Saturday, 7 July 2012

6 Months Old


Once again, I have been wanting to write a post for so long and not been able to find the time and now as I sit down to write one am I struggling to know where to begin as an unbelievable amount has happened since I last wrote. In fact, it feels like a million years ago since I last wrote and as though I am not even about to write about the same little boy because he has changed so much from 4 months old - mostly in a good way.

I wrote in my last entry how we didn't really have a magic turning point around the 12 - 13 week point as so many people do and it felt like we were starting to have one around 16 weeks. At the time, you never know if it is just a short phase and you will then be regressing once again (this felt like it was happening consistently every time I thought we were turning a corner up to 16 weeks) but I can honestly say, two months on, that 16 weeks was a major turning point for me and the little man.

I remain absolutely staggered at how tiring and exhausting being a Mummy is and what incredibly hard work it is and I think I probably always will but the rewards get greater every single day and whilst we still have rough days (mostly because of the rough nights and how much they affect me), on the whole, I really love spending time with my boy and often, when it's just me and him and we are doing something like having breakfast together, I have a little cry at how beautiful, amazing and full of character he is and how much he makes me smile and laugh every day and how lucky I am to have him in my life.

I find every single day just amazing really, particularly now. I am in awe and wonderment at the new things these little people learn to do every day and it's a very special thing to watch. The difference between what the Shrimp can do now from just a couple of months ago is enormous and I never could have imagined before that one day he would be able to sit up properly in his high chair, that he would be able to hold a spoon and attempt (and I mean just attempt) to feed himself, that he would start to give Mummy a cuddle - a proper squeezy cuddle - and, well, so many more things. Literally, every day these babies do a new thing or experience their first something or other and it is utterly fascinating.

Generally, things definitely do continue to get easier as these munchkins get older as well. They get easier for a few reasons. Firstly, your baseline for what a normal day is completely changes and you start to get a little bit more used to the chaos that is now your life for the foreseeable future and you start to get used to the fact that seemingly never again will you get a lie in, a rest, finish a cup of tea, eat and shower without rushing, put make-up on and generally make yourself look presentable. Basically, your life just isn't about you anymore. You only really care about how well you're doing because this little person relies on you being OK. But that's OK, that's OK because of the second reason why things get easier. They get easier because your little one starts to give more and more back to you every day. I am very lucky in that I have been blessed with a child who seems to be very, very happy and very, very smiley and this makes the somewhat erratic and ever so noisy but thankfully not too frequent crying episodes so much easier to deal with. It really does make me melt every time the boy gives me a big grin and I gets lots every day. In fact it is very easy for me to get the boy to smile and I love finding new things that make him laugh (his current favourite thing is the word 'boobies'). Only me and Ron can really make him smile the way he does when it lights up the whole room but I love that as that's how it should be really.

And the third reason things get easier is that you just get better and more confident at doing this whole mum thing. Every day, I learn some new tips from other mummies or stumble across something that will make my life just that little bit easier and I get better and quicker at doing things. I've still got a long way to go but you know, I'm doing OK, I'm doing OK at being a Mummy and it gets a little bit less terrifying every day. I remember the first time I started making up the powdered formula bottles. It seemed like such an enormous faff and I thought, screw this, I can't do this every day on top of everything else but now I barely even notice I am doing it as I just have a routine that works without it seeming like a faff. You get this way with many things. I now have a pushchair accessorised to the max, for example - coffee cup / bottle holder, parasol, hamster shopping bags etc. I am missing only the go faster stripes and the double rudeboy exhaust pipe (currently on order from Amazon). All these things make your life just that little bit easier and more convenient and that helps tremendously.

