Month Forty-Four

karlexDear Husband,

Happy Easter! And thank you very much for my present. Which in my opinion was not actually the one you thought you gave me, but the one I desperately wanted and needed – time. Or rather, time off. As much as I love our daughter, as the primary care giver and the sole source of nourishment at this stage, I haven’t had much of an opportunity to enjoy the use of both my hands for an extended period of time or to leave the house by myself for more than half an hour. I’d say go to the loo by myself but since the house shifted and the bathroom door doesn’t hard close, the puppy usually makes sure that doesn’t happen. It was really nice to have some time for me though. Even if I used some of it to do household chores!

To be honest, that actually felt like more of a holiday than going down to Beechworth this year. Normally, I really look forward to this getaway as its one of the few places you really relax however this time, you got sick. So not very relaxing. And the dog was naughty which was not relaxing either. He was just trying to protect the Genibean of course but that caused an awkward situation for us. Hopefully we get the hang of the family holiday that doesn’t feel like more work than staying at home. This one wasn’t really it however. That being said, it was great to get out of town and the place you found us to rent was awesome.

Inevitably in my experience, the places where you go away to stay might be very nice and comfortable but they don’t usually feel like home. This one did. It came with puzzles and books and in the nicest possible way, it felt “lived in”. It had good light, it was perfect for entertaining, I though the beds, couches and chairs were all comfortable, you could practically get lost in the bathroom and there was good water pressure. I am a girl, yes, so this is important. The pipes sounded like they were being woken from the dead every time you ran the hot water and the toilet liked to keep pouring water into the bowl after you flushed occasionally but somehow, I just didn’t care. I simply enjoyed being there. I would definitely go back.

It was the sort of place I’d love to live. It was bigger than our house for starters and it felt a little more “finished” in an odd way, whereas ours sometimes still strikes me as a hodge podge of functional furniture that has been crammed into the same space. That is actually a little unfair as we do have some quite nice furniture, especially the new lounge suite. The old lounge was nice too but it wasn’t really comfortable. Or recline-onable. Before I got pregnant, it was something I’d sworn I would not put up with when I was the size of a beached whale yet after I gave birth, there it still was. It took another couple of months before it was replaced with a means for us both to lie down at the same time. Was this because you were getting to enjoy lying down of an evening less and less?

Regardless, it has been great to get the new furniture and I am also very pleased with the hutch thing you made for under the tv as well. Even if it did take about two years. You promised that the planks of wood previously under the tv would be temporary after we moved in but they became semi-permanent instead. When the new pieces of wood sat on the dining room floor for over a week, I was a little concerned that it might take a figurative fire lit somewhere inappropriate to get it moving but you sorted it out. Well, you and Neighbourette’s husband. You decided you needed a certain power tool and Neighbourette decreed you weren’t allowed to borrow said power tool without borrowing her husband for instructional purposes. Which you seemed to think was funny – “hey, do you mean I get assistance because of my ineptitude!?!”.

So we now have all the entertainment equipment together which is an improvement in more ways than one. Not only because it’s easier and neater but also because we are now listening to a little more music and watching a little less tv. Which in turn makes it easier to talk to you because you have a tendency to get distracted by the big sparkly box. Regardless of whether it’s showing wrestling or White Collar. Then again, maybe some of our communication issues aren’t because of “event boundaries” or distraction. For as you have recently advised – “you have to wait till my ears are turned on, they have a very distinct warm up period”. Yes, and it usually finishes right after I finish speaking!

With the rest of the month, I tried to ignore you when you turned into Mr Cranky Pants. Seriously, I don’t know how you can be so tired and moody so often because you get to sleep at night. I also tried to encourage you when you found an opportunity that you wanted to pursue. Things seem to have gone well so far but you won’t hear anything until next month. Oh, and I noticed that you seem to be sporting a few grey hairs there Mr Smarty Pants who likes to frequently point out that I am older than you. In the past, you have gleefully pointed out that I have already started going white so I just wanted to return the favour. Of course, when I mentioned that to you in person, you told me to shut up but I’m sure that very deep down you appreciated it. Yes?

Not as youthfully yours,

Your Loving Wife

P.S. I found the photo the other day. Its not recent but it makes me smile.

