Tag Archives: baby

Handsome Toddler Boy

Oh my word.  When exactly did this happen?

My son, my tiny, tiny baby boy, is growing up.  Yesterday he chased after Eric, demanding a “big hug!”.  He can put the balls in the ball-run at the soft play centre like nobody’s business.  He plays with other children, and is so gentle and patient with those younger or smaller than him.  He’s taken a few steps, and when he’s got his walker he can run.  Last week we had to buy walking shoes, as his feet were squeezed by his cruisers.  We’re also going to have to buy some more 12-18 month clothes at some point: they seemed impossibly big when he was born.  Now, his newborn clothes reach his knees and his elbows, and he’s into the toddler ranges in most shops.  He’s the most loving, affectionate little boy I’ve ever met.  I love him so deeply it hurts.

This journey, it hasn’t been easy.  My pregnancy was wanted, but so unexpected.  We were fraught with worry all the way through; Joe and I had to learn to be a couple before this ticking time bomb exploded into our lives and made us a family.  There was confusion over my due date, with two and a half weeks between my dates and my midwife’s.  At twelve weeks, when I suffered bleeding, I was convinced we were going to lose him; that feeling stayed with me throughout the pregnancy.  He was born eight days before the midwife’s date, and a month before mine, perfect in every way.

Bonding with David took me a long time; longer, perhaps, than it took Joe.  There was this expectation that I’d be ecstatic to have my new baby, that I’d love every element of motherhood.  Who in their right mind loves cracked and bleeding nipples, sleepless nights, shitty nappies, and not being able to sit down on less than six layers of padding?  I was severely anaemic, and had to take iron tablets.  I was ill, and tired, and I hated breastfeeding with a passion, but I forced myself to continue until David was a month old, the time that I could express milk and introduce bottles.  I was adamant that I would NOT use formula, that I’d be a terrible mother if I did.  I remember sitting up and trying to feed David, and passing out while I was feeding him.  I remember sitting in a clients’ offices when David was ten days old, trying to feed him and failing, and feeling so miserable.

When he was about eight weeks old, I started the Pill.  It made me bleed heavily, and I became very anaemic again.  I couldn’t express nearly as much milk as before, and David would either go hungry, or start having formula.  He started on formula, and I knew that I was supposed to feel like a terrible mother.  In reality, I was relieved.

I’d had some mental health support from a community mental health nurse since David was four weeks old, and when he was about three months I was able to see a psychiatrist.  That psychiatrist prescribed a low dose of Sertraline, an antidepressant that is safe to take whilst breastfeeding.  I wish I could say that it provided an instant fix, because it didn’t.  I stopped feeling suicidal, yes.  In fact, I stopped feeling much at all.  My visits to see him consisted of “Yes, I’ve got side effects, no, I’m not suicidal, yes, therefore things must be much better, see you in six weeks.”  In June, when David was six months old, I could take the side effects no longer, and stopped taking the Sertraline.  I felt better almost as soon as I stopped taking it, well, as soon as the week of withdrawal symptoms had passed.  At the end of August I managed to get myself discharged from community mental health support, too, and I felt free.

We’ve muddled along for the last few months, and things have slowly been improving.  I’m not sure at which point it was that I finally felt better, more at home with myself.  Maybe I’ve just settled into motherhood now, and maybe it’s just because David is just easier to look after, more enjoyable.

Because David is easy, these days.  He’s a toddler, he understands what I’m saying and responds to it.  He stops playing to give me a hug, then goes off and does his own independent little thing.  He’s mimicking what we say all the time (including “crap!” in the car the other day.)  Even his tantrums, although trying, are an interesting side of his personality that has only just started to show.  When I was in the darkness, I never thought I’d feel the kind of joy that I feel watching him grow and change and learn.  Now that I am here, I appreciate him even more.

If you are reading this, and you feel like I did, talk to somebody.  Tell them how you feel, and get some help and support.  It is not your fault, you are not a bad parent, and you will get better.  It’s worth all the hardship just to come through it and feel alive.

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Filed under David, Mental Health

Eleven Months

Dearest David,

Today you turn eleven months old: only a month to go until you hit the big O-N-E.  Hasn’t this month been a rollercoaster?  I’m going to apologise now for not writing more about you this month, or taking more pictures, but in between the high-fever hallucinating and the throwing up, there hasn’t really been time.  (Swine flu.  Oh joy.  Incidentally, you ARE having the vaccine.)  Never mind, everything is OK when you have meringue.

