstairs to have a poo on the landing, not ideal in any circumstances but especially now we have The Boy to consider we can’t have that. To start off with, we allowed the Boy dog to have the roam of the house overnight, and locked Girl dog in her cage in the kitchen, as this was the only way she wouldn’t mess in the house overnight. After about a year of that we stopped both of them going upstairs at all, so they have the roam of downstairs overnight and she’s only done it once or twice since then. It used to be the same if we went out – Boy dog could be trusted, Girl dog could not. She’d mess in the house, have the bins turfed out and the contents shredded, she’s even been known to get up onto the kitchen worktops to get at oven trays and kitchen utensils which haven’t been washed up so she can chew them/lick them clean. It’s only been in the last few months we’ve been able to leave her roaming when we’re out and not come back to an awful mess.

Sometimes I wonder if it wouldn’t be better for both of them to be rehomed. For them to go to a family who can offer them lots of regular walks, keep up with the training on a daily basis (realistically, between being a housewife, a mum and working from home I just don’t get the time) But then I think how awful that would be for us as a family. We’ve had Boy dog since he was an 8 week old pup – he’s six years old now, and we’re the only family he’s ever known. To uproot him now would not only break my heart, but surely his as well? He gets on so fabulously with The Boy, and I’m a big fan of children growing up around animals, I think it teaches them valuable lessons about life and love and caring and sharing, and the two of them are BFF’s already. And Girl dog was a rescue when we got her, after she was found running the streets around Christmas one year and taken to the local police station where the dog warden collected her. She had no collar and wasn’t chipped, so after seven days she was put up for adoption and that’s when she joined our family. She still has panic attacks over the strangest things, like if you pick up a skipping rope she freaks out and hides, or if you try to hold her to clip her claws she shakes and shivers and gets so upset she wets herself – it makes me wonder at the kind of abuse she might have suffered before we adopted her, and that makes us her safe home, and I don’t want to ruin her completely now by giving up on her and rehoming her elsewhere.

So I’m a bit stuck. I’ve got these two crazy furry hounds that I love dearly, but who are both clearly mentally unbalanced and need a lot more attention than I’m currently able to give them in order to try and work out some of their issues. The Hubby is a great one for starting a project and not finishing it – to begin with, dog training was his job, and he did very well with Boy dog as a pup, but it wasn’t kept up enough and Boy dog has lapsed into bad habits which are hard to break. Again it was The Hubby’s job to train Girl dog when she arrived with us, but he didn’t stick with it and she quickly became a handful. I’ve tried all different kinds of training methods, but what works with Boy dog doesn’t work for Girl dog and vice versa – Boy dog will do practically anything for a ball, he loves playing fetch and he’s always got a toy in his mouth to play with (One of the reasons him and The Boy get along so well is that The Boy is now at an age where he’ll play fetch with Boy dog). Girl dog, in contrast, couldn’t give two hoots about toys but if you offer her food of any description she’s up for it. Trouble is, with both of them, they get too distracted by the reward and after five minutes of attempting to train them they’re bored of what you’re trying to train and wander off with the reward.

So if you ever see a person in the street struggling with two mentalist dogs barking and being generally loony please don’t presume that person is lazy or hasn’t tried to keep their animals under control, for all you know they’re struggling on a daily basis to instil the basics and for whatever reason it isn’t working out well for them. I don’t know whether we’ll ever reach a point with our dogs where I can walk both of them nicely, when their recall is excellent and I can allow them free roam of the forest safe in the knowledge they’ll come back to me when I call for them, but I can dream. It would be lovely to be able to take a leisurely stroll with The Hubby, The Boy and both dogs, but it’s such a chaotic, mad event at the moment that it’s something I look upon with dread. With winter upon us it’s even more of a nightmare as its dark by the time we get them out after The Hubby returns from work, and dark makes them both worse because Boy dog also doesn’t like headlights and Girl dog seems to think that streetlights are something to be barked at when illuminated. Sigh.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Its Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

I’m at risk of sounding as though I’m wishing away The Boy’s childhood, but rest assured I’m not doing that, but part of me is very excited about when he is old enough to grasp the excitement of Christmas because, for me, Christmas just hasn’t been right since my grandparents died.

As a kid, I remember always going to see them on Christmas day – they had a huge house about 30 minutes drive from my parents house, and while we regularly visited them at the weekends, Christmas was special because all my aunts, uncles and cousins would be there and we’d all be spending the day there together. There was too much food, presents for everyone, a visit to the church and the neighbouring residential home where my great grandmother and great aunt both lived, and then back to my grandparents house for more food and games in the afternoon: The women cleaned up after the vast Christmas feast, the men smoked cigars, or slept in front of the TV, and the kids would run around the house playing with our new toys.

As I grew older, fewer relatives would be able to make it every Christmas day, and after my grandparents died there wasn’t a central, large enough location for Christmas day to be held, so each branch of the family did their own, small, quieter day, and there were no children in the family for the day to centre around. Then The Hubby and I moved up here, so we’re miles away from my parents, my brother and The Hubby’s sister, my aunts and cousins – the only family we keep in contact with now, apart from the MIL and FIL, who live just down the road. Our Christmas days had become a quiet affair of a nice meal and some lovely presents and polite chit chat in the front room over a glass of Bucks Fizz feeling very restrained because I’d have to drive us home again afterward. I want The Boy and his cousin to have Christmases like I used to, with lots of family around and a day full of stuff to do and excitement – and I want to revel in him enjoying that as much as I did as a child.

The Nephew will be six months old by Christmas, so while he is a little older than The Boy was last Christmas, The Nephew is still not going to be as involved in the unwrapping of presents and playing with new things like The Boy will be this year. In years to come I can imagine the two of them ripping paper off presents, laughter, noise, running around MIL and FIL’s house, MIL complaining about the noise and the mess, FIL complaining about sticky fingerprints on his flat screen TV, me and SIL chasing after the kids who are hyped up on excess sugar while both our husbands snore in front of the TV. It’ll be like reliving my childhood, from a different perspective!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Goodnight, Sweetheart

The Boy is becoming less well organised as he gets older. As a newborn, he fell into a fantastic routine immediately, and we always knew when to expect him to wake, feed, and nap throughout the full 24 hours of any given day.

As he got older, he got into the routine of having two naps each day – one from 11am-1pm, and another from 3pm-4pm, before going to bed at six and sleeping for thirteen to fourteen hours regularly. People marvelled at how good his routine was, but I fully admit it was all his doing – I did nothing to try and get him into a routine other than put him to sleep when he wanted and letting him sleep as long as he wanted, and feeding him on demand.

Even more time passed and he decided that he only needed one nap a day, and he preferred the nap, after which I’d get him dressed, he’d have lunch, and we’d go out for the afternoon. Often we didn’t have anywhere in particular to go, but I’m a huge fan of getting him in the pushchair and going for a walk, so we found our way around several new areas of town we’d not ventured to before, including a beautiful riverside walk that completes a round circuit of around four miles; we’d take stale bread with us to feed the ducks, swans and geese that hang out by the river, or I’d take him in the car to the local soft play centre, or we’d visit friends with children of similar ages.

