The moment my life changed forever

I totally hate how I look in this picture.

May 2011. In labour. No idea.
May 2011. In labour. No idea.

But it’s one of the most significant photos of my whole life. This was taken on Mother’s Day 2011 sitting on a bench on the coastal clifftop walk in Vaucluse, just up the road from the famous Gap. I look like shit because I am just not photogenic, but also because I am in labour with my son, my first child. I was 32 and had been having six minute apart contractions since 6am that morning. This was taken, well, sometime towards dusk, which is probably about 5:30pm at that time of year in Sydney. My son was born the following evening around 8pm. My life changed forever.

Now, people always say, oh yes, children are a big commitment but also a joy, your life changes forever, bla bla bla. You can’t conceptualise it and you just nod and smile and agree and maybe roll your eyes when they’re not looking. You KNOW your life is going to change. And even after it does, you think you KNOW just what you’re in for. But I’m here to tell you that you don’t. You have no IDEA.

I’m writing this nearly three and a half years later. My second child, a girl, is ten weeks old. I have no IDEA how I got through this morning. It’s freaking hard. It just is, and I make no apologies or excuses. Older, more experienced people have told me how straightforward it was for them, how they just swaddled their perfect little baby and laid it down in its old-fashioned cot with the sides up in a bedroom containing nothing else and it went to sleep for two hours during which they did all the housework and cooked meals for the next year and had a cup of tea and planned out the week. Yeah, great, nice work, good for you. That’s not how it is for mothers today. Well that’s not how it is for me, anyway.

My grandmother on my mother’s side had ten children. Her third child, a boy, died in infancy during the war. I’m not sure why or how. But let’s examine my maternal grandmother’s situation for a moment: she was either pregnant or breastfeeding for 20 years. She was a migrant, with half her children being born in Serbia and Germany and the other five here in Australia. She was poor. She grew most of the family’s food because of this. She had her babies in hospitals but could only stay a night after a birth because her other children needed her at home. My grandfather got up for work at 4am six days a week and was home after the children were in bed. No one but my grandmother cooked and cleaned, she did it all. Her name was Elisabeth and she was a Capricorn who never wanted children and didn’t marry until she was 23, virtually an old maid in 1937.

How did she do it? I have no idea. But I will offer one theory: life was entirely different. There were no computers, they never had a tv or other technology invading their lives. They didn’t even have a washing machine or fridge in the beginning. They ate from their farm and there was a purity of existence that has to be created with much effort these days. Somehow, I don’t know how, this lifestyle made for a gentler, more harmonious life. And babies who didn’t demand feeding 24/7, who wouldn’t sleep for more than a few minutes without being held.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am very much of an attachment parenting mindset and I believe that it’s completely normal for young babies and children to resist sleeping for long periods away from their mothers or carers. It’s basic physiology, part of being human. However. I’m not completely convinced that the reason babies don’t settle, the reason they cry, is due to the lack of attachment. I think there is too much stimulation in life today. Not only does all this distraction take up the time and space a parent might otherwise have had free, it changes the way we relate to each other, and to our children.

I don’t think there’s a solution to this, I think I’ve made a conscious choice to live in this way, and knowing my lifestyle impacts my babies in this way doesn’t make me want to change. I am however willing to continue on a “natural” parenting path as although it is a lot of work, I couldn’t do it any other way. I won’t be doing any kind of sleep training or controlled crying. I won’t be arbitrarily stopping breastfeeding and introducing formula. I won’t be forcing my kids to sleep in their own rooms if they don’t feel comfortable doing so. I won’t be pureeing meals and spoon feeding at some random age determined by some doctor.

I lie here in the dark at 9:30pm trying to slip my nipple out of my baby’s mouth without waking her so I can go back downstairs and watch Breaking Bad and I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s just what mothering is for me. And it’ll all be over in the blink of an eye.

Winding down to labour

It’s been a while, over a month in fact, since I’ve posted. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to or had nothing to say; the opposite is true in fact. I’ve had lots to say! And some of it not appropriate for this forum, not yet anyway. But I feel I need to post just for my own record-keeping about this pregnancy as it’s coming to the end now and I’ve barely documented anything about it.

