Unexpected advantages of parenthood

Baby N is now 7.5 months old and I didn’t really do a 7 month update for no particular reason except perhaps laziness.  However, I’ve got to say that 7 months old seems to be a pretty magical age.  N is now able to sit up happily by himself, which makes for much more exciting playtime, and he finds all sorts of things hilarious these days, especially the cats.  It’s like his whole personality has really blossomed this past month and now I regularly describe him as Mr Sunshine or Mr Happy.

I’d like to note a direct correlation for my love for this age group with the fact that N is sleeping much better these days.  Usually when I say such things about him sleeping nicely then he decides to not sleep that night so I am reluctant to go into too much detail for fear of jinxing myself.  However, on a good night he will go to sleep at around 7.30pm and wake up around 6.30-7.00am.  I try very hard not to get out of bed for him until 7.00am but it depends how loud his chattering is. Of course if he cries I get up straight away.

We have had a few instances recently when a full to overflowing wet nappy has woken him in the middle of the night – many a late night curse for the inaccurately named Pampers Baby Dry brand (Pampers, I am done with you) – and this has meant sometimes a night feed or just a cuddle in bed with mum.  You gotta do what you gotta do! But actually because I see less of him during the day now I almost miss him and look forward to those moments where we get to hang out at night. I’m sure if I was full time at home with him I would not be so excited by nighttime waking.

Anyway, I was thinking to myself earlier how many unexpected advantages there are of parenthood, so I thought I’d compile a little list of them for a giggle.  Perhaps I’ve missed a few or I’m unaware of them yet, so feel free to add your own.

  1. You never have sticky/dirty hands anymore because you always have wet wipes available!  This is a revelation especially when eating on the go.  Why did I never just walk around with baby wipes in my handbag before having a baby?
  2. Ditto snacks. Baby snacks are very delicious you know and they come in handy sized packs.
  3. Sleep aids are no longer needed. I no longer need any of my relaxing pillow sprays or other tools to help me go to sleep.  I’m always so grateful to get in bed that going to sleep is no longer an issue for me.  For someone who has been a difficult sleeper since birth this is an amazing development.  Of course I also never get a lie-in anymore so this one is not all good.
  4. Efficiency is beyond belief. I’m so fast at getting ready to go somewhere.  I remember the days where on the weekend we would plan to get up “early” to go do something and we’d struggle to leave the house before midday.  Midday is practically three quarters of my day done these days! Also, I used to get up one hour before I needed to leave home for work in the old days.  WHAT DID I DO WITH ALL THAT TIME? I now get a grand total of 10 minutes to get myself ready in the morning.  During that time I need to eat breakfast, clean my teeth, wash my face, apply face moisturiser and style my hair (I put my make-up on in the car).  I work in PR and I can’t look like I’ve walked off the streets so every day I marvel at this achievement.  I also think of all that wasted time in years previous.
  5. An ability to go with the flow develops even for type A folks. Babies are a great leveller.  You think before you have one that you won’t do what those other people are doing because you will be the Super-parent.  And then you find out that being a parent is H.A.R.D. and you come to the realisation that it’s good to start out with a plan, but be ready for when it all goes to shit and you have to turn to Plan B, C or D… or just give up entirely and try again tomorrow.
  6. You can get out of stuff really easily.  Have a party that you don’t want to go to?  Tell them you can’t leave the baby. Realistically in the first three months it is hard to go anywhere without the baby or even with it, but at a certain point the baby gets old enough that daddy or a close family member or friend can look after it for a while when you do something.  However, you can ALWAYS call in the big cards that the baby needs you when you want to get out of doing something.  It’s so brilliant that even my husband uses it sometimes.
  7. Daytime drinking.  When you can’t go out in the evening, you start drinking at lunch.  Obviously not enough that you can’t be a responsible parent, but just enough to take the edge off things.  Trust me, it’s brilliant.  I found a new BFF who has a baby the same age as N so we go to each other’s houses in our comfortable clothes and drink prosecco.  I’m not even joking about this. Everyone needs a friend who you can drink prosecco in your pjs with and cry.  Also someone who has a baby the same age as yours so if you need to use their change table/crib/baby toys/high chair they are all set up for it, not to mention that they are cool with whatever drama your baby decides to bring.
  8. You become a better driver.  At least when the baby is in the car – strangely the second the baby is not in the car you revert back to your old ways.  Is someone a psychologist out there who can explain this? Because when N is in the car I am particularly cautious and drive nicely, even cursing those folks doing dangerous things.  Don’t they know I have precious cargo on board?! (Also, please note that you should not drive after alcohol so make sure you stay a long time at your friend’s house and drink a lot of water and have some lunch, ok?)

