One Day You’re Going To Hate Me For This…

But I am going to show this picture at your 21st. And to all your future girlfriends as well.

It’s too priceless not to.

Dear Son,

I remember when your feet were smaller than the palm of my hand. Your pink, smooth feet. As if I needed any more confirmation that you’re growing all the time, placing my palm against your feet provides it. Your feet are now bigger than the flat of my hand.

Your dad remembers a time when your feet were the length of his thumb. Not anymore.

Rubbing your little feet makes me calm. Twiddling your little toes reminds me of the miracle we created. Ten perfect little toes.

Did I ever tell you that you have your dad’s feet?

Ten Foolproof Ways To Soothe a Crying Baby

aka ‘The Bad Mommy’s Guide To Getting Your Baby to Shoosh and Quit That Crying’.

1. Check the basics.
Wet nappy? Hungry? Hot or cold? Uncomfortable position? Cover all your bases before trying other things. Sometimes a crying baby is merely telling you he’d like a new nappy, or it’s time for some grub.

2. Massage.
Nothing beats a mother’s loving touch. First warm your hands; use a bit of lavender or camomile baby massage oil (diluted as instructed) and stroke your baby’s body with gentle but firm circular movements. He can be lying on a changing surface or a towel over your lap. This is an especially good technique when colic strikes or you have been apart too long. Massage every day if possible. I always do it after bath time, just before bed. Great way to make him sleepy, and is very relaxing for the both of you.

If you dont have lavender oil, use baby oil. Sunflower or olive oil can even be used, and is very good for dry, irritable sensitive skin. Massaging the ‘T zone’ – the forehead and bridge of the nose is a sure way to get my son’s eyelids feeling heavy.

3. Water.
Run a slightly-hotter-than-usual bath. Add some lavender oil, light a few candles and get some bubbles going (using baby-friendly products). Submerge yourself, and lie your baby on your chest to hear your heartbeat. I’ve had baths at 2am with my baby, even though it’s the last thing on earth I felt like doing, it really, really helped. It’s relaxing for both mom and baby. Try feeding in the bath as well. A hot bath is one of the best things that helped for colic. Dont make the bath hot to begin with, but constantly add a little more hot water so that your baby’s body adjusts to the temperature.

4. Movement.
Put your baby in the pram, and go for a walk. Wear your baby. Put your baby in a sling, and walk around the garden. Try a rocking chair. Even a swing chair. I had one of these. Miracle worker, I tell you. I even passed it on to another mom, who swears by it. Adores it, has bought enough batteries to last until her kid is 18. Put your baby in the car seat and go for a drive. Put the babyseat on top of the washing machine or dryer while it’s going through a cycle. The vibration is very soothing.

Put baby over your knees, on his tummy, and your hand on his back, and cradling his head, and bounce your knees gently. If there’s a wind that’s stuck, that will dislodge it.

5. Music.
Classical music doesn’t seem to be very soothing for my child, I must be honest. I bought all these classical music CDs thinking I was going to make my baby a genius, when it turns out that the music actually bothers him. Wanna know what he does like? Reggae music. That’s what soothes him. So find what music works for you, and turn it up! Hold your baby close to you, and sway gently with him to the music.

6. Get out!
Put the pram out in the garden, under a tree so baby can watch the moving leaves and branches. That’s one big mobile, right there, for free. Fresh air is great for making baby sleepy. Go on an outing. Sometime baby has the best sleep, in the pram, in a busy mall, while you can get a good dose of retail therapy.

7. Recreate the womb.
Your baby was used to a confined, warm environment – he lived in your cramped womb for 40 weeks. Remind him of the womb. Wrap him up like a burrito (swaddle him) hold him close to you, so he can hear your heart beat. Gently make a shushing sound, which will recreate the sound of your bood running through your veins that he heard constantly while in the womb. Dont try to make the house too quiet, as when he was in your womb he was used to a lot of background noise. So keep things on a low-level hum around the house.

8. Ask for help.
If you’re at the point where you’re tempted to throw your baby in the rubbish bin, give him to someone else and take a break. If there’s no one around, call someone and tell them to come quick, it’s an emergency. You’ll usually find that handing baby to someone who’s calm and fresh, is an instant soother. If there’s no one to help, put the baby on the floor for a few minutes and go into another room, and pull yourself together. Your baby cant fall off the floor, and it’s unlikely he can hurt himself.

9. Skin-on-skin.
Sometimes babies just need some closeness and reassurance. Skin on skin contact can provide this. Make sure the room is warm enough. Put a blanket over the two of you. Rub his back, run a feather or something light over his skin to tickle him. Distract him. Run your hands all over his skin and try to remain calm.

