Ex Pat Mamma

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Somewhere along the way, I lost a post

Er pupo, my beloved, is flourishing. The boy who would wail and whine and cry and moan until I held him during our winter vacation has now moved on. I rush home from work at 4pm, scoop him up into my arms, feed him, cuddle him, play with him, clean him and... the whole time his big blue eyes follow his father around the room. And should his father leave the room, he stares at the door. Well, thanks, buddy.

Bah humbug. I know ginger tomcats with more loyalty.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Dear Little Chef....

30 January 2006


With reference to your letter marked EP/CRN 122755 HO of 19th January 2006, I wish to express our disappointment vis-à-vis the dismissively bureaucratic tone and the derisory compensation enclosed.

In your letter, you claim that the restaurant in Tomatin “had already been ear-marked for closure”, as though that could justify the fact that it was not provided with heating facilities in the disabled toilet. This restaurant has been in operation for approximately 20 years! Having an unheated disabled toilet in the middle of a Scottish winter is tantamount to having no disabled toilet at all – and a violation of the Disability Discrimination Act.

You mention that your “restaurant managers have been made aware that they can request… portable heaters.” Might I suggest that not only may they request them, they be obliged to do so.

My son’s cold eventually developed into asthmatic bronchitis and bronchiolitis. This involved an emergency hospital visit, 2 inhalers and antibiotics for a related ear infection. The antibiotics in turn triggered fungal infections in his stomach, hampering his appetite, and a fungal nappy rash, causing considerable further discomfort. It is likely that he will now suffer from asthma in the future, despite the fact that he had shown no prior indication of this. We had to cancel his swimming lessons.

Frankly, the ten pounds voucher is an insult. Firstly, it does not come close even to the costs of his medical bills (to date, around seventy pounds), not to mention the extent of his suffering and our related anxiety and stress. Secondly, as it is in the form of a voucher demarcated for redemption only at little chef, its real value is negligible. Thirdly, the limited validity of the voucher, given your knowledge that we live abroad, appears as a cynical attempt to prevent us using it.

You thank us for “bringing this matter to your attention”; we hope that, by returning it to your attention, you will give it some more careful consideration.

Yours sincerely,

Sunday, January 29, 2006

oooo ya!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

ooooo be afraid

So the little chef replied to my complaint. I was kindly informed that the Tomatin little chef is "earmarked for closure" which is why they haven't bothered to heat the disabled loo (for 20 years!) and that managers "could" borrow a portable heater if they wanted. To top it off, I was given, wait for it, a 10 pounds voucher to be used in any little chef by the end of June. Pupo's medicine and hospital trip probably amount to 60 or 70 before we start! I almost relish the opportunity to reply to them. The word "derisory" will be in there at least once.

Pupo, on the other hand, is finally recovering. He went to the doc on Tuesday and his lungs are tip top again. He still has a slight cough so should get the inhaler till it is totally gone and will need it again if he gets a cough or cold in the future, but for now, the bronchitis and bronchiolitis are licked. Yeehah! The tummy ache and nappy rash are related; if a fungal infection on the butt isn't bad enough, the antibiotics also allowed a fungal infection in the stomach. Gross. But even that is almost gone and pupo is eating and drinking again.

Work is good, productive; hubby has settled at home and now can actually go out for a walk with boy now and again.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Getting There....

Not only was pupo suffering from nappy rash, but he had a sore tummy too and wouldn't drink his milk. He was thristy and would eagerly grab the bottle and suck, but after a few seconds would start to cry and kick his legs. On Friday evening, we phoned the duty dr to ask if it would be ok to stop the antibiotics and he agreed. Pupo is a different person! He is so perky, drinking and eating well again and his butt is well on the road to recovery. He's still taking his inhalers and is very good about it - he needs one 4 times a day and the other twice a day, two puffs of 15 seconds for each, but he doesn't complain and actually tries to hold the inhaler thing. Or maybe he's just a big drug addict (he is remarkably perky after the steroids!)