The beginning of a never-ending love story

The inevitable has happened.

Baby N has discovered his willy.


I knew it would happen one day because he is a boy after all, but I didn’t expect it to come so soon.  It is kind of funny though.  It was Sunday I noticed it for the first time, that when I took his nappy off his hand went straight for the willy.  And once he’d found it the first time… well… you know his hand is going to live down there semi-permanently for the rest of his life.

Of course his dad is DELIGHTED!  He didn’t believe me at first so I got him to come and watch as I changed his nappy.  Sure enough as I was undressing him he was already trying to get to it, even with the nappy on. Now it’s hand down there all the time during nappy changes and in the bath and any other free willy moment. He used to play with his ears a lot, flicking them, but now he does that less now that he’s found The Willy.

It is funny and natural and all of that, but it’s also a sharp reminder that I have produced a future man who is going to do all the gross things that men do.  It is also yet another reminder that my baby is not quite as babyish as he once was.  Time moves fast!

Other than willy discovery this week has been pretty uneventful.  Baby N has been a little better at sleeping, giving me three consecutive really great nights and then deciding to have a party last night from 1.30am until almost 3am just so I don’t get too relaxed and confident.  At least he is very happy and cheerful during our early morning parties.  I think they’d be a whole lot worse if he was crying.

Work has continued to be overall okay.  I can so far manage the part time work with the motherhood demands but let’s see how that continues.  I might have a two-night European business trip coming up in March or April which will be awesome but I’m also sure that by two days before I’ll be hysterical with panic about leaving the baby.

I did have a fight with the head of IT who decided in my absence on maternity leave to change all of my phone numbers – direct line, mobile etc. I’d had the old numbers for more than five years so that has been a bit of an issue for me, albeit the IT guy thought it wouldn’t be.  He was SUPER rude to me over email (haha, evidence!) so I raised it with the CEO and the IT guy got a severe telling off.  My husband joked to me not to burn ALL my bridges in my first week and to save some for next week.

Baby N has been totally fine with his new daily visits to the grandparents’ house and hanging with his new buddy there.  I think he actually has a wonderful time as he is doted on there then I pick him up feeling all guilty for going to work so I lavish attention on him until daddy comes home and does the same thing.  This kid is DEFINITELY winning at life.

Daddy even took him for a vaccination today as mummy was at work.  This was the first time daddy has stepped up to the plate for this so I was a bit on edge but they all did great.  Baby N now comes in at a whopping 73.5cm tall and 9.98kg weight.  This puts him at the very top of the chart for both height and weight.  I asked my paediatrician if he’s overweight but she says he is “Just a lovely big boy”.  I guess because he’s so tall the weight is not an issue.  If he was shorter in stature and the same weight it might be more of a problem.

Likewise, my fitness regime has taken a huge dive this week but I’ve had a chat to myself about just focusing on getting in the new flow of things before I get too caught up in this aspect of life.  Slowly, slowly I will find a rhythm I’m sure. And I’ve found colleagues have very kindly made various comments to the affect of me having lost my baby weight which is nice.  I mean I still have 3kg to go but at least it looks like I’ve slimmed down.  I’m all for smoke and mirrors and carefully chosen fashion! This is definitely not going to be my fittest period of my life but I remain keen to keep some modicum of fitness alive so that when I do have more space in my world to once again exercise frequently that I will have maintained a good basis for this.

In the meantime, we are doing great at Aqua Babies and I’m so delighted I started baby N with this early.  Last week he even did a free swim with his head under the water and he was totally fine with it.  It’s amazing how natural babies are in water!

And just like that it was over

Maternity leave is officially over for me as I had my first day back at work today.  Well I say day, but I’m now working part-time so it was a little more than half a day actually. I have had so many mixed feelings about my return to work and the worst day was actually yesterday as I realised it was the last day I would have my little boy all to myself. I started getting the dread in my stomach and wondering if going back to work – even part-time – was somehow bad for the baby. I started wondering if I would make it to work on time after dropping the baby off and would I turn up at work looking like a mess?  Well none of that bad stuff happened, at least today.  I’m sure it will on many times in the future, but today I got myself together and got baby N dropped off on time so that’s a good start.

The nights are long, but the years are short. This is a popular saying that a friend told me earlier on when the nights felt ENDLESS.  I now know what she means. I feel fortunate to have had these 6+ months with my small guy, but I also know that in plenty of other countries maternity leave is much longer and I will confess I feel very envious of this.

