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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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What are The Wonder Weeks?

It’s that time again. My placid, happy baby who runs to her own routine and only cries when she really wants something…. has turned into the child who won’t sleep, feeds constantly, and is cranky all the time! On my Facebook mothers’ groups, there are countless posts begging help for the exact same symptoms. What’s going on?!

The answer is contained in a helpful little app called The Wonder Weeks. Developed from the book of the same name, it describes babies as going through “age-linked and predictable” mental ‘leaps’ in their development. The signs that your baby is going through a leap can be summed up by what the authors call the Three C’s: that is, your baby is crying, cranky and clingy. For each different leap there may also be other things to look out for, such as feeding more, a sudden growth spurt, or becoming absent-minded.

Milly has started pulling up clothes and blankets – those little cuddle blankies have come in handy as a substitute!

Each baby grows and develops differently, so each leap will say which week it should occur, give or take a week. After a leap, there will be a particular set of behaviours you might then notice in your baby – new skills and abilities. This might include more co-ordinated movement, increasing verbal experimentation (talking!), and becoming more interested and able to interact with people and their environment. The following is a very brief summary of the first four leaps, to give you an idea of what it’s all about. Amelia is currently going through her fourth leap – probably the biggest yet!

Leap 1: Changing Sensations

Week 5

It is believed that baby’s metabolism, internal organs and the five senses mature quite quickly at this point. His or her head size will suddenly increase (to better house baby’s growing brain!) and you’ll notice bub being more alert. Baby’s range of vision grows, and he or she begins responding to you. Your baby may become able to smile socially, look intently at an object or face, spend more time awake, and respond to touch and smells differently. Signs for this leap include crying without any obvious reason, only going quiet when he or she is with you, suddenly needing to be close all the time (particularly when sleeping), and feeding more frequently.

Leap 2: Patterns

Week 8

Many of baby’s reflexes start to disappear, and he or she begins moving with purpose. This looks a little jerky to start with, as they slowly master the use of their muscles and co-ordination. They begin to recognise patterns, and distinguish between objects; they can also feel patterns with their body, which allows them to gain a sense of where their body is in space, and start to control their own position. Around this time they may discover their hands for the first time, and invest a lot of time and attention in studying them. He or she will show greater head control, and will turn his/her head toward sounds. Baby will start to flap at toys, look at patterned images and make various “grunting” type noises. Much like the first leap, he or she will want more comfort, more food (including wanting the breast but not really taking anything from it), and will also want to be entertained more and may take a while to warm up to strangers.

Leap 3: Smooth Transitions

Week 12

Get ready for bub to become less jerky, and to take movement and sight-seeing to a whole new level! Baby will learn to track an object by smoothly moving the eyes side to side, and moving the head with a fluid motion from side to side. He/she will probably start experimenting with all kinds of vocaliations such as cooing, squealing and crowing. Grab a bib, because the drool is about to begin, and with it plenty of bubbles (baby literally starts frothing at the mouth!). He or she may become able to shake a rattle or toy, and will look amused when something hits their funny bone. Look out for the three C’s (crying, cranky, clingy); being withdrawn and quiet; frequent thumb-sucking or increased need for pacifier.

Leap 4: The World of Events

If your baby is anything like Amelia, you won’t know what’s hit you when Leap 4 starts. Our happy bub had THE worst period of crying, not sleeping, and needing to eat frequently since she’s been born. This leap is a doozy: it lasts for over a month, and other symptoms include reduced head control (which we’ve definitely noticed – a bit of an odd one, but I put it down to them focusing so hard on everything else that head control kind of takes a backseat for a while); more demanding of your attention (yup!); has mood swings (I guess you could say that – one minute she’s happy, the next she’s screaming); needs to be cuddled up close for feeds; can be a bit absent or out of it. Baby is learning to put together those smooth transitions into short, familiar sequences, such as learning a song or nursery rhyme, and expanding their perception to see objects such as a bouncing ball. They’ll become all movement, and be super intent on grasping things – only now they’ll hardly miss; if it’s in their hand they’ll try to bring it to their mouth; will look around to find mum and dad; will react to their mirror image; may grumble when impatient; plus heaps more! Amelia has just discovered her feet, and has started using them to bring dangling toys closer to her hands. She can see shadows moving on the wall, and giggles when something amuses her.

How could I be mad at this face?

