Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Who knew you could love so much?

So my sister-in-law is pregnant, 12 weeks, just about out of that phase that I find petrifyingly nerve-wracking!  She has been asking me to share my experiences and asking about the do's and don'ts of pregnancy ... honestly, I am probably not the best person to ask, with my 2 glasses of wine a week from 16 weeks on, the odd bit of unpasturized cheese and sushi, my biggest no no's were putting my body in temperature extremes; no baths, sunbathing etc. as I really did not want to boil my baby's brains (and lets be honest s/he was getting some of my genes for the brain, so was already at a disadvantage) and no medications - I am not sure why I felt so strongly about this, other than in my head I felt that he did not need to build up his drugs tolerance whilst still an inside baby, and I also felt I needed to build my pain tolerance if I was to have a drug free birth - seriously, if I couldn't handle a headache how was I to handle pushing out an infant?!!!

Anyway, I digress ... it got me to thinking of my preconceived ideas of having a child in our lives.  Just like a birth-plan why do we bother to say "this will happen" or "that will happen".  

The most shocking element for me was the way in which I love my little one.  I did not know what it was to be all encompassed by love for a tiny little being, people had obviously said to me "it is unlike anything else", but that explained nothing to me.  Nobody said to me that you drink in every single facial expression, you don't care about the smell from their stinky nappies, that you strive to learn what they love, like and hate, to not mind that they dictate to you when you have to wake, sleep, eat, be at home, be out of the house, the list goes on.  If my baby is happy, then 99% of the time so am I, the way in which he looks at Chad, and me, is heart-melting, and fills me with deeper love for both my boys every time I see it.
Looking at his Daddy

The love for my very own baby is so different to the love I have felt for anyone else, different to that of my love for my mother, sister or my husband.  I love my husband more due to the love of my son, and the relationship that they have, but I have never felt so protective of a person, or so in awe of everyday accomplishments, and I am still shocked that he is Chad's and mine!

After B was bathed tonight Chad and I just went into the nursery and stared at him sleeping for a minute or two, Chad put his arm around my shoulder and said "We did good" and I agree, I love looking at his sleeping face all relaxed, he reminds me of my tiny newborn whose head was floppy and who I was scared to bathe and break, that little boy who had me in tears over the crib in the middle of the night as I felt the sleeplessness was never going to end... but it was worth it, this overwhelming love that I feel for him is worth everything.  Having B has made us a family, now I do not feel that we are all present and correct yet, I feel that there is enough love for B to have a sibling at some point in the future!!!!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The shock of a newborn and how quickly it changes ...

I will never forget that moment that B was unceremoniously dumped on my chest for the very first time after a surprisingly quick arrival - in fact so quick of an arrival that I had not quite got my head around the fact that the baby was about to come into our lives.  I know, I know ... I had 9 months to get used to the idea, but quite honestly I think that the reality had never quite sunk in, the baby was always abstract, we had everything for the baby but the baby was, somehow, not quite real.

There B was laying on my chest screaming louder than I ever imagined, having more hair than I ever imagined, larger than I ever imagined, darker skin than I ever imagined ... he felt like a stranger.  This little being that I had felt so close to for 9 months, that I had built a stronger and stronger bond with everyday was suddenly here and I did not feel as though I knew him anymore, he was a stranger to me.

Then they took him to the other side of the room to weigh him etc. then it hit me ... "they are taking him away, we haven't left each other since he was conceived  - bring him back" is all I kept thinking.  I kept asking if he was ok, of course he was ok, his screams were telling me that his lungs were healthy.
Minutes after birth, screaming to get back inside.

And that was it, the bond was formed, I loved him so much.  I never wanted anyone or anything to hurt him, I wanted him to be healthy and happy, I wanted the best for him.  My mother always said to me "I want doesn't get ... I would like might", somehow "I would like" was not strong enough in this instance, I wanted all these things for him and I would give my life for them, mother lion had come out!