Where I live the maternity leave is four months and so I took a combination of annual leave and unpaid leave to top me up to a total of seven months off work.  And you know what, it was the best decision I’ve made.  Obviously I would be happy to have had 12 months or more with him, but given my situation it was a treat to have that extra time with him.  At four months I was definitely NOT ready to go back to work and neither was he ready to be apart from me.

I’ve been working on getting him ready for the change for the past two months by taking him to his grandparents place where he is looked after by someone who is kind of his nanny.  Apart from this giving me some much appreciated time to myself to go to the gym, have my hair done or do the grocery shopping child-free, it actually made today a whole lot easier.  Rather than it being A Thing to drop the baby off, it was totally normal for him which meant I felt more relaxed too.  I know when I leave him that he’s happy and being well cared for and that is very, very important!!

So off I went to work today and not knowing if I was going to have a good time or not.  But I DID have a good time and it WAS good to be back with my colleagues.  It certainly helps that I work with really nice people who value my contribution at work, but also I like my job.  I think if I was missing any of those elements then today would have been so depressing and awful! My colleagues also gave me a little gift of some beautiful teas, some biscuits and a calendar with cats.  I felt really special.

I was somewhat irritated that my colleague stole my desk chair (it was new) and thought I wouldn’t notice.  OF COURSE I NOTICED!  Let’s just say that it is now back in my possession…

At the end of my (short) working day it was such a thrill to leave the office and go and collect baby N.  When I saw him he had just woken up from a nice long nap and he had the biggest smile ever for me which was beautiful.

If I could have more time at home with him would I?  Yes, absolutely.  But given my options I think today, my first day back at work was about as perfect as you could hope for.

Now to just get baby N to sleep a bit better tonight so I can catch up on some well needed beauty sleep!!




The small guy is six months old

It’s hard to believe but six months and a day have passed since baby N entered this world.  Six. Whole.  Months.  It’s been a ride, that’s for sure! From those heady newborn days where I literally didn’t think I could make it through another day, to the heartbreaking inability to breastfeed, but then to all the fun times, the smiles, the laughs, his two new teeth, the Aqua Babies classes, all of the firsts, to his little face when he wakes up in the morning so happy to see me and the fits of laughter he has when Lucy cat does something stupid.

I’ve never felt so many emotions.

I’ve never been so tired. Constantly.

I’ve never felt so useless and incompetent, but then the next day I may feel like a super mamma.

I still cannot believe we flew to Australia and back.  Holy shit! (I wouldn’t do it again)

But he’s beautiful and ever-changing and he’s the product of my husband and I.  Perhaps he wasn’t created in a moment of passion (and I do try not to think about what my husband was thinking of when he made his “contribution”) but he was created with so much hope and persistence and determination.  Perhaps that counts equally or even more so.

Now baby N has a little personality, a sunny disposition, a preference for some toys over others.  He’s not keen on avocado but seems to like everything else I feed him and makes “Mmmmm” noises of gratitude and satisfaction when I feed him. He has had his first time on a swing (loved it).

Most recently I’ve been worried that he’s not rolling over, especially with all the dramas of his wonky neck and flat head, but the baby physio has said that his delay in this stage is most likely down to his large size.  He’s now the height and weight of perhaps an average 8 month old baby and it’s hard to shift that much body when you’re only 6 months old.  Despite this, he is strong and loves to sit upright, albeit supported as he cannot yet sit up unaided.

I’ve also been suffering majorly with his inability to self-soothe at night.  This means that every time he comes out of a sleep cycle – roughly 8-10 times a night – he wakes up and needs comforting in the form of his dummy/pacifier replaced and sometimes some reassurance from me.  This means that I wake up roughly every hour.  Every night.  To say it is killing me is an understatement.  It’s like the newborn days all over.  One of my baby apps helpfully said not to worry as babies usually start sleeping better at one year old.  THAT IS SIX MONTHS AWAY, PEOPLE!!  I did not think kind thoughts towards the person that wrote that for the app!

The advice from the experts is that the baby needs to be put down to bed awake so that he puts himself to sleep and when he wakes up again he will know how to put himself back to sleep.  So I’ve got half of that right as baby N can now go to sleep by himself, but ONLY with a dummy in his mouth.  Of course he spits that out while he’s sleeping so when he wakes up he freaks out about it and I have to put it back in.  So the next thing to teach him is how to sleep without a dummy.

I am now cursing myself for giving him a dummy in the first place. Mummies with new babies take note!!