10. Sucking.
Offer a dummy. Dont worry about your child getting attached to the dummy, that’s a worry for another day. Focus on today. Offer the breast or a bottle. Sucking is a natural comfort reflex that fulfils a variety of different needs. Want to know how it works? Place your tongue on the roof of your mouth, just behind your teeth. Feeling of instant calm? well, that’s what a dummy does for a baby. So dont diss it til you’ve tried it!

Lastly…

“Remind yourself that you’re not always going to know what to do. You can’t keep a baby happy all day long. When you don’t know what to do, don’t think any less of yourself for it. Nobody’s perfect and not all babies are the same.”

Just try to remain as calm as possible. Baby is not crying to ruin your day, or manipulate you, even though it may feel that way. Baby is crying to communicate with you. He has a need that he wants you to fulfil.

It’s up to you to figure out what that is. Good luck.

Do I Tell Him?

Knowing I was an unplanned pregnancy myself caused me a lot of angst. Strangely enough. My mother had me when she was 16, and married my father so he could get a housing grant. And got divorced and left not much longer after that. I was raised by my father. Who it seems, sometimes impressed upon me the fact that if he hadn’t had me, he would have traveled the world surfing. That’s not to say I know he didn’t love me, but sometimes I just felt guilty, you know?

Now. My son was definitely an unplanned pregnancy as well. I’d only been dating The Boyfriend for 2 months before we found out I was pregnant. So it’s safe to say that my son was unplanned. Unwanted? Not necessarily so. However, there have been times when I have regretted the decision to keep him. (Not often, but they’re there – and I doubt that people who plan their kids ever have that kind of regret). And lately it’s been bugging me.

a few days old

Do I tell him, one day, that he was unplanned? That he’s the glue that holds mommy and daddy together, and prevents them from killing each other? Dont get me wrong, I love The Boyfriend. But like I’ve said before, it’s a love-hate relationship that often borders rather strongly on hate. No, I’m kidding here. I love him, and I believe we were meant to be together, but that we needed something to help us to stay together, because both of us are very flighty people. And that reason is The Kid.

Now, so I tell The Kid that he wasn’t a part of my life plan? That I’d never wanted children?

Do I tell him that I’m only his mommy accidentally?

Do you think it even matters, or am I just making too much of a big deal about it?

It Is Possible…

Many people have commented on the fact that I’m lucky that my ten month old son sleeps through the night, and that he has done so since he was about 5 months old. And when I say ‘sleeps through the night’ I mean he sleeps from 6:30pm until 6:30am. 12 hours, solid.

Lucky? Really? I dont think it’s luck. It took me a lot of hard work, patience and persitence to get there. A lot of tears and sleepless nights. Believe it or not. Sleep for babies is one of the things that most mothers know so little about. And one of the things there is so much controversy and conflicting advice.

So I thought I’d share what worked for me. Repeat: what worked for me. You and your baby might be different, but then again, maybe not.

It’s a common mistake to think that if your baby sleeps too much during the day, he will not sleep well at night. In fact, I’ve discovered that the better he sleeps during the day, the better he sleeps at night. In other words, sleep begets sleep. It’s also important not to keep your baby awake for too long, because then he becomes overstimulated and is grumpy and miserable. He’ll hit a second wave of energy, and just become overtired, making it harder to get him to sleep.

A baby of eight months has an awake capacity of two hours*. Staying awake longer than that means they go into the ovrstimulation zone. Try putting your baby down for a nap every two hours, and you will notice the difference. He wont sleep for too long – 45 minutes is the longest mine sleeps, with one of his day time naps being about 1-2 hours.

Watch his behaviour for signs of tiredness –
* rubbing eyes,
*arching back,
*crying,
*irritability

when these are present – it’s naptime. Try swaddling securely, after a feed and placing him in the crib with the mobile to look at. This will make him drowsy and he will soon fall asleep. In the beginning, there might be crying and wriggling out of the swaddling. Just go back in, and re-swaddle and leave him in the crib. It takes some patience and getting used to – but now my son takes about 5 minutes to fall asleep.

A good bedtime routine is important. Make sure there is no boisterous play at least an hour before bed. Dinner, and then a hot bath. Followed by a feed, and then swaddle and place into crib. I cannot stress how important the bedtime/wind-down routine is. I do the dinner-bath-bottlefeed-swaddle-crib routine everyday, no matter where baby and I are. Babies of 8 months should be going to bed between 6-7pm. Keeping them awake longer doesn’t mean they’ll sleep later. It only makes both of you more cranky.

