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You know how you bust your ass doing something and then something else happens and then you wondered why you bothered with something but you're going to keep going on with something because seriously, some things just cannot happen yet and what the hell?

Yesterday, Isaac tried his first solids. He had two tiny spoons of baby food. Not even baby rice, or you know, water, milky crap runny stuff that tastes of fuck all, no no. Proper. Baby. Food. SOme sort of chicken and peach and another random vegetable. And he liked it. The boy who has had nothing other than boob juice in it's various hint-of-whatever-mom-just-ate forms.

And then today? This happened.

He ate HALF A JAR of food. Oh wait, did I say "ate"? I meant DEVOURED.

This of course comes JUST after my boobs are pretty much fully recovered, I'm halfway to restocking the freezer (57fl.oz so far since last weekend) and I was still trying to grasp the idea that WAAHHHHH THIS IS MAH BAYYYYYBEEEEEEEEEE.

I expressed this in one sitting this morning.

He still has boob juice every 2 - 3 hours (god forbid I should try to push more than three hours). And he's had the solids in the evenings before his last feed. D and I thought "hah! Hahaha! This'll be a laugh, right? He'll barely eat any, he'll struggle with the spoon."

Nope, nope, any spillage was my own fault (missed his mouth), he easily (and forcefully) guided my spoon-wielding hand towards his mouth with minimal effort, and he ate the food off it like a pro. Or like someone who was quite prepared to eat "real food".

Think I might take him to Pizza Hut next week.
I've done Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday flying solo. D has been working early (from like, 4am ACK) so from when they first wake up to about tea time, the challenge to manage the boys is on.

For the most part it's been fine. Apart from on Tuesday, when I put my phone in my back pocket as normal, to try to keep it away from Noah (who likes to keep handing me the phone, and gets pissed when I put it down; I'm yet to understand this). Went to change Isaac's nappy on the floor (you know, for the fun of it) and on removing the phone from my pocket, the screen was an array of spectacular blobs and colours. Broken LCD. Juussssst greeeeaaaaat.

And I confess whenever Noah starts whining, and Isaac starts screaming, I do struggle not to scream and whine right back at them. But I haven't cried yet (Yet! I said YET!) and I got them to playgroup on Tuesday...and we're hopefully going to sort out my phone this afternoon...and I might even get to the park tomorrow (weather pending).

Like I said before, I know there are moms who do this all the time and don't bat an eyelid. They have like, millions of kids, and they just take each day in their stride. Any mom who does that, just gets on with it, I totally admire.

As I said before, I have such little faith in myself, and while my hips and pelvis are starting to show marked improvement (thanks to private physio and chiropractor session at £40 for half an hour - ouch...) I'm obviously still loathe to go over board and end up making them worse again.

I think it's helped that Noah's starting to show improvement with his all night coughing; I took him to the Dr's on Monday afternoon and they've now given him an inhaler to use before he goes to bed. It's a struggle, but it seems to be helping a little. Not so great that they both like to wake up around 5:30 a.m. But at least they're both in bed by 7p.m.

I don't know. I'd be lying if I said I didn't want the Nanny back; the house is a mess and there's laundry seemingly everywhere, and I could just do with 5 minutes to do some more work, and I'd like to sneak out to Subway for lunch and whatever. But for all my self doubting, I don't think I'm doing too bad a job actually.
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Lately I've had a bit of fun with some guest blogging, the first being a breastfeeding post over at Blacktating, and I just can't turn down the opportunity to share in someone else's blog, especially when theirs is such a good read!

So a few days ago I had a twitter message from the ever lovely Mary Ruth saying she would like to ask me some questions on dealing with boys vs. girls, and how it affects me as a parent. The questions are GREAT and totally made me smile; I thoroughly enjoyed answering them.

Mary Ruth is an awesome young mum; she lives in Virginia USA and has an adorable little girl, Sidney, who is just a few months older than Noah. She's soon to be married, loves cheesecake, and I'm quietly hoping she's going to Blogher10 so I can meet her next year. I may squeal. Quite a lot.

