Tuesday, 1 May 2012

16 Weeks Old

MUMMY

I have been putting off writing this blog post for a few weeks now. Such an enormous amount has happened since the last entry that I either have to write a tome to do those experiences justice or I have to trivialise matters and try to identify a small subset of the so many things that I want to tell you about. I don't have time to do the former and I would really prefer not to do the latter but that's the only choice really.

So many things have happened because literally every day something new happens or something changes. I wish I had been able to find time to blog every week because already I'm a bit like, oh, did that happen around 10 weeks, 12 weeks, or maybe it was about 14 weeks. And that's for things that have only just happened! You get so completely and utterly consumed by how your little one currently is at that precise moment and researching the current miracle answer for whatever the current challenge is that you can't remember a time when bubs was ever any different. But he was, he was really different and we were really different and whilst some days I think we haven't progressed at all from about 6 weeks, of course we have. We have progressed enormously, it's just that as you get over one challenge, another one slaps you in the face (sometimes you have hurdled the previous challenge but mostly, the new one is just bigger so the other one doesn't seem to matter anymore!). This happens virtually daily and I have decided that the metaphorical use of the word 'Rollercoaster' definitely came about due to parenthood.

It's funny, when people used to tell me that you forget the birth, you forget how hard and actually horrific at times things can be during the first few weeks, when I was going through it, I thought, are you kidding me? How could anyone possibly forget exactly what it feels like to endure your child screaming every day between about 6 and midnight? How could anyone possibly forget what it feels like to be pushing your child back and forth for several hours in the pram at 1am desperately trying to settle them off to sleep for the night having had no sleep at all the previous night? How could anyone ever forget the excruciating pain of breastfeeding about 3 days in and how horrible it was making the decision to introduce formula? How could anyone forget what it felt like to cry every day, several times a day for about three weeks straight?

Well, the really weird thing is that you do forget. You forget because the current stage you are at is so all-consuming (and still terribly challenging and exhausting) that you don't really have room to remember the details of any of the other stages. I know they happened. I know they happened because I wrote about them in the blog but I don't really remember them anymore. And when, as I often do, I feel like I haven't come anywhere at all in terms of dealing better with motherhood and finding it less challenging, I have to remind myself that in fact we have come on leaps and bounds - me and my little munchkin. I have to remind myself that not only do I no longer cry every day, I don't even cry once a week any more. In fact I haven't cried about how hard I am finding motherhood for about 5 or 6 weeks. I still find many days extraordinarily challenging to get through sometimes but I have to remind myself that they aren't all like that anymore and that some days, the days when I get a bit of sleep (which are nowhere near as frequent as I need them to be), I absolutely love every single second I spend with my boy. I have to remind myself that when I get those enormous heart-melting smiles that I get every day and feel like my whole world has filled up with love and fluffy things that I had never had that feeling before my little sausage was born and that it would have been a tragedy if I hadn't got to experience it.

And so it goes on and each day things get a little better and a little easier and one day I'll have a bad day with Chubby Cheeks and realise that it is the first bad day we've had for ages.

I remember back in about week 6 when people would talk about this magic time around the week 12 / 13 sort of mark - how everything just suddenly changes and things get so much easier. I remember thinking at the time that that was all well and good but that I couldn't possibly cope with another 6 weeks of more of the same and that in any case, what if the magic didn't happen for us? What if we had a baby who would be a pain in the @rse for months? What if it went on until he was 1 or even beyond? What if he never sleeps through the night? So, did the magic happen around then?  Well, yes and no. I started to get pretty efficient at making bottles and doing laundry and found ways to entertain him for ten minutes or so so that I could generally try to keep on top of the household chores. Dalton became properly interactive and heaps more fun at around the week 13 mark also. He became aware of his surroundings, very aware of who I was and very smiley. He started smiling nearly every time he saw me which was and is absolutely lovely. He also started working out that he had hands and feet and started actually reaching out to pull things and play with things which makes spending time with him so much more interesting. I started to understand him better (it's amazing how young you start to see baby's personalities come out - he's clearly going to be a real cheeky little monkey and a frustrated genius, just like his Mummy and Daddy!) and therefore he started to cry less and, generally because I can tell he is hungry before he starts crying, the only time he really cries now is when he is tired (this happens a lot sadly) and at night when he can't get a windy pops out. Basically, I started to become an expert in the vastly complicated topic area of Dalton and from being a complete novice who used to be terrified when I heard the phrase 'Mummy knows best' as I thought, 'WTF, of course I don't know best - I don't have a freaking clue what I'm doing' to thinking, 'Yes, Mummy does know best, thank you very much' and although I have made mistakes (early weaning - I'll get to this) and will continue to make many more with him through our lifetimes, I finally feel like I'm doing a good job with my little boy. So, in terms of daytimes with the boy and how I feel about things, things are SO much better and so much easier and the only real issue I have is the rather impactful issue of sleep deprivation!

