Nearly 10 months (actually nearly 11 months)

Very nearly!  He’s going to be 10 months tomorrow, holy shizzle!  Currently he is sitting in my lap watching me type, about to pounce, so this post will take a while but… yep, there he goes, he wants that mouse!

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Well, that first bit was drafted nearly a month ago – yeesh, has it been that long? So this post is the “nearly 11 months” lumped in with the previous one. He’s going to be 11 months on Monday!

So, what’s happened since 9 months? So much! He is really mobile now and very vocal. The crawling is still an odd sort of crab-like variation of the cross-crawl, so his left leg is dragged under his body a bit and his right goes out at the side to plant his foot flat.  He’s very fast though, and occasionally he’ll crawl a bit on all fours, with both feet flat, or alternatively he’ll crawl normally once or twice. I’ve been taking him to see a chiropractor to see if we can sort out his crawling, and it has helped a lot, but I very much doubt he’ll ever do a normal cross-crawl permanently before he walks.  He stands very well now, and will let go and stand unassisted for a few seconds at a time, smiling to himself in triumph.  His motor skills are good, and he can grab really tiny things between finger and thumb as well as larger things with both hands.  Recently he acquired a rugby ball and has been throwing it around and chasing after it, it’s very cute.  I remember about a month ago he discovered that his little soccer type ball makes a ‘boing’ noise when you throw it, and he was absolutely delighted!  He’s had that ball since he was about four months, but he only just discovered the noise is associated with throwing the ball.  It’s nice to see these little discoveries.  He gets into every drawer and cupboard at his level to the extent that we’ve had to finally do some baby-proofing. I think I’ve probably bought every type of baby-proofing lock/latch/device on the market and we still haven’t gotten around to installing them all.  So he opens the drawers and pulls out the wooden spoons and turkey baster and clingfilm and all sorts of random stuff.  He’s also started putting things in places, so I’ve found his rugby ball has been deposited back into his toybox and random toys or his sippy cup have ended up in the bottom drawer in the kitchen.  He unpacks the plastics cupboard on a daily basis.  It’s all about emptying things at the moment, so if there are smaller containers or lids or other items in a larger container, his mission is accomplished as soon as it has been tipped out on the floor.  I take him outside with me when I hang up washing and he sits at my feet and tips the pegs out of the plastic bucket. Endless entertainment!

I took the Dude to an anthroposophical doctor, mainly for his eczema, and we formulated a plan of attack.  I got him an anthroposophical medicine (like homepathic only more refined) which he has three times daily, plus some calcium compound morning and night, to help his teeth.  In addition, if it’s an imbalance in the gut, I’ve given him a course of probiotics daily in his porridge.  I’ve got the most amazing cream, made by Graham’s, with colloidal oatmeal as the active ingredient, as well as some other creams like goats milk and rescue remedy.  I haven’t really been eating much dairy, not drunk milk in a long time, and I think that’s helped both me and him.  So his skin has improved amazingly, it’s such a relief!  It’s still itchy unfortunately, but it’s under control now, which is great.  And of course taking to the chiropractor regularly has had an impact I’m sure.

Another big milestone was reached a few weeks ago.  He had his first fever!  It was due to teething, his eighth tooth coming through, and it only got to 38.2, but still, I was impressed.  I could see his body just going through the motions, so efficiently processing, the fever just doing its job.  For a whole day he didn’t really want to play and just fed and whinged and slept and cried and whinged and was generally annoying, but because he was so hot I could easily forgive him.  I knew it wouldn’t last long, so I just gave him homepathics and fed him when he wanted and spent a lot of time lying down with him.  At first I was resentful that Mr Chewbacca went out (it was a Saturday night, St Patrick’s Day, good friend’s birthday and other good friend doing World’s Greatest Shave), but later I was very glad as he was too drunk to be woken when Dude woke and cried three times during the night.  In fact at one point Dude was crying loudly right next to Mr Chewbacca’s face and he didn’t even stir.  It was annoying at one point when Mr Chewbacca decided to snore loudly, just as Dude was drifting back off to sleep, so I had one hand on Dude and was hitting Mr Chewbacca in the face, holding his nose and twisting his head from side to side with the other.  Now I know what you’re thinking, who co-sleeps with a drunkard, right?  Yeah, probably technically against the guidelines, but I seriously didn’t think he was affected, he seemed fine when he came home, and the Dude sleeps next to me anyway.  He has been so dead tired recently, not getting enough sleep, due partly to his own crazy body clock but also to the fact that Dude is waking up earlier. Anyway, the fever was gone less than 24 hours later and when we woke the next morning, everything seemed back to normal and the tooth had come through.

And yes, the inevitable has happened, no more sleeping in for us, Dude is getting up early like normal kids!  He is waking around 7 these days, and I’m trying to get him in bed by 7 at night as I know he’ll sleep 12 hours given the opportunity, but it’s been a real chore to get him to sleep recently.  The feeding to sleep is getting really tiresome, mainly because the majority of the time he doesn’t really want it, but it’s the only way he can go to sleep.  He squirms around, makes grunting noises and is always too full.  So then he turns over and comes off the boob, and then sits up and chats and crawls into his cot and all over me, going everywhere head first as he is so dead tired his head just wants to make him lie down.  He fights sleep til the bitter end! Some nights this week it’s taken me well over an hour to get him down.  But the good news is, once he’s down, he (touch wood!!) hasn’t been waking, or has been going a good couple of hours before waking.  And when he does wake and go in to get him back down again, he goes down again very fast, definitely ready to be asleep.  So things are shifting, vaguely closer to normal/happy.