Although the bond was there reality was still sinking in for us, life was to change forever, B was here and so our priorities were to change, we had a helpless being relying on us for EVERYTHING.  What happens if we mess up?  What if we cannot provide?  What if he isn't as healthy as we thought and it is a genetic issue from one of us?  What if he never makes friends?  What if he never finds a soul mate?  What if he doesn't find something that interests him?  What if he gets caught up with the wrong crowd?  What if he becomes addicted to drugs? The list was endless, all the possibilities of how things could go wrong due to nature or nurture.
First day at home as the reality hit Chad.

Thankfully things change with time, as parents our confidence has been building everyday.  Some days are tough whilst others are relatively easy, B gives back to us more now, letting us know if he is happy with our performance or not!  He has found his own voice, well his own way of communicating at least and most of the time he is a happy little chick.  I think that this is partly due to our attitude, I think that we now take everything one day, or on certain days, one hour at a time as things can change so quickly. 

Yesterday lunchtime, and this is how sad he was all.morning.long

As soon as we got outside, even though it was a grey damp day, he was a very happy little boy!
He is letting us know what he likes everyday:
  • Being outside, whether in a swing, on a walk or on a blanket with toys
  • Watching the dogs play
  • Being thrown up in the air
  • Quiet time with his toys on the floor
  • Jumperoo
  • Bathtime
  • Patting the dogs
  • Watching other children
  • Eating
  • Blowing raspberries
Things he hates:

  •  Tummy time
  • Laying on his back
  • Going to bed
  • Getting in his carseat
  • Not leaving the house for a whole day
  • Socks 
  • Toys being out of his reach ... he can't crawl!
Words he finds hilarious:

  • Gentle
  • No!
So, the shock of a newborn wears off ... it is not like that forever!  If ever we have another child I think I will enjoy the first few months more, the lack of head control, the cuddles that last for hours, the comparable lack of will power.  And all because I know it comes to an end.  I have a better understanding of it and the fact that the crying is truly their only form of communication.  I understand now that your baby is a stranger to you, it takes months, if not a lifetime, for their personalities to develop, they do not know who they are at this stage, so how can we?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

I love wine.

Wine makes me happy, not in a crazy alcoholic kind of a way, but the ceremony of taking the cork (or more frequently, stopper) out of the bottle and hearing the gentle glug as it pours into the glass signifying the end of the day. 

My day no longer has a beginning and an end, it is a continuum which has different elements, but never is there a time any more when I can fully relax, B could cry at any point, need me to be in a position to drive him to the emergency room or just to hold him and rock him back to sleep, I am "on" 24/7.  I would not change that for the world, however for that brief time when I open that bottle and I take that first sip, it is the end of the busy part of the day, and I love it, it signifies that B is in bed and the start of time alone with Chad, the dogs and our dinner, that part of our life that is most similar to life before B, the old normal!

Many a night have I spent with the girlies, putting the world to rights over too much wine, just leading to agony the following morning when it feels as though a rhino ran into your head and your mouth feels as though you have been walking though the Sahara for a few days unable to find an oasis.

Wine is always available at a celebration -  I hate dry weddings.  There is something about wine that can be sophisticated enough to be celebratory, and yet common enough to be in most peoples every day life, should they choose.

I am no connoisseur  - I am happy enough with a bottle of barefoot, but I do like the odd treat now and again to really savor the flavor and to try something new.  I have always meant to keep a wine book - bottles under $15 and write my own mini reviews so that when I am back at the store I can make a slightly more informed decision based on my own tastes rather than that of the very knowlegable staff on hand.

I love to visit vineyards to try the wine from the local grapes to experience it with the local people.  Picking grapes is tough - I am terrible at it ... I am significantly better at drinking the fermented grapes at the end.  I worked in a vineyard in Australia, we woke up early every morning before the sun rose and it was freezing, we would layer up, get in the back of a pickup truck/Ute and be covered up with a blanket as that that way to travel was totally illegal, and somehow the owner of the vineyard thought that if 16 people huddled in the back were covered in a blanket the police would never know!  We would start picking wearing our gloves, filling the black buckets with grapes, some people had a knack - I did not, it would get HOT and then the blazing sun would hit your back as you were bent down low to reach the grapes.  It was hard work and totally ungratifying.  I left that job to pick oranges, which weirdly I was far better at, climbing a ladder with a sack on my front filling it up with oranges and filling 5 huge crates a day, still in the blazing heat.  I was out in the orange grove with only my music and some spiders and snakes, and yet that was more enjoyable to me, at least I got to drive a tractor!

