Friday, 26 February 2010

The Baby Gods Giveth and the Baby Gods Taketh Away

Most mothers know about the horrid Sleep Gods. The ones that sit around waiting for a mother to brag that her baby slept 8 hours straight for the first time ever and then swoop in and whisper to your baby in her crib that it is her duty to keep these parent people on their toes by waking up every 3 hours screaming just when they’ve tasted the sweetness of over 6 hours of consecutive sleep.

But I also found out that there are Spit-up Gods and Teething Gods (not to be confused with the Tooth Fairy who I hear is actually pretty nice). As soon as I posted about Eloise finally getting over her penchant for milk regurgitations multiple times a day, I spent the next 12 hours with warm sour milk falling out of my baby’s mouth (almost always onto me I might add). And in the 7 month letter to Eloise where I mentioned that she did not yet have teeth and that I was very happy to keep that milestone at bay for the time being she cut her first tooth LATER THAT DAY. So apparently Spit-up God and Teething God are fans of my blog.

Happily biting on her tongue days before the tooth appeared

And when I saw that tooth? I hugged her close to me, told her how proud I was and then burst into tears. It’s just too fast.

So now that I’m nursing a toothed baby, can someone please tell me how I get her to stop using my nipple as a teething ring? At the moment I just take her off the breast (while yelling in pain of course) and tell her no. Then she smiles at me. And you just know Teething God taught her that one.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

I guess this means I'm officially a Mommy Blogger

There is a 4 and a half year age gap between my sister and me. I always thought a 4 year age gap between kids seemed like a good idea. A 4 year old is out of diapers, able to help out in their own little way, and can at the very least sit still long enough for you to explain that they’re going to be a big brother/sister.

Then we had Eloise. Within a week I told the Frenchman that I didn’t think I could wait 4 years for another one. He agreed.

Too cute. Must. Make. MORE.

So we said, well, lets wait and see what kind of a 2 year old Eloise is and maybe go for a second kid.

Sarah at wrote a post about how she only needed 6 months to decide that she was ready to try and make another baby. When I read that, I thought well, to each their own and all but that’s cuhrazy talk.

Then Eloise started growing up. It was a small moment. She waved her hand at me. Very slowly and deliberately and I realized that sooner than I would like she would no longer be a baby but a full blown kid. And I am just not ready to live my life without a baby in it.

Now I still need to get The Frenchman on board with the idea of keeping our lives filled with dirty nappies and 3am wake-ups at a continual pace, but reading Sarah’s post was comforting to know that I was not alone in the desire to have more babies sooner rather than later.

But I don't want to share you Mama!

Sarah’s adorable daughter Charlotte is only a couple days younger than Eloise so I have been able to relate to a lot of her posts - we both certainly did our fair share of complaining about the havoc our bodies were putting us through while pregnant.

She has an awesome blog. Killer design. Jealous inducing photos. Great writing.

She is doing a wonderful thing at the moment - encouraging literacy and urging parents to read to/with their children from a young age. This includes giving away children’s books – so get on over there and try and start or increase your children’s book collection.

She also has happened to do a feature on little ole me. I know! Her blog is like super famous now and I’m on it! Check out my interview here.

If you’ve just found my little corner of the intermaweb from Sarah’s site – Hi! If I could I would give you an awkward* fist bump and a big old goofy smile for stopping by.

*not because it is awkward "meeting" new people (yay new people!) but because I'm just not sure I can pull off the fist bump without looking like I'm trying too hard. The big goofy smile I have no problem with.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

You're not my mommy your hair is too short.

I dropped Eloise off at her nursery looking like this:

And picked her up looking like this:

Luckily a little hair cut didn't confuse my baby and she burst into a big baby grin when I came to pick her up. Eloise likes to spend a lot of her time pulling my hair. Frankly I was getting a bit tired of it, so I decided to just take the temptation away from her by chopping off my hair. I'm pleased with it, but we'll see what happens when I have to style it myself.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

The Science of Sleep

When I was pregnant the most common comment I got from parents was SLEEP WHILE YOU STILL CAN which was slightly annoying because with the round ligament pain, the pelvic girdle pain, and the intense excitement at impending motherhood a good night’s sleep was rather elusive during most of pregnancy.

