One good reason to quit caffeine

Almost four weeks into Lent, I can finally say it: I’ve kicked my addiction to caffeine.

For years, I’ve been saying I’d do it but was always too busy, lazy, tired, depressed, socially active or in denial to give it a proper go.

I’m not lightly throwing around the word “addiction” either.

I wince when the skinny guys on Supersize vs Superskinny (how’s that for high brow television?) name their Coke count at ten or whatever, starting with breakfast and practically breathing the stuff throughout the day.

Yet, it’s been easy for me to ignore the fact that I’ve been drinking six to eight cups of tea and coffee almost everyday since moving to England eight years ago.

That’s with the exception of pregnancy. I went off it in a big way while pregnant and was feeling so awful anyway that I probably didn’t notice withdrawal symptoms.

So, no surprise that giving up this time round left me so flat I wondered if I was pregnant. The first four days were patterned with the sweats, exhaustion, headaches, nausea and obsessing about tea, coffee and chocolate pretty much constantly.

I kept sending Laurence texts: “I think I’m dyyyyying”. What’s rehab without a touch of melodrama, even if we are talking caffeine?

Actually, of the obsessive behaviours I’ve worked through over the years, caffeine addiction is obviously one of the more innocuous. Unfortunately, it’s social acceptance made it difficult for me to admit that it was a problem.

Now that I’m off the juice (minus the three decaf coffees I’ve had in the past month) I can see how badly it was affecting me. I’m convinced it made my pre-menstrual syndrome violently worse. My skin is starting to look clearer and generally healthier. My thirst has returned and water even tastes better.

Going caffeine-free has also hugely improved both my sleep and – get this – Talitha’s. It could be coincidence, but her night wakings calmed when my withdrawal symptoms did. I guess with that amount of caffeine flowing through me, it’s unsurprising if there was a significant amount transferred into my milk. I’d love to look into the research around that a bit more.

However, the effects that have most surprised me are psychological. I feel stronger for having been able to take charge of this petty thing and actually change an ingrained habit.
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Halloween dilemma

Yesterday we celebrated our first Halloween. I say our first because I feel like this is the first one we’ve participated in. Sure, Talitha was alive last year but I must have still been in that “new baby” daze because I can’t at all remember what we did.

Growing up, Halloween was not something we touched much. I explained in a guest post on WAHM-BAM earlier this week that it was an American thing, not really part of Trinidadian culture when I was growing up. I went to the odd costume party or Halloween gig as a teen but the whole Halloween scene wasn’t what it is over here. A walk down our local Co-op aisles and it’s been clear, Halloween is big business.

This year we bought into it. Kind of.

Our breastfeeding group meets on Wednesdays so we had a Halloween party. I baked a toddler-friendly squash and cranberry bread, based on this recipe but without the pecans. It was surprisingly yummy. There were other bits to nibble on and everyone dressed their children up: skeleton, pirate, spider, ladybird and lots of pumpkins.

Talitha wore a pumpkin suit that came in a bundle from my aunt of clothes my cousins had worn. I was so glad she managed to keep it clean all day because she was admired by the parents of trick-or-treaters who came that night. This brings me to another first…
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Baby’s first Easter

I was thinking this past weekend about what Easter means to me and to our little family.

I remembered my childhood Easters. They always involved going to church, sometimes as early as dawn, and eating a hearty meal, often with extended family.

One year my aunt gave us chocolate bunnies which constituted the largest slabs of the stuff I’d ever seen. Is it weird that I still remember the taste and smell of them?

How we celebrated was never hugely ritualistic or consistent but there was a definite focus on the message of the crucifixion and the resurrection.

This year has been a bit different for me. For one thing, I’ve married into a family with much stronger, more deeply held traditions. I’m surprised my in-laws didn’t have us go on an egg hunt like they have in years past.

There is something comforting about tradition. The decorated eggs, the exchange of chocolate (another thing we’re not big on in Trinidad – at least not when I was growing up), the hunt, the lamb and so on.


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A dedication

I’m over at Mother’s Always Right today with a guest post, “5.30am is not morning”, go check it out and leave some comment love, why don’t you?
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Over here, I’m thinking about my daughter’s dedication. We went to a dedication yesterday for another baby girl we know, so it’s on my mind.

What’s a dedication? It’s kind of like a christening, I guess, except the thrust of an infant baptism (as I understand it) is to make a statement of belief on behalf of the child, with the intention to raise them in the faith, confident that they will one day claim it as their own.

I see the value of some of that but, generally, baptising babies just doesn’t sit well with me. Talitha will one day reach an age of reason and it is for her to decide where she will walk and with whom. So, instead we dedicated her.

Really, as I see it, we were doing two things.

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