Monday, 26 December 2011

We're all going on a Summer holiday

We are heading off up the Coast for a little Summer break and I'm nervous.

This is not the first time we have been away with BabyB-B.  When she was just five months old we did three weddings, over three consecutive weekends, in three States.  Those were short breaks and, save for one, we were in our own accommodation and left to our own devices.  This time we will be sharing accommodation at each stop.  This is why I'm nervous.

First stop:  Mum's house.  I'm least worried about this stop.  We spent a weekend there when BabyB-B was just eight weeks old.  Mum had lovingly set up a sleeping space for her granddaughter in my old bedroom.  However, I had other ideas.  BabyB-B would be sharing my sister's old room with us.  Mum was none too pleased about the idea, but went along with us.  Last week Mum called me to ask whether BabyB-B would be sharing a room with us again and offered us her larger bedroom for this purpose.  I'm not exactly sure how the sleeping arrangements will work out while we are there.  It will either be BabyB-B in the room with us, or me and BabyB-B in my old bed.  No matter how it goes I'm confident that Mum will go along with what we decide to do.

My Mum has constantly surprised me on my parenting journey thus far.  While I was pregnant with BabyB-B she constantly referred to the "good little routine" my sister had her son on from about four weeks of age.  This played no small part in forming my thoughts that this was what you were meant to do with babies.  If you've read this blog you will know that this is not really how I've chosen to go with BabyB-B.  Instead, we follow her rhythm.

I've discussed many of my parenting ideas with Mum.  She knows how I feel about controlled crying/crying it out and she said it wasn't for her either, she's on board with baby led weaning and is definitely from the breast is best school of thought.  I now believe that her references to my nephew's good little routine was said in support of my sister's choices.  She frequently tells me that whatever we are doing she can tell we are doing the right thing by how happy and relaxed BabyB-B is.  Following our discussions I know that she supports me in the parenting choices we have made with BabyB-B even if she doesn't necessarily agree with all of them.  

Next stop:  holiday house with friends.  Four couples, two children, one house.  My anxiety level raises slightly when thinking about this stop.  Don't get me wrong, I cannot wait to spend a few days with some of our best friends.  I'm just a bit nervous about the reception our parenting style will receive.

One of the couples coming along has a toddler.  They are far more experienced than we are at this whole parenting caper.  They've been doing it for a while longer than us and they have given us much well meaning advice.  This is why I'm worried - I have chosen to follow not much of it.  I am expecting a big fat "I told you so" when BabyB-B is rocked and fed to sleep at night.  I was cautioned not to fall in to this trap when she was only a couple of weeks old.  I am cautious as to how this soothing to sleep method, my sensitivities to her crying, her sensitivities to napping and our BLW will be received.  At the end of the day these people are our friends and I know that any advice is given with the best of intentions.  I just have to remember to have the confidence to stand up for our decisions.

Last stop:  serviced apartments with the in-laws.  Two apartments, three children, seven adults.  My anxiety level skyrockets at the thought of this one.  My track record on family holidays with the in-laws is not great.  DaddyB-B is the youngest of three boys.  The eldest brother is based in LA, is single and has come home to visit. The middle brother is based here, is married with a five year old daughter and a two and half year old son.  My parents-in-law thought it would be lovely to have a family holiday while their eldest son is in town.  There are a lot of personalities to fit in to two small apartments.  (Not least of all my own, which seems to have become stronger since the arrival of BabyB-B -picture mama bear and cub!)

My brother-in-law and his wife parent quite differently to DaddyB-B and I.  They also permit quite a different level of grandparent involvement when it comes to the children.  This makes me quite nervous as DaddyB-B and I are not content to let his parents just take over.  We are happy for them to enjoy their granddaughter.  That is what grandparents should do.  However, we prefer to remain in control (well as in control as you can be with an almost eight month old).  Cue personality clashes!

DaddyB-B and I have had many discussions about the differing parenting styles between us and his brother and sister-in-law.  I suspect we will probably dance our way around many of the issues.  I am yet to think of an appropriate response when faced with the "when you have two" type argument.

Recent events have made it clear that DaddyB-B's parents aren't quite as across our parenting style as we thought.  For instance, my mother- in-law is not at all comfortable with BLW and my father-in-law still likes to park BabyB-B in front of the television (my strong no TV for under twos stance is not shared by the rest of the family).  There also seems to be a minor obsession with how often BabyB-B wakes throughout the night.

In all honesty I probably sparked the obsession after recounting to my mother-in-law a discussion I had with a nurse when I was feeling particularly exhausted.  BabyB-B had been waking more frequently than usual and I was told that she was at an age where she could probably be resettled without the breast.  The nurse was at pains to emphasise that she wasn't suggesting CC or CIO be used.  Rather, she was suggesting DaddyB-B give her a bit of a cuddle to see if that would work (it doesn't).  Anyway, there is now an intense interest in the frequency of BabyB-B's night wakings.  DaddyB-B and I now deflect questioning on this subject.  However, this will be difficult to do when we are all under the same roof!

I truly hope that none of the scenes I am playing in my mind play out during the course of our Summer holiday.  I hope I am worrying about nothing.  There's just this sneaking feeling that I am not.  Watch this space!

No matter what comes to pass, I am determined that DaddyB-B, BabyB-B and I will enjoy our first family Summer holiday.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Carols or Candles?

Dressed up to go to shul on Rosh Hashanah
We are a blended family.  DaddyB-B is Jewish.  I was raised nominally Anglican.  I decided to convert to Judaism and BabyB-B will be raised Jewish.  I have no problem with this; it was, after all, my idea.  During Pesach I happily give up chametz (leavened foods), I wish others shana tova over Rosh Hashanah, I fast on Yom Kippur and I truly love the Shabbat services at our synagogue.  On a daily basis I try to adopt Jewish practices and ideals.

Then we get to Christmas time.  Christmas time is one of my fondest childhood memories and I just cannot give it up.  Growing up I hated my birthday, the story of Easter troubled me greatly and father's day was fraught what with my totally absent father.  However, my memories of Christmas are happy:  making steamed pudding with my Grandma; watching Carols By Candlelight on Christmas Eve, my Mum setting up a trampoline in the vacant lot next door; Santa leaving bicycles under the tree; opening presents with my cousins; feasting on Turkey with all of the trimmings, ham and pork with crackling (the now forbidden traif), followed by our homemade pudding and a particularly sherry soaked trifle; my Bestefar's mischievous laugh when one of the adults fell foul to his Norwegian Akevitt.  Christmas when I was growing up was not about the events that took place in a manger in Bethlehem; it was about family, being together and having fun (with a tree and Santa thrown in for good measure!).