There are some vineyards about an hour from us, we visited one about 18 months ago, we sat, at sunset, at a table at the edge of the vineyard watching the light hit the vines and some locals standing chatting together having all been invited to share some wine and nibbles together by the owner.  That was one of my favorite times in the Midwest.

Photos to come, iPhoto is messing me around today & everything's gone missing!!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

My boy loves food!

I have never enjoyed food so much - and it is not even me eating it!!  B cannot get enough of it, he is like a baby bird opening his mouth at the sight of the spoon and sometimes shaking in anticipation of it reaching him!  He hates cereal (who can blame him) but fruits, veggies and meats, he cannot get enough of.  It is such fun watching him experience new tastes and textures and learning all the time.

first time eating sweet potato - the mess was worth it!

We ran out of green beans!

My baby bird

Friday, March 25, 2011

The art of sleeping is something that I have always taken for granted, you lay in bed, shut your eyes, switch off from the day and bam you're well rested and it is morning!

Wait ... that is not an instinctual thing? I was taught to do this? Well my mum did a great job, when I asked her how she said something along the lines of "well you were never any trouble, we just laid you in your cot". Oh, so it is instinctual, or at least it was for me. Not for my son, he fights sleep, life is waaaaaaay too exciting, he cat naps during the day, very rarely in his cot and although he goes down fairly well at around 7pm most nights there is never any guarantee that he will not think that 2am-5am is an extra playtime.

Enter the world of sleep literature ... Pantley, Ferber, Weissbluth, Hogg ... the list goes on. Which method to choose? It depends essentially on your parenting style, do you want your child to learn to sleep painlessly without shedding a tear over a number of months or do you want to shut the door and walk away for three nights and let your child scream bloody murder? Then there is the reading material that says without crying it out they do not learn how to successfully self soothe and they will have issues when they go to school, but if you let them cry it out they will suffer with the feeling of abandonment their entire life. Oh and if you just keep getting up in the night with your baby and cuddling them until they are asleep they become dependent on that, but that is not the worst of it, no, the worst of it is that you spend those months of your life walking around like a zombie, forgetting things, making terrible decisions and not having the energy to actually teach your child to sleep and so making the vicious circle all the more vicious ... damn circle!!

This is where we are at. Ughhh. Six months of sleep deprivation, whoever decided to use it as a torture tool was a smart cookie - or a parent of a sleepless child and so understood the power of extreme exhaustion.

We had our six month check up a couple of days ago and my pediatrician happened to ask how the sleep was going. When I said not too good but I had made the rod for my own back and B had trained me rather than the other way round Dr G kindly pointed out that "you think it's hard now, in another year it will be worse when he is calling out your name". Oh crap. You mean we are not going to hit his six month birthday and he is not magically going to sleep through the night (this has been my very unrealistic, and yet very hopeful dream) you mean this could continue for a year or more? All the information from the books started flooding through my head ... do we cry it out? Do we pick up and put down? Do we take 10 months of gentle gentle? Then Dr G said it "do what you have to do. Don't pick him up but you can stay in the room, you know B better than anyone, he will cry a bit but make it as comfortable as you can for both of you". Decision made, put.the.books.away. The books have been stressing me out as much as the sleeplessness was, partly because the only chance I had to read them was when B was sleeping!! My life revolves around thoughts of sleep.

What is our plan of attack? We are going to go with the flow, we are going to try a number of things until we find something that works for us and our baby. Secretly I have my hopes pinned on the "crib soother" - a plastic fishtank that you strap onto the crib that has low light and movement ... I am believe that this is going to hypnotize him and all my problems will be solved at the touch of a button.

I have learnt many things whilst researching about sleep, the scientific facts were probably the most useful but the most important thing is that if ever you are looking to make a fortune create a product or book that you can market to sleep deprived parents and tell them it will solve their sleep issues, they will spend any amount of money if they think it will give them a chance to regain their nights of rest, and so their life. Our parents never had books, they did what felt intuitively correct to them and it seems to have worked. Wish me luck in my quest, I will keep you updated.

