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How Time Flies

It can feel like time is dragging on when you’re stuck on the couch feeding your baby for the millionth time that day, but then you blink and a whole day, year or decade has gone by. For example, I meant to sit and write a post yesterday; now there’s barely anything left of today, and I’m pumping out this post while I wait for Sean to come back from the bathroom.

Kids keep you busy. From the moment I woke up today, I was busy being Mum. Feed Jordan. Get Amelia’s breakfast. Change Jordan’s bum – and his outfit, because he’s leaked wee onto his clothes. Give Amelia a bath. Feed Jordan. Get Milly a snack. Wash and sterilise bottles. Get Milly a drink. Feed Jordan. Play with Amelia. Try to get Milly down for a nap (no cigar with this one, even after an earnest 1.5 hour attempt). Feed Jordan. Take the kids down to the park to burn off the last dregs of Milly’s energy so she’ll nap.

Regardless of all the things I might have on my to-do list – from housework to simply sitting and reading a book – my first and foremost responsibility and privilege is to look after the kids. That takes time. If I’m always thinking about the things I’m waiting to do “when they sleep” or “when I get a chance”, that’s when I find the end of the day sneaks up on me and I look back with a sense of disappointment on a day where I didn’t get to tick things off my list.

I guess the important thing, then, and something which I’ve been learning lately, is that looking after my children is not only a full-time job, it’s a valuable one, something I should cherish and take pride in – not wish away for want of more time to clean my house or reread A Series Of Unfortunate Events. I’ll never get back a blessed minute of these early childhood days with my kids, and I don’t want to end up an old person looking back with disappointment that I didn’t put my heart and soul into treasuring each day.

So this blog might end up a little irregular, but don’t worry – if you don’t hear from me for a few days, it’s probably because I’m busy cuddling my babies.

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Day one without the hubster

Sean went back to work today, his two weeks of paternity leave being done and dusted. Amelia woke at 6:30am, an hour earlier than usual, having soaked through her nappy and pyjamas (note to self: remind Sean that he needs to listen to his wife, especially when she says things like “that is the wrong nappy size”). Jordan woke up and wanted a feed – possibly for the millionth time in the last 24 hours. I tended to the kids and drifted in and out of sleep while Milly watched TV and intermittently came to pester me.

My plan had been to drop her off at daycare, since I’d decided to start her on a second day. I got the three of us dressed and ready (and felt well chuffed to have done it in record time), bundled us all out to the car, and then tuned in to the little voice in my head (I suspect it was Sean’s voice) saying I ought to call ahead and see if there was room for her today. There was not.

I sat in the car feeling at an absolute loss as to what to do next. Milly was wailing in the back seat for no particular reason. Jordan was sleeping in his capsule. I couldn’t bear the thought of going back inside, so I fired up the engine and hit the road, hoping to formulate a plan along the way. In the end I decided on an unexciting trip to the petrol station, followed by Woolworths. The whole outing read like Amelia’s favourite story, We’re Going On A Bear Hunt…

We’re going to the supermarket
We’re going to get some groceries
What a beautiful day!
I’m not scared…

Uh-oh — a toddler!
A tired, cranky toddler!
We can’t cajole it; we can’t sternly order it;
We’ll have to bribe it!

*chocolate, bickies, chocolate, bickies*

She spied the basket of fruit they leave out for the kids and asked for a “bana.” She took a bite and didn’t like it. She asked for an apple. Two aisles later she was over that. I was collecting nibbled fruits along with the shopping but at least she was reasonably content. Jordan lay peacefully in his trolley seat. I felt calm, cool and collected – look at me, out shopping with two kids like an old hat! I only panicked for a second when I realised that I had forgotten the one item I specifically set out to buy – nappies in the correct size for the gal – as I finished loading the conveyor belt; I figured I had enough items to stall the checkout lady while I wheeled the trolley down to the babycare aisle, even with Amelia insisting that she wanted to walk. I even maintained my composure as she snatched up a Kinder Surprise egg from a display and proceeded to peel and consume it: indeed, I barely batted an eyelid as I handed over the empty tin foil to be scanned.

