2/5 This much I know.

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So, parenting.

I don’t know, I’m sure some people manage it, but in my experience it is impossible to have a baby, and then not let said baby take well and truly over your life. Pregnancy, birth, feeding and raising tiny humans has utterly dominated my every waking moment for the past 4 years and has made up the fabric of my day, every day. Which has been both wonderful and totally bonkers, inspiring and, well, intense.

Right now though, I feel like some of the fog is lifting. I can sustain my attention for more than 60 seconds on topics other than cloth nappies and the best strategy for getting your toddler into their car seat without giving yourself an aneurysm. I am beginning to prioritise myself more, and my need to get fit and use my brain in different ways, rather than always feeling at the bottom of the pecking order. There is, oh my God imagine, space in my life for more than just babies. A dog! Why will no one let me get a dog?

Part of the reason for saying farewell to this blog is that the impetus to write incessantly about parenting has waned. But while I am still here, not quite clear of those all encompassing toddler years, I thought I would write down the most important stuff that I have learned. The pearls that I want to pass on, to other people still very much beneath the mist, trying to figure it out, with only 4 hours sleep and a strong coffee to their name.

***

The very most important thing I know: We all fuck up. Like, you can read all of the Janet Lansbury you like, rehearse all the right things to say in the midst of an epic toddler tantrum, be the most zen and empathetic earth mother to your three year old who has very specific cup preferences, but at some point, you will lose your shit. Not in a ‘I’m strategically raising my voice to get you to listen’ way, but in a ‘Dude, I am exhausted, my patience is in the gutter, you are pushing me to my goddamn limits and I am just yelling because I am full blown ANGRY with this TOTAL LACK OF COOPERATION YOU ARE TAKING THE PISS MY GOD!’. This is not a thing that any parent is planning on, and shit, when it happens on the way into Sainsburys with a thousand judgey old people staring at you, know that it will be one of the low moments of your life. But guys, we are human, and while I LOVE positive parenting sites like Janet’s, I think we need to be honest that sometimes a situation will just push a button and we will yell and it will be ugly. It’s okay, our children will not be emotionally broken as a result of this, and it absolutely does not undo all the other good stuff that we do. On behalf of mothers everywhere, I am officially cutting us some slack.

Parenting though, it’s a judgey game. Actually I think it begins way before we are even parents and we are in a restaurant and there is a family on the table next to us. Ipads are on, pasta is being thrown and the parents are just benignly drinking wine and pretending not to notice the breadsticks that are being crushed and then liberally sprinkled about the floor. And we sit there and we think, ‘That will never be me, I will never be that parent, I will do so much better than that’. It carries on when we have had our baby, and you see an eighteen month old in the pushchair chowing down on a packet of Quavers and you act all aghast, because suspiciously cheese flavoured reconstituted corn shall NEVER pass the lips of YOUR preshus angel. And then again when you’ve got a toddler and you see those big kids dominating the bouncy castle, bumping yours right out of the way and onto their faces, while their parents drink beer and literally could not give less of a shit, and you vow to never let your children be such obnoxious little brats that leap all over babies without a care in the world. We all judge, of course we do. Judgement is useful! When you are thrust into the oblivion, I think it is good to look around at what others are doing and syphon off the things that you like, and want to emulate, and the paths that you swear you’ll never go down. This is all a healthy way to work out the parent we want to be. But also, shit happens. The afore mentioned shit in the last paragraph for example. And it helps precisely no one if you are there, looking on, at parents having a hard time or wilfully ignoring their children, because they’ve had ENOUGH that day, and passing judgey judgement. I am trying my best to remember that, and to not be a dick.

So if we have ascertained that we are all going to have bad times, and that we will refrain from being too harsh on others who are having bad times, what about the rest? Repeat after me: there is no right way. I know amazing parents who put a ton of effort into their interactions with their children, set up wonderful Montessori style activities, and are mindful of everything they do. I also know amazing parents who work full time and drop their kids of at child care every day and let them watch a ton of TV in the evenings because they are all freaking tired. I have written a lot about the guilt that suddenly descends when you have kids and makes you feel like whatever you’re doing? Not good enough. NOT. GOOD. ENOUGH. But the conclusion that I have drawn is that if it is working out for you and you’re family? Probably good enough. I am definitely the geekiest parent on the block and if there is stuff in our family that is bothering me (my kid has started waking up in the night again, my kid hasn’t eaten any vegetables in a month, my kid has an all consuming obsession with sharks at the expense of any human interaction, let’s say, just as an example), then you can bet I will be up all night scouring the internet for ways to improve the situation. But I do try and separate out the stuff that bothers me, because it bothers me, and the stuff that is driven by what I think I should be doing, because a Mormon lady in New York is doing it.