A second pregnancy feels quite different from a first. Physically, the main difference is that this baby has been very confidently head down from about 30 weeks, unlike the Dude who was flipping and spinning right up until he emerged. So that’s interesting, dull aching pelvic bones and this sort of stiffness akin to having done a two-hour intensive gym workout after a period of dormancy. The other physical aspect is that my general health has been quite different this time round, much better in a lot of ways I think. It’s weird because I’m three years older, I’m fatter, I get less good quality sleep and do less physical activity. But this time round I’ve had no swollen ankles, which I had from about 23 weeks last time. I’ve been taking spirulina throughout this pregnancy and I think that’s helped maintain my health this time round as I discovered it only at the end last time and I remember what a big difference it made when I started taking it, even just to my energy levels. I’m also taking cod liver oil and my b vitamin which I’m not totally happy about relying on but it really does help me feel energised and stops me getting sick or run down. I don’t take prenatal vitamins as a rule as I think supplementing with real ‘foods’ is much better and synthetic vitamins have their place but it’s better to get your nutrition from real food supplements or better yet, just real food. I struggle to do the latter as both Mr Chewbacca and the Dude aren’t big salad eaters so my food choices put me in the minority.

I’ve had lots of movement throughout the second half of this pregnancy, which has surprised me to be honest as I thought the Dude was an unusually busy baby in utero but this one is just as active. I think having had a hard head pressing on my pelvis and cervix for the past few weeks makes it particularly uncomfortable. I find sitting for long periods really uncomfortable and baby just hates it, wriggles and stretches until I stand up or sit in a higher, more upright position.

The other bizarre thing happening is that apparently I’m still producing breastmilk. I can’t be sure, and I’m beginning to think it’s changed to colostrum now, but there’s definitely something coming out as the Dude has been having boobie most days recently and I can hear him swallowing and guzzling for ages. I tried to express some in the shower the other day and being completely inept at expressing didn’t really get much out but what I saw looked to be very watery, not thick white milk. I have to just go with the flow on this one, as I’m sort of in no man’s land given that most other women I know who’ve fed through pregnancy have had their milk disappear at some point before the new baby arrives. I know I’m super awesomely efficient at producing milk but it’s just getting a bit ridiculous! Although I was grateful for it recently as the Dude came down with a cold and was really miserable so boobie sorted that out easily. I just wish he wasn’t so obsessed with my boobs! He has recently taken to demanding he showers with me every morning, which is fine, I know he’ll get sick of it eventually, and it means he actually gets clean without me having to put much effort in. But I just can’t be topless and within his reach! He immediately grabs at my breasts and says, ‘that your boobies!’ very excitedly. Then when I tell him to stop he’s like, ‘no mummy, I just have to count: one, two!’ He has to count them. Sometimes he counts to three or four or five.  It’s funny but when I’m bending down to dry him off it’s just impossible to avoid his grabbing at me. I don’t think he realises they’re not his to grab. Anyway, he’s not stopping feeding any time soon and I’m really not sure how I feel about that. I certainly never planned to tandem feed and the thought of it is a little difficult to come to terms with, but I will see what happens.

I’m publishing this post as is, although I hadn’t finished it. It was written on 16 August and I’d been meaning to come back and finish it but just never did. And then I had a baby. So time to give another update…

Life in the rainy city

That’s what Melbourne has always been known as, this city of four seasons in one day where it just rains at random. After three months here I’ve seen a tiny bit of that but nothing like what I expected. Having been here a number of times before, I’ve certainly experienced what people talk about, with a prime example being Christmas time in about 2004 where it was drizzling and 18 degrees on Boxing Day and then about 35 and scorching sun the following day. Unlike most people, Mr Chewbacca and I have been really looking forward to the rain and cold and were actually quite disappointed with Melbourne’s efforts on both fronts to begin with. Now it’s starting to cool down a bit and it’s lovely.