He suddenly wants to eat a lot more, which is great. I’m doing a fair bit of spoon-feeding, mainly because the baby-led solids are so difficult to do without totally trashing the floor.  I still give him chunks of food, rice cakes, fruit and veg, other snacks and things, but I’ve been cooking up just simple pasta and two vegies and freezing it in portions.  He’s also been having some millet porridge for breakfast which he’s been eating all of for just the last week or so, since his big fever transition. I’m getting a bit more lax with what I let him eat, so he has had the teensiest taste of my yoghurt, which he loved, and I usually give him a couple of crusts of my morning toast, if he’s awake when I’m eating it, which he also loves.  I figure if there’s a trace of butter or vegemite on it, it’s not really bad, and it’s good that he gets used to more variety in taste.  I made some humous the other week and put a little too much garlic in it, but I let him try some and he really liked it, I was so surprised!  I still haven’t given him any meat or cheese or egg or other types of full on protein, mainly because I don’t think his body really needs to deal with foods that complex yet, but I would like to give him some actual protein, so I’ve bought some chick peas and lentils and will work out what to do with them at some point.

The other big thing that’s happened with the Dude recently is that the holes in his teeth (have I mentioned them before?) have gotten bigger and then just a week ago he chipped one!  The enamel/structure of those teeth is obviously compromised and I’m suspecting that’s the cause of the decay more than anything, as the chip just goes straight into the spot of decay.  The fact that the spots are slap bang in the centre of each front tooth says to me there’s something weak about their structure as well.  I wondered whether all my prenatal nutrition had done something bad to them, and I shuddered thinking all that icecream and chocolate and dodgy food I ate when pregnant might have had an effect.  Not to say I didn’t eat healthily most of the time – if anything I ate healthier when pregnant than any other time in my life, mainly because anything with acid or dairy or sugar gave me shocking reflux and I had these bizarre cravings for steamed vegies and salads, especially in the first trimester.  So yeah, it’s hard to believe something as simple as nutrition could be the only contributing factor to his teeth being compromised. When he chipped it, we realised it was time to find a dentist.  Mr Chewbacca was saying just take him the first place you can find, although preferably a children’s dentist.  I, in typical fashion, secretly sought out a holistic dentist and booked him in.  As luck would have it, they had an appointment on the Monday, which was the soonest we could get him into a regular dentist anyway.

So on Monday, despite having no money at all, I took the Dude along to this holistic dentist in Neutral Bay.  I didn’t know what to expect, but I’d read up online so I was hoping for the best. I knew they’d say my feeding him to sleep was a bad thing as the milk would be staying on the teeth all night and breastmilk does have lots of sugar in it.  We saw the loveliest female dentist who he took a shine to (he rarely doesn’t take a shine to people though) and she did agree with me about the feeding to sleep.  She said there’s not a lot to be done as it’s impossible to get him to keep his mouth open and keep still for enough time for her to drill away the decay and seal off what’s left of his teeth.  She gave me a referral to a paediatric dentist but warned me that although they are great, they are mainstream, and will probably recommend a general anaesthetic to do the drilling and stuff.  She said she personally wouldn’t subject her children to that at this age, and I said I doubt I would allow it either.  She said the decay is quite soft and probably going to get worse.  There were a raft of questions about other influences, vaccinations, nutrition, the pregnancy, the birth, illnesses, medications, but of course I haven’t done any bad stuff in respect to all that.  Needless to say she was impressed!  I will take him back there in about six months, as she said he should be able to sit still enough by then for her to do something, if needed.

Just as we were finishing up, another male dentist walked past and she called him in to ask his opinion.  Turns out this guy is something of an expert in holistic dentistry and been around for quite a long time.  I connected with him immediately.  He was serious but kind, and he immediately began to do some cranial stuff to Dude who is used to all that by now.  He asked me a few questions about the pregnancy, specifically how my relationship was during that time.  I said fine, if anything, better than at any other time.  So he asked me if I’d had any other stresses during early pregnancy.  And then it dawned on me. I had the most stressful job of my life in the first trimester, and experienced probably one of the most traumatic, emotional situations of my life at work.  It still upsets me now when I think about it.  He asked if I’d been treated for that, and I looked at him like he had two heads. Treated? What kind of treatment would you recommend?  Homepathics, kinesiology, he said.  I couldn’t believe I hadn’t considered this before.  The first trimester and early second is when much of the tooth formation takes place apparently, so those stresses could have really affected things.  The good news is that his adult teeth will be great as they are being formed now, so whatever we’re doing now will be instrumental in forming his adult teeth.

Anyway, I’ve decided to seriously look into the treatment. The dentist recommended someone and as soon as we can afford it, I’ll make an appointment.  As I was waiting to pay, the male dentist made a point of coming up to me. He said out of the blue how strong Dude’s energy is, and mine too, and that I should get back into meditation as when I calm down, he will.  Wise words.  Just got to find the time!

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My movie date with the Dude

Since before he was born, I’ve been planning to check out the mum and bub movie sessions, which are run weekly at my nearest cinema. Husband and I love going to the movies and have really missed it over the last 7 months.

The Dude, as you may already be aware, is a freaking full on baby. He doesn’t fall asleep alone, and in fact requires either walking in the ergo or similar, or booby in bed to fall asleep. I think he’s dropped off maybe three times ever without one of those elements, and he’s woken in a few minutes every time. So I’ve not had the guts to go to even the mum and bub cinema session as I know he’ll make such a fuss.