The second most common comment from parents was MAKE SURE YOU GET YOUR BABY ON A SLEEP ROUTINE ASAP. Every baby book I read said that creating a bedtime routine is crucial.

The Frenchman and I figured it made sense. Let the baby know there’s a difference between night and day (apparently living in a dark sack of goo for 9 months can mess with your internal clock or something). Give the baby sleep cues so it knows bedtime is a-coming. Teach the baby how to fall asleep on their own so they don’t need you to do it for them whenever they wake up (and BOY do they wake up!)

It’s that last piece of advice that we really struggled with. Most of the books all agree that the best way to teach your baby how to fall asleep on their own is to put them in their bed awake.

I just found this to go against all instincts. I would nurse Eloise before bed (and some would say that’s my problem right there – but I felt the fuller the tank the longer the sleep) and as most babies do, she would fall asleep while nursing. So there I was in the dim light of my bedroom, cradling a warm little creature, heavy with sleep, a small smile on her face drunk with milk – and I’m supposed to wake her up before putting her to bed?!? But the baby snoring and the milk smile and the visions of sugarplums – what monster would destroy that?

And it worked. Sure I was nursing her to sleep – but she was STAYING asleep – 6 hours, 8 hours. Sometimes the whole night. At 7 weeks. My other new mommy friends were waking every 3 or 4 hours and I knew we had it good and saw no reason to change things. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

And so I continued to nurse Eloise to sleep and place her in her bassinet. And she would sleep for 6 hours or more, wake up to feed once and go back to bed. Life was good.

Then Eloise reached 4 months. And it would take me ages to get her to sleep. I would nurse her. She would be asleep in my arms I’d lie her down ever so gently in her bassinet and she would wake up. Feed sleep put down wake-up repeat. And she started waking a lot more often. Like every hour more often.. And I would feed her or her Father would rock her and I would sit in front of the Internet reading websites on baby sleep sites while crying from exhaustion.

And what we found out from our desperate Internet research is that babies fall into a deep sleep right away when they’re fresh on the scene. They have a lot of catching up to do and that sleep helps them develop. Then at around 3 or 4 months their sleep patterns mature and become like ours – when they first fall asleep it is a light sleep – easily disturbable (not a word but it should be) hence the new difficulty at getting her to stay asleep. They also have sleep cycles like we do – around 45 minutes. So when Eloise would finish a sleep cycle, instead of putting herself back to sleep she would cry, wondering where the giant milk bag that put her to sleep went.

We knew we had to fix this. We couldn’t live with a child who wakes every hour crying. We were also aware that it would probably be painful. I decided to buy two different books on baby sleep from both spectrums – one a tough love, no nonsense approach, the other a fluffy, anti-crying, cotton-wool type. I wanted to get both opinions so I could then make my own. We held off on a course of action and just dealt with the sleepless nights until the books arrived in the post.

When they arrived I made the worse mistake of my young parenting career. I gave the fluffy book to the Frenchman to read and I read the tough-love book. We spent the next week arguing about whose book was right until we finished them and switched. My book actually mentioned his by name saying that the methods were rubbish. After the Frenchman read the first chapter of his book he said he now feels terrible that Eloise has spent a small portion of her life in tears. I believe my response was - well my book says your book is crap. Healthy stuff here people.

By the time I read both books I felt horrible. Eloise’s poor sleep habits were all my fault. I had one book telling me how important a good nights sleep is for the development of my child, statistics about how babies that don’t get enough sleep end up being angry, unintelligent and prone to getting themselves knocked-up, in jail or both by the age of 12. The book said it was my duty as parent to get my child to sleep through the night no matter what amount of crying was involved – a couple of bad night’s for the greater good. The other book told me that I’d be a horrible mother if I let my child shed one single tear that I could have some way prevented.

In the end we went for the middle of the road. Whine-it out we call it. We spent more time on our sleep routine with Eloise and instead of nursing being the last thing I did before she slept, I would pass Eloise to her Father and he would rock her a bit and put in her crib awake, but sleepy. We would let her complain for up to ten minutes before intervening and if her complaints turned into a proper cry we would step in.

