I started this blogging adventure with such gusto. What’s happened? I’ve gone from blogging 2-3 times a week to once a month. Thinking about it, it’s not just blogging that is falling by the wayside. When was the last time I did a craft activity with my boys? Or for that matter, actually thought about doing a creative activity?
All posts in a little MOTHERING
I have this up near the front door of our house (little man helped me do it, can you tell?)
Usually I smile when I read it, but it has made me feel a little sad today. It’s true that the thing I love most about my home, is who I share it with. For the next few months though my partner is not at home because he’s working away.
I fear that blog posts will be light on for the next two months. As well as my usual juggling trick of trying to keep balls in the air (Mothering, Working, Blogging, Swimming Lessons, Cooking,
Cleaning, Gardening) for the next little while i’ll be doing it on one leg!
Hope that you still pop in occasionally to read the little things I write. I love that you are here.
My littlest boy has grown so big he doesn’t fit in his baby hammock anymore, yesterday he moved into his own bed. I took this photo because it was one of the last times he was sleeping in the hammock. It was a tiny moment of peacefulness and quiet, which is not actually how my house has been feeling of late.
As well as the usual busyness of children and homemaking, I have been working on a new blog design, it’s the first time I have ventured into creating my own wordpress theme. I’m very excited to share the new look with you, I’m going to be testing it out in the next few weeks and no doubt there will be some transition issues, so please bare with me! My apologies in advance if everything suddenly looks a bit skew-wiff.
The exhaustion of having another baby has finally caught up to me. I felt like I was cruising along quite OK until just the last few weeks. I think it might be because both my kids are getting well after weeks of illness. Mister E has had tonsillitis and Baby D contracted pneumonia. Thankfully they are both on the mend but now that I have stopped to take a breath I feel I could collapse. I am trying to take things a bit slower and not fill every waking moment with things I want to do and things that must be done. (Hence the longer pauses between blog posts).
I have decided to slow down on my one-hundred-and-one crafty projects, for the moment anyway, until I get my energy back. A few different people in the last few weeks have said to me, gee you look tired. Hmmm, well yes, that’s because I am tired! Baby D is a wonderful baby, I couldn’t ask for a quieter, calmer more gentle little bub, but even happy babies are hard work. It’s the broken sleep that is getting to me, I hope I can get a good night rest soon, it was fourteen months before Mister E slept through the night, here’s hoping it’s not that long this time around.
I have slowed down with lots of projects but there is one that I have stopped doing that I wish I hadn’t. Writing a journal about my boys. When Mister E was born a friend suggested that I write down his birth story so that I wouldn’t forget any of the details. As soon as I could I wrote down his wonderful story and I kept on writing. Almost every day for the first year. When Baby D was born I started with his story and then wrote for a few weeks but it’s petered off and I haven’t written anything for months.
I have a little plastic box that fits into my handbag that contains my current journal and all the tools I need to embellish it. Watercolour pencils, brushes, my black artline pen, scissors, glue tape, photos and other bits. My favorite journal to write in is le cahier notebooks, they are sweet, simple and French and small enough to carry around. I had the idea that I could take my little box with me wherever I went and jot down little memories as they happen. Or I could sit in a café and sip my latté and create beautiful journal pages in quiet moments. That is a nice dream and is yet to happen, but I will keep carrying it around and hopefully will get into it again.
As one lovely reader commented, at least I have my blog for keeping memories.
Recently I have been thinking a lot about what makes a good day. Living with a toddler is rather unpredictable, from one minute to the next there could be tears and tantrums, or delightful smiles and wicked happiness. Some days I feel like I am just surviving, watching the clock and counting the hours until Daddy comes home to give me a break. Other days are ordinary, no major crisis but we are all a bit tired or grumpy or lacking energy. Every now and then we have a good day, even a great day. I have to wonder what is it that makes these great days, I wish I knew the formula, because I sure would like more of them.
I know there are a couple of prerequisites for a great day to have a chance at occurring. The children must be feeling well, no colds or earaches. The children (and mummy) must be well rested, a good night sleep and even a daytime nap. Good weather helps, sunshine and warmth to bath in outdoors. Our toddler needs to be feeling cooperative, no battles when mummy wants to feed him, dress him or wash him. If all these things exist simultaneously we have a recipe for a day of joy. We can play and laugh and share cuddles and make up silly songs and games and there are lots and lots of smiles. Sometimes we even have a few magic moments. Those little wondrous things that make you pause and take note and think, this is wonderful.
We had a great day this week when Mister E woke up happy and cheeky. I scooped him out of bed and we meandered into the kitchen in our pj’s and he looked up at the dial on the coffee machine and said ‘good morning smiley face!’ I laughed at his observation and our day just got better from there.
I took my mum to the airport today, we said farewell and I managed to hold back the tears, which is unlike me. Mum arrived two weeks before baby D was born. That was fourteen weeks ago! I can’t believe it has gone so fast, but it also feels like an eternity ago that I was pregnant.