By the time he was a year old, he’d pushed bedtime from six to eight, but was still sleeping til eight in the morning, and having one nap a day. I’d learned by then that if he didn’t nap from , he would nap from , or from , he really wasn’t as bothered anymore. Sometimes he would eat lunch at , other days it was almost four, some days he wouldn’t eat lunch at all, because he’d sleep right through.

Yesterday, I didn’t try and put him down for his nap. He’s pushed it round from to at the earliest, and my parents were expected at around . The parking in our road is ridiculous, but we have access into our garden for parking, which is where my car lives and where we can park a few other cars, too, when we have visitors, so I knew when they arrived I’d have to shut the dogs in the house and go off down the garden. When you shut the Hairy Hounds of Hell in the house and go off down the garden without them, they presume you’re going out without them, and they really don’t like that, so they tend to cry, bark, howl and generally make a lot of noise. If they know that The Boy is upstairs and I’m setting off like that without him, I don’t know whether they think I’m going to leave The Boy home alone or whether they understand it means we have visitors, but either way the noise they make is even worse. There is no person on earth who could remain asleep upstairs in our house while they were creating such a fuss, despite the fact The Boy is a good sleeper, that wakes him up without fail every time it happens. And I don’t know about your children, but The Boy is quite like me in the fact that if he is woken up before he is ready; he is grumpy and difficult for some time afterwards!

My parents arrived, the dogs went barmy, and then The Boy and his grandparents settled down to play. I made lunch, including The Boy in the round of toast I produced, but he was more interested in poking it and leaving it in various odd places in the front room (on the sofa – butter side down; on the seat of his ride on car; tucking it into the DVD cabinet) I cooked up a batch of sausage rolls to try and tempt him – he’s not been eating well for ages – and sausage rolls always seem to be a favourite. The last lot I cooked lasted three days; admittedly The Hubby is also quite partial to a sausage roll, but even so there were plenty that The Boy had eaten. So I cooked up another lot, and once they were cool he was put into the highchair and offered some food. It was just after .

Bearing in mind as well that The Boy had been awake since yesterday morning, and had three ounces of milk first thing, then refused to eat breakfast til shortly after , when he played with a bowl of cereal and actually ate about three bites of it. By my reckoning he should be fairly hungry for lunch, and he didn’t do too badly, but it wasn’t what I would have described as lunch for a growing toddler, it was a snack. Anyway, he decided he’d had enough to eat, so I got ready and we all went out for a walk around town.

The Boy was wide awake for the walk into town, though at the first shop we went into he fell asleep pretty much immediately – he’s not a keen shopper – leaving me free to peruse. We wandered about for a while before heading home again, and he woke pretty much as we walked out of the town centre itself, though my mother blames a particularly loud motorbike making him jump as it rode past us.

Back at home he played until dinnertime but by then was moody and restless, rubbing his face as if he was tired. His catnap in town had lasted around about an hour, while he normally has two or even three hours at home, and I think he would have carried on sleeping for longer depending on the circumstances. For instance I know as soon as he opened his eyes mum would have been talking to him, whereas if it had been me pushing the pushchair I would have probably not spoken to see whether he’d go back to sleep again! Once you talk to him, that’s it – he’s too interested to go back to sleep!

Anyway The Hubby put him to bed and he was asleep by . My parents left while he was in the bath, and The Hubby and I sat down to watch a program together. Just after  The Boy started crying. I made a bottle and The Hubby went straight upstairs; The Boy had gotten himself in a real state, screaming and tears pouring down his face, and we couldn’t fathom it out apart from thinking maybe it was a bad dream, or night terror. I calmed him down after a while and gave him back to The Hubby to put back to bed, but five minutes later he started again and wouldn’t calm down again. I went back, there was rocking and shushing and drifting from room to room to try and distract him (He likes watching the car lights going past on the main road from the front bedroom window) Eventually I put him back in the cot and while he was still whimpering, he settled after a while. It was by the time we headed back downstairs, confused as it was not the normal run of things for The Boy to behave that way.

At , he started again, and The Hubby went up to him. While he was gone I turned off my PC, fed the dogs, loaded the dishwasher and tidied up the kitchen, made myself a drink and went upstairs – it was almost 1am by then – I got ready for bed then took over from The Hubby trying to settle The Boy. It wasn’t easy – just when you thought he’d calmed down, he’d start right up again and get upset all over again. Eventually I took him into our bedroom, shut the door, and allowed him to wander about a bit. The Hubby came up about half past one, and as soon as he saw him, The Boy burst into tears again. “Oh, no,” The Hubby panicked, “What have I done?” We couldn’t work it out. Then I went to lift The Boy and realised his sleepsuit was wet. “He’s soaking,” I said, “Did you change his nappy?” After all, I added silently, it would be the first thing to do, surely, when he wakes up crying? It turned out the nappy hadn’t been checked, or changed, because The Boy usually goes down and goes all night without a nappy change, so The Hubby didn’t think he would need one by that time. We got The Boy into his room and I unpoppered the sleepsuit – a thick towelling one he wears because it’s so cold at night – and found that sure enough his nappy was full to bursting, his vest was soaked from front to back and up to his chest, and his sleepsuit was now also wet. I nearly cried. It took a while to clean him up, dry him off, get another nappy on him and a clean vest and sleepsuit, but once it was done he looked so much happier. I sat in the rocking chair with him for half an hour while he had some milk, then laid him in his cot and tucked him in and he snuggled up with his favourite soft toy and smiled as he closed his eyes. I got into bed about .

The Hubby has a very long day today – working , then a work do tonight from . He’s getting a lift there and back, fortunately enough as I wouldn’t be able to go and collect him, and by the time he gets home we’re anticipating it to be about . He left this morning before The Boy was awake, after seeing him last night for the first time since Friday morning, and he won’t see him at all today. Fortunately he’s got some time off coming up which will be nice – hopefully he’ll get to spend some time with The Boy then! If he’s not too busy doing more DIY like he was the last time he had time off from work! It does mean that I’m flying solo with The Boy all day today, with no chance of a reprieve, but to be fair, it hasn’t been hard work. This morning, we got up at and he had milk and a nappy change and we came downstairs wrapped in our PJ’s and dressing gowns. We watched CBeebies in the cosy front room and ate scrambled eggs on toast and drank milky tea for breakfast (scrambled eggs is another good favourite of his!) I took him upstairs at for a nappy change and some milk and put him down for a nap about twelve thirty, and went back to bed myself. I thought well, it’s Sunday, why not have a nap? I slept til then came downstairs and made tea waiting for The Boy to start singing and let me know he’s awake … Except so far he isn’t! 

I do have limits to how much I will let him sleep, even though I don’t like waking him up before he’s ready! If I don’t wake him up soon he’ll be up til tonight and I’m not keen on that idea because it starts the week off badly! How mad is it though that sometimes they want to sleep for so long and other days you’re lucky if they nap for 10 minutes?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Dear Santa ...

We’ve been tagged by our friend Alice at Mummy, Not Big Milk Thing, to participate in sharing our Christmas lists with other mummy bloggers.

