Why walk when you can run?

Why walk when you can run? This is our new life motto. Things have certainly upped a gear in the past couple of months as baby N has fully thrown himself into life on two legs. I absolutely love this age, even though it is kind of crazy and draining. I mean you literally can’t leave children this age alone for two seconds as sure enough they’ll be up to no good, usually in the form of something dangerous.

Baby N is now quite capable not only of going up the stairs to our first floor apartment by himself, but in case he doesn’t fancy that he can also push the button to call the lift, wait for the doors to open, go inside, push the button for the first floor and take himself there.  I guess we are fortunate in this regard that we don’t live on a higher floor as he can’t yet reach any numbers apart from 0 and 1.

We had a bit of a horror run a couple of weeks ago though when baby N just flat-out refused to go to bed each night for I don’t remember how many consecutive days, but TOO MANY! I mean it was getting to the point where I had anxiety just thinking about bedtime.  He would howl the place down every time we took him into his bedroom and we even tried to let him cry it out in bed, but turns out this kid has endurance so he would just cry and cry and cry until neither my husband or I could bear it (for me that’s approximately 53 seconds, but daddy can hold out longer).

For a few of these days he was definitely a bit sick with a mild cold but then once he was well again I just couldn’t figure out what the issue was as he’s always been so good at going to bed. But it was getting bad as we were pulling out the tricks that you only do when all other sensible options have been explored and discarded.  Take for example one night when he was still wide-awake and in party mode at 3.30am and I had to be up at 7am for work. I was beyond exhausted at this point and so I took him for a drive for about 25 minutes.  That relaxed him enough that I could scoop him up out of his carseat and pop him in the bed, but it’s not a long term strategy!

The solution finally turned out something a whole lot more simple than anything I had tried before that.  I gave baby N a shorter daytime nap.  During these episodes he had been having 2-3 hour afternoon naps which is wonderful when you’re wanting to get some stuff done at home. BUT, it seemed like they were such good naps that he wasn’t that tired at night.  By simply shortening his nap to 1.5 hours, he is MUCH happier to go to bed at about 8pm most nights and wakes up at around 7.30-8.00am. Oh my goodness, it was life-changing!

We also somewhat changed his bedtime routine as I read somewhere that you need to keep the bedtime routine quite short in case you need to repeat it during the night.  So it’s bath, a couple of nursery rhyme videos with daddy (don’t ask how that got started) and about 2 or 3 books, followed by bed.  Baby N continues to sleep in a sleeping bag so I pop him in that for the stories (it’s getting colder here so this helps him to feel cosy), and then I place him in his bed and read one last book to him each night while he’s in bed.  It’s always Goodnight Moon as it seems to have some magical ability to make him relaxed.  I also have a little teddy bear toy thing that projects stars out of its belly for 15-20 mins that was gifted to me as a birth gift but has suddenly found its use!

I also have a small nightlight in the shape of Olaf from Frozen that we “stole” from baby N’s older cousin.  This thing is so wonderful I have no intention of giving it back.  You tip Olaf upside down and the light comes on for about 5 mins before turning itself off automatically, by which time I have long since departed the bedroom! Haha!

I turn on the teddy bear with the stars and Olaf when I read Goodnight Moon and then I say goodnight and I’m out that door!  Sometimes Baby N does a small cry out of sadness that the day is over (I assume) but he usually settles quite well with his soother toys.  A few times he wakes up at the end of his first sleep cycle (usually 45 mins) doing a bit of a cry, but if I pop in there briefly and rub his back and say soothing things he usually goes back to sleep really rapidly.  I wonder if it’s bad dreams or something else?

In other areas of life, I’ve just been asked to add more hours to my work as we have a new client that our CEO wants me to lead on.  It’s a compliment that they want me to run this account and I will get extra money working additional hours, but I’m a bit sad about it as it will be more  busy (stressful!) and I will get less time with baby N. I’ve really taken on work on a different frequency since returning and now I feel like they are progressively trying to bring me back to full time and I’m not happy about that.

We are also building a new house, albeit it is taking so much time that I’ve lost enthusiasm for it.  My husband says it will be ready by next summer but even given that summer lasts here until practically the end of September I think that is optimistic. The timing of the house build is important though because I think we are pretty likely to try for baby number 2 next year and we currently don’t have space for any more souls in our apartment (3 humans, 3 cats is the current tally). I just had to go pay for our embryos to remain on ice for another year which was 200 EUR!! I jokingly refer to them as my frozen babies but it makes me sad that they’re just sitting there chilling (haha) together.  But apart from the freezer rental cost, I’m about to turn 40 so I think next year is really the year to be getting onto baby-making if there is going to be a sibling.

Then there is my lovely Mum who is in and out of hospital and her quality of life is quite low, but she is still hanging on in there.  She’s really incredible!  I don’t say too many details about her situation here but she is so tough and so optimistic.  I am inspired by her on a daily basis.  We have a pretty open dialogue about her dying, which I know some people might find a bit odd, but as we are all pretty aware of it to not talk about it all would be weirder.

