On the road to recovery

Wowsers! It’s been a rough time of late, but I am glad to say that I am now doing a lot better. After a barrage of medical tests and being poked, prodded and zapped (yes, with electrical currents), the doctors finally settled on my diagnosis of Polymyositis  (as discussed in my previous post) and started to give me steroids. Ironically they are exactly the same steroids as I had in the first trimester of my pregnancy with baby N. That is Prednisolone, the brand name in my case being Medrol.  BUT… the big difference is they gave me 4mg daily when trying to grow baby N and now I am on 48mg daily, taken in 3 doses after each meal. Eeek!

Anyone who has had the misfortune of taking these meds knows that they seriously mess up your sleep and it is quite a lot worse on a higher dose.  Actually though I am dealing with that ok at the moment, maybe even enjoying all my bonus energy, but what is most annoying is that the meds also trigger heavy night sweats.  And when I say night sweats I mean my entire body soaked in sweat, including my hair and my pillow. It is 100% gross and necessitates multiple changes of pj during the night (I now keep a stack of light t-shirts next to the bed so I can easily make the change) and a morning shower.  I am Captain Stinky otherwise!

It also makes me want to eat every carbohydrate in the universe pretty much 24/7.  It’s a bit like being pregnant but no baby inside. I confess it’s fun because yum, but it is a bit risky in terms of possible weight gain. Also because the steroids affect your blood sugar levels and there is a genuine risk of developing type 2 diabetes (no thanks).

And yet despite all of this the damned things are working and I am doing better!  I am slowly getting my energy and some of my strength back but I suffered “muscle necrosis” so basically I need to grow my muscles back properly to regain my full strength.  This will most likely happen, but it will take some time – weeks or months.

I went again to see the specialist doctor today – a rheumatologist – and it was quite overwhelming. There was good news and some less positive news. On the positive front he is happy with my rapid improvement and this means he will be reducing my steroids dose progressively from next week. In addition, he is adding a new drug which also targets the immune system to reduce inflammation, but it is a slower acting one and is more long term.  There is one special side-effect of that and it’s mild hair loss, but the aspect that is most saddening to me is that while on these medications it is not a good idea to get pregnant.

Of course I also can’t or shouldn’t be trying to get pregnant when feeling so poorly anyway, but the doctor indicated I could be on these medications for a year or more so that effectively puts me into being 41 or 42 at the earliest before we can even consider baby number 2. Even though I didn’t enjoy being pregnant or the newborn days, I still have a feeling of responsibility that he should have a sibling and the clock is ticking.  Thank goodness there are 15 embryos in the freezer that were conceived with my lovely 38 year old eggs!

Despite this though, I am refusing to let this bring me down strongly as the very most important thing right now is getting better so I can be the best mum ever to baby N and enjoy all his achievements. Having lost both of my parents now I achingly feel even more committed to this.

And what about baby N?  Well I think I’ve got to stop calling him a baby now!  He’s 18 months old and more accurately described as a joyous hurricane.  Toddlers are incredible!  What the world needs to do to solve the energy crisis is to channel the energy of toddlers into electricity.  Oh my goodness can this boy just go and go and go and go!  I often wonder where it comes from and I’ve decided it’s naps and bananas.

Every day he wakes up full of happiness and thirst for life!  This morning I couldn’t get him to get out of his bed because he kept doing rolly-pollys in it!  Other favourite activities include:

  • running around in circles until he falls over laughing with dizziness (warning: high risk of hitting his head so it’s both funny and terrifying to watch),
  • switching any kind of button/switch on and off repeatedly x100,
  • opening cupboards and drawers, taking out whatever is inside them and possibly putting them back in the right place thereafter
  • unscrewing lids off bottles, preferably of water or juice and then tipping it all over himself in an attempt to drink it
  • taking the dirty nappy/diaper and placing it in its special bin (which is located in a kind of laundry room away from his bedroom as poo stinks!)
  • taking dirty laundry from the basket piece-by-piece and delivering it to the washing machine, pretending to add detergent and pushing buttons on the washing machine to make it go (thank goodness for the child lock)
  • gently touching things that are hot like the heaters or a coffee mug and exclaiming “It’s hot!”
  • sitting on daddy’s lap in the driver’s seat of the car and “steering” as well as pushing every button that exists in the car
  • chasing the cat and trying to grab his tail (my cats are both fast and patient thankfully)
  • reading the book “Where is the green sheep?” and being super-excited to find the green sheep on the last page
  • climbing on everything and anything, constantly
  • swings and slides at the park – he can now independently climb the slide and sit himself down with his feet facing forward and then slide himself down
  • eating – he loves food!