As much as I fully adopt Judaism, I can't help but feel that to give up Christmas would be to turn my back on my happy memories and the one major tradition in my family.  At Christmas time, since my relationship with DaddyB-B commenced, I have endured Santa being labeled "disgusting" (and not in the sitting children on the lap of a strange old man sense) and the insistence that "the 'C' word" (no, not the four letter one, "Christmas") not be uttered in front of certain people.  It seems that for some Christmas brings out a distinct lack of tolerance and understanding.  So at this time of year things get a bit, well, interesting to say the least.  There always seems to be a level of simmering tension in the air while the big, fat, tinsel covered elephant in the room is ignored.  This was easy enough to deal with before the arrival of BabyB-B.

In her "haute couture" Chanukah dress
This year we enter uncharted territory.  For the first time my family-in-law has had to deal with one of the children celebrating a holiday that is non-existent to the others.  The answer to this was to celebrate, for the first time, Chanukah.  In years gone by DaddyB-B and I have marked the eight nights of Chanukah by lighting our chanukiah.  Aside from the lighting of candles in our home nothing was done to mark Chanukah.  There were no latkes, no dreidels and no jam donuts (I was always a bit disappointed by this - particularly last year as one of my biggest pregnancy cravings was jam donuts!).  Until this year.  Last night our usual fortnightly Shabbat meal with DaddyB-B's family was also the beginning of a new family tradition.  We gathered together and ate latkes, gambled for chocolate gelt by spinning dreidels, ate far too many jam donuts and the children happily tore open various exciting Chanukah gifts.  It's a tradition I'm happy to embrace, but it will not replace Christmas on our calendar.

All dressed up for her first Christmas party
at the Royal Hospital for Women
It has been put to me many times that by celebrating Christmas we will be confusing BabyB-B.  How can she be Jewish but still celebrate Christmas?  She's not going to know whether she is Arthur or Martha.  The presence of a tree in our home, the taking of photos with Santa and the family feast on Christmas day are going to put her in to a state of flux! I have thought a great deal about this issue.  How will we reconcile Christmas appearing on the calendar to our Jewish daughter?

In my mind the easiest and most logical way to explain it to her is also the most honest way. When BabyB-B is old enough to understand she will be told that Mummy was not born Jewish and that she grew up celebrating Christmas with a tree, Santa, presents and, most importantly, a festive meal (minus the traif) with family and friends.  And even though Mummy is now Jewish, her family is not and they still celebrate Christmas.

So BabyB-B, we will celebrate the holidays our way, in the hope that you will grow up understanding and having compassion towards the different cultures and traditions that exist side by side in the country of ours.  You will get candles and carols.  

Saturday, 17 December 2011

When People Know Better

I'm a first time mum.  I have my "L" plates on.  I've never done this before, but I'm trying to do my best.  I don't take any of the parenting decisions that DaddyB-B and I have made lightly.  In fact, I've usually spent many hours labouring over most of them.  I don't expect everybody to agree with the decisions we have made, but I do expect people to respect them.  Even the mummy who knows better.

I thought most people were aware of the parenting style we have adopted.  In particular I thought our views on controlled crying/crying it out were pretty clear.  I've lost count of the number of times over the last seven months I have said that we do not leave BabyB-B to cry.  Recent events suggest to me that we have not been clear enough on this issue.

A couple of weeks ago DaddyB-B and I had a party to go to.  The invitation stipulated that babysitters were a must.  The thought of going out without BabyB-B filled me with some (ok, a lot of) anxiety.  It just was not sitting well with me.  However, DaddyB-B is keen for me to get used to the idea of leaving her in short bursts before I have to return to paid work next year.  So we enlisted a babysitter we know loves and cares for BabyB-B to sit with her while we were out.

I fed BabyB-B to sleep before we left for the party and settled her in to her cot.  I came out in to the lounge room and explained to the babysitter that there was a bottle of expressed milk on the counter that could be given to BabyB-B in her sippy cup should she wake while we were out.  DaddyB-B told me he had already explained everything so I didn't go in to anything further other than to say there was no need to heat the milk as room temperature was fine.  And so we left for the party.

It got to 10pm and I started to get quite antsy.  Although we had left milk for BabyB-B I much preferred to be home for her feed.  She doesn't take a bottle and we hadn't tried the sippy cup with milk before.  We'd had a great time hanging out with our friends in full Star Wars regalia (did I mention there was a theme?), but it was getting late!  We said our "goodbyes" and made our way home.

While DaddyB-B was parking the car in the garage I made my way to the front door of our building.  I could hear crying and knew immediately it was BabyB-B.  I impatiently told DaddyB-B to hurry up.  We came inside and I looked down the corridor.  The lights were out and I thought, "Ok, they've got her in the lounge room.  It's not the end of the world."  Then I looked to my right and saw the babysitter standing outside BabyB-B's bedroom door.  She gave me a look that said to me, "She's a fighter, but I'll get her to sleep."  It dawned on me that BabyB-B was in there, alone, crying.  I was stunned.  Even now I can see myself racing past her and in to the room, reaching in to the cot and cradling a sobbing BabyB-B in my arms.  I'm not sure who was more upset, me or my baby.

I immediately sat down and fed BabyB-B.  Her sobbing turned to whimpering and I sat quietly listening to the conversation taking place in the lounge room.  The babysitter explained to DaddyB-B that BabyB-B woke up, she let her cry for 10 minutes, went in and "shushed" her, let her cry for five minutes, gave her a bit of a pat, then left her again.  That is when we came home.  She commented that BabyB-B "really fights it, she waves her arms and legs around like she really wants to get out."  She started apologising to DaddyB-B who told her it was ok.  I slowly filled with white hot rage.

After I settled BabyB-B back to bed and the babysitter had left I went in to the kitchen to discover the full bottle of milk sitting next to an empty sippy cup.  DaddyB-B and I then debriefed.  He said that he didn't think he made it clear enough that we don't leave BabyB-B to cry.  I told him be that as it may, we had made it clear enough that if she woke to try to give her some milk.  It was late and we went to bed.  I didn't get much sleep that night.  I played our homecoming over and over and over in my mind.  I cannot explain how upset I was (and still am) by what we came home to.  I was at a complete and utter loss as to why the babysitter had decided controlled crying was more appropriate than some milk and a cuddle.

It finally dawned on me that the babysitter had taken the approach she had because she thought she knew better.  After all, she has raised three children "and there's nothing wrong with them".  How do you deal with the mother who knows better?

Although well meaning, a lot of the time the mother who knows better feels the need to impart her "wisdom" with a healthy dose of smugness.  There's the friend who told me when BabyB-B was only a couple of weeks old that by letting her sleep in my arms I was spoiling her.  Her own child was never allowed to sleep in her arms so I'm unsure what made her an authority on the issue.  Then there is the mother of two children.  She tells me that it's all very well and good to do what I'm doing with one baby, but when I have another I won't be bothered.  Or the mother of older children who cautions me to "just wait until BabyB-B can speak back".

