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!

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.

Eight months and beyond

Once again I’m a bit slow with my latest update with baby N now more than a week beyond eight months, but he’s just so cute right now that pausing to write a blog isn’t always top of my priority list.

Eight months is an adorable age.  Baby N is now such a happy, sunny baby who wakes up laughing and smiling at the world.  It is a lesson to me every day that it is great to wake up happy.  He is wonderful at sitting up and can play by himself for decent periods of time – as long as I am in in sight.  In just the past two weeks I’ve noticed he has suddenly developed the separation anxiety when I am out of sight but also when other people try and hold him.

Despite my best intentions of making him a baby that is happy to go to many people – I handed him around to everyone as soon as he was born – it seems that all babies go through this stage.  Right now apart from me, he is happy with daddy (actually, he thinks Daddy is a Rockstar!) and the lady who looks after him while I’m at work. He is medium-happy to be with his grandparents and my best mummy buddy whose daughter is his girlfriend.  These are the people he has regular contact with so is familiar with them.  Everyone else makes the bottom lip come out and then the howling starts.  He’s not a baby who cries much at all so this has come as quite a shock to me!

I’ve noticed other babies in his age group are already crawling or at least showing the wriggly start of doing so.  Meanwhile Baby N is steadfastly not showing any sign whatsoever of crawling.  He will sit happily and lean forward to grab toys but he doesn’t like being on his tummy at all, ever, and does not do any of the push-up motions that lead to crawling.  I suspect he will run before he crawls.

I’m not terribly upset by this as he is otherwise wonderful and I figure he’ll get there in his own time.  Maybe he will work out how to pull himself up next.  At least he stays more or less in the spot I place him for now.  Once the babies are crawling or making some kind of moves then it opens up a whole new world of crazy.

So for some basic stats:

Age: 8 months and 9 days

Weight: 10.5kg (23 pounds).  Baby N is very tall so even though this is on the high end of the scale and he has some deliciously chubby thighs, he is not overweight.  When measured last week the doctor said he was 78cm (30 inches), but I think she got it wrong.  It is very hard to measure them when they are wriggling.  I think he’s more around 75cm (29.5 inches) judging by his clothes.  Even though he’s only 8 months old he wears clothes that are 12-18 months old and they fit fine now.  He wears socks for 1-2 years as his feet are so big.  He has a cousin who is 18 months older than him and he’s almost the same size!

Feeding: Baby N loves food and I’m so lucky he’s a good eater with no known allergies (yet).  He starts and ends his day with a bottle, but he is not massively interested in his bottle anymore so sometimes he barely has 100ml.  In addition to the two bottles, he has formula in his breakfast (usually oats or Weetabix) and I try and give dairy in the form of cheese or yoghurt for the other meals.

For lunch he usually has a combination of veggies with either some chicken or beef and for dinner it’s veggies.  He usually has a small morning snack of fruit and sometimes in the afternoon he has a little something like a rice cracker just to keep him busy.  I have been doing a combination of feeding him with a spoon and some baby-led weaning so that he learns how to self-feed.  He’s pretty great at feeding himself so as soon as he gets some more teeth I’ll be able to let him feed himself more.

Whenever we are out or eating lunch with him at home we will also let him try some of our food. I know other people freak out about this as some of the things he eats are not traditionally “baby food” but I have the belief that he should try a little bit of everything.  Yesterday we were out to lunch with friends and – after he’d had his own lunch – baby N also chowed through some mushroom risotto and a bit of potato.  A lot of the potato got mashed into his trousers but that was part of the fun.  We also stopped for ice cream on the way home and he had a very little bit of my raspberry sorbet.  I think he had some kind of sugar high after that as he sung all the way home in the car.  Hahaha!

Sleeping routine: Baby N usually sleeps around 11-12 hours a night. Up until the clocks changed to summer time this weekend, he would usually go to sleep around 1900-1930 each day and wake up around 0630-0730.  Sometimes he will sleep all the way through and other times he will disturb a little and need his dummy/pacifier to be put back in.  Other times he wakes up with a full nappy and I need to change him or, like Saturday night, he woke up full of the joys of life at 3am and wanted to play.  I ended up getting him up to change him, feed him a little and then I plonked him on the sofa next to me with some toys and we watched America’s Next Top Model together.  I never watch TV when he’s awake, but if he’s going to wake me up and party in the middle of the night there has to be something good in it for me.