So far it’s working. She doesn’t sleep through the entire night, but only wakes up twice for a feed. Which is such an improvement from the 7 or 8 times she was doing before that we are ecstatic.

And more importantly we learned that educating ourselves in different parenting styles is helpful – knowledge is power. But that ultimately we need to come to our own decision on what is best for us as a family. That lesson has been worth all the sleepless nights combined. Ok. Almost worth it.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Septieme mois avec Mademoiselle Eloise

Eloise –

Do you know that there is not a day that goes by that I do not pause and look at your face and wonder what I did to deserve such a beautiful, funny, and curious daughter? I will admit that those first few weeks of motherhood were difficult. I struggled. Not with the loving you part – loving you came at me so hard and fast that it physically hurt. But I struggled with the drastic change in my life. Struggled with being responsible every second of every minute of every hour for a tiny beautiful being that at first could only poop and cry and suckle the life force out of me. I took advantage of your long naps to go get my haircut or get a massage or get a beer. It was all so overwhelming and I needed a break. Not a break from you, but a break from becoming your mother.

When I would finally get you to sleep around midnight I would feel euphoric at having a few adult hours to myself before you woke up again. My how things have changed since then. Now when I put you to bed it seems too soon to say goodnight. Too soon to end our day full of messy meals, and reading stories, and dancing in your bedroom and building forts.

I miss you when you sleep. I miss you even more when you’re at nursery. You are by far my most favorite person to spend time with in the whole world.

You were a little sick a few weeks ago with what we thought was the chicken pox. To play it safe we stayed home from all of our usual groups and classes so as not to infect any of your little colleagues. Normally a week without adult company save for your father at night would have driven me crazy, but you’re now at an age where you are all the company I need.

We’re becoming more adventurous with food – you heart bagels a whole lot – especially if I splash out on some cream cheese. You make the most adorable grunting sound while mashing the bagel in your mouth, like you’re annoyed that you don’t have the proper tools to get this unbelievable deliciousness in your belly faster. Yeah, still no teeth. But seeing how hard you can gum my nipple when you’re distracted while feeding I’m quite happy for those teeth to stay where they are a while longer.

Speaking of annoyed, even your new friends at nursery noticed how frustrated you get at being a baby. From about the age of 3 months your father and I picked up on how you would seem to get angry at the limitations of your little baby body and the staff at your nursery mentioned the same thing to me when I picked you up the other day. “It’s like she wishes she could do a lot more than she’s physically capable of”.

I know you’re frustrated, but don’t be in such a hurry to grow up. I’d miss you too much.

Je t’aime


Still under Mickey's thumb...

...but we're ready to take him down.

Monday, 15 February 2010

And they say romance is dead

This Valentine's Day I wore black lacies. The black lacies which barely covered a very thorough brazilian. We drank champagne and ate chocolates.

The black lacies? My usual white cotton attire was in the laundry. The bikini wax? We're starting swimming lessons next week and I didn't want to frighten the other mothers at Aquababies.

The champagne? We were out of wine so decided to open one of the many bottles of bubbly I received after having Eloise. The chocolates? Well come on - it is Valentine's Day after all.

Friday, 12 February 2010

smitten kitten

Her eyelashes are darker today. More curled. Her cheeks a rosy pink from our walk. Just when I thought she could not be any more beautiful than she already is. She is in a great mood and I could spend the rest of my life flirting with my baby.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Adorable two-headed monster

It's been pretty cold here these past few months. No, not snowmaggedon cold, but cold enough that I haven't used the baby carrier in ages because Eloise would be too exposed to the elements.

And just when I was thinking about how I missed wearing my baby and wanting to give the old Bugaboo a break I received this in the mail from my so-awesome-it-hurts Godmother in Denver (and people from Denver who have 3 kids KNOW about keeping little baby toes warm):

I don't know if it was the novelty of being in the carrier after such a long absence or if she was just having a really good day - but kid was so happy strapped in with me. I plonked a hat on her pretty little head and went into town.

