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!

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22 Months – Baby you can drive my car

I took a bit of an accidental hiatus from blogland just recently and so thought I better pop back to show that I’m all ok. It has been such a weird time in so many ways and I’ve had so much to say, and yet said none of it. A few weeks back what can best be described as a shitstorm erupted in my husband’s family and it really hit me hard. I probably shouldn’t go into it here, but it has really made me reevaluate my approach to his family and likewise all of us have taken a step back from interacting with any of his family members subsequent to this.

What all of this also highlighted in bold to me is the complete disregard that anyone in his family has paid to my situation – with being a foreigner in the country (and a foreigner in the family it seems), to losing my mum, to my illness, and to the fact that I don’t have a support network in this country. Now I am exceptionally grateful for the many, many blessings I DO have in my life which helps to balance me and to keep my spirits up, but I am not in the frame of mind to give extra energy to anyone (family or not) who are bringing negativity to my life. This mental seachange that I made was made a few weeks ago now and has helped me transform my mood and given me the space to feel a bit more like myself. I have focused on putting our family (my husband, son and me) at the forefront of everything and also done great things like go to the gym a bit more often and just generally be more on top of life. I feel better for it.

I am now taking a lower dose of the steroids – just 8mg a day, whereas I was on 48mg per day at one stage – and I think the reduction in the steroids has also helped with my mood as well as my face (it is no longer quite so puffy finally). Also going to the gym helps so much with feeling good about myself. Two weeks ago I went to the gym twice in one week which was the first time I’d been able to do that this year, mainly because of the illness. Then what did I do? I fell over a week ago Friday and did a nasty sprain of my ankle so I’ve been unable to go to the gym since. Luckily, I have been able to see the irony and laugh (through the pain) about this. Maybe in the next few days things will improve and allow me to go back…

In the meantime it was Mothers’ Day in these parts a weekend ago and I found it really, really hard. I think I cried most of Saturday about how this was my first Mothers’ Day ever without my Mum. As I couldn’t bear not to buy her flowers I sent some to her best friend instead, and then I went out and bought an orchid (my Mum loved orchids) in a colour I thought she would like and now I’ve got to try and keep the thing alive. Eeeek! I had hoped my husband might help my son to get me something – a card or similar – but he didn’t and it upset me more than I thought it would. I did address it with my husband late in the day on Sunday and he said he had thought about getting a card (???) but didn’t find the time. This did not make me feel better. So I will just have to wait until N is old enough to source his own stuff or for him to ask his Dad to help him with this kind of thing. I did wonder if he thought I didn’t deserve it, but I know that I’m a good Mum so that’s ridiculous thinking. The more likely case is my husband is just lazy and crap at these things.

Anyway, the point is though that N is going through another really fascinating phase and I love him so deeply that it helps me to get over these disappointments. I wouldn’t say they go away, but I just look at his cheeky face and remind myself to be grateful for his good health and overall wonderfulness.

We’ve had some good times recently with N and his development is huge. While he’s still not very good at talking, he is muttering nonsense (his own language) non-stop so the words are just going to turn up one day perhaps. I am pretty sure he said “no more” the other day when his snacks ran out. So cute.

These days you just need to ask him where the moon is and he runs to point to it for you. I can give him lots of instructions and he can follow them, such as bringing different items for me and helping me feed the cats. The other day he got some washing from the dirty laundry basket, took it to the washing machine, put it in and shut the door, pretended to put in washing detergent, turned on the washing machine, selected the correct setting and started the washing machine. I stood there and watched the whole thing unfold and was deeply shocked by his competency. Who knew you could convert your children into little helpers at such a young age?

N goes absolutely bananas for swings, slides and the park that has ducks and geese. He laughs and laughs so loudly at ducks and geese and it makes my heart swell. I am so happy my little guy is a nature and animal lover like me. I’ve tried really hard to foster this in him and early indications suggest this is paying off.

And while it does all sound like sunshine and roses, the tantrums are starting to show themselves which is a bit frightening as to what the future brings. The funniest thing about his tantrums is that he throws out his bottom lip in exactly the same way I used to. This child is definitely getting revenge on behalf of my mother. Haha! These days N insists on “driving” my car each time we get in or out of it, which is cute the first time and then highly irritating from that point onwards when you actually need to go somewhere on a timeframe. I have now built such requirements into my timings.

We have an electric gate for the parking area of our building which has a remote control for operating it. I can sometimes appease him if I have to hurry him up by giving him the remote and he is entirely capable of opening the gate on demand for me, which I must admit is handy.

