Jenni Tellyn lives near Brighton with her same-sex partner, Kathryn, and two daughters, Isabella, 4, and Bibi, 7 months. Jenni is stay at home mum for the first time and finds unique challenges in unexpected places – weaning! With two children to contend with at meal times, she comes up with her own solution, one that Isabella can join in with in the first part of her guest blog…
My partner, Kathryn, and I live near gay-central Brighton and are heavily involved in the Brighton & Hove Rainbow Families group, so we know plenty of lesbian parented families with similar stories to ours: two mums each giving birth to a child. But we realise it might still be considered novel by the average Daily Mail reader. Conforming to the lesbian stereotype for turbo-speed relationship-building, we met online six weeks (yes weeks) before Kathryn conceived our first child – a daughter in 2011 via IUI using donor sperm from the European Sperm Bank. We named her Isabella. As part of our maelstrom of important life-changing events in February 2012 we moved house and I was diagnosed with MS before the year was out. Kathryn set up her own coaching and recruitment business in 2013 and I gave birth to baby Bibi in May 2015 after IVF using the same donor that we used for Isabella. Looking back, it makes me tired just thinking about the hectic pace of change!
I have found the main challenge so far as a second time Mama but first time birth Mama is weaning. Kathryn is a goddess in the kitchen and enjoys nourishing our family and seemingly effortlessly entertaining guests with anything from a full roast with all the trimmings to a spicy Thai curry. Despite being brought up by a home economics teacher mother, for me, the very thought of attempting to rustle up something edible for any but the most forgiving guests brings me out in a cold sweat. I was, therefore, relieved that being back at work as a city lawyer after an idyllic six weeks off meant I didn’t have a hand in the weaning process. I didn’t even see the day-to-day nuts and bolts of what Kathryn cooked for Isabella. But apparently we tried baby-led weaning (de rigeur in hippy Brighton). That is until a series of coughs, colds, tonsillitis and chest infections over Isabella’s first winter stopped her interest in food in its tracks and we resorted to Ella’s Kitchen to get something, ANYTHING, down her.
Whilst the idea of baby-led weaning appeals to me for Bibi, the idea that you give your baby some of what the rest of the family is eating implies that the rest us are eating healthy and nutritious meals, suitable in texture, flavour and salt and sugar content for a baby. Alas, my cooking skills and picky eating habits mean that this is not the case! I’m determined to do my best to ensure that Bibi isn’t saddled with my embarrassing, anxiety-led eating habits. So, now that she is six months old, we are embarking on a weaning adventure with a slight difference. Resonating with my well-developed competitive streak, I have created a chart to help me introduce Bibi to a wide range of foods (even if I can’t stand the sight of them myself!). I’m hoping to get Isabella to set an example to Bibi during the weaning process and perhaps even try a new food or two herself along the way (if I’m lucky!). The idea is to have Isabella put a green sticker on our chart if Bibi tries a food and likes it and a red one if she pulls a “don’t poison me” face and chucks it on the floor. The idea is to minimise my parental anxiety when my thoughtfully prepared broccoli and pear mash is rejected, and reminding me that I can persevere instead of striking broccoli off the list forever. But have I bitten off more then I can chew? The proof will be in the pudding! Wish us luck and the dogs well with their incipient obesity issues as they strive selflessly to keep the kitchen floor clean!
Follow Jenni Tellyn's blog at www.babyweaningchart.com and get your own chart and stickers for £9.99 (incl UK postage) at www.babyweaningchart.com/shop. Or follow her on twitter and Instagram @bibisgrowingup