A word on parenting blogs: There are some amazing women out there who write inspirationally and honestly about their time with children (shout outs to Renegade Mothering, Parenting Illustrated with Crappy Pictures and Recipe Rifle for keeping it so real). For the most part though, once a blog has paid sponsorship, they have to maintain their brand, and their brand is usually them, being a completely perfect parent. Of course they are dealing with the same crap as the rest of us, OF COURSE THEY ARE, but they are photographing and writing about fun trips to the pumpkin patch, or how they just weaved their own yurt out of felt. Which is cool, I love those blogs! I love felt yurts! But the phrase ‘Comparison is the thief of joy’, has never been so apt.

Here are some other things I know:

Never tell the mother of a new born to ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’, ‘savour every moment’ or that is all ‘goes so fast’. It does go so fast but a day when you’re up at 5am and your partner is away and it’s raining and the internet has broken also lasts a thousand years, so that kind of makes up for it.

Instead, take the mother of a newborn food: cake, coffee and meals she can reheat. Literally the only gifts worth giving.

This too shall pass, this too shall pass, this too shall pass. They will stop doing that annoying thing that they do eventually. Sure, they’ll start doing some other annoying thing instead, but a change is as good as a rest right?

And seriously, if I was to pass on one piece of actual advice to the parent of small children it would be this: Ignore them sometimes. I am cultivating a style of parenting I like to call ‘conscious neglect’ (admittedly i might need to work on my branding), because honestly, it’s okay for kids to fend for themselves for a good chunk of the day. I think a lot about my Grandma, who raised three children in the North of England during the 1950s. She had a job and did all of the domestic chores without even a goddamn vacuum cleaner or washing machine, while her husband worked away a lot. Seriously, how was this even possible? Well she sure as shit wasn’t putting together colour match wheels and busy bags and making toast that looked like a little bear (although that bear toast? OMG). And yet she was still an amazing mother. So I think about her when I tell my kids that they have to entertain themselves for a while so I can cook, or get dinner ready or mess around on my iphone and feel thankful that I don’t have a mangle and that it’s no longer an expectation that I scrub my front steps every day. They’ll be okay on their own for a while, and it makes me appreciate the times when I sit down to do something nice with them all the more.

I’m sure I’m forgetting things. How to do a one handed nappy change on the parcel shelf of your car for a start, but that’s okay, you’ll figure it out. I need to go and do some other stuff: Plant some cabbages, swoon over yellow kitchen tiles, read a BOOK, Snap Chat a friend, secretly buy a dog. Stuff that still exists, waiting for you, when you emerge from the fog.

Science and Nature.

(Or, how I learned to stop worrying and love my job).

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First off, it has been very affirming to get some feedback from folks who have appreciated my honesty of late, so thank you if you have liked, commented or sent a message following my myriad emotional outpourings. I am grateful to know that I am not talking into the abyss.

And while I am absolutely an advocate for sharing the less than stellar times (aka the reality of life as a stay at home parent), it has also always been my mission to share the good as well. Not the sanitised, Pinterest friendly version, but the ‘here’s how I not only survive, but enjoy my time at home with my kids’. Because at the end of the day, I do choose to do this, so it has to work for not just our children, but for me and my mental health as well.

This year has had its many ups and downs as I have tried to figure that out. The first few months were absolutely lived in survival mode. We get through the day, we keep everyone alive, we try not to lose our patience (okay, perhaps that one was just me). But lately I have found a nice groove again, and have had not just moments, but entire days, that have been just that, enjoyable.

So here are some things that I did to get me there.