Presuming that I’m not going to win the lottery pre-Christmas, my ultimate dream of a six week holiday to Australia is perhaps rather far fetched – but a girl can dream! (Plus I’d get to see my best friend, who now lives in Sydney!)

So for me, being slightly more realistic, I’d like to ask Santa for a new set of hair straighteners, since my current set is about seven years old and the on/off switch has broken, meaning you have to remember to plug and unplug them every use (which doesn’t sound like much, but actually I find it very difficult to remember!)

The Hubby has been battling for some time with an ancient set of hair clippers, so for him I’d like to ask Santa for a lovely new set of hair clippers, to prevent the stress attacks every time he tries to do his hair!

And for The Boy, well don’t tell him but I have already got this for him and it’s been safely hidden away til Christmas morning, and I think he’s really going to enjoy it as he’s very much into things that go Whoosh right now!

Our Hairy Hounds of Hell don’t get forgotten at Christmastime, and Santa always brings our boy dog some lovely new toys ...

And as our girl dog is such a pig, she’ll be more than happy with a nice big pile of biscuits!

To continue the tagging trend, I’m going to tag Charlie Monsters Fun House, Inside The Wendy House and Not Always Right.

Baby Two

Now that The Boy is 15 months old, it seems to give people the right to ask when The Hubby & I will start trying for Baby Two. It’s a very personal question, though I don’t think many people realise, given that for all they know we are already trying.

Before I got pregnant with The Boy, as regular readers of this blog will know, we were TTC (or rather, NPP) for almost two years after I stopped having the contraceptive injection Depo Provera. It is generally agreed in the medical world that it can take up to two years for your fertility to return to ‘normal’ after being on this injection, however that point was not something that was made clear to me before I started having it. As far as I was concerned, once I stopped having it I would go back to ‘normal’ within a few weeks. (After all, while you’re on it, they stress the importance of keeping it up every 3 months otherwise you could become pregnant ‘by accident’ which says to me that once you stop it everything returns to normal pretty quickly). Anyway, the whole time we were TTC we didn’t tell people on the whole (My best friend was aware, and another mutual friend guessed, but I didn’t go broadcasting it to everyone).

Anyone who has been TTC for a while, or who was TTC prior to their pregnancy will understand where I’m coming from here. I didn’t want the added pressure from people saying “Aren’t you pregnant yet?” as I felt enough of a failure every month when my period would arrive anyway, without the additional ‘sympathy’ from those who don’t really give two hoots but want to know all your personal business anyway (for example, those people you know as acquaintances in your everyday life who don’t normally say two words to you, but if you’re looking upset one day they’ll be acting like your best mate to try and get the gossip). In my family there is history of miscarriage, so I didn’t want people to know before the 12 week scan, and I’m the sort of person that if someone said “Aren’t you pregnant yet?” I would lie, obviously, and say no, but they’d see the truth written across my face and guess. So that’s another reason why I chose to keep it private.

Also, not being funny, but it is a very private thing in my opinion. I don’t want the world and his wife to know that I’m charting my ovulation dates, chewing on folic acid and giving up drinking and smoking in an effort to become pregnant. By default this means these people are aware that The Hubby and I are on a mission to become parents, which is a very personal, private thing, and not something that I’d share to many people. You don’t go into work in the morning and announce when you’ve had it off the night before, do you? So why expect me to tell you when we’ve been at it like rabbits in an attempt to introduce a sperm to an egg?

One of the ladies in the office where I work is about the same age as my MIL – mid-50’s – and has two grown up sons, one of which has been married for about 3 years now. Her husband has a teenage daughter from his first marriage, who has been with her boyfriend for a year or so. The married grown up son and his wife announced at the beginning of this year that they were TTC and my colleague got so excited about becoming a grandma – she’s already saved and brought the travel system for them, as well as collecting an array of neutral colour baby clothes, blankets, has considered getting a cot bed for her house for when the baby sleeps over, and pores over ideas on how to decorate your nursery. Unfortunately, they’re still TTC with no sign of a pregnancy so far, and naturally now her daughter in law feels under intense pressure due to the attitude of her husband’s mother. On the flip side, the teenage daughter of her husbands decided to try and get pregnant so that she and her boyfriend could get a council property together as they can’t afford to rent or buy themselves (they both live at home with their respective mothers still). She is now five months pregnant, already signed off work due to exhaustion, is on the council waiting list but has been told it probably won’t be for another six to eight months that she gets a place, and she talks about nothing but the pregnancy to everyone she sees. This obviously adds more pressure to the TTC couple, who don’t see her that often, but often enough that she should know to be slightly more sensitive – unfortunately while she may be 19 years old technically, emotionally speaking she is a bit like a spoiled 13 year old who can only see her own world and not other peoples views, so she doesn’t tend to take their feelings into account at all. When The Hubby and I were TTC, so were The Hubby’s sister and her husband. While we were keeping quiet about it, my SIL was talking regularly to her mum about it all, and when I announced our pregnancy the first thing MIL said was “Oh dear, SIL will be so upset”. Quite frankly that pissed me right off, and I gave her a look but didn’t respond. She said some time later that she remembers when she told her MIL she was pregnant with The Hubby and her MIL made a similar comment and it upset her so much she swore she’d never do it, and apologised for how that must have made me feel, but to be honest the words were said, the damage done, and I don’t think it’s something I’ll ever forget. SIL did become pregnant about halfway through my pregnancy, but sadly lost the pregnancy at 10 weeks – by then they’d told everyone, as everyone already knew they were TTC, so then to add to the heartbreak of going through the MC itself she then had the added stress of having to explain to everyone that she was no longer pregnant. They continued TTC once she was given the all-clear, but didn’t talk to anyone about it except her mum – when she became pregnant again, they held off telling anyone til after the 12 week scan and even then she only told family and close friends originally, holding off telling everyone else until she was almost 20 weeks (she’s a larger lady, so hiding the pregnancy wasn’t an issue, though she did suffer bad sickness which is how most of her colleagues guessed).

So back to my original point, if I didn’t make a big thing about announcing we were TTC in the first instance, why do people think I’d do it second time around? I suppose most people think once you’ve had one baby you know you can get pregnant and it happens as quickly as you deciding you’re ready for Baby Two – but I know from experience this is not always the case. There’s an age gap of eight years between myself and my younger brother. It wasn’t intentional that there was such a large gap, but after TTC for four years before becoming pregnant with me, my parents then were TTC for those eight years, and suffered two miscarriages in that time. When my mum did become pregnant with my brother she was 35 and was considered a ‘high risk’ pregnancy due to her age, and her weight and the history of MC, so she was on bed rest practically the whole pregnancy. It worries me that the same thing could happen to me and The Hubby – what if we decide we want another and it takes us eight years to achieve that? On that basis, I should be coming off the Pill now, as in eight years time I’ll be coming up to my 39th birthday, and The Boy will be nine and a half, but on the other hand I’m not ready for Baby Two yet, so if I was to get pregnant straight away it would be hard. Damned if I do, damned if I don’t, right? As The Hubby says, you can’t live your life by ‘what if’ so we’ll wait til we’re ready then we’ll start TTC again.

