Saturday, 23 July 2011

Things I know about my mother

It's been a very busy week for us, D was working the late shift so the kids and I kept ourselves extra busy. I've been hanging to write lots but passing out in bed with the kids before 9pm... So many thoughts, too many for this one post, so I'll just focus on the main event: in 45 hours my Mum arrives from Italy for her yearly visit!

I'm linking up again with Shae, and sharing with you all just a couple of things I know about my mum:
  • my Mum's name is Louise, which we chose as Sofia's middle name
  • she was born in Melbourne but went to Italy on a holiday in 1969 and never came back....
Mum and Grandma in the late '40s...
  • she loves Violet Crumbles but never indulges in more than 2 bars while she's here (it sticks to her extensive dental work, consequence of her sweet tooth as a child...)
  • she loves liquorice but hardly ever eats it because of her high blood pressure
  • she's a dog person
  • she loves looking at cows, something about them looking relaxed...
  • she has taken on board her job as a grandmother very seriously: maybe she's very zealous also because of the distance and being able to see the kids only once a year, but she likes knowing everything about them and studying them and tries to remember the name of all of their toys and all the things they like
  • she was here for the birth of both kids, and she was the first person (after Dan and I and the midwife) to welcome them to the world
  • she loves them both so so much
with Sosi, Dec 07
with Sosi, Nov 09

with Casi, Dec 09, when he was in NICU

with Casi, Aug 10
  • though she might not agree with all of my parenting choices, she always respects them and has always respected me and my opinions
  • she has always let me do things my way, and never let me use my handicap as an excuse not to do things: which helped me become the strong independent woman I am today
  • she's a bit of a wallflower and a bit too accommodating (there have been many people walking all over her throughout the years), but she is an absolute tigress when it comes to protecting her cubs: she has ALWAYS stood up for us (my brother and I) and always protected us when we needed it and we have always felt safe with her and she was always there for us and always looked after us
  • and even if we don't always see eye to eye, she's an awesome mum and I love her so so much
Nov 07, 8 days before Sosi was born

See you on Monday Mum :)

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Things I know

I am sure I must be the last one linking this week... It's one of my favourite times of the week, when I get to read what all the other lovely ladies out there in the blogosphere know this week, so check out this week's Things I know at Shae's Yay For Home :)

This week I know:

  • tomorrow Sofia starts rollerskating classes, I really hope she enjoys it!
  • co-sleeping siblings are so cute :)

  • having a flat tyre sucks, but it's also a good excuse to go on adventures: it's exciting waiting for the bus (Lucas' first time)

  • it was about time I bought a double stroller! Here's a sequence showing one of the benefits:
kids getting cosy after a long walk at the shops
success, grumpy kids asleep in no time!
there's NO WAY I could've scoffed two delectable organic fudge brownies had the kids been awake... 
  • I know I write the best blog posts... in my head when I can't sleep at 2am and then I totally forget them by the time morning arrives... ;)
  • I know my blog doesn't look as good as I'd like it to be and I know I'm not writing as much as I'd like, one day I'll find more Me time...
  • my mum arrives in 8 days from Italy for her yearly visit, yippee!

Signing off for now, hope you all have a lovely week :)

Saturday, 16 July 2011

On values and letting go

I'll be brief because I'm in the middle of de-cluttering and overhauling, next week I might finally have a decent looking house ;)

I always doubt myself as a parent. I guess we all do. Particularly when it comes to values we believe in and how to pass them on to our kids. Particularly because every family is different, so even if you take advice from others (not that I usually do that anyway...) or follow a particular parenting style, you can't really be sure of the outcome since your own situation is so unique and different from everybody else's.

So if you're a perfectionist that likes being in control like me, letting go of some control is not easy. I've always being so concerned about the kids picking up bad habits or learning something that's not in line with our beliefs. Many times in the past I've had to go in damage control mode when Sosi was told something by one relative or another (like dogs being scary or mandarin membranes being yucky etc). You work soooo hard at building up confidence and filling the kids with good things and good values and sensibility, and then one dumb comment wrecks all your hard work and it takes you such a looong time to undo the "damage". You know, like when they learn swear-words, you can't really unteach them easily, can you?