With the release of the latest Twilight movie, Breaking Dawn Part 1, I decided to chance it and head along. Husband saw it the night before with work people and I’ve read the book so I figured I’d be able to follow it even if I have to attend to the Dude most of the way through.

Unfortunately, it’s a 10:15am session, which is perfect for most with young ones, as normal babies wake at the crack of dawn. Not my Dude; he sleeps in, sometimes til past 11am! So this morning I crept out of bed about 9, leaving him sleeping, and showered and dressed. When I came out of the shower he was still soundo, flat on his face, so I carefully adjusted his head so he could breathe. He kept sleeping. Typical. Every time I need him ready to go somewhere he won’t wake up! And when I need him asleep he just won’t go down! I got everything ready to leave, even cut his fingernails, but still he slept. Eventually, about 9:50, I just picked him up and headed out, whereupon he woke of course, but wasn’t totally with it. I made it into the carpark at 10:10 but wasn’t worried as I figured there’d be previews.

I didn’t rush, even bought a shitty cinema coffee and an ice-cream for breakfast (it was either that or a bag of M&Ms) and made it to my very big comfy seat with plenty of time to spare.

By this time, Dude was fully awake and doing his latest routine which involved bouncing up and down gleefully while saying “ngeng ngeng” over and over. He is too cute! The cinema was dark enough but with enough light to see what you’re doing and I had to navigate through a massive traffic jam of prams but that was easy enough with Dude in my trusty Ergobaby.

Most mums (and one dad) were sitting at or near the back, which made sense after a while as they had good access to the exit when bubs inevitably got grizzly. My seat was halfway down. Dude refused to be put on the floor for changing so I just left him in his ridiculously full nappy and propped him up on the seat next to me.

The movie started and it was soon obvious he was tired so I tried to feed him off to sleep but he wasn’t down with that plan and just had a few sips before really kicking off so no one could hear Edward and Bella’s wedding vows. I took him up the back and tried to rock him to sleep, following the example of a few other mums but he wasn’t having that either. Plus he is teetering on the brink of 10kg these days so he’s hard to hold consistently. Eventually I strapped him into the Ergo, hood straight up, and rocked for what seemed like about a quarter of the movie. Finally he slept!

I went back down to my seat and perched gingerly on the edge so as not to wake him. Then I ate my Magnum Caramel, wondering what the hell I’d been thinking buying an ice-cream to eat with a squirming baby! But it was all good in the end, he slept through the rest of the movie and I really enjoyed it. It was very heartening to see other mums working just as hard to get their babies to chill out. The Dude is loud and intense but he is still quite a typical baby in many ways.

I can’t wait for next Wednesday at 10:15, whatever the next movie is, for $8.50, I’m there!

Nearly 7 months

Man it’s tough parenting the Dude! I find it hard to relate to my friends in the same way as I did pre baby, as my attention is so focused on him. And he is full on! I was heartened to read Rixa’s post about her youngest’s night waking antics; not that I rejoice in the suffering of others, but it’s more that I am glad to know even she, who seems so sorted out, has to deal with challenges like that. I hope I don’t have all that to look forward to in two months! At least Inga actually sleeps in her cot though, the Dude just won’t, it’s madness! I want my bed back!

He now has five teeth, the first of which arrived just over a month ago, and the last, on the side of his front top, I noticed just poked through this morning.  He doesn’t seem to be suffering too much with the teething, despite the sudden onslaught, and I think the homepathic chamomilla, nux vomica, placenta remedy, emergency essence and Brauer teething relief have all really helped stave off any real pain.  So far he’s been eating very heartily, and would eat lots more given the chance but I’m not very good at coordinating food for him!  He’s had apples, carrots, mangos, watermelon, rockmelon, blueberries, sweet potato, potato (he grabbed it off my plate when I wasn’t watching!), bread (again, grabbed), avocado, and bananas.  He loves everything.  He’s eating his first teething rusk right now and totally loving it.  I don’t think we’re going to have any eating issues with this one.

I just took him for his six month check up with the doctor (yeah, it’s late, I didn’t book him in until now) and he is a very healthy 9.8kg, so well in the 90th percentile.  I wouldn’t say he’s a particularly chubby baby, but he is really solid, like one big muscle.  He’s very wriggly and is trying to get up on his hands and knees a fair bit.  Yesterday I came out of the shower to find he’s rolled onto his front in his sleep but hadn’t managed to pull his arm out from under himself so he was flat on his face!  I found it pretty funny actually but my husband was a bit concerned.  I just took a quick photo and then pulled his arm through and he slept peacefully on his tummy for the first time since he was a newborn.

The doctor was really not that helpful, but hey, she never usually is, and I didn’t really take him to her so she could confirm he was healthy or whatever – I knew that!  She was immediately concerned about his skin, which is actually not too bad at the moment, although it is a bit flaky and cracked around his ankles, and he has a bit of redness and irritation round his neck which comes and goes.  I am putting coconut oil on it which really soothes but it doesn’t make it go away.  Not that I expected it to, given that his skin issue is constitutional, and therefore the skin irritation is just an external symptom of what’s going on internally, so why would an externally applied thing ‘fix’ it?  The doctor was like, ‘but what you’re doing is clearly not working as he’s still got it,’ and I explained that quashing the symptoms – ie. the rash – is not my intention, and rather I’d prefer to let his body sort itself out internally in its own time.  She didn’t get it and again recommended Hydrozole and Cetaphil, acknowledging that the former has cortisone in it.  I actually purchased them both this time but I’m still undecided as to whether I’ll use them, must research more – stay tuned for a post on cortisone.