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Week 17

Week 17

Dear Genevieve,

Hey kiddo. A word to the wise. You may think you’re all proficient at this feeding thing or like you can change it up whenever you feel like it but I’m telling you, the thumb in the mouth at the same time as the nipple, it just doesn’t work. You “suck” and you don’t get what you want. Take that as you will. I’m just saying. Also quit with the pinching thing. Now you’ve got nails and strength so that whole grab and squeeze thing…not so comfortable. Just like the gimme gimme gimme with the mouth at the same time as the pushing away with the arm. I’m not meant to stretch like that. Yes I’m picky and full of rules but they’re for your own good little lady. And mine.

So there were a number of notable things this week. Firstly, you rolled over. Almost by yourself. Even though you were over twelve weeks old, we went to a local Mother’s Group on Monday because I wanted to hear the Occupational Therapist who was scheduled to talk about movement and play for infants. I had you on the floor for most of the group and when you weren’t busy trying to show everyone how chatty you can be, you were throwing your head back and your legs from side to side and you were so close to rolling over – if it weren’t for that pesky arm.

Week 17-3

Towards the end of the group, the OT was talking about that major milestone of rolling over and asked if you would like to be a model. She had been watching you try and try again so she got you on the floor and showed us how to help you out. She let you throw your legs over and anchored your hip with one hand whilst she used her other to move a toy around your head encouraging you to reach for it until…you flipped over! At which point everyone clapped and you looked quite shocked. You weren’t sure what was going on at that point.

So I got some handy points from the OT. I also got a dose of parental guilt. Or paranoia. At first because I asked about tickling…You don’t laugh. I mean you did…one time…but in general, you don’t. You smile at us, usually because we have been grinning at you like an idiot or making fools of ourselves in front of you. I wasn’t sure if there was a time that you might respond to tickling though because I gathered that laughing was as much a social response as one based on sensation. The OT said that children will always model what they see and when they see enough of something to be comfortable, joining in will go from there.

Week 17-2

Wonderful. My first thought was “are you saying I don’t smile at my child enough?”. My next thought was “are you saying that I am enabling and or engendering feelings of insecurity?!?”. Am I being a crap mum? Am I not stimulating you enough? Am I over stimulating you?…And then I got to feel guilty all over again when we talked about standing and walking. In the OT’s professional opinion, people shouldn’t use Jolly Jumpers (you’ve been in one) as they don’t speed up development and can be detrimental. She said it was best to let you progress at your own pace and therefore you shouldn’t be stood up before your ready or made to bear your body weight on your little legs that may not be strong enough. Which we do all the time. For minutes on end. The OT also mentioned that you shouldn’t put stress on your infant’s neck by having them upright in strollers before they are, well, older than you. You tend to crack it in the stroller when we don’t sit you upright! So like I said, I got some parental guilt this week.

One thing I didn’t feel guilty about however was shunting you into your own room to sleep at night. Because this week, you got sick again. You became congested and irritable which made you a noisy sleeper and I thought we would all feel a little better if you slept in your cot. So I kicked you out of our bedroom. I don’t think you minded though. What you weren’t impressed with however was the return of the nasal aspirator. It is not your favourite thing. You don’t like things being sucked out of your nose. Squirting things into it on the other hand didn’t seem to be such an issue. At several points I syringed some breast milk up your nose to help clear the airways and that seemed to help.

Week 17-5

In addition to the congestion though, you also got a little cough and a stomach bug. Which I realised after one of those perfect parenting moments when you think I so know what’s going on right before you realise you actually haven’t got a clue. See, you seem to have gone back to having a few gas issues so when I was holding you against my shoulder and you did a big poo and a large burp I was congratulating myself on helping you expel the unwanted gas and thinking “that’s what we were waiting for”…and then you spewed. All over the spit cloth, your clothes, my clothes and the floor. Clearly, I was wrong. But you obviously felt much better because you were all smiles at that point.

I then spent the next six hours only feeding you for a couple of minutes each hour to make sure you were going to keep milk down and not bring it up again by reflex. Which worked fine for the first couple of hours when you snacked and slept but then you started getting annoyed that I wouldn’t give you a full feed. You didn’t spew again though. Well, not until tonight when we tried to give you children’s panadol. Apparently you are NOT a fan. You brought that stuff straight back up! Which does not bode well for the future in which we are pretty sure you are teething.

Week 17-6

At first we thought you were too young. We knew you were drooling a lot but we figured it was too early to look for teeth. Bepi tells us though that your father had 6 teeth at four months and a friend of mine said her girls were early teethers as well. So you may be getting teeth before you get solids. Although I am told that we can start you from four months if you are interested. You are definitely curious, I know that. I watch you avidly track the trajectory of food from the plate to my mouth. You seem intrigued as to why you don’t do the same but after the panadol incident, I’m not confident that you’ll be interested in anything that’s not breast milk right now.