I’m writing this as you sleep, during my precious work-time.   You are sleeping better in the day and at night because we’ve moved away from blankets and bought you a proper duvet.  The first night you slept under it you slept on your back all night with Donkey tucked in next to you: you haven’t done that since before you could roll over!  The fact that I could just take a photo of you asleep without waking you is testimony to the power of The Duvet.

This month, you mastered your walker, and then a few days ago you took a STEP!  And then another, and then another.  You’re not quite confident enough to walk on your own yet, but when you have your walker (or a chair, or your bead thing, or the high chair, or anything else the right height…) you can run!

We’ve had an interesting month with food, haven’t we?  Just after you turned ten months, you discovered chocolate buttons.  Daddy and I discovered that chocolate buttons are a brilliant bribe (sorry, reward).  This is good, because you seem to have hit the two-year-old fussy stage a year and a month early.  All the wonderful fruit and veg that you’ve been eating since you were six months old?  No thanks.  Pasta in a lovely spinach sauce provoked a tantrum.  Pears were even worse.  Why?  You ate pears last month.  At Rugrats and Half Pints yesterday you refused to even put cucumber in your mouth, never mind bite it.  It’s OK, though.  Daddy and I have come up with a solution: we’re just going to cover everything in hummous or yoghurt, then you won’t know that it’s vegetables.  That, or you can live on Mini Cheddars and chocolate buttons.  And meringues.

Your cousin Wilfred came to stay for a week this month and you had a great time together.  It’s the first time you’ve both been aware of each other, and it was lovely.  You’re (mostly) very gentle with him, although you do splash a little too much in the bath for him.  Watching you play peek-a-boo with him was one of the loveliest things I’ve ever seen.

Talking of baths: you adore them.  There have been days where you’ve had three or four in a day.  Not because you’re dirty (although meringue in the hair doesn’t help) but because you love them so much.  You can now request “bath!” and “splash!”, and there have been occasions when we’ve spent an hour in the bath, playing with ducks, bottles, the shower…  If you didn’t have to come out of the bath, I don’t think you would.

The way you play has changed so much this month.  You’ve figured out that stacking cups stack, and that the farmer in your farmhouse can slide down the chimney.  You’ve changed so quickly that you have next to no age-appropriate toys in the house, but your birthday and Christmas are only a month away, so you’ll have to hang on.  You love sliding the beads around on the bead thing, and you love your tambourine and maracas.  At Grandma and Grandpa’s house, you have a “phone” (a remote without the batteries in), which you pretend to talk to people on.  Talking of talking, you are learning new words almost every day, and you babble as though we can understand you.  You still have some very clear words, and yesterday you uttered your first phrase: “Get down?”.  I can’t wait to have a proper conversation with you.

Your understanding and social interaction are at a whole new level, too.  I asked you to sit down this morning, and you did as you were asked.  You hold your arms out and say “Up!” when you want to be picked up, and you frequently stop playing, give Daddy or I a hug, and then go back to whatever you were doing.  You also know when you’re being asked not to do something, and delight in disobeying us with a cheeky grin.  You’re visibly thinking more: we can almost hear the cogs whirring in your brain.

You’ve developed an unbreakable bond with Daddy now.  Well, you both laugh at fart jokes, find the word “poo” hillarious, and spend your time blowing raspberries at each other.  Maybe it’s just a man thing.  I love sitting back and watching you play together.

Son, I love you so much that I’ll almost think about forgiving you for throwing up in my car the other day.  (Yeah, thanks for that.)  You’re turning into a toddler so fast, and it’s amazing to think that this is your last newsletter before you turn one.  I miss my teeny-tiny baby, but you are so much fun now.  I’m not going to pretend that getting to this point hasn’t been hard, but now we’re here, it’s AWESOME, and I love you.

Lots of love,

Mummy and Daddy (who’s probably going to cry when he reads this)

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Guy Fawkes’ Night

Last night was Guy Fawkes Night, so we headed over to Joe’s parents and up to the local college, where they put a display on every year for the villagers.

Here are the best of the pictures.

And the best thing?  David loved it so much that he fell asleep on the way there and didn’t wake up until the end!