To add to my situation there is the fact that despite The Boy now being 15 months old, I’m still not back to ‘normal’ as far as my lady bits go. Speaking anonymously I feel I can be more honest about this than if you all knew who I am, but basically the delivery was not straightforward and I was badly damaged, requiring a lot of stitches following delivery, which now I’m not convinced were either done properly or have healed properly. I still have a lot of pain during intercourse, so that only happens once in a blue moon and usually after I’ve consumed a fair amount of vodka; Going to the toilet is still painful and afterwards it can take up to two hours for that pain to subside again. (Yes, I will be speaking to my GP about it shortly as I realise this is not normal!) So on the face of it while TTC should be easy, actually it won’t be – not just because the sex itself is so painful, but because I really don’t want to risk another delivery like that and having another couple of years of pain like the last 15 months have been. I’ve spoken to my GP already and told him I want an elective C-section next time – he said “It would mean you’re off your feet and unable to drive for 6 weeks”: That happened last time, anyway. He said, “There’s no way of knowing whether the next delivery would be problematic”: But you can’t guarantee it won’t be. After The Boy’s delivery, initially my biggest concern was him – there was meconium in my waters, he’d gotten stuck and distressed, his heart rate went from sky high to dropping through the floor low, and when he was first out he didn’t cry. Oblivious to the team of medical staff fussing around me, and the blood loss I was experiencing, my only concern was for him, and whether he was OK. Thankfully despite our initial trauma, he was absolutely fine. It was only afterwards when I read my medical notes did I realise how close a call it was for both of us, not just him. My poor OH could have literally been left holding the baby, or worst case scenario he could have left the hospital that night without a wife or a baby, but thanks to the attention of the maternity team at a hospital which has been knocked a lot for it’s maternity department, we were both still around the next day. It isn’t that I expect a second delivery to be so traumatic, or that I expect there to be problems, but I would rather have an elective C-section and have baby safely delivered in a calm, organised environment and also so that I’m in total control and have made the decision, it happens, all is good. I lost control in my first labour, things happened that were unplanned and hadn’t even been thought of as my pregnancy had been so textbook straightforward, and until the point of The Boy getting stuck the labour was going brilliantly too.

There’s also the fact that I don’t want another baby yet. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love Baby Two to join our family one day, but just not yet. I’m still enjoying my relatively new status as ‘Mummy’ to The Boy: Never again will I have this chance to enjoy him at this age, and I don’t want it hampered by morning sickness, me becoming distracted by ‘The Baby’ and him missing out on special time with me. I understand some ladies choose to have their babies very close in age – one of my high school friends has two boys just under a year apart, as she was pregnant within three months of the first baby being born – but that isn’t for me. The Boy is a whirling dervish of excitement and curiosity and I don’t know that I’d be able to keep up with him at the moment if I was heavily pregnant. I’d rather wait a while, maybe til he’s two or three, before I start TTC again, and that way at least I’d get a few hours every so often during the week where he attends nursery and I can have a nap, or go baby shopping, or decorate the nursery, or just put my swollen ankles in a cool footbath for an hour or so!

The Hubby is, as always, understanding of my point of view – after all, as he said, it’s me that’s at home with The Boy and not him, he gets to escape out to work every day – though we have had the chat about Baby Two and he has said that he is ready when I am. I know he’d dearly love for Baby Two to be a girl, and neither of us want a massive gap between The Boy and his younger sibling, so it isn’t something I’m putting off forever, just for now.

So next time you’re chatting to a family member, or friend, or even a work colleague, and that question pops into your mind, I recommend you don’t ask – for all you know she’s already in the process and it could be the sort of conversation she really doesn’t want to have. If you’re close, chances are she’ll speak to you about it sooner or later anyway: But please don’t pressure her. She’s already got enough on her mind.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Cyber Bullies

I’ve been reading lots of articles recently with interest on the internet, where people are verbally attacking others because of their beliefs in how to bring up their children. Excuse me? Racial hate isn’t tolerated; Sexual hate isn’t tolerated – what’s this, then? It can’t be named ‘children hate’ as it’s the complete opposite – its women tearing chunks out of one another on a social internet page or forum because they both believe that they are a better mother than the other. Can’t they just agree to disagree? Apparently not!

Among the list of topics that seem to get everyone hot under the collar, we have:

The Eating In The Carseat or Pushchair Debate: Yes, well, those of you that have seen my comments will know my view. In the carseat no, never, absolutely not. The Boy is allowed a drink when we are stationary and not otherwise. In a 30mph accident, objects weigh five times their normal weight as they fly through the air. Imagine a hard plastic container filled with water (the beaker in his hand) being thrown through the car in an impact where you’re travelling at 30mph and so is the person you hit – A combined speed of 60mph will do a lot of damage to whatever that beaker hits. As far as food is concerned, why would I risk it? My son is rear facing in his carseat, so if I’ve gone out on my own with him what do I do if he starts choking on a piece of food? Some clever clogs wrote a comment on a page “Simply pull over and stop to assist him” well that’s all very good if it’s possible, sweetheart, but on narrow country lanes that go for miles without anywhere safe and suitable to pull over what do you expect me to do? Tell him to wait on his choking until I can find somewhere suitable? Or drive my car into a farmer’s fence like a madwoman to administer emergency first aid while the hazardous positioning of my vehicle causes an RTC in the road? Added to that the fact that I can’t see him if he is choking makes me nervous about doing this. Then there’s the weight factor, too – though I doubt a single Bella’s Kitchen cookie would do that much damage even at five times its normal weight, you never can tell!

The ERF carseat debate. Do your own research, work it out, well done, now do some more research and buy a rear facing carseat. Now ask a million retailers why they don’t sell rear facing carseats and find out it’s because the ignorant masses of the UK don’t want it, on the whole, they’re not interested. It’s easier for them to get their child in a forward facing carseat so as quickly as possible they will do so, regardless of how many times you try to explain that it is safer not to travel this way for a child so young. There is a lady who I regularly see commenting on this subject and one of her comments was along the lines of “If I had to drive wearing a red clown nose, a silly wig and pulling a funny face to make my kids safer, then I would.” I think it’s very commendable, and I take my hat off to her, but she doesn’t seem to realise that unfortunately she is in the minority when she makes that comment. Most people wouldn’t do something so silly for an extra bit of safety, they want something that looks good and offers the latest gadgets and is a label they can boast about a bit and that is simple and easy to use. Don’t confuse the British public – it’s terribly easy to do, on the whole. I’ve worked since I was fourteen and in every job I’ve had an interactive role with the people who would be viewed as ‘customers’ and believe me when I say that as individuals they can have degrees and know all kinds of clever things, but as a mass, a group, they are completely ignorant and will simply follow the herd and if you don’t tell them what they want to hear they will ignore you and talk a bit louder (then ask to speak to your supervisor). As a company you need to give customers what they want if you want them to buy your product, which is why you’ll find not many major companies shout about products they produce, but which are less popular.

