Gastro, birthday parties and little sharks – 2 years, 3 months

It has been QUITE a month! Are you even really a parent until the entire family gets gastro? Yes, that was our reality a few days after I wrote my last post.  I came down with what I thought initially was food poisoning on a Saturday afternoon and by Saturday night I was begging my husband to find some kind of medication that stops you from vomiting as I had thrown up 20+ times by then. Two hours later he finally listened to me and said medication was procured so I was able to stop throwing up some time in the early hours of Sunday morning. 

I was desperately trying to make a recovery from the “food poisoning” as N had his first birthday party invitation from a classmate and it was at a fancy venue.  I thought to not attend would be very poor form so spent Sunday in bed trying to get strong enough to stand up so I could go to the birthday party.  God knows how but I did get myself to that party and spent most of it sitting on the mat at the bottom of the inflatable castle/slide. This was the first time I was meeting most of the mums so I do wonder what they thought of me but I was just too weak to stand up.

Fast forward to Monday night and then both my husband and N started to come down with the same bug.  It was then that I realized it was not actually food poisoning but was really gastro.  OH MY GOD, THE HORROR!  I had taken my contagious self to a kids’ birthday party when I had gastro!  That is so not cool that I am still feeling wracked with guilt about it.  The only small thing to console myself with was that when we called N’s school to explain why he wasn’t coming for a few days they said no one else had had gastro at the school.  I did not tell any of the mums about it as I was so worried of being blacklisted!  I believe a general gastro stomach bug is going around and I did hear from one of the other mums about a week later that they also had the bug but I don’t think we gave it to them.  I certainly hope we didn’t.

Anyway, poor N it was his first time at vomiting and he was a champion.  He was very confused about what was going on but he would only cry just before he puked.  It was actually very helpful as I knew when to be on standby to catch the vomit. As he’s too little to puke into a bucket I was catching the mess with towels.  On that night I was so glad to have an extensive towel collection as we used practically every towel in the cupboard!  The next day was a full day of laundry and cleaning to eliminate all germs in the house!! The vomiting was for a few hours and then he mainly slept off his illness in our bed with us. It is comforting to have him in bed with us when he’s sick even though he does take over the bed like the giant giraffe that he is. 

It took a few days, but we all eventually regained our strength and our ability to eat food properly again and I think we are much, much more careful about washing our hands ever since. 

There have now been four classmates’ birthday parties to attend since starting school in early September.  Apart from it being expensive with having to buy gifts each time and kind of exhausting to chase N around at them, they are really fun.  Birthday parties are serious business though as it seems that most people around here either have the party at a venue (playground, inflatables etc) or they host it at their lavish house and bring in children’s entertainment. I am glad N’s birthday is not until July as it gives me lots of time to think about how on earth to do this. I have also met some nice mums so that’s good. I quickly discovered which mums were good to hang out with as they are the ones that drink wine at these parties!  It’s a good filtering system! Haha! 

The headmistress at N’s school has informed us we should start potty training this weekend.  She has a system that’s kind of a more direct method.  You apparently just remove the nappies from one day to the next and take the kid to the potty every 45 mins.  The only time they wear nappies is to sleep. I am not sure how this will go, but they’ve clearly been teaching him about the toilet as he’s OBSESSED with sitting on the big toilet, albeit fully clothed.  Wish me luck.

It has been a rough time in my relationship too.  My husband lost his job in early July in not-so-nice circumstances and it’s been a bit more challenging than he thought to find a new position that was relevant to his level of expertise. As is reasonable, he has found this period very challenging and has had the associated moods to go with this. There have been some positives to his time of unemployment – he had more time to devote to focusing on our house build which is near to completion and he’s had more time to spend with N, picking him up from school etc. I also worked full time in September, rather than my usual part time, including a trip abroad so this was a good thing that he was around. BUT, he has been quite awful at times and it has and continues to be a real strain on our relationship. We have had some deep conversations about this and every time we have one I think ok it’s going to be better now, but then something new happens that throws me.

He is in week 2 of a new job now and I think he is happy there, but it’s very exhausting for him in this phase and he’s being awful. There was an incident between us yesterday, which I won’t go into here, but since then he has ignored the existence of both me and N and I cannot wrap my head around this. To ignore me, yes fine whatever, but to ignore your son is so disgusting and immature. N noticed too and I could see it made him sad.  It really hurt my heart.  