1. Find a rhythm. One of the hardest things about having a newborn (apart from feeling as if your eyes are constantly full of sand and you’re surviving on microwaved cups of instant coffee) is the lack of routine. The first time around I just kind of went with it, wore the baby in the sling a lot and went about my business. The second time, because I was also trying to create a sense of order for my two year old, it was hard to know when were the best times to go to the park, or to get an activity out, so we ended up staying in a lot and I found it very frustrating. At around six to eight months, we had a breakthrough as #2 consolidated his naps into a chunky morning sleep, and a short afternoon one. This meant that we could stay in during the morning and I would have time while both kids were awake to do chores (often with the baby in one arm or on the floor right next to me), then once the baby was napping i would focus on the toddler / get some baby unfriendly stuff out (paint, baking, books that you don’t want eaten), and then after lunch we’d all go out somewhere. This has remained the loose ‘rhythm’ of our day ever since, and it not only keeps me sane, but allows me to plan to meet friends in advance, as well as getting everything done that I need to at home. I’m not saying this same routine would work for everyone, but I think it helps immeasurably, especially if you’re finding life at home overwhelming, to have predictability, guaranteed time out of the house every day and sense that you are able to get shit done you know?

2. Do what you like. This probably sounds ridiculous, but it took me a really long time to figure out that I don’t like going to toddler groups. Actually, save for my own and those of my friends, I don’t really like hanging out with small children much at all, probably because I’m a monster it feels too much like work. But despite this, for the longest time, I kept dragging myself along to them, because that’s what stay at home Mum’s of toddlers do right? They go to toddler groups. But you know what? Fuck that shit. One of the only perks of being at home is that you are your own boss (the tiny dictators not withstanding), and you get to do what you like. I like, it transpires, taking my kids swimming. I really, really love it, so we do that as much as we can. I like meeting my other Mum friends and drinking coffee and talking about important issues (my hot new dentist), while ignoring our children (in order to foster independent play, obviously), and occasionally chucking them some fruit to keep them happy. So I do that too. I also like going to the farm and reading books at the children’s library and going to some really good outdoor playgrounds (even better when it’s kind of drizzly, so there are minimum other children there). I do not go to toddler groups. This has significantly improved my life.

3. Ignore the advice. I say this with the best will in the world, because I know people mean well, but the advice that you will receive most frequently when you have a baby is, in no particular order, to ‘sleep when the baby sleeps!’, ‘just leave the housework!’, ‘don’t worry about achieving anything!’. Which, yes, that’s a lovely sentiment, and I thank you for not judging my dirty floors, but, OH MY GOD I’M GOING NUTS ALREADY, IF MY HOUSE IS A SHIT TIP I WILL ONLY FEEL WORSE! (or something less OCD sounding).
I was talking to my friend who is a teacher a week or so back and I asked her if she is able to do any less than we used to do when we worked together, and were working long hours and taking on more and more extra roles. ‘No’, she said, ‘Because I’ve realised that I can’t do a bad job, I can’t let myself get away with just doing the bare minimum’, and I was like, woah, lightbulb, yes, that is me (thank you Anna, for the epiphany). I cannot just sit still and do nothing. Especially if the house is a mess, or there is a meal to be prepared for later, or I can be reorganising a freaking sock drawer (I kid you not, I did this today). Yes, I would probably be more relaxed if I did, but I do not do ‘the bare minimum’. And rather than fighting this, it has helped enormously to acknowledge that if my house is clean and in reasonable order, and I’ve spent some quality time with my children, and ‘have achieved something’, that I actually feel better. Tireder, but better.

4. Your presence is enough. That said, this excellent article by Janet Lansbury, made me realise that actually, sitting and doing nothing is sometimes incredibly valuable for your children. This is particularly pertinent when it comes to spending time with the Mancub while his baby brother naps.
I used to feel as if I should make this real quality time, which for me meant to get a special activity out that we wouldn’t be able to do with the baby around. I would suggest painting, or sticking, or going outside, baking. Which are all valid things to do with your preschooler, but were very much led and instigated by me, because we had this fixed slot of time in which to ‘do something fun!’ and if I didn’t do that, I would feel as if I was slacking, or somehow letting him down.
But of course, this wasn’t about him, it was about me, and my afore mentioned desire to never sit still for a single second. And actually, he wasn’t always that into it. So instead, when the baby was asleep, I began just going and sitting next to him, whatever he was doing. Often he would be listening to CDs at his table in the lounge, so I would go and sit quietly on the sofa and wait for him to take the lead. Within minutes he would come over and every day the outcome would be different. Sometimes he would want to do some imaginary play based on his CD, or his current interest, so I would be handed an oar and asked to go somewhere with him on his boat, or I would become an animal stealing fruit from his basket. Sometimes he would bring me a book to read, or one of his sticker albums to go through with him. Sometimes we would just cuddle up for a bit. Nothing, and yet everything. What a game changer. Now I make sure that the first thing I do is just sit with him, and see where that takes us.