Anyway, she is trying so hard – as she says – “not to die at Christmas” because my Dad died at Christmas and she said we shouldn’t have to have two parents die then.  Such a beautiful sentiment that I’m grateful for, although even if she does happen to die at Christmas I would never be resentful of her for it.  My mum loves Christmas and bakes all these wonderful goodies every year.  I’m a terrible baker but I think I’m going to have to get on it as I am very sad about the potential of never having my mum’s mince pies ever again.  She has some in her freezer from last Christmas that she saved for me when I visited in July, but I just couldn’t bring myself to eat them then. She says they won’t be nice to eat for much longer, but you know I just didn’t want to eat them as I know she’s not strong enough to make more this year.

I wonder if Baby N will have such thoughts when he’s older.  Probably not about my baking, but I wonder if he will also associate happy Christmas memories with something that I do as a kind of tradition. Maybe it will be a new tradition that I haven’t even worked out yet, but I really hope he gets to love Christmas as much as I did/ do thanks to the efforts of my parents.

 

 

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Feeling all the feels

It’s been a rough old time over these ways the past couple of weeks and I’ve been feeling very introspective about many things.  I’ve wanted to write so many posts about these feelings but the challenge is time. There is just so much rushing about these days and I need to prioritise blogging over all other things, but mainly sleeping.

My poor Mum is continuing to battle on and truly it is an inspiration. Even despite everything continuing to head south she is still persisting with some chemo treatment in the hope that it extends her life for as long as possible.  The way it destroys her body is just absolutely horrendous and to see someone you love be slowly deteriorating inch by inch is awful.  My dad died a few weeks after his 50th birthday (and a couple of days after my 16th) and it was a big shock to us.  That trauma stays with me to the day for many different reasons and I’ve always thought it was a terrible way to go out – so suddenly with no real time to prepare or say all the things you want to say.  Now I feel differently.  Now I feel like going out quickly while you’re having a pretty great life is the way to go.  I’m not saying I’m trying to encourage a premature death in anyone but my goodness cancer is a bitch.

In the middle of this is the wonderful baby N who is now practically Usain Bolt with the speed of his walking.  It’s interesting because as he has become more adept at walking, he has become more cuddly.  It was as though before the walking he didn’t have time or interest in cuddles because he was so focused on getting up on two legs.  He now actively leans in for the hugs and even enjoys kisses (sometimes)!  And he loves, loves, loves his soft toys now which was kind of an overnight transformation.  We have been all about the Jellycat soother bunnies for months now and all of a sudden he has decided the Jellycat soother monkey is THE BEST THING EVER.  So if he’s having a bit of a cry about anything, you provide the monkey and everything is fine.  I think we all need a monkey in our lives!

But poor Baby N had a bit of a shocker last weekend whereby he suddenly threw a very high temperature of over 40 degrees at about 6pm on Saturday night. The poor love battled for about four days, which basically meant no sleep for the rest of us.  He cried and cried and cried at night on Sunday in particular, but also Monday.  Saturday he was semi-ok and by Tuesday night he was much better.  What is it with Sunday nights for freaking out?  He must do it almost every Sunday so I turn up on Monday at work looking quite horrendous (I joked that for Halloween I should just turn up at work with no make-up on as that would scare anyone). Anyway, this Sunday he was so poorly that the only way to comfort him was to bring him to bed with me.  Unfortunately that meant he then also took over the entire bed, daddy got a bit annoyed and twice got up to go sleep on the floor in the other room. I kept thinking to myself, well that’s fine as now I have more bed.  Hahaha!

You know baby N is really poorly though when he didn’t eat.  He pretty much refused all food for two straight days. Even getting liquids into him was a challenge so I think he had a sore throat.  By Tuesday lunchtime though he was ready to eat the entire kitchen so that was the big sign to me that he was back to better health.

My work has been totally ridiculous the past few weeks too.  It’s the time of the year when everyone is trying to get everything done they were meant to earlier in the year, but didn’t and then also plan for the next year.  I have a confession to make though.  I keep thinking it is still 2017 even though we are almost in November.  Seriously.  And I blame the pregnancy and maternity leave for that.  I was on leave from July 2017 until start of February 2018 so effectively I missed half of 2017 and so my poor pea brain still thinks it’s in 2017.  So I keep referring to next year as 2018 and everyone must think I’ve fully lost my mind.

As I work in a client-based industry (PR) it’s a bit hard to manage my part-time hours (clients do not care for this) so I feel like I’ve been working even when I’m not supposed to be (or paid to be) which means I have been feeling like I am crap at both my job and being a mother – and possibly even a wife. I’ve not been working out as much as previously and so I’m generally feeling a bit stretched.

However, in those moments where I have finally left the office I’ve been having some great times with Baby N.  Each day when I pick him up we go for an adventure together before going home.  That might be for a walk around the Mall (great place to take a kiddie learning to walk as it’s pretty safe and indoors), a trip to a new park, yesterday we hung out with some other of our baby mamma friends (he’s a full head taller than all the other babies) and today we went to a baby music class.

Now we did try one of these baby music classes earlier this year with the baby mamma group and it was a total disaster.  The vibe was all wrong and maybe so was the timing so   baby N pretty much hated it (I also hated it which probably rubbed off on him).  Not wanting to get myself into something like that again, my friend who suggested I join the class arranged for me to go for a free trial today.  So off we went with very low expectations and do you know what?  Baby N bloody loved it!