I also made a return last week to the playgroups at the nursery school he will be going to from September. The first time we went last week he absolutely howled and clung to me for the first 20 minutes but then was more-or-less fine. It didn’t fill me with much confidence for him starting in September! But I took him again this week and he only howled for about 2 minutes which was GREAT PROGRESS! I stay for the playgroup sessions too and it was so good to see him actually getting used to how they work, sitting for story time and clapping along to the songs. When you consider the songs and instructions at playgroup are in Greek and he primarily gets access to the English language that is especially good to see. I also met some other mums of kids who will be in his same class so hopefully we can become good mates with our kids hanging out together.

Summer has hit now so I am so looking forward to spending time at the beach with N as I think he will be at such a good age this summer for enjoying himself, with less eating of sand. He loves, loves, loves water so I feel good times are ahead, finally.

22 months – things N loves:

  • Monkey – it’s official. He cannot sleep without his monkey cuddly and so I get such anxiety that we are going to accidentally lose it one day
  • Opening the electric gates of the carpark at home with the remote control
  • Baby shark do do do do do do
  • Drinking out a proper glass, although it rarely ends with dry clothes
  • Opening and closing sliding windows and doors and/or throwing monkey or the AC remote out the window
  • Swings and slides – he’s a daredevil!
  • “Driving” my car including pushing every single button in the car, opening and closing all the windows and the boot, turning the volume on the stereo up offensively loudly and steering furiously
  • Being chased and tickled
  • Pointing to the moon
  • Being carried by mummy (why not daddy???)
  • Drawing artworks with crayons
  • Having bubbles blown at him

 

 

A Tree With No Roots

A tree with no roots is how I would best describe myself right now. If you were to pass me in the street, or to see me at work, or on Instagram you would get the impression that everything is pretty normal. It looks pretty normal. That’s the weird thing that when someone dies for the rest of us life still goes on, even if we don’t really feel like it doing so. And with a toddler in your life this is more true than ever. But I am only just hanging on. One tiny blow of the wind and my tree comes crashing down with leaves going everywhere.

I’m not sure how much of my fragility is down to grief, to illness, to the medications I’m taking or just to life in general – I suspect it is a mixture of all these factors. I think things are slowly getting better though. If I assess how I was a month ago to now then I have made progress, albeit I get so frustrated by how “not me” I feel right now. It doesn’t help that every time I look in the mirror I see a new face that I don’t like looking back at me. The steroids have unfortunately caused my face to go moon-shaped – or in other words I look like a chipmunk who has been storing nuts in my cheeks for winter. I have also thought to myself more than once I look like I’ve had some really bad fillers done to my face! The good news is that my skin is clear and I think the puffiness actually reduces the appearance of my wrinkles. Every cloud has a silver lining I guess!

Hubby and I returned Wednesday from a short break to Vienna which was without toddler N – the first time we have both left him for a trip together! I have left him several times, for work and obviously when I was in Australia when my Mum passed away, but daddy has always been there for some form of continuity. This time we both left him simultaneously for three nights. He was perfectly fine staying at the Grandparents’ House and enjoying daily play-time visits from his 3-year-old cousin. We received one particularly touching video while we were gone of the cousin feeding N slices of strawberries with a spoon which was incredibly cute, even more so with N clapping with appreciation. I’m sure they are both going to be so embarrassed by this video when they are teenagers, but really it is so adorable.

When we arrived back N heard us coming to the front door and peeked out from behind the curtains with such unbridled joy it was lovely. Toddlers have beautiful souls. It makes you wonder when we all lose this innocence.

The break itself was good and important. We did a bit of everything while we were there; some sightseeing, walking around, eating loads of amazing cake, shopping and just generally hanging out. The past few months have been intense and it is so easy to forget that we are indeed a couple and so it was a chance to reconnect. And yes, we actually had sex. That certainly had not happened since my Mum died but it was time and I’m glad for it on every level. We even had sex again since coming home again (in the middle of the night while I was sleeping, but it still counts!) which is some kind of new record for us.

We had actually booked the trip to Vienna especially to see singer Jason Mraz in concert as I have been a big fan for 10+ years and we even danced to his music at our wedding. One of the (many) drawbacks of living in a small island country is that such concerts just are not an option. We get a lot of the famous DJs during the summer playing huge beach parties, but the days when the party starts at 2am are long gone for me! Haha!

Anyway, Jason Mraz has a really earthy, zen quality to him so his concerts a almost a spiritual experience for me. One of my favourite songs of his is called “93 Million Miles” and it has some intense lyrics which I have always really appreciated, but which really touched me extra deeply this time.

…sometimes it may seem dark,
but the absence of the light is a necessary part
Just know, you’re never alone, you can always come back home…

It triggered all these emotions in me about where is home for me now?  I’ve lived almost more than half of  my life outside Australia now and the “home” I  did have there is gone now with my Mum’s passing.  So for the first time in my life I realised I can’t go home.  Or maybe I should redefine what I think of as home.  It was a deep thought which still troubles me.