Today, the daughter of pupo's godmother was christened today. I went, but pupo and hubby stayed home as we were worried about spreading our germs. She has a huge family and they all had babies last year, so it is always a joy to see them. Welcome to the family of God, little girl.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Sick little boy

Pupo and hubby have been stuck at home all week. The bronchitis and bronchiolitis got worse over the weekend, so we went back to the dr on Monday and came home with antibiotics, 2 inhalers and a baby that will likely have asthma recurring in future. It's impossible to know much yet, but until he is old enough to tell us, we should give him the inhalers as soon as he gets a cold or cough,. Lots of kids grow out of "baby asthma" and hopefully pupo will be one of them.
Meanwhile, all the drugs have overloaded his system and he has a nasty outbreak of nappy rash - having been perfect for months! And we can't do our usual trick of leaving him butt naked, 'cause we need to prevent him getting a draught. He's not eating so much either - and for those of you lucky enough to have met pupo, that is serious business! I think it's just the drugs making him too tired.
This boy was a picture of health last week! How can a cold lead to this? It's possible that he was always susceptible to asthma and we just didn't know (he has always had eczema and they regularly correlate) but regardless, it is still hopeful that it will all be behind him before he starts school. Fingers crossed...

Saturday, January 14, 2006

And yes...


Hmmm... well, something didn't work there

Here is the letter (hopefully)... I await their response (promised within 14 working days) so that I can update them on how pupo's condition has worsened.

Dear Sir/Madam,I am contacing you to let you know of my disappointment with the baby facilites at the Tomatin Litte Chef. Whilst on a visit to Scotland with my five month old son, he soiled his nappy in the car. We decided to stop for an early lunch at Tomatin in order to change him. Unfortunately, having been sat in the car seat, it became necessary to change all of his clothes.The changing table at Tomatin little Chef is located in the disabled toilet. When we arrived, it was freezing - literally. The outside temperature was 0 degrees, and it was clear that the toilet was not heated. I felt cold with a t-shirt and 2 sweaters, so you can imagine how cold it must have felt for my infant son. It took about five minutes to clean him thoroughly, during which time he was naked (as he had soiled his vest and trousers). He became extremely distressed. We redressed him back in the restaurant area as I wanted him out of that toilet as soon as possible. Once dressed, he remained upset during the time it took our family to eat our meal and only settled once back in the car. I mentioned to the young man who was serving us that they must heat the toilet to be told that it had no heating!My son now has a cough and whlist it is impossible to know its origins, I can safely attribute its severity to his experience at the Little Chef.My son is a healthy little boy, but I shudder to think the effect this may have on much younger babies, even having a regular nappy change in such conditions. It is also simply unacceptable for disabled customers to be obliged to use unheated facilities. I should also add that there was no soap in the disabled toilet, so I had to wash my hands in the ladies; something that would not be possible for a disabled customer.On your website, I see that you advertise yourself as a baby friendly chain with "free organic baby food and baby changing facilities at most sites."I expect something to be done about this as soon as possible, so that no other babies need to experience what my son has; and indeed, so that disabled customers have the same comfort as other travellers.

Don't go to Tomatin Little Chef!!!

And yeah, come on, sue me, I dare you! And just you wait for my counter suit!

Pupo's cough was much worse yesterday and there was so much phlegm that he would choke on it sometimes. So we called the dr out and he said that his lungs had a lot of mucous and that he had asthmatic bronchitis. We were sent to the hospital and thought we would have to stay the night. Kieran was given a ventilator with something to immediately relax his lungs and some steroids for a longer lasting effect. Thankfully, we were then sent home and he does seem to be a little better today, but we'll keep him home for a good few days and I suspect he'll miss more of his baby swimming class.

So what has this to do with Tomatin Little Chef. Well let me tell you...

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Poor pupo

After a breastfeed on Monday, pupo wouldn't settle and in the end, we gave him a bottle too, which he happily wolfed down. Thinking that my milk supply was probably waning, owing to the reduced feeds, we decided to call it quits and I gave him his last breastfeed on Tuesday morning. He now understands that he doesn't need his mummy when he is hungry and that the bottle will do the same job, so life is getting easier for hubby (even if he is still knackered and has been at the pool now for an hour an a half. Only slightly jealous, me, 'cause I never got more than an hour before I had to rush back to feed.) But now pupo has the cough as bad as hubby and I. He'd been giving the odd token cough before, but in the last couple of days it has got really bad and he coughs up a lot of phlegm sometimes. Can't help feeling that it has got worse because I stopped breastfeeding and now he isn't getting my antibodies :( But it would be cruel to put him back on the breast now and confuse him even more; then have to start over taking him off the breast. We'll use the freezer supply over the next days and see if that helps and I'll still have to express a wee bit while my supply drops, so he can have that too. We went for his 6 month check and jag today and the dr said we should wait for his cough to clear, 'cause his breathing was a bit laboured. Poor pupo.

Good news is that he is now over 8 kilos and has gained more in this month than he had over 2 months; clearly benefitting from the solid food (of which he can't get enough - the boy has just scoffed 4 potatoes - after a bottle of his usual creamy milk.)