Things are certainly not without their challenges though and for me, it is the same old story really with tiredness being a major factor in the 'Things that Need to be Improved' area. I have mentioned this before but lack of sleep seems to affect me more than a lot of people, particularly with the ME and how achy my body gets when I don't get enough sleep and, well, I haven't had enough sleep for a really, really long time. I have been quite patient with the whole boy sleeping through the night thing as I knew the little man wasn't going to do it too quickly but I really thought it would have started to happen by 6 months so that at least it was the norm and we have a few bad nights around the good ones that were the exception. We still haven't actually had a single sleeping all the way through the night. And my definition is not the same as those in some of the books that tell you a 7 hour stretch is sleeping through the night. If your munchkin goes to sleep at 7, 7 hours takes him through to just 2am. To me, this is not sleeping through. To me, sleeping through is me being able to sleep for a whole night so putting the boy down at 7 and him waking at 7. This is my utopia. And one that I just fear will never happen really. I had got to a reasonably comfortable place a couple of months ago when we dream fed the boy (you basically feed them while they are still asleep to 'top them up' for the night) at around 10:30pm every night and he would generally sleep until 5 or 6am. This was totally manageable for me but a few weeks ago, he started refusing the dream feed, so we stopped giving it to him and now he sleeps through until somewhere between 3 and 4am as a general rule. It could be a lot worse, I know this, but with Ron getting up for work at 5am and the boy then generally waking about 6 - 6:30am to start his day, I am pretty much awake every night now from 3 or 4am. I could handle this if it was just every now and then but the cumulative effects of this every night and how battered my body is from carrying around officially the heaviest boy in the entire world all day long is really really taking its toll on me and without doubt affecting my mood, which is a shame really as it has probably been a really long time since Ron has seen the cheeky, funny girl he fell in love with. That makes me enormously sad.

Anyway, so, sleep is a factor and I dearly wish we could get that one sorted because when I have slept, I can deal with anything the day throws at me and am a completely different person. People actually like me when I am well rested believe it or not! I am utterly useless at letting the boy cry so I really don't think I am one of these people who will be able to do the cry it out thing but if he still hasn't started sleeping through in a couple of months I am going to have to consider it as I don't think I can cope with going back to work on so little sleep. On the plus side, the boy is napping well in his cot now and goes down really easily at night (something I never would have thought possible just a few months ago). He's not great at napping in the pushchair and gets woken up at the slightest noise or by the slightest moment of stationariness but hey, you can't have it all.

The only other thing at the moment which I am finding a little challenging is that the poor little soldier has become very clingy to Mummy. I have worked quite hard to try to avoid this happening as I really wanted to be able to do my own thing every now and then (for the sake of my own sanity) so try to get other people to hold him and give him a cuddle as often as I can. In the earlier days, he was fine with anyone holding him but probably from when he was about 5 months old, if anyone holds him that isn't Mummy or Daddy, he is fine for about 3 minutes (even if I am stood right next to him) and then does the lip quiver and starts with some fairly inconsolable crying (which naturally completely breaks my heart to hear). My Mum comes up on a Monday afternoon and leaves Tuesday morning and the idea is that I go off for the whole afternoon and do something for myself like have a swim. Currently, it always seems to be a really rushed hour or two at the most and I really need to be able to have some me time in a more leisurely manner soon or I think I will go a little bit mad. Here's hoping the boy mans up soon and stops being such a wimp when Mummy isn't holding him. It's very sweet but come on lad, be a man and hold back the lip quiver.

We also started weaning when the boy was about 5 months old. This time it was very different to our disastrous false start around 16 weeks when he got terribly constipated (leading to some shocking nights for everyone) and I could really see he was ready this time. I am delighted to report that this is going really well. We had some constipation in the early days again but I started putting a bit of prune juice in his water at every meal and the magic potion is really working wonders. We haven't had a bullet stool since you will be pleased to know! I am very relieved though as I know lots of mummies who have found this a really stressful time and had very fussy eaters. The boy is a true Wood though and seems to love his food and I am actually really enjoying it. I love the way he waves his hands in the air and wiggles his little legs about in excitement. So sweet. Pears and toast (not together) appear to be his favourite thing and we're on to three fairly substantial meals a day now and have started to be able to eat some of the same things together (scrambled egg on toast, avocado, banana on toast etc.) which is really lovely and a huge improvement from the days when I used to have to eat a piece of toast standing up with the boy in the sling for my lunch, usually crying (me I mean), as it was the only way he wouldn't scream. God, that was awful.

So, as I say, most things definitely get easier and once Dalton can sit on his own and I don't have to hold him so much, I think that will make life easier too but there are some things that have become much more challenging too. Nappy and clothes changing time used to be quite an enjoyable experience but it is now really quite challenging and not so enjoyable at all! The boy wriggles and squirms around, grabbing every piece of clothing that goes anywhere near him making it really hard to dress him (and then of course he gets frustrated because he is only half dressed) and often I'm trying to put nappies on backwards with him rolling all over the place and well, it's not easy and I think this one is just going to get harder and harder until they are old enough to start dressing themselves. The other thing that is proving quite difficult at the moment is the milk feeds - particularly the breastfeeding (we are still alternating boob and bottle and I am really proud of myself for making it this far - it's a doddle now pain-wise, apart from when he uses me as a teething accessory, and my nipples are finally like bullets *sigh*) as Dalton is just so distracted by everything. I used to be able to watch the TV and catch up with things on my iPhone (aka my lifeline) but now I can't do any of that as the little nipper wants to look at everything and grab everything that is just out of his reach. Typically, if you give him the thing he was after, he doesn't want that thing anymore, he wants something else that is just out of his reach. This game just runs and runs!