Until now I have sat back and let these comments wash over me.  I nod while taking the opportunity to work on my enigmatic smile.  I spent my days before child advocating what was best for my client often against lawyers with far more experience than I had.  I wasn't afraid to speak up.  Why should this be any different?  I have now learnt the hard way that these moments are when I should be advocating for my parenting style and what I know to be best for my child and my family lest there be any misunderstanding that I know best.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

When Parenting Styles Collide

A couple of years ago we had lots of friends getting married.  It was that time of our lives.  Now we've got lots of friends who have had (or are having) babies.  Call it natural progression.  Some of these people have been our friends for years.  Others we've met more recently.  We've shared many memorable and great times with these people.  We have our common interests and our differences.  This is what makes our friendships so rich.  So what happens when you mix friendship and parenting styles?

I am by nature driven by a thirst for knowledge and learning.  I want to know the how and the why so I'm interested in reading differing views and I'm open to having my position challenged.  These are all commendable traits in a lawyer, but, it seems, not so commendable in a mummy and a friend.  I frequently share articles that I find interesting, thought provoking and challenging via social networking.  A couple of weeks ago I shared an article that I stumbled across on Evolutionary Parenting.  This got me in to a bit of trouble with some friends. What was an interesting and thought provoking article for me was a slap in the face to them.  I did not intend to hurt, upset or insult my friends by posting it, but that is what happens when parenting styles collide.  It left me thinking, "Where to from here?"

Differing parenting styles and decisions need not spell the end of a friendship.  As DaddyB-B frequently says, "Everybody will raise their children differently".  It is how we address, accept and learn from these differences that is important.  Just because people do things differently does not mean they are doing it wrong.  After all, the concept of "wrong" is largely subjective.  What is wrong to me may be perfectly acceptable and logical to others.  Likewise, what I deem to be perfectly natural and sensible may feel completely wrong to them.  We can all learn something from each others differences.

When parenting styles collide it becomes a balancing act between respect for others and their decisions and the desire to share and discuss information.  Friendships can be preserved when differences are approached with sensitivity and tact.  This does not mean complete self-censorship, it means consider how you would feel if the shoe were on the other foot and it was your parenting decisions being questioned.  Sometimes saying nothing and just going about your business is more powerful than any than any article you could share or conversation you could have.   

The balancing act reminds me of a question posed by Sausage Mama on the SMATS Facebook page a couple of months ago.  The question (and I am paraphrasing with great liberty here) was whether you prefer people to nod and smile at your parenting style, even if they do not agree with it, or to argue with you in relation to it?  My response was that I would prefer people did not nod and smile and did not argue.  Rather, I would prefer that people freely discuss with me my parenting style but ultimately accept that my parenting decisions are decisions DaddyB-B and I have made after careful consideration of the information available to us, the circumstances of our family and, above all, what we believe is best for BabyB-B.  I am open to discussion but I expect our decisions to be treated with respect.  If this is what I expect it is only fair that this is what I am willing to give.

Having said all of this, I am not sure that I could treat with respect something that I found completely repugnant.  Fortunately I have not found myself in a position where my friends' parenting styles differ so greatly from mine as to enter such territory.  While I feel passionately about breastfeeding and BLW, I respect that some of my friends have chosen formula over breast and "traditional" weaning over BLW.  Frankly, it is really none of my business how others choose to feed their babies (although I would have something to say if they were shoving McDonald's down their children's throats!).  It's hardly repugnant.

Coming back to the incident of the article, my friend and I worked it out.  We had a long chat, spilled some tears, agreed to disagree and our friendship is intact and as strong as ever.  I also removed the article from my personal Facebook page.  I didn't remove it as an admission of wrongdoing.  I removed it as a sign of respect for my friend because at the end of the day some things are more important than the sharing of information.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

How would you like it?

It is a question that people should ask themselves before they go ahead and do something to or with a baby (or anybody for that matter).

Imagine this, you are enjoying a sunny Sunday afternoon with family and friends at a riverside rowing club.  You are sitting back, chatting away and people watching.  Suddenly, and for no apparent reason, someone sitting across the table from you leans over and flicks wine from their glass into your face.  Then they laugh and do it another two or three times for good measure.  How would you like it somebody did that to you?  I mean, it's not really something you do to someone is it?

I was absolutely shocked when a family friend, who I have only met a handful of times and have no real dealings with, thought that it was appropriate to do that to BabyB-B on Sunday as she was sitting back in a highchair, chatting away, people watching and enjoying the scenery on the riverside deck.  At the time I was too stunned to do anything other than ask, dumbfoundedly, "Are you right?".  Needless to say it put me in quite a mood for the rest of the afternoon as all I wanted to do was go home and get BabyB-B out of a situation where she was clearly not respected.  Three days later I am still reeling about it.  Fortunately, said family friend lives overseas and I won't be seeing her for a good few months.

Some people may think I'm overreacting and I should just get over it.  The problem is that this is not the first time that I've had to put up with people saying or doing things to BabyB-B with absolutely no regard as to how it would make her feel.

There are the times when, in the company of certain people, BabyB-B is clearly tired.  She is yawning, gazing off into the distance and rubbing her eyes.  At this point I will generally observe, "Oh, you're tired, darling".  For some reason neither the signs BabyB-B is exhibiting, nor my observations, are enough to convince our companions that she is, in fact, tired.  Instead of respecting her feelings, they smile, inches from her face, and boom in a ridiculously sing-songy manner, "You're not tired, are you? No, you're not tired".  They then proceed to pull faces and bellow some more at her.  I want to scream, "How you you like it if someone carried on like that with you when you were sitting there yawning and feeling tired?!", but I don't.

Then there are the times we encounter children, excited to see the baby.  They too put their faces inches away from BabyB-B's face and talk to her.  In their excitement they are really yelling.  BabyB-B is turning her head away, trying to shut them out, but the children keep on.  I understand they are excited.  I want to ask them, in a far more gentle manner than that outlined above, "How would you like it if someone came so close to your face and spoke really loudly to you?".  I don't, but I also wonder why their parents don't.

Sometimes I am feeding BabyB-B.  She is sucking contentedly.  I am gently stroking her hair.  For whatever reason some people think this is an appropriate time to engage her in conversation.  Often they feel the need to get up close to see just what she is doing.  This really does puzzle me.  How would you like it if somebody got up in your face while you were eating?  Never mind how I feel with your head disturbingly close to my breast.

Whenever I do anything with BabyB-B I try to ask myself how I would like it if somebody did it to me.  If I wouldn't like it I'm not going to do it to my baby.  Now I just have to work out a way to get others to ask themselves how they would feel before I crack and scream it at them!!

Monday, 28 November 2011

Throwing a tooth in to the works

BabyB-B is teething.  Two little chompers are busting their way out of her lower jaw and through her tender gums.  She seems happy enough during the day, but of an evening my happy baby turns into a sad panda.  She is extra clingy and difficult to settle.  She will sleep peacefully in my arms and erupt in fury the moment I put her down.  I can hardly blame her.