It looks like I will be heading back to work on 1 February, although I’ve managed to agree part time work with my employer which is nice. I have mixed feelings about this.  I would prefer to be in a country with longer maternity leave, here it is only 4 months long but I took some unpaid leave to extend my time.  I know that it’s even worse in the US so I have full respect to the mammas there that have to go back to work when baby is 6 weeks old or younger (I don’t know how you do it).

The good part about going back to work is that I know that my baby will be staying with someone who loves him.  He will be looked after by my husband’s parents’ maid in a kind of nanny situation (maids are very common here and she is very well looked after and doesn’t want to leave), who absolutely adores him like he’s her own and his little face lights up whenever he sees her.  He will be thoroughly spoiled when he is with her. As he will be at his grandparents’ house he will be comfortable and not in a group situation which often leads to more frequent illnesses.  Not that this is a bad option either, but I am fortunate enough to have an alternative.

Already I’ve been taking him to her three days a week for a few hours at a time. I have loved my baby-free time as it has allowed me to go to the gym and yoga and do odd jobs like visit the grocery store without a baby in tow (a real treat). That will soon be replaced by work and so bye bye mummy’s personal time I guess, but hello using my brain again.  I hope that the balance of work and baby will work out although I’m sure it will take some getting used to as well. Expect some kind of post mid-February where I’m freaking out.

Until then, here’s the small guy enjoying all the pleasures life has to offer.





It’s New Year’s Eve and I’ve had a couple of glasses of champagne so I’m feeling a bit nostalgic.  Here are some thoughts according to some key stats for me in 2017:

That’s how much free time I’ve had since getting back from Australia and that’s why I’ve been so woefully poor at updating my blog.  I remember reading ridiculous interviews with celebrities where they would say annoying things like there wasn’t enough time to eat, but now I understand it.  Some days it is really hard to find time to eat and when I do I find I’m stuffing something in a huge hurry.  Long gone are the days of a relaxing lunch or dinner! After surviving the return journey’s jet lag, we then had baby N’s christening the very next weekend.

Over here the christening is a VERY BIG DEAL and the babies don’t just get a little drop of water on the forehead, they get completely dunked in the water which can be somewhat traumatic for some babies.  With this in mind I was completely stressed by the whole thing, but you know what, baby N was a star!  He slept through the first half an hour of the ceremony in his godmother’s arms (parents are not allowed to touch the baby throughout the ceremony) and then when he was dunked in the water he did a bit of a complain but what more or less fine with it and was totally happy once he was bundled up in a bunch of towels.  I loved him so much on this day! Then there was Christmas and then he got sick and then I got sick, so yeah sorry for not writing more.  But onto the actual post…

17 July 2017 was the day baby N was born.  One of the few advantages of an elective c-section with a cool doctor was that I was able to choose his birthday. I love the balance of his birthday being 17-07-17 (American friends it is 07-17-17 where you come from which is not quite as cool).  It’s also David Hasselhoff’s birthday which did put me off somewhat but not enough to change it.  We also got married on 23-03-13 so I have a thing for balanced numbers.

I finally did a count of all the injections I took in the making of baby N and 338 was the final total.  This included the down-reg meds, the stims meds and the Clexane that I took throughout the entire pregnancy and for six weeks after his birth.  Even this number is probably lower than the final total as it doesn’t include the full round of IVF I did previously or the meds I was given in hospital.  I self-administered the injections myself and I swear if I’d not been so exhausted I would have thrown a party on the last day of the Clexane injections!

Baby N is now 5.5 months old and becoming even more lovely every day.  He has a cheeky smile that he willingly gives out to loved ones and strangers alike (I think he’s a natural flirt) and I am regularly told by people that he is a calm and friendly baby.  He is very communicative, only crying or complaining when he is hungry, tired or in pain. As someone who is highly strung I simply cannot believe I have managed to produce such a chilled out baby.

Baby N weighed 3.4kg at birth and now he is a huge 8.8kg!  Not only that he has been above height since his birth (53cm) and now stands at around 70cm which is the height of an average 7 month old, but he’s only just turned 5 months.  I have learned the hard way to buy clothes two sizes up as there have been way too many cute things he’s simply not been able to wear because he is extra tall for his age.  I find that people ask to hold him and then give him back to me after 3 minutes because they’re tired from holding him.  At least my arm muscles are pretty epically strong these days! But now it makes sense why people say babies grow so fast, because they really do.  These past five months have been both epically long and incredibly short.  I don’t know how to explain that better but it’s the truth. And I’ve got to say the last 6 weeks has been insane in the level of development that has happened.  I can now see my baby turning into a little boy and even a little bit of personality appearing. It blows my mind!