Despite the fact that he’s clearly thriving, the doc is still obsessed with the idea that suddenly at six months babies stop getting adequate iron via breastmilk.  She was stupidly obsessed with me having enough iron in pregnancy too, despite the fact that I’ve never come close to being anaemic in my life.  I asked her why and she didn’t really answer me, she just said, ‘I’m just telling you what the studies show’.  She’s such a coward.  How can you, as a professional, recommend products and practices without knowing all the info?  I thought then that I should have become a doctor!  Seriously I swear this woman is a plant by the big pharma companies, she is obsessed with all pharmaceutical products!  She goes, ‘oh, get Cetaphil, it’s a really gentle moisturiser, won’t irritate the skin,’ and I was like, ‘oh, so it’s alcohol free,’ and she goes, ‘oh, I don’t know what’s in it, but yes, it’s very gentle.’  Are you for real, woman?  You don’t know what’s in it but you’re recommending it for a baby?  Yeesh.  Anyway, she says he should be having baby rice cereal that’s fortified with iron, so I did buy him some organic stuff, and will give him a go on it, can’t hurt, but I’m not really fussed, as I think all this obsession with iron is bollocks, frankly.

Anyway, the little dude is thriving.  He says, ‘de’, ‘ghe’, ‘ne’, ‘be’ and a whole bunch of other random noises that often sound like ‘mama’, ‘dada’ and other actual words.  He also understands a lot of what I say.  He knows what ‘boobie’ is, and he knows his full name, nickname, as well as ‘bug’ and ‘dude’ and ‘little boy’.  I am pretty sure he knows what I’m on about most of the time, and his needs are so well met that he doesn’t really need to ask for anything much.  The other week he asked for boobie by opening his mouth and virtually gesturing, and then grabbing my boob when I leaned down over him on his change table!  He then smiled when I asked if that’s what he wanted.  I reckon half the time he is frustrated because I’m not doing what he asks straight away – sometimes it’s because I’m not paying attention to his clear signals, and other times it’s because I’m busy doing something else.

Back to the sleeping thing, it’s really challenged me, just on a patience level.  I now firmly believe that this baby came to me for a reason, because there’s no way anyone else would be able to retain the level of patience I have.  I’m pretty over cosleeping.  Not that it doesn’t work, but the bed is just too small, the Dude takes up a lot of space, as does his dad, and I am sandwiched in between.  I also think it’s a two edged sword in a way.  I think he wakes BECAUSE I’m next to him, and yet he’d probably wake if I WASN’T next to him.  I’ve tried time and again to get him to sleep in his cot and it just doesn’t happen.  He’s not one of those babies who just drops off to sleep with a bit of patting after a bath.  He doesn’t fall asleep with rocking.  He only sleeps when lying down in bed feeding, or when being walked round in the Ergo, that’s it.  And then if I do get him to sleep in bed (usually takes at least an hour), he doesn’t stay asleep.  If I try to put him down say at 7pm, I will be in and out of the room and lying next to him for at least two hours, and that’s if he actually does go to sleep.  So although I’d love to get him in a routine, it just doesn’t happen and we end up keeping him up til 10:30 or so when we go to bed.

Anyway, he’s currently wriggling in my lap needing to sleep so I’m stopping here…

Nearly five months

Gosh, has it really been that long since I’ve updated?!  So much has happened!

So the Dude is going to be five months on Sunday (I think he’s 22 weeks this week, kind of losing count).  He rolled from front to back for the first time at 19 weeks and has since done it a handful of times.  He mostly doesn’t do it though, when I put him down for tummy time.  He does stay down longer than he used to, without losing it, but daddy still hasn’t seen him roll!  And then yesterday for the first time I witnessed him roll from his back to his front!!  I couldn’t believe it, it was awesome, he just did it with a little effort.

I took him to visit a friend yesterday, who has a little girl two months older than him, and she is really wriggling about, twisting and turning over and over, pretty much crawling.  When I put him next to this little girl, however, I suddenly realised just how massive he is!  He is slightly bigger than this little girl, even though she’s so much older.  And she’s not a small baby, I’d say probably around average.  But he just sort of lay there and watched her wriggling about in awe, like, wow, why can’t I do that?  ha ha!

So speaking of his size, I did take him for his first check up.  We went to the doctor as I’d had a blocked ear for ages and although I’d killed any infection in there with onion juice, my ear just wasn’t clearing.  I finally relented and went to the doctor (the same one I’d gone to when I was first pregnant).  She’s a nice woman but god she’s so ignorant!  The things she said to me during the appointment, I had to really make an effort not to laugh.  She actually started telling me how to ‘discipline’ my four month old baby and she even referred to babies as being ‘like puppies’!!  Can you imagine!  She didn’t help my ear problem either.  She just looked in it, confirmed it was blocked beyond syringing (der, that’s why I went to see the doctor!) and then told me to go and get Ear Clear from the pharmacy!  Seriously, I could have just gone and asked the pharmacist, what a waste of time and money that was.  She weighed the Dude (which is main thing I was interested in) and he was 8.14kg!  So he’d doubled his birth weight!  He is in the 97th percentile for weight, height and head circumference, so yes, he’s a biggie.  She asked me if I was practising ‘attachment parenting’ and I was like, erm, I don’t actually like to apply any labels to things, I just do what I do, but I guess it’s along the lines of attachment parenting.  She thought we were co-sleeping because it was AP, but it’s got nothing to do with wanting to practise AP, it’s just about what feels right and what’s simplest and easiest.  She also asked if I was vaccinating and I said no and got her to sign the conscientious objection form, which she had no issue with (yay!).  She looked at his skin and advised me to get a cream with cortisone in it!  I didn’t say anything but there’s no way I’d put it on him – I wouldn’t put it on my own skin, let alone a baby’s!  Anyway, so the only good things to come out of the appointment were finding out how much he weighs and getting the form signed. Ho hum.