There we are, some really obvious truths that it took me months to uncover: that days are better when you have a sense of order, when you do the things you love, when you put your all into them, but leave a little room for flexibility and the imagination of a small child.

Not every day is good. Not every day is full of smiles. But earlier in the year I got to a point where I felt like I was coping again, and it feels good to finally be going beyond that.

Not so easy now.

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^^This is us. We are happy, but so so tired.

I hate it when blog entries begin with excuses about why someone hasn’t written for so long. No one cares! So I’m not going to do that. But I do have hundreds of posts swirling around in my head, half written over breakfast, said aloud while mopping the floor, forgotten by the evening. And I need to write, to get it all out, to remember, to share. But then I forget, and it’s frustrating.

A long time ago I started a blog on a whim. I called it An Easy World (after not a great deal of thought I’ll be honest), mainly because Easyworld, (a little known Indie three piece from Eastbourne) were my favourite band growing up, but also because at the time I was, finding life easy.

Prior to having a baby I had been working a stressful teaching job, leaving the house at 7am in the morning, getting home at 6.30pm, bringing a stack of marking with me. I know those hours are par for the course in the corporate world when you’re making good money, but I was making next to nothing, and I was tired.

Then I went on maternity leave and had, admittedly, a peach of a baby. I was still being paid a salary, so I had some disposable income, and suddenly I was sat, on a Wednesday afternoon, in a cafe with friends, drinking coffee while our babies played. Life was easy. Having a baby was easy!

Every time I wrote, I felt like I wanted to share this experience. There is so much negative rhetoric around child birth and breastfeeding and being a stay at home parent and how hard it all is that I just wanted to be like, no! That is not my experience! It is not the hardest job in the world, it is fun and full of love and just a really, really nice way to spend your time. It can be easy! Feel positive women! Just embrace this good shit without guilt or shame!

The thing I now realise, is that it is really hard to share that message without alienating those women who are having a different experience from you. It is really hard to write about how great natural childbirth is without making those women who weren’t able to achieve that feel pretty awful. Ditto breast feeding. Ditto not finding being at home with your baby easy, but finding it teeth grindingly hard. No, those women are probably reading your blog and wondering where on earth they went wrong.

I acknowledge that now.

***

This year has, without doubt, been the toughest year of my life. If I think too hard about those first few months of my son’s life my eyes still prick with tears, because honestly, I just wished them away. I just wished for sleep and an older baby and a toddler who was not lying on the floor screaming, because surely this could not go on indefinitely?

And it didn’t. Time marched on, as it always does and I can’t go back and smell his sweet newborn head even for a second, because I wished it away. And now it is gone.

I feel like in this space, where I come to write and share and remember, I am getting closer to being able to talk honestly about how that was, that time, this year. It wasn’t easy, but I survived. I have the two most beautiful boys and I still feel eternally grateful that I am able to be at home with them each day, no matter how tiring, no matter how hard. I have come through it and in small increments I have found a new normal, a new happiness, the dread that held my stomach tight has gone.

I read this post on Renegade Mothering last week about how we, as mothers, as women need to share these experiences, our struggles, our darkness. Which doesn’t come naturally to me because typically I’m much more, ‘Oh yeah, the baby’s fine, check out this deodorant I made and have some freshly baked bread *sobsob*’, but I am trying, because I know that it’s important

I wrote the beginning of this post in my head this morning while I mopped the floor.

I didn’t write the end.

Four month update

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Appearance and Growth:
This month #2 has pretty much grown before my very eyes. He weighs over 15lb, and he is getting long, so much stronger, and very, very dribbly. It might be time to crack out the immortal words, ‘I think he might be teething’. Of course he is.