I have one last confession ... when B does sleep through the night there is a little bit of me that is going to miss him all warm and cuddled into me in the darkened room in the middle of the night listening to his breathing, there is something very special about that time.

Benjamin as a newborn sleeping in the lounge with everything going on around him

Fighting sleep, finding his sleep sack hysterical!

Midnight with daddy

A very rare moment when he fell asleep on me without nursing, I savoured every moment

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Why have I decided to blog?

Life has changed so rapidly recently, and during a time of life that I am sleep deprived, and so I am worried that my memories are going to fade too rapidly. I don't want to forget this time, photos tell a story but I will never remember these thoughts ... I should have done it years ago though, I have never been good at remembering!

My memories sneak up on me at unusual times, usually triggered by a song.

Tonight I was in the car on my way to pick up some food for dinner, our fridge is empty as once again I have put off going to the store. Anyway, I had the radio on and first of all "Laid" by James came on - that brought back years and years worth of memories, probably from about 1994-2000. In bording school my closest friends and I always used to play air drums along with it. Then in about 1999 I saw the band live in concert, it was one of the best shows I have ever been to, they had received their first platinum record that day and were so pumped and excited, their energy was contagious. Until that song took me by surprise in the car I had forgotten that I had ever been to that show!

Then on the way back "Thank You" by Dido came on ... about 18 months ago we went to our very good friends wedding in Mexico and the bride walked down the beach to meet her husband to this song. It was fabulous, what a perfect song for a wedding, with the line - Thank you for making this the best day of my life. It really was a beautiful wedding and now whenever I hear the song it brings tears to my eyes.

Chad and I at the wedding in Mexico

Anyway, there is no soundtrack to this period of my life and I am so worried that I am going to forget those little moments: the way that it fills my heart with overwhelming love when I catch Chad smothering B's face with kisses and telling him how much he loves his little man; the way B giggles with anticipation when he is laying on his changing mat and I say "b, bbbb,b" as I am going towards his tummy, feet or cheek to blow a raspberry; the way B giggles uncontrollably when Chad tells Fred to "Get your toy" or the way the dogs have already started to pay attention when B gets into his highchair. The startle reflex is already becoming a distant memory that was never captured on film ... I miss that.

A little memory from today ... B got very involved in a very intellectual book:

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Silence, well quietness at least

Recently I came downstairs after settling B into his cot for the night and the house was unusually quiet. C was working on the computer, but for once there was no tv or music to keep him company. The dogs were fed and quiet. It was amazing - I could think!

At that moment it struck me how uncommon it now is to have quietness within the house, there is usually music, maybe a jumperoo playing another tune, or at least just being jiggled around by a beautiful baby boy who is either chattering his own little language or blowing raspberries, dogs scampering around, the hum of a dishwasher or washing machine, the phone ringing, texts arriving or the ping of "you've got mail". With all this going on my brain is never able to switch off, there is a constant list of things to do and I am always multi-tasking, like so many others. But that moment of still and calm was precious, never have I appreciated it so much, that first sip of wine as I stood in the kitchen about to start cooking dinner was just fabulous.

I tried to re-create this tonight, C went out to see some friends, I stayed home to try and keep B on his bedtime schedule. A little bit of me was looking forward to having B in bed and the house, essentially, to myself. However, it was not the same. As I was upstairs settling B the dogs were unfed and restless downstairs barking at every little noise, unknowingly postponing their dinner further as they startled the baby and I had to start the process all over again. When I got downstairs if felt wrong ... empty. Then it struck me, it is the companionable silence with my husband that I love, knowing that he is there should I wish to tell a joke or relive a moment and being ready to listen to him, whilst at the same time sharing the knowledge that our baby boy is sleeping upstairs, that is what is so special, not necessarily the silence itself. As I realized this it made me remember some advice that we were given on our wedding night by one of my mum's friends, he said to C "On your wedding day everyone tells you how you should enjoy spending time together and all the things that you will do hand in hand throughout the rest of your life, but my advice is that you sometimes go to your own parts of the house but rest in the knowledge and comfort that your loved one is just on the other side of the wall". Never before have I understood that advice so well.

B & F share a rare moment of calm