Each leap is just a brief time in your baby’s life, and although it can be very challenging, it’s also very exciting to see your baby suddenly learning new things and being able to do so much more. Don’t ever wish away time with your baby, even if it feels hard, because you’ll never get a second back – your baby won’t always be a baby! Do ask for help when you need it – sometimes an hour or two for yourself can be a real lifesaver; if you’ve been holding a tempestuous baby all day, you might want to call in a friend to help out with some housework.

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Hug-A-Bub wrap carrier

I’d heard a lot of good things about the Hug-A-Bub babywearing moby wrap. In fact, somewhere or other it was listed as being the best baby carrier in Australia. It’s touted as being the best for baby’s back, while offering close contact between bub and babywearer. This all sounded good, so I decided to give it a go. We loaded up our newborn and took a raccoon-eyed trip down to Baby Bunting to buy a wrap. They were running out of stock at the time, so we ended up with the slightly cheaper pocketless wrap, which they don’t seem to have anymore.

Sean was happy to try it out, and was quite pleased to walk down to his favourite cafe and get his latte with Amelia strapped to his chest. The staff there were overwhelmed by cuteness.

We tried using it out and about in the early days, but it was a little awkward, and wrapping the thing around your body without getting it all dirty on the ground is nigh on impossible. You need to have it on before you head out, which doesn’t leave much room for adjustments if you’ve set it up wrong. Thus, the pram was favoured over the wrap for outings.

Around the house, it took me a little while to get into the idea – out of sight, out of mind, it would stay hanging off the coat stand, while I tried my best to get housework done and placate a baby who really just wanted (and still wants) to be held at least most of the time. The baby swing worked for the first few weeks, but after that it got a little trickier.

So eventually I remembered the wrap, and out it came. I carefully arranged it according to the instructions on the DVD, placed my baby inside, and went about my business. At first it felt comfortable and good, but about half an hour later the whole thing would start to come loose and poor Milly would end up with her face around my belly-button and her body squashed up like a pretzel. It seems that you need to allow for the crossed part of the fabric, where baby’s bum goes, to really settle and scootch down.

Today I did it up higher than ever before. Sure enough, I was able to wear it for about 45 minutes without it moving as I bent up and down and moved about doing housework. However it was quit uncomfortable, putting strain on the middle of my back. I’m not sure if there’s just something I’m doing wrong – everyone seems to say how comfy it is – or what, but I’ve become keenly interested in backpack-style carriers, particularly the Manduca, which transfers the weight to the hips rather than the back. I’d love to find a local baby carrier library where I can try out some different options and see what works for us. If I can get motivated and actually do that soon, I’ll report back here with the results!

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What happened after the birth: part 3

This part of the story was, for me, the most traumatic. As part of the healing process I will seek to recreate these painful scenes as accurately as possible. It may be a little graphic, so reader discretion is advised.

My baby girl was being resuscitated in the corner of the room, surrounded by a host of doctors and midwives. Now it was my turn. I was still losing blood, and I heard the doctor saying that clots were coming out. A midwife pushed down on my tummy, a wretched feeling not half an hour after giving birth! The doctor was looking up my hoo-ha and that wasn’t pleasant, either. I could feel the tear already, a stinging feeling like a bad graze whenever it was touched. Medical staff – at least ten people – buzzed around but I couldn’t see their faces, couldn’t keep track of what was happening. I was in pain, and these people were hurting me more.

They told me the tear looked like it had gone right through to my “back passage” and they needed to have a look. My best friend and birth support, Sarah, took my hand and the torture session really began. Some sharp-feeling implement was used to probe my bum. It was incredibly painful, besides the complete indignity of having such a procedure performed. I squealed and writhed, I begged for them to stop as they continued to fish around and press down on my belly. I had thought transition was hard. I had thought the crowning was painful. This, however, was the hardest, most painful thing I have ever experienced. It was worse by far than the whole birth experience.

“We’re going to have to fix you up in theatre.”

Suddenly the room was spinning and I felt like I was floating. I couldn’t have been more terrified.

“Can you knock me out?”

“No, you’ll have an epidural….”

I could barely hear them explaining that I wouldn’t feel it. They were asking me something, or so I assume, from the expression on the midwife’s face and the tone of her voice, but I was ready to pass out. Sarah squeezed my hand. She had had stitches with both her children. I listened to her comforting words, telling me it would be OK. A cannula was put in my arm and we were waiting. Later I found out they were waiting for their top surgeon to come in – they wanted it done properly. And then, happy news, they told me I would go under general anaesthetic – I wouldn’t be awake for the procedure!

Then my brief reprieve was over: they wanted to put a catheter in. Karen began attempting to insert the tube.

“Try to relax, it’ll make it easier.”