Please go and have a read of our answers over at her blog, you won't be disappointed, and check out the rest of her blog too! She's got some fab stuff over there.
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This week, and next week, the Nanny is on holiday. I was planning on spending the first week sobbing helplessly at my crap skills being a mom of two. I also expect to spend some time feeling considerably overwhelmed with it all, and hating myself and all my inabilities by the end of, say, Tuesday.

I'm not exactly scared, as it were, but I have an awful lot of self-doubt. Now I know there are literally millions of moms out there who deal with two or more children every single day, on their own, and they get on with it and do a fab job.

I often feel pathetic and useless. I get so frustrated as soon as the shit starts to hit the fan, and sometimes it's all I can do to stop myself from putting the boys somewhere safe in the house and going to sit in the car to just cry for a while.

As ever, I just want to do the best for them. But I know things won't always run smoothly. I know more often than not, the shit will (most probably and quite literally) hit the fan. Noah has been vile for the last few days; and he's had a cough (again) for coming up just over three weeks. It's driving us all nuts, including him. He's tired, he's cranky, his eating is completely out the frigging window (and there's a whole other post) and yet you can see the frustration in the way he's being. Oddly enough, I truly believe he doesn't want to be thoroughly unpleasant. And incidentally, he's still got one more molar to come through before his mouth starts to look anything like normal again.

I knew things wouldn't be easy having two very demanding children. Isaac behaves very much like Noah did, having only very short (and few) cat naps of around 10 - 20 minutes, and his longest nap is usually just as Noah's getting up from his nap. Of course I didn't expect them to be synced together; for me that's ridiculous wishful thinking. But he's also very much the "upright" kid. He normally sleeps on his front but has taken to rolling on his back at every opportunity, and has only just figured out rolling onto his front again. And getting him to sleep is interesting, given that there is just TOO MUCH going on in the world. Too. Frigging. Much.

I'm hoping to get out the house every day if I can. I've been having tons of physio for my hip and pelvis and it's working amazingly (thank GOD) and having had an MRI scan last week, we should hopefully see some clear indications of what else can be done. So mobility-wise, I'm getting somewhere (pun intended).

Meh. I suspect I'll have died by Wednesday.
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I mentioned Isaac's weight gain had been a bit piss-poor lately. He's basically gained 8oz - ish in the last month. And so of course, Ms HV #9 (I've lost count) is talking about monitoring his weight gain and topping him up with formula. I know this isn't a huge issue (to some) because it's not like I'd be stopping breastfeeding entirely. Also, there have been some uh, milk and boob issues lately.

Thankfully my milk is making it's reappearance, and I'm doing all I can to rebuild freezer supplies. It's slow, and my boobs are still on the mend (I shit myself every time they twinge a bit, especially as I forgot to finish the last day of my meds) but it's better than nothing and I'm thankful for every last ounce I can, uh squeeze out.

I'm trying so hard to maintain, and whilst I've had so much support (thank you ALL, you are all wonderful), it's getting very frustrating. Isaac is feeding every 2 hours and he falls asleep most of the time on the boob. And I'm doing everything short of dancing around the room while he's feeding to keep him awake.

And interestingly enough, two weeks went by before he pooped. Two. Whole. Weeks. During which time he gained 8oz. And I suspect, in the last 24 hours, he may actually have crapped it all out again. And a bit extra, for good measure. I've lost count how many times he's pooped since yesterday. He doesn't even seem bothered.

So what am I to do? It's my decision, I know that. I'm trying my absolute best, but my frigging paranoia eats at me and makes me wonder if I should just become another common "statistic" and just give it up. I don't mean to offend anyone, I know we all have our own views on breastfeeding, which I totally appreciate. But sometimes it feels like people and circumstances are trying to make the decisions for me. Day to day, the only supportive people who I'm physically in contact with have been D and the Nanny. I've gotten pissed with people for snapping at me in the midst of it all, when all I wanted was a little support or help. Even to just offer a drink while I'm desperately trying to feed. Ask if there's anything they can do, even there isn't.

And now, the freaking guilt (the guilt, damn you) makes me wonder if I'm completely in the wrong. Isaac is otherwise doing really well. He sleeps through the night (apart from when he's filling another nappy or rolling onto his back to talk to his mobile at 3 a.m.), he naps during the day, he has wet nappies...so what's the problem, right?