You’ll be happy to know my ear has unblocked itself (although the infection soon arrived in the other ear, which I killed with onion juice again and the blockage is just about gone there too).  No thanks to Mrs Useless GP!  She means well, she’s not a bad person, but gawd, ignorant as hell!  I could provide a better service and I have no medical qualifications!

I don’t want to wish time away, as there’ll never be another time where the Dude will be little like this, but I really can’t wait for him to be more mobile and to sit up by himself.  He gets so frustrated that he can’t, I can tell.  Anyway, it’ll come soon, he’s almost there.

His skin has been pretty bad, comes and goes, so although I didn’t think he had intolerances I think the dairy does contribute to his skin so I’m going back off it again.  My eating, that’s a whole other story and not for this post… anyway, he has what seems to be eczema, and also recently started getting red blotches with white dots in the middle randomly on him, and they’d disappear as fast as they appeared so I think he’s allergic to something, possibly the wool fleece my mum bought him.  I am just keeping an eye on it really, I think it’ll come and go as his constitution works itself out.

We had a couple of very successful osteo appointments where there was total relaxation achieved twice, it was great, and he’s been much more relaxed since.  And we took him to a wedding about five hours drive north, and that was fine, we managed, although I was quite illegal a few times and just took him out of his seat to feed him while we drove.  Meh.  I used to sit on my mum’s lap for every long trip we ever did and nothing ever happened, so I’m not worried.

Must stop, as he’s just woken, I can hear him chatting to himself in the bedroom.

What does it mean to be a woman? A response

These days I don’t read my ‘baby’ blogs anywhere near as much as when I did while pregnant, as writing and reading has become my escape from all things ‘baby’, but today I decided to read about what Rixa has been up to on her fantastic blog, Stand and Deliver.  She’s written a short essay to inspire her students for their first writing assignment, and I enjoyed it so much that I thought I’d write something in response.

Once I got past puberty, whenever I heard the word ‘woman’, I’d squirm.  Woman.  There was something old, frumpy, big, mother hen-like about women; and I didn’t want to be that.  Don’t get me wrong, I was always happy being female.  But being a woman irked me.  In fact I never thought of myself as womanly, and if someone ever described me as curvy or voluptuous I’d really hate it.  I think this has to do with my weight issues, but also the fact that I’ve never been particularly maternal.

So for me to answer a question like what it means to be a woman is really a bizarre thing.  I remember my midwife referring to me as a ‘woman’ during my prenatal visits and I had to voice my feelings about that.  It was good to get it out.  I was never surprised that my body worked perfectly, that all the aspects of being female where, in me, efficient and effective and exactly as they should be.  I knew I was fertile, and I knew I was strong.  I knew I could get through labour, whatever it was, and that being a fantastic example of femininity would stand me in good stead.

Because I chose to have a baby at home instead of hospital, I began to read.  And inevitably stumbled upon all the hippy/crunchy stuff out there.  All the so-called ‘feminists’.  I’m all for empowerment, but of human beings in general, not just women.  I get the whole suffragette thing, I really do, but I really can’t stand women who go on about being ‘equal’ to men.  What’s the point when men and women are so incredibly different?  Why do we have to compete?  So women earn less that men, on average; so what?  Women are more likely to be at home with children.  This isn’t a burden; this is what women are great at.  Men can’t breastfeed or grow a baby or give birth.  Men don’t have bodies that secrete such delicate and perfect amounts of so many different hormones, that create life in such a complex and mysterious way.  We don’t have to prove ourselves or try to become ‘equal’; it’s an illusion.  We already are great.  Money is not a measurement of greatness, nor does the amount you earn have any bearing on your greatness as a human being.  The relationship between remuneration and gender is arbitrary.

I struggled with all these ‘women’ who wrote ‘womyn’ instead and expressed anger about men in general.  Apparently because we live in a patriarchal society, all hospitals are run by men who try to bring women down and violate them; so all men are evil.  Being a woman means fighting for your rights, fighting men.  This doesn’t sit right with me.

I have done the things that only women can do.  I’ve conceived a baby; I’ve carried that baby until he was ready to come into the world; and I’ve given birth to him, which was beyond the hardest thing I could ever have imagined doing.  Although I’ve never been maternal or interested in children, I give all that I have to this baby, my baby, my boy.  I do this not because I am a woman specifically but because I am a mother.  So being a woman is not just about motherhood, which I don’t even know well yet.  Being a woman is about knowing true power and being satisfied with that.  It’s about feeling so in tune with nature and the universe, and being thankful for the gift that is knowing the secret of creation.