I feel like I say this at every stage of development but I absolutely love this age.  He is so funny and curious and intense.  I mean, it’s completely exhausting (even before you consider my illness) but I wouldn’t change it for the world. Toddlers teach you so much about yourself, patience and endurance mainly, but to look through their eyes at the world is a beautiful thing.

I can’t thank toddler N enough for being my rainbow through all of my clouds of late.  I really think I would have been even worse mentally if it wasn’t for him.  I mean, I could have done without the chaos of a toddler while trying to recover but knowing that there is more to life than just me and my introspection is actually very cathartic. It also helps me to see there is a way forward, even though it is shadowed heavily by the loss of my Mum.

So now I know what I have to do for my recovery I can focus on getting physically strong again – staring with getting back into yoga and maybe some acupuncture – and also I think I may look into some counselling. Not just for me, but so I can be a positive influence for toddler N as he grows into a beautiful boy.

 

My Mum died, and other news

I’ve been wondering how to title this post long before I even tried to write it, so I’ve gone with the direct option because frankly this is the sentence that sits square at the front of my brain right now: My Mum died.

My Mum died and my heart is broken.

She died at around 2.15am on Saturday 8th December with both my sister and I by her side. I had arrived late Wednesday night and came directly from the airport to the hospital as during my flight she had deteriorated significantly to the point where she was unconscious when I arrived.  I think she knew I was there though as her eyes flickered a few times when I spoke to her. I told her many times that I was there and that everything was ok now.  In the morning I got on her bed and gave her a cuddle too and she seemed to rest her forehead on mine as though she knew I was there.  By about lunchtime on Thursday she was completely unconscious and we didn’t see much response from her thereafter.

Both my sister and I stayed at the hospital in her room for the entire time.  The only time we left her room was when the nurses came to tend to her and freshen her up. By Friday we were both losing our minds but also we knew that it was more kind for her to go, than to stay in the state she was and we started willing her and giving her the “permission” to go.  She was such a feisty, strong woman though that she really, really hung on. Her heart was so strong that even the nurses couldn’t believe she was still alive on Friday.

When she finally left us early Saturday morning it was a blessed relief that she was finally at peace but it was truly awful.  Towards the end she looked so ghastly that I was afraid to look at her.  I realise that is terrible but it is quite traumatic to watch someone die in increments. When she died I was stroking her hair and holding her and my sister was on the other side holding her hand.  I guess as far as deaths go it’s the best you can hope for in such a circumstance.  She was surrounded by love.

I guess there is an argument that we all knew that she was gravely ill, but it doesn’t actually make it any easier to deal with. I’ve lost both of my parents now in vastly different circumstances – one as quite a shock and one not-so-much – and the trauma is no less in the latter scenario.

The days that follow are now some kind of blur.  Maybe I should have written something at the time but I didn’t feel able to. Almost immediately after my Mum passed away I developed laryngitis so here I was trying to organise a funeral with no voice. Apparently it is a legitimate reaction to grief to lose your voice.

People were very kind to me and my sister but it was a strange time.  I was living in my Mum’s house for a few days alone but without her (my son stayed back home with his dad and grandparents which was weird in itself). The funeral was the Wednesday following her passing, during which I recalled some happy and funny memories as part of the service. My voice had partially returned then but was not 100%. I remember feeling afterwards that a 45 minute service, lovely and heartfelt as it was, it just not enough to pay tribute to her life.  It almost seemed rude to have such a short amount of time dedicated to such a full life.  I still can’t get over this.

Also, I found the funeral to be a massive exercise in managing other people’s grief. While many people were certainly keen to support my sister and I, it really felt like we were doing the heavy lifting with looking after other people. My husband didn’t come over to Australia as we jointly agreed that it would be better to have him stay with baby N so that there was some consistency there. I had good friends supporting me so, while I missed him, I was ok.