I know I am blessed to have had my Mum here helping me for as long as she did. It wasn’t easy for her to be away from my Dad for that long time, they missed each other terribly and I feel a little guilty about that. I am going to miss having her here, she is such good company and so easy to be around. She’s calm and relaxed and generous and adores her family. It’s going to feel like there is a big hole in our little home where she has been the last few months.
I am going to miss all the help I had cleaning and cooking and running a household, but more than that I am going to miss having an extra person here who gave so much attention to my boys. I’ll miss listening to Nanny singing Yellow Submarine while Mister E was splashing in the bath. I’ll miss peering into his room to see them on the floor playing cars and train tracks. I’ll miss Nanny sitting in the rocking chair soothing Baby D to sleep. I’ll miss having someone here during the day to share the precious fleeting baby and toddler moments. Oh Mum, I’m going to miss you.
I am a little scared about how I will cope without her here. Someone gave me some good advice today, I am going to take each day one by one, and be kind to myself.
Every mother has her particular pieces of baby paraphernalia that she swears by that make life easier. The two items that I wouldn’t do without are the Miyo baby hammock and my sleepywrap.
There are a couple of reasons that I decided to get the hammock instead of a bassinet. I knew I wanted Baby D to sleep in our room, close enough for me to pick him up from where I sleep. (He feeds every two hours, it’s cold at night and I am not getting out of bed if I don’t have to!) We have a tiny room and there is no room for a bassinet or a cot. The hammock takes up no floor space, it’s suspended from the ceiling above our bed. It’s wonderful because I can gently bounce it and it lulls him to sleep, if he is a little unsettled I pop him in there and gently bounce it up and down and it soothes him within a few minutes. I can even lay in bed and bounce him, no pacing the halls at night like I did with my first boy. Plus, how romantic is a hammock, I love the concept.
My sleepywrap is what I use to carry him. I’ve tried lots of types of carriers and this is the only one that didn’t make my back ache. It’s just a long piece of stretchy fabric that you wrap around and tie in a knot to keep secure. Bub goes in and is all snuggled up against me I can hear him snuffling and snoring and feel him breathing. He’s so warm and I love having him close to me, I think he loves it too. Tonight he was a little unsettled, I snuggled him into the wrap and in a few minutes he calmed down. He has been sleeping beautifully for the last few hours. I managed to prepare and eat dinner, feed hi big brother, get him ready for bed, read stories and tuck him in and now I am on the computer, all with bub quiet and content and cosy in his cocoon. Magic.
Before I had a baby I had no idea that breastfeeding could be a challenge. After all isn’t it the most natural thing in the world? I had the picture in mind that I would simply cradle the tiny new baby in my arms and he would close his eyes move close to me and then, voila, baby would be suckling away quietly and lovingly. I remember with my first boy the first few days, being in the hospital and not getting the hang of feeding immediately. I was not prepared for the possibility that breastfeeding would be difficult. It just hadn’t occurred to me! He wanted to suck but I just couldn’t get him attached properly. As the days went on and I tried to master the art of ‘good attachment’ he was doing more and more damage to my nipples and it was excruciating. By the fourth day I was in so much pain, I had blood blisters and I had laser therapy to try and heal the cracked skin.
Before I had children I don’t think I ever saw a mother breastfeeding her child close-up. If I did I always felt a little uncomfortable, like I didn’t know where to look and I should avert my gaze. I think that is part of the problem of why I found it so difficult to get the hang of breastfeeding. I think I would have benefited from having been exposed to the art of breastfeeding.
After those first few days at the hospital with my first newborn I didn’t think I could go on trying to get him to feed. I so desperately wanted to be able to feed him but I didn’t think I could get it right. I asked every single mid-wife who came in the room to show me how to do it. They all had a different opinion and a different technique. Finally there was one midwife who showed me and it just made sense to me. After that experience I was determined to get breastfeeding right early on with Baby D .
It all came back to me with Baby D , when I tried to again to learn to feed. For the last few weeks I cringed at the thought of feeding. It was agony. My boobs were so full and rock hard, I had a sharp pain every time I pressed on them. If he didn’t latch on properly it felt like a stapler clamping down on my nipple. It literally made my toes curl. My shoulders ached from being hunched over and while he was on one side the other breast leaked milk everywhere and I was saturated in a few minutes.
It was so worth persevering, it has been a few weeks now, we have our rhythm and I adore feeding him. I get a warm rush of love flowing through my body when I look down at him, he is so content snuggled into me, taking long rhythmic sucks of milk. There is nowhere else in the world that could be more nuturing for him. After twenty minutes or so his whole body is relaxed, he is sleepy and he repositions himself so that his chubby little face is resting on me, I become his perfect pillow. It’s our time together, just the two of us, when I can stop and take a breath and adore him.
So that vision I had of mother and baby, snuggling together and sharing the intimate bond of feeding has transpired for me, it just took a lot longer than I thought, even the second time around!