Ensuring your baby is getting sufficient nutrition is another good thing to do, if you want him to sleep through the night. Switch to the follow-on formula (ie: Step 2) after 6 months. Dont introduce solids until your baby has at least 1 tooth. Allow him to drink as many bottles as he wants during the day – dont worry about over-feeding – it’s impossible to feed a child that isn’t hungry!

Eventually your baby will drop night feeds, if he is getting sufficient milk and solids during the day. Most wakings at night are hunger-related, so ensure that he gets plenty during the day!

These are articles that I read that changed my view of babies and sleep:
How Much Sleep Does My Baby Need?
Getting your baby back to sleep at night

The Best Sleep Advice You Never Heard.
Swaddling Your Baby.

What I Wish I’d Known About Establishing Good Sleep Habits.
What I Wish I’d Known About Getting A Baby To Sleep.

Baby Sleep Basics: Birth – 3 months.
Baby Sleep Basics: 3-6 months.
Baby Sleep Basics: 6-9 months.
Baby Sleep Basics: 9-12 months.

So, as you see, I’m not ‘lucky’ as such. Just practical.

Let me know if any of the tips I provided have helped you.

*It obviously differs with babies of various ages. Find out how much sleep your baby needs, here.

Ten Things No One Tells A New Mom

So you were pregnant, and couldn’t wait for your baby to arrive. Couldn’t wait to meet the little person that had been growing inside you for the last 40 or so weeks. Once the baby was here, was it everything you hoped for, and more?

No? Well you’re not alone. Many new moms say that there is definitely a shroud of secrecy over motherhood and its not-so-glamorous challenges. Educational child psychologist Lisa Michaelson agrees. “

New parents wouldn’t feel so isolated if more aspects of parenthood – both negative and positive – were discussed openly.”

1. Bonding isn’t instant. So dont feel bad if you look at your baby, and still have mixed feelings. Even though you were probably told, while you were pregnant, that you will ‘take one look at your new baby and fall in love’. If you’re lucky, it happens. If you’re normal, like me, you’ll look at your child and think ‘oh my god, that is the weirdest looking creature I’ve ever seen. How’s that NOSE?!’

Like any other relationship you have with another person, bonding takes time. A bond is a strange thing, it’s either there instantly, or it can be worked on.

What do do? Spend as much time as possible with your newborn. Once you get to know how he/she works, and how to best soothe/feed this little human, things will get much better. Once you’re more confident with your skills, it seems easier to focus on the connection between the two of you.

2. Homecoming is scary.

Did you look forward to bringing your new bundle of joy home from the hospital, and picture yourself gazing over the edge of the crib as baby sleeps peacfully? Well, homecoming with a newborn is nothing like this. Being in hospital with your baby is like being in an artificial enviroment. People bring you food, make your bed, help you breasfeed and take the baby away when you want to sleep.

These things dont happen at home, (unless you’re lucky or live in a hotel) plus by this stage your body is pumping out  emotion-producing hormones, leaving you feel teary, overwhelmed and frustrated.

Dr Erik Fangel Poulsen, a gynaecologist who writes for Netdoctor.co.uk says:

“Most new moms will experience a period when they feel insecure, vulnerable, sad or anxious. The enormous responsibility of suddenly having a baby to care for can make a new mother feel afraid and inadequate.”

What to do? Try to relax. Your baby senses your tension, and becomes tense himself, which can turn into a vicious tension cycle. Try Rescue Remedy. It’s also safe for infants. Take things one step at a time, prioritise. Focus on you and baby, dont worry about the house and cleaning and cooking. Ask for help if you need it. Dont be ashamed. Everything new takes a little time to adjust, and soon enough, you will have discovered your baby has a routine, and it becomes easier to fit everything around that.

3. Breastfeeding isn’t easy.

So baby latches in the hospital, and drinks small amounts frequently, and you think to yourself ‘wow, this is easy. okay, I can do this‘. Then you get home, and your baby just seems to be hungry ALL the time, and it seems that your body just isn’t producing enough milk, and you’re crying, and baby’s crying, and daddy’s getting upset because there’s nothing he can do to help.

What to do? Decide whether you’re going to breastfeed exclusively, or whether it is acceptable to do top-up bottle feeds. But be aware that the chances are that baby will eventually come to prefer bottle, as it’s easier to get sustenance from a bottle than from a breast. So make sure you choose a good formula. I recommend Isomil (milk and lactose free – it is soy based). And make sure you choose the right feeding equipment – I reccomend NUK bottles and a Bambino microwave steriliser.