I have spoken a bit about my relationship here but have tried to dial it back recently, but I am at a bit of a crossroads.  Where do you draw the line? What is something you can work on and what is over the line?  It’s so hard to decide and I’m trying to stick with it, especially after the terrible year I’ve had, but I’ve got to confess I am struggling with mental health. I have lost about 7 kilograms (15 pounds) since the start of the year, I’m not interested in food (even bad food), my hair is falling out and my skin is full of cystic pimples.  I am clearly breaking down and yet I don’t know what to do about it.  

I am trying to just hang in there as I feel like a change for the better may be around the corner.  Once my husband settles in his job a bit he should be able to manage his moods better.  We are getting a lady in a few weeks to come and help me at home with chores and looking after N from time to time.  And the house should be ready to move into early next year.  I keep telling myself good times are coming, but I am worried I will not be able to hold it all together for that much longer.  I don’t mean to be dramatic, I’m really mainly ok and it’s good to be thin again (sorry, but it is) but I am struggling big time. So if you see me on social media all seeming fabulous, don’t be down on yourself because for sure for every fabulous photo I pick there are 23 other moments throughout the day when I think what has my life come to? 

Thankfully, N is a delight.  Occasionally he does have a two-year-old tantrum and that’s mainly manageable but most of the time he is funny and clever and sweet. I love his happy face. I am so grateful to have him as my son and to have the chance to be a mum, especially after all the challenges I’ve faced to have a baby. N is the best!

Words update:

The words are coming now, albeit slowly.  These are the regular word and phrases that he likes to use. I think there are others in Greek he says but I am not fully aware of them as he speaks to me in English. 

Mummy, Papou (grandpa), Papa (daddy), Yiayia (grandma), hiya, bye bye, yes, nono, socks, car key, gone, run, touch, I don’t know, what is it, last one, that one, it’s hot, 1,2,3 (in English and Greek).

Favourite things:

Washing his hands – he loves liquid soap dispensers generally, but I bought a new one recently that is an automatic dispenser that if you hold your hand under it the soap comes out in a regulated amount. This has been very effective at encouraging N to use soap, possibly to an extreme degree as I have to take the soap dispenser away from him. Using one bottle of soap every week is definitely preferable to having gastro though!

Lollipops – known as “mm-yummies”. There is an ice-cream shop walking distance to our home so we have to visit it on a daily basis to get an “mm-yummy” from it. I now carry a collection of lollipops in his bag and I just present one outside the shop so as not to have to keep buying them from there.  He sucks on them for 1-2 minutes and throws them on the ground anyway, so any dentists reading this don’t worry as he does not eat a lollipop a day. 

Watching the “Little Sharks” video by Bounce Patrol x 1 million per day -it has a section of the song where the little sharks swim slowly and then they swim faster, at which point he runs all over the house squealing with delight, preferably with one of us chasing him. So cute. So very over that song though.

Toys – he’s really starting to get into toys now which is a delight.  We have a few different favourites, but one stand out is a toy microwave I got a couple of weeks ago.  It has different buttons and settings to set for the different food and has lights and makes microwave noises.  Great fun for hours.  Annoyingly, I had to go to the “girl” section of the toy shop to find it.  I also found him a shopping trolley there and finally I found one that is green and not pink.  Seriously, the gender divisions on toys are out of control! 

The fridge and kitchen cupboards – these have always been popular but I’ve recently noticed a step change in the interest in them.  Some days he opens the fridge so frequently and takes things out (aka takes the lids off bottles and tips the liquid on the floor for fun) that I’ve gotten a plastic bag and tied up the doors of the fridge for a few hours so he can’t open them.  No such ability to do that with the kitchen cupboard doors sadly but I have had to rearrange the location of certain items in there so he can’t tip an entire box of cereal on the floor too easily. 

Pushing buttons for pedestrian crossings – he’s mad for these but thankfully there is a park close to our house which is for kids to learn about traffic rules.  It has a course with traffic lights and pedestrian buttons for children to go about on their bikes and scooters.  I just let him loose there for ages as he loves to repeatedly push the pedestrian lights buttons and then cross the road when the green man appears.  

Going over speed humps fast – he is a speed demon and loves when I drive over speed humps a little too fast so that he gets some air in the back seat.  He laughs his head off.  Should I happen to need to brake hard he also says “ooooooh”  asthough I’m a bad driver, cheeky monkey! He also likes for me to run when I’m pushing him in the stroller so it ends up being a bit of an interval training session for me.  Good for the endorphins at least!

24+2 – We have got lift-off!