There were about 15 babies and their mummies (no daddies, what is up with that?) and two teachers with beautiful voices.  The lesson was not in English so that was fun for me as I basically had no idea! I mean it’s not complicated so it’s not a barrier and I do understand a good chunk of the local language anyway.  All the babies apart from Baby N were very nicely sitting with their mummies and doing all the different movements that you’re meant to do.  What was baby N doing?  He was dancing in the middle of the circle, totally in his own world and loving every second.  This kid is not shy! I think I could have gotten up to leave and he wouldn’t have minded either.

Anyway, by the end of it he was so delighted with his surroundings that he lied flat on the floor.  He then went around cuddling all of the cushions on the floor and I literally had to physically remove him from the class before the next one started and he was very unhappy with me doing so.  Needless to say, we signed up properly for the lessons!

Baby steps and the big 4-0

And just like that, baby N has taken his first few unassisted steps! He’s well on his way to walking now and I’m so pleased for him.

What a delight it is to watch him learn and grow into a small boy. I have spent so many moments recently just looking at him in wonder that the small baby who seemed like he would be a baby forever is now already a little boy. I can remember in the early days and weeks after baby N was born when I was in the deepest of lows and I just kept questioning repeatedly why people have more than one baby?  What makes them go through all of the sleepless nights (errr…. sleepless months) and all of the yucky stuff that happens to your body and all the changes to your lifestyle?  What I didn’t bank on was that at some point I would think ohhhhh this is kind of nice watching your child grow into a proper human.

I love his little baby talk that is in full sentences these days.  He makes this ridiculous noise when he’s really happy that sounds a bit like “goodjaaah, goodjaaah, goodjaaah!” It makes me laugh so hard!  And he’s finally enjoying his soft toys as he loves to cuddle them like they’re his best friends. He’s not that bothered by many toys these days as the true excitements in life are cruising around the furniture, taking those early steps and emptying the kitchen cupboards and drawers.  He also LOVES the washing machine, especially to press the on/off button.  This is all super cute until you have a load of washing in there and he turns it off mid-cycle…

He really enjoys going about on adventures outside the house, even things we would find mundane like grocery shopping or walking the local streets is fun. He is definitely king of the slides too as the launches himself down them with such unadulterated glee.  It makes my heart explode with happiness!

I don’t want to sound too crazy or anything, but the concept of another baby is not totally off the table these days.  It won’t be moving past the concept stage though for a bit of a while yet as my Mum is very poorly and I think now is not the time for going through IVF/pregnancy/newborn days where you more-or-less have to shut out the rest of the world to provide the focus you need. It absolutely breaks my heart that I can’t be there for my Mum right now and I know that if I didn’t have Baby N I would be there. She is not mad with me or anything but the guilt is immense. My sister is doing her best but she has her own issues and so she can’t just stay with my Mum and take care of her basic needs for her.  It’s a really big issue, but we are trying to find ways to best support her. The reality is that I will be surprised if she’s here for Christmas.  She has surprised us many times over already though so I know not to write her off. She’s at a stage now where she is not able to enjoy even the small things in life so it just makes me so sad on so many levels.  I am super grateful for our time together in July as if I went now she wouldn’t be able to enjoy us like she did at the time.

Also lurking on the horizon is my big 4-0 birthday which strikes in December. I can’t help but think about it, but not in the way of oh-my-god-I’m-turning-40-I’m-so-old (although that does also play a part) but more in the way of what a crazy 10 years I have had. Just to recap, when I turned 30 I had broken up from a long term live-together relationship 6 months before in order to hook up with a guy who blew my mind and then broke my heart by breaking up with me three days before my birthday. I felt as though I had achieved nothing of the things you are “meant” to achieve before turning 30, I was living in London and had no roots to speak of. I came home to Australia for my birthday, crying on the plane about the break-up for the ENTIRE journey (no exaggeration), had a small birthday party with family and a few friends before passing out from too much champagne and jet lag at about 9.30pm. Hahaha! A mere 5 months later I met my husband and…. two years later we moved from London to his home country.  I didn’t speak much of the local language, knew no one, had no job… nothing. It was quite a shock and I was pretty unhappy for a long while!

Two years later (!!!) he finally proposed to me and six months after that we were married We married quickly as my Mum had gotten her leukaemia diagnosis around the time of our engagement and we were not sure she would live to see our wedding. Well that was 5.5 years ago so well done to her for defying them all!  Then came all of our infertility issues – the fibroids that had to be surgically removed, the IVF, the miscarriages, the … and finally on 17 July 2017 there came Baby N. So it’s really been a big 10 years!  Because of all of this and perhaps because I am acutely aware of my own mortality I am actually feeling like I should embrace turning 40.  Be proud of what I’ve overcome in the past 10 years and how my life has improved so much.  From that scared, rootless 30-year-old I really feel like the past few years has made me into a stronger, better person.  I am a bit more cranky and feisty about things than I was 10 years ago so there is a lot of room for improvement for sure, but I am going to try my best to be fearless at 40!

Five little ducks go swimming one day…    

… over the hills and far away.

Is it just me or is this baby song also semi-permanently lodged in others’ minds? I’m loving every second of this age – 14 months – as baby N is such a fan of ducks that he literally quacks whenever he sees one. It is so cute!