The Breastfeeding Debate: OK now this one I saved til last because it really touches a nerve with me. A range of products – including baby t-shirts – has just been launched showing an image of a bottle with a red line through it and a negative comment about not breastfeeding. It is meant to imply that mothers who don’t breastfeed are somehow lacking in being perfect mothers, and that by the act of breastfeeding those who do are somehow better and more perfect.

I am pro-breastfeeding. I think it’s a beautiful thing to be able to do, to provide your baby nourishment and comfort from your own body in such a way. Technically speaking baby needs nothing for the first few weeks apart from mummy – these times are for mummy to treasure forever, and a time for bonding and getting more used to one another. Throughout my pregnancy I was asked by various other mums to be, midwives, consultants, doctors and other medical bods whether I intended to breastfeed and every time I answered truthfully, “Yes, I do.”

The Boy’s delivery wasn’t easy and it was a good hour or two after delivery that I had an opportunity to try feeding him. He wasn’t interested at all, and after the midwife tried assisting me and found he wasn’t having it, she suggested I kept trying for a while and left me to it. Two hours later he still hadn’t fed, though I’d managed to rub some of the colostrum around his lips and he’d licked them, he wouldn’t latch on for a good feed. The midwife complained that if he didn’t by I couldn’t be discharged onto the ward from the recovery room, and I had to be discharged from the recovery room by (I didn’t think to ask if the room turned into a pumpkin at , because thinking back on it now, why should it matter?) Anyway was in an hours time, the midwife tried assisting again and he wouldn’t latch on, so she got another midwife to help and that didn’t work either. In the end some more colostrum was rubbed around his lips which he licked and they counted that as a ‘feed’ and discharged me to the maternity ward just after .

We were in hospital for three days altogether. Each time I tried to feed him he’d take a mouthful or two but never much at a time. The best time I got him to latch on was the day we were discharged, when he was on for almost an hour, but he wasn’t taking a lot, it was just as if he wanted the closeness. I was still worried; they were still convinced everything was fine, we were discharged. The following day at home my midwife was horrified by what I told her, and the fact that since our return from the hospital The Boy had been asleep. We expressed some milk and fed it to him with a little sippy cup, which he took hungrily. “Darling, he’s not asleep, he’s unconscious,” She whispered, “He’s hungry, very hungry, and we need to get food in him or he needs to go back to hospital.” So we expressed even more into a bottle and fed him. From that point on, I tried to get him to breastfeed from me, but he simply wouldn’t, he refused, he would absolutely not to it to the point where he would scream his lungs out as soon as he realised what I was about to do! I had all kinds of advice and help from my midwife and a nursery nurse assistant to the health visitor (the health visitor is as much use as a chocolate teapot, but more on that later!) My son would drink breastmilk until his tummy went pop if it was out of a bottle, but direct from the source he absolutely refused. It was soul destroying, heartbreaking and made me feel so rejected by my beautiful, perfect baby that I cannot even begin to say how much it hurt every time I tried and every time he refused. While The Hubby was off work it was easy for me to pop off every couple of hours to express, and he would look after The Boy or wash and sterilise the bottles while I did so, but when he went back to work it became harder and harder to do. I’d slip from every two hours to every two and a half, to every three hours, as I struggled to juggle everything on my own, and of course as I was expressing less often I was getting less when I did. I must point out that at no point did I ever produce enough to satisfy The Boy – throughout the whole six weeks I was expressing milk I couldn’t keep up with him, even when expressing every time he fed, so the whole time he was being combination fed with SMA formula. And before that sparks off a whole other debate, there was no particular reason for us choosing SMA other than the fact that it was a brand we both recognised and was available in most shops locally so we knew it would be easy to buy when it was needed. Gradually the amount of milk I expressed off was less than the amount The Boy consumed of formula milk in any 24 hour period and one evening when he was six weeks old and I was exhausted I burst into tears about the fact that I couldn’t breastfeed and I couldn’t supply his demand and I was a useless mother in front of The Hubby.

He was horrified to find that I’d been feeling like that, and assured me that it was clearly The Boy’s choice not to breastfeed and we’d tried our best but he wasn’t into it, so how about we allow the formula feeds to take over so I could stop expressing and stressing about it. We agreed that was the way forward. I tried very hard to breastfeed, but for us it didn’t happen, and in lieu of breastfeeding directly I think I did alright to express for six weeks. It’s longer than some women breastfeed after all!

Now, bearing this in mind, I don’t take kindly to people presuming to know that I couldn’t be bothered to breastfeed my baby, or that I took an easier option or that my child is somehow less healthy because he didn’t breastfeed. Technically he did breastfeed as he had my milk for six weeks as well as formula – he’s had fewer illnesses so far in his life than other children of the same age and he’s taller and broader than the same group. He’s happy, sociable, inquisitive and thoughtful. I see no problems in his development physically or emotionally because I didn’t breastfeed him directly.

So then, how dare some other woman, who doesn’t know me, or my son, or our story or history, presume to know my reasons for not breastfeeding, and start having a go at me for my own, personal, honest opinion? Surely that’s unacceptable – I was asked for my opinion and provided it, and somehow this entitles you to have a go at me? To rant at me for some imaginary lifestyle story you have dreamed up for me? You don’t know me, why are you being so judgemental? Yet these women are doing it on an almost constant basis, to other mums who are presumably working just as hard as everyone else simply to do their best by their children? I hate this about society today – so quick to make judgements, to rip someone’s throat out (figuratively speaking) and scream abuse, vent your rage and start all the name calling under the sun. Have we actually moved on from the playground mentality at all? The whole idea of opinion, and debate, is each to their own – not that we will try and bully others into agreeing with our opinion!

Someone gleefully pointed out, on a debate on one page today, “Ooo, it’s just like MN in here!” and at that point I had to log out. I stopped using MN because of the awful conduct of the hideous women that frequent its pages and I hope that this is not the way that other pages will be going. I am all for debate, conversation, opinions – but not when people start getting bullied for speaking their mind.

At school, kids got bullied by me and I got bullied by other kids. I made a conscious effort to stop behaving that way when I was fifteen or sixteen and since then if I have an opinion I would like to give it without the risk of bullies shouting at me and threatening me verbally if I share my opinion. I am not here to judge you, why should you judge me? Each to their own – if we were all the same, life would be boring. It’s the same opinion that makes us decorate our houses differently, buy different cars, wear different clothes, all these are individual choices and you should not be ridiculed for sharing your choice when an opinion is asked.

So please, before you write a nasty comment to someone you don’t even know about the choices they’ve made in their life or their child’s life, stop and think about it. You don’t know the whole story, and a comment you say may be a very hurtful thing. You’re not going to agree with everything you read, but nor do you have to take such an aggressive stance on what you don’t agree with – if you don’t like it, stop reading it and move on – life goes on.

Friday, October 28, 2011

A Quick Update!

It’s been a while, and I just haven’t had a lot of time recently to sit down and write much about anything, but I thought I’d post a quick update while I’ve got a moment and tell you what’s going on in the world of Summer Mama, The Hubby, The Boy & The Hairy Hounds of Hell!