But then it’s hard to tell what you will be interested in and what you won’t. I took you to Baby Rhyme Time at the library this week. It was a half hour session where a group of mums sang songs and jingled bells and danced around. You were about as entertained by this however as you were with your own feet which you also found this week. Which is to say that your attention was caught for a while and then you wanted something else to entertain you! You certainly keep us busy.

Alles Liebe,

Lexelah

Perambulation

Putting Baby To Bed

Dear Genevieve,

Wow. I thought I was uncoordinated when I was pregnant. Opening doors onto the belly, trying to cut my toenails with only limited success, looking ungainly as I got on and off the couch…but all that was nothing compared to what I can achieve with a pram.

Lexie’s Law of Prams
If there is a door jam to go through, I will clip it
If I am reversing out of a small space, I will bump into someone
If there are some toes handy, I will run over them
If there is a side of the street with more broken pavement, I will choose that one
If I decide to get you out of the pram, I will not apply the brake first
If I can side swipe something in a narrow space, I will do so

And I managed all that in one afternoon out. It probably didn’t help that I was using public transport…

I must say though, now I know why car park operators are offering “parents with prams” parking the same size as disabled parking. Having a pram is a handicap! Now don’t get upset like I’m trying to compare having a pram with being disabled because I’m not. Ok, maybe I kinda am. A little. I know they’re totally not in the same ballpark and I’m not trying to make light of those less physically able but having a pram does give you a disability, however temporary. I now have a new appreciation of accessibility issues.

All of a sudden you can’t use stairs. Some stores make it impossible to shop in them. Uneven ground covered in rocks or tambark etc. is a real turn off. There are some places you just don’t “fit”. There are other places where you simply can’t go. I suppose I will get better at managing this unwieldy beast of a new appendage. My spacial awareness will improve. And hey, it could be worse, I could manage to find all the bushes with protrusions at your head height when you are sitting upright and whack you in the face constantly. I don’t do that.

Bis dann,

Lexelah

* I would credit the image if I had the faintest idea of who owned it.

Small Bump

ed_sheeran---small_bump_enl

Dear Ed Sheeran,

Way to make a grown woman cry! I mean there I was, at home, on the couch with my daughter – minding my own business – and then your song “Small Bump” came on the radio. Now normally I am not that emotional in regards to music. Actually, scrap that. I am. The Lion King made me cry. In the good bits. The live musical was very stirring…But I didn’t expect to go all gooey over a song I had never heard before.

Yet there I was, breast feeding my four month old who is perhaps a little more lump than bump but you know, close enough. My baby daughter who was cradled in my arms and for once, doing the suck-swallow thing with a relative calm and not trying to guzzle the milk down like a frat boy with a beer at a party. She was just quite content, cuddled up to me on her side. And with her free arm, she was playing with my hand, her fingers wrapped around my thumb. That was what did it.

I thought after the pregnancy bit had passed, the hormones that have you tearing up at the toilet paper commercials with puppies (not that I did that, I’m just saying that type of sappy) would be gone as well. Apparently not. So your song came on and all of a sudden I was listening to all the words rather than just chilling out to smooth music. And it hit me right in the heart. Wham!

And then we got to the end of the song and those last two lines…when it hit me all over again! Thanks. Although I’m not sure whether I mean that honestly or sarcastically. A little of both I think.

Yours,

A New Listener

Small Bump Lyrics

Just Smile And Nod

Playing With Baby

Dear Genevieve,

Your father has started taking fashion advice from you. That is, he might ask you in the morning “does this look ok?” or “does Daddy look good?” to which you’ll most probably bob your head up and down a little because that’s the motion of which you are the most capable. Which is obviously why your father does it because the affirmative response is the one he is after.

I called him on it this morning though and he assured me that you were answering honestly and merely agreeing with him. I dared him to ask you “does my butt look big in this?” to see what response he would get.

He didn’t think that was very funny.

Bis dann,

Lexelah

* I would credit the photo if I had the faintest idea of who owned it

Week 16

Week 16-2

Dear Genevieve,

I think this week was a quiet week. We got back from our holiday at the beginning of it and then spent the next couple of days recovering. We didn’t necessarily stick around the house though. Moreso than other weeks, I felt like I was suffering from a bit of cabin fever so we went out and about.

