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Two + New

All is quiet in the Wilde house. Dad is at work; Amelia is at daycare; Jordan is snoozing peacefully; Mum is sitting down to write a post that has been on her to-do list for the last 3.5 months. Ah yes, this tranquility is indeed a rare and special gem!

Expectations vs Reality

During my second pregnancy, I heard a variety of parents describe what it was like going from one child to two. One parent said she expected it to be hard, but found that her workload more than doubled with her second child – and plenty of others seemed to agree! In fact, the general consensus was that it was much harder going from one to two, than from two to three. I must admit, I was a bit nervous. My womb-baby seemed pretty chilled out but what if he was just setting me up with a false sense of security? I’d considered Amelia a pretty cruisy baby; anecdotal evidence suggested that the second baby is often the polar opposite to the first. Would Number 2 be hard work?

When Jordan was born he didn’t cry. After a few heart-stopping moments he let out one squawk, then quietly got on with trying to breathe with fluid still in his lungs. He was whisked away to special care for extra oxygen and that was that. Only… as his breathing improved, he remained mysteriously quiet! The doctors and nurses even tried giving him all his shots and blood tests in rapid succession to upset him enough (poor baby!) to cry, but he just quietly bore it all. In the first week after he was born I barely heard him utter more than a half-hearted whimper; in the following weeks he proved that he could cry, but was simply choosing not to.

Mr Jordan is the most easy-going, happy, sociable baby I have ever met. He is now 4.5 months and I have established that there are a select few things that will cause him to cry:

  • Wind pains (which happened every morning around 5-6am for a number of weeks but has since stopped)
  • Being overtired and having his sleep interrupted
  • If I don’t attend to his need for food in a timely manner – he starts by fidgeting, then grumbling, then whinging, before finally beginning to cry, and will work up to a scream if I still haven’t got to him (usually because I’m sound asleep and too exhausted to wake immediately)

He calmly tolerates his sister’s over-enthusiastic attentions, he can keep himself amused quite easily, he enjoys smiling and chatting to anyone and everyone, and he loves sleep so much that the only time he complains about going to bed is when he’s overtired or a bit hungry.

The real challenge

Sleep deprivation is not something I missed from Amelia’s newborn days, but I have to admit that Jordan is a pretty good sleeper. He has been feeding a bit more again lately – 2-3 times a night – but he’s skinny and his reflux prevents him having big meals so it’s alright and a bit necessary. It certainly adds to the challenge, but it’s not the sleep thing that’s got me feeling frazzled. In fact, it’s nothing to do with Jordan at all – he’s easy!

It’s the toddler sending me around the twist. If you have one of these creatures, or have raised one at some point in your life, then you probably know what I mean already. This little firecracker of a daughter of mine is HARD WORK! She is very bright and speaks well. Too well. Too often. All day, every day, she is chatting away or making some sort of noise with her voice. If I were to divide up her vocalisations by category I think it would look something like this:

  • 30% – “I’m hungry!”
  • 20% – “NOOOOOOOO!! I don’t want [insert offered item/activity here]”
  • 20% – Humming, singing or making noises to go with her actions, including playing with Jordan
  • 20% – A mix of “What are you doing, Mum?” and “Where’s Daddy? Daddy’s at work?” and “Jordan’s got sore tummy. Mummy, you feed Jordan!”
  • 10% – Miscellaneous

She is a strong-willed child who is slowly learning not to screech when offered something she doesn’t want; who will definitely test the boundaries and make sure you mean what you say; who will smirk at you until you prove that you mean business, then suddenly comply so she doesn’t actually get in trouble (I’ve just put my foot down on this). If you ask her to do something she will often do so quite happily; if you TELL her to do something, she will dig her heels in and become angry, growling and whining like some wild beast instead of talking to you, ready to throw a tantrum at the drop of a hat.

It’s exhausting!

I’m so glad that Jordan is such an easy-going chap because Miss Milly has me on my toes all day. She can be so sweet and lovely and funny, then without notice she’s a writhing, screaming ball of fury lashing out with arms and legs. Apparently this is normal for two-year-olds. Most frighteningly, I’ve been told it gets worse at three, with is now just around the corner.

God help us!

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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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Sleep victory!

It’s nearly 1:30pm. She’s been up since 10am. Her eyes are red; she’s squirming and grizzling on my lap. At a week shy of six months old, she still needs regular daytime naps, but lately she’s been resisting sleep for hours at a time. The unfortunate result is a chronically-overtired, unhappy baby and a stressed-out mama who can’t get anything done. Today, I decide, things are going to change.

I take her to her cot, and slip her into her sleep suit. I shut the curtains and, following Mum’s advice, grab a toy (a pink hippo) with a music box installed. I pull the tail/drawstring and “It’s a small world” tinkles out. The plan is to play this every time I put her to sleep, by way of a nap-time ‘cue,’ since we have such an irregular schedule that a timed routine would be useless, and even using her cot as a cue wouldn’t be helpful as we are often out and about.

She rolls onto her side and I put my arm across her body to stop her rolling over (the result of this would be that she’d drop her dummy and start wailing). I stroke her back with my thumb while bracing her body with my hand and arm. I can just see her eyelashes, showing me if she’s still awake. For several minutes I kneel there, arm across her body, pulling the string on the hippo when it stops.

Then finally – success! She’s peacefully snoozing. I ease my hand away from her body and slowly stand up, backing away quietly lest I make a sudden noise and wake her. The next challenge has begun: making sure she sleeps long enough. Forty-five minutes later I hear the first peals of crying; she’s awake but not ready to get up. I resolve to leave her in her bed, and repeat the same process as earlier with the hippo and the arm across her body. It takes some time – she plays with the hippo and squirms and pulls her dummy out – and I almost give in, but eventually she drifts off again. So now, here I sit, blogging and eating lunch, and feeling well pleased with myself for sticking it out and making sure Miss Amelia gets her beauty sleep!

Sweet dreams, kiddo! (This is from a different day – no way I’m going into that room now to get a photo!)

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Five months old and counting! At 7kg, and back up on the 90th percentile for length after dipping down to the 50th, my little baby isn’t so little anymore.

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Four days ago Miss Amelia decided to make nightly dinner of mushed veg a regular habit – after breastfeeding she began to grizzle and complain until the food came out. She already associates spoons with food!

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Favourite activities include: standing up with assistance, squealing, giggling, giving big sloppy kisses, chatting up strangers, exploring toys and attempting to crawl (although this last one brings much frustration!).

Happy new year!!

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Sick!

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It started with a bit of lethargy during the day. Then, late that night, a fever – nothing drastic, it was 37.8. A dose of infant Panadol brought it down. Then it went up again the next day, and hit 38.7. More Panadol, and a visit to the GP, who declared it a virus and said no special treatment was required. At this point she was still happy, still playing. Yesterday she was more tired, but still played during the day – she just had more naps.

Today the fever has not got so high – 37.6 on waking – but she has been quite unhappy. She didn’t play this morning, but fed and cried and snuggled in with me. Now she is swaddled up tight (for the first time in weeks) and sleeping soundly. Hopefully this virus will pass quickly and my little cherub can go back to enjoying life!

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Why we put blankets over prams

Pre-baby, I never really understood why mums would put a blanket up over their baby’s pram while bub was sleeping. Were they really so precious that the couldn’t handle a bit of light
while taking a nap? (I know, I was a bit of an opinionated jerk). Now, of course, I have my own baby and it all makes sense. In fact, I’m sitting on a train right now (first train ride with Amelia, into the city no less! It has gone well so far, and we’re heading home) and I have put a muslin cloth over her pram. Continue reading