I remember the pain of my wisdom teeth coming through when I was in my early twenties.  It was truly awful.  Fortunately I had the adult ability to rationalise what was going on in my mouth.  I could pop a couple of paracetamol or ibuprofen and go about my business.  Poor BabyB-B cannot.  She does not know that the pain in her gums is the result of her teeth coming through.  All she knows is that something in her mouth is hurting her and she relies completely on DaddyB-B and I to make it better.  We're trying out best to do so.

Each evening we go about our usual 3B ritual:  bath, boob, bed.  However, when we get to the third B things go pear shaped.  BabyB-B may sleep peacefully for a few minutes prior to her eruption, or she may erupt immediately.  Upon eruption DaddyB-B rushes in to try to comfort her with his cuddles.  The success rate with this approach has not been great.  BabyB-B just wants the second B.  I return to her and sit rocking her while she comfort sucks and feeds to sleep.  I generally postpone the second exit attempt until she seems to be in a reasonably deep sleep.  By this stage settling has gone on for at least an hour.  More likely two.  I gently put her down and creep out of the room.

DaddyB-B and I then eat our dinner together, watch some tv, chat, I blog, surf the net, you know average, boring evening type things.  Then we go to bed.

BabyB-B usually wakes for at least one feed during the night.  More typically she wakes two or three times.  Her night wakings are usually pretty straightforward - she wakes, I feed her, she sleeps. However, lately we've had a spanner (in the form of a tooth or two) thrown in to the works.  BabyB-B wakes, I feed her, she fusses, I feed her some more, she fusses, we both fall asleep.  The night before last BabyB-B woke at least six times.  She wasn't waking to feed so much as she was waking for comfort.  Either way, she wanted and she got the second B.  We then cuddled the night away.

This got me thinking.  What happens to trained babies when they teeth?  Are they left in their cot to cry because they are not waking at the specified feeding or waking time?  Perhaps they are shushed and patted to tide them over to the allotted time.  Does the schedule go out the window during teething only to be reintroduced when it is over?  I've been told that consistency is key and the schedule should be maintained as much as possible through teething or illness. This  is one of my many issues with baby training.  Where is the room for flexibility and empathy if the focus is on sticking to the schedule?

I can just hear the parents of trained baby crying out, "How dare you say that I don't feel anything!!"  I'm not suggesting they do not feel for their teething baby.  I am sure they feel sympathy for their child.  However, I question whether they feel empathy (that is a true identification with, or vicarious experience of, what their baby is feeling and thinking).  I question this because if they truly felt empathy how could they not throw the caution of the baby trainers to the wind and toss the schedule out the window in order to provide comfort.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

What's in a name?

A lot so it seems.  Just as a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, controlled crying by any other name is still controlled crying.  What matters is what something is, not what it is called.  Unless you are into sleep training so it seems.

Ask a mother of a sleep trained baby how they did it and they explain the technique used.  It generally goes something like this:  put baby down in bed awake, give a few pats, leave room, baby cries, determine what kind of cry it is, wait for a certain time, go in to baby, pat and shush baby, if baby is really upset pick up and hold briefly, put down, leave.  Repeat this process until the baby goes to sleep.  The mother then continues, "We didn't do controlled crying. We did controlled comforting."  Oh, I see.

Controlled comforting, it's the new (or not so new) catch phrase and to some sleep deprived parents it must sounds far more palatable than controlled crying.  Certainly it sounds better than its big, ugly step-sister, cry it out.  Why is this?  Is it because the name has changed from crying to comforting, thus giving the impression that there is an emphasis on comfort?  It leaves me baffled when considering the technique outlined above.  No matter what you call it a baby is still being left to cry in an effort to "teach" him or her how to sleep.

The Raising Children Network provides a step-by-step guide to controlled comforting on its website.  Reading through this guide I felt my own anxiety rising (and that was just while reading it!).  I can't imagine what I would be like were I to attempt to implement it.  My mind is filled of images of BabyB-B crying in her cot, looking around, wide-eyed, calling for me or for DaddyB-B to come to her, wondering why we are ignoring her or, if we do go in, wondering why we are so quick to leave.  I can only imagine her confusion.  It reminds me of something I read on The Natural Child Project's Facebook page today:
‎"Never leave a baby alone to cry. This is an absolute rule. He may be crying because he is hungry, cold, too hot, wet, etc; if so, these things may be attended to. But he may be none of these things; he may be crying because he is frightened, and if not reassured early this is a dangerous condition. If an infant in the early weeks and months of life is allowed to remain frightened and alone, his first impression of the world into which he has come is that it is inhospitable, dangerous and lonely, and there is no use seeking help. He must try to fend for himself and not expect help; but he cannot fend for himself; he is helpless. It is not a matter for surprise that such impressions may color his view of the world and the people in it permanently. Much of his subsequent conduct will be devoted to the object of making himself as secure as he can in an insecure world."
M. Bevan-Brown, M.D.The Sources of Love and Fear (1950)
It caused me to ask myself how I, as an adult with experience of the world, would like to be left crying, frightened and alone.  I would feel helpless and hopeless. I imagined BabyB-B, with no experience of the world, being left crying, frightened and alone.  Her loneliness only interspersed by a brief comforting cuddle before being left alone again.  I can only imagine that the helplessness and hopelessness that I would feel would be amplified by her inexperience of the world.  What would she learn from this?  That my comforting is fleeting and not to be trusted?  That is not something I wish to teach her.  I want her to know that my arms will always be her sanctuary and that I will always answer her cries no matter how sleep deprived I am.

Call it what you will, and to each their own, but it is not for me.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

When Doubt Creeps In

Doubt. It creeps up from nowhere and then bam! it consumes your mind. I find that even the tiniest seed of self doubt, often planted by someone's well-meaning (or self-justifying) comment, grows like lantana when my sleep suffers as a result of unsettled nights with BabyB-B. It takes over every bit of confidence I felt about a decision and is bloody hard to kill.

BabyB-B has just turned six months old. It seems around this time the whole playing field changes again. Before six months I was confidently feeding BabyB-B to sleep at night and offered her the breast whenever she woke during the night. It comforted her, it was what she wanted, it worked and it was acceptable. Then one morning some mothers and I were discussing our babies' sleep habits.  Apparently, at this age babies don't need to be fed overnight and, if they are, they really only need one feed. The rest is "just for comfort" and they should be able to sleep without it and, of course, you should never feed them to sleep during the day.    Cue self doubt about my sleep time habits with BabyB-B.  Was I creating a needy monster who will never learn to sleep away from the comfort of my breast?

Then there is the solids issue. Before six months I quite confidently responded to questions about this that we were not starting solids before six months because we planned on doing baby led weaning. I was happy with this decision. I had read about the benefits of BLW. I'd read articles on infant gut closure and the potential damage of introducing solids too early. I waited until six months with the backing of BabyB-B's paediatrician, GP and our family support unit nurse who all recommended waiting until six months and, of course, WHO and NHRMC with each of these organisations recommending exclusive breastfeeding until six months of age.