After worrying for quite some time that baby N had no interest in age-appropriate video content, he is now quite taken with the various different versions of 5 Little Ducks on YouTube, with also quite a fondness for 5 Little Monkeys. Old Macdonald Had a Farm is not quite as possible but there is one video where he does a pretty nifty little dance for an old farmer that has me transfixed at least. I have also FINALLY convinced him to show some interest in The Wiggles with the hope that he adopts a tiny bit of an Australian accent. Keeping my fingers crossed on that one.

Today Baby N went for his MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccination so I am hoping that doesn’t kick off too badly with symptoms. Apparently he may get a fever in 5-10 days along with a small rash and his testicles may swell a little too. Ugh. We’ve had a bit of a tough run recently with the Roseola, followed by his first molar coming in and then he had a cold for a few days so I am dreading more illness, even though I truly believe in the benefits of vaccination. If anyone has any experience with MMR reactions (that are not terrifying) please feel free to share!

They also measured baby N today as part of the vaccination process and I swear he’s going to end up in the Guinness Book of World Records for the tallest baby ever as he’s grown 2 centimetres in a month and now he’s 84.5cm (33 inches). I mean that’s the height of a 2 year old and he’s only 14 months old now. His weight hasn’t changed much (12.3kg) so basically he’s just becoming long and elegant as my paediatrician likes to say. I’m often out and about with him and I can see other babies his age and he is almost a full head taller than them. I love him being tall and elegant but I’m sad that cute tiny baby phase for him was approximately 10 days in duration. Haha!

He is not yet walking (still) BUT he is making excellent progress. While I’m excited for him to walk and so watching out of curiosity, I am not actually concerned. I guess I want him to walk because I recognise that it will open so many opportunities to him and he seems ready for them. My husband and I find ourselves constantly talking with other parents of similar aged children when we’re out and about, and it’s funny as they are always telling us such a wide range of ages of when their kids walked. One lady has two children, both boys, and one walked at 10 months and the other at 16 months. She said the one who walked earlier took a lot longer to get the hang of it properly, whereas the older one basically got up and walked one day and was running the next. The spectrum of “normal” is huge.

Until about Thursday last week we went through a particularly trying phase where baby N was being really difficult to put to sleep at night and he was also waking up for several hours at night. With this stretching over a couple of weeks and my work being super busy as well both hubby and I were at our wits end. I eventually reached out to some mum friends who all united in their replies to me that this is normal, it’s a phase, probably related to teething and it passes. I’m not going to lie, I didn’t believe them. But I did what they said, one of which being that baby N was not allowed any naps after 3pm, and then low-and-behold he’s been sleeping like an angel again ever since.

I remember when baby N was a small munchkin of a baby and other parents would tell me I would miss those days when all he did was eat, sleep and poo, and I thought they were mental because I felt so miserable during the newborn phase. BUT, they were right on some levels. There is some kind of golden period from when the babies can sit up around 6 months until when they learn to crawl when they are so cute and fun and DO NOT MOVE. Once they start moving it is a real game-changer. They need more entertainment. They get into everything. They jam their fingers in everything (literally everything) or stab themselves with your pot plant cactus (true story). And they are constantly FILTHY. However, I love this phase. I love all the dirt and the sticky fingers jammed in stuff. I love the learning that happens so dramatically quickly and I love, love, love how much baby N loves slides.

Seriously, slides are life.

Baby N has fully got the hang of them and I put him on top of one and he shuffles his butt forward so he slides down. He has his hands in the air, his face is FULL of delight. There is truly nothing better in the world than slides right now. I have a wonderful video of him that captures all of this and I love it so much. I mean swings are so last year. It’s all about slides these days.

We take him to a huge indoor play centre which is mainly for kids a bit older than him, but it’s all soft play so he just goes about and plays with the stuff he can. It’s like Lord of the Flies in soft play though with kids screaming their heads off, full of sugar and the energy of youth. I last maybe an hour in there and then I have a headache. Hahaha! How life has changed.

Mamma-life has been a bit up and down lately, but that’s not really been due to baby N, more just life’s challenges.  My mum has been in hospital for a new drug trial so we’re all crossing our fingers this might help her a little bit.  Unfortunately her sister (my aunty) is also very, very ill right now and not expected to last much longer so my poor mum is in pieces at the moment.  It is so hard being away from home.

I also had a pretty big falling out with my brother-in-law and subsequently his wife (Baby N’s godmother) over the weekend over an incident with the brother-in-law trying to smoke in our car. I am quite a passionate anti-smoker generally but I find it beyond rude that someone should think it appropriate to smoke in someone else’s car (especially a non-smoker’s car) and even more so knowing that car carries a baby in it. I lost my cool big time over this which caused a big scene.  Thankfully my husband, who was driving at the time and turned around to take his brother home as a result, is behind me in my position, but he did point out to me that my delivery could have been better (losing your cool is not good for family dynamics it seems). Anyway, I’ve felt quite vulnerable and fragile since this incident so I’m keeping a very low profile.