Well for a start, I got some lovely new Flip It cups from Nuby UK for The Boy. They’re red with a race car design, which went down well as soon as he saw them, and they’re advertised from 12 months. They have a straw all the way down the length of the cup, a handy flip top to cover and protect the straw which means you can take it out and about with you, it’s specially insulated to keep the liquid inside cold (or warm) as required (though only for a limited time, it isn’t like a proper Thermos flask). The valve on the straw works by opening when the child uses the straw in the correct way, to encourage development for using straws rather than beakers or bottle teats, and so I filled one with water at lunchtime and gave it to The Boy.

As I’ve mentioned before, he is a creature of habit, and he wasn’t too impressed with the change in drinking method: He’s got the hang of tipping up a beaker or bottle to drink from, and he didn’t understand that with this style cup he just needed to suck the straw properly. For some time he was very amused with the way the straw pops up when you flip the top and spent quite a while giggling about that, but when he again tried to drink from it and couldn’t he became frustrated. I demonstrated for him how to work the cup and to be honest it is pretty precise the way you need to do it in order to get a mouthful of drink, but I guess that’s the point. After a few minutes of grumping, smacking his hands on the high chair tray and throwing the lovely red cup onto the floor several times, I handed him his familiar green Sport Sipper and he was content again.

Since then I start with the red cup, or have the red cup in the locality and give it to him when he wants a drink, but he still hasn’t really got the hang of it and prefers to use a normal beaker or his Sport Sipper still. It’s frustrating on one hand because the spout of the Sport Sipper needs replacing (I haven’t got round to ordering them, but I know they’re available on the Nuby UK site so I will do that!) but for now it means there’s no valve in the sipper so the water flows freely, which is annoying when your son likes to flood the tray of the highchair and smack his hands in the resulting puddle! I am sure we will get there eventually with the new cups, it’s just something new to learn, and there is so much else he is learning right now.

The Boy isn’t quite walking yet, but he’s doing well at furniture surfing and is standing up independently with the ability to lean down, pick something up and stand upright again. A couple of times he has done a couple of shuffle steps toward me, but only a couple and he either falls on his bottom when he realises what he’s just done, or else he quickly finds something to hold onto again. He has also discovered a passion for climbing, and will empty the big plastic boxes I use in his room as toy boxes, turn them onto their side and climb! As well as this when he is in the play pen he has discovered he has a Spiderman-like ability to climb up the mesh sides, holding onto the bar across the top and folding at the waist in an effort to escape. Lucky for me the play pen is actually a very solid Huack Baby Centre that I got an amazing deal on, and it is just as well I did as it has proved to be invaluable! (Highly recommended: Review to come soon!)

Although The Boy has been largely unimpressed with my efforts to get him to drink from a different type of cup, he has been very happy with my efforts to get him to eat. For a few weeks we have been struggling to feed a baby who doesn’t want you feeding him anymore, but who just likes to throw food on the floor if you allow him finger food to feed himself. It has been a bit of a nightmare as we’ve been going through so much wasted food as he decides he doesn’t want something after a single bite, so merrily throws the rest of it onto the floor. A while ago I stopped allowing the Hairy Hounds of Hell to roam free while The Boy was eating as dropping tit bits to them was too tempting and as a result our girl dog is now a fat girl dog! The Boy was, however, very impressed when I was sitting with him one lunchtime eating my lunch of scrambled egg on toast, and allowed him to sample some of the scrambled egg from my fork. He was thrilled by this development and as a result I managed to get him to eat two scrambled eggs and half a piece of toast, which was the largest meal I’d got down him in days (it was meant to be my lunch, but as other mums know when your child has shown interest in food after a while of not eating you’ll happily go hungry for them to have something!) Anyway I had overcooked as I was hoping that he’d want to share with me. The following day we went shopping and in Sainsburys I found a cute little cutlery set for a couple of pounds in blue with jungle animals on and brought it: Twenty minutes later in the Store 21 shop on the same retail park I found a plain blue fork and spoon set reduced to 99p, so I brought one of those, too, as I realised that an extra fork and spoon would be handy given The Boys history of throwing things onto the floor!

Back home, at dinnertime, we used the Sainsburys fork for the first time and The Boy ate more dinner than he had done in days. Since then he has not only been happier to eat with his new utensils, but he’s also become even more independent, and after you load the fork or the spoon up he’ll take it from you to feed himself (before clapping as if to congratulate himself for being so clever!) It’s a remarkable turn around and I’m so glad I thought of it. Rather than trying to take him back a step with his feeding and trying to feed him myself again, I should have been trying to encourage him forward as it is obviously what he was after!

The Hubby is taking advantage of having a couple of weeks off work to do some serious DIY. We have been building a collection of items over the last year or so for when we get round to decorating various rooms of the house and we never seem to have the time to do it, so he has been busy already this week shuffling around the kitchen set up and changing the crappy sinks in the utility room and the kitchen for decent ones, with nice new taps too! He’s planning on doing some tiling and some painting as well as having a thorough clear out and clean up of the entire space before he’s considering it finished, and he’s done very well already so far. One thing about The Hubby, he does tend to take his time to start on a project but once he starts he flies through getting it done and he doesn’t like leaving things half finished so I’ll have a new look kitchen by next week which is exciting. We’re not replacing the cupboards, or the worktop, but giving it a facelift which is a cheaper way of making it look better. A while ago The Hubby laid dark laminate floor in the kitchen and his plan is to continue that into the utility room as well, so it all flows nicely and looks good. I don’t know when he’s thinking of doing the hall/stairs and landing, or the spare bedroom, or our bedroom, but we’ll get round to them eventually I’m sure!

Ah well for now I’d better sign off … I’ve got a list of things as long as my arm that I really should be doing instead of sitting here drinking coffee and rambling on! Ho hum!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Update On Footmuffs!

As I said in a previous post, I wasn’t impressed with the size of the footmuff on the Maxi Cosi Mila pushchair. I did notice though that when looking at the Maxi Cosi website, they advertise the footmuff that used to come with the Mura as the ‘Maxi Cosi’ footmuff in general, and it will fit onto any of their brand pushchairs now.

Well, when I first got the Mura footmuff, I couldn’t find one anywhere in Tango Red – to match the Mura. Instead, I originally got a Grey Slice colour – this is an ‘old’ colour so it was cheaper too. The Grey Slice footmuff is the same style footmuff but was produced then specifically for the Grey Slice Mura, and the footmuff has the grey fleecy lining and the outer is black ‘shellsuit’ type fabric, more like a waterproof jacket than the heavier, more canvas feel of the Tango Red footmuff.

Anyway, I used it once on the Mura and it was great and everything but then as luck would have it I happened to find a Tango Red one, and got that. Originally I was going to save the Grey Slice one as a ‘standby’ in case the Tango Red was ever in the wash when I needed it, but then having realised that the size of the Mila footmuff was quite small, I decided to take the Grey Slice footmuff to my mother in laws house for her to use on the Mila, as it fits.

