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Archive for the ‘Did I mention how much I love this boy?’ Category

First of all, a HUGE thank you to Potty Mummy for naming me the British Mummy Bloggers’ Blogger of the Week – what an honour! Welcome to new folks joining the sleep deprivation party here at SIFTW (acronyms mean I’ve totally made it!) This does of course now put me under immense pressure now to come up with something vaguely entertaining for you all. Which no doubt means, according to the ‘rules’ that I will end up being dull and weird. Oh well. Popularity was nice while it lasted!

There seems to be a bit of a theme running through my blogging at the moment. First we had a post about my average accomplishments, then it was my average blog, and today, well, today I want to talk about average babies.

You see, now Kai has hit the big 1 the inevitable baby race seems to have taken on new and infuriatingly pervasive proportions. Of course, it’s always been something. Can he smile yet? Can he roll? Sit up? Stand on one leg while singing ‘I’m a little tea-pot’? (ok, not the last one. At least… not yet)

Right now it’s walking and talking. It’s all anyone seems to care about.

And as Kai is doing neither (apart from the odd random word and strange animal impersonation) nor, in fact, showing the slightest interest in doing so, I find myself once again the recipient of a multitude of wonderfully reassuring and self-affirming comments such as “Well, I’m sure he’ll get it EVENTUALLY *sympathetic look*”, and (my current favourite of the week) “It’s ok, some babies just have more ‘physical’ intelligence than others” (what does that even MEAN??! If you’re reading, person who said that – FOR SHAME!!)

I’ve talked about the infuriating affliction that is competitive mum syndrome before on here.  It’s something I try very, very hard to avoid. Mostly because I think it’s a huge big pile of bull crap.

But I’m going to admit it. A teeny tiny part of me cries as I watch Kai’s peers confidently run around reciting the alphabet backwards while Kai himself sits in a corner randomly pointing and laughing at inanimate objects and trying to bark like a dog. I am forced to face the fact that, despite my best efforts at parenting, my child hasn’t been gifted with supernaturally advanced powers of development.

Yes Josie, it’s bad news I’m afraid. Your child is *gulp*… average.

Why does it bother us so much? Cause I know it’s not just me, I bet you, mummy readers, have all had such moments of fleeting disappointment and vague feelings of failure which seem to rise, unbidden into our minds, every time your child’s friend does yet another extraordinary thing.

Saying that, I think this is mostly a first-born thing. Parents with two or three, or even (as in the case of some friends) , five or SIX probably don’t give a damn at what age their child decides to do something, or what anyone else thinks about it, too busy as they are trying to end the day with as many children alive as when they started. So parents of multiples – you have permission to take a smug position of superiority here – no doubt you learned these lessons long ago.

Anyway. Where was I? Oh yes…

Common sense tells us that obviously the rate of our child’s development has nothing whatsoever to do with our relative merits or failures as parents, or is, in fact, any indication of their future intelligence or success but far more likely down to random genetics, personality and well, chance. Despite what the competitive mums seem to infer, the fact that my baby is not walking and talking at the grand old age of thirteen months old, does NOT mean he is destined to become that man that walks around our town with a robe made of a sacking, sandals, and a straw hat shouting at the pigeons.

So why do we take it all so personally? Why DOES it bother us, if only a little?

I think the reason it seems to strike a nerve is due, in part, to a journey that began back in our teenage years. When we were forced to come to terms with the fact that no, we probably weren’t going to be a model, and that we weren’t going to ‘grow into’ our noses and magically wake-up looking like Angelina Jolie. Or that we were going to randomly bump into Robbie Williams in Starbucks one day and, looking mysterious and alluring (as, of course, we would), and being given his skinny cappuccino with extra foam in a hilarious coffee shop- misundertanding, cause him to fall head over heels in love with us because we ‘got him’ and didn’t care about the fame  thing.

I’ve STILL not quite got over that one.

And guess what. Our children probably aren’t going to be space men either, or prime minister, or nobel peace prize winners, or pirate ninjas, or a horse, or any of the of the things we ourselves dreamed of becoming as children. Unconciously we long for them to live extraordinary lives, the lives we did not lead, the lives we had to let go of.

Ok I’ll admit this is all sounding rather depressing in a kind of let me take your dreams and stamp all over them kind of way.

But the sooner we realise this as parents the better. The sooner we can let go of our need for our children to be so damn extraordinary, the sooner we are freed to see just how incredible they already are. Maybe if we can just stop worrying about the big stuff, the stupid milestones and the whole ‘my baby should’s, we’ll be less likley to miss all those teeny tiny subtle moments of everyday extraordinariness that our children show us just be being alive. Those moments that show us that sometimes it’s the ordinary and unremarkable that can be the most beautiful and precious of all.