I am SO jealous (to the point where I feel a little bitter about it) of people whose babies sleep through the night and nap easily in the day. Lack of sleep affects me really badly, more than most it seems as it brings on bouts of the M.E. and seeing as I haven't had a good night's sleep since the lad was born and probably for a while before he was born, I have felt in a constant state of feeling like a bag of spanners. This has naturally made me feel really low and hasn't helped with my relationships to those closest to me at times. There is no doubt that the way you feel about your baby in the daytime is directly affected by how much sleep you have had and those Mummies that I know at the moment that seem to be coping really well happen to have babies who sleep well and allow them to get the much needed rest new parents need.

For whatever reason I will never fully understand, Dalton fights sleep like I have never seen a baby fight it. He is so alert and interested in anything and everything and even when his eyes are all red and like saucers and his lids are dropping off, he'll be like, 'I'm so so tired, but wait, there's a light, what is it? Oh, my eyelids are closing. Hold on, what's that? It sounds interesting, I wonder what it is, oh, I'm so tired, hold on, I'm really tired, I mean, really, really tired, I think I'll tell the world about it .... Waaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhh'. He has never slept really brilliantly at night times and often at 3 in the morning, he lies on the nappy changing mat having shit through yet another babygrow, chuckling to himself and gurgling away to me. It's most annoying, I'm trying to do my angry face but you can't help but smile back when he is chuckling away. Then, when I eventually get him off to sleep, he almost always wakes again about 5 and really wants his day to start and I give in and either get up or bring him in to bed and force my boobie in his chops, even if he isn't really hungry, just so that I can lie down for another half an hour or so. So nights weren't fab anyway but then we entered a phase (there seems to be a new phase of something or other every few days / week) of the most horrendous nights. It was hell and I'm really annoyed with myself because I'm pretty sure I caused them. So, one of the challenges with these little mites is knowing when to start weaning them. There are a few signs to look out for but I talked myself in to thinking these signs were there from a purely selfish 'I desperately need more sleep' perspective and decided to start weaning Dalton at 14 weeks. This is very early. The earliest recommended time to start with today's guidelines is 17 weeks but the recommendation is to wait until babies are 6 months old. But, guidelines change all the time and when I was a wee nipper, the guidelines at that time suggested weaning at 12 weeks and I kept telling myself that me and all my friends seem to have not been affected by weaning at that age (but perhaps many babies were and parents just fought through it following those guidelines) and well, you know, Dalton's a big fat greedy bastard and all and hmm, I guess he can sort of hold his head up himself now and well, I guess he is kind of showing an interest in food, I mean, he certainly looks in my direction when I'm eating. Anyway, I convinced myself that he was ready and we started on baby rice a couple of weeks ago. For about three days, he slept right from his dreamfeed through to 5am and I thought, wow, this is the answer - finally, my little one will sleep better and then the REALLY bad nights started. Clearly the food was too much for my munchkin and about 4 days in, he started getting really constipated and was clearly in a lot of pain and this kept him awake for almost the entire night for quite a few nights in a row. And thus, I was awake almost the entire night with him screaming and rolling around in agony and the days that followed were awful as he was really tired and grouchy and I was really tired and grouchy and actually, these were very low points as I thought, my God, Wood, you really should be finding this much easier by now. I was getting really upset as all the stupid weekly / monthly emails I receieve as a hangover from signing up to lots of things when I was pregnant would say things like - 'by now, your little one will be smiling all the time and is probably sleeping through the night, blah blah blah' - when we were having the worst time ever and it was really getting me down. Anyway, we stopped weaning all together about 4 days ago as I decided that if he woke 2 - 3 times during the night but it was just for milk and he went back to sleep, this was SO much better than him screaming in pain all through the night. And, as I write this, and things change every day so I never like to get too hopeful, we have had two really good nights where the little guy has woken around 4am for a small feed, gone back to sleep with little trouble and then slept right through until 7am - which he has never done. So, today, I feel good and if the little guy can continue with nights like this, my, my, what a difference it will make to my outlook. Ron has been very appreciative of my better mood the past two days as well!

So, on the whole, if nights keep improving, things are good, things are great really actually. There's no doubt that I miss a lot of the things I used to do and I really miss doing things on my own but I feel so blessed to have such an amazing little character as a son and it makes me a little teary every time I think about him and how scrumptious he is. I really couldn't have asked for a cuter, funnier little chap so I can't wait to get to know him more as he turns in to a little man and we can have some proper conversations.

With regard to weaning, I was silly. I wasn't ready, he wasn't ready and the whole thing was a silly idea. I have now bought all the things I need. I have read Annabel Karmel (the weaning God)'s book on weaning and we will put the high chair together and do this properly. And we will do it when Dalton really is ready. Because he is such a large baby, I forget sometimes how young he is and that his digestive system is no more mature than any other 16 week old baby. Just because he looks like he really wants a beer and a pork pie, doesn't necessarily mean he does.