I demonstrated to her how to fit it – as she is an ‘easily confused’ type of person, as I think we’ve established with the whole can’t-fold-the-Zapp-chassis stories, however she was quite happy as I showed her that it wasn’t too bad although it was a bit of a fuss. I said that it was, and you couldn’t leave it in place if it wasn’t needed as there’s no real way of keeping it out of the way if it’s on the pushchair but not in use (unlike the Quinny footmuff, which the back remains in the seat without the front, to provide a seat liner) However as we are now in October I think she’ll be needing the footmuff on more often than off, so we shall see how it goes. Once it was in place and I harnessed in The Boy so she could see from start to finish how to do it, The Boy was then all geared up thinking we were going out somewhere, so he took a walk around in the garden with my father in law to keep him entertained for about fifteen minutes. Back indoors, I walked off and allowed parents in law to remove The Boy from the footmuff and the Mila, which they achieved relatively quickly although there were complaints about how much fussing about it was. Mother in law then started waxing lyrical about old-fashioned pram suits, like the sort The Boy had when he was really tiny, so you put the baby in that and into the pushchair rather than struggling to get a footmuff that’s more like a body bag into place before putting the child into it, but I said to her I hadn’t seen one I could afford in his size and that seemed to persuade her to stop worrying about what I hadn’t got and appreciate what I had! (After all, this is RRP £50 and once again she’s not paid me for it!)

Anyway it was a real success, so I thought I’d share my story that I can confirm the two-legged Maxi Cosi footmuff can be fitted well onto the Mila and does a fab job while it’s there – The Boy was content and warm and cosy as we stood in the autumnal wind watching his parade laps of the garden in his pushchair!

Friday, October 7, 2011


A couple of updates following on from recent previous posts:

I heard back from Tesco customer service last night. They’ve apologised for the problems I encountered when using their own brand disposable nappies and advised that should I purchase them again and have problems, I should return the remainder of the pack, plus proof of purchase, to my store for a full refund and for them to send the remainder of the pack to their quality team for inspection. In addition to this advice, they’ve also offered to send a £5 Tesco Moneycard for me to spend at my local store which is nice of them – but I won’t be purchasing their own brand nappies! Might see what clothing they have for The Boy!

Also, on Tuesday evening I placed an order with Nuby on their own website for a couple of items. I had an e-mail from them almost immediately with my order confirmation, order number and advisory about stock availability (all items in stock) On Wednesday morning I received a further e-mail saying my order had been dispatched and it arrived yesterday morning (Thursday) by Royal Mail ‘signed for’ delivery service. I am very impressed and will be writing a review for the new products once The Boy and I have used them – we got a 2 pack of the Red Car design Insulated Flip It cup for £5.49. In addition, at the moment (and for the whole of October) Nuby are offering free delivery on your orders to support Breast Cancer Care and the whole website is PINK to show their support. Well worth having a look!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Product Review: The Maxi Cosi Mila

How Much? RRP £200

I’ve said a couple of times in previous entries how much my mother in law hated the Quinny Zapp. She couldn’t get on with it at all, and every time we went to visit she would go on for a good half hour about why she hated it so much. I took the hint, and sought out a pushchair that ticked her boxes.

One thing she was fond of saying was that the fold/unfold was very complicated (for those of you who’ve never played with a Zapp before, it’s a very straightforward pressing of buttons 1, 2 and 3 whether folding or unfolding). I think her main problem was that it didn’t fold/unfold the way she expected it to – i.e. umbrella stroller style. She wanted something that reclined (she didn’t get on with the Xtra seat unit, either) and she wanted a four wheeler instead of the three.

The Maxi Cosi Mila seemed to tick the boxes, so like a dutiful daughter in law trying to appease the other woman in The Hubby’s life, I went off and brought one. Prior to purchasing, I was dreaming of a gorgeous colour – the Bleached Denim looked promising, but I was disappointed when I saw it in the flesh to find the chassis was quite a purple colour and the fabrics themselves more lilac than blue as well, and the overall look was very feminine. I then admired the Intense Red, til I remembered a conversation previously with the mother in law when she’d mentioned that another factor of the Rebel Red Zapp that she didn’t like was how ‘garishly bright’ the colour was, and after all this purchase was to please her. I eyed the Steel Grey, but decided against it as I knew she would only complain that the fabric was too pale and a nightmare to keep clean (she’s the sort of person who will bleach the sink on a daily basis to keep it bright white and who cleans and organises her kitchen cupboards every month to make sure they look nice and presentable when you look in them) The Dahlia Pink was out of the question for The Boy, so that left me with the Total Black. I picked up the box, paid my money, and off I went.

The Maxi Cosi Mila is designed for use from birth, with a fully lie-flat seat position for younger babies. It has a very nice compact fold (with the standard umbrella fold technique which makes it a one-handed fold, which is handy) It also has a storage lock which clicks on when it’s folded and ensures it won’t come unfolded while you’re carrying it. The Mila has rear suspension for a ‘smooth’ ride (more on that later!) and comes complete with a matching footmuff for chilly weather, adaptors for the Maxi Cosi Group 0+ carseats, raincover, shopping basket and sun canopy.

I wasn’t about to hand over this purchase without having a play with it myself, so I popped open the box upon my arrival home and unpacked it. The Mila comes pretty much assembled and ready to go – all you have to do is click the wheels into the chassis and it is very straightforward to do, and takes about 30 seconds. Once it’s unfolded and locked into position I found it didn’t feel particularly sturdy – but then I’m used to the Mura, the mother of all buggies as far as sturdiness goes – so I put the flimsy feel of the Mila down to the fact that it was simply a lighter weight pushchair and so was bound to feel a little less solid. The basket is a lovely large size, with space for plenty of shopping, and it is a decent shape too, with high sides so your shopping won’t fall out, and the base of it feels fairly solid so there’s no risk of it sagging down and dragging on the floor. The front wheels swivel, or if you prefer you can lock them with a little grey button located on the front of each wheel – not as convenient as some designs, as you have to bend down to the wheels to lock them, but once locked they are firmly in place and I decided this would please my mother in law no end.

To take the Mila for a test run, I loaded The Boy into it and stuffed the nappy bag into the basket. The weather was cool and drizzly, so I added the footmuff before putting The Boy into it and found that despite his age (he was 10 months old at the time) he almost reached the end of the footmuff. I know he is tall for his age, but surely the footmuff should be able to accommodate a child of up to at least 18 months old? There is a clever little design addition on the footmuff on the inside – a layer of plastic around the bottom end of the footmuff, so that if your LO has been walking around and has dirty shoes on, the plastic will protect the inside of the footmuff from becoming filthy, enabling you to wipe clean when you get home – but due to the small size of the footmuff I can’t see many children capable of walking around still being able to fit into it. Snug and cosy in the footmuff and with the raincover in the basket along with the nappy bag ready for the next drizzle that was sure to happen while we were out, we set off. I straight away didn’t like the fact that The Boy wasn’t facing me, but it’s the same with the Quinny Zapp and he seems to quite enjoy having a good nose about, so I tried not to dwell on that point. (After all, at no point did Maxi Cosi advertise a parent-facing option for this model).