Unlike some really crunchy hippies out there, I don’t catch my menstrual blood or participate in women’s workshops.  In fact I hardly notice my period coming and going most of the time.  But I do notice how wonderfully efficient my body is and how amazing it is that I can do what I’ve done.  Beyond having babies, being a woman is being a creator, whether you feel creative or not.  Being a woman is powerful; knowing womanhood is empowering!

The ‘routine’

“Babies like routines.”  I’m sure you’ve heard that one.  Or even, “babies need routines”.  I tend to agree, now I’ve got a baby.  He has found his own sort of patterns, but the problem is, any change from the outside (ie. if I go to the shop or if something prevents him falling asleep when he’s ready or if his tummy is sore), and all is lost.  People ask me, “how’s he sleeping?” and I always proudly say that he has slept through the night from eight weeks.  But technically what happens is that he wakes a couple of times, has a quick bit of boobie, and goes back to sleep.  This is still pretty good.  And I always found myself telling people that I hadn’t had to get up in the middle of the night with the Dude since he was eight weeks old.  Well that streak has now been broken.

Yesterday was an odd day, I suppose.  But I’ll start with some background.  Since he’s reached the three-month milestone, a few things have changed.  He is suddenly much more aware, so he notices his surroundings and is distracted easily by random things happening around him, especially the tv.  Prior to this, when he wanted boobie and sleep I’d just put him on as I watched tv and he’d fall asleep.  I’d sometimes succeed at taking him to bed to sleep by himself at this point, or most of the time I’d let him stay asleep in my arms.  Suddenly this is not doable at all.  Similarly, we thought he was the most social kid ever, as we’d taken him out with friends to noisy restaurants and whatnot and he’d just fall asleep in the carrier, not bothered by what was happening.  In fact he seemed happier when out and about, listening and watching calmly and then just passing out happily.  But not any more.  We took him to lawn bowls and then out to dinner the other night and he hardly slept at all the whole time!  He even cried in front of our friends, which has never happened.  He’d feed a bit, get distracted, look around, get angry because he was tired but couldn’t just go to sleep.  The only time I got him to sleep was once when I took him outside away from any noise and fed him – passed out in minutes, and then finally at the end of the night he eventually passed out in the ergo, totally shattered.  So in the last week I’ve been recognising when he’s really tired, then taking him straight to bed and feeding him to sleep lying down.  Sometimes I’ve stayed next to him for an hour or so to get him really sound asleep (thank you trusty old iphone for keeping me amused!) and then he will stay asleep at least an hour by himself.  When he stirs I go in quietly and if he is grumpy and still has his eyes shut I just feed him again and he goes back to sleep.  That was great!  I actually got a few things done around the house!

That brings us to yesterday.  I got a text from a new friend who has a little baby as well asking if I wanted to go for a walk and a coffee, as she lives nearby, which was fine, we did that.  As per his recent distracted/alert phase, the Dude stayed awake most of the way to the coffee shop and finally dropped off, only to wake again when I sat down.  He then fell back to sleep on the walk home, and woke when we got inside, although he was trying to settle himself back down to sleep which was great to see – he sucked on his little hand and kept his head down.  He even did this the other day and settled himself back to sleep for another hour with no input from us, it was amazing.  Anyway, yesterday I think I made a bit of a mistake.  I tried to feed him to sleep as usual, but I think I tried to put him to bed before he was quite tired enough because the rest of the evening was an utter disaster.  I guess I had in my mind that if I could get him to sleep and stay asleep by 8pm then if we get up at 8am he’d have had a full 12 hours sleep overnight and that’ll be the beginning of our little routine.  Husband got home at something like 9:30 and I’d just given up trying to feed him to sleep and begun changing him.  I tried again and he wasn’t having it, obviously had his fill of milk without drifting off and just didn’t want to lie down.  I tried walking him around and hung out in the lounge for half an hour or so, but no, still wasn’t having the boobie.  So I relented and put him in the ergo, where he promptly fell asleep, phew!  But that wasn’t the last of it.  I managed to get him out of that and into bed and asleep, and I finally crawled in myself at about 11:30… only to be woken at 2am!  He was trying to feed back to sleep but it was clearly too much and he was starting to cry in frustration.  It was pitch black but I could tell he was awake.  Not ready to be awake, but awake nonetheless.  I tried so many things to get him to settle back down, and eventually he woke husband (who’d probably been awake all along anyway), and, frustrated, I decided to take him out to the lounge before he got any louder.  I was tired. He was tired. I couldn’t do any ergo pacing in the middle of the night, although in hindsight this probably would have worked the best.  Instead he worked himself up and cried for what seemed like forever!  I wrapped him in the warm blanket I’d just finished edging, held him and looked at him and told him I could do nothing more for him.  He looked back at me as he screamed and I think he knew what I meant.  So I waited.  And he screamed and then he began to go quiet.  It must have been four or five times he went quiet and briefly fell asleep but then woke himself up with a sob and started again!  It wasn’t nice to sit through and I did feel sad for him but at the time I felt there was nothing more I could do.  I was despairing, thinking ‘what have I done wrong here? could this have ended up any other way?  is this a sign of things to come? no more night waking, please!’  Finally he went quiet and stayed quiet, falling into a deep, exhausted sleep.  I sat for a few more minutes, just to make sure he was soundly asleep before I brought him back to bed.  He was pretty restless a few times through the morning too, and at one point I got rid of the blanket he’d been wrapped in and he fell back to sleep, obviously that was too hot and uncomfortable.