Generally though, things are good. Really good. I really miss the things Ron and I used to do together and I really miss the way we used to be and the way I used to be in many respects but I wouldn't change anything for the world because the feeling I get every morning when I go in to the boy's room (even if it is stupid o'clock) and the little boy that Ron and I created gives me the most enormous grin in the world when he sees that it's me is just the most amazing feeling in the world. He's an adorable little chap and, whilst I appreciate I am incredibly biased, he really does seem to have the most awesome smile in the entire world!

We spend most of our time with the NCT ladies and I feel so lucky to have met them too as they truly are an amazing bunch of ladies. Genuinely, every single one of them is great and really supportive. Throwing 8 women together who don't know each other but have just one big thing in common isn't always going to work out so well but in this case it has and it's been quite an emotional experience we have shared together. I can't think of 7 other ladies I would rather have shared it with and I am sad that it ever has to end as we really are approaching the golden era now I think and I love experiencing it with them and watching all of their little men grow and change too. Damn you, work. What a shame any of us have to go back.

So, work lingers in the not too distant future now for me. I am intending to be back working in the office around the beginning of December when the boy will be about 11 months old. I am utterly dreading being away from him and I know I will feel like my right arm has been cut off (that's the one I do everything with) but I have to go back. Financially I have to go back but also for the sake of Dalton having a happy, balanced and sane Mummy I have to go back and actually, I think the boy will love nursery as he loves being around other babies so it will be great for him. Currently, I have submitted my flexible working request asking to return for just 4 days a week (with two of them being from home) and am waiting in suspense for the final decision. I hope they will agree to it as I won't be able to go back otherwise (with a 2 hour commute, I just wouldn't see Dalton on days I am working in the office and I am not prepared to do that any more than 2 days a week - that is already going to be more than hard enough). We'll see what they say but in some ways, I am looking forward to going back as I'm good at my job and it's nice to feel like you are doing something well and be told you're doing a good job (motherhood is, I'm afraid, a very thankless task). I am also relishing the thought of going to the toilet without an audience and having conversations about non-baby things and getting a hot coffee and being able to drink it before it goes cold. So, it's not all bad.

I thought I would just talk briefly also about how things are physically 6 months after the birth. Well, my body is battered if I am honest but that is more due to the sheer weight of my little unit and the strains of carrying him around a lot but the side effects from the birth are minimal for me. Obviously there was no war zone in the down below area as I ended up having to have a caesarean so the only real lasting effect is a small numb area still around the scar which lessens just that little bit every day and annoyingly an itchiness around the scar area but inside - inside so you can never get to it I mean. That's a little annoying but generally, not bad for having a little person cut out of me really. I'm still terrified of labour and giving birth naturally but if Ron ever lets me have little Wood no. 2 then I'd really like to try for a natural birth just to experience it so, we'll see what the future brings. My figure is surprisingly almost back to pre-pregnancy days (apart from the wider hips) as well. Being Dalton's Mummy keeps me surprisingly fit actually and apart from the excess skin that formerly formed my bump, which I guess will take a few more month's to restore itself, my tummy has almost gone back to how it was so not too horrific for 6 months on.

Now, once again, I have taken a million pictures and videos of the boy since I last wrote and there are so many more things I want to tell you about but I won't bore you with all the details and will just leave you with a few recent pictures of my sausage, The greatest sausage in the world (like a pepperami, only bigger).

Dalton and Grandma 'Beads'

Dalton and Daddy

Dalton on his new swing

Dalton in his inflatable ring

So, my final thought for this blog entry is one of happiness really. I may be tired (bloody exhausted actually) and I may look like I have been dragged through a hedge backwards on a daily basis but every night when I go to sleep at night, I go to sleep smiling, just thinking about how lucky I am to spend every day with such a wonderful little man and that makes me very happy.

I don't know what the next 6 months will bring but I know one thing, I'm looking forward to it enormously and can't wait to get to know my munchkin more and more every day.

I'll write again soon. For now, signing off and going to bed for an early Saturday night! Phew.

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