Bless him, N has finally learned how to jump! For many weeks now he’s been trying to jump – on trampolines and beds and other such bouncy surfaces – and despite his best full-body efforts had not managed to get any space between his feet and the ground.  All that changed recently and he’s delighted.  Bouncing is fun!  Bouncing while dancing is expecially fun.  I don’t think there are many things more full of unadulterated joy as a toddler feeling the groove to his favourite tunes (currently they are I Like To Move It, Will.I.Am / Madagascar version, and Pokerface by Lady Gaga).

The past month has also seen N start nursery school for the first time.  I am so very glad we eased him into this with summer school because it seems to have made a big difference.  The first week was pretty traumatic with crying at drop-off, but now he is quite pleased about going to school and even insists to carry/drag his own bag into the classroom.  I am really happy for him experiencing new things and getting stimulated, and I can already see the difference.  He has expanded his vocabulary in both English and Greek (Greek is exclusively spoken at school) and he now does cute things like say “Shhhh” when he sees a baby or a cat sleeping.  It is adorable. 

He does not seem to be suffering any bad effects of having to go to school, other than the fact he was a bit snotty for the past couple of days and now I also have a sore throat.  School germs are yuk! I would even go as far as to say I think he’s a bit more easy-going in the evenings as he’s burnt out some of his high-octane energy at school. 

We have also reduced his daytime naps to no more than 1 hour, sometimes shorter and that has made some differences too!  As he doesn’t finish school until around 2.00-2.30pm it is a bit hard to juggle the timings of naps but I think once the winter nights start to set in he will probably be more inclined to shift his night bedtime a bit earlier.  Right now he sleeps around 9.00-9.30pm and I would like that to be earlier in winter.  I guess also he might drop his nap at some point in the next six months, at which time I will need to bring his bedtime even earlier. 

I went away for a four-day international work trip last week and I had such a good time.  Ok, I was super-busy, but on a work trip you pause from being mum for a few days and I began to feel like my old self.  I was taken out to dinner a couple of times and, although they were not actual “dates” – my husband was not with me – it was nice to feel nice. I now semi-jokingly refer to this year as “The Year of Shit Things Happening” and my trip away helped me to see that actually the old me was still there, but just buried underneath the weight of all that has come my way in recent months.  Of course, I then returned home to have to put to bed an overtired toddler and to a mountain of laundry that needed doing, so welcome to #mumlife. 

It was nice to come home to N though and he clearly missed me. I arrived home late Friday night and all day Saturday he had eyes only for me and said “Mummy” at a rate of approximately 100x an hour.  I can’t say I hated it!  Poor Daddy who had been looking after him for 4 days got no love. Haha! He was a really good boy on the weekend, he played nicely and even gave me a nice lie in on Saturday.  

Usually the bedtime routine is that I will read him some stories when he is in bed before lights out.  Obviously with me being away, daddy had to step up and take on that job.  I was so delighted to get a message from him after bedtime on the first night that simply said “I love Gruffalo”.  Apparently he had never read or had The Gruffalo read to him as a child and he was discovering it for the first time.  So cute. I also love The Gruffalo! 

Things N loves this month:

 Jumping, dancing and feeling the groove to music and songs.  
 Lollipops – OMG he is obsessed with them, but they do seem to solve most crises. 
 Phones – pretending to talk on them (loudly) and/or actually taking one of our phones and calling us on them.  Most calls go like this: “Hiya, hiya, HIYA!”
 Toys with wheels – cars, tractors, trucks, his scooter, his stroller, his tricycle – wheels are great
 Opening the fridge, finding a drink in there, taking it out, drinking a mouthful of it, putting it back in, shutting the fridge, repeat x infinity or until I get sick of the fridge door being slammed and / or whatever liquid he’s chosen to drink being tipped willfully onto the floor
 Slamming doors, all kinds
 Throwing things off the edge of the balcony.  This is usually the remote control that operates the balcony’s blinds, but has also included a football, his brand new car I’d bought him from my work trip (needed gluing back together), and washing pegs.  I am worried that one of our phones will go over the edge next. 
 His cousin who is almost 4. Because N is so tall and his cousin is more on the smaller size, they are now practically the same height and make quite the double-act when together.  However, they are at different stages of development so it can be challenging at times to keep them both interested in the same thing.  Generally, they do well at playgrounds and open spaces where they can chase each other, eat lollipops and shriek a lot.  It’s so cute! 