Sunday, January 08, 2006


So hubby has cold. A sore throat, blocked nose. You know, the usual winter cold.

He thinks he has flu/bronchitis/tb/some rare, but extremely painful and potentially fatal disease. That headache might be a tumour you know.

I might have had a little more sympathy had his reaction to my cough over the past few days been a little more supportive than sighing in exasperation when, despite water, cough sweets and sitting up, I can't stop coughing during the night. But, since it hasn't been more supportive, he can suffer away. For sure, Kieran won't be interested and will demand business as usual. No days off on this stay at home parent lark.

One of the best things about parental leave for fathers is that they learn how tough the job is; how, be it manflu or mastitis, you still have to drag your ass out of bed, feed the boy, change the nappy, play, sing, cuddle, encourage, and put to sleep again. 4 times a day.

Meanwhile, I'll be back in the office, far enough away to hear neither hubby's death throws nor pupo's screams as he insists that bottle milk just won't do.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Breastfeeding: My Two Cents

I always expected to stop breastfeeding when I went back to work. Pupo is now 6 months and healthy and has done very well. But now the time is upon is, I feel obliged to share my thoughts on breastfeeding. Hell, the World and his wife have shared theirs with me over the past year, so it must be my turn.

BF is great.
You give your baby a perfect meal, you don't have to worry about "balancing diets" or giving enough fluids. You just offer, they take what they need.
You give your baby antibodies. After our trip to Scotland in November, I languished with a cold for 3 weeks, whilst boy was better in days. One morning, up expressing at 4am, with bare legs, cold tiles and an open nightie, the reason for this finally dawned on me.
BF is easy; I can't imagine having travelled alone with pupo carting and sterilising bottles en route.
BF is cosy; it's like you get a "free cuddle" every time.
He appreciates it; this is not immediately apparent. But from about 5 months, he would ocassionally stop to look up at me beaming in delight and adoration. It is always nice to feel loved.
No periods.

BF is rubbish.
Well, it's not so much the BF itself that is rubbish, but there is lots of rubbish that comes w ith it. And number one on that list...
Evil Rash, aka mastitis. The most pointless condition known to woman. It has no advantages, nor purpose. It is not even virus or bacteria which you can respect as "living" beings. It is only pain and flu. And it comes at the most annoying times.
Never getting a long lie. Yes, today er pupo lounges till 10am. Where am I? Well, UP of course, because even if he sleeps, I am so full, I have to get up and express.
Those first weeks of always being on shift; noone else can do that 4am for you. BUT (militant bfeeders, look way now) you can give them expressed milk from about one month. Just don't do what I did and stop using the bottle at 4 months to fill up the freezer instead, because now I have a freezer full of milk and a boy who screams whenever a bottle approaches...
Constantly swimming in and smelling of milk. First thing in the morning, soaking. Going out for the evening, soaking.
Never wearing anything pretty. Nursing bra straps and breast pads take something away from that strappy number.
No sex drive. Ok, so maybe that isn't due to bf. But I've still got no period and I suspect my body has shut down for the winter.

OK, so the negative list looks a bit longer, but the positives still outweigh by far. I don't regret bf for one second. Despite my repeated battles with mastitis (including yesterday, but I'm LICKING that SOB, come and get me, big boy, dare ya!), we've not really had any problems. The martyrdom school of motherhood hold informal competitions on how difficult bf has been for each of them - the more cracked nipples, the less sleep, the more starving and screaming the baby, the more bullying the medical profession and family, the more of a triumph it is to bf regardless. But sod all that. Don't be scared, pregnant ladies. BF can be a doddle.

Right now, I feel more sad about stopping bf than I do about going back to work. I'd thought maybe to give a feed in the morning and one when I get home from work, but since he is still sleeping at 10am (despite going to bed at 8.30), and since I have to be in the office by 8am, it doesn't look like that is going to happen.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Back to Work

Hello. We made it home safe last night and I hauled myself back into my office this morning. We had a great trip and pupo was very well behaved - but of course :) It was a bit strange to go back into work, but I think hubby had the harder job today as pupo has decided he will not take a bottle.
He was delighted to see me when I came home - hubby that is, not pupo! Nah, pupo was beamiing with delight and clung onto me as tight as he could. Bless his cotton socks. Hubby has gone off for a well deserved swim and sauna.

Pupo reached the 6 months mark yesterday. He's still baldy, gumsy and can't roll over. But he smiles constantly and is a constant source of delight. Well, ok, maybe not constant... not in hotel rooms where he tends to scream all night.... but definitely mostly a source of utter joy.

I'd better go and earn good husband points by setting the table