Anyway, so it was a freaking nightmare, and I’m scared now that it’s going to be that way every night!  Thank god I’ve got him booked in at the osteo on Friday, hopefully that’ll help him settle. I realise he’s going to wake and need comforting during the night, that’s why he sleeps in bed next to me, but I don’t think I can handle him fully waking and freaking out every night.  It’s so much harder now because he has this awareness and he’s so sensitive to what’s going on around him.  I want him to feel secure and relaxed, that’s all.  Genetically, the odds are not on his side in terms of sleeping and relaxation, that worries me too.  My mum seems to think it was all very simple and normal but I didn’t feel like that about sleep.  I hated night and sleep, hated the dark, hated having to quiet my brain for sleep.  I remember tossing and turning night after night, turning the light back on to read, always having problems getting to sleep.  I never had a problem staying asleep, but my dad is and always has been a real insomniac.  Mind you, this was probably heightened by the fact his mother used to lock him in the bathroom to cry as she didn’t know what else to do!  That’s one thing I’ll never do, I’ll never leave the Dude to cry himself to sleep.  No matter how hard it is I will always at least be there for him when he’s upset, that’s my vow.

Three-month ups and downs

So he was three months yesterday, a big milestone!  I don’t think I had any real expectations of what he’d be like at three months, in fact I don’t have expectations at all really.  But I guess at the moment he is having a hard time of it.  Sometimes I think I just don’t have the patience and focus to give him what he really needs, like if I wasn’t so interested in my own indulgences – tv, blogs, reading, eating, showering – I’d be more in harmony with him and he’d be happier.  I have these images in my head of other mums who are so in love with their babies and want to spend every waking moment with them.  Don’t get me wrong, I love him very much and certainly miss him if he has a big sleep or if I have to leave him for a moment.  But right now he is quite unsettled and it can be trying.

Yesterday was slightly worse than today I guess, but today’s still been a bit difficult.  He is so demanding!  He wants constant stimulation, and just having toys dangling above him is not enough, he wants me, all the time!  And even then, he gets tired so quickly and then gets very cranky.  He’s started doing an angry/frustrated type of cry, like the equivalent of an adult saying, ‘gaah, for fuck’s sake, I’m pissed off now’!  It’s quite funny actually, but you have to take it seriously otherwise he just gets out of control and almost impossible to console.  I feel so horrible when he gets really upset, and it happens pretty much every day, usually when I finally realise I need to have a shower but he won’t go to sleep and won’t play by himself.  So I do what I did today, I lie him in his cot, hang some toys next to him, give him one of his ‘starfish’ Steiner-type toys to hold and prepare myself for his screams as I get into the shower, which get progressively more intense the longer I’m away from him.  It’s awful actually because when I get out and dressed and pick him up, he gives these little sobs as he calms down, and it’s obvious he’s really upset and has worked himself up so much.  I just wish there was a way to avoid that, but there isn’t because it’s so hard to get him to sleep by himself.  Even in the car he complains very loudly and works himself up into a frenzy very easily, it’s not good.  Luckily I am not easily distracted and can still drive while he screams, but it’s still not a nice experience for either of us and it’s such a relief when I can get him into the car and staying asleep, although that’s not often.  He has fallen asleep in the car before but only on the odd occasion, it doesn’t really rock him to sleep.  I guess we won’t be those parents who put their baby in the car to get him to sleep in desperation!

He is progressing in terms of his development well, I think, although I found out that a friend’s baby who was born the day before him is already pulling herself up onto her elbows during tummy time and even rolling over!  At three months!  Is this extreme?  Mind you, she’s also already getting teeth, so I think she’s an early one all round.  And girls progress faster than boys, that’s pretty much a given.  The Dude is getting great at gripping and holding things and almost always grabs and holds the little toy I give him every time I change him.  When he’s on his front and on his back he can swivel himself right round 90 degrees, and he does lift his head a fair bit quite easily.  He’s also becoming very vocal and has started making more high-pitched squeals and excited shouty type noises.  He and I have these little back and forth mimicking conversations and he loves it, just being able to communicate with me like that, to know that I can copy him and that his noise is really his own.  He’s also noticed his hands recently and I’ve caught him examining them intently.  We’ve both noticed his left hand is a bit more dominant than his right, but my mum says that’s just because we are right-handed, which makes sense.  His little outie belly button is finally becoming an innie, and his feet are catching up to his hands in size.  His thighs are so chubby I bought crawler nappies (6-11kg) for him, as the other nappies just weren’t staying on him properly because you can’t get them properly round his chunky thighs!  I have no idea what he weighs, as his last check was at 6 weeks and I think he weighed 5.5kg then, but I’m sure he’s at least 6.5 now, he is heavy.