Like eating mash potato with their hands. Or how watching a dog running round the garden can be the single most hilarious experience of their little life. Or they way their head seems to fit so perfectly nestled into your shoulder.

Not clever. Not exceptional. But just magic.

So let go Competititve Mums. Please. Because I can’t take this crap anymore.

Stop asking me if Kai’s walking yet and let us get back to rubbing mashed potato in our hair. Cause it’s ten million times more fun.

 

Nom Nom

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It’s probably about time I tackled a theme that underpins a lot of what I talk about on this blog, but that so far I’ve managed to avoid talking about too much.

Yep, you’ve guessed it. It’s the big fat horrible Sleep Monster.

Those of you that know me well will have had to listen to me drivel on about most of what follows for the last 12 months so can be politely excused to go and do something more interesting. Those of you that don’t know me quite so well but have often wondered why it is I look like an ageing zombie with a slight hysterical edge to my voice when you bump into me in the street, you’re about to find out. And those of you that don’t know me at all? Well then I guess this is all going to be a treasure trove of new delights and excitement.

You see, Kai is a bit of a problem sleeper. And when I say a bit, I mean a rather extraordinary large bit. Continent sized. Small orbiting moon sized.

Now before we continue I don’t want you to hold it against him. He is probably the loveliest (albeit slightly odd and hyperactive) child, you could ever have the pleasure of meeting. He does lots and lots of things very, very well.

It’s just that sleeping isn’t one of them.

It has been from day one, which is my one small comfort that I haven’t done something horribly wrong to make him this way. It started out with colic – 12 weeks of screaming punctuated only by marathon breastfeeds, with any little sleep achieved solely through repetitive motion and/or holding and copius amounts of Infacol suspension. Once the crying stopped, the sleep battles continued for long months during which I desperately tried to find a way that Kai would fall asleep without a great deal of assistance and failing miserably. At it’s worst, Kai would wake every three quarters of an hour (the length of one sleep cycle) all through the night. On average it was every one to two hours, at best maybe three or four (and I can still count on two hands the number of times he’s slept longer than a four hour stretch). Each time he woke he would need a great deal of help getting back to sleep, no matter how hard I tried to encourage him otherwise, and even with help, would find it almost impossibly difficult.

Just for the record (and because if you mention the fact that your child is a poor sleeper, people feel compelled, no, OBLIGATED to bombard you with advice and I’m sure you’re eagerly waiting for you opportunity suggest one or more of the following), here’s what we’ve tried that hasn’t made a blind bit of difference:

  • Not feeding Kai to sleep
  • Feeding Kai to sleep (well, works to GET him to sleep, just not to keep him asleep)
  • Putting Kai down awake and encouraging him to fall asleep on his own. Featuring the torturous ‘pick-up-put down’ technique. I’m not kidding I stuck at this one religiously for months and all it did was give me a bad back and made me ill to the point of collapse.
  • Putting Kai down only once he was in a deep sleep (thanks Dr Sears for that one)
  • Music (featuring every bad pun of a baby album known to man – Baroque a-by Baby was my fave)
  • A hammock cot (seemed to be working for a month till Kai steadfastedly refused to go in it again)
  • Leaving an item of my clothing with him
  • Dream feeding (that’s when the baby’s asleep right? It doesn’t count if he just wakes up wanting milk)
  • Introducing a comforter (just becomes another thing to play with or throw in the middle of the night)
  • Sleeping in his own room (no improvement in sleep, in fact it got WORSE! and quadruple the work for me)
  • Black-out curtains
  • A variety of assorted sleep wear and coverings
  • Changing his nappy half way through the night
  • Not changing his nappy and instead padding him out like the Michelin Man
  • Starting solids (they told me this was the key when he was 4 months old. Guess what…it wasn’t. The boy eats like a horse and it STILL hasn’t made a difference)
  • Giving him more milk during the day (seriously? Have you seen how often this boy feeds?)
  • Cutting down breastfeeds in the night
  • Working on his day time naps
  • Wearing himself out more during the day. Learning to crawl made no difference. Long sessions in the pool made no difference. In fact you’ve probably never met a more active baby than Kai. He just doesn’t do still.

And before you say it….

  • a bedtime routine. I could win awards for my bedtime routine. It is flawless. It includes a long wind-down time and all the right sleep cues. It just doesn’t work.

Two things I haven’t done:

  • Forced him to night-wean.
  • Left him to cry.

Yes I know, you’re now all sitting back with an air of smugness thinking “well, what does she expect!”. Don’t judge me for it. Maybe it worked for you and your child. But it’s not for me. Because Kai doesn’t just moan for a bit. He sobs. And he sobs. To the point of hysteria. For hours and hours. Till he chokes and is sick.