Of course, things couldn’t go this smoothly forever. I paid for the groceries and Jordan woke up, ready for food. Milly dawdled behind me as I sallied out of the store, busy eating her chocolate egg. We got to the escalator and she handed me her slobbery chocolate to mind while she stuck her sticky hand in mine to get on the escalator. I hustled Milly into the car, shoved the groceries in the boot (crap, I stole the blueberries accidentally!), grabbed Jordan and jumped into the front seat to give him a quick feed before we headed home. Milly demanded food, then rejected my offering of an oat slice bar and took to wailing and screeching at top volume in the back seat. I tuned out and daydreamed about the nice nap I would have when I got home and put the kids down for a sleep.

Get home, park the car, grab the sleeping toddler and put it in its bed, back to the car, get the crying baby and bundle it into the baby carrier, bring in the cold shopping, put the shopping in the fridge, go back outside, shut the gate, let the chickens out, come inside, feed the baby, tidy up, vacuum the floor, feed the baby, put it in its cot, get ready for a nap only to have the toddler wake up after a mere catnap….

WE’RE NOT GOING SHOPPING AGAIN!

That was just the morning. The afternoon has been a blur of tantrums, telly, spilled drinks, food smeared across the table rather than consumed, and a sad attempt to make banana pancakes, which became a sad attempt to make banana bread, and resulted in a frightful loaf of banana-flavoured something. Amelia has not eaten anything I have prepared or suggested in the last two days (with a handful of exceptions), but of course she did heartily enjoy my monstrous creation. I guess I can be grateful for that. But most of all, I was grateful when Sean came home and suggested Thai for dinner – with the implied perk of it being a half hour round trip, which Milly would accompany him on. Yes, dear readers, I am at this present moment home alone (well, Jordan is here too, but he’s so quiet and peaceful that he doesn’t really impinge much on my sense of freedom – I mean, aloneness).

Only four more days with the kids until Sean has a day off work! I’ve kept my cool so far, but I wonder how long that will last?…

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Newborn Wardrobe

This is my list of newborn wardrobe essentials. An average newborn will fit 0000 size clothing, but it’s a good idea to have a couple of outfits either side to be safe.

Accessories

  • 2 x newborn hats
  • 2 x socks
  • 2 x blankets/wraps*

00000 (tiny baby)

  • 2 x singlets**
  • 2 x bodysuits

0000 (newborn)

  • 3 x singlets
  • 10 x bodysuits
  • 2 x jumpers/cardigans/jackets***

000 (0-3 months)

  • 2 x singlets
  • 4 x bodysuits

*I wrap my winter baby in thin polar fleece blankets; muslin wraps are also very popular, and would particularly suit a summer baby.

** You can get regular singlets, or jumpsuit style singlets with press-stud buttons to fasten it around the nappy. I tend to use traditional singlets under short-sleeved bodysuits, and button-up singlets under long-sleeved suits.

*** These tend to be quite roomy; 000 jackets are, frankly, enormous. It would take a very, very big newborn to fit a 000!

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Sweat and nightmares

“Turn the light on! Help me find her, quick!”

Panic grips me as I rifle through the covers, or try to find the end of the pillowcase. I’ve fallen asleep with her in the bed, and now she’s trapped in the covers, suffocating! Then the light goes on and I see that she’s fast asleep in her cot, right where I left her. On an unrelated note, I notice I’m sweating profusely, my pyjamas sticking to me and my boobs forming a ravine between which a veritable river of perspiration trickles.

Nobody tells you that the newborn nights are a hazy mix of sweat and nightmares, but both of these are in fact very common. Google “nightmares about losing baby in bed” and the search turns up a plethora of forum questions, articles and even news items addressing the phenomenon. Researcher Tore Nielsen, PhD, has found that three quarters of new mothers will experience these nightmares, dreaming such things as leaving the baby on the change table or with a bad babysitter, and typically resulting in the frantic search through the covers. [CLICK HERE for the NBC report, which has more details].

I was surprised to read about the sweating in “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” – up til then I’d been blaming Sean for leaving the heater on overnight (“It’s only on 15 degrees!” he’d protest). Apparently this sticky problem is caused by the dropping levels of hormones, and can last for several weeks. You can read more about it HERE on the Babycenter website.