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A Dilemma

fbFacebook.  Ah, Facebook.  The way to make “friends” with people you haven’t spoken to in years, most of whom you wouldn’t have missed.  The way you keep updated with the minutae of everyone elses’ lives.  A brilliant marketing tool, and a nice way to keep in touch with the people who you do actually care about, as opposed to those you never really knew.  It can be updated from Twitter, used to share blog updates, that sort of thing.

And here is where my dilemma is.  My dad has added me on Facebook.

Dad

A Deliberately Anonymous Crappy Picture

The invite is sitting there, ignored for the moment.  I know that I really should add him, that it would be the polite thing to do.  Well, here’s the thing.  There are elements of my life that I like to share with my parents, and elements that I like to share with everyone but.  Being friends with Dad on Facebook (and therefore sharing my blog with him) feels like a gross invasion of privacy.

My parents: where do we start?  They mean well, I think.  They both have a tendency to interfere more than they should, and Mum does it more than Dad.  For example, within five minutes of walking through our front door, she’ll be “tidying up”, reorganising, and telling me how to run the house.  She organised David’s baptism to the point of telling me which food I could bring to the party and what everyone should wear, and she’s trying to pull the same trick with our wedding.  She is highly critical of everything that I do, and even worse, that David does.  Since David was born she’s been offering her usual helpful advice on what to do, and telling me exactly why what I’m doing is wrong.  She is horrified that we own only THREE baby books (not books for him, books about him) and that we look things up on the internet instead.  She’s horrified that we do baby-led weaning instead of feeding him purees and crap in jars.  She’s horrified that I’m “still” carrying him in a sling (some of the time) at ten months old, that he wears shoes when we go out(?), that he’s allowed the occasional chocolate biscuit or packet of crisps, that he watches TV, that we let him cry it out when he’s tired (“child abuse”, her words), that we eat in restaurants with him(?), that he goes to the childminder, that he comes to work with us sometimes, that Joe looks after him as much as I do… you get the picture.  She’s not afraid to scrutinise my every move, and tell me exactly where I’m going wrong.  She also sends me “helpful” links, (and for the record, Mother, I KNOW he’s probably teething again), and has bought me six or seven baby books (edit: nine) and recipe books to make up for the shortfall of information on the Internet.  I know she’s probably only trying to help, but seriously?  I can’t bear to give her any more access into my life.

Useful Information That Can't Be Found on the Internet

That Which Babies Must Not Wear

Dad goes along with what Mum says, most of the time.  He, again, does try to organise things for me, but I think he realises that I’ve grown up enough to make my own decisions.  (He was the parent who, on collecting me from a rather drunken party, asked if “someone had spilled beer on me or something”, because I smelled of alcohol.  I was about fifteen at the time, and I thought I’d got away with it for years afterwards.  Thanks, Dad!)  He doesn’t tell me that what I do is wrong like Mum does, he just appreciates having a grandson to spend time with.  His attempts to get “down with technology” are usually hilarious, but incredibly annoying: I wish he’d stop sending me joke chain mails and just tell me a joke over the phone, for once.  However, I’m still not entirely comfortable with being Facebook friends.

My parents are not yet aware that I’ve been diagnosed with depression.  As far as I know, they have no idea that I have any mental health issues at all, and I’d rather keep it that way.  There has always been an expectation in my family to hide things, to stay strong and supportive for others: depression is “not something we talk about” (my mother when I tried to broach the subject) and “just hormones”.  My Asperger’s (or whatever it is) is “just my personality” and I’ve apparently “always been like that”, but “can’t be autistic because (I) talked early.”  I feel that by giving my parents access to my blog, I’d be unable to write about these things.  I choose to keep them fairly private, but I don’t want to feel uncomfortable writing about them if I want to in the future.

"But I don't LIKE black and white pictures..."

Still, it would be nice to keep Mum and Dad updated without the half-hourly phone call every day, and without the nagging to send pictures.  Pictures which are always criticised: “Oh, I don’t like black and white photos.”  “Couldn’t you have got his whole head in there?”  “Your brother is SUCH a good photographer, even though he’s only got a little camera.”  It would be handy to get Dad addicted to Happy Aquarium or Farmville, so that I could have another neighbour.  (Come on, I’m honest.)

So, what do I do?  The current idea is to add Dad as a friend on David’s Facebook profile, which has the best of the photos on.  That way, they get updates on David’s development (which, to be honest, is all they’re interested in) and don’t get to see my blog or my status updates.  Blog-wise, I’ve registered a WordPress blog in my married name, and when we’ve tied the knot I’ll cross-post David’s newsletters.  Is this the way to do it, or would something else work better?  We’ll find out, I suppose.

