29 Jun 2014

Parenting - an idiots guide

I was recently bought a copy of 'First-Time Parent'  by Lucy Atkins. I've avoided buying baby books during my pregnancy because I expected to feel overwhelmed by the information in them and thought I would just google anything I wanted to know or ask friends and family. My mam kindly bought this for us so I thought I'd give it a go and I've been so impressed. It's a total idiots guide, it's not too wordy or preachy, and best of all there's no bulls**t. Atkins tells you what you need, what not to spend money on if you don't want to, and all the things you probably would feel silly asking - like how to change a nappy. Let's face it, these skills aren't innate and if you don't know many or any people with children, why the hell would you know how to look after a child?

Here's the Amazon description:

Forget unrealistic childcare manuals – this is the book you really need to help you cope brilliantly with those first chaotic days and months ahead.

As a health journalist and mother-of-three, Lucy Atkins is familiar with both the medical aspects of childbirth and baby development, and the reality of day-to-day life as an exhausted first-time mum or dad. In her feisty, humorous style, she begins with that first mind-blowing day and addresses the issues unique to the first-time parent who stares at their newborn and thinks “Where are the instructions?”

Anticipating the questions and concerns of all new mothers–Why does my baby cry so much? Will I ever lose all this weight? Am I a bad parent because…?–the book provides practical advice and level-headed reassurance. It addresses the needs of the baby and, very importantly, those of the parent during the first year of their baby’s life.

Contents include:

• Starter’s orders – the equipment and kit you really need, as opposed to what the department store tells you
• Hello – how to cope with the first few hours
• Start – coming home, bonding, how to survive the first few days
• Sleep – for everyone!
• Cry – why your baby cries, what to do, why you'll want to cry, too
• Eat –breastfeeding, supplemental feeding, moving to solids, nutrition
• Grow – baby's physical and mental development
• Play – yes, you two actually can have fun
• Thrive – health considerations for baby and parent
• Live – adapting to your new life, the changing mother-father relationship
• Work – coping with being at home and with going back to work
• Also includes information on single parenting, and on adopted, multiple and special needs babies.

The First-Time Parent is on your side, and reassures that you can cope brilliantly with your new baby and your new life.

I felt like Atkins was an honest mate. Someone who you'd feel comfortable receiving guidance from whilst having a laugh. My favourite points have been that it's not patronising, there are plenty of references to the father's role to keep all the lovely dads informed and there are no guilt trips about breast-feeding, instant connections with your baby, feeling like you have to be the human embodiment of Mother Nature and all that clap trap. It's a really healthy account of how to take on the roles of mother and father and how you shouldn't feel guilty about trying your best. Perhaps an attitude a few health professionals could adopt and cut new parents some slack.

If you're a first-time mammy or daddy and fancy a read of something understanding, to-the-point and how you'd probably want to explain parenting to a newbie, this is the book for you. 

17 Jun 2014

Tilly's Teesside Tea and Troughing Tour

I'm a lady who loves her cuppas and food. On my days off I love popping to a coffee shop or restaurant, particularly the little indie gems. For those in Teesside and perhaps those who visit our little region, I thought I'd list and/or review the places that I've visited so I can share my views or introduce people to places the might not otherwise have heard of.

I've already written about one such gem, 'The Waiting Room', Eaglescliffe. You can read about it on the link. It's a cracking place, great food, great drinks (the local wines are lovely) and very friendly service. That should start you off!

If you've got any favourite tea rooms or restaurants for me to try, please let me know and I'll give them a go. Let the eating and drinking commence!

16 Jun 2014

Needle Phobia - a positive update

It's been well over a year since I addressed this point on the blog but I thought it deserved an update. The first post regarding my needle phobia is here if anyone wanted to read it again or give it a first look.

In this last year and a bit I've realised that I couldn't go on avoiding needles forever. It would be nice if that was the case but  it's not very realistic. We've all seen people like The Speakmans on the television helping people overcome these debilitating phobias and really improving these peoples lives, but I didn't have hundreds of pounds to spend on getting better and as a last straw kind of move, I even applied to be part of the show they've recorded this year. I didn't end up participating - I didn't get chosen for the pilot show and by the time I got asked to apply again for the commissioned series I was already exploring other avenues but for anyone who knows me, this was a really out of character thing for me to do, perhaps demonstrating just how desperate I was.

In October last year, something happened which made me hit breaking point with it all and I found the number of a service in the area that I'd seen advertised my my workplace. 'Talking Matters' is a place where you can be referred by your Dr or you can do what I did and self-refer. They deal with phobias, OCD, stress, anxiety and depression issues, and you can read about their services on the link. I nervously dialled the number and the lady who picked up the phone was amazingly understanding when I laid my cards on the table and asked if they could help. They said they'd ring me the following week for an assessment of my needs and they were very punctual and sensitive when I had this appointment. Long story short, I was paired with a lovely chap I've since called Phobia Phil. We've worked through lots of Cognitive Behavioural therapy (CBT) techniques to try to teach me how to get a handle on all of this and whilst there have been tears and emotional conversations, I cannot believe how much of a difference this course of action has made to my life.

One of the reasons I wanted to get treatments for my phobia was because my husband and I wanted to have a family and as you know I'm now very pregnant. 'Talking Matters' has enabled me to do one of the things I never thought possible and that was to have blood taken, albeit from my hand, for the first time in 23 years. I'm still working hard to get the courage and discipline to have blood taken from the bend of my arm but it's not something I see as impossible anymore which is half the battle. I'm due some more tests in the next week and I won't lie, I'm still very frightened but the fact that I'm talking about it and getting it done is incredible. I feel like someone has waved a magic wand over me.

Please, please seek help with your phobia or anxiety problem if you have one. Talking Matters is my local service on Teesside but there should be similar provision around the country so ask your GP or Google it to find yours. You don't have to suffer and be like that for the rest of your life. I wish someone had given me the information to sort this out for myself sooner and I'll never look back. Who knows, it might just save your life.