So on the bright side, we finally put up his cot on the weekend, and it’s pretty cool, almost completely level with the bed.  There is a little gap between the bed and his cot, so I must get some masonite from Bunnings and put it between, then stuff the gap with towels or something so he doesn’t fall in it.  There’s not much chance of that happening now, as he’s not rolling over yet, but it won’t be much longer I’m sure.  It was really good to finally put him in his cot and be able to turn on my left side and have the bed back again, even if it was only for an hour or so.  It’s so much easier if he sleeps right next to me because he can pretty much latch himself on in the middle of the night when he wants a feed, and I don’t have to gingerly try to put him in his bed, we just both fall asleep as we are.  I must admit I was never a fan of the idea of co-sleeping, and the two main reasons for that were firstly I thought I’d squish him in the middle of the night or he’d suffocate, and secondly I like my space in the bed and I like my sleep and I didn’t think I’d have either with him there.  Turns out there’s no chance I’d squish him as I know he’s there, even when I’m asleep.  Plus my sleep is longer and better because he’s there; if he were in his own bed even next to ours I’d have to get up and wake up to feed him in the middle of the night.  But why wouldn’t I just train him to sleep through the night, you ask?  I think it’s really unnatural; think about it, how often do babies need to feed during the day?  Every hour, two hours, three hours?  Maybe every four hours, let’s say.  So why to they suddenly not need it during the night?  But he slept six hours during the night quite a few nights, he obviously doesn’t need it, right?  Wrong.  Just because he sometimes sleeps through for six hours doesn’t mean he doesn’t ever need feeds during the night.  I can see for myself that even slight variations to the way things unfold during the day, different levels of activity, different amounts of milk, different lengths of sleep at different times during the day, all add up to a different experience every night.  Yes, he has a routine, as much as you can impose one on a baby – why would I force something on him and make him miserable and myself stressed?  It’s much easier to be aware and notice the natural routine and support that.  I think it’s unfair of me to impose my routine on him – not that I have one I guess, but why would I try to force something when the natural way will unfold and he won’t ever have to be unhappy?  And seriously, I wouldn’t ever try control crying techniques, but even if I did I very much doubt they’d work on this kid without doing him a serious injury!  Sometimes when I’m in the shower and I can hear him crying and I just want to stay under the hot water a few moments longer, I do drag it out, I admit it, just to see if he’ll quiet himself and eventually go to sleep.  It never happens.  Yes, his cries sometimes get a bit quieter, and for a moment he stops, but within seconds he’s back on it again, crying his little heart out, and sometimes sounding like he’s being murdered, it’s awful!

I guess the one thing I could do to really help him is to go to bed early, like 9pm… but it’s really hard for me, I’m never tired that early, and I feel like I haven’t had enough wind-down time with my husband.  I’ve considered trying to put him down earlier, but it virtually never works, especially at night – he’s not a night person!  I’ve decided not to give up with getting him to sleep on his own.  I think a lot of people who end up always having to have their sleeping baby strapped onto them or sleeping next to them have just given up trying to get bubs to sleep in his own bed, so they say, oh he won’t sleep by himself, but what they mean is, he didn’t do it when he was two months old and we gave up trying.  I think babies just get to certain points and suddenly they’re cool with things.  It was that way for us, with sleeping.  I religiously sat up in bed to feed numerous times every single night until the Dude was 8 weeks old; until one morning I woke and realised he’d been asleep next to me from midnight til 6am – what?!  He got to a point and he was ready to stay lying down through the night, so he did that and now we never get up in the middle of the night (touch wood, don’t want to jinx anything!!)  I think the same thing will happen with sleeping by himself, and getting to sleep without being rocked or fed, he’ll do it when he’s ready.  I thought that time had come the other week when he fell asleep on the couch while I dangled a toy over his head, and that was a big breakthrough, even if it only lasted ten minutes and he hasn’t done it since.  This kid has a lot of energy running through his system, that’s all, and it’s hard to fall sleep when you’ve got ants in your pants.

That reminds me of the other thing I wanted to mention: I was thinking today about inherited stuff, and I really have this strong sense that one can inherit constitutional things and build ups of toxic energy from one’s ancestors.  I think it’s kind of like everyone collects stuff through their lives, and they don’t let it go during their lives, they let these toxins build up in them and pass them on at some energetic level to their children and grandchildren.  The Dude’s eczema rashy thing is a good example of that.  It’s like his body is fighting this crazy toxic heat, trying to throw it off, but being burdened by it, and it’s making him all hot and itchy inside.  I know this sounds weird and crazy, but I just get the impression this is what’s happening for him.  That’s why I am not taking him to a regular doctor as they’d just prescribe cortisone cream and tell me, oh lots of babies have eczema, same as when/if he gets asthma they’ll prescribe ventalin and tell me, oh lots of children have asthma.  Yeah, great, doesn’t mean we should just accept that it’s a part of childhood, right?  At some level I believe that these things are very constitutional and therefore I shouldn’t be interfering and should just let his body deal with it, but at another level I think they are inherited and I feel like we could do something cleansing that could release him from the burden of them.  Unlike childhood illnesses which run their course, provide immunity for future exposure and you never see them again, things like eczema and asthma are unnecessary.  So we’re off to the osteopath next week, just to see if some adjustment will help him.  The midwife still believes he went from breech to head down during labour, and if that’s the case it’s highly likely there will be something out of alignment.  I wonder if it will make a difference?  I’m determined not to tell the osteo too much and let him just do what he does and see the results.  Plus I need to convince my sceptical husband that it’s worthwhile, as he doesn’t think they do anything.  I’ll be sure to report back once we’ve been…  I’m trying to add more oil to my diet in the hope it will help his skin clear up, but if it’s still like this in a couple of weeks I’m going to take him to a homeopath or an anthroposophical doctor, if I can find a decent one.  I also rang the baby health centre people and they said the next checkup between 6 weeks and 6 months is at 4 months, so even though I’m wary I will take him down to the one at Bondi Beach and get him weighed and measured etc.  At some stage I’ve got to take him to a doctor and get the conscientious objection form signed, not looking forward to that experience!

Currently he is asleep in the ergo on my front.  Thank the good lord for baby carriers like the Ergo and Hugabub, they are amazing things and I am a better mother because of them!