I couldn’t relax. I was now being stabbed in the urethra. After so much trauma, this really felt to be the last straw.

“Can’t you do it in theatre?”

I was a broken woman, sobbing pitifully, desperately pleading for mercy. They explained that because of my ongoing bleeding, they needed to do it now, before I went into theatre. They asked me to let them have another go.

“Please, please don’t.”

“If you really don’t want us to…”

“I really, really don’t. Please don’t.”

Then a woman was bending down close, her face moving into my line of vision, commanding my attention so that I finally looked at her, let my eyes come back into focus enough to see that she was a brunette woman with friendly, deep brown eyes, probably in her late forties. With soothing tones she asked me if another woman, a doctor, could have just one try. She’s very good, she told me. Evey fibre of my being wanted to say no, but somehow she had drawn out enough trust for me to simply nod.

From that moment, everything improved. This doctor, a small Indian woman, she was good. I barely felt the catheter go in. The surgeon arrived, theatre was prepped, and Mum came with me downstairs to the surgical ward. She said they were running, it seems they were keen to get me in quickly. She said a hurried goodbye and then I was in. The main nurse there was a big woman who looked like a man beneath her scrubs, with colourful tattoos up her arms and a bob cut just visible beneath her theatre cap. They asked me over and over if I have any allergies, or dentures. No, no.

With a bit of assistance I wriggled onto the narrow operating table. I was shivering violently – had been since right after the birth until I’d been brought a blanket, all the warmth of my efforts gone. They brought me a warm blanket. Then an older gentleman was leaning over me. The anaesthetist. He was injecting my arm, and then a mask was being lowered over my face. Air, they call it. Breathe it in deep, they said. I breathed. I waited. This was my fourth time being put under general – once for a colonoscopy, once for my wisdom tooth extraction, once for a laparoscopy. Those first three times I was out so quickly. Why was it taking so long? I didn’t get much further past this thought before I was waking up again in recovery.

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Early Labour

By the time we reached the hospital, I had soaked through my maternity pad and onto my pants as the amniotic fluid continued to leak out in little gushes. The contractions were still manageable, and I walked myself up to the delivery suite. Once admitted we were ushered into the familiar room where a few previous “false alarms” had been sussed out (mostly the result of intense Braxton Hicks).

The events that took place over the following hour and a half have become chronologically displaced in my memory – I’ll tell what I remember, but can’t promise any particular order.

A spunky midwife with short blond hair all spiked up came in. She took a look at my pad – it was tinged pink and soaked through. There was no mistaking that I was in full labour, and the midwife told the doctor that an internal examination to establish such knowledge was unnecessary.

I was hooked up to the CTG fetal monitor to check for baby’s heart rate. This time there was no little paper record – when I asked about contractions, the midwife sat and felt them by hand and counted the time on the wall clock. Two in ten, she said – two contractions every ten minutes.

A student doctor came in. It was his very first experience of seeing a woman in labour. He looked perhaps a couple of years older than me, and somewhat like a startled rabbit. He sat on a chair in the corner looking awkward and asked me how I was feeling. I was just starting a new contraction, so I scrunched up my eyes and let Sean explain what was happening. As it eased I was able to introduce myself, and chat to him, trying my best to put him at ease a little.

The midwife – Karen – came into the room again, and told me that they wanted me to go home. She said I would be best off relaxing at home for a while until the labour had progressed further.

“Once you’re admitted, you’re on the clock.”

I thought about the twenty minute car ride home, and what it would be like to come back down the hill with more painful, more frequent contractions. They were already becoming very painful and strong. I felt the increasing wetness of my pants from the fluid, and felt even less compelled to go home.

I ended up sitting on the toilet, pants off, fluid gushing into the toilet. Sean left to fetch clean, dry pants from the car (we hadn’t brought our bags up as we’d anticipated going home again). Sitting there, with a doctor and midwife and awkward student doctor just outside the door, I felt the contractions growing. I knew I wouldn’t make it home. I told the midwife that I was anxious about going home, that I wouldn’t be able to relax as I worried about what might happen if labour progressed quicker than expected. Unable to persuade me, she went to consult with the doctor again.

Sean returned, and so did Karen. They had decided on a compromise: I could wait there for two hours, and then they would do an internal examination to determine how far along I was in the labour. Next thing I knew, I was in the delivery suite. Sitting on the bed, I held out my wrist for Karen to strap on a wristband – and then it hit me: I was being admitted. Looking around, it occurred to me that I was in the very room where my baby would be delivered.