Development:
I can finally add in a new section, because *gasp*, he is doing some stuff! Not like, penning his memoirs or anything, but sitting up holding onto just one hand, doing wobbly little stands holding onto our fingers and trying, dammit, to roll over, usually when precariously placed on high surfaces (just kidding I would never place him on a high surface…). He’s also grabbing onto stuff, notably a tissue his brother had just wiped his nose with (Baby Led Weaning, second child style).

Feeding:
This month I flipped his routine around to avoid feeding him to sleep, so he now has a feed about half an hour after each time he wakes up, which sets us up nicely for when when do begin introducing solids, as they would typically come after a milk feed. He still feeds two or three times in the night, so seven or eight times in every 24 hours. I try and keep feeds to a quiet place to avoid the fussiness that inevitably occurs if there is any distraction at all because heaven forbid he miss any action. Easier said than done with a toddler in the house.

Day Sleep:
Still napping three times a day and you can pretty much set your clock by him. Once 90 minutes after he wakes in the morning, once two hours after he wakes from nap one, and once two and a half hours after that. The third nap is sometimes a bit tricky, but the first two are generally nice and long and he settles into his cot easily. He’s still swaddled for his naps, which is working well.

Night Sleep:
Oh, what I’d do for a full night’s sleep. The adrenaline of the first few months is well and truly gone and I. Am. Tired. We had a glorious two weeks at the beginning of the month when he would go down at 7pm, sleep until maybe 1 or 2am, have another feed at around 4 or 5am and then sleep until morning. But then he suddenly began waking at 10pm again, and then every three hours from there on in with some extra shenanigans from 4am onwards. He is definitely not hungry at 10pm, because if I rock him or hold him he falls right back to sleep, but he’s hard to resettle back into the cot. I’m going to try the ‘wake to sleep’ strategy to try and eliminate this and anything else I can find on the Internet to try and get a bit more shut eye.

Personality:
BUT, regardless of him being a little pickle at night, he still wakes every morning with the biggest of smiles (even if I don’t), and is the happiest of souls. The biggest smiles are still reserved for his brother and he loves to lie and watch him play. He’s very physical and constantly wants to be wriggling around, trying to sit up and is still at his happiest facing outwards in the sling so he can watch everything that’s going on.

Baby Sleep Post #17364829

Fed up with hearing how my baby is sleeping yet? Here’s him looking cute (and awake!) to take your mind off it. Plus, I did warn you there might be a few of these posts.

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So.

A couple of weeks ago I got half way through a post about how #2 was just not really sleeping that great. At all. I know I had a ridiculously easy time of it the first time round (the mancub was born on October 10th and on Christmas night he slept a solid 13 and a half hours. Without waking. He rarely woke more than once in the night from 8 weeks and at two and a half he often sleeps 14 hours a night. He’s just one of those ”good sleeper” kids we all love to hate), but this time things seemed to be getting worse rather than better.

I never expected to get a duplicate of my first baby, and was pretty content when at around two months he was going to bed happily at around 7pm then waking at 10pm, 1am, 4am and then up for the day 6am. This seemed fair right? And things progressed like this for a while until we hit 12 weeks and suddenly BOOM! All. The. Wake ups. In bed at 7pm then wake ups at 10pm, 1am, 3am, 4am, 5am and er… 6am.

I was pretty much starting to survive on coffee and the salt from my own tears.

So there I was, half way through my post about how THIS BABY IS NOT SO EASY, BUT SOCIETY DEMANDS SO MUCH OF THESE BABIES AND MAYBE IN THIRD WORLD COUNTRIES THEY WOULD BE TOTALLY COOL WITH THIS AND I’M JUST BEING SELFISH AND WHERE IS MY COFFEE OH GOD HAVE WE RUN OUT COFFEE??!!! When it suddenly occurred to me that I hadn’t really done much to try and improve things. I mean, with the mancub he just came out a born sleeper. I did all the stuff about giving him a bath and some wind down time and some sleep cues, but really, he did the rest. I’d say it was 20% stuff I did and 80% pure luck.

This time, maybe I should put in a wee bit more effort before moaning to the Internet?

So I racked my brains. He was fairly good at self settling. I often fed him, but put him down ‘sleepy but awake’, and sometimes just plain awake and he would drop off unassisted. He had a solid bedtime routine and regular naps in his cot. The one thing, the only thing, that could maybe be working against me was that despite the ‘sleepy but awake’ schtick, I was effectively feeding him to sleep for his naps and through the night. Ah yes, that dark destroyer of sleep: the breast.

