Tuesday, 15 April 2014

It's not all bad!

No one ever said that being a parent would be easy.  And no amount of pre-game pep talk would ever have been enough to prepare us for life with a baby. There are books you can read, friends and family who give you advice, the internet, mummy groups and so on and so forth.  But none of it really means a damn thing until you've got your tiny little bundle of half-mum-half-dad loveliness home and are living in your new, unknown reality.  And it's in those first few days and nights on your own that you attempt to recall every morsel of information, every tidbit of advice people tried to spoon feed you.  And it's right then and there that you realise none and all of it helps.  Am I right?!

Recently I realised something, as I sat on the couch with a sleeping baby plonked on my chest, unable to eat when I wanted, pee when I wanted and smelling up the joint from three days of non-showering; new parents (and by new I mean every single parent of any child of any age) tend to get bogged down in what their kids SHOULD be doing instead of reveling in what they are doing.   It's easy to feel like you are achieving absolutely nothing when you've got kids. It's easy to wake up in the morning only to check your watch and find that it's five hours later and you're still in your PJs with your hair in the same old greasy ponytail and your breath stinks. It's easy to look around your home and become overwhelmed by the dishes  in the sink and the washing piled up in baskets.  It's easy to forget to get something out for dinner or that you ran out of milk two days ago and still haven't made the five minute trip up the road to the shops.  And it's easy for one bad night to turn into two or three, and for sleep deprivation (or zombie brain) to take over and you find yourself grinding your teeth, muttering under your breath about why you'd EVER want to have another baby, or just plain old sobbing into your cornflakes for dinner.  

But something that's hard to do is to make the connection between your stinky trackpants and unwashed hair and your child's happiness.  The fact that I haven't showered today or put on a load of washing isn't indicative of what I HAVE been doing.  In fact there is a direct correlation between my own personal dishevelment and the giant smile on my daughter's face (and not just because she thinks I'm hilarious)!  Because it means my day has been spent being her Mum first, above all other menial tasks around the house.  She is smiling because we have spent the day snuggling, playing, learning, eating, pooping, discovering.  She is smiling because I have put her first and she feels loved and protected and safe.  But you won't read too often about that in the parenting books.  Well, not in my experience anyway.

I have always taken parenting advice with a huge grain (or tablespoon) of salt.  I think anyone who cares to write a book and call themselves a "parenting expert" is more along the lines of a delirious moron.  How can you be an expert in parenting, or a "baby whisperer"?  Do they teach that at university now?  I have read a few parenting books with the hopes of learning a thing or two that I can use to help make my days a little easier.  But this is hard because despite the fact that ALL BABIES ARE DIFFERENT, each one of these experts claims to have the right way to discipline, the right way to schedule, the right way to calm.  And when your own baby doesn't respond to any of these methods these books also (for no extra cost) make you feel the right kind of inadequate and guilty.  Sounds fun, right?  Nope, no it's not!

I was having this conversation with two friends today, both with daughters in varying stages of toddler-dom, about which books we'd found helpful, what techniques we've tried for what, and what advice we wished we'd known.  And not surprisingly we all came to the same conclusion.  Yes, there may be days when we want to cry about the lack of sleep or how much one tiny creature can disrupt our lives, or the fact that you no longer have the time or energy required to kiss your husband on the mouth let alone get bizzy anymore.  But you also get a front row seat to the greatest show on earth! No one else gets to shape and mould your children the way you do. No one else gets to marvel in the ingenuity of the mind of a child as they mimic and discover how to do those things you're teaching and showing them.  I can quite literally spend hours watching my daughter's face as she figures out how to grasp her toys, reach for her dinner spoon, and use her baby language to ask for what she wants.  This month alone she has learned how to sit upright unassisted, pull herself up to standing position and begin crawling. And I got to be there for every second of it! 

So no, we don't have a cemented schedule yet, she doesn't go to sleep at the same time every night, and she still sometimes cries on car rides and throws tantrums when she's tired. But who cares?!  Because she is so incredibly smart and loving and affectionate. Every day is an adventure because you never know what to expect next.  And I wouldn't trade a second of it! 