I felt quite confident about the introduction of solid foods until a discussion with a former BLW mummy at a BBQ.  My proclamation that we had started BLW was met with a sharp intake of breath and the comment that, "Oooh, that's really not for all babies.  They actually need to be eating at this age.  I'm sure you've heard that food is for fun under one, but they really need it."  I was then asked whether BabyB-B was sleeping through the night.  I'd thought nothing of the two to three (or more) feeds she had been waking for of late.  Particularly having regard to the barrage of developmental milestones that a baby around six months old is met with.  Cue doubt trigger, "No", I was told, "She is waking because she is hungry.  You should be making her eat solid food now so she will sleep and grow."  Was I starving my baby and therefore preventing her from getting the sleep she needed to grow and develop?

Sleep deprivation is a form of torture and when I'm suffering from it I seem to take the opportunity to torture myself some more and focus on those comments that leave me filled with doubt.  I obsess about them.  Is it my fault we are not sleeping?  I run them over and over in my mind which, ironically, causes me to lose sleep thus in turn perpetuating the problem.  Then we have a "good" night, BabyB-B may only wake once or twice, I sleep for a few hours in a row, I wake refreshed and I am able to sit back and put my doubts into perspective.

Last night was a good night so today I find myself putting my most recent doubts into perspective.  I'm considering them while watching BabyB-B laying on the floor telling her pink dragon what seems to be a most important and serious tale.  She is the image of happiness and health.  Could I really be doing the wrong thing?

It occurs to me that the mothers who planted these seeds of doubt have been exactly where I am now:    sleep deprived and wanting to do what is best for their baby and for themselves.  They have put themselves out there and they have sought help, support and advice.  And this is where we part ways.

I seek help, support and advice from other mothers who I know advocate gentle parenting, I jump online and read my favourite blogs, websites and articles, like Evolutionary Parenting's "Educating the Experts" series.

They seek help, support and advice from baby trainers and mothercraft nurses. People who tell them that babies of a certain age should be sleeping for x hours and need to eat y amount of food in order to achieve this.  Of course they will tell me emphatically that what they do is "right" and works.  Why are they so dismissive and skeptical when I tell them what we do?  It is because I'm planting the seed of doubt for them?  I'll probably never know, because I do not think they would admit it.  After all, they have, quite often, suffered through days and nights of their babies' "protest" cries in order to make it work for them (with or without the aid of earplugs!!).

What I do know is this:  I have a happy and healthy little girl.  She is thriving and engaging.  Apart from a slight physical delay with her legs, the legacy of spending 10 weeks of her young life in a restrictive harness, she is doing all things that babies of around six months old seem to do.  This includes waking during the night for food, comfort, or just a little hug.  I turn my mind to the future and think that one day I will be wishing for a return to the days when my baby peacefully slept in my arms, happily received my cuddles and kisses and delighted in the wonder that is a floret of broccoli!!  There is no doubt in my mind.  Nothing could make me wish or train these precious moments away.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Loving the Mummy I Am

What kind of mother am I? I've been thinking about this a lot over the last six months.  I'm certainly not a Tizzie Hall mother.  I read the book, I considered the book, but following the book just wasn't for me.  Next there are the books by the late Tracey Hogg, been there, read those too.  It seems so-called baby whisperers and I are just not compatible.  While their theories and practices may sit well with other mothers they just did not for me.  Then there is attachment parenting.  I certainly aim to build a secure attachment with BabyB-B, but I'm not sure I'm AP enough to be considered an attachment parent in AP circles.  So, where does this leave me?  
BabyB-B snoozing in her Moby at 5 months
Well, I like to consider myself a gentle parent, an in tune parent, a responsive parent.  I don't quite belong under any of the traditional labels.  I breastfeed with pride, practice baby led weaning, will not let my baby cry it out, feed her to sleep and co-sleep part time.  I may be left out of the group but I am learning to love the mummy I am because after six long, but rewarding and wonderful, months I realise that I am exactly the mummy BabyB-B needs and wants.  I'm not a perfect mummy, but I am her mummy and that is all she cares about.  I finally have the confidence to accept my parenting practices and to be comfortable with them.  
Avocado sandwich for lunch
Many of my mummy friends have told me that they have been judged or made to feel guilty by others about their parenting practices.  I often wonder whether all of this judgment is real.  How much of this judgment by others is true judgment and how much of this so-called judgment is really their own guilt and doubt in their decisions coming to the fore?  Don't take this as me saying there is no judgment out there.  I, myself, have been on the receiving end of raised eyebrows and knowing glances from parents of older children.  

We all have crises of confidence and doubts as to whether our parenting approach is "right".  I've had a couple myself recently.  However, at the end of the day I look at my happy, thriving little girl and remind myself that I must be doing something right.  All the talk about judgment brings to mind that old saying about loving yourself before expecting others to love you.  How can you expect others to accept your parenting style if you don't first accept it yourself?
Kisses for Mummy

Monday, 7 November 2011

Breast is Best?

It is a truth that one would expect to be universally acknowledged:  breast is best.  However, sometimes, for some mothers, it is not.  

BabyB-B's first feed
Before I go any further, I should lay my cards on the table.  I am a bona fide, card carrying lactavist.  I am loud and proud about breastfeeding BabyB-B.  I believe wholeheartedly that breast is best.  I believe babies should be breastfed on demand.  I believe they should be breastfed for at least their first year.  I encourage expectant mothers to give it a go.  I offer words of encouragement to those consider giving it up.  I like to think my encouragement is gentle and without judgment because I remember all to well the overwhelming pressure I felt to give my unborn baby the "best start in life" and the massive internal struggle when faced with days of sleep deprivation, mastitis, thrush and blocked nipples.   

I have some very dear friends who bottle feed by choice.  Some breastfed for a few weeks or months.  Others not at all.  All of these mothers are feeding their babies and all of these mothers at one point in time have felt judged for the method by which they do so.  When asked who they felt judged or pressured them about their decision the answers were:  lactation consultants, society and other mothers.  

Feeding BabyB-B after her brief stint in the nursery
It should come as little surprise that lactation consultants encourage breastfeeding.  After all, they are in the business of breasts and feeding with them!  My personal experience with lactation consultants is that they offer amazing guidance and support especially in those early few weeks when I was jumping the hurdles that my body decided to throw at me both physically and mentally.  One mother's guidance and support is another mother's judgment and pressure.  A lactation consultant is probably not the person to see if you are, however deep down and secretly, hoping for reassuring words that it is ok to stop breastfeeding.  Why would a mother after such reassurance see a lactation consultant?  I suspect because of the societal expectation that a mother will breastfeed.

Societal expectation and judgment is an interesting one.  Primarily because the judgment of society is also one of the main reasons mothers choose not to breastfeed.  The sexualisation of breasts plays a massive part in a mother's decision not to breastfeed.  It seems our society is so caught up in breasts as sexual objects that it is often forgotten that they are, in fact, designed to feed and nourish our young - but this is a topic best left for another day.