I’ve been having some pretty serious issues with my anxiety again so I think this may partially explain my “bad delivery”, but still I need to sort myself out so I handle difficult situations like this a bit better. Or maybe not, because frankly he deserved it! I’ve had some crazy things to manage at work this week too with stuff that you cannot believe fellow professionals actually do.  Sometimes I wonder about the universe, I really do.  But every time I’ve felt down over the past few days, do you know what I do?  I look at that video of Baby N going down the slide and EVERY SINGLE TIME it makes me smile.

Slides are life, everyone.

 

The sticky phase

My last post was such an offloading of so many things that have been going down that I don’t think I gave a really good overview of life with Baby N right now. It seems that 13 months is a transitional age as he moves from baby-life to toddler-life and I can tell you that it is undoubtedly one thing and that is sticky! Now that Baby N is mobile, if not walking, he can get his hands in everything and he does.  My poor cats can no longer have their food and water on the floor when Baby N is around because he either eats it (yes, I know, parenting fail!) or puts his hands in it and smears it everywhere. This is also the case for pretty much any item that is of a non-solid state and includes poo so during nappy changing you have got to be super-fast if there is a number 2 in there!

He is a funny guy these days no doubt, and it is such a joy to see him trying out new words.  He’s definitely got the hang of mum/mamma/dad/dadda, and the next clearly audible words that followed were “quack” for rubber duckies and anything vaguely resembling a duck, to “cat” which he likes to shout when he sees any passing cat, dog, monkey or horse (not too many passing monkeys or horses around here, but there are plenty in his books)! I can sometimes hear him trying to say “yes” but what mainly comes out is “sssssss” which is cute. I am trying very hard to teach him “hiya” but I think the two syllables are my downfall.

He loves to do high fives and screams with delight at them. Other things that are super hilarious include his huge golden retriever dog toy from Ikea (20 EUR – excellent value for a giant fluffy animal), our cats chasing balls (usually from his toys), tickly cuddles on the bed, standing up with his hands all over the sliding doors blowing bubbles on the glass, his 2.5 year old cousin and daddy generally.

His number one favourite song right now is “I like to move it, move it”, the Will.I.Am version from the Madagascar movie (seriously addictive and very clever lyrics). He absolutely has no interest whatsoever in baby or children’s TV.  I am trying my hardest to encourage him to watch the likes of Peppa Pig and even when I was in Australia I tried him out on Play School, Sesame Street and The Wiggles and he might have looked at them for a maximum of 20 seconds, usually when I song was playing.  I know he’s young still, but what kid doesn’t like TV?!  I’m very confused by this.

He does really enjoy books though and will often flick through them alone, although he does enjoy it when I read them to him, especially when they have texture or flaps to lift up.

He has started to show an interest in soft toys beyond his bunny cuddly which is cute.  He grabs them and hugs them enthusiastically.  He will also do the same thing with the cats’ tails if they stay still long enough to let him. Haha!

His food has been an interesting one though as he is making a transition from blended purees to textured food.  He does enjoy eating himself but it is so ridiculously messy that we still do a combination of spoon feeding and self-feeding.  But we are getting there.  He is now fully transitioned off baby formula and his milk is cow’s milk which he enjoys.  I don’t often give him milk at night before bed anymore as he has it with his dinner, but if he seems to need or want it I give it to him in a sippy cup.  In the mornings though I’m still giving him milk in a bottle as he seems a bit cranky if I don’t. Slowly, slowly…

The past week though has been super trying as he suffered from very high fever for three days straight.  His temperature was around 40 degrees most of the time so he was constantly having Calpol/Panadol and cool baths to bring it down.  He had some 2am baths which were traumatic for everyone involved.  It is so hard seeing your small one sick and not being able to do much to help them to feel better.  We were all puzzled as to what was causing the fevers, even his paediatrician.  But then on Tuesday he broke out in a full body rash and it was then that he was diagnosed with Roseola, which is a fairly common virus that young children get.  It starts with several days of high fever and once the fever breaks the kids get a rash for a few days and then they feel better.  Tuesday night was the worst as there was nothing I could do to calm him down and he howled right through the small hours of the night before crying himself to sleep in my arms in my bed.  It’s safe to say that we were all wrecked on Wednesday – mummy, daddy and baby – although baby didn’t have to go to work and pretend to be able to think.  Lucky baby in that regard.Today he is doing better though so thank goodness!

Baby N is not yet walking but he’s doing a lot of one-handed standing so I am wondering if it might come soon.  He’s seemed really frustrated the past few days, but he’s also been sick so I’m not sure if he’s annoyed he can’t do more physically or annoyed that he’s sick or a bit of both.  In any case he gets bored super easily these days so I think if he can work out how to walk it will open a whole new door of excitement to him.  And a whole new world of worry for us.  Welcome to being a parent of a toddler!

Baby N: World Traveller Extraordinaire

We are back. Since my last post, Baby N and I have journeyed to Australia and back again without any post-traumatic stress this time (hooray) and then gone on a family holiday to Greece.  It is safe to say that Baby N is now a legendary traveler but even despite that I am VERY keen not to go on any trips that involve airports, flying and packing (or unpacking) for a good long while. In fact, I was thinking to myself yesterday as I did the 7 millionth load of washing in recent days (approximately) how nice it would be to fly somewhere alone as an adult.  So relaxing.  So much less packing and coordinating needed.  Literally just show up and grab a coffee and get on a plane.  Amazing.