I decided that I had to at least try to turn this around. Despite doing a LOT of reading on parenting issues, I haven’t read a great deal about baby sleep, because, well, I never needed to. But I’ve heard enough to cobble together a sort of a strategy involving some light rocking, a bit of waiting, some picking up and more rocking, some putting down and patting… aaaand repeat until asleep. Bafflingly it actually worked. The first day I tried it, I managed to get him to sleep for all of his naps without feeding him first. A miracle to be sure!

As an aside I think this was successful for a number of reasons. Firstly I think I’m much less sensitive to anything resembling a crying baby this time. With the Mancub I literally wouldn’t let him peep before I picked him up. This time I am fairly confident in the difference between a tired baby having a bit of a grumble and a baby in distress. I would never tolerate the latter, but I can wait the former out a little while. It also helped that like a said, I was already putting him down awake but sleepy, so I had a bit of a head start. Finally, I dunno, I was desperate? Clearly the sleep Gods took pity.

And it worked! Seriously, that night I put him down at 7pm, and he woke up at midnight, 3am and 6am. Like freaking witchcraft it worked! Next night? 7pm, 1am, 4am, 6.30am. A week later 7pm, 2am, 6am, 8.15!!! You guys, I WON at baby sleep! I KNOW ALL OF THE SECRETS!!!

And then.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHSOBSOBSOBSOB. Guess what? 7pm, 10pm, 1am, 4am, 5am, 6am.

Fuck.

In a last ditch attempt to wrestle control back from this tiny dictator I pulled out the big guns. I switched his last bed time feed to before his bath time, an old trick I learned from a friend who employed a sleep clinic to help out with her night owl baby. This would totally sever the ties between breast feeding and sleep and ensure that advanced level self soothing skills were acquired.

A mild improvement, but still an average of 3 wake ups over the 12 hour night.

I was at a loss. I had pulled all of my baby sleep tricks out of the bag and my baby was still not sleeping through. Or anything close to resembling through.

Then, whilst researching what i thought to be a non related breast feeding issue, I read this article on Kelly Mom. It describes my baby, to a tee. A totally fussy eater during the day (which is what I was looking for advice on), constantly popping on and off, seeing what’s around, noticing the light or the toddler or the toilet flushing. I had initially thought all of the popping on and off was something to do with my supply. But no, totally distracted. At night on the other hand? Champion nurser. Good long feeds, consistent sucking, no distraction at all in the dark bedroom. And here’s the revelation: This is where he is getting most of his calories.

The article ends thusly: Please don’t deny that your breastfeeding baby is quite possibly very hungry at night at four months, even though they may have been sleeping through the night prior to this. Look at the feed — can you hear swallowing? Does your breast get softer? Is he EATING? Then don’t make him cry it out! He needs to eat….and he needs his mommy.

Sudden. Realisation.

He’s hungry, stupid.

I’m so glad I did switch the routine around. That he totally nailed the self soothing, and that I’ve basically ruled out every other possible reason for him waking, because the reason he is waking is this: he is just plain hungry. And I cannot control that. Damn. Aren’t these uncontrollable babies just the worst?

Eh, but kind of the best as well.

So I have no tidy ending to this post. He is still waking up. Sometimes a lot, sometimes not such a lot. And sometimes I’m still tired a lot, and sometimes not such a lot. But I finally realised that not everything my baby does is within my control. All I can do is to stock up on more coffee and to feed that hungry boy.

Escaping the confines (a challenge).

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Life lately has been mostly confined to within the four walls of our house. Quite frankly it takes so long to dress two small children in outdoor clothes, feed the baby, change the toddler’s nappy because they have inconveniently pooed, redress the toddler who has now decided he wants to run around naked, settle the baby, get my own shoes and coat on and locate the exact audiobook that the toddler absolutely must listen to in the car, that well, it’s mostly easier to stay put.

Add into the mix that you’re trying to time outings to fit in with a baby being awake, but not too tired, while not letting the toddler fall asleep in the afternoon and OH MY GOD WE MIGHT NEVER LEAVE THE HOUSE AGAIN.

Continue reading

Parenting Notes.