During my pregnancy I was asked quite frequently whether I would breastfeed.  My answer was, invariably, "If I can".  Why such an answer?  Because I felt an enormous pressure to breastfeed even before BabyB-B came along.  When mulling over how I would feed my unborn child I recalled a long past event where my mother and her friend were discussing a new mother's decision to formula feed her daughter.  Words like "selfish" and "lazy" were bandied around.  I also recalled an acquaintance who suffered through months of thrush only to "fail" at breastfeeding.  Sadly this acquaintance did not receive adequate support in establishing breastfeeding and thrush was only diagnosed when she had determined that breastfeeding was not best for her mental well being and her bond with her son.  When pregnant with her second child the trauma of breastfeeding her first filled her with fear of being deemed a failure by society the next time around.  My answer, "If I can", protected me from being considered selfish or lazy, but also contemplated a scenario where breastfeeding may not work.  It was my get out of gaol free card.  I would appease society by giving it a go.  This seems to be the attitude that many new mothers have - "I will try breastfeeding because everyone expects me to".  So how was it that I managed to exclusively breastfeed BabyB-B until the age of 6 months and continue to breastfeed her as she starts baby-led weaning?
In a bubble with my baby after a feed at three weeks

In the grips of post natal depression, breastfeeding was the one thing I had, that I could do and I was not going to let go of it.  I approached breastfeeding with an obsessive determination to make it work.  I was convinced that if I didn't breastfeed BabyB-B and she took a bottle people would take her away from me because I was not coping.  The people taking her away were DaddyB-B or her grandparents.  Their intentions were to take her for a few hours so I could rest.  I clung to demand feeding because, although I was convinced my beautiful and perfect daughter would be better off with someone else, I could not fathom being parted from her for even half an hour.  When breastfeeding my little bundle, notwithstanding the mastitis, thrush and blocked nipples, I felt (and still feel) enveloped in serenity.  Breastfeeding for me is the ultimate act of bonding.  

Sleepy feed at three months
So what of the mother who feels pressured to breastfeed when doing so is making her feel miserable, overwhelmed and judged.  Could breastfeeding be damaging her bond with her baby?  Could it be preventing her from enjoying her child.  The answer, put simply, is yes.  In such circumstances it would be difficult to argue that breast is best.  What of the mother who chose not to breastfeed at all?  Is she any less bonded to her child because she feeds by bottle?  Of course not.  My experience of mothers who choose to bottle feed their children is that these mothers absolutely love their children and are well and truly bonded.  I've been told by these bottle feeding mothers that no matter how at peace they are with their decision to bottle feed, they remain nervous in the face of their harshest critic:  the breastfeeding mother.  

Breastfeeding mothers have been described to me by bottle feeding mothers as:  smug, self-righteous, disapproving and judgmental.  My personal philosophy is to try to avoid making another mother feel judged because of her decision to bottle feed her child notwithstanding the fact that I remain steadfastly of the view that breast is best.  Bottle feeding does not mean she loves her baby any less than I love my breast fed baby.  Who am I to judge a bottle feeding mother?  Particularly when I do not know the circumstances.  It could be that the mother who is bottle feeding her child is doing so because breastfeeding presented an insurmountable hurdle and her much loved baby was failing to thrive.  She may have gone through the pain and rejection of breast refusal.  She may be torturing herself because for whatever reason breastfeeding just did not work out for her.  It is not my place to judge.  Nor should it be the place of any breastfeeding mother to judge.  

However, in defence of smug, self-righteous, disapproving and judgmental breastfeeding mothers, I will query whether the mothers who simply choose not to breastfeed and feel judged by breastfeeding mothers are really judged or whether it is their own self doubt at their decision coming through.  In accordance with my philosophy of not making another mother feel judged for her decision, this is a query that will likely remain unanswered as I will not be posing this question to any of my bottle feeding mummy friends.  
Finally feeding again after refusing to feed during a bout  of gastro

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Becoming Baby-Led

Here's an example of a typical exchange regarding BabyB-B's daily habits.  It is an exchange that usually occurs when I'm speaking with another mother (any kind of mother, new, old, grand):
Other mummy: "When's BabyB-B next due for a feed?"
Me: "When she's hungry."
Other mummy:  "Oh. Right. So does she go three or four hours between feeds now?"
Me:  "I'm not sure.  She eats whenever she feels like it."
Other mummy:  "So, how is she sleeping?"
Me:  "Like a baby."
Other mummy:  "Is she sleeping through?"
Me:  "Sometimes."
Other mummy:  "How many naps does she have a day?"
Me:  "As many as she wants."
Other mummy:  "Don't you have her in a routine?  It would be much easier for you if you got her into a schedule."
I have many people telling me that my life would be easier if I "got" BabyB-B into a routine.  I find this odd as I don't think I am sending out the message that my life is somehow difficult because I choose to be baby-led.  How did I get here?  How did I become so happily baby-led?

When people say routine, in the context of asking me what time BabyB-B is due for a sleep or feed, I assume they really mean schedule.  You know, something along the lines of 7am wake up, 7.30 feed, 7.50 play, nappy change, play, 9am sleep, 11am wake up feed ... and so it continues until baby is all tucked in to bed by no later than 7pm.  My life before BabyB-B revolved completely around schedules.  The six minute unit governed my every waking moment (seriously, even when I wasn't at work I was worrying about what I did or didn't do at work).  Meetings took place strictly in their allotted time. Every morning I got up at the same time, caught the same bus, had the same coffee at the same coffee shop, went to work, came home ... You would think, therefore, that I would run my life with BabyB-B in much the same fashion.

Before BabyB-B came along I thought I would run my life in much the same fashion.  In the weeks leading up to my due date I studied the books authored by women claiming to be "baby whisperers".  Like the lawyer I am I even flagged the relevant pages.  These books came with glowing references from friends and family who had "got" their babies into "great routines".  I was told the earlier I started the better.  I remember sitting in my antenatal classes listening to the midwife explain that breastfed babies feed at least 10-12 times a day in the first few weeks and that babies should be fed on demand.  "That can't be right", I thought to myself, "the book says they eat at 7am, 10am, 1pm, 4pm, 6pm, 9pm and 2am. That's only seven feeds a day."  Then I gave birth to BabyB-B. 

Nothing could have prepared me for the rush of emotions I felt when this little being, this little person, was placed on to my chest of 29 or so exhausting hours of labour and 41 weeks of pregnancy.  Here was this little person completely dependent upon me.  Who gazed up at me, these two dark eyes peering out of a wrinkly little face covered in a whole manner of goo, with a look of complete trust mewling for her first feed.  She latched on to my breast with her tiny little mouth and grasped DaddyB-B's hand with her tiny, perfectly formed, little fist and relaxed.

The midwives in the hospital all encouraged me to feed on demand and not to let her go longer than three hours between a feed (being the tiny thing that she was BabyB-B was sleepy and not quite sure how to wake up for a feed).  I dutifully followed these instructions.  Whenever BabyB-B cried, or even whimpered, she was offered the breast and she was quiet.  She relaxed.  I tensed.  "What about the book?" I asked myself, "It says she has to feed at the set times.  Why isn't she doing that?  Why does she want to just suck?"  

