Archive | January, 2011

Co-clucked

23 Jan

I woke this morning to tell B about a dream I had. I had just given birth to twin sons, one of which I called Control.

Yup.

Then B told me he dreamt that I did a pregnancy test but rather than the usual piss on a stick variety, this one involved chicken schnitzels. We had to pan fry the schnitzel and if it turned blue, it was a boy and a pink schnitzel would indicate a girl. He said despite being certain we would be having another boy, the schnitzel was, in fact, pink.

Yup.

So.

Both dreaming about babies at the same time.

You might say we are co-clucking.

And it just beggars belief.

Last night, not only did Zee wake up four times BEFORE MIDNIGHT but we also had LD pay us a visit at around 11pm to say that he’d had a dream about monsters.

Then, they both woke at around 6am, headfirst into the day.

I use the word ‘day’ loosely because to my mind, if the sun ain’t all the way up, it ain’t day yet.

So exactly what are B and I doing dreaming about expanding our family? And then telling each other about the crazy dreams and feeling all giggly about the idea of another baby? When we’re downstairs hiding from the two children we already have?

As I said, it just beggars belief.

We are tired. Bone weary. We have so very little time to try to get done the mountain of stuff that is either required or desired. The kids get on our nerves. We get on each other’s nerves. Hey, let’s throw a newborn into the mix!

We are nutty in the extreme.

But from the moment Zee arrived, neither B or myself had even a moment when we sensed that we were done with the baby-making. It’s clear to both of us that another little being is waiting to make their grand entrance onto the Family M-G stage.

And if the thought scares us, that fear is wildly outweighed by the giddy we both feel when we mention Lil M-G 3.

This morning was tough. B went off to work (yes, on a Sunday) and there I was with two little boys living large in the way that little boys do and me dragging my sorry arse around trying to find a way into the day when my body was screaming, “Get thee to the nearest bed and slumber!” Apparently, my body is all Shakespearean.

I was sitting on the couch, willing myself to do….anything and then I was watching my kids. They were, blissfully, ignoring me. So I was free to just witness them at play. I don’t do it enough. Just stop and see my kids. Really watch them. And it was cool. They were really playing together. Their age gap has narrowed enough that they can actually engage in a way that is fun for both of them. LD is still physically bigger but Zee is quite capable of holding his own. For the most part. And when in doubt, he screams bloody murder until I save him.

But watching your children together – there’s nothing like it. Seeing two little people you put on the earth just hanging out? It’s incredible. And in those moments, you just feel that they’ll be friends for life, that they’ll have each other’s backs. Even if looking around at many grown up siblings tells a very different story. In this little moment, your kids have each other. And it feels like maybe that was the best gift you could ever give them.

So we want to add to that. Even amidst the exhaustion and chaos. Even though we will suddenly have one too many for the average Family Pass or Holiday Special. Even though, in years to come, our children will turn to us and list all the ways we fucked them up.

Even then. It will have been worth it.

Just one little click, friends. Click above and THAT IS IT. Vote is counted and I send you virtual love forever. Bargain!

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To sleep, perchance to shut the f!@k up

20 Jan

Here’s what I don’t get.

Why don’t babies just sleep?

They’re little, they’re clearly tired, it’s not like they have a to-do list to check off before they turn in for the night so for fuck’s sake, why can’t they just lie down and nod off?

When I brought home newborn LD, I was shocked to discover that babies often need to be ‘taught’ how to sleep. What? Newborns are pretty much perpetually ready for a nap, their tiny bodies worn out after half an hour of blinking so I can’t fathom why it should be so hard. Even if they didn’t want to sleep, shouldn’t sleep just overtake them anyway? Why do they even get a say in the matter?

And toddlers. What’s up with those little siesta-haters? Sure, I read the books and I understand that the very act of being alive is thrilling in the extreme to little people and this leads to an active resistance to sleeping. But again, when they started the day at 5.30am and have been tear-arsing around for hours without pause, their eyes rimmed with red from the constant rubbing, wouldn’t it just be lovely to have a little lie down?

At this point, if someone demanded I have a nap, I would assume I had gone to heaven. And that’s without the parade of enticements like warm milk and bum pats, forehead stroking and lullabies.

Sometimes LD likes to reverse the roles and put me to bed. I get a (half-hearted) pat and just as I’m settling into a little coma (some 13 seconds have transpired since the beginning of the tucking in), the room floods with light and a sing-song voice declaring, “Morning time!” In some ways, I really hate this game. It feels Guantanamo-esque to me.

So, sleep. I don’t get it. Literally and figuratively.

LD, while sleeping through every night now (after some standard arsing about before bed time), refuses a day nap – a nap he sorely needs. A nap I very sorely need him to have.