Let me tell you, people get pretty smiley when you have a little cherubic face poking out of your chest. And it was so nice to have my hands free and not have the pushchair in the way that I went into the little jewelry shop and treated myself to a new pair of earrings.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

At least the house is clean

We dropped her off together. I was nervous. We showed them her change of clothes and said there was an extra sweater in her bag in case she got cold. They nodded and politely but firmly took her out of our hands and sent us on our way. I called out a quick “ Have fun sweetie” over my shoulder as we scurried out the door.

I dropped the Frenchman off at the bus stop and I went to a café for breakfast. The same café I often go with Eloise. I read the paper. I ate eggs on toast. I drank two big cups of coffee. I checked my phone no less than 6 times to make sure the nursery hadn’t called me to say there was a problem.

I went to a singing group with a friend with twins. Helping her with one of her daughters who is only two days older than Eloise. I felt like I was cheating on my kid.

I went home, passing the street where her nursery is. I was convinced that I could hear her crying. I kept walking. Pulling my coat closer around me against the cold and wiping a tear from my eye.

I cleaned the house. Vacuumed her room, our room, the bed. I washed her clothes. I did the dishes. Instead of eating lunch I kept on cleaning. Vacuuming the downstairs. I constantly checked my watch and my phone.

I gathered her library books, put my coat on and went out to drop them off at the library. I rushed back to her nursery school. Heart racing as I opened the gate. And then I heard the sound I was dreading. Before I even made it to the door. I could hear my child screaming from within the building. I rang the doorbell.

“She wasn’t like this all day!” They put her in my arms and she quickly stopped crying and instead of burrowing her head against my neck like I expected, she looked around at everyone in the nursery and smiled.

Her face had traces of dried vegetables on it. Her clothes stained. Her face happy. They gave me a sheet detailing her day. When she slept (they got her to nap! Twice!) What she ate (Wheetabix and Roast vegetables – so grown-up!) and at the bottom of the page it said.

Today I enjoyed playing with: Cornflower and Musical Toys.

And despite her tears I felt sure that I had made the right choice.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

So this is the payback for coming home past curfew all those times.

Ever since I became a mother I am surrounded by accidents waiting to happen. Life-changing accidents that knock the soul straight out of your throat. I notice the cables under the coffee table and see an 8 month old Eloise in a mass of tangles. I think of the huge house plant in the dinning room and see Eloise at 14 months attempting to climb it, ending in a pile of rocks and dirt. I think of her bedroom window to which we have no lock and see her hanging over the decrepit BBQ screaming for us to save her.

Is this normal? Will this be how I view the world for the rest of my life – as potential death traps for my off spring? As soon as you become a mother are you doomed to be overly sensitive to any potential danger to your young? Because this is beyond stressful.

Often instead of gazing at my sleepy daughter as she nurses her last few mouthfuls of milk before bed and being filled with warm delicious wonderment I have my heart in the back of my mouth racing with the frantic images of how my daughter could potentially come to harm.

This motherhood job sure ain’t no walk in the park. Oh God. The Park. What could happen there? Please tell me this uber vigilant over protective mama fear ends at some point.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

The white stuff

Some parents are lucky - they manage to get one of those babies that just doesn't spit up. I believe the odds are that 40% of all babies prefer to share their milk feeds with the rest of the world instead of just keeping that white goodness in their little bellies.

We were not so lucky. The spit-up was the part of infanthood that I was really not looking forward to. I've never been a fan of milk. I was never one to ask for a glass of milk with my meal when I was a kid. So it's no surprise that I'm not a fan of milk in its regurgitated state.

In the first few weeks being regularly vomited on was just the icing on the "congratulations you are now a bobble headed poop machine's slave" cake. Eloise throwing up on me for the 7th time in the span of 3 hours could easily make me cry.

So you have no idea how happy I am to see the back of this spitting up phase.

Pictures like this one are finally a rarity.

We can bounce her around and let her lie on our bed linen without a muslin cloth under her head. We no longer feel the need to have 20 odd burp rags lying around the house.

Most importantly I don't spend all day smelling like week old cheese curds.