Jason also paused during this song and encouraged everyone in the audience to think about someone who has supported them, and given them good energy, including those no longer with us. At this point it is fair to say I lost my sh1t and promptly sobbed for the rest of the song and the next one too (the one we danced to at our wedding). But it was good in a way because I felt better afterwards.

Side note: on our return to our hotel after the concert we pulled up in our Uber to a wall of paparazzi who were VERY disappointed by our arrival.  Curious as to who they were actually waiting for (the hotel staff wouldn’t tell us) we hovered about until the mystery was revealed as being Elle MacPherson who was there for the Vienna Opera Ball as the guest of honour.  As a fellow Australian Elle has been a huge celebrity for as long as I can remember and in the flesh I can honestly tell you she is a goddess.  She’s 54 and looked freaking amazing.  And as my husband so observantly said, “She’s really tall.” She was also incredibly polite thanking everyone and smiling for photos endlessly. Full respect to her for being such a decent person.

Since coming home N has been a bit of a handful though which has not helped my tree-swaying-in-the-breeze situation. He’s always very well looked after at the grandparents’ house but they do mess up his schedule very badly and we pay the price for it on our return. For the past three nights N has absolutely resolutely refused to go to bed as normal. He is entirely happy and cheery running around the place but the second you try and put him in bed he howls the place down, sobbing miserably. And for a baby that really doesn’t cry much it is especially hard to deal with. He’s been finally crashing out anywhere between 10.30pm and midnight which is not cool for anyone!

I do suspect he has a bit of an issue with teeth at the moment too as his canines are either on their way down or doing some shifting. However, the situation was certainly not helped when he paid a visit to the grandparents’ house for a few hours in the afternoon on Friday so I could go have a stupid abdominal ultrasound (as per the orders of my specialist who is checking for all kinds of cancer in me but kidneys, gall bladder, liver etc are all fine) ,and the lady who looks after N did not give him an afternoon nap at all “because he wasn’t tired”. Errr… hello! He’s 19 months old! That’s way too young to not be needing a nap! So what happened instead? He fell asleep in the car on the way home, slept for an hour once we got home and put him in bed and then woke up ready to party the evening away again from 7pm. Grrrr! Hubby was not happy and made it very clear to his parents who then started giving us unsolicited advice on how to get N to sleep, all of which was completely useless when all the kid needed was an afternoon nap so this did not help my frustration levels!

Having had enough of all of this, today I woke him up nice and early in the morning (regardless of his late bedtime the night before) and we ran a daytime schedule as we would on a regular day. As it is Saturday today, daddy was with us and we had a lovely time at the park and a DIY shop in the morning before nap time around lunchtime. I woke him up after 1.5 hours (his allowable nap duration) against his will and then he had a delicious pasta lunch, followed by a visit to a Dinosaurs of the Ocean exhibition (which confused him hugely with the dark lighting and strange noises), and a visit to a special coffee shop for kiddies which had a nice play area and other children to interact with. We came home just before dinner and bathtime etc, and you know what happened tonight? He was happy to go to bed, where he is currently looking incredibly peaceful as he rests. So I am feeling deeply satisfied about all of that.

What about N generally? When he’s not having an all night party, he’s seemingly learning new things before my very eyes. Everything I do he copies and it’s so cute, but also keeps me on my toes as I don’t want to teach him the wrong things (aka swearing). One of the funniest things he does is that he copies me doing the laundry. So he takes clothes (dirty or otherwise) and puts them in the washing machine, closes the door and gets the detergent out while he pretends to pour it in. Then, because he is terribly annoying switching off the machine while it is in the middle of a wash (child lock does not lock the ON/OFF button) I always tape a small plastic container over the ON/OFF button. He’s so observant that he now goes to the kitchen drawer where the tape is, gets it out and starts taping up the washing machine! Oh how I laughed the first time he did this!!

I have also been trying to teach him for months how to blow bubbles in the bath and he has finally mastered it! He now spends about a third of the time with his face in the water making bubbles and it is the cutest thing ever. Toddlers are the best!

His language skills are coming along slowly now, although I think he is a bit behind some of his peers. He jabbers endlessly in his own language which is fully adorable and then occasionally he says a word that makes sense – and in context – which is wonderful. Weirdly, any time a phone rings he says “Papa” which I guess says a lot about his association with phones and his dad. The other day a big bus passed by the car as we were driving and he very clearly said “bus” so I think we are slowly getting there. When reading books he likes to point to certain animals such as the tiger, monkey and lion (also he points to a picture of a Queen and given that I always describe the Queen as Beyonce perhaps I should stop doing that – hahah). He certainly understands everything I say so he is not a nonce and the words will come with more time.