 

Two years + one month – All change again

Does anyone else fall into the trap of learning about something that children do at a certain again and deciding “oh my child won’t do that”? I think this must be some kind of survival mechanism of our brains to think our child will be immune to whatever difficult stage of their life this refers to. I mention this because I think I’ve suffered it throughout my parenting experience, always thinking privately, that “this will not be the case with our son” as though he is somehow excluded from the less attractive aspects of growth and development.

Well, newsflash, seems like I was a bit naïve!  Our lovely N had his second birthday and then days later (seemingly seconds later) he started making some big changes. I wouldn’t go so far as to say we have experienced the full power of the Terrible Twos just yet (something to look forward to) but out of no where N went from being quite a good sleeper to absolutely point blank refusing to go to bed.

It was mad.

I was scratching my increasingly exhausted head about it as each day went on with no great solutions appearing in sight.  This also coincided with our summer break so N’s schedule was a bit messed around with, but if anything, I would have thought all the sun and swimming would make him more tired and inclined to sleep rather than the opposite.  Anyway, we persevered with it all and tried to make him absolutely physically exhausted at bedtime so that there was less of an argument. We had mixed success with that but we did fully wipe ourselves out. 

Then just as quickly as it started, it pretty much stopped. Just like that. So I am guessing that this was a sleep regression.  There is one at 2 years old so lucky us! In our attempts to “cure” the sleep issues we did make a couple of changes, one of which being that N’s daytime nap has now been shortened to only 1 hour in duration.  I am starting to think that in 6 months time or so he might have no daytime naps.  I guess if he’s sleeping well at night that at some point he might not need them anymore.  

He starts nursery school in early September so I suspect that will make him more tired.  The timings of his school are such that I can pick him up anytime until 2.30pm but there is no napping during school.  He can stay awake that long without a nap but usually there is a knock-on effect from a late nap time to a late night bedtime, so I think some experimentation will be required during this phase.  And, just to complicate these things further, I will be on a business trip a for 3 nights right when he’s starting school.  Honestly, working mum life is hard! We will be ok, but that’s not to say that the bumps are pretty shitty sometimes. 

Anyway, back to N and his development, we are seeing some words emerging ever so slowly, but they are coming.  He says “mummy” a lot and in context – usually when he wants something.  He also says “kaka” which is Greek for “poo”, but he doesn’t say it in context. I think he just hears it a lot and so repeats it. Yesterday he said to me “mummy pee pee” but I don’t think he actually meant he had gone pee pee or that he wants to, or that I should, just that this is something he has heard his nearly 4-year old cousin say he was going to do. I also think he is pointing to things and saying “that but he sometimes says it wrong.  I don’t know.  

He is able to follow instructions and do what you ask him, such as “give the TV remote to daddy”, “put the nappy in the bin”, “climb in your chair for dinner” so he obviously understands. 

He has really gotten into toys in a big way and he has become more emotionally receptive – he actively cuddles into me now where he really didn’t for some time.  For example I will pick him up to take him somewhere, the car or something, and he will rest his head on my shoulder.  Oh my goodness, it melts me EVERY TIME.  He’s started noticing babies and so whenever we come in contact with a baby (whether they are strangers or not) he will peer into the stroller to have a good look. 

He is also really cheeky and aware that bathtime comes before bedtime, which also means bedtime means no more playing. So during the pre-bathtime period he becomes kind of manic trying to use the slide a lot and play with all the toys, dance, sing, shout etc – I guess to show me that he’s not tired and definitely doesn’t need a bath or to go to bed.  Bad luck, buster! Haha! 

My husband lost his job a few weeks ago so he’s been around at home a lot these days, which has been really nice for him and N, although financially it would be helpful if someone decided to employ him!  Anyway, N and daddy are now thick as thieves and it’s really beautiful to see. I think my husband also has a deeper appreciation of the things that were previously my responsibility, such as the challenges of changing the nappy and/or getting him dressed in the morning while he tries to run everywhere. Also he’s been doing a lot of the grocery shopping and chores and he keeps complaining every day that he doesn’t sit still. Every time he says this I simply laugh. 

So a little summary of all things N.