This fucking guilt. I could just do without it now. I'm doing my damned best already.
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Ok I'm curious about many things when it comes to breastfeeding. I know how I've dealt with it all, and how I'm coping now. I can commit the crime of googling all manner of message boards and seeing other women's input. But they never seem to answer my questions directly. And I'm left still curious.

So in this post, I'm going to ramble and babble a bit, you know, to be different, and then I would love as much of your feedback as possible. I want to hear your stories. Comments, emails, texts - I don't mind. Write it down so I can have time to look over them all properly. But I really want to hear from you. Thanks.

Did you supplement your breastfeeding? With what? Why?

How long did you breast feed for? Why did you stop? Why did you go so long? Would you have gone longer?

Do you know how much milk you were producing? Did your supplies ever drop? How do you know? Did your little one start losing weight? Did they gain too much weight?

What did you do to keep up supplies? Did you eat specific foods? Did you drastically change your diet? Did you avoid anything like the plague? Why?

Did you express your milk? Which method worked best for you, hand or pump? Could you see differences in your milk at different times of the day? What sort of differences?

Did you have any problems breastfeeding? Mastitis? Thrush? Low supply? Over supply? "Let-Down" problems? Sore nipples? How did you deal with it all?

Ok, your turn!
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Sweet Lord. Why do you test me so? Do you not feel it is enough to be a mother of two very young, lovely children, that you must add extra traumas to the situation? Is my body not wrecked enough for you that you must destroy it a little more? Do you enjoy watching me smack my head against a (any) wall (daily) in frustration?

Sunday night/Monday morning, a suspicious growing pain in left boob woke me up. I didn't panic, that nipple's been "off" for ages so I put it down to that. However, at 2 am when I was shoving my fist in mouth to keep from screaming in agony and thought I might pass out from pain, I had a tiny inkling that something was up. So I took a 50mg cocodamol.

Half an hour later, when I was wondering if I would be able to move my arm or touch my boob (in a pervy way or not, I didn't care) and whether I might suddenly ralph over everything in sight for the sheer pain, I wondered what I should do next apart from wait for the pain killer to kick in.

Yeah, um, one hour after taking the first cocodamol I decided it was time for another. When I'm sat there sobbing to D saying that I'd rather be in labour again, I figured that was saying something. So I took another. And finally passed out. Possibly from pain? I dunno, I like to think so because it kind of sounds dramatic. It's most likely it was just something dull like sheer frigging exhaustion.

Unfortunately, after falling asleep sometime around 3 am, Noah awoke at about 6:30. That, I could deal with. But then Isaac awoke at 7. And he. Was. HUNGRY.

What's a mom to do? Feed their kid, right? So feeling like I might actually pass out or puke, I put him on right somehow, hoping to god and beyond belief that he wouldn't accidentally knock left (which of course did happen, but you know, I {literally} won't hold it against him.)

I put him on. I grabbed my little plastic wastepaper bin.

And threw up. Repeatedly.

And I hadn't even eaten, so I'm sure you can guess how lovely THAT was.*

You know, it takes some skill to be in agony, feed your kid (AND still totally love them), up-chuck and clench hard enough to not completely pee yourself at the same time.

I spent most of Monday in a sweaty daze; D took me to the Dr in the morning who confirmed mastitis and a thrush infection of the milk ducts, all on left boob. She also said my left boob was "hot enough to fry an egg on", which of course, I take as a compliment (whether she meant "hot" or "hawt" is a different matter).

I was very pleased to discover the results of my fever that evening, which read 40.2 degrees, or 104 degrees if you please (now that's "hawt").

Thankfully I've managed to break the fever, and left boob has been re-established (how I even got mastitis in it I'll never know, because I was still feeding Isaac on it, but you know, whatever). I don't scream when it touches the bed as I lie down, and the only problems now is that whole nipple-at-the-bottom-of-the-bed fear (because I swear they're determined not to heal up and they WILL appear down there one day) and trying not to let the pools of sweat collecting in my eyes when I lie on my back bother me too much.

Noah is covered in spots. Yes, AGAIN. You know what? I'm not even going to call chicken pox this time. I don't even know. We're starting to eliminate different things that it could be. And we actually don't have a clue. We could take him back to the docs (which would quite possibly be a record for the most number of doctor trips in a year). Hell, we could let the boy run around naked only eating bread and water (and he wouldn't complain) and we don't think it'd make a difference.