Our town is what I’d describe as pretty average as far as bumps in the pavements, cracks in the roads, there’s some crossings with those knobbly style paving slabs up to the dropped curb edge and a section of cobbles at the front of a particularly old pub, it’s mostly fairly flat but there are some gentle slopes here and there, and usually in the Mura, The Boy is perfectly contented and comfortable as the Mura glides effortlessly over all the imperfections. The Mila, however, despite the claim of ‘rear suspension for a smooth ride’ really wasn’t offering a smooth ride. The Boy was wobbled and jolted, jiggled and bounced along as I struggled with the smallest of bumps (those paving slabs at the crossing were a nightmare) and at every tiny crack or uneven patch or curb I had to do the old stop-and-tip-backwards technique, which is something I’m not too familiar with, being used to the Mura which you can plough toward anything and it will bump up or down with minimum effort. I found it quite scary crossing the main roads, as I was still in the road putting the pushchair onto the back wheels and trying to get up the curb when a vehicle whizzed by behind me so closely at times I thought they were trying to pick my pocket! Mid-way through our maiden voyage, the rain started spitting so I pulled into the shelter of a shop front with a large porch and put on the raincover. Being brand new it was stiff and awkward, but no more than usual, and it fitted the seat well. However I was disappointed to find that the moment we stepped out of the shelter of the shop front, it flapped about a fair bit in the wind and to be honest I was quite concerned I was going to loose it – and it wasn’t a particularly windy day, certainly not compared to what I’ve witnessed in our time living around here! (For instance, a few weeks back the wind was so strong that it knocked over an ancient wall surrounding a local churchyard) We continued on our journey and reached our destination – I had letters to post, and the only post box in town I trust to be collected on time is the one on the front wall of the post office itself. As this is on a slight slope I took care to angle the Mila so that it couldn’t simply roll away down the slope, and I applied the brake before putting the letters in the post box. (Keeping one hand on the pushchair at all times, obviously, as per the user manual of not leaving the pushchair ‘unattended’)

A friend came out of the post office and we had a quick chat until The Boy became verbal so I bid her goodbye and we set off. I’d got a good few paces down the road when I realised I hadn’t released the brakes – yet the Mila was moving easily. I pressed the pedal to dis-engage the brakes and pushed forward, and while it was easier it certainly hadn’t been difficult to do with the brakes in the ‘engaged’ position. I stood there for a while, engaging the brakes and seeing whether there was something I’d missed, whether perhaps I hadn’t done it properly or if there was something I’d done wrong, but as far as I could tell the brakes really were that lazy.

The rain stopped and the sun broke through the clouds, so I removed the raincover and put it back in the basket but left the sun canopy down to shield The Boy from the brightest of the sunshine. It’s a good size sun canopy and provided good protection – until The Boy realised he could get his hand out between the seat fabric and the sun canopy and was pulling at the fabric, waving at passers by and undoing the Velcro fastenings that join the sun canopy to the seat fabric!

On the way home, The Boy went very quiet and when I checked he’d fallen asleep, so I decided to try and recline the Mila to see how well that worked. The Mila has a very simple recline, a bungee cord on the back with a plastic toggle, so in the upright position the toggle is pulled as tightly as it can be on the bungee cord and to recline you gradually move the toggle down the bungee cord. I loosened it off and lowered it back, and it was easy to do but I’m not convinced that the toggle is strong enough for a much heavier child – for instance, up to the 15kg that the pushchair is meant to be able to cope with. We bumped and jiggled and bounced and wiggled our way home again and I must say I was so pleased to get home and be finished with my test run of the Mila. I was thoroughly unimpressed that this pushchair is RRP £200 yet I could have got the same quality with a cheap, £20 stroller. While I may not have got the footmuff and the raincover I don’t think they’ve been particularly well designed or made anyway so I wouldn’t like to guess how long they might last. I also noticed that despite the fact our journey had only been a short one – a couple of miles worth of walking around town – the wheels were already looking quite battered and worn.

To get the Mila back into the house, I either needed someone else to help me lift it up the two steps and over the lip of the front door, or I needed to pull in backwards. With my Mura, this is no problem – while the movement bounces The Boy a fair bit he does generally stay asleep if he’s already asleep, and the Mura can take a fair bit of rough handling and pulling backwards without complaint. The Mila is a different story – When we went out, my mum had picked up the front and I’d lifted the back to get it out of the door, and as we’d done so the footrest (where she grabbed hold of it) started to fold onto her finger, despite the fact the pushchair was fully locked out into position, and gave her a black ‘pinch’ mark where it had caught her skin. On the way back in, she decided she’d rather not risk that again and was trying to figure out how else she could grab it, so I said to her that I’d do it alone as I wouldn’t always have someone to help me anyway, and I wanted to see how well it would cope with the fairly simple task of getting into the front door. Upon pulling it backward just a short distance the rear wheels splayed out noticeably and when bumping up the steps and over the lip of the door it jolted quite a lot. While Maxi Cosi may say this pushchair is suitable from birth I would certainly not use it for a newborn or young baby for the jolt factor alone – after all, we’ve all been told how dangerous ‘shaken baby’ syndrome can be! And even if you used a carseat on the chassis, surely this kind of jolting could damage the carseat with the same type of hairline fractures they warn against if you drop or bang the carseat?

Once we had got The Boy out I removed the wheels and gave them a clean and hung out the raincover to make sure it was dry before packing the Mila back up into the box ready to go to the mother in laws house. I can’t say I was particularly sorry to see it go, either – I really didn’t rate this pushchair at all. Why would you pay so much money for something that performs the same as a much cheaper product? I was bitterly disappointed, but still I took it round to the mother in law the next time we visited.

She was thrilled. She got it out of the box, attached the wheels without worry and unfolded it with a single, simple movement. She loved the fact that it is a four wheeler, and she particularly likes it with the front wheels in the locked position (even though I really can’t get on with it like that!) She loves that she can load the shopping basket with daily essentials if she has to go to the village shop when she’s looking after The Boy, and she loves how easy the footmuff is to operate (she didn’t like the Quinny footmuff and for the life of me I can’t work out why she thinks the Maxi Cosi Mila footmuff is any different!) She also prefers the Total Black as it’s a nice, understated, non-attention-seeking colour and as my sister in law was pregnant at the time of the purchase she decided it was just as well to have black as it was neutral (as it turned out, my sister in law had a son too, so it wouldn’t have mattered if we got a particularly ‘boyish’ colour, not that there was one available in my opinion) For the 2012 collection I have seen the Checker Blue option which is a much nicer blue than the Bleached Denim and has a silver chassis instead of them trying to match it to the fabrics and not quite making it, and it looks much better. The mother in law also praised the nice large sun canopy (even though The Boy sticks his hands out the gap!) and the comfortable hand grips (more angled than the Zapp, but still hard plastic and, as far as I’m concerned, no more comfortable than the Zapp handles).  She hasn’t stopped complimenting it since we brought it, and she’s more than happy to take The Boy out by herself, with her dog in rain or shine now she has a buggy she’s happy with. (And yes, she does remove the wheels after each use to clean them!)

I don’t like the Mila: But she adores it – I guess it just goes to show that everyone’s different. The only trouble is now when we go round there if we all go out together I don’t like using her Mila so I end up taking my Zapp anyway which kind of negates half the point of her having a buggy at her house!