Things N likes:

 Daddy, a lot
 His monkey comforter 
 TV and phones, but only Cocomelon videos.  If anyone would like me to perform a repertoire of nursery songs by Cocomelon I am available at good rates
 Turning light switches and other buttons on and off, and on and off, and on and off…
 Running, fast
 Toys that do stuff – I got him a parking station for toy cars and they go up in an elevator and down a ramp, with noises etc. He loves it. He also is fascinated with a drum that my friend has so I am looking to get him one of his own. 
 Blowing kisses to everyone – so sweet, long may it last
 His cousin who is nearly 4, the two of them are always exhausted after playing together
 Drinks with straws

 

Things N does NOT like:

 Any kind of TV/video that is not Cocomelon, not even Peppa Pig or equivalent toddler TV 
 Open-toe shoes / sandals.  He takes them off as he prefers bare feet or closed shoes/trainers.  So weird. 
 Toenails that catch – if his toenails get a bit damaged and need clipping he will not leave them alone until I fix them. 
 His bath – overnight he refused to get in the bath (this was simultaneous to the refusing to sleep phase) so we have been giving him showers ever since. While kind of sad at least it saves time and water. 
 High chairs that have a tray rather than direct table access.  We have the Stokke high chair and I took off the tray a long time ago so that he can sit directly at our dining table and I think he prefers it as he feels like a big boy. 
 Either me or daddy leaving to go somewhere.  It is hard as he clings to me like a barnacle, at the same time it is so sweet so I always pause to enjoy it as I keep thinking he will stop doing this and I’ll be sad
 Ditto the same situation at bedtime.  He hangs onto me so that I don’t leave his room so I stay a moment longer just so I can enjoy the feelings of love. 
 The size 18-36 months pacifiers/dummies.  I tried to upgrade him to the bigger size when he got older (as you’re meant to) and got him a bunch of really cooldesigns.  I made a big error though as he can tell they are different not only by the feel but the designs and he flat out refuses them.  So I have found one that is the same design as the smaller size and have managed to trick him into using it.  Seriously, the things we do! 

 

As for good old me, I think my health is mainly stable but I’m not feeling so great.  I think my issues are mainly emotional these days and I’m trying to be kind to myself but it’s hard.  My hair has started falling out and I lost some weight so now I am actively trying to make sure I eat better.  My dentist told me I’m grinding my teeth and that it’s from stress/anxiety.  No shit! I’ve started back at yoga this week and I’ve done some acupuncture too so I think I’ll try this for a few weeks and see if I feel any differently.  Otherwise, I’m just trying to be kind to myself and not sign myself up for things that are too demanding of me.  Let’s see how I go!

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!

11 Amazing Months

Baby N had the last of his monthly birthdays last Sunday as he hit 11 months and it just blows my mind that in a few weeks we are going to be celebrating his first birthday.  I really feel truly emotional thinking about it.  I think back to all the struggles we had, the surgery to remove my giant fibroid, the IVF, the pregnancies and the losses, the insane amount of tests and specialists I visited and then our magic little embryo that grew into a baby.  I remember being too scared to imagine during my pregnancy that I would ever have my own, live baby to hold and to love so I didn’t really embrace my pregnancy as much as other people do.  I was not open about sharing my pregnancy, I thought I looked huge (now I can see I didn’t look especially gigantic) and actually I’m kind of a bit sad with myself for it all. But that’s the thing about hindsight; it is always so much clearer than in the moment you are living it.

I’ve got to say that the months have zoomed by once baby N got to about 4 months old, although before that the early weeks dragged on with an endless sense of dread at surviving another day on no sleep and being alone with a young baby.  I have no doubt that I had mental health issues during that phase which upsets me to the day, but it is what it is.  Then there were the issues with baby N’s wonky neck and flat head which sounded like a tragedy of immeasurable amounts at the time and nearly tipped me over the edge, but turned out to be entirely manageable.

Now baby N is a delight!  He’s a joyful, healthy, and really funny little guy who I couldn’t imagine not being around. Last Friday hubby and I went to a wedding and baby N stayed overnight with his grandparents and you know I couldn’t sleep because he wasn’t at home.  Isn’t it funny how things change with just a little time and patience?

Baby N is now FINALLY on the move!  He is rather slow in this regard and so I am pleased to see progress.  He doesn’t officially crawl but he scoots around a little one-way-or-another.  He has also discovered our robot vacuum cleaner and is obsessed with it.  He’s really funny as he worked out how to turn it on the other day and squealed with delight.  I managed to video it so I am also happy I will be able to keep that one as a memory.  Although he hasn’t worked out how to pull himself up yet, if we bring him to standing he is pretty good at staying upright while holding our hands.  His favourite toy apart from the robot is a bunch of wooden blocks I got from Early Learning Centre.  He mainly likes emptying the box and then putting them back in but also occasionally he likes banging on the box.  Meanwhile the adults around him have great fun building actual structures with the blocks, which he of course knocks down in less than 2 seconds.