Then one day you overhear this conversation while the grandparents are over.
Grandparent reading a book: "This baby is wearing pink, so what do you think it is?"
Sosi says nothing.
Grandparent: "It's a baby girl, because baby girls wear pink"
Sosi says: "Well, not really, not all girls like wearing pink"


Now I know I can let go a little, that I'm the most influential person in these little people's lives and that maybe in the storm of life I've provided them with a pretty good raincoat to keep them dry...

and as this boy will tell you, boys wear pink too :)

Friday, 8 July 2011

Sofia vs Lucas part 1

I had dinner out last night. In a proper restaurant. With a friend. Without kids. For the first time in months. I should be feeling happy and refreshed and recharged etc. I don't.

My cup is empty. I'm too tired at night to be writing and connecting with people properly. I don't know anymore what to do when I manage to get Me time, I feel like I lost some of Me. During the day I get continuously interrupted. Yes, I am aware that's part of the job description, but today I sent Dan a few desperate/letting steam out SMSs and I finally admitted to myself that no, I am not coping.

This is of course fully dependent on my kids' personalities.

So if you will bear, here's a two part story about my kids. It'll be in two parts because I don't have enough time now... Hopefully I can finish part 2 tonight when the kids are asleep.

Disclaimer: no photo has been added to prove a point, I just chose cute ones for the sake of cuteness ;)

Part one - Sofia

I had no idea about the demands of motherhood. I was not clucky before having kids, I had never even held a baby. But the second Sofia was born I knew what I wanted to do.

4 hours old
I wanted to be there for her, protect her, help her become the best person she possibly can. I had no idea how to do it, like many firstborns I guess she was the "trial and error" child... Particularly with the advice from the media and "professionals" that didn't sit right with me, some stories from mothers' group that just left me feeling alienated, conflicting theories and so on. It wasn't until I read "The Baby Book" (William and Martha Sears) that I had my feelings validated and I finally knew what I was doing; I then continued with their "The Good Behaviour Book" and finally knew how to do it.

I've never really been very open with the other mothers' from the "shoved together by the council nurse" group; truth is, it wasn't only because of the very different ideologies that I felt I couldn't talk, but I had to hold back many comments and stories because I didn't want to look like the "I want to punch you in the face" smug parent.

And here's why I couldn't really share stories: I had an easy baby.
When the others were complaining about the sleepless nights, the crying, the teeth, etc etc, I could only nod and try to be empathetic. I would never share stories of "this is how I do it" unless I was asked. And probably even then I might've sounded smug.

In a nutshell, the first 3 weeks with Sofia (Sosi) were tough. It took a while the get breastfeeding down pat and there was some formula top up involved too (and consequent colic) because of my cracked and bleeding left nipple and my inability to express a decent amount of milk. When I healed, and we ditched the little top ups, and she didn't get a sore tummy that required us constantly holding her in a semi-vertical position at night, things got easy.

almost 1 month old

I devoted every second of my day to her and managed to understand all her signals. The two of us are just very similar, we just got in tune from very early.
She was a smart baby who was alert from very little, had good head control at 2 months and was interested in the world, was sociable, was a very efficient powerfeeder (10 minutes then wouldn't be hungry for 3 hours, which meant planned outings were easy etc), was happy to take expressed milk from a bottle and to be babysat by the grandparents, I could go on.

2 1/2 months talking to Daddy

She would on average cry once every 3 or 4 weeks. I am not kidding you. She made a "lehm" sound when she needed milk (which then progressed to mem then meh-meh then mama) but no crying, I had to figure out when she had a dirty nappy because she wasn't fussed about it at all.

And teething? A few tears when every tooth couple pierced through the gums and that was it. No redness, no prolonged irritability, she would wake at night, have an extra feed of mummy milk and she was happy after that, sometimes I didn't even know there were teeth coming out until I noticed extra pearly whites in her mouth. No need for Bonjela or amber necklaces or Panadol etc.

almost 9 months
Immunisations? (Yes I am aware this is a controversial topic; both kids are on delayed immunisations but that'a a topic for another day) Except for the first 2 lots of immunisations, she would cry a little after the injection but she was so interested in the world that distracting her was easy and she'd stop crying and forget about the pain within seconds. No fever, no other side effects etc.

So, had you been in my mothers' group and heard these things, wouldn't you have just hated me?

I guess I was a bit smug, the whole AP thing was working well for me, the breastfeeding on demand, the co-sleeping, long snoozes in the day etc.

Karma must've thought I had it too easy with Sofia. Enter Lucas...

See you later for part 2...