This week, we made a few visits to Neighbouette and her new baby. Two of them actually in the hospital. You were completely uninterested of course but I found it truly remarkable to see the contrast between the two of you. There is almost exactly 15 weeks between you, a couple of kilos and a couple of centimeters but you are so so different. And not just in the boy/girl kind of way! I’d forgotten how small and subject to those strange limbs of yours you were. Now it’s a bit of a different story.

Week 16

Whilst there weren’t any real milestones this week, you are ever more alert and in control of yourself. You now play with the toy we clip to your car capsule. You grab it, stick bits in your mouth and seem amused by the sounds you are able to elicit. I would still describe you as more serious in your explorations than delighted in your findings but then, you might just need the human element for the emotional response. You were starting to get the hang of the peek-a-boo game at the end of the week.

Week 16-5

You didn’t go back to regular naps and longer sleeps though. You kept up with the no more than three hours at a time and only at night gig. I really shouldn’t complain because it’s more than some mothers get but I still want to go back to those weeks where I was getting a few five hour stretches. Or, you know, you could start something new and begin sleeping through the night for 6 and 8 hours at a time. That would be cool too. I expect that when you start with the teeth, whatever you have previously been doing will just get worse so if we could start from a more favorable position, that would be awesome.

And you could easily change. Some things you do are only short lived and even though I might note it one week, it will actually be gone the next. The drooling thing though is not one of those things. Since it started, you haven’t stopped. You soak anything and everything that gets anywhere near your mouth. I’m sure that one day or one week you will stop doing it however and I wont really notice. But then again I might. As your dad has noted, it almost seems that at times you practice his trick. In his own words you “set really low expectations and then exceed them dramatically”.

Week 16-3

Alles Liebe,

Lexelah

Nursery Rhyme Time

Nursing Baby

Dear Genevieve,

Since we had you, your father and I have been on the hunt for music that we can play to you. Something that we are both happy to listen to but that is a bit more kid friendly because Tim Minchin isn’t really appropriate. Brilliant but not really appropriate. And we’re getting sick of Tony Bennet’s In The Playground. Sparky and I have rather different approaches towards this endeavor however.

Your father has gone and raided the library for all the Putamayo CDs that they have. You now have things like lullabies sung in Gaelic, Rubber Duckie in Chinese, Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport in Danish and a number of French songs from which I can pick out isolated words and your father wouldn’t have a clue. I must say I find this amusing as your dad used to kick up a stink when I put on my German CDs that he doesn’t understand either although I do.

My approach conversely, has been to find my old Play School and children’s LPs and to pull out all my Disney albums and stick them on an MP3 player for you. I have also checked out the library’s stash of Nursery Rhyme CDs which I have, ahem, copied for you as well. And I play them for you when your dad is not around because apparently he doesn’t classify them as “music”. I think this is a little unfair although I was listening to some of the rhymes the other day and thought you could argue they are an interesting interpretation of appropriate.

Take Ring A Ring ‘O Roses. A popular children’s rhyme…about the black plague. It describes, albeit somewhat disguised, people contracting a fatal illness and then dying. Cheerful, huh. Then there is See Saw Marjorie Daw. This is apparently about a prostitute. And it let’s kids know you’ll never amount to anything in this world if you’re slow. Or you’ll be poor which for some is the same thing. But those rhymes only have a subtext which may be considered disturbing for children. They’re not really in your face.

On the other hand, Ladybird Ladybird is just depressing. The message “fly away home – your house is on fire, your children all flown” is hardly a happy one although I suppose it’s better than your children are gone. Slightly less depressing is the Old Grey Mare who “ain’t what she used to be many long years ago”. So ok, this nursery rhyme isn’t bad, it’s just I’m not sure we need educate infants that as you get elderly you start to lose your faculties. Young kids don’t yet even have some of the abilities they will later lose.

And then we come to the nursery rhymes that are inane or just plain annoying. The Bear Went Over The Mountain for example is like a bad knock knock joke or that classic, “why did the chicken cross the road?”. He went over to see what he could see and all he saw was the other side of the mountain. Awesome. Great story. Glad I know that. Just like I am glad that the horn on the bus goes beep beep beep ALL the way to town. Because that’s fun. Which is probably partly why my friend made up new lyrics so now the Irish on the bus go glug, glug, bleargh. Although, that’s more funny for the song than it would be “fun”. At least the “bleargh” part.

So it will be interesting to see what music you like when we can understand your preferences. Until then, you’re stuck with what we give you. Just promise me you’re not going to turn into one of those Hi-5 kids because I don’t think either your father or I could stomach that.

Bis dann,

Lexelah

* I would credit the image if I had the faintest idea of who owned it