I have so much to say after all these adventures and yet it is difficult to know where to start. However, I will say that going into my Australia trip was so much less stressful than the first time. Just knowing that I’d done it once before and survived gave me some kind of comfort that I could handle most situations. As it was, I think it was easier to fly with Baby N as a 12 month old than as a 4-5 month old as I did previously. Or maybe I’ve just had more practice at being a mum with the requisite whatever-will-be-will-be attitude.

The journey this time was a flight of about 3.5 hours to Dubai, a short transit there (in the small hours of the night) and then about 13 hours to Melbourne direct. The timing of the first flight was evening so by the time I was boarding the plane Baby N should have been settling down for his evening sleep.  Hahahaha!  No way was he agreeing to that as the plane was SO EXCITING!

I was in business class thanks to the generosity of the inlaws (and also because hubby couldn’t come with me) and there was a small fold out table for a glass at my seat. This alone must have entertained Baby N for a good 45 minutes straight, albeit the noise of it clicking up and down nearly drove me bananas. He also found the cup holders fascinating and kept putting his hands in them. Actually he just found the whole seat entertaining and spent ages and ages crawling all over it and hitting his head left, right and centre as he got increasingly tired.  Eventually about 1.5 hours into the flight he passed out in my arms which was nice. He must have slept for an hour or so before the descent into Dubai started and the poor guy suffered a lot.  I don’t know if he had blocked ears or whatever (I did all the usual things to clear them) but he cried and cried and cried all the way down to Dubai.  As soon as we landed he was fine, which was great, but I was pretty stressed by then.

I think it was something like midnight on our old time when we landed in Dubai so the poor guy was very tired. He didn’t cry as we went around the airport (seriously, I must have walked 5km to get from one gate to the next) but he looked moody as hell. We stopped off in the lounge for a while and I requested us some yoghurts.  Baby N loves yoghurt so even though it wasn’t a snack time for him – it being the middle of the night and all – we had one just to keep him cheery.

Before long we were boarding again and this time we were on the new fancy Airbus A380 which is so massive that it’s only business class and first class on the top level and it even has a bar at the back of the plane!  I was not exactly looking well put together at this stage but even so I did take slight offence at the cabin crew guy who asked me if it was my first time in business class!  Also, I noticed that they would come around with a tray of drinks – champagne and juices – and they would always say to me “Would you like a juice?” No actually, I damn well want a champagne thank you very much!

There was some delay in leaving Dubai airport as a sick passenger had to be taken off the flight so we were on the tarmac for maybe 2 hours.  By this stage I don’t know what the time was? 3am? 4am?  Whatever time it was Baby N was suuuuuuuuper tired and needed to sleep. One of the nice flight attendants said I could lay my chair back a bit and we undid his seat belt.  The next thing I knew I woke up with Baby N snoozing in my arms, the plane in the air and no seat belt on either of us.  Hmmm…. Not sure that was meant to happen! I laid the seat back to be flat and tucked us both into the blanket and then the next thing I knew after that was there was severe turbulence, the flight attendants had been told to sit down but I was bouncing all over the place like crazy because I wasn’t wearing a seat belt and neither was Baby N (none of this recommended or legal probably).

I really wish people would film moments like this because I am sure if someone was watching they would have laughed as I was so flustered trying to find the seatbelt and do it up while not bouncing off my seat and holding a still sleeping Baby N down. Eventually I found my seat belt and did that up around both of us, laid back down and slept through the bounces. Baby N did a really long sleep of about 9 hours I think (I can’t remember) and when he woke up he was a delight.  We fed him some stuff (some of it baby food, some of it things he could eat off my meals like bread and fruit). He also had a wonderful time charming all the flight attendants and crawling around the bar area in his PJs.  I tried my very, very best not to think of all the evil, international germs he was getting exposed to during this but he seems to be just fine now so there you go.

Later he had another power nap so when we arrived in Melbourne he was all perky and happy which was just as well as I have a theory that airports hate babies as they make it so very difficult to travel with one. I had borrowed a Maclaren umbrella-style stroller for the trip as my Bugaboo is a bit too huge for travelling but the stupid airlines check in these strollers and give them back to you at luggage reclaim. Arggghhh!  So this meant that I had to carry Baby N, along with a backpack and a small wheelie all the way through the airport, do the passport control juggling passports, to the baggage reclaim. I then had 3 suitcases to put on a trolley and absolutely no one helped me.  No one. I really do fear for humanity at these moments.

It was then I worked out that the stroller came in at a different belt so I had to take my trolley with 3 big suitcases and small wheelie on it, push it with one hand while carrying Baby N in the other and balance the folded up stroller on top of the tower of suitcases. It was quite a sight! Anyway, I did it and all is fine. It was pretty much the same scenario on the return journey although I did give Baby N to the guy who was manning the oversize luggage counter so that I could unfold his stroller.  All I have to say to all mammas out there, keep up the gym work as it comes in handy to be very strong at this stage of things!

Our time back home in Melbourne with my family was bittersweet. It was lovely to see my Mum and Sister and see them develop bonds with Baby N.  My Mum is really doing very poorly these days so it was tough going on every level for me.  We didn’t get out and about very much as she wasn’t up to it but also she has a very low immune system so it’s not sensible to take her in public places where she is exposed to germs. She loved spending time with Baby N and it breaks my heart to think they may not have time together ever again, in addition to the reality of her not being in my life for much longer either.