I can’t do it. Not to him and not to me. And the night feeds? Well I think he’s the best person to decide what amount of milk he does and doesn’t need. And I’m convinced that the night feeds are what have allowed me to carry on producing milk for so long and grow such an incredibly healthy chunky boy. So we’ll leave those two things alone thank you very much.

Moving on…

So why does he have so much trouble staying asleep? It’s a mystery to be honest. On any one night half a dozen or more things seem to be the culprit (and wanting to feed is by far in the minority here for reasons why he wakes up). Separation anxiety is a biggy, teething another (this boy teethes like you wouldn’t believe). He gets tummy ache. He gets nightmares. He sleep crawls and climbs about his cot. He gets distracted by the tiny line of light from between the curtains or from the digital clock and decides that must mean it’s time to get up. He thinks 3am is a very good time to be wide awake and practice singing and jumping about on mummy and daddy. And sometimes, yes, he seems to get genuinely hungry and need to down gallons of milk before being able to go back to sleep. But not by any means every time he wakes up.

In short, he’s just hopeless.

In short, it’s been a complete and utter nightmare.

A turning point came when I gave in. When I threw all the sleep books out the window, bought a co-sleeper crib that allowed me to deal with Kai without getting out of bed, and stopped trying to fix it. Because by the looks of things I was going to burn out loooong before Kai got the hang of things. I HAD burned out, in fact. I’d lost weight, I was exhausted, I was making myself ill.

Enough was enough.

We’re now a few months down the line of the ‘No Try Sleep Solution’ (haha that was a sleep training  joke – you won’t get it unless your name is Elizabeth Pantley) and do you know what? Giving up was the best thing we could of done.

Because at the end of this long dark tunnel there is emerging a tiny little glimmering light of hope. Since I’ve given in and just gone with it, there have been some improvements, small ones but significant ones none the less. Kai’s waking up less. He’s feeding less. He’s even falling asleep on his own and re-settling himself when he stirs (well… sometimes). Twice this week I’ve managed to have an entirely uninterupted evening.

Yep. He’s actually getting better.

Ok we’re rather a long way off him sleeping through the night but we are definitely moving towards maybe only 2 or 3 wake-ups a night, at least on a good night anway.

And that my friends, is MORE than good enough for me right now.

Thanks for listening. And if you see me in the street looking slightly frayed? Well now you’ll know why.

And buy me cake.

Foot Note:

Did I mention that I was an appalling sleeper as a child? that I didn’t sleep through the night till I was three? That my poor mother resorted to drugging me so she could get some shut-eye?

Yep. Karmic payback is a bitch. At least it proves that the Universe has sense of humour I suppose.

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So I think I’m quite away off being able to make any significant contribution to the fabulous “kids say the funniest things” category of mommy blogging. Which is disappointing really as they are by far my favourite posts to read.

But not to be outdone, and in order to try to prove to you that blogging about babies is JUST as funny and interesting as blogging about toddlers (completely not true by the way – I need Kai to start doing some more interesting things else I fear this blog may die a horrible stagnant death), and in case you meet Kai anytime soon, here is a handy translation guide to all things Kai-speak.

1. “og” and “gat” 

Otherwise known as “dog” and “cat”. Used to refer to anything vaguely resembling an animal. 

Usually proceeded by frantic pointing and often accompanied by a “ahhhhh” sound and a little beckoning gesture, which translates as “please come here and let me pull out great chunks of your fur stroke you”. 

2. The words are a new development but animal noises…pah well we’re an old hand at that one. We of course have “miaow” and “woof” but also “mooooooo” for cow (but think more ghost than bovine) and a new one for today “oooh oooh oooh” for monkey (although thinking about it I have always suspected Kai was more monkey than human so maybe it was just his inner-chimp revealing itself).

3. And while we’re on the subject of noises, well of course I have to include Kai’s party-piece. Following in his father’s footsteps of being able to do the most convincing formula-one car impression I have EVER heard, any mention of the word “car”, or the sight of one will immediately prompt an excited “BRRrrmmmMMMM” from Kai. In fact, so primed as he is to jump in with his impression I only needed to utter the sentance “I’m just going to write this card” the other day to start him brumming and brrring around the living room. No honey. CarD. Pay attention please.

4. “Book” and “Ball”

To be said beautifully, articulately and perfectly. When absolutely no one is around to bear witness.

5. “Da”

For Daddy. So far not even an inkling of a Mama. Ungrateful child.

6. “Bye Bye” and “Hello”

The former said mournfully as beloved “Da” disappears off to work, and to everything he no longer wants (usually right before it is thrown at me).  Accompanied by ultra-cute waving. Seriously. I defer even the most hard-hearted child-hating grump not to melt after one wave from my little fella. The latter said in the best middle class accent I could ever wish for and usually said with a question mark (“hello?”) when holding his toy phone/shoe/pig/dinner/anything in reach up to his ear.