My husband and I occasionally discuss the possibility of having another child.  I am aware that it is only a possibility because of the difficulties in having baby N, but there are 15 embryos on ice that are potential siblings for him and that weighs very heavily on me. I am warming up to the idea but at the same time I feel such terror at the early weeks.  I think I’m better equipped to handle the situation this time, but then again it won’t be that there is only one child to love and take care of.  I seriously wonder how people with many children handle it.  Like how do they leave the house?  Also, how do the fertile folks who don’t have to use IVF manage to have sex to conceive the multiple children in the first place.  I have many questions in this regard!  Haha!

I’ve always been very honest here about my relationship and I will say that my husband is a great dad who is always spending time with his son so they have their own special relationship.  He’s also very keen to support us as a family and does a lot around our home to provide for us and to make sure I don’t fully lose my mind. He makes sure to take baby N when I look especially exhausted or so that I can visit the gym.  That being said, he is sometimes a real jerk and I have been struggling with that. I am a bit of a sensitive creature and he is a little harsh at times.  During the past couple of weeks I’ve been finding it particularly hard to reconcile some of the mean things he has said to me, although I think you’d find if you asked him that he doesn’t think they are anything noteworthy. I’ve even brought it up with him but still they linger.  Ugh.

As for our romantic life I think it is officially dead. Or at least it is cryogenically frozen for now.  We have had several open, non-stressful conversations about this and my husband assures me he is keen to re-start this aspect of our relationship and gives various excuses (the ceasing of it has fallen entirely into his hands as I am very pro-getting it on) but I’m yet to see any of it convert into actions.  At the wedding last week I made a special effort to wear sexy underwear and glam up. He commented that my butt was “nice” which was progress but it never went any further.  He was really nice to me and held my hand but there was nothing beyond that, even in the morning when we were alone as the baby was with his grandparents.  This really upset me a great deal and has lingered on my heart this week. At once point the other day I even offered he should have a girlfriend – it was kind of a reverse psychology move but even that didn’t excite him.  Like, I literally told him he had permission to go sleep with someone else even though I really didn’t want him to!  Maybe he sensed that, but I’m at a loss now.  It bothers me a lot as I am very keen to get some action, with practically anyone at this point, but I don’t actually want to go outside of my relationship to do so. Anyone else had a similar issue?  I am very keen for some advice in this regard.

Onto more cheery matters… Baby N.  Here’s the last of the monthly updates for the small guy.

Age: 11 months + 2 days

Weight: I don’t know as he’s not been weighed recently but I’m guessing around 12kg.

Feeding: Baby N continues to eat really nicely and there’s not much he won’t eat.  A couple of weeks ago his top two teeth came through so he can now bite on things a bit better which is fun.  Once some of his molars come in I am sure he will be able to munch through a lot of stuff!

Sleeping routine: Baby N has two naps during the day usually and then sleeps from 9pm to 7am approximately.  His bedtime is a bit late but we are in the Mediterranean and it’s summer.  No one goes to bed early around here because it’s just so hot.  It works for him at the moment but I expect I’ll bring his bedtime earlier in the winter. He is content and well and so I am not bothered by this right now.

Hair: Identical to mine at the same age!  He has a kind of blondish colour, fine and wispy hair.  It’s starting to curl up at the back which is super-adorable.

Eyes: Massive and inquisitive.  He’s got great eyes!

Mummy update: I am starting to get my figure back thanks to more consistent working out. I can wear most of my old clothes but not all of them as there is a little too much flab around my belly still.  I don’t think I’m going to bust out a bikini this year.  I mean I could, but I don’t really love myself enough right now to do so. I went on a work trip to Copenhagen for three nights two weeks ago and baby N slept at his grandparents for those nights with daddy coming to visit each evening.  He was totally fine and loved it so this is a good sign to me that we are entering the phase where I can do a little more occasionally and baby N will be ok. I’m enjoying my work generally and it was nice to go somewhere and feel like my old self for a few days.  I might have enjoyed it at times a little too much, but then I was really happy to be reunited with my baby when I came back.