He is great with eating with a fork and a spoon these days and tonight at dinner he was eating entirely independently, forking food into both his and my mouth.N can do the odd scribble with crayon or chalk these days but no drawing on walls (yet). He is getting interested in puzzles now and I bought him a great toy when I was in Vienna that is all these little wooden pegs you have to put in holes. He really likes putting things away in their rightful places (like mummy) so it’s right up his street!

Today went smoothly enough that I even did some baking! HOLLA! I had some disgustingly over-ripe bananas that made me want to gag (I am not much of a banana fan generally) so I turned them into banana bread. I used this recipe which is for small people and big people and it is GORGEOUS! Both hubby and N loved it so maybe my tree roots grew a bit deeper today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Germs, be gone!

Winter germs are seriously bad this year, folks!  There is a really bad strain of flu going about here that has terrified most of us with small children, especially because several people have died from it here including an 18-month-old boy.  This has really freaked out a lot of people because his deterioration was apparently very rapid from fairly regular flu symptoms to then contracting sepsis and somehow passing away.  The authorities have been light on the details – so we have no idea if he had underlying health issues or whether he was vaccinated – but it still has struck fear into all of our hearts.

We have unfortunately not been immune from The Germs, with N coming down with very high fever last Thursday.  It was pretty clear to me even then that it was not just a cold virus.  You can just tell when it’s your own child that they are Properly Sick. So poor N had a raging temperature for a few nights.  He was poorly during the day too, but definitely a lot worse with fever in the evening.  We treated him with paracetamol (Calpol) and Ibuprofen (Nurofen), although when his temperature is really high I find that Ibuprofen is much more effective at bringing it down.

The poor small chicken ended up in our bed three nights in a row as he was waking at night and needing comforting.  Actually he was waking at night and needing his fever brought down, but once that happened he then tended to find bonus energy and tore around our apartment for hours.  On one night he woke up at 1.30am and I didn’t get him back to bed until 5.30am.  I had not slept much before he woke up so that was a Very Long Night only improved by the fact that he slept in the next morning, and it was Saturday so I didn’t have to get up either.  It was quite sweet having his little cherub face right next to mine when I woke up and I could briefly see the appeal of co-sleeping.

On Saturday he had a visit to the paediatrician due to the fear of the flu, but she more-or-less said we needed to wait it out as there was no point in giving antibiotics just for flu.  Children need to have an infection, e.g. a chest infection, ear infection etc before there is any justification for antibiotics.

Thankfully by Sunday he had made an improvement enough that we took him out on an adventure to a camel farm which he absolutely loved!  There were many other animals there too and he seemed to take a particular shine to the goats.  I don’t know what to make of that as most of the time he was staring fascinated at the goats they were mating…

But such is the strength of these germs he has really not fully recovered since.  Last night, when having a cuddle on our bed with daddy he crashed out asleep about 2 hours before his usual bedtime and before having any dinner or a bath or anything.  We really didn’t know what to do with him – do you wake him or leave him sleep? We eventually decided just to put him in his own bed fully clothed which was partially successful as he slept there for a few hours, but was disturbed by a cough he acquired.  So then we had a very well-rested toddler who ran around until 11pm. We did get some food into him and gave him a bath so when he settled for the night he didn’t wake up again, but it was certainly an unusual night!

This morning he looked weary when I woke him, with perhaps a mild rash on his cheeks.  He certainly didn’t look 100% well.  Then, this afternoon he really looked exhausted at around 3.30pm. He only has one nap a day around lunchtime so to be tired at this time is strange.  But it was an easy decision to pop in bed for a bonus nap… I woke him at 5.00pm and I’m pretty sure if I hadn’t he would have kept going for a while longer!  As it was he then didn’t want to go down for the night until 9.30pm, but that was ok.  I’m worried he is going to wake up again tonight but fingers crossed he makes it through and feels better tomorrow. Honestly, I have had enough of illness around here!

I had another blood test today which showed some good news though.  Some of the markers for inflammation are vastly reduced since starting the steroids two weeks ago which is really positive news. I’ve reduced my dose of prednisolone from 48mg/day to 36mg/day and this should mean slightly better sleep I hope.  I’ve not been able to fully assess that yet as it’s a bit early but also I developed a chest infection this week. Yay me! This is not a huge surprise and it’s probably the same virus that N had over the weekend but as I have supressed my immune system with my medications there is not a lot of fight in me against evil viruses.  So I am really a rattling pill shop these days, adding some antibiotics to the growing list of meds that I am taking.

In an effort to get myself back in order I went to yoga last Friday.  It was a beginners class and I fully sucked at it, but I went! I then had some acupuncture on Saturday which I do think helped with my energy levels. I also have a hair appointment on Friday, so each of these seemingly inconsequential actions are actually the small puzzle pieces that I need to put together to get myself back on track. I’m sure something will derail me again in a small way again soon, but to have an action plan is really important to me. Going forward is the only option.

 

 

 

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!

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!