Although breast feeding is indeed best, it sometimes isn’t always the most practical. Although it is free, which is great. If you’ve managed to breast feed for, say, 8 weeks (like I did) you’ve managed to give your child the vital immunities he or she needs for the first few months of life. So congratulate yourself, and feel no guilt if you have to move on to bottle feeding. Just think of it this way – bottle feeding means other people can help. Bottle feeding means that grandparents or helpful family members can take baby for a whole night, while you get some sleep!

If you decide to breastfeed exclusively, know that you will need a lot of patience, time and good books or magazines to read. It’s important to eat a balanced healthy diet, and to replenish what breastfeeding drains from you. And it is draining. You will find yourself constantly thirsty. Here’s a good recipe for a drink that will help stimulate your breastmilk.

Just be patient, and remember that it’s all about ‘supply and demand’ – your body will adjust to the demand your baby makes, but it will take a little time!

4. Daddy takes credit, but is really just a bystander.

You imagine a happy threesome. With a helpful daddy who changes diapers, baths baby and generally fits into the role of Mr Mommy better than you could have hoped for. A new father has the broadest chest and the widest smile in the world – that’s until he realises that all his newborn baby does is eat, poo and sleep and generates quite a bit of extra work. Then he’s nowhere to be found, and you’re left feeling you might as well be a single parent.

What to do? If nagging doesn’t work, try bribery. Also point out the fact that fathers that are more involved in the daily work of looking after a baby generally have better sex lives. Why? It leaves mom with a little more energy, she’s feeling more grateful, and is more likely to respond positively to dad’s bedroom eyes.

Encouragement works, but dont tell him what to do. He wont like being bossed around. He’ll have his own methods, they might not be as efficient as yours, but the job will get done. Just let him figure things out for himself.

5. You still have nothing to wear.

Unless you’re some kind of freak, you’re not going to be able to wear your pre-pregnancy clothes home from the hospital. Perhaps not even three months later. You’ll have a mummy-tummy, bigger boobs, and generally more curves than you had before. Perhaps your feet have even gone up one shoe size.

What to do? Try eating healthy, when you’re hungry. Pregnancy probably taught you some bad eating habits, what with that whole ‘you’re eating for two’ fallacy. Exercise moderately. Only exercise 6 weeks after birth. Join a women-only gym.

If all else fails, grab daddy’s credit card and hit the shops. Retail therapy works wonders.

6. Mommies are competitive.

Beyond description. It’s always ‘my baby did this, and my baby did that’. It gets a bit tiresome, especially when all you want to do is brag about your own baby. This kind of competitiveness can be stressful, can lead you to wonder if your child is developing on par with others, can lead to anxiety about your adequacy as a mother. And it’s annoying if someone else’s child does something before your own.

Furthermore, the idea of a ‘super-mommy’ does not exist in the real world. Dont compare yourselves to other mothers. You have no idea what goes on behind closed doors, or just how close that ‘perfect mommy’ might be to having a nervous breakdown.

What to do? Consult the experts for reassurance about milestones and other concerns. Parenting books, magazines and professionals will all tell you that your child will develop at his or her own pace, and that trying to rush things only places unnecessary stress on both mother and child. Dont compare yourself to other mothers either. Do the best you can, in that moment. Day by day. And dont feel guilty.

7. The real cost of a baby.

Yes, we all know having a baby is expensive. But having a baby is not the only part. There’s the hospital bills, clothing, feeding, entertaining, educating and housing expenses as well. Once the reality of the bills sets in, sometimes you’re left wondering if this was all really worth it.

What to do? If you haven’t already had a baby, it’s never too early to start saving. Just a little bit each month in a fixed account will help. Be practical – ask for practical gifts for your baby shower, such as disposable nappies, diaper bins, formula, clothing in sizes other than newborn and car seats and prams. These gifts can also be bought as ‘group gifts’ – everyone attending your shower chips in a little bit of cash.

Budgeting – work out what you spend on what, and where you can cut corners and save. Hard work, but it helps to see where you spend the most money…

8. Your life changes – completely and forever.

Some mothers dont bat an eyelid at the change in lifestyle. Others are wiped out by sleep deprivation, and not being able to go out and party all night like they used to be able to. Sometimes, the good step you’ve taken towards starting a family and being a family seems outweighed by the parenthood trap. You might also feel that your relationship with your partner is no longer the same.

What to do? Accept that life has changed. Accept it. Really, you have to. Communicate with your partner. Spend time together. Be this after baby is in bed, or whenever you can manage. Plan things together. Have ‘date nights’. Arrange for a babysitter occasionally, so you can go out and party all night, if you want. Join groups of other mommies, so you have others who know how you feel.

