Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The real meaning of Christmas

Tonight I explained to Phoebe that tomorrow, being the first of December, was a very exciting day because we get to start our advent calendars and count down the days until Christmas.

Phoebe nodded knowingly.

I explained that we had three calendars: one on the computer, another from Nana Joan where we cross off the days with chalk, and a very special one which I had filled with little surprises especially for Phoebe. And there's another one on the way from Nana with English Cadbury's chocolate for Mammy and Phoebe to share.

Phoebe thought about this for a while and then said, "I'm a girl and you are a girl."


Friday, November 25, 2011

"If" for Little Boys

I have just taken all of Asher's new baby cards down in preparation for putting some photos up and also Christmas cards. I couldn't help but read through a few of them, such precious memories of a very special time in my life: the birth of my last (intended) baby. I wanted to share the lovely words from this card from my Gran, who had two baby boys. They sum Ash up perfectly.
If he wins your heart the moment that his tiny life begins.
If he amuses you for hours with his giggles and his grins...

If he has a way of smiling that can steal your heart away.
If he grows more cute and lovable with each and every day...

If his eyes are filled with wonder and he doesn't miss a thing.
If he knows just what he likes and rules your household like a king...

If he fills your world with happiness, your life with pride and joy,
Then he's everything he should be - he's your darling baby boy!
In the bottom right-hand corner of the card my Gran has written "P.T.O" and hidden on the reverse of the paper lining of the card is the following:
"Unfortunately Chris & Mike changed in their teens!"
 Something to look forward to then. Until then I'll make the most of these wonderful pre-teen years.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sewing Project No. 5: Dorothy the Giraffe

This is another Melly & Me Mrs Perkins toy giraffe.

Phoebe saw me making Asher's giraffe about 6 months ago and kept asking if it was for her. So I took her shopping to a rather nice fabric shop so she could pick out the fabric for her own. Although I love Ash's giraffe I felt limited in having to go for gender-neutral fabrics. I was so excited about doing something girly as there really are some beautiful fabrics out there. But Phoebe fixated on the pinkest one she could find, a plain pink fabric with white spots. I tried to turn her attention to some beautiful floral and cupcake fabrics, prints with owls and others with cats or butterflies. But it was no use. She'd decided. And by then she was getting a bit too antsy for a nice quiet quilting shop. I chose the complimentary green fabric. If it was up to Phoebe the hooves would have been a plain pink.

Mrs Perkins No. 2 was originally named Gerry. Phoebe then decided that Dorothy the Dinosaur was a much better name. I persuaded her to drop the dinosaur bit.

Dorothy and Mrs Perkins are quite good friends and like to hang out and chat every now and then. I think Pinky and Perky would be quite good nicknames for them. Dorothy somehow ended up slightly bigger in the body than Mrs P. I think I must have misread the pattern notes. I felt like I rushed her a bit resulting in a bit of a square nose, misaligned hooves and more stuffing than the original. But she's really grown on me and the over-stuffing has resulted in a much sturdier toy. Phoebe loves her and takes her to bed with her every night. And that's the main thing. And I'm happy to say that Asher loves Mrs P too and particularly likes to chew her antlers. Which should put my sewing abilities to the test.

Sewing Project No. 4: Cloth Nappy Wipes (and The Story of The Needle In The Finger)

Here are some cloth nappy wipes I sewed for Asher. They're loosely based upon some I bought online for Phoebe which were the best wipes we had. Now the ones I made are the best ones we have if I do say so myself. They're made with cute flannelette and cheap terry towelling. Oh my god, I had no idea terry towelling was so expensive. I bought this a while ago but I seem to remember the proper stuff was about $20 a metre!

These were super easy to make. I simply pinned the two pieces of fabric together right sides out. Then I drew around an existing wipe. Then I sewed just inside the line, cut out around the line and then did an edging zig-zag stitch around the outside.

I made most of these when I was about 8 months pregnant and one day I lost concentration and hit my finger with the needle. There was a bit of an impact and my finger felt a bit sore but I set about trying to sort out my machine which was erroring. I then realised that I'd bent and snapped my needle. I looked all over for the end of it but couldn't find it anywhere. I replaced it and finished the wipe I was working on. It then occurred to me that the needle could actually be in my finger. I mean I couldn't see it anywhere else and my finger was getting quite sore. My nail was slightly cracked and there was a red mark on the finger pad. I was sure I could see the needle through my nail.