1/ Yesterday I took the boys to a toddler gym (with trampolines, a ball pit, benches and wotnot) and today we went swimming at a pool with a mini slide and some other fun stuff. At both places I heard women calling their children (boys and girls) scaredy cats or wimps for not wanting to have a go on a piece of equipment. One little girl was reluctant to go on the bouncy castle and her Mum was telling her, ‘Go on, stop being such a scaredy cat and get on’. I dunno, is this a thing we do? Pressure our children to do things we think they’ll find fun and berate them if they don’t want to? In my experience toddlers don’t respond that well to peer pressure, because they’re yet to learn that fear is something that we disapprove of and also, they’re strong willed as shit. It just seemed an odd way try and get a child to do something and I’m not really sure what that’s instilling in them in terms of building their confidence and making them feel good when they have a go at something they find daunting,

2/ I am constantly realising how much I underestimate the mancub’s abilities. A while ago we were at a friend’s house and i was impressed that her daughter was competently using their CD player to play nursery rhymes. The mancub loves audio books and listening to music, so we set up a little CD player for him to use. My expectation was that he would learn to press play and stop and would ask us to put different things on for him, but I doubted he had the dexterity to do much more than that at this stage.
A few weeks later and he can choose a CD (he can identify many of them from the design), put it in the player, press play, skip forward to find a track that he wants by looking at the numbers (for example he knows that Kooks by David Bowie is track 5 on Hunky Dory), then take the CD out and switch it for a different one. He is beginning to remember to keep all the CDs in his little case and is generally pretty careful with them.
I never would have guessed that he would be so capable, and this isn’t so much a brag as a reminder to myself to challenge him and let him show me what he’s able to do for himself.

3/ I have to be so much more flexible with #2 than I was with the mancub. It sometimes feels as if he is constantly being shifted from pillar to post, sleeping in the Ergo while I run round with the mancub, or woken up because we have to get up and go somewhere. The plight of the second child. This morning we were supposed to meet our friends in the park, but half an hour before we were due to leave he was getting really tired, so I put him down for a nap. The time came to go and I just couldn’t bring myself to wake him. In the end he slept for two and a half hours and we missed our play date, but it felt good to prioritise him for a change.

Two month update

Appearance and Growth:
This one is turning out to be a bit of a chunker. Last time i had him weighed he was hitting the 75th %ile and a rough home weigh in puts him at around 13lb. Oof! He looks more and more like me as a baby. Same strong eyebrows, withering frown and massive gob. Cute though 😉

Feeding:
Like a boss. We still, as is my wont, have no discernible pattern of feeds. Sometimes he feeds to sleep then won’t have another feed until his next nap time. Sometimes he also wakes up ravenous and top and tails his sleeps with milk, sometimes he snacks all day. Fine by me as my supply is awesome and it’s all dead easy.

Day Sleep:
In this field we have established a bit more of a pattern. We’re still hitting 4 naps a day most days, with 3 taken in the crib if we’re at home and the final one in the sling. He lasts roughly 90 minutes awake, so I can predict when I’ll need to start getting him ready to go down, although the timings differ every day depending on when he woke up. Still going down with relative ease and naps tend to last around an hour.

Night Sleep:
It seems a little disingenuous to describe what ‘normally’ happens, as at the moment we all have colds in the Easyworld household and therefore sleep has gone a little bit awry. Thankfully the mancub has interpreted this as going into hibernation and is sleeping in until between 8.30am and 9am most days. #2 on the other hand has had a couple of nights of waking every 2 hours again, with a little bonus of every 45 minutes come 4am. I’m feeling HOT you guys. BUT. Normally he goes down to sleep at around 6pm, puts in a good 4 hours at the start of the night, has a further feed before I go to bed then two wakings (at around 1am and 4am), which takes us through until morning. I am trying to stop fixating on the fact that the mancub was down to one feed by now and sleeping through by 3 months, and instead remind myself that that’s a pretty normal state of affairs for a 2 month old.