The number of teeth baby N has.  While it’s not freakishly uncommon for babies to get their first teeth at 5 months, they usually get them around 6-7 months old.  When the tooth surprised me by poking its way through I was also delighted as it explained why my previously excellent sleeper had been so cranky and awful for the past few nights.  I guess I had hoped everyone was exaggerating about how awful teething is, but now it seems they weren’t. The fun of parenthood is never-ending it seems.

That’s how many kilograms I gained when pregnant.

That’s how many kilograms I’ve lost since giving birth.  The first 9 were not so hard to lose, the next 4 have been beastly and required heavy dieting (food is the key to weightless, folks).  I still have 3kg to go but I’ve been too bothered with surviving life to try recently.  They need to be gone quickly in the new year though.  Even so, I can now fit into most of my pre-pregnancy clothes apart from my super skinny jeans and that is quite a good thing for my psychology.

The number of times I have questioned my ability to be a mother. Maybe it’s just me, but the level of self-doubt in this is huge. I constantly wonder if I’m doing things right or could be doing things better.  Mothering is REALLY HARD!

Boxes of tissues (Kleenex for American friends) we have been through since July.  Most of this can be attributed to crying (mainly me, again), but also baby reflux/vomit, baby drool, and then all the runny noses (baby + parents) caused by the various illnesses suffered. I know a few of you are expecting babies very soon – go buy lots of packs of tissues as I promise you that you’ll need them.

The number of foods baby N has rejected since starting solids two weeks ago. I have absolutely adored introducing “solid” food to baby N (puree barely counts as solids) as he seems to be super-keen to eat whatever I give him.  While we have had success with pumpkin, sweet potato, carrot and pears, the real winners so far have been banana and apples. Two days ago he even ate a whole (albeit small sized) banana!  I could not believe he managed to find a space for all of that, but he did! But oh my goodness the poo is something else!!

But in all of this what I cannot quantify is my gratitude that this New Year I am a mother.  My journey was bumpy and difficult and I know how lucky I am to have my rainbow baby.  So this New Year’s Eve I am home with my husband and my cats and my baby.  This is by far the least glamorous NYE I have had in a very long time, but also the most peaceful and satisfying (also comfortable… hellooo tracksuit!). This time last year I was still in a world of anxiety about whether my embryo would continue to grow inside of me to be a healthy baby. The year before I had just lost our first baby.  This year we are a family. Mummy, daddy, baby and 3 lovely cats.  3+3 and perfect.




And we’re back!

Just like that and three weeks was up!  We had a wonderful visit back home in Australia, spending lots of time with my mum (Grandma), sister as well as family and friends. Despite my plans otherwise, it ended up being a very full and busy trip and I was pretty tired towards the end. When you live abroad there are so many people to catch up with and usually that’s pretty full on anyway, but you add a baby to the mix and it was a lot to handle.

The best parts of my trip were seeing the joy my mum and my sister (and others) got from spending time with the baby.  My heart ached every time I thought about how sad it is that he doesn’t get to see them on a more regular basis. I did have to adjust my expectations a bit about how much help my mum would be though, as while she was very keen to be helpful, she struggled to be as actively involved as I would have liked. That was really tough in the first week when the baby jet lag meant I was really suffering from lack of sleep. I also had a massive sleep debt from the previous two weeks where he had been ill so I was quite a wreck the first week.

But then the baby adjusted to the timezone, he got used to my mum’s house and the travel cot and we found a kind of flow.  We went out and did some Christmas shopping, we took some beautiful photos with Santa (I went a bit crazy and bought all the photos like a nuts first-time-mum does), we went to lunch, we saw friends – it was as it would be if we lived locally.

Leaving was awful and never seems to get easier.  I always worry that I may not see my mum again every time I leave.  While her health is stable and she lives a fully independent life, she has a terminal leukaemia and was not expected to live as long as she has. I encouraged mum to try and come to stay with us for Easter, if her health and treatment allows it.  If she comes much later in the year than that the Mediterranean heat is simply too much for her (which is why she didn’t come with baby N was born).

Baby N absolutely adored his grandma and also his aunty and it was so beautiful to see them all together.  I really felt the distance with me living over the other side of the world from my family.  I feel bad for them that they’re missing out on him and also for baby N that there is half his family he has very little contact with.  But such is life when you’re in a cross-cultural relationship. No one thinks about these details in the heady early days of a relationship!