So I bet it's chicken pox.

Isaac hasn't put on any weight. Actually, correction. 3 weeks ago he hadn't put on any weight. 2 weeks ago, he'd lost 2 ounces. So needless to say, I'm blaming myself. D is, of course and as ever, being as supportive as he possibly can. He knows I'm trying my damndest to keep the boy fed. But after the last straw today (in which I can't blog about here, I think, but someone REALLY pushed me to my sanity limits today) and starting to feel like a failure, I'm wondering if I should stop. Whether I should give up flying the breastfeeding flag, let the good ship sink, bid it adieu. I don't want to, but it seems like I'm not even fighting "physical issues" anymore.

I haven't had chance to rebuild milk stores ready for my next concert (rehearsals start end of August) and the pressure is building fast. My boobs have been a mess and in very little state to express efficiently. There's a frigging annoying voice in the back of my head which keeps saying "just give him formula! He won't even care!" Well you know what? You're right. He probably wouldn't give a monkey's right bollock. But I would. And that matters to me.

And it's only Wednesday.

*Barfing is somehow easier when there's food to barf up.

(Isaac - 13 weeks, Noah - 19 months)
I've been doing a lot of reading around lately, and what I'm enjoying the most is reading other people's blogs. There are so many to choose from, many of which are listed in my blogroll (see left). However, one such person who has caught my eye lately, for numerous reasons, is MochaMomma, and especially, this post.

Oddly enough, it struck a chord with me for very bizarre and perhaps selfish reasons. And yet somehow, just the first few paragraphs seemed to reflect a great deal of my life.

One of the first things I remember growing up, where I began to realise the colour of my skin was some sort of "issue", was when I started to play the cello. Even though I was only 6 years old, it was noted that there were kids wanting to learn who, well, weren't white. Other "coloured"* kids dropped out over time.

The skin colour hit home more when in various youth orchestras, concert audience members would ask me "what it was like to be a black person in an orchestra, to be the only black one playing?" And even better was to spot random black people in the audience and ask me "if they were my family?"

It came to a head when throughout high school, I was bullied for nearly 4 years, for not being a "proper" black person. To this day, I can only assume it was because I didn't play proper black music but chose the cello instead, didn't wear trousers that hung off of my ass, have heavy gold jewelry hanging off every body part and be able to "bogle" (yes, they asked me, and my white friends, if we could "bogle". And laughed at us when we said no).

I thank the gods that since high school, I've been able to laugh off questions about my colour and how I manage to "cope" in society; but I'm saddened too because I've had to resort to blaming it on ignorance. I wanna say it's ok, I can deal...but we shouldn't be ignorant to it, you know?

MochaMomma addresses education and educators and race, and I myself still have to question the attitudes of colour within education. Many people will say that most black people have a chip on their shoulder, and that's why it's all such a taboo issue. My children are mixed race, or half caste if you will, and it's more than likely they'll be labelled. People will have to get to know them before coming to a fair judgement. Supposedly. But it's ok, Jay, because you're different, you're not really a black person, you're not like the rest of them.

Guys? I'm still black. No seriously! Look closely! It's not a tan, or boot polish, I swear.

I'm not even sure where I'm going with this post, but for some reason, the post I read really struck a chord with me. I barely understand the post (because my nose is stuffy, my head is swimming with exhaustion and I should have been in bed three hours ago). But it still struck me. Go and have a read. And be more educated about colour.

If she goes to Blogher10, and is doing a panel, you can pretty much bet your ass I'm gonna be there.*** Because she's black? No. Because she's "addressing issues appropriate to me to which I can relate"? Actually, no.

It's mainly because she's a pretty inspiring lady.

*In quote marks because being called coloured bothers me...I'm not some kind of black outline that's been coloured** in.

**And incidentally, white folk are blue when they're down, red when hot, purple when cold, grey when dead, green when ill and brown when they want to be tanned - who's the coloured one now??!!

***HELL YEAH I'm planning on going to BlogHer10!!!
I mentioned a while ago that I was thinking about having a change in direction with my life. I had/have gotten so tired of being utterly shat upon in the music industry, which has been going on for some time. The ensembles I play with at the minute I really enjoy, mainly because there's no pressure, and they play for fun. There's little politics. I don't do well with politics. It's dull. So I like where I'm at.