Somehow I’m managing to keep really busy. I think it’s got something to do with having a full on toddler but it’s also because I’ve really been making an effort to get involved with as many parenting and play groups as I can. I’ve just started taking Dude to a formal playgroup once a week which, although he had some crazy meltdowns the first time, he declared he loves, so we’ll look forward to next time. It’s a Steiner playgroup which is quite a bit different from any other formal one I’ve taken him to. When I say formal, I mean one that has a trained leader who involves the children with songs and activities, usually with a cost attached, and a schedule adhered to for the two hours. I was in two minds about this group, as I’m still not totally sure how Steinerised I want the Dude’s education to be and whether it’s really what would suit him. Mr C isn’t too impressed with anything Steiner, although to be fair he hasn’t really looked into it and just knows bits and pieces. There are some weird aspects that, even though it’s what my early education was focused on, I’m not sure whether I am too keen on the Dude being exposed, but what I do like is the rhythm, the wholesomeness and the wholistic approach to learning and creativity. Anyway, it’s been interesting, and now the Dude is enjoying it I think we’ll at least continue for this term and then see how we go.

I’ve made most of my connections via social media, facebook mainly, which I don’t feel totally comfortable with but I am grateful to have that tool to make my transition much easier.We have one weekly playgroup that we really love and Dude seems to get along well with most other kids he meets, or if he doesn’t connect he just plays by himself. I’ve also finally become a fully fledged member of the Australian Breastfeeding Association who do some awesome things for women and babies. But secretly the reason I became a member was so I could go to meetings and not feel like I was taking advantage not being a paid member. Plus I figure given I’ve been breastfeeding for almost three years now and will soon be taking on a whole new person to feed, I should acknowledge that in some positive way. Actually scrap all that, the main reason I joined was because I know I’m going to find like-minded people through the ABA. That’s not to say everyone who is involved with the organisation is ‘alternative’ or a natural parent or whatever. Far from this. There are members who exclusively formula feed or mix feed or haven’t yet had a baby to feed. The most fantastic thing about this organisation is the philosophy behind it which is clearly solidly backed up by leadership. I know from years of working with bureaucracies that without good leaders who live the organisation’s values on a daily basis, it’s misery and bedlam to work there. The ABA welcomes everyone with open arms, everyone is kind and open and genuine. Being a really awkward introvert, I find it so hard to slot into pre-formed social circles and especially given I’ve got some values that don’t always gel with the mainstream, meeting new people and feeling a part of something is a big challenge. I went to my second ABA meeting last week and it was absolutely freaking fantastic. I was there nearly the full two hours and really enjoyed it so much. I didn’t want to leave! And neither did the Dude.

Aside from the various playgroups and meet ups I’ve been immersing myself in, I’ve managed to catch up a fair bit with my closest friends here in Melbourne and that’s been great. It certainly does help knowing a couple of people. The other spare time I have has been taken up by appointments relating to the pregnancy. Doctor referrals, scans, midwife appointments, prenatal yoga… That has been good as it’s helped me get a feel for not only the geography of the city and surrounds (due to driving all over the place) but also the feel of the people in this city. I know I’m probably biased but I swear there is this lovely, kind, generous, open vibe here in Melbourne. Yeah, you get dickheads, don’t get me wrong (our neighbours and the freaky people across the road are in that category), but generally speaking I’ve had nothing but great experiences dealing with the people of Melbourne.

I must go off on a tangent here briefly and mention the incredible referral appointment I had with my doctor yesterday. Yes, I’m now referring to him as MY doctor. Now for anyone who knows me, you’ll know I have never once used this phrase in my entire life. I’ve never ‘had’ a doctor and usually only go to them when I really need a prescription, which isn’t very often as most things can be healed at home without paying out for pharmaceuticals and guesswork. But this guy, wow, I’m bowled over by him! The first time I went to him was upon recommendation from the midwifery practice I’m using to have this baby. I knew he must be fairly open-minded as he practises out of the midwifery clinic sometimes and signs lots of referrals for homebirths. We got talking briefly about breastfeeding and he actually commended me on having stuck with breastfeeding this long, despite my aversions. I was quite impressed! This time, I went for another referral for something a little more difficult to explain and he was so kind and understanding and said it was an absolute privilege for him to be able to refer me and that he was humbled that I’d been able to talk to him about the issue! I told him I wouldn’t feel very comfortable speaking to the majority of doctors I’ve met in the past but that he is different and I feel comfortable with him. He actually gave me a hug and was quite emotional about it! I was amazed and really quite elated. There are great doctors out there, they do exist!