And that’s it. So actually not very funny OR very interesting now it comes down to it.

But still enough to make me the proudest mama on the face of this earth.

You can go back to reading the funnier blogs now. Just check back here in another 12 months because given the way the baby bear already won’t shut up, I have a feeling he’s going to come out with some great one-liners.

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Here it is.

A comprehensive list of all the things making me laugh hysterically and feel full to the brim of magical rainbow-filled joy, AND all the things making me sob till I feel consumed by the evil quagmire of despair. Both can come within minutes of each other so, as you can imagine, our house is a rather unstable place to be right now. Poor Ant. And he thought it was bad when I was pregnant…

 

GOOD – “I see you baby…”

Now whenever music plays, a little look of glee crosses the baby bear’s face, he scuttles over and stands up against the nearest standing apparatus, assumes the position of legs spread wide a feet planted firm, and proceeds to shake his baby ass.

Yes, that’s right. Kai has discovered dancing. Love it.

Variations of the ass-shake include the bob (bobbing up and down while sitting), the wiggle, and a kind of gentle sway, often accompanied by arm flapping and clapping. Oh and singing! That’s right, he’ll kind of hum along now too! Ant swears Kai once hummed the ‘In the Night Garden’ tune along with the music but I don’t believe him…

 

BAD – “Don’t Stop Me Now”

Like most first-time parents, I eagerly anticipated Kai learning to crawl, worrying that he wasn’t doing it soon enough, or in the ‘right way’ (he favoured rambo style ‘floor swimming’ at first, achieving motion on his tummy through the frantic propulsion of arms and feet). He seemed so frustrated not being able to get about, requiring constant entertaining. “Everything will be different when he can crawl!”, I would exclaim, dreaming of a quiet, contented baby who would happily play and amuse himself for hours on end.

Oh Boy. Well I was right on one score at least: everything IS different. Except now Kai has got the hang of crawling that is all he wants to do. All the time. Every waking moment. At high speed. And of course with the crawling comes the pulling himself up, cruising and climbing. Nothing is safe and I can’t take my eyes of him for a second. Toys? Playing? Pah! Why play when you can shred (and eat) every piece of paper product in the house, attempt to pull over everything that may squash and kill you (pushchair/highchair/dining chairs/ huge pieces of furniture), and systematically dismantle and destroy every object within reach (which is pretty much everything unless on a very high shelf).

And, of course, our tiny house is not good enough for the Kai-ranasaurus Wrecks. No. He wants to be ‘outside’ (frantic door pointing). And pushchairs and carseats? Well there no good because they require Kai to be stationary for more then five minutes. Initiatate melt-down sequence, high pitched screaming and back arching. He only stays in his highchair because there is food there to bribe and distract him.

I am exhausted.

Needless to say I am now NOT in ANY hurry for Kai to learn to walk. And rather worryingly he looks like he’s not far off. God help us all.

 

GOOD– ” And I…..ee….I…Will Always Love Youuuu”

Kai has always been a very tactile baby, wanting lots of holding and touch-time but up till now it’s always been a bit more of a ‘wrestle’ than a ‘cuddle’. But now he’s really getting the hang of cuddling. Now, when tired or just wanting a bit of reassurance, he’ll put his little arms around your neck, nuzzle his head into your neck and rest it on your shoulder, and go very, very still. For about 30 seconds.

I love it. Makes my heart go ‘whoofph’ everytime. Long may it continue.

 

BAD – “I’m Talking ‘Bout The MOM In The Mirror”

Not a Kai thing but a me thing for once. I seem to have developed a very annoying raging insecurity and self-doubt problem. I am convinced everyone hates me, that I am useless and worthless and a dreadful mother, that I should be doing SOMETHING more with my life and am wasting away my potential, that I HAVE no potential and am no good at anything, that Ant is unhappy with me, that I am ugly and haggard and look like a teenage boy. The list goes on.

I know none of these things are true really (except maybe the last one). And yet this is how I find myself thinking most of the time. It monumentally pisses me off.

I also find myself more and more dissatisfied and wanting more and more. I want desperately to move to a nicer area with more than a few stunted trees nearby. I want a clean tidy house and the time and energy to maintain in. I want a dishwasher and a tumble drier and a kitchen with more than half a square meter of work surfaces and two cupboards. I want to travel and show Kai the world. I want more money. I want another baby (although know it’s completely not practical at the moment – don’t worry Ant!)

I hate this. I hate not being satisfied and not able to just ‘be’ and enjoy where I am. Because I am SO lucky and I have so much.

Grrrr….. snap out of it stupid.

 

There is more but Kai’s woken up so looks like that’s it for now. Smell you later xx

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