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Sunday, 13 April 2014

Weekly brain dump

Teething sucks!  That's all...


Wednesday, 2 April 2014

It has started again...

What's started you're asking?  The counting, the mind games, the estimating. That's what!

At 12 weeks (exactly) post-partum I got my period. It was painful, crampy and horrible. It was exactly how I remembered them being before I got pregnant. I was not impressed. Far from it actually! I spent the next 10 days bleeding, aching, getting pimples and cursing my uterus for starting this horrible tradition again so soon after giving birth. BAH!! And then to my surprise six weeks later I got another period. And so I started marking them on our calendar. Can you see where I'm heading with this yet? And then I waited and waited and six weeks came and went and my period hadn't arrived yet. And, well, being the total airhead that I am I started thinking, could I be pregnant?? I mean, it's never happened naturally in the years since my PCOS diagnosis, but now I've had a baby maybe it could be different. Because we all know that's how life works out, right?!  Don't judge, I know how stupid I sound! 

So I spoke to Hubby, who looked at me like he may have to call someone at the looney bin to come collect his apparently crazy wife. But he also pointed out the fact that we had been doing the biz-ness recently and we did still have a leftover pregnancy test in the upstairs bathroom. Basically I blame him for what ensued because you're not supposed to encourage stupid behaviour in your spouse!  He told me to make up my own mind about doing to test, laughed in my face and walked away. Of course I did it! Curiosity didn't just kill the cat, it peed on my home pregnancy test and then set it on fire. Of course I wasn't pregnant! And I knew that!! But I did it anyway because regardless of the last four years I am ever the hopeless optimist. And I still felt all those same darn emotions I used to feel: my heart raced with nervous excitement, I became a little short of breath as I counted down the minutes until it was time to look at the results, I put my head in my hands and quietly debated with myself whether a positive outcome would be a 100% ridiculously scary prospect or if it'd simply be a massive blessing in disguise. And then I looked down at the big fat negative in the window and felt sad, a little relieved and exhausted.  I'd known the test would be negative and I'd gone ahead and done it anyway. And it felt exactly like it used to all those other times. Like a big fat kick in the guts.  

If I had of been pregnant this would have been my reality: Gracie and the new baby would have shared the EXACT same estimated due date. Yep, that's right! Crazy stuff!  If I had of been pregnant we'd have two babies under two. If I had of been pregnant my estimated return to work in November and the end of maternity leave would actually mark the beginning of another round of maternity leave.  If I had of been pregnant I would now already be at the end of the first trimester. And that thought blows my mind!  Would I be ready for round two of the pregnancy and baby game?  

I love our Gracie girl. Like I really, really love her.  But pregnancy was so freaking stressful.  And her newborn stage, which isn't that too long gone, was single-handedly the hardest period of time in our lives so far.  She was, undoubtedly, THE cutest baby on the face of the planet, and she was so good at feeding from the very first minute of her existence, but EVERYTHING was so hard! She didn't sleep well (and still doesn't), she had awful reflux and/or colic, and she wouldn't go to anyone else but me.  She's now finally at this gorgeous little phase in her life where she's giggly, wriggly and loves to cuddle her Daddy, and I want to cherish every second of it. BUT it's also this shining light at the end of the fourth trimester black hole that makes me seriously consider baby number two.  Was it all really as bad as I remember? Could I do it all again while Gracie is so little? 

To be frank, yes it was and no I don't think I can really see us with another newborn any time soon.  I am just now starting to get the hang of this parenting thing and I'm loving it. And that's all because of the beautiful little girl I call our daughter.  Everyday she learns something new, teaches us something new about ourselves and makes our home a happier, cuddlier place to be.  And I'm quite content right now to keep her our number one priority.  But does that mean I'll stop keeping track of my periods, no!  Because even though I'm not actively trying to get pregnant, I'm certainly not trying to prevent it if it happens naturally.  There's no contraception in our house people!!

How much time was there between you children?
Would you do anything differently?
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