Anyway, the most wonderful thing about being here in Melbourne, even though there is a lot more work to do in order to feel totally at home, is this feeling of genuine love for the place. There have been moments, one at the museum the other week, where I just stop for a moment and look up at the buildings and soak in the vibe and I genuinely like living here. I don’t know when I’ve ever had that feeling. Or at least if I have, it’s been a long time.  Probably since living in London. I did try to give Sydney a chance, really I did, but my heart just wasn’t in it and I never felt any connection to the place. I don’t know that I feel a huge connection to Melbourne, as I’m realising more and more that I am really not connected to Australia in general, but what I do feel is an appreciation of where I am. I’m glad to be here. There is a lot of goodness to soak up in Melbourne and I’m really looking forward to continuing to soak it up for however long I am here.

Toddler tantrums and two types of weaning

We’ve been going through some huge stuff with the Dude lately. Anyone who knows him will know he is a full on kid, really intense and wilful anyway, and quite unpredictable. I’ve never had much success pinpointing the cause of any particular problem, whether it’s physical or behavioural or emotional, and I think this is due to his nature. He is complex. That’s okay, so am I, and so is his dad in many ways. But it makes parenting him an extra big challenge most of the time.

I took him to a new playgroup yesterday morning and after a really difficult night the night before he was a bit out of sorts, to say the least. He spent about 70 per cent of the time having meltdowns and crying and screaming during the playgroup. The other mums and playgroup leader were extremely understanding and kind, gently offering him ways to be included and making efforts to include me as we are brand new to the group. After my initial tactic trying to coax him from his corner to join the circle of children, I sat down and ignored him and eventually he came over and sat with me, finally joining in a little bit of rough play with a boy of similar disposition. After nearly three years of parenting this crazy child, I am pretty good at remaining calm and giving him just the right amount of time and space to come back down to earth. Today was a massive challenge, though, as he was so unmanageable and screamed during times when the other children were trying to sing and participate in the various activities during the playgroup.

At one point, I found myself explaining what had been going on for him recently and I realised just how much he’d been subjected to over the last few months, how many big changes in all areas of his life. Not only have we made two big interstate moves, the last one barely three months ago, and he’s unwittingly been subjected to the conflict and stresses that inevitably arise during times of massive change, he’s also become more and more aware of the increasing presence of his little sister and the changes that will bring for him. He is really sensitive to everything I tell him about the baby, and takes it all in. I recently discovered, after he rejected me aggressively, refusing to let me lift him into his car seat, that he was just being considerate and not wanting me to lift him because, “you got a baby in there, I too heavy!” I’d only mentioned it once or twice when he wanted me to carry him for more than a few minutes, so I was shocked to discover how much he’d taken my words to heart.

I have found it quite hard going continuing to breastfeed him, although I know this is fairly common for women who are feeding and become pregnant. I have reluctantly night-weaned him in order to save my sanity and allow me to get some sleep, which initially seemed to be working quite well but now is really making it tough for all three of us. I really struggled with how to go about this, as I don’t want him to ever feel rejected, or replaced, and going cold turkey with breastfeeding is not a good idea for either of us health-wise. I wasn’t very consistent in my approach to begin with, mainly because I hadn’t come to terms with what I had to do. I had a brief but profound conversation with a woman at another playgroup we visited who said that she had to really get her head around what she was doing and why and be clear about the rules or boundaries. That really hit home with me and I realised I had to work out exactly what I was doing and how so the Dude wouldn’t be confused. It sounds simple, but in my experience breastfeeding full term (ie. into the toddler stage and beyond) is a very emotional experience and becomes more emotionally complex the longer it continues. The breastfeeding relationship accumulates more layers as it continues, and peeling back those layers prematurely can be painful and confronting. It may sound strange but I never really liked breastfeeding until the Dude was about two and suddenly something clicked. It’s not like I totally love it now, but there was definitely a positive change for me at that point and if I hadn’t stuck it out til then I wouldn’t have experienced anything akin to what I’ve heard described by other mothers in relation to the emotional pleasure of it.