Personality:
So, so CUTE. He’s getting more and more chilled by the day and is definitely at his best in the mornings, when he will happily lie on the bed while I potter around him. He’s started doing those lovely cooing and gurgling sounds, which along with his broad smiles make sitting and holding him a real pleasure. He did amazingly well over Christmas when he was passed around a slew of relatives with no complaints (from me or him!) and is a pretty sociable chap. He no longer looks like his brother, but they have so many similar mannerisms, noises and preferences, the main one being that he likes to be held upright, either sitting and looking around, taking it all in, or standing on your lap and pushing wobbly legs down. Those first few weeks I was so worried that this little guy might be more of a fuss pot, but nope, totally calm, just how we like them.

One month update

A whole month. It’s gone so quickly, yet giving birth on that bathroom floor seems so long ago. How is it that children have the ability to bend time like that? We are settled as a family, and I’m excited to begin these updates again, especially as I only began them at 12 months with the mancub. I can’t wait to see how he will change and grow, until eventually I’m writing about him walking and talking. In the blink of an eye I’m sure.

Appearance and Growth:
When #2 was born he looked to me exactly like his brother. Same almond eyes, same nubby nose, a touch more hair, but the same. Over the month he has changed and now they look nothing alike. Instead he resembles me as a baby, mainly due to that big mouth and his little furrowed brow. The mancub is very much his father’s boy, so it’s nice to have someone that looks like he’s got some genes from my side of the family.
He is piling on the pounds and I think this week it will be time to pack away the newborn clothes and get out the 0-3 stuff. I find that strangely emotional and I’m glad I have a clutch of lovely pregnant friends that I can pass things on to.

Feeding:
I have been so lucky this time, feeding has been a breeze. He latched on immediately and has fed well ever since. There was very little pain thanks to an excellent latch and the religious application of Lansinoh after every feed. He currently goes anywhere between an two and four hours between feeds, usually a long one from each side when he wakes up and then a snack before he goes down for a nap to get him good and sleepy.

Night sleep:
The biggest difference this time round is that #2 has already got a pretty solid bed time, whereas it took us about 8 weeks to get the mancub into his crib in the early evening, as opposed to dropping off on our laps watching DVDs. My husband puts the mancub to bed at 7pm then comes down and we bath #2 in his tummy tub, give him a little massage, get him dressed and swaddled and then I take him up and feed him and/or rock him until he’s asleep, then pop him down in his bed.
On a good night he goes down at around 8pm and then sleeps for anywhere between 2 and 3 hours. Lately he often has a couple of decent stints of sleep in his crib during the first part of the night, then gets increasingly gassy in the early hours, which seems to make it difficult for him to resettle, so we have him sleep on one of us from 4am to get a longer stretch before morning. By that point I’m fairly well rested and don’t mind having a cuddle with him at all.

Day sleep:
Nap times are still a total crap shoot. Some days, like today, they are regular and long and a mix between the crib and the sling and it’s total bliss. Other days I will try for 20 minutes to rock him to sleep in the sling, only for him to wake up 10 minutes later, which can be repeated several times until he’s woefully over tired. You never know what you’re going to get.
Some things are becoming more frequent though. He often has his first morning nap around 90 minutes after he wakes up and more often than not it’s in his crib, which means I can get ready for the day. He then takes a longer nap in the sling around lunch time while I do chores, then in the afternoon we all go out for a walk and he sleeps in the Ergo. Sometimes all those things fall into place and we call it an unmitigated success.
The hardest part of the day is from 4pm, when he gets increasingly tired, but is unable to sleep for more than a few minutes at a time, despite all of my best efforts. Throughout the early evening he gets grumpier and feeds on and off, needing to be jiggled and bounced and entertained until bath time, when it all calms down again. It certainly makes making dinner interesting.

Personality:
This little boy is such a serious fellow. He is beginning to focus and looks around with his knotted brows and big blue eyes. He is beginning to have more periods of contentment, after an initial few weeks of some serious gas, which meant that if he wasn’t asleep or feeding he was generally wriggling around, pulling his legs up and shouting about how hard it was to fart. It’s nice to be able to lay him down next to me and watch him lie happily, at which point his brother usually climbs on top of him and gives him a big cuddle, much to his bewilderment.
He’s surprisingly chilled when having his nappy changed or getting in and out of the bath, and doesn’t bat an eyelid even when he’s being climbed all over or bounced around by an excited toddler who wants to ‘look after baby’.
All in all he is one beautiful little boy, who makes my heart melt every day. It’s just a shame he’s growing so quickly as I’m not ready to leave these last newborn days behind quite yet.