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

I'm back

Good morning world! I'm back from the Land of the Sick Baby, where there's a lot of crying and clinginess and horrid nappies and sleep deprivation...

Sunday was the hardest day of the past year. I'm not exaggerating. I'm not going to write down the lot, unless you're my mum you'd probably find it a very tedious account...
So, in brief, my day consisted of holding Lucas and walking him/rocking him to sleep for 7 hours because he was so tired/sick he couldn't stay asleep for more than 15 minutes; then 3 hours driving to get him to stay asleep, because my arms and back were just so sore from carrying an 11 kg lump of baby around; then another 4 hours of carrying around. All this wasn't silent of course, he cried lots and lots and lots and complained and whined lots and lots and lots. And when he briefly fell asleep and I tried to sit down somewhere, he would stir or wake up and again request to be walked around.
I cried a lot too.

And with that there was of course the sense of guilt for the neglected child of the day... Lucas was just so upset I couldn't devote any attention to Sofia. The wretched tv was on for a looong time. I felt so awful for her. Even when we had to go for a drive because my body was screaming in pain (remember I have only 1 1/2 arms, so constantly carrying weight is very vexing on my body), and I told her "I'm sorry Sose, we have to go for a drive to get Lucas to sleep", she quietly turned the tv off and said "ok". As upset as she was, she didn't fight the drive, she realised how bad things were...

Thankfully, because of the couple of hours asleep in the car, he had a really good night's sleep on Sunday so I didn't have to get up once.
But Monday afternoon he only had 1/2 hour snooze, Monday night he cried for 3 hours before he fell asleep. 3 HOURS crying in my arms. He fell asleep, woke up after 15 mins, had to be walked around, couldn't sleep , started crying, got fixated that I shouldn't be wearing the t-shirt I was wearing, tugged at my t-shirt crying and yelling "take" (as in, take it off) for half an hour. That is not a joke. Half an hour yelling at my t-shirt. He just couldn't settle.

I had to put him down a couple of times. Just to regain my composure, just to calm down. I'm sure most mothers have been there, when you feel like you're just about to lose it and need to walk away from your baby for a few seconds. Dan was there but couldn't do a thing. When Lucas is upset he only wants me. It is draining.

I could bore you with more details of the week from hell (migraine, botched home deliveries...) but life is back to normal this week (apart from the fact that Sofia has had a delayed reaction to the lack of attention and she's been pushing ALL my buttons for a couple of days) and I want to pretend those horrible days never happened....

But the experience has made me ponder a few things:

  • a few months ago I had a migraine and couldn't look after both kids, Dan could only leave work at midday, so my father in law managed to take a few hours off work to come play with Sosi until Dan got home. Last Sunday nobody could come help me and Dan was at work and I REALLY needed help. Had it been my mum, she would've dropped whatever she was doing to come over. But my parents still live in Italy so, unless someone is in hospital, they can't really come over to help out for the day and go back.... This is not a criticism of the in-laws, they are super helpful and will come over whenever they can. It's just a consideration. As wonderful as it is to be living your own life in whichever part of the world you feel like calling home, it's always tough not having your own parental support when things get tough.
  • Monday night was tough. Mentally tough. I could see how some parents would lose the plot and do unthinkable things when their baby won't stop crying. I had only 2 days of extreme tiredness, so I can't even imagine how some new parents would cope with hour after hour of constant crying and constant sleep deprivation. It can really do your head in.
  • at 19 months, Lucas still breastfeeds on demand. This is great when you have a sick baby, best way to get him better and soothe him. It's not so great if the said baby will not accept expressed breast milk, but that's a story for another post...
So my last consideration is about my style of parenting. I don't often doubt myself, there are reasons why I chose to do the things I do. Sometimes I do get a little smidgeon of envy when I hear of those mothers who manage to go out lots and have Me time and not have to rush back home because the baby is inconsolable... 
But on Thursday, when the sun was shining and we had our first outing in 10 days, I looked back at my behaviour: I carried non-stop my boy to get him to sleep, I rocked him whenever he asked for it, I was always there for him. As exhausting as it can be, this whole full-time 24/7 - fulfil all of your kid's needs job, it works for me and that's what I chose. 
And I realised I was very proud of myself: I am not a perfect parent, I muck up a lot, but throughout this storm, I still managed to uphold my parenting principles (even if I yelled in exasperation once), even through a few very testing moments. That's something to be happy about :)