Anyway, instead of arbitrarily refusing him as I’d initially done, I began to only refuse if he woke at night. He still fed to sleep if he asked for it, but if he demanded boobie any time before 6am, I refused him, explaining we had to save the boobie milk for the new baby. To begin with, it was a little hard, but he soon got used to daddy resettling him, and some nights he slept through. I thought it was working really well; until he started waking a lot during the night and expecting daddy to lie in bed with him for hours while he went back to sleep. I soon discovered he was getting really upset due to believing he couldn’t have milk any more, when really it was just at night time. Once that confusion was cleared up, it seemed to get better, until it got worse. That night before the playgroup was particularly hard. He woke at 3am, ran to my side of the bed and asked for boobie, which I of course refused. He immediately lost the plot and demanded daddy lie down with him as I hauled him back to his bed. I have little patience at 3am and didn’t appreciate being kicked and screamed at. I pushed him into his bed and shouted at him that he had to go to sleep and daddy was sleeping and not going to come. Pretty silly really, but that’s the kind of shit that goes down in the middle of the night when you’re just over it! Anyway, daddy came to the rescue, hauling me off the floor and sending me back to bed while he lay down with the Dude who went immediately quiet. I was quite upset and wondered to myself how the hell I would do this when Mr C is away for two weeks in May, or worse still, when the new baby arrives. I have no idea. I’m just hoping this is a phase and some kind of adjustment or growth spurt or something.

The other change we’ve made in the Dude’s life, just over the last couple of weeks, is weaning him off television. We expected him to watch less or none while my mum was visiting as she doesn’t like him watching any and will play with him forever if it means the tv stays off. He didn’t watch any at all while she was here for just over a week, and for the next few days after she left. He didn’t really even mention it or ask for it after the first day or so. I’ve always felt quite guilty about him having any screen time, especially before age two when there is absolutely no reason to put the tv on as far as I’m concerned. I truly don’t think it adds anything worthwhile to the life of a child and while I completely love tv and movies and feel like they add something to my life, it’s really just pure entertainment, so in fact what they add isn’t necessary and can be replaced. Before I had the Dude I was convinced I wouldn’t let my children watch tv, or at least not much, and not at a young age. That all went out the window pretty quickly and we found the Dude was watching hours a day, entire movies, and endless episodes of Peppa Pig. Deep down I always assumed we’d see a difference in his behaviour if we curtailed the exposure to tv. The funny thing is, we haven’t. He’s been without it ten days or so and if anything he’s less manageable, not more, although I don’t think this has anything to do with the tv. I seriously don’t think watching tv affects his behaviour at all, and that really surprises me. But what the lack of tv does is provide space for a little bit more healthy play and imagination, which is always a good thing.

It remains to be seen just how the Dude will progress over the next few months and once his sister arrives on the scene, but one thing’s for sure: he is a challenge and a joy all in one! I always say it’s lucky he is so hilarious and clever, it really does make up for the craziness.

Compulsion

So after about 90 minutes struggling with the Dude, trying to get him down for his morning sleep, he finally lay down next to me, cried with exhaustion, and passed out, feeding of course.  I’m desperately worried about his teeth, which already have holes in them, and I think it’s because he feeds to sleep.  I know we have to start brushing his teeth but it’s so hard to coordinate it, and if he keeps feeding to sleep, I fail to understand how brushing is going to make them better.  I wish I could get him to sleep without feeding but it’s just impossible.  I tried to give him water in a bottle today but he just played with it a bit, got water all over the bed and then got upset because he was so ridiculously tired.

I finally emerged from the room and went out to the kitchen to get some breakfast… at 12:20pm.  Turkish bread, fried eggs, butter, tomato sauce.  Yummy weekend breakfast.  Not the healthiest in the world but the bread is probably the worst thing. That should have been enough.  Yet as I was taking the last bites of the egg, I found myself beginning to think of what else I could eat.  Why?  Not because I’m still hungry. Perhaps because the little Dude is asleep and I don’t get a lot of time to myself to enjoy eating.  But why do I have to enjoy eating?  I wasn’t over analysing things.  I decided, initially, to sit with the idea for a few minutes, just while the food I’d just eaten made its way properly into my stomach. A few minutes was literally about 30 seconds…

Before I really knew what was happening, I jumped up and cut myself a slice of Woolies pecan danish, procured by husband yesterday.  Wolfed that down, yum.  Then I had already thought about the next thing: a bag of those yummy Red Rock Deli chips, cheese and onion flavour.  I didn’t eat the whole thing, mainly because they’re not really mine to eat.  They’re meant to be for Mr Chewbacca while he watched the ten nations or the championship dufusburgers or whatever the rugby is called at the moment.  So I ate about half of that, limiting myself only to the most crunchy, dense, curled-up chips.  I was full.  Too full.  Damn it!