Amelia is sleeping longer each night; hopefully soon I’ll be able to sleep soundly as she does, unimpeded by terrible nightmares and the sensation of having taken a stroll through a monsoon!

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What happened after the birth: part 2

At my request, Karen came over to help me breastfeed my baby for the first time. I was still lying in the same place I was in for the birth, with Amelia draped over me. The midwife simply picked her up, and plopped her down, face-first, onto my breast.

“Can she breathe like that?”

Call it mother’s intuition, call it common sense, but it just seemed to me that she would have a hard time getting air into her lungs with her face smothered by my boob.

“She’ll move if she needs to.”

Amelia was off and away in an instant, sucking intently. Karen moved away to fill out some paperwork and I chatted to the others in the room – for the life of me I don’t recall what about. Then I noticed that the sucking had stopped. Looking down, I saw that Amelia had turned a peculiar purple colour.

“Um, is she like, dying or something?”

“No, why would you think that?”

The midwife turned around, cruised over to the side of the bed, and looked at my baby. She took out her stethoscope, wordlessly applied it to Amelia’s tiny chest. Then she dropped the stethoscope and grabbed my child off my chest – still, she said nothing, and now there was a grim look on her face. I saw my baby thrown down onto that special bed they have set up in the corner, all lights and dials and special equipment. Her limbs were being flailed around quite violently, and the second midwife had joined Karen to help her. She wasn’t breathing. The words “code blue!” rang out over the loudspeaker and suddenly the room was filled with people all swarming around my little girl. I had just given my all into birthing her, and as I watched the nurses reviving her, I felt oddly detached. All I knew was that I couldn’t stand it if my baby died.

I didn’t get to watch for long, though – even as the nurses and doctors worked away at Amelia, another team was turning their attention to me. I was about to experience something far worse than giving birth had to offer.

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Birth

“Don’t push – just breathe through it! Just breathe.”

Suddenly the contractions seemed to stop. I was experiencing the ring of fire. If you’ve ever made a good attempt at doing the splits, and felt your muscles stretch so far they felt like they were about to snap, then you’ve felt what it’s like in that moment when the head appears at the vaginal opening and just sits there. It wasn’t a consuming pain like the transition phase of the labour. Like so many before me have said, it was largely just a pressure that brings a sense of urgency, an irrepressible need to relieve that pressure. All I could do was wait, trying my best to breathe and resist pushing, as the opening stretched in preparation for the next contraction.

It was with a terrible burning feeling that I pushed that head right out, my mouth involuntarily uttering “f*ck, f*ck, f*ck” as she eased out. Sean was suddenly crying and neither of us recall what he said but he was clearly overjoyed as he took in his very first look at his daughter.

Meanwhile I had the distinct feeling of having an octopus up my hoo-ha. I was waiting again, and I had not the slightest ounce of patience. It was the weirdest physical sensation, and I was about to meet my child for the first time. My brain was struggling to keep up with what was going on. I squeezed a little – nothing. I was still waiting, her head like a weight on the outside, her body feeling soft and squidgy on the inside. I was squirming, waiting.

“Get this thing out of ME!!!”

One final push, a tsunami-proportioned sloosh, and the octopus came sliding out. There was no time to process this once-in-a-lifetime experience, this split-second of the most incredible thing a human body can do, because then the octopus was flying through the air toward me.

“What is that thing?!”

It was dark purple and slippery-looking, dark hair slicked down under the blood, a smooshed little face above a limp collection of limbs and little body, the rope of umbilical cord darker and more bloody still. For those first few moments I just couldn’t make sense of what was happening. Then she was on my chest, the stickiest thing I’ve ever touched, bleating quietly, moving around just a little. I could only watch her in wonderment, this little person who was mine, quickly turning pink, towels wiping away vernix and blood to reveal her features.

For a time, perhaps twenty minutes, we lay together, me and my newborn Amelia, while my husband, mum and best friend peered at her and took photos. This was the best part of it all – of course. But all good things come to an end, and I was about to go through something far more traumatic than the birth.