Baby N is at a really adorable age too and he enjoyed opening and closing all of the many, many cupboards and drawers my Mum has at her place. He seemed unbothered by all the change and travel.  He did have jet lag of course, but so did I! I am always amazed at how I managed to birth such a chilled out baby.

During our two weeks with my Mum, Baby N went through a huge development curve and so when I returned back his Dad was amazed at the new guy he had become. His crawling skills improved dramatically and not long after we came back home he also started to pull himself up to standing.  Just this week he started the first stages of cruising around furniture, but I think walking is still a way off.

Our trip home was very uneventful with Baby N sleeping for 11 hours straight on the plane.  I mean seriously, 11 hours straight ON A PLANE. I even managed to eat two meals and have a nap in that time! For the shorter second flight he was more trouble as he was super wriggly and wanting to crawl absolutely everywhere, but I barely remember the details now. He also managed to do a poo just as we were coming into land so my first requirement on landing was to change him.  Babies have great timing for this.

Daddy was super excited to see his son.  Less excited to see his wife I think.  Haha! We were home just over a week – barely long enough for me to get the laundry done – before we were off on a beach holiday in Crete, Greece with the extended family. This is the first time we have done a full family holiday, which also included the grandparents, and my husband’s brother’s family (they have a son who is almost 3). We were staying at an amazing beach resort which was all inclusive and it was wonderful.  However, it was a bit intense with all the family there and by the end my husband and I were really pleased to come home.

It seems the 3-year-old is heavily favoured over Baby N (he is the first grandchild and has his grandfather’s name, as is the tradition here) so my husband and I were getting fed up of us having to adapt our schedule to fit with the 3-year-old. The grandparents were always wanting to follow the 3-year-old’s schedule which was not so cute after a few days, especially as I completely changed Baby N’s sleep times to accommodate evening dinners together.

BUT, I did get a tan and Baby N loved all his adventures in the sea and the pool.  He loves water so much that he just runs (crawls) straight into the water like a maniac.  I was having to fish him out of the shallows approximately every 3 minutes which was quite boring after a while! We would do beach in the morning until nap time, then keep him busy playing indoors for a few hours after lunch before taking him in the pool ahead of his second nap time. He loved it all!

His developmental timing did suck a bit though as he decided on day two of our holiday to refuse any kind of blended food. This meant some creative hunting for us at the buffet and his diet for the rest of the holiday was quite unusual. It had a heavy focus on pasta and bananas, but fruit in general was popular with him.  One day for breakfast he ate the following (small amounts of each, but still): cow’s milk, oats with peaches, omelette, sausage, mini croissant, fresh figs, banana, kiwi and pancake with honey.

Now we are home now I am feeding him similar foods to before but just not blending it. The veggies and meat are cut up into very small pieces as he rejects anything without texture these days.  Some days he doesn’t like to be spoon-fed but I got around that at dinner last night by giving him his own spoon which he spent the entire dinner pretending to feed me with.  Every time I opened my mouth for him to put his spoon in he opened his mouth too and so I snuck the food in.  It seems this age is very much the age of do-whatever-works!

I guess I’m Writing That Book Then

After swearing off ever flying to Australia alone with baby N again, guess what I’m going to be doing again in a few days?  Yes, hello Europe to Australia flight(s) home, but this time with a 12-month-old rather than a 4-month-old as Baby N turns one on Tuesday! I think this may well be his one year old post as between now and then I doubt there will be much of an opportunity for blogging.

But back to the flying. It’s got to be easier now that he’s older, right? I mean last time he couldn’t even sit up properly or eat solid food.  Now he is crawling and an eating machine!

The decision to fly home has been a little spontaneous as my Mum’s health has deteriorated quite a bit recently and I’d really like to see her – and for her to enjoy Baby N again – before she gets too poorly to appreciate anything. I really, really don’t want to be doing the flying by myself again (the trauma of last time stays with me endlessly) but circumstances at home mean hubby just can’t join us.  He has once again started a new job so this means he is not so flexible in upping sticks to the other side of the world.  I am trying very, very hard not to be resentful of this but it does stick in my throat that when I’ve needed him badly he has not been able to help me.  On the flip side, each time I overcome one of these obstacles I feel like the biggest kick-ass-mamma out there.

I will say though that I have fought hard go business class which is INSANELY expensive. I’m almost embarrassed by the cost but on the other hand I do not know how he expects me to sit my very tall baby on my knee in economy for 25-ish hours (he’s too big for the bassinets), nevermind keep him entertained in that one spot.  At least with business, baby N can lie down on the flat bed and (hopefully) do some sleeping.

At one point hubby had found an option for me to fly business class to Australia and economy return. When he told me this was a good option (said by the person NOT flying with the baby) I managed to very calmly agree it was a good option but that if we were flying economy I would require a seat in economy to be bought for baby N. He then realized that the price difference for this was not that far off paying for business class and… voila… business class ticket it is!