Throughout our visit baby N was a very chilled and wonderful baby.  There were times where he was tired and grumpy, but so was I so how could I blame him.  I don’t know why people think babies should be cute and smiley all the time because adults are not! I’ve got to say that I am very fortunate to have such a flexible baby who let me drag him across the world and then around to all sorts of unfamiliar places and people.

Then there came the return trip home on the plane.  This was the same journey I made previously, but in reverse.  I hadn’t thought much about it, but it turned out to be a much, much harder journey in reverse.  Why?  Because the length of the overall journey (around 28 hours door-to-door) and the timing of the departure meant that I messed up two nights of his sleep.   On the journey to Australia I’d only messed up one night and this had a big enough (bad) impact.

On our return trip, we left Australia around midnight (scheduled departure 11pm) which meant that at the time baby N is normally going to bed, I was putting him in a car and driving him to an airport.  He then had all the stimulation of an airport – noise, lights etc – just when he should be sleeping.  At the scanning point they also made me take him out of the Ergobaby so that woke him up too.

Once on board I was hoping to be able to put him in the bassinet to get a good sleep, but the issue with this is that you have to take the baby out if there is turbulence.  I put him in there the first time and literally five minutes later the seatbelt sign went on so I had to get him out, waking him up.  The seatbelt sign was on for about 90% of the 15 hour flight and so I was thinking pretty hateful thoughts of the captain for most of the journey.   Apparently he left the sign on “just in case”. Grrrr! Baby N ended up sleeping with me on my seat and we kind of dozed together.  I think he slept a bit better than me but neither of us were particularly well slept.

After our 15 hours in the air, we had about 3 hours transfer at Abu Dhabi airport which was unremarkable.  Baby N was full of smiles and charm as it was daytime in Australia and so he was feeling all the joy! But then the next flight – 5 hours in duration – came at the time when he should be going to sleep in Australia.  And he couldn’t sleep.  So he reacted accordingly by crying a lot. He also decided to puke up on himself and me more than once so we all smelled like vomit.  Obviously I changed his clothes but still the smell of vomit doesn’t leave you easily.

It.  Was.  Awful.

The longest five hours of my life ever.

At one point the cabin crew lady was giving me a hug as I cried and baby N cried too.  He was just so overtired the poor boy and I was very flustered by all his crying.  I wouldn’t normally be but when you’re in the enclosed space of the plane, travelling by yourself it’s easy to get in your own head and think everyone is staring at you.  By the time we got to the third airport and our last transfer I was a mess.  I had a huuuuuuge spot on my jawline which seemed to represent exactly how I was feeling! The transfer time was very short so we were amongst a small group of passengers who were personally escorted to the gate.  Thank goodness for that as I was so in need of help that the airline lady ended up carrying my passports and mobile phone while I juggled the baby (they made me take him out of the Ergobaby again) and all our hand luggage.

The last flight was 1.5 hours and I was on the very edge of my coping ability but bless him baby N just passed out and slept in my arms for the journey. While I couldn’t move or eat anything or do anything at all I was so happy because he was silent.  I spent that journey just staring at the window at the Mediterranean islands below and wishing time would disappear so I could stop being on a plane with a very over-tired baby.

My wish was granted and my now-angelic baby and I finally finished our plane journeys.  All we had to do was go through passport control and collect our luggage before meeting my hubby who was collecting us. And you know what happened then? One of our suitcases didn’t turn up.  So I had to stand there waiting just in case – though I had the vibe it wasn’t there – until all the cases had been delivered.  I then had to go to the lost luggage people who I’ve got to say really need to work on their customer service charm as it seemed I was disrupting their personal chats to report my lost luggage.  So hear I am carrying an exhausted baby, looking like I was living rough with crazy hair, massive bags under my eyes, a huge zit the size of a unicorn horn on my jaw and then these people were being useless with my lost luggage. They are very lucky I was too exhausted to have a proper fight!

Anyway, my suitcase was identified as being at the previous airport and was then sent on to me the next day.  Thankfully it was the suitcase containing my stuff, not the baby’s so there was no massive issue with the delay. Finally, we made it out of the airport where hubby was waiting.  He asked me if I was glad to be “home” and I responded that I was mainly just glad to not be on a plane anymore with a baby!

Now that we’ve been home two days I can say it is good to be back.  It’s nice to have the support of my husband, but also it’s so great to be sleeping in my own bed with my own pillow.  Not enough credit is given to the magical healing power of the pillow.

Baby N has suffered a bit with jetlag – going to bed early and then waking up in the middle of the night for 1-2 hours – but overall he’s been better with the jet lag heading west than east (which is normal). One of my friends did comment to me today that I seem traumatised by my plane journeys and I’ve got to say that is true.  However, I would say to anyone planning to travel a shorter distance that it is entirely do-able and not so bad at all.