Emotionally I’ve not been at my best.  When baby N was teething there was a week of not much sleep for me and I was really under pressure with work and my Mum’s situation too.  At one point he was crying late into the evening and just as I calmed him down his daddy came and woke him up.  I was furious.  Beyond furious.  I got so upset about it and then my husband mocked me for being upset.  I am not going to lie, that I lost it at him big time.  I actually thought he might divorce me that night it was so bad.  Thankfully he calmed down after my outburst and was able to see that I was pushed beyond my limits and this was out of character for me.  I hope he saw that he was making the situation worse, not better, but I don’t know.  I’ve felt very vulnerable ever since and am trying to be more mindful to take care of myself.  I am definitely having issues with loving myself on all the levels but I try and occasionally look in the mirror and appreciate what I’m seeing.

Today at work I made a silly mistake and it just brought everything out of me, tears etc.  My colleagues must have thought I lost my mind because normally I am a calm, sensible character and my mistake did not deserve a reaction to this level. Despite all of this – and I realise I sound loopy – I’m mainly ok and managing most of the days to keep all the balls in the air.  Today baby N has been invited to another baby’s first birthday paddling pool party so that’s something nice to look forward to.  I think there is wine for the mummies (no daddies invited). Everything is always better after wine I find.

Ten months old today

Baby N is ten months old today. TEN MONTHS!  Seriously, where did that time go? I mean the first few weeks it seems like the seconds ticked slower, except when I was trying to sleep, but now I scratch my head and can’t believe that my baby is approaching his first birthday.  Whaaaat?!

I haven’t written an update recently because there’s been so much going on and I’ve been quite overwhelmed, but at the same time I have had so many thoughts that I should share here that I’ve not managed to get down.

I keep thinking back to this time last year or even the year before that when I was either pregnant or in the throes of having lost my second baby and I look at how much has changed.  Some of it good (baby, obviously) and some of it really freaking hard (bye bye freedom). I cannot tell you how immeasurably I’ve changed and grown in the past 10 months, both as a mother, as a wife, as professional in the workplace and as a person.  I have a new level of awareness and sensitivity that I never even knew could exist.  I also have an exceptionally low tolerance level for anything that wastes my time. In fact, it’s a pretty good filter system for running my life and I think I should have applied it earlier!

Other times I fantasise about my old life and how much time I wasted doing nothing in particular.  Sometimes I dream about the days when all I had to worry about was work and getting to the gym on time.  Just sleeping in to 8.30am sounds like some kind of incredible luxury these days! I often think that if I could do my time over I would just go to the gym 7 days a week to get the most amazing body and watch all the movies at the cinema – but of course I wouldn’t because that’s not how it would really go. And I guess this young baby phase is so brief that in no time I will be sentimental about this time too.

I’ve got to say though that 10 months of motherhood is not good for the face!  I have always prided myself on looking a little younger than my actual age.  Hahahahaha!  Now I look AT LEAST my age and maybe even older.  Damn you sleep deprivation and super-stressing!  Sometimes when we are out with mothers of older children I study them to try and work out how they run their lives and manage to look so put together (I think nannies/housekeepers are the only way to be fully well-put together all the time which is not very practical really).

Age: 10 months today!

Weight: I don’t actually know for sure but about 3 weeks ago Baby N weighed in at 11.25kg (25lbs) so I think he’s probably a bit more than that now.  He is definitely a big guy as he’s also super tall and he has a cute belly but he’s not overweight.  Like my paediatrician said, “He’s not fat, he’s just huge”. Bless him and his giant feet!

Feeding: Not much has changed in regards to baby N’s feeding – 3 meals a day, 1-2 snacks, bottle first thing in the morning and last thing at night – as he’s not grown any more teeth since Christmas, although he seems to have a mouth full of white buds so perhaps there are a bunch more teeth on their way very soon.

I still mainly spoon feed baby N for the bulk of his meals but I give him his own food to self-feed with too and he’s pretty great at it. This guy is a total natural at eating and he is so incredibly funny when he gets a piece of food, say half a strawberry, and rather than nibbling off a bit to chew he instead shoves the whole thing in his mouth.  I’ve got to say I think that’s a winning strategy and it makes me laugh so much.  Also, for the foods he really likes (cheese, watermelon, ice-cream) he makes VERY loud “mmmmm mmmmmm” sounds which never stop being funny. He loves his food.

Sleeping routine: I hate telling anyone about his sleep as the second I do he has a crappy night’s sleep thereafter.  Let’s just say that if the stars and moon align he is a good boy at night.  And as soon as I tell anyone he sleeps nicely I then feel cursed. But his routine before bed is pretty consistent.  He has a long bath where he plays with a bunch of bath toys and kicks all the water out (thanks baby swimming lessons for that), then he gets a towel cuddle, some moisturiser/massage, pjs on, a little milk (he often rejects it and has only a mouthful), a couple of stories, perhaps some silly games with daddy and then a cuddle.  When he seems tired I put him in bed in his sleeping bag and – on a good night – he will cuddle his bunny snuggly and will put himself to sleep.  On a bad night I will go in and out of his room 20 times putting his dummy back in, cuddling him, singing, rocking and generally praying to the sleep gods for the child to rest so I can have dinner.