I tried to follow the book, but it didn't make sense to me that trained lactation consultants were telling me that my little baby should not go longer than three or four hours (at night) between feeds when the book, written by a "baby whisperer" said five hours was fine.  I decided that someone with "IBCLC" after their name probably knew a bit more as far as the breast was concerned.  I started to ignore the book.

The book spoke about babies' sucking reflex.  It would seem natural to offer the breast, nature's dummy, for this purpose.  But the book said, no, a baby should not suck on the breast for comfort and should certainly not suck on the breast to sleep.  An early childhood health centre nurse told me not to worry and if my nipples could stand up to it then it was fine.  A dummy was called in to aid when I got mastitis, but BabyB-B quickly let it be known that a plastic substitute was not going to cut it for the real thing.

Then we came to sleep.  In the first couple of weeks my sleepy little baby was happy to go along with sleeping for a couple of hours, waking to feed, a quick cuddle and sleeping for a few more hours.  By week four BabyB-B's little personality shone through more and more.  This was a little baby completely enthralled by the world around her.  Wide-eyed and desperate to see what was going on around her.  If she slept, she was going to miss something.  She was happy to have little naps as I carried her around in her wrap, but there was no way she was going to have a day sleep in her cot without a fight, she wanted to be in her mummy's arms.  

The book said to put her into her cot, awake, and let her "protest".  Now this flew against my most primal maternal instinct, if my baby cried I ran to her being pulled like a magnet.  I was the mother who didn't know what her baby's hungry cry sounded like because I never let her cry out of hunger.  How was I supposed to put her into a cot a leave her to cry herself to sleep?  

The book and its routines were consuming and confusing me.  The felt wrong, but people swore by them.  I was feeling more and more like a failure.  Already struggling with PND I could feel myself sliding more.  I took a gulp, decided to follow my instincts and the book went to the back of the shelf.

It was around this time that I was sitting in a second hand bookshop cafe with my mother in law and her girlfriend.  A book on the shelf caught my eye, Baby On Board, by Dr Howard Chilton.  It was a book that had been recommended to me by one of the midwives at the hospital run mothers group.  I was told it would make sense of what I was feeling.  Like a woman possessed I grabbed the book and asked how much.  It was probably the best $10 I've ever spent. Finally I had an expert telling me that it was ok to hold, cuddle and feed my baby whenever I wanted to and that I could not spoil my new born.  And so I started to become baby-led.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Mummy's Dirty Secret

Being a mother has opened my eyes to a world full of taboo.  Some things just aren't spoken about.  At least not before you test the water to work out the other person's view on a particular subject, especially if it is another mother. 

There is the mother who co-sleeps with her baby.  She told me she is reluctant to speak about this at our mothers' group because she will be judged because "co-sleeping is dangerous and against SIDS recommendations".  At least that is what she was told by one of the nurses at our family health clinic.  It is her dirty little secret.  She confides in me because she knows I think there are benefits to co-sleeping.

Then there is the mother who topped up with formula and introduced solids before the recommended age (depending on which health care professional you listen to) of four months.  Her son was hungry and breast milk alone just did not cut it for him.  She is constantly asked how she got her son to sleep through and what she does with solids.  She doesn't want to tell people because it works for her and she doesn't want the looks or expression of horror when they find out her five month old son eats chicken for dinner.  She confides in me because she knows I'm her friend and am of the view that "if it works for you and your baby, do it" even if I don't agree with it. 

Why can't mothers be honest and open about their parenting style?  The answer seems to be a fear of judgment by other mothers.  Sadly, this fear is often well founded.  It seems, as with most other areas of life, women are the harshest critics of other women.  I find myself automatically justifying the things I do, particularly when speaking with people I know follow routines with their children.

In fact, this seems to be the greatest divide - between the mothers who follow Tizzie Hall type routines and those who feed on demand and comfort their babies to sleep.  It is a brave mother who confesses to falling into one group when talking to a mother who belongs to the other camp.  This divide is probably best left to a post of its own.

My dirty secrets are:
  • I "wear" BabyB-B  most days and sometimes don't even try to put her into her cot because I like to be close to her.
  • I want to co-sleep but DaddyB-B won't allow it.
  • I don't want to give BabyB-B bottles because I want to be the only one who can feed her.
  • I don't let BabyB-B cry (unless I'm covered in soap in the shower - a wet, soapy mum is not comforting - I learnt that the hard way).
  • I want to toss in my career and be a stay at home mum.
  • I love breastfeeding BabyB-B and intend to do it for as long as she wants to.
  • I used to judge other mums for doing what I now do before BabyB-B arrived. Now I get it!
BabyB-B having her nap in the Moby at the beach - it beats having a battle with the cot!

Friday, 22 July 2011

The Kindness of Friends

We were somewhat shocked that we went in to the Children's Hospital with a free kicking little girl and left a few hours later with a baby restrained by a harness to keep the top of her femur correctly positioned in the hip socket to try to correct her DDH.  Talk about a whirlwind.  A million thoughts were running through my mind, including "What are we going to dress her in now?"  The bulk of the harness meant that BabyB-B would no longer fit into her newborn clothes and required clothes one to two sizes bigger.  All in ones were recommended. 

I know this sounds supperficial, but the idea of BabyB-B spending all day every day in pyjamas really upset me.  It's the middle of Winter so I accepted that dresses were out of the question (as there was no way tights were going over the harness); but what about pants and tops? 

Our friend, Mrs L, came over to visit on harness Monday with her son, BabyL.  She sat listening to my fears and comforting me through my tears.  She handed over a bag of clothes in bigger sizes that BabyL was not going to wear and we workshopped possible clothing options and what kind of pants would work.  Mrs L left saying she wanted to try something out.

A few hours later, at about 7.30pm, our intercom rang.  It was Mrs L holding a brand new pair of pants with slits cut down the front to allow the harness through and buttons at the waist to do up under the harness.  They were the brand new pants she had bought for her little boy that weekend.  I couldn't believe the generousity of our dear friend. 

The next morning as I dressed BabyB-B in her new pants I cried tears of gratitude for a friend who understood that sometimes a new mum just wants her baby to look "normal" and fit in.  BabyB-B looked quizzically at her crazy mother crying over a pair of pants. 

BabyB-B in her Pavlik Harness and special pants.

The Clicky Hip

It seems so long ago that our DDH adventure began.  It started with a routine examination by the paediatrician of BabyB-B two days after her birth.  He said he could feel a slight "click" in our perfect daughter's hip, but not to worry as it almost always sorts itself out.  We quickly dimissed the "clicky hip" from our minds. 