It's a very exciting time at the moment actually, as every day, Dalton does / learns something new. I wouldn't want to miss a single moment of this. First he found his hands (it's hilarious watching him inspect them as he realises that he is actually controlling their movement - it's like a form of baby Tai Chi) and then the other day, he realised he had feet and that he could control them ...


and then there was the first time he learnt to bounce / Irish dance (which he loved!).



and, goodness, I have so many videos of him doing new things, I really could bore you senseless with them but I do still have some understanding that no one finds my child as interesting as me and my very direct family do so I won't upload them all but these things, these are the things that make it all worth while and smiles like these ...


... make my heart melt every day and remind me how very lucky I am. I don't know how we made such a handsome child, Ron and I, but we really did, he's got a smile that could light up the whole world and a chuckle that would make even the grumpiest of people chuckle back.

So, where we're at right now, today, and tomorrow could be different, is that bless him, my little boy has started to become very very aware of his surroundings and who Mummy is in the last few days. So much so that if he can't see me he thinks I have disappeared from existence and he gets ever so upset. He's been very clingy and a little screamy if anyone other than me tries to hold him or take him for a walk so whilst it's really quite cute, it's making it a little harder again to get anything done in the house. I have to try to sneak away without him seeing me if I want to get something and then he's OK but as soon as he turns around and sees I'm not there, the lip starts to quiver (and trust me, it's a lip quiver that would break any heart!) and then the tears start to flow. I'm hoping it's just a phase as I really want to be able to go and do things on my own every now and then and leave the little chap with other people for a few hours to keep my sanity. I did manage to go for a swim yesterday which was my first afternoon away from him since he was born but he was a little upset about the whole affair so I'd like soon to be able to leave him without feeling guilty about it.

It wouldn't be a blog entry without briefly discussing how fat my little porker is! He is truly enormous and weighed in at 19lbs at 15 weeks. He's bursting out of his 6 - 9 month clothes now and generally is the size and weight of most 9 month olds. My back is killing me and I don't think it (along with the rest of my body) will ever be the same again. It's tricky though. There's a real gap in the market for large babies as Dalton is too big to fit in most things his age and yet the next size up requires your little one to be able to sit on their own (bath seats for example) so there's been quite a bit of Amazon-purchasing trial and error to find things that just so happen to be a little bit bigger. I'm an expert now on things for large babies by the way so should you find yourself blessed with a real chunker also, I am THE fountain of all knowledge in this area.

The poor fella grew out of his bumbo long before his neck muscles were ready for it (his thighs are big enough to rival even mine) and we discovered that the Mamas & Papas Snug is considerably larger and he fits in it like a dream. Here he is looking smug in his Snug.



I was reflecting yesterday on what a challenge this whole thing has been and, at times, a bit of a traumatic shock and thinking that whilst I wouldn't have wanted anyone to tell me parenthood was all doom and gloom when I was excitedly awaiting the arrival of my little Shrimp, I do wish a good friend had sat me down and said, Wood, there are some great times ahead but there are a load of hard times and let me tell you a little about some of them. I got to thinking, what would I say to a pregnant first time Mum? What do I wish someone had said to me? So I decided to write a letter to a pregnant first time Mum, I'll call her Maggie. I don't know anyone called Maggie but if I did, this is what I would say to her .... Dear Maggie.

Anyway, I will bid you farewell for now and write again in a few weeks when I have something significant to say and I can find the time to say it. Until then, love to you all and all you Mummies out there, you are all heroes, every single one of you. This really IS the hardest job in the world.


DALTON

Greetings! It's been a few weeks since I have written to you. I have to say, life's been full of ups and downs so far. I've had the most terrible pains in my tummy lately and they've really hindered my sleeping patterns, not that I have a pattern yet, mind, but it's been most frustrating as I want to be asleep, really I do. Things seem to have improved over the past few days though so here's hoping I can finally get some kip.

I find the world fascinating! So many bright colours and sounds, sometimes I don't know where to look. Sometimes Mummy gets frustrated with me when she is feeding me and I'm looking round the room, not focusing on the matter at hand. Mummy doesn't like it when people don't do what she wants them to do! She doesn't quite know what she's in for! I'm a bit like Daddy and I do what I want when I want. I think he calls it 'being a free thinker'.

Mummy keeps disappearing! One minute she is there and the next minute she's gone. It's very scary. I hope she will stop leaving me on my own, I'm only a little person and I like constant attention please.

Anyway, I have lots of new things to learn and do so I need to get back to them but I'll write again soon and let you know how I'm getting on.

Ta ta for now. Big big cuddles.


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