I realised I had to get it looked at at some point. I had a shower. I found it very hard to put any sort of pressure on my finger, which was the index finger of my right hand. Very inconvenient. My mind was going nuts trying to figure out what to do. What if I had to go to hospital? Who would pick up Phoebe from daycare? There was some reason why Toby couldn't do it that day - I can't remember why now. Perhaps he was in Brisbane for a meeting or something. I made a mental list of all the people I could ask. Or maybe I could pick her up myself, take her to my sister-in-law's for dinner and then go to hospital.

I walked down to the local medical centre in the hope they could sort it all out there. They slotted me in and I was seen very quickly. The doctor seemed quite excited at the prospect of doing minor surgery. I told him I was hoping he could just pull it out through the pad of my finger as I was sure I could see and feel it there. I didn't much fancy the thought of him going through the nail. At this point I was convinced that it had gone in through the pad of my finger for some reason. But of course, it had gone through the nail.

He was sure he could puncture a hole in my finger and pull it out with tweezers but he sent me for an x-ray so he could see where it was. If it was too far into my finger he'd have to send me off to hospital. It was late afternoon by now and both hospitals are 25 minute drives away. It would not be convenient to have to do that.

I scuttled up to the nearest radiology centre after the receptionist phoned ahead to make sure they were quiet. I phoned my obstetrician to confirm an x-ray was okay and was assured risks were minimal and that if the baby was born at that stage with breathing problems they'd x-ray it anyway. Apparently the amount of radiation used to x-ray a finger is very small.

Armed with my x-ray I headed back to the medical centre. The doctor was sure he could pull the needle out if I was happy to let him try. I didn't want to go to hospital so I let him. He didn't half faff around getting stuff ready, during which time a nurse with four grown-up children tried to persuade me to have more babies. Eventually he jammed another needle in my finger to inject some local anesthetic and then set to work. In no time at all he triumphantly held aloft the end of my sewing machine needle and then insisted on popping it in a specimen jar for me to take home as a memento.
I was done in time to collect Phoebe but the drive to daycare was a bit tricky. I took great pleasure in presenting my bandaged finger to anyone who would care to listen and telling them all about my gory story. My finger was quite sore for a while but thankfully fully recovered by the time I had a baby three weeks later.

The moral of the story is, if you're going to sew whilst heavily pregnant pay close attention to what you're doing and don't also try to watch episodes of The Prisoner.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Sleep training, EASY routine and first solids

My beautiful boy is five months old today and finally I have something interesting to write about him. Unfortunately I don't have the time to write it. So in brief (ha! as if I can say anything in brief):

  • he now has two teeth, 
  • is almost sitting unaided,
  • travels around the floor extensively by twisting and rolling,
  • sits in the highchair whilst we're having dinner,
  • has tried an array of solids, including rice cereal, avocado, mango and roast dinner (more on this later),
  • and is being sleep trained.
Yes, I got a bit fed up of the snacking and catnapping, frequent night wakings and 3am parties so I pulled out my good old Baby Whisperer (Tracy Hogg) books, specifically The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems. It was a life saver with Phoebe and I'm hoping it'll be the same with Ash. Rather than try to figure out what was causing the various problems I decided I had to get him onto Tracy's EASY (Eat, Activity, Sleep, Your time) routine and teach him how to fall asleep in his cot. Up until then I'd been jiggling him, which meant swaddling him, putting him in the sling and then bouncing on the bed or the fitball. Seriously, parents of young babies are ridiculous.

Until about a week ago Asher was only pooing once every four or five days and sometimes he would seem a bit uncomfortable with it. Last Monday it had been so long since he'd pooed that I couldn't even remember when it was. Then lo and behold, he did the hugest poo ever (which fascinated Phoebe so much she stood at the end of the change table watching and providing a running commentary) and has pooed at least once a day all but one day since. I never thought I'd be happy to have a baby who poos every day, but there you go. I am getting a bit over rinsing all the nappies though, especially as Phoebe keeps having little accidents in her knickers too. We had four today in a 3 hour outing to the beach. I was somewhat fed up by the end of it.