As a side-note this has served to also be is a lesson for anyone thinking of hooking up with a lover from an exotic, faraway land.  When you are in the early throws of romance, bewitched by your lover’s cute accent and different culture, just keep in mind that if this goes somewhere then one day you will be travelling for 24+ hours with a toddler alone!  Suddenly your romance will seem less glamourous and far more inconvenient. I must say none of these things crossed my mind when I was first falling for my husband.  Haha!

So this week will be lots of fun for me.  Tuesday is BABY N’S FIRST BIRTHDAY and Wednesday we fly!  Nothing like a busy period to keep me on my toes or to grow me some new grey hairs! That aside, I scratch my head every day in amazement that I have an almost one-year old.  He’s crawling around like a professional these days and even moves from room to room if something in another room intrigues him more (helloooo daddy’s computer!). We do not have stairs thank goodness so his main dangers are jamming his fingers in drawers that he likes to open.  We have ordered some baby-proofing things for drawers and cupboards so they will be a welcome addition to our home!

In the meantime, he goes absolutely crazy for the cat water and cat food so I have to pick those up whenever he is roaming. Likewise I have to be careful that he doesn’t get in the cat litter. I have a small box of cat toys and he found those yesterday, absolutely delighting in anything that had a bell in it.  I’ve said many times before that there is a fine line between baby and cat toys and I’m pretty sure we are now at an age where that line is disappearing.

I have been really delighted to see Baby N’s crawling progress after a somewhat slow start. I have adhered to a strict policy of no baby jumpers or activity centres where you put the baby in the middle with their feet on the floor, and definitely no walkers. I know this is a controversial topic, but our pediatric physiotherapist who Baby N saw for his wonky neck was so vehemently opposed to them it totally freaked me out.  She showed us various case studies of how they make the child walk incorrectly and develop wrongly which can not show up for many years, but later on have some serious issues for the child so that was an easy decision for us. We were coincidentally at a friend’s place for dinner this week and their 8 month old was able to walk with the help of an adult but he walked really strangely.  I was puzzled by him until my husband told me they leave him in a walking device during the day so he has effectively learned to walk only on his toes.  Anyway, he’s a delightful baby in every way so I thought none of my business but it did lodge in my mind.

The past few nights Baby N has been difficult to put to sleep, which is very unusual and when it’s accompanied by howling crying it is totally out of character.  I am highly suspecting it is more teeth (he has 5 so far) because after some Calpol (baby Panadol) he is usually fine and sleeps through the night.  Last night we were out for my father-in-law’s birthday so the lady who looks after him while I’m at work came to stay with him. I told her if he is upset to give him Calpol but I don’t really know what happened other than the fact he was still awake (but happy) when we came back around 1130pm and finally managed to get him to bed at midnight. Let’s just say today he is suuuuuuper tired!  He woke up at 9am and went back to bed at 1030am after some breakfast and playing. I didn’t even manage to get him out of his pjs yet.

Now that he’s almost a year old I am starting to move him onto cow’s milk properly. I know there are wide opinions about the human consumption of cow’s milk but both my husband and I enjoy it and Baby N has no allergies so that’s the road we are taking. I am keen to ditch the bottles in the near future but I have decided against any such big changes until we are back from Australia.  In the meantime I have started giving Baby N some cow’s milk in a sippy cup alongside his breakfast. The first bottle to go will be the breakfast one so I want him to get used to the concept of having milk out of a cup so that when I make the change it is not so enormous for him.  He only has two bottles a day – morning and night – and so I think I’ll just focus on the morning one for a while and then ditch the night one later on. Once he learns how to take milk out of a sippy cup I will move his night one to a sippy cup too in the hope that this makes the progression more easy.

I do let Baby N hold his own spoon now and he has the idea of how to use it although doesn’t really do a lot of self-feeding with a spoon.  He is excellent at self-feeding with his hands though so I expect this will come soon. I do a combination of baby led weaning and spoon feeding – this guy eats a lot so I want to make sure the food goes in – but I can see he is increasingly preferring to feed himself.  This is a win-win situation (mess aside) as I have realized I can enjoy my meals slightly more when he is feeding himself. Yay! It will be really interesting to see how he goes with plane food but given that he loves yoghurt and fruit I will just request lots of those if all else fails.  I have also packed about 20 different prepared food sachets which I don’t love on a normal basis but you gotta do what you gotta do when you’re in a plane for 25 hours!

I am also wondering what toys to pack for him as there is just me carrying all the luggage! I have a couple of new things which are small but they are relatively untested for interest (I want them to be fresh when he sees them).  He really loves basic things like cups so they’ll come with me but also homemade things like a plastic water bottle with bits of dried pasta in it.  I might make him one of those for the plane as it won’t matter if it gets left behind but might provide some entertainment. If anyone has any easy suggestions I am happy to hear them (keep in mind I’m leaving in 3 days so no online shopping is possible at this point).

Finally, I would like to report that hubby and I finally, FINALLY broke our dry spell the other day and it was so great! It all came about in an organic fashion during Baby N’s afternoon nap.  Neither of us were working on anything pressing at the time and I kind of suggested it was a good use of his nap time.  Lucky Baby N got a bit longer of a nap than usual as a result but there was a very happy pair of parents thereafter.  A couple of hours later hubby asked when shall we do it again and I joked “Oh we are good for 2018 now so we don’t need to go knowing we had made some progress.

As my mum says, all good things come to those who wait.