Of course I won't give up the cello entirely, as I'm sure there are a few people who would like me to. But it's been a part of me for 24 years, so I'm not gonna say goodbye in a hurry. (Nyer nyer!) But it has to be said, even teaching is considerably dull to me now.

So I've had some other options. And as I'm sure you can already tell from the pointless babbling crap that was the previous two paragraphs, I'm still apprehensive/nervous/shitting myself astronomically about this "new path" I'm thinking about taking.

Ok...how about I start this way.

I'm thinking about doing more of this stuff.

And no, I don't mean having children and growing flowers, I mean photography. It's something a lot of people do, and also something that everyone seems to be. "These days, anyone with a camera is a photographer". I don't want to be anyone. I want to be someone.

It's nice when people say that my pictures are very nice, and the rest, but I want to know what my full potential is. I want to see how far I can go.

I've been inspired by several people, and though I don't think I could ever do the stuff they do, I'd like to think maybe possibly somehow I could possibly maybe perhaps have a little go. Possibly.

Any suggestions/tips/advice/reality checks welcome.
I've been MIA for a while because there's shit loads of stuff going on at the mo. And they're all significant enough for me to want to bury my head for a little bit.

I can't say what's been getting to me the most; each "issue" comes with it's own niggles. My own body is making me very nervous at the moment, mainly because I feel like it is seriously failing me. My right hip has never been the same since delivering Isaac. There have been times, all too often, where I'm not even limping around the house, I simply can't even lift my foot up off the floor. Like, actually dragging my leg behind me, no ability to move from the spot I'm standing on, unless I can grab something to drag myself along.

Now I know I'm really good at exaggerating. But this whole leg thing? That's the truth. And it scares the shit out of me. I think back to the medals I used to win for athletics; how I held records for sprinting; and wonder if I will ever be even a shadow of my physically fit former self.

It terrifies me that I can't even run up the stairs. I can walk for maybe 15 minutes (if I don't hurt in the first place) before I'm in agony. No position is comfortable to sleep in. It scares me shitless that when lying on my back, and the doc says "ok, raise your right leg", I can't. It's like someone asked me to pick up a house. I just physically can not do it.

And even worse lately, I feel utterly shit (and stupid) for previously being so proud about my milk stores; there's hardly any milk left in the freezer, and milk on tap is very low. Isaac hasn't put on any weight at all for 2 weeks now. Mme. HV has said not to get him weighed next week, but to wait til the week after. Yes, ok he sleeps through the night. Yes ok, he's one pretty active kiddo already. I can dig that. And I guess you're all saying "Well he's such a contented baby, he is sleeping through the night and has been for some time (you jammy bitch and we all hate you)" which I can understand.

But there's a silent panic, you know? That uneasy feeling of wondering if one day I'm suddenly going to have no milk and he's gonna be...uh, the other stuff. The F Word, if you will. I don't want to go down that route. I don't judge anyone else, but for me personally, that would feel like I'd failed somehow.

I repeat, I do NOT judge anyone else for using formula...this is just my personal view on bringing up my own child.

And then there's my questionable stomach muscles, or lack thereof. Granted in the last 2 years I've carried a total of 22lbs of baby, so my stomach is shot to shit. I can understand that. And no, I don't expect to see dramatic changing results overnight. I appreciate that. But some, just some improvement would be good, you know? I'd like to NOT have a spare tyre around my waist. I don't over eat (I don't get chance) and don't have the capability to do the exercises I'd like to do. I'm tired of sitting on my ass because I can't do much else, feeling like some kind of lazy slob.

I'm doing mild crunches just to get the muscles to knit back together (after delivery there was a gap of about 4 fingers worth). It bothers me. A LOT. And I don't feel good about myself at all. I hate the way I look. It sucks.

The whole house selling thing sucks. D working every insane hour and hardly getting to see his boys sucks. This constant headache and lack of sleep sucks. The boys being poorly AGAIN sucks.

So, you know, for fun, I thought I'd save up all my whining and vent it all out to you guys in one go.

I know. That sucks too.