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Filed under Family, pictures

Review: Bumgenius Nappies

Satisfied Customer 2

Before David was born, we planned to use cloth nappies.  We did a little bit of research, but never got round to buying any.  We’d balked at the initial outlay and the idea of washing them.  Then, in the fuzz of the first few weeks and months of parenthood, we kept him in biodegradeable disposables: he was getting through so many of them, and we couldn’t see that we’d have time to wash and dry nappies and clothes and everything that the poor stressed cats had peed on.  My mother was very negative about the whole idea of cloth nappies: why go to all that expense and work when you could buy a packet of Pampers?

Pretty soon, the biodegradeable disposables started getting expensive, so we moved onto whichever nappy was on special at the supermarket.  (Thankfully, they often discounted the eco-friendly ones, and I’d insist on stockpiling them.)  Huggies seemed uncomfortable and we had major leakage problems; Pampers were even worse, and they irritated his skin; the Sainsbury’s eco nappies were alright, but prone to leaking.  The only disposable we actually liked was costing us a small fortune.

Thankfully, when David was about three months old, we met Anna from The Cotton Nappy Company at a baby clinic.  Despite our initial doubt, especially involving the expense, she introduced us to the Bumgenius V3.

The Bumgenius nappy comes in four parts: a quick-dry outer waterproof layer with a soft lining, two inserts (which you can use together or separately), and flusable nappy liners which go on the very inside.  They will adjust to fit your child’s size by way of poppers: they will fit newborns to children up to 40lbs.  The outer liner and the inner layer both adjust and grow with your child.  They fasten with Velcro, so there are no nasty pins and no risk of pricking your baby  They’re available in a variety of colours, too.

The best thing about these?  The flushable liners.  These are once-washable if they’ve just been peed on, but they come into their own when they’re dirty.  Just whip the liner out, throw it into the toilet, and there’s (hopefully) not much more to clean up.  Formula-fed babies’ nappies are never very nice, but I actually found that this was easier than dealing with disposables.

If you buy a starter pack, there’s a nappy bin with a mesh bag liner included.  When the nappies are wet or dirty, the parts need to be separated and thrown into the bucket.  When it’s time to wash them, you can just take the mesh bag out and put it into the washing machine.  One thing we did find was that the velcro tabs on the outers needed to be stuck down, or all the nappies would stick together.  We started off with ten nappies and using the biodegradeable disposables overnight.  We’d wash them and put them out to dry in the evening, and by the morning they’d be dry.  We were able to put the absorbent bits on the radiator and the outer liners on a washing rack, and they really did dry quickly.  The Cotton Nappy Company recommend you start with 20, and I’d back this up: we’ve now bought an extra five, and that means we can wash every two days.  If I was starting with a newborn, I’d want 20.

Bumgenius nappies are very, very absorbent after the first few washes, and rarely leak.  (You do need to do them up firmly, although not tightly.)  We’ve only had one leak in the last three months.  I didn’t initially believe that they’d contain David’s “explosions”, but they’ve fared the best out of everything we’ve tried.  Now that David is older, they’re lasting for longer between changes; they’ve also stood up to crawling and bum-shuffling.  He seems much more comfortable in them than in most disposables, but seems more aware of when he needs changing.

Now, the last point I’d like to make: the price.  The average cost of a nappy increases as the child gets older, and estimates suggest that the cost of nappies up until the age of two is about £800.  The BumGenius birth-to-potty kit costs about £270.00.  If you plan on having more than one child, cloth nappies will pay for themselves over and over again.  The initial outlay is steep, but it saves a lot of money in the longer-term.  (We also use washable wipes when we’re at home, which cuts costs down even more.)

Our conclusion: we’re saving the planet, saving an awful lot of money, having a happier baby, and having a cleaner conscience about his environmental impact.

Disclaimer: I don’t work for the Cotton Nappy Company.  I use their prices and refer you to their website because they’ve provided excellent service, they’re cheaper than buying from Mothercare, and they’re a local, family-run company.

Update: The Cotton Nappy Company are opening a shop in Leamington Spa on the 27th June: if you’re local, pop in and say hi.  They’re selling slings and toiletries and a load of other stuff, too!

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