For the last two nights he has gone to sleep at about 930pm so it has been very late dinners for us! Hello teething!

Hair:  He has some now! Yay! Basically he’s got my hair as a baby which I love.  The funny thing is it’s more thick down the middle and at the front so it looks like I have given him a Mohawk hair cut.  People actually ask me this and I’m like nooooooooo!

Eyes: Big, brown eyes like his daddy. He’s looking more and more like daddy each day now.

Mummy update: I’ve lost a little weight over the past few weeks thanks to some light dieting and a proper return to the gym.  If you had told me before giving birth that it would take 10 months to get my act together on the fitness front I would have wanted to punch you.  But really it has taken me this long to get everything in order.  Most recently, hubby and I changed gyms and that has helped to refresh my attitude.  They also have some workout classes in the evening that are scheduled in such a way that we can each do one class consecutively with a baby swap in the carpark in between.  So this week I have already been to the gym twice with a third workout planned for Friday. This will be the first time in forever that I have done three workouts in a week and it really does help me feel more like myself again.

By going to a class or working out with my PT it means that the time I devote to exercise is quality.  So I am there for 45-60 minutes and I am sweating like a beast for the entire duration.  An hour is not so long to be away from the baby and when my husband and I do the consecutive classes it usually means one of us gets to feed the baby and the other gets to bathe him. And I always get to put him to bed (albeit I was a bit smelly last night when I did so, maybe that’s why he took a bit longer to nod off because my BO was keeping him awake).

Work wise I have a trip to Copenhagen coming up in early June which I am beside myself excited about.  Firstly, Copenhagen is a wonderful place to visit and my client has asked me to do a huge project for them so it’s a massive compliment, secondly it will mean 3 nights sleep in a hotel without the baby (OMG such a luxury), and thirdly I just need a break from the daily grind of parenthood.  It is tough sometimes! Baby N will be looked after the lady who takes care of him when I’m at work – who he adores – and daddy so he will be more than fine. Anyway, he’s a big guy now so it’s not so stressful.  I will still cry when I leave, of course.

Emotionally I have been a bit all over the place recently.  As I have mentioned here before, my mum is very sick with a type of incurable leukaemia.  She was diagnosed 6 years ago, and at the time, she was told she had about 6 months to live.  So the fact that she’s still going strong now is remarkable and testament to her strength and determination.  However, she is now showing signs of deterioration and her doctor has told me that 2018 will be tough for her.  I think that was his nice way of suggesting she probably won’t see much of 2019. The past couple of weeks she has been especially poorly so I’ve been on edge near-constantly worrying about whether now is the time to go and help her.  The reality is that if she gets a bad infection – and it’s coming into winter in Australia so this is all very possible – that she could actually make a very bad turn very rapidly.  So rapidly that I might not be able to make it in time.  So I feel like I am almost constantly waiting for a phone call that says pack everything, you have to come home right now.  Even without a baby that would be super-stressful, but with a baby… well… yeah.  Enough said.  And not bringing him with me is not an option. The only way I can deal with this is to compartmentalise it into the folder of “Will deal with this when I have to”.

Also, I have at the back of my mind that when she does go, because realistically she will lose her battle at some point, I will then have to pack up her entire life which is the most depressing thing imaginable.  My dad passed away when I was 16 so she holds both his and her beloved possessions, as well as all of my childhood ones as I never really took those things because I moved overseas rather than into my own home locally. This means that not only will I be dealing with all the emotions of her belongings, but also my dad’s and effectively my entire childhood’s.  That is a lot to process.  I have my sister to help of course but she’s not so great at this stuff.  Anyway, not much I can do about this now, but hence why I have been all over the place in recent weeks.

It’s very hard to keep a steady head for baby N in such circumstances but I do try my best.  He seems very cheerful most of the time so I think it’s all ok for now.

I refuse to finish this on a down note, so just to say our new house is progressing nicely now with the basement dug out and the frame going in this week.  Just think that this time next year I will be looking forward to having my own private pool.  I can already picture a nice wine spritzer of an evening poolside.  Perfection!