Having gone to the doctor the other day for the Dude’s skin, I was thinking a bit about my eating issues and how they affect him.  I realised I feel incredibly guilty for having been unable to stop myself eating ‘bad’ food and knowing it’s going straight through to him through the breastmilk.  I confessed all this to the doctor, but it surprised me that she didn’t offer a way of stopping that.  She just said to notice what I’m doing when I do it.  So this is me noticing.

Yeah, okay this isn’t anywhere near as bad as recent binges.  I won’t even talk about those, it’s pointless.  What I really want to know is, why do I do it?  Why do I do it when I know it’s not good for me, not good for the Dude.  I’m totally overloading my liver and gallbladder, and I’m not getting adequate nutrition because I’m filling up on junk and not eating much of the basic good foods like simple fruit and vegies.  I’ve said before that I feel like the Dude has come to teach me how not to do that bingeing any more, because it’s affecting his skin and now his teeth which he’s only just got.  But as I said to the doctor, I feel like I’m failing at learning that lesson because I just can’t curtail it, I can’t stop eating shit.  Even for a baby, my baby!

But let’s get real here: I should be stopping eating shit for myself, not for anyone or anything else.  There’s a difference between motivation and misplaced focus.  I know deep down that doing it just for the Dude is silly because as soon as he stops breastfeeding I’ll just go back to where I was.  I know I need to find the root cause and tackle that.  But I have no idea how to do that.  Lord knows I’ve tried many times to find out why I eat like I do and I can’t put it down to anything in particular.  Yeah so it’s probably to do with boredom and comfort and self-loathing and pain referral.  But none of that is the root cause.  I feel like I’ve been stuck at some point in my life for years and I don’t know where or why.

Nearly 9 months

Well, we’ve really hit some milestones this month. The main one is crawling! Yes, the Dude is on the move. And now he rarely overbalances when sitting which is a relief as we were getting sick of having to prop pillows around him. His crawling is a little one-sided as he usually puts his right foot flat and then drags his left underneath but he is capable of normal style as I’ve seen him do it. He makes his way around the new house with speed and efficiency.

Food is going well. I can’t say he’s that interested in actually swallowing food yet, he clearly doesn’t see it as required and is really just playing and experimenting now which is fine. I do give him one evening meal via spoon feeding but I think I may start to change that because it just doesn’t make sense. He is happy to take pureed food off a spoon but I don’t think this is necessary. I think when he is ready to ingest food he will so there’s no need for mushing things up and spoon feeding. I’ve been giving him the stuff out of the packet, organic with nothing bad in it, but many of the ones that are recommended for age six months and up have meat in them! And dairy… And there’s no way in hell I’m giving him either of those for as long as I possibly can, preferably until he’s at least 2. He just doesn’t need either and they will do more harm than good.

I feel kind of slack that I’m not making him food but it’s a bit of a hassle. Well for someone like me it is as I am not that coordinated with meals. I should steam or roast more vegies for him but I just don’t manage it. And I know what the baby-led weaning book says, that baby can just eat what everyone else eats but I disagree on two fronts. One, we have too much spice and seasoning in our food which I think is inappropriate for someone who is developing his taste buds and two, we have meat, dairy, nightshades, citrus etc and I don’t think any of those foods are suitable for his new digestion. He requires none of that for nutrition as he’s getting all his vitamins and minerals through breastmilk. I’ve given him vegies out of my stirfry or risotto which is fine and I’m not paranoid about him trying new things. I just don’t want his body to have to work too hard at digesting complex and toxic foods yet. Plenty of time for that later.

It was nice to go to the homebirth mothers’ group this week after a lengthy break over the holidays. All the babies have grown and changed so much! The Dude crawled around and totally fitted in with all the other kids, cruising around exploring. He definitely hasn’t inherited my shyness. Which is great actually because I think being shy made things harder for me. It’s amazing to see how big the Dude is compared to others! He isn’t chunky, quite slender actually, like daddy, but very tall and solid. He’s just so there, so present, which is the feeling I’ve had about him since he was born. There was never anything frail about him, he didn’t ever have that weak, semi-transparent look that some babies have, where you can see they’re not quite here physically yet. If anything, the Dude is desperate to be more present, and very angry and frustrated that he can’t do all the same stuff as everyone because, well, he’s a baby! It’s like he’s got some big things to achieve and he just wants to get stuck in!