It was my Mum’s birthday this week. She has just turned fifty-two. (Sorry mum, to put that out there, but you’re a young Mum, so I thought you wouldn’t mind). My mum’s mother, my Nanny, died when she was fifty-two. It is completely unfathomable to me that my mum lost her mother so young. My heart breaks to think of the void that would be left in my life and now the life of my children if she wasn’t here with us.
My mother is a beautiful person. She has a calm and gentle spirit and in turn it makes me calm to be around her. Seeing her with my children brings me endless joy. To see how much they adore each other and how much time she has for them. It also saves my sanity, that because she is here I can sleep during the day after late nights with a grizzly little boy and a hungry little newborn. The grandparents saved our sanity today. They let us recuperate after a very difficult night.
We had the worst night we have ever had with our boy last night. He was awake and screaming from 7pm until 4am. Not just crying, but screaming. I was at my breaking point. I didn’t know what to do. He had no symptoms of illness and he’s too little to be able to tell me what is wrong. So I am playing a guessing game all night. Is he sick with something ordinary like a cold? Is he sick with something much worse and life-threatening and should I take him to hospital? Is it psychological, because Baby D is here and he’s not coping? Is he faking it? Is it because he’s been up for six hours past his bedtime and he’s ridiculously over tired? I ran through all these things in my mind while he was screaming at me. I couldn’t do anything to help him. I picked him up and he still screamed, I put him down, I ignored him, I gave him panadol, I put on some dvd’s, I gave him to his father, to his grandparents, he still screamed.
He only wanted me, but I could not ease his distress. I got the the point that I just couldn’t cope with the situation and I took him to the emergency room. I was desperate for someone else to see his pain, and see my pain and help me to do something. Even though I knew we would sit there for hours and they would just check him and send him home. I needed someone to share the pain with, to tell me that he was going to be OK, or to give me some solution. I kept thinking, how do I find a solution to a problem, when I don’t know the problem! I had a lot of sympathetic glances in the waiting room. I was so upset to see him in the state he was that I just had to cry. It’s my way to relieve stress, I cry.
I was anxious that we would be there all night, and that I needed to be home to feed Baby D . I had expressed one bottle but he is a hungry boy and I knew he’d need more than that. My first experience of being torn between serving the needs of both my babies. After a few hours at the hospital they said he has a mild infection and gave him some strong pain relief. I brought him home and he cried for three more hours and then passed out from exhaustion. Even after he finally went to sleep he still woke every half an hour and we had to settle him.
Finally it was the light of day, after the longest night I have had in ages. My Mum and my Dad who is here visiting too, took both the boys so I could sleep all afternoon. If they hadn’t been here I don’t know what kind of state I would be in now. I would be a zombie. I am so thankful for grandparents. I love them for being there for me when I need them.
For the most part D is a very content little baby. It’s early days, I know, but I am surprised at how natural it feels to have a little one again. After the joy of finding out I was pregnant I spent the rest of my pregnancy feeling terrified about having another baby. Most of the time I feel overwhelmed with having a toddler. On the challenging days, of which there are many, I despaired at the idea that we were going to be doubling the challenges when the new baby arrived. Being a mother doesn’t come easily to me. I am plagued with self-doubt and constantly wonder if I am doing it right. I wonder if mothers have always felt this way? I am sure I am not alone in lacking confidence in my skills as a parent. Did women in the past second-guess themselves constantly or did they just follow their instincts and get on with it?
I do feel much more confident with the second bub, because I have learnt so much about babies from my first one. It’s toddlerhood that is such an enormous challenge. It’s all still a learning curve with my first boy, I haven’t had any practice with how to handle a two year old. Some days it’s so hard to keep it together.
I realised a few days ago how raw I am feeling, emotionally and physically, after childbirth. Master E was a bit restless at home, so I thought it would be a nice idea to take him to one of the indoor playgrounds nearby. I figured he could run around and keep himself entertained and I could sit quietly with the baby and watch him play, and we’d all be happy. I left in tears. It wasn’t any one thing in particular that made me upset. It wasn’t the shrieking, squealing eight year olds running like a stampede around my toddler. It wasn’t the loud thumping music, or even that they played ‘who let the dogs out’ four times in the hour that we were there. It wasn’t the fluorescent lights beaming so bright I wanted to hide behind my sunglasses. It was all of these things that made me realise that I was in an environment so far removed from what I needed at that moment. I needed to be with my newborn, somewhere quiet, somewhere dark and warm. Somewhere calm. I started to think about how it was up to me to create the best environment for my kids. Of course the manic indoor playground was fine for a toddler, but it was so wrong for baby D. Having made this choice to be there and realising it was the wrong one made me feel despondent. All of a sudden this otherwise meaningless episode triggered a feeling in me. The enormity of the responsibility of motherhood occurred to me. I felt so overwhelmed and I cried and cried. I spent the rest of the day crying.
I hope I can look back on it in a few weeks and chalk it up to hormones. I few days later I feel better. Until I have another day after a night of sleep deprivation and it all goes pear shaped again.