Over the following weeks BabyB-B's hips were examined by our home visit nurse, our GP and our early childhood centre nurse.  On each occasion I mentioned that the paediatrician had felt a click and ordered an ultrasound at eight weeks.  At each of these examinations I was told that no click could be felt but to go for the ultrasound anyway.  Again, I quickly dismissed the "clicky hip" from my mind.

The day of the ultrasound arrived and up to the Children's Hospital I went.  It was BabyB-B's eight week birthday.  BabyB-B, typical to form, smiled and cooed at the technician as she was put down on a bed made for someone much larger than she.  During the ultrasound she continued to coo, smile and take in her surroundings.  As the technician got to the "clicky hip" our little BabyB-B started to get cross and I got a feeling in my gut that something wasn't quite right.  The technician said nothing.

The following week we had result day with the paediatrician at the Royal Hospital for Women.  We had already had a busy day at mother's group, which we left following one of BabyB-B's now infamous poonamis.  I raced home from Centennial Park to change my smiling poo monster before packing her into the Ergo carrier and walking up to the hospital.  BabyB-B fell asleep on the walk and was oblivious to my anxiety sitting in the outpatients' waiting room. 

Our name was finally called and in we went for the results: 50% on the left and 42% on the right.  What does that mean?  My question exactly.  The paediatrician said 50% is good but less than 50% they have to do something but he had to call his boss.  In the meantime he examined a now wide awake and smiling BabyB-B.  She proceeded to tell him all about her day in a delightful series of cooes and gahs.  Apart from the 42% she scored an A+.  The plus being that she interacts and responds to people much like a four month old baby would.  "The boss" then came in and in a massive whirlwind I was left holding a referral for the following Monday to the orthopaedic surgeon at the Children's Hospital.  The boss said they would probably put her in a harness.  My heart sank.  I called DaddyB-B and told him the news.  We reassured ourselves that it would only be for a few weeks and then it would be over.

All three of us trooped up to the Children's Hospital for our appointment with the orthopaedic surgeon.  We thought he would be telling us about treatment options and what would be happening.  Instead he put our smiling little girl on a bed, ignored her cooes and smiles and proceeded to examine BabyB-B like she wasn't there.  His boss came in to examine our smiling angel. acknowledging her presence with his own cooes and click.  He told us we had to go up to orthotics to have a Pavlik Harness fitted.  Now.  My heart broke.

We left with instructions for our next appointment and ultrasound and headed to the orthotics department.  Again our smiling BabyB-B was put on to a large bed.  Her clothes stripped and her chest measured.  She was the fitted with her Pavlik Harness.  As the first strap was done up she screamed.  My heart shattered.  What had I done wrong to cause this?  Was she too crammed inside me?  Was my labour too long?  I did not like to accept the logical answer, the genetic predisposition on DaddyB-B's side.  It was my fault. 

Our darling daughter has been in a Pavlik Harness of developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH) for just over a week now.  She spent the first seven days in it 24 hours a day.  She is now allowed an hour of "free time" each day.  I cried tears of joy during her first hour out.  A week is a long time not to see your beautiful baby's perfect little body and have lovely naked cuddles.  Apart from the initial screaming at having it fitted she does not seem at all bothered by the harness.  DaddyB-B and I are also coming to terms with it.  Her wild kicking during her hour free time lights up my heart.  Her protests at having it put back on are no more than her protests at having to get dressed generally. 

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Mummy Diary - Archives - early entries before the my blog was born

Mummy Diary - Day 1 - "Introducing Elizabeth who arrived at 2.15am this morning. 3.08kg, 53cm long and extremely beautiful."

Mummy Diary - Day 11 - "Me: unshowered, mastitis, covered in vomit and completely in love; Elizabeth: putting on weight, eating, sleeping, pooing, vomiting and completely unconcerned by the pathetic state of her mother."

Mummy Diary - Day 13 - "Me: managed to squeeze my rings back onto my finger. Have not managed to squeeze my backside back into my jeans. Questioning whether it is socially acceptable to go for a walk with cabbage leaves in my bra; Elizabeth: thought it would be fun to squirt poo at Mummy during the 3am nappy change. Who knew that was possible?"

Mummy Diary - Day 22 - "Me: sad because my Mummy has gone home. Wondering how something so small can snore like a truck driver and wishing she would do it in her bed. Knowing I've made too many calls/visits to the GP when I tell the receptionist it's the crazy woman with the newborn and she says 'Ah yes, see you on Monday'; Elizabeth: why would I sleep in my bed when I can get cuddles if I protest enough?!"

Mummy Diary - Day 26 - "Me: made it to the Chief's farewell only to spend most of my time sitting outside Banco Court feeding a hungry little monster; Elizabeth: met the Chief and the Governor and put on my best 'I'm an angel' face. Couldn't understand why Mummy took me outside when I started making grunting noises."

Mummy Diary - Day 28 - "Manufacturers clearly have no faith in the brain function of new mums. First instruction in the baby monitor book, 'Never immerse any part of the baby monitor in water or any other liquid.' No sh*t!!"

Mummy Diary - Day 33 - "You can not truly understand what your mother did for you until you have a child of your own. I love you Mum."

Mummy Diary - Day 35 - "Me: Most of you know how much I hate noisy eaters and mouth noises. Elizabeth is the noisiest eater in the world and it is adorable; Elizabeth: I know, it's because I'm gorgeous!!"

Mummy Diary - Day 37 - "I understand cutting off my breast will probably be more painful than the world of hurt I'm in right now, but it still seems like a viable option!"

Mummy Diary - Day 41 - "Watching Elizabeth watch her hand. She's still not quite sure what it is or where it came from."

Mummy Diary - Day 42 - "Not looking forward to taking Elizabeth for her first immunisations this afternoon."

Mummy Diary - Day 43 - "Thank you to my wonderful mother in law for taking Elizabeth for a walk so I could have a nap this afternoon after no sleep last night."

Mummy Diary - Day 44 - "Poonami (n.) = a wave of poo that blasts everything in its path, often without warning and is disproportionally large compared to the infant it is expelled from."

Mummy Diary - Day 51 - "Me: for some reason five minutes spent trying to settle a crying baby feels a lot more like 55; Elizabeth: I think Mummy is a bit crazy. Once she thinks she's settled me she crawls out of my room like a commando. Weirdo!"

Mummy Diary - Day 53 - "Just wants to spend all day snuggled up in bed with my little girl."

Mummy Diary - Day 55 - "Just squeezed my backside into my pre-Elizabeth jeans. They may be a bit tighter than is strictly necessary but I got them on!!"

Mummy Diary - Day 56 - "Can't believe our little girl is eight weeks old today. I'm not sure I remember life before her!"

Mummy Diary - Day 67 - "Trying to come to terms with the Pavlik Harness."

Mummy Diary - Day 69 - "Poonami 1 : Pavlik 0."

Mummy diary - Day 75 - "Me: Our daughter is definitely her father's child. Her greeting to me this morning - an enormous pop and a huge smile; Elizabeth: but it was funny Mummy and it didn't smell!"
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