He also has two naps a day now – morning and afternoon – and usually they are between 30 minutes and 2 hours in duration.

Hair: A dirty blonde or light brown.  He is still quite lacking in the hair department (very much an Australian baby) but it is slowly coming along.  I might even have to start brushing it by the end of 2018.

Eyes: His eyes are kind of a grey-ish brown colour.  They are not a proper deep brown so it’s hard to describe.  But they are pretty with the longest eyelashes ever, inherited from daddy.  He’s a real pretty boy with big chipmunk cheeks so he gets lots of attention when we are out and about.

Mummy update: I’m still 3kg off my goal weight and have decided after Easter I will go on another strict diet to shift this extra weight.  It’s really the only way to shed.  Though exercise is great for toning and mental well-being, dieting is the key to weight loss.  Ugh.

I did survive the business trip to Germany and I think I was much worse psychologically than baby N was.  In fact, I think he had a wonderful time being spoiled by daddy and didn’t miss me at all.  Lucy the cat was way more happy to see me when I came back!  It was a tough trip though as I travelled home overnight on the Monday night, arriving in my bed at 4.30am.  I had virtually no sleep before Baby N woke up and then later that day he came down with a mild cold.  This meant he didn’t sleep well for the next few nights so by the weekend I was a wreck.  And just to add salt to the wounds, we didn’t win the pitch for which we travelled to Germany.  I knew it when we were in the room so I was not shocked, plus we learned a lot from it, but we wanted to win so it was a little sad.

Mentally I am doing a LOT better than the early days of motherhood.  Looking back, I was definitely depressed.  I really grieved my old life and the sleep deprivation, failure at breast feeding and changed body really got to me a lot.  I have learned the hard way that you really need deep and unrelenting support from loved ones around you in order to get through this period.  Most of the times when I’m feeling terrible (and it still happens) what I need more than anything is for someone to rub my back, give me a hug and tell me it will be okay.  If I could find some way to market this service I would make a fortune!

The way my marriage has evolved has been interesting too.  I think the early days of parenthood really threw the pair of us off balance, but then we have forged a way to work together.  We work together a lot better now and support each other better.  And when things go against our expectations we are less hard on each other. Our love has changed shape into something I never imagined was possible.  It’s nice, less romantic, but more intense.  I don’t know how to describe that better, but the love I have for my husband now transcends new levels. Also, seeing him love his son melts my heart every day.

A note on social media: I have thus far stayed away from the issue of sharing photos of babies and children on social media as I have the general opinion that people need to live their own lives how they choose to.  However, our joint decision as parents has been and continues to be that we do not want Baby N to be identified in any way on social media.  We are fine with “creative photos” being used whereby he’s in shot, but not identified, such as the back of his head etc, but we do not want his face to be shown.  There are many reasons for this, but ultimately it comes down to privacy.  Baby N is not in a position to decide how he wants himself to be represented in public and so for that reason we take a very cautious approach.  Having seen all that’s happening with Facebook recently I feel we are vindicated in this decision.

On the weekend, however, we were out with friends, one of whom decided to take a group selfie of all of us, including Baby N.  It was a nice photo.  She then posted it to Facebook, Instagram etc with Baby N clearly displayed.  She didn’t ask us first, but when I saw it (I was tagged) I asked that she remove the photo.  Rather than agree and maybe apologise, she started questioning me (as if I was insane). She was rather rude about it generally and I got SO MAD! I felt it unreasonable for me to have to explain my reasons behind it.  It’s my child and I don’t want him on social media.  The end.  She is more my husband’s friend than mine (especially now) and she even contacted him to check with him about removing it (grrrr!) and also to ask him why we have this policy.  This was first thing on a Monday morning. I have not been this angry in some time.  So now I am going to have to be that crazy mother who when people take photos of my baby I will have to proactively inform them that I do not want them to appear on social media.

I really think the issue of social media use generally is about to turn a corner and so I encourage you when taking photos of other people’s children to be courteous about their use.  We need to love and respect our friends for their decisions, even if we disagree with them.

And just like that it was over

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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