He fell off the bed twice since we moved to Fibroland, once because we hadn’t put his cot up yet and the second time he was sleeping alone and I didn’t know he was awake and he just crawled off trying to come and find me. So we sorted his sidecart cot and invested in baby monitors. Just the basic kind, so I can hear as soon as he wakes. It’s been awesome, I can relax and not worry. In the other place we didn’t have a problem because it was so small. And he wasn’t crawling, or at least he’d only been crawling a week when we left.

Still no sign of him migrating to his cot for sleep. I wish I could say that cosleeping has been a conscious choice and we love it etc but the fact is that I’d be so happy and sleep so much better if he slept in his cot. Our new bed is so comfy and not squeaky like the old one but it’s so annoying to not be able to move into a comfy position because it will wake him or there isn’t enough room. In addition, I miss bedtime with husband. There are times when it’s the three of us snuggled up and it’s lovely but eventually I just want to have some space to spread out and relax. And cosleeping hasn’t had a positive effect on our sex life. I won’t go into any more detail but suffice it to say, it sucks. And all my fellow natural cosleeping parents just don’t get it! In fact neither do the mainstream conservative ones! The former group are like, ‘oh isn’t it great, you have to be more inventive and have sex all over the house and you always know your baby is safe by your side and you can feed without getting up, bla bla bla…’. Yeah, fabulous, if you have a baby who stays asleep for more than 20 minutes without you and your boobs in his face! I never liked having my breasts touched much to begin with, and now they get manhandled 24/7! Yeah, I don’t really enjoy breastfeeding. Not to say I’d stop, as Dude would be even more difficult! But I just don’t like it that much. I think it’s because I’m touch sensitive. Nipples are for the enjoyment of others, simple as that.

The latter group, mainstream parents, are all like, ‘oh my god, he sleeps in your bed? Oh I could never sleep well, I’d be worried I’d squash him’. Yeah, that’s how I felt too, until I had a child that screamed the house down unless he was either being carried around in a sling or feeding next to me in bed. People don’t get it. They all have normal children. They think their babies are high needs because they have to feed to sleep. But they wait for them to sleep then they put them in bed. And they don’t wake up. For a couple of hours anyway. The Dude will ALWAYS wake when being carried to bed asleep. Always. And he wakes when I get up too soon. And sometimes I’ve been lying with him for over an hour, he seems perfectly sound asleep, I creep out, and five minutes later he’s screaming. So it isn’t ever possible to rock him to sleep and then put him down. It has happened maybe three times that we’ve managed to put him in his cot and he’s stayed asleep but every time he’s woken after ten minutes or so. So although it is annoying, cosleeping means we all sleep reasonably soundly most nights. There’s really nothing wrong with the Dude, he is just very aware and very sensitive. Which is what Mr Chewbacca and I are both like so not surprising.

Size wise I’m not sure how we’re going but last time I measured he was 76cm tall and 10.1kg. So he’s still massive. We’re predicting he’s going to be 6’5″. Sometimes he stretches out and his body is just so long! He is pulling himself up to standing on just about everything and thinks he’s awesome when he does it, it’s very cute. Being so tall he can reach virtually anything on the coffee table. He loves all the most dangerous and inappropriate things: electrical cords, the garbage bin, the toilet, the oven when it’s hot, the mop… The list is endless! I try not to leave things around that could be dangerous, not because I’m afraid he’ll hurt himself but more because I don’t want to be saying no and stopping him from exploring.

After that massive complaining rant about the Dude not sleeping, he’s actually been asleep for an hour by himself now… A sign of things to come perhaps.