If I could change one thing about our trip is that I wouldn’t fly alone again.  Not because I couldn’t handle it because I think I’ve proved that I can handle it (albeit it was so incredibly tough) but that you really need another pair of hands.  If there’s two of you you can tag team it – to visit the loo, to eat, to try and get the baby to sleep.  If you’re alone then literally EVERYTHING comes down to you.  I’ve now learned how to pee while wearing a baby carrier and sleep vertically while holding a baby amongst other things.  I almost feel like the skills I’ve learned in the past three weeks are worthy of inclusion on my CV.  I am sure that a certain fortitude has been developed as part of all this so at least I can be grateful for that.

Like my friend said to me, if you can handle this trip with baby N by yourself then you can do ANYTHING!




Dispatches from Down Under

That’s right, baby N and I have made it to the other side of the world and we’ve lived to tell the tale!  Thankfully, the journey itself turned out to not be the hard bit, but baby jet lag is a special kind of hell! To anyone contemplating a journey with a small person with significant timezone change involved, BE WARNED! If there is only a timezone change of a couple of hours, then I suggest you keep to your home timezone while you’re travelling, but with a nine hour time change, that was not an option for us and I sure paid for it!

I’ve been relatively absent from blogland of late because we have had quite a time of it recently and there simply were not enough hours in the day to cope with life and then write about it. It all started out 10 days before we were due to fly when baby N came down with his first cold.  No big deal.  In fact, I was pretty happy about it as I figured if he was sick then that would mean his antibodies would be nice and high by the time we boarded any planes and exposed him to new, foreign germs. The only downside was that he was sleeping very poorly because of all the sneezing and blocked nose that he was suffering.  So I was pretty tired at this stage but thinking it would pass soon enough.

The weekend before our trip baby N was starting to seem better and so I was quite relaxed.  Then on Sunday night he came down with croup.  CROUP!!!  I didn’t recognise it at first, I simply went into his room at about 10pm when he was having a bit of a cry to realise he was gasping for breath.  This is NOT a good thing to see in your baby.  I had a little panic, there was some shouting for hubby and a call to the paediatrician for an over-the-phone diagnosis. I already had an appointment scheduled with her the next morning – albeit for a vaccination which was blatantly not going to happen – so she said to keep watching him and if he got worse to go to the emergency department of the hospital for treatment, otherwise she would see us in the morning.

We made it to the morning (somehow), but I must have checked he was breathing about 100 times that night, aka I got no sleep.  The doctor was great though and was very conscious of the flight that coming Thursday so prescribed some cortisone with a nebuliser.  But have you ever tried to put a face mask connected to a noisy machine on a young baby?  It did not go well.  He did make some good progress in the next few days, even though I was pretty bad with using the nebuliser.  However, he was still sleeping fitfully and being woken by coughing so it was not the greatest few nights.  This was then compounded by the fact I knew I had to fly by myself with a sick baby across the world.  It is quite accurate to say that by Wednesday I was having a full mental breakdown. I was also massively sleep-deprived. These two things are definitely connected!

At several points on Tuesday and Wednesday I could be found in floods of tears sobbing that I couldn’t fly to Australia with the baby alone, that it was too much and that I couldn’t cope.  I tried to pack, but it is so hard with a (sick) baby in tow.  By Wednesday night I had such a high amount of anxiety with racing heart and fluffy mind that I felt ill and couldn’t eat anything. I genuinely had no idea what I had packed.

We visited the doctor again on Wednesday morning and she said the baby was doing much better (which gave me some confidence) and she prescribed me half a pharmacy’s worth of medications to take on board with me to cover all possibilities.  Of course I used none of the meds I brought with me but I think she prescribed them as a kind of mental health measure for me. It worked as I felt a little more confident knowing I had them all with me in case of emergency.