Then at the funeral, I had two completely unexpected guests turn up – one was a girl I went to school with and practically have had nothing to do with since, and the second was an ex-boyfriend of mine from when I was 19. We have remained excellent friends over the years as we have some bond that is hard to put in words.  We definitely have a connection as he lost his mum to cancer at a young age as I did my dad, but we also have a special something between us beyond that.  It’s all above board, my husband knows about it and I think we both recognise we are not a good romantic match, but I do love him. Anyway, so he’s this tall, gorgeous, blonde surfer and he just strolls into the funeral and you know what?  I lost it. I had kept it together so nicely until then but I was so very touched that he came that I just hung onto him for dear life for about 5 minutes. It was kind of at the point where someone almost had to tell me to let the poor guy go.

Afterwards about 80 people came back to my Mum’s house for the wake. It was so bizarre.  Everyone is so convivial and yet you can’t hold down a conversation with anyone for longer than 1 minute because someone else comes to ask you something else. Also, because I think people realised we would (eventually) be selling Mum’s major items they started asking me if they could buy things.  At her wake, they started asking to buy things.  This still blows my mind.  So here I am in the middle of all the post-funeral feelings and someone is asking me how much for her sofa.  Seriously, WTF people?!

And then you know what happened the day after her funeral? I turned 40. Yep, it was my 40th birthday, which I was meant to be spending on a romantic trip in Milan with my husband. But instead I spent it at my Mum’s house with my sister and friends crying and drinking champagne.  Actually, somehow it turned out to be a great birthday full of love. I missed my Mum ENORMOUSLY but given the situation we did try and smile and celebrate in a low-key way.

The following Sunday I said goodbye to Mum’s house, and goodbye to the town I grew up in from the age of 3 and full of all the pain and emotion headed back to my boys.  And for the first time in my entire life, I got upgraded to business class on the plane.  I cried.

My return back was a blur.  Baby N was a bit strange with me for the first couple of days – he wouldn’t sleep the first night which was great with jet lag! But he soon got back into the swing of it and seems no worse off thankfully.  He’s at a beautiful age now – 18 months – and I adore him.

I don’t remember much what happened next.  There was Christmas and New Year, which was a blur. I didn’t feel much up for anything so we kept a pretty low profile, doing simple things as a threesome. I was exhausted too and couldn’t really seem to catch up with myself.

About two weeks ago I started to feel a tiredness in my muscles that was similar to how you feel after a really, good, tough workout.  Except I’d not worked out. This progressively got worse over several days until I found one night I couldn’t get out of bed as my muscles were so weak and I was in so much pain.  After I vomited a bit with the pain it completely freaked my husband out and so he sent me for some blood tests.  Long story short it seems I had a viral infection of sorts.  Nothing very exciting or unusual about that in winter… except that this viral infection seems to have triggered something far worse which is called Polymyositis. This is inflammation and weakness in your muscles and if not treated it can be very dangerous.

It has rendered me quite disabled in that I have no strength in my body to do basic things such as holding my hairdryer above my head to dry my hair, or pouring the water jug, or lifting /caring for baby N. I can’t walk very well or very fast and I’m in a lot of pain. At the moment they are trying to confirm the diagnosis – I’ve had a bunch of blood tests and an MRI so far, but they also need to do some kind of neurological test and a muscle biopsy so it’s not over yet. So far 2019 has sucked so very much!

Many people seem to think my immune system was compromised by my grief.  It all sounds believable but I’m just so unhappy right now.  Meanwhile my sister-in-law has just announced that she’s pregnant with her second, a girl.  You may recall that my husband and her husband are brothers and our relationships are not at all strong.  Throughout this she and her husband have been completely unsupportive and downright rude so I’m struggling with that too.  My parents-in-law, however, have been incredible and baby N has half-lived at their house as I’ve been incapable of caring for him alone.

Right now I’m trying to focus on getting better.  My treatment is high dose steroids – the same ones I took for the IVF but at much higher doses. On low dose they made my face fat and me kind of psycho so I am freaking out somewhat about what kind of nightmare I will become on the strong dose.  Either way I have to get better so there is no option.

Please someone tell me I’ve had enough drama and I can go back to a quiet, normal, boring life again soon?!

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These are some special tulips my Mum grew and tried to live long enough to enjoy (which she did)

 

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.

 

 

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!