Nearly four months

So the Dude will be four months old on Friday.  How time flies!  He is extremely cute, getting a lot bigger.  I was reading the latest from The Feminist Breeder yesterday, and was reminded yet again how different babies really are.  Among other things in her first post back since the August hiatus, she mentions that her little girl (who is about 3 weeks older than the Dude) began rolling over at 3 months.  Really?!  Wow!  I was kind of shocked actually because the Dude is nearly four months and still hasn’t rolled over.  I haven’t paid much attention to what it says about when babies are meant to do certain things, but it really made me think about how different babies can be and how all that stuff about milestones really means nothing.  Actually, to be honest, I initially began to worry – why isn’t he rolling over, why isn’t he reaching this crucial developmental stage, is there something wrong with him?  Yeah, apparently that’s what mums do, worry.  In terms of muscle strength, he’s got it all, and then some.  He can easily roll from his back to his side and back again, and I’m sure he’s got the muscles to roll right over, but he just doesn’t do it, doesn’t have the motor skills yet I guess.  Typical boy, bit behind the girls.  On the other hand, TFB also said her little one has grown 4 inches since birth.  Really?  At first that sounded like a lot, but then I converted it to centimetres and realised the Dude has grown more than double that since birth!  17cm and counting in fact.  Which, if my calculations are correct (2.5 centimetres equals one inch?) is roughly equivalent to 10 inches.  Freaking massive!  So I’ve decided all his energy is going into growing lengthways and he’s not had a chance to learn about rolling yet.  It’ll come, in time.

On the other hand, despite not rolling, he is definitely roly poly, a real little chunk.  Actually really bloody heavy!  I haven’t had him weighed since his 6 week check up with the midwife, where he was 5.5 kilos I think, but I’m banking on him being at least 7kg now, probably more.  He is very solid!  And boy does he like to sit up!  Of course he’s nowhere near doing it for real in terms of his balance and motor skills, but he gets so angry if he’s put in a semi-reclining position, and he strains to pull himself up to sitting, and actually manages it a lot.  I can no longer leave him for a second propped up in the corner of the couch, because he pulls himself up and then goes forward onto his face and tries to go head first off the edge of the couch!  He also loves to ‘stand’ – ie. be held under the arms and bear weight on his legs.  The look on his face is one of real triumph, so smug, like, ‘oh yeah, look at me!’

He’s also begun to have some really full on conversations with us.  He does this thing with his eyes as he chats where he scrunches them up, it’s so cute.  And his grabbing is getting really good.  I can now leave a toy within reach and he’ll grab it for himself.  He still gets frustrated very easily, and often tends to protest about something before it’s even happened yet.  It reminds me of the type of kid who, when mum says, ‘okay, how about we go and do….’ and before she even finishes explaining the plan, starts saying, ‘no, I don’t want to do that!’  He shouts and protests just because.  It’s cute, but I’m sure it’ll get to a point where he’s big enough to understand that shouting isn’t always the way, especially when you don’t really know what you want!

Did I update on the osteo? Well if not, the outcome wasn’t great.  He couldn’t finish the adjustment because the Dude had a meltdown!  The guy was like, ‘does he always do this?’ and I had to say, yeah, he does!  He reckoned he was in pain with his digestion and gave me instructions on going wheat and dairy free.  I had resisted up until that point, but thought, hey, maybe he is sensitive.  So I tried it.  And actually managed to avoid wheat and dairy, it was amazing, as I’ve never stuck to any kind of diet for more than about 48 hours before.  I’m convinced it hasn’t made that much of an impact and I realised later when the Dude fell asleep within about five minutes of being in the ergo after the osteo appointment that he was really just tired and I’d timed the visit totally wrong.  Since going dairy and wheat free we really haven’t had any proper meltdowns where he just gets distraught and I sit and let him cry in my arms, but at the same time I’ve begun a routine around sleeping.  I’ve started putting him to bed earlier, like by 7pm, sometimes earlier, and he’s having a bath every night, fresh outfit, then bed.  He hates being changed, but I’m sure he’ll get used to it.  The bath is going really well, he really relaxes and kicks around and makes little noises.

Anyway I’m still sticking more or less to the diet, and it’s definitely reduced the amount of mucus in my system and possibly in the Dude’s as well.  He’s definitely not intolerant, but I think he’s just like any normal person – too much dairy or bread and he doesn’t digest as well.  I also stopped taking all my supplements at night and I think that’s made a difference to him.  I take the odd bit of olive leaf extract in the morning, but I’m not taking anything else and he seems much less vomity than before.  Of course he still vomits but he’s full on, it’s what he does, and he drinks too much milk, but what are you gonna do?  As with everything else, the old adage still applies: this too shall pass.