When Thursday morning rolled around – the day of the journey – I was beyond stressed and anxious. My husband practically forced me to eat breakfast and then I threw it all up again so I don’t think he will do that next time!  He even threatened to cancel the flights because I was in such poor shape.  These were the things that I was most worried about regarding the flight and how they actually turned out in reality:

  • That I wouldn’t be able to cope with carrying the baby in the Ergobaby carrier AND carrying both a backpack and a small, wheelie suitcase.  So it turned out that actually it was actually very easy and convenient to carry him in the Ergobaby, he seemed to enjoy it and often slept in it as I moved from place to place.  And I was quite capable of carrying both the bags so that was good too. I carried only the necessities so the bags were not terribly heavy, but also I’m quite strong which is helpful. I hilariously packed a book to read on the plane. Hahahahahahahahaha! Needless to say, I did NOT read one word of it!
  • That the baby would be a big nuisance or would cry on the plane.  This also turned out to not be the case.  He had a couple of small cries here and there but nothing that couldn’t be attributed to being tired or hungry.  And they were quite short so anyone around me had no grounds to be mad.  The reality is that when he was awake he cooed and played with the toys I had brought, but he was asleep a lot of the time. The people around me even complimented me on what a good baby he was.  I really hope he is just as excellent on the return journey.
  • That I would be forced to give up the water for the baby bottles at the various scanning points for each airport transfer (I went through 4 airports – 2 transits in total).  This also turned out to be a misplaced worry.  One airport wanted to scan each bottle of water individually, another wanted them out of my suitcase but scanned them alongside everything else, and Abu Dhabi didn’t care at all and scanned them inside my suitcase.  They were way more interested in my belt! I had also been wrongly told by the Etihad social media team that I could only transport baby water in quantities of no more than 100ml.  That was also not true.  I started out with 7 bottles each with around 150-200ml in them and no one had any issues with that at all.  This just goes to show you that there is no consistent rule on these things, but I generally found that carrying a baby (especially alone) generated a lot of sympathy for me.

Overall I took 3 flights, the longest being for 13.5 hours with the total journey time door-to-door being around 27 hours long.  Despite being the shortest, the hardest flight for me was the first. The plane was smaller, more cramped and it was the first ever flight for the baby so I was really on edge.  Once we got through that one I had more confidence, the baby was more tired (and likely to sleep) and the planes were a bit bigger, thus giving me more opportunity to space out.

My paediatrician had recommended I give the baby Calpol (baby Panadol) about an hour before the descent started so I did that on each flight.  Obviously if your flights are shorter you should be careful not to give the doses too close together but mine were very far apart.  I think it worked too as baby N didn’t cry on descent thankfully.

On both of the longer flights I was complimented by other passengers who told me that the baby was very good and that he was cute, which of course I was delighted about.  On the second flight he did an epic poop that included dirtying his clothes (thanks baby) so that was the only minor drama. He also made another poop on the descent into Melbourne which meant I had to change him before I could finally see my Mum.  I think he was just testing my patience by doing that. (Side note: Melbourne airport baby change facilities were immaculate!)

But then we were there and my Mum was waiting to see her new grandson.  It was wonderful and it’s been a delight to see her bond with him.  He gives her huge big smiles which is really lovely.  In fact, he’s been super-gorgeous in between sleeping at the wrong hours and seems to be going through a huge developmental leap too.  He’s getting really great with his hands, has just discovered his feet and so spends half his day with his feet in the air staring at them and the other day he laughed for the first time. I somehow managed to capture it on video and honestly it makes me howl with laughter each time I see it.

But baby jet lag is truly horrible! We arrived on Friday evening, which was Friday morning in the baby’s head so I knew I would have some difficulties in getting him to sleep.  I bathed him at about 10pm which helped to let him know it was time to sleep.  I managed to get 3 hours sleep out of him then before we had a bit of a nighttime party for a few hours. He was all smiles and giggles in the middle of the night so that was cute, if somewhat unwanted. He generally tended to only sleep for a couple of hours at a time, sometimes up to 3 hours and it was epically hard to function on this.  With no daddy here to help I was really shouldering the load alone.  My mum has leukaemia and so I really didn’t want to ask her to help me during the nights, but she was great with making sure I had some dinner each night.

This pattern more or less continued for the following three nights (four nights in total) with 2am being the “party hour”.  I noticed the party period in the small hours of the night getting smaller each night and the sleep periods slowly extending.  However, the baby did have trouble settling if he disturbed at night so I was getting up every hour or so to get him to sleep again.  I started to go a bit insane with the sleep deprivation. The googling started again and I started to question whether he actually had jet lag or was having the four month sleep regression or I wasn’t getting him to nap properly during the day, or if the travel cot I was using wasn’t comfortable.  I basically lost all confidence in myself as a mother.

Then, just when I really thought I would lose my mind, on the fifth night he slept through.  I have never loved this baby more than after that great night’s sleep!  He also slept well last night and I’m hoping he does well again tonight.

During my googling frenzy some advice was that the baby needs to see midday sunshine so I made a special effort to take him out during these times to help his body clock reset.  I don’t know if it helped or just he found his way over time, but just to say that the jet lag seems to go eventually.  Like most things with babies, it too does pass.