9. You lose friends.

It’s sad, but true. Friends without babies dont feel they relate to you anymore, or get irritated by the fact that you can no longer go out for dinner or partying at the drop of a hat.

What to do? If you really still want those friends, keep them appeased by seeing them on your ‘baby sitter’ nights, and minimise the ‘potty talk’ around them. Or, find new friends – new friends with kids, who you can arrange play dates with, can have child-friendly social gatherings, and who you can relate to better. Just remember – there is still social life after children!

10. How repetitive it all is.

Feed, burp, change diaper, sleep, change diaper, feed, entertain, bath etc etc. It’s the same thing, over and over. It’s the same games that delight, it’s the same food that satisfies, it’s the same shitty nappies every day, all day. It gets a bit much some time.

What to do? Make sure your partner is involved, to take some of the stress of repetitiveness off you. Get out the house, socialise with other moms. Go for a walk, take a long bath, or hire a babysitter or recruit an unsuspecting family member.

Each mother experiences motherhood differently and even the common complaints may not be as severe for one mother as they are for another. But when your friends ask you what they can expect from motherhood, it’s a good idea to tell the truth – good and bad. Gently, but firmly. No frills.

Adapted from: Women24

You’ve Made Me..

Responding to this.

I never meant to be a mother. I never planned it, I never wanted it, I didn’t even think it could happen. And I was okay with that. I’d made my peace, and seen that my future should be child-free.

But, like all best laid plans, things never work out the way you think they will. One unexpected pregnancy and one emergency c-section later, I find myself being a mother.

It’s not the easiest job in the world, yet most women seem hell-bent on doing it. It’s something I never thought I could do, yet when I had the chance to back out, why didn’t I?

Because every morning, when I look at the tiny replica that is partly me and partly The Boyfriend, I melt. I can see my lips, my smile, my ears, and my sheer stubbornness and determination reflected in this small human. I see The Boyfriend’s eyes, nose, fingers and toes, and his temper and curiosity mixed in with all the traits that are mine. All the best parts of each of us have found a new arrangement and created a new person.

And a new person is not all that resulted from one unplanned pregnancy. I changed as well. Not overnight, like I expected. I didn’t instantly feel like a mother once my child was born, like I was hoping would happen. No, instead I slowly learnt that mothering is about putting someone else’s needs before your own. I would’nt say I’m more patient, I’ve just learnt to be better at hiding my impatience. I’ve learnt that mothering is part instinct and part trial-and-error. Somethings you just know how to do, and others have to be experienced. I’ve also learnt how to ask for advice, and how to take advice. And that doing so doesn’t make me a failure.

I’ve discovered that mothering isn’t all joy and sleeping babies, but that it’s okay to express the fact that ‘today has been the pits, and I’d just like a break from my kid, please‘. I’ve learnt that post-natal-depression doesn’t make you a bad person, or a bad mother, if you seek help. It doesnt even have to be medical help. I got help from my blogging friends, my boyfriend and my family. You’d be surprised, once you admit how you’re feeling, that so many other mothers have felt the same. Talking about your feelings doesn’t make you a sissy. Is another thing I’ve learnt.

I’ve realised that I can stop tears, I can kiss better a bruise, and I can tickle away any worries my baby might have. There’s nothing a hug or an elephant biscuit cant fix. I’ve become a person of routine, whereas before I used to fight every inch of routine in my life. Now routine is satisfying, and helps my baby feel secure. I’ve stopped worrying what other people think of me. The only person I need to impress is my son, and as far as he is concerned, I’m about the coolest thing out there. He wouldn’t trade me for the world.

I know that the smiles, the laughs, the milestones and the tears are all part of being a mother. And sometimes, when I wish he would hurry up and start walking, I realise that I’m wishing his life away…Which is the last thing I’d want. I just want him to be happy, healthy, and to grow and get lots of sleep.

Despite all the battle scars – the stretchmarks, the feet that went from a size 5 to a 6 and never went back. Despite the rings under my eyes, and the sheer exhaustion at the end of the day, I love him. I love being with him, I love stopping him from sticking his finger in the plug socket, I love digging my earrings out his mouth, and bathing with him, and crawling around the bedroom and playing peek-a-boo over and over and over. I love making him smile. And even though I’m not the same person I used to be, and even though I’ve sacrificed so much, I haven’t once, for an instant, regretted it. I love to love my son.

I just want him to be proud of me one day. As proud as I am of him. Proud of the fact that even though he was unplanned, his mother was always there for him. Loving him, guiding him, teaching him, and helping him reach his potential.