By Friday I was happy that he wasn't constipated nor did he have a runny nose or a cough, plus I'd read enough of the book to start implementing some techniques. I started to put him down in the portacot in his own room, which now has a black-out blind, for his daytime naps. I have him on a four hour EASY routine, the timing of which always depends on when he gets up for the day. The easiest way to keep him in this routine is to put him to sleep two hours after he last woke up, give him about 20 minutes of quiet time to wind down before sleep time, go in and re-settle him if he wakes after 45 minutes so that he has about 1 1/2 - 2 hours of sleep. Then feed him when he wakes up. Bedtime is generally easy and always has been. He tends to fall asleep at the breast. But daytime naps were getting harder and harder. I use the Baby Whisperer Pick Up, Put Down technique and patting to get him to sleep. I still wrap him but realise I should probably stop that now, especially as the other day he woke himself up by rolling onto his tummy. Thankfully his arms had escaped the wrap. I have to hold his legs down whilst I'm patting him because they go crazy and disturb him. He's so active at the moment.

Pick up, put down basically entails picking up your baby, if he's crying, and cuddling him (I pat his back too) until he stops, then putting him straight back in his cot. Tracy also recommends limiting the time you hold him for and decreasing this as he gets older. So a baby Ash's age shouldn't be held for longer than 4 or 5 minutes. If he's still crying I just put him down and then pick him straight back up again. Most of the time he's just in his cot and I'm patting him though because he seems to have more of a wind-down cry than a worked up cry. That's his nature though. He's such a happy chilled out boy.

It's early days so I'm not sure yet if it's working but his wake up times are getting later and we've only had one 2am party since starting and that lasted one hour rather than two. (A "party" by the way is where Ash is apparently wide awake in the middle of the night and babbling away. I generally just leave him in his cot until he gets upset then try to settle him. I think these will bother me less once he moves to his own room. Which is on the agenda to happen soon.) Most days he seems more settled. I've been dream-feeding him around 10 or 11 at night and mostly he's only woken once since then but is then up for the day around 5-5.30. Previously he was waking at 4am and not really going back to sleep. I'd try for a while, then Toby would either take over or get up with him at 5am, then bring him back to me at 7am for a feed and a nap. That's all changed. Last night he woke up twice after his dream feed but he had a good feed and went back to sleep both times. The last feed was at 4am which meant he wasn't hungry when he woke at 6.30. That kind of put his routine out a bit but not too badly. Hopefully this will soon result in more sleep for me.

There are a few challenges with this however. Firstly, the dream feed. Most nights, like tonight, staying up until 10am is a bit exhausting but I can't feed him much earlier as it's too soon after his bedtime feed. So sometimes I go to bed early and set my alarm for 11ish. I don't know whether the chopping and changing of times of this feed is confusing for him.

Secondly, the morning nap is a right pain in the proverbial. I wasn't a fan of the 5am starts but then I wasn't the one getting up with him and I actually got quite a nice nap between 5 and 7. Then his morning nap was over by 9am and we could get up and out for the day after that. Now, I find we're rushing around trying to get out of the house by 8 or 8.30 depending on when he's due for a sleep, so that he can sleep in his car seat/pram and we can still get out and do things and make appointments. Otherwise I'd have to put him down then wake him. Or we'd get stuck in the house until 10 or 11am. Which is no good when Phoebe has a swimming lesson at 10am, for example.

There's a little more to it but that's it in a nutshell. It's still a work in progress but watch this space

As for food, it's fair to say I'm still a fan of baby-led weaning. I tried a bit of mushy stuff with Ash. I don't really know why. I think I felt conflicted. For some reason I thought I should be trying him on solids but I knew he wasn't ready. I know that's not why he was waking in the night as he was sucking a bit then falling back to sleep. He couldn't sit up unaided, couldn't feed himself. All the signs I use that a baby is ready. And he really wasn't too impressed with the whole rice cereal thing. Can't blame him. It's so bland. Most of it came straight back out of his mouth. He was a bit better when I fed him a bit of avocado. But in the last few days he's got better at sitting and his hand-mouth coordination has improved significantly. So when we sat down to a roast dinner on Sunday, and I hadn't prepared any food for him, I started giving him bits and pieces. He had zucchini (corgette), carrot, broccoli (which went straight onto the floor) and lamb. I doubt he ate much but then he wasn't eating much anyway. At least this way he was improving his motor skills, had control over what he was putting into his mouth, seemed to be enjoying it and I could enjoy my dinner too. So, pureeing definitely isn't for us. It's time-consuming for me in terms of preparation and actually feeding it too him, and far less fun for him.

Well, I've a lot more to talk about and about a million more posts in my head but I'm tired and hungry so I'm off for a quick snack and then bed. Just need to figure out when I'm going to do this dream feed. And when exactly is this so called dream feed going to stop him from waking every three hours after it? If it doesn't work soon I'm going to give it up as a dumb idea.