Zee, since his arrival, has been a sleep resister. I could count on my fingers the number of times he has slept through the night – and I mean, ten or more hours, really, really slept through. And during the day, he will almost always wake after one sleep cycle (about 45 minutes). At least in more recent times, I can resettle him and get another hour or so.

Getting him to sleep is a bitch when he knows his big brother is still up playing. And being the lightest sleeper in the world means that keeping him asleep is even harder. If, during the resettling process, Zee hears a noise that is obviously coming from his big brother who is obviously playing, the resettling is pretty much fucked.

So LD spends his little brother’s nap times being constantly shh-shhed. I hate to stifle the kid’s creative play but hey, I know a way to solve the whole problem. You have a nap, too, LD!

Short of that, I think the only solution is separate sleeping quarters –  another wing, if you will.

Either that or a couple of nannies.

Fed Up

17 Jan

There’s a stereotype that says that Jewish mothers are constantly overfeeding their children. Greek and Italian mothers have an almost identical stereotype.

But I submit that all mothers are food pushers.

When my kids eat, I lose my mind with happiness.

Zee is one year old and a few months back, the sight of him gnawing away at a lamb chop almost reduced me to tears.

LD is three and a half and weighs approximately two and half kilos more than his infant brother. Today he ate a mouthful of Weetbix and milk, three dry Cruskits and a banana chip. I worry constantly about his tiny appetite.

And I am disturbingly envious of how skinny his thighs are.

But I digress.

Food. I love when my kids eat it.

Maybe it will be like sleep though – when they’re teenagers I’ll complain they have far too much of it.

But for now, if my kids aren’t sleeping, I’d like them eating.

On a warm spring day last November, B and I sliced up a watermelon and together, the family M-G sat around and ate it. All four of us. And it just filled me up with joy. Ridiculous, quick-I’d-better-get-the-camera joy.

Yes, it’s the simple things.

Except the things that used to be simple and are not so simple anymore.

Oh, dining out! How I miss thee….

Oh, eating my dinner warm and without interruption! We had some good times, you and I…..

Oh, chicken parma and pot at the pub! We’ll be together again soon. Wait for me, won’t you?

Dining out is a trip through the McDonald’s drive-thru.

But at least it’s a night off from cooking.

Glass half full, people. Glass half full.

Stay Mum

16 Jan

I was standing in line, waiting to pick up some photos.

In front of me, a woman stood with her infant son in a pram. The baby was very young, maybe two months old – maybe less. The pram was rearward facing so the baby could see his mother. I could see both the baby’s face and the mother’s profile.

The baby was an outrageous cutie. And at that wonderful age where he is just beginning to really communicate. He was cooing and smiling, raising his little eyebrows at his mother.

I was so enamoured of this darling baby that I would not be surprised if I spontaneously ovulated, then and there. He was GORGEOUS.

But as my body prepared for conception, the baby’s mother remained impassive. And it’s not that she didn’t see him. She wasn’t distracted or looking elsewhere. She was looking right at him. Staring, almost vacantly, as though regarding a stranger. His little eyebrows jumped up and down, his little mouth working to form sounds. And all the while, his mother stood motionless, expressionless. Not responding.

It was so incredibly odd.

And sad.

Could she have been someone who just isn’t a gushy baby person? Sure. But even then, she might have engaged in some way with her child who was so clearly trying to ‘talk’ to her.

This woman was not only unmoved by her son’s cuteness but almost removed from the entire situation. She was….vacant. She observed the baby. But she didn’t interact. She had a haunted look, like she was outside of her own body.

It was the strangest thing.

And I haven’t been able to erase the image from my mind.

I wanted to reach out to her. I wanted to make some kind of connection. I wanted to tell her she had a beautiful son.

But I remained silent.

I had the strongest feeling that this woman was suffering.

But I just shut up.

Because who the hell am I to ask her if she’s okay?

After LD was born, I was euphoric. Cloud nine stuff. It was dream-like. I was so in love with my son and my situation. It all just worked and when it didn’t, I trusted myself to get through it. I was, I must say, amazing. I was chilled. I don’t do chilled. Of all the things I am, chilled? No.

But by the same token, I felt the fragility of being a mother. There were times when I felt I was walking an emotional tightrope. And as I sat cradling my newborn son, in those very early days, I was sometimes overcome with what a responsibility this tiny life was and how frightening it was to think that he was entrusted to me, hormonal and raw and discovering a new realm of exhaustion as I was. I thought about what it might be like if I removed my support network. If I replaced a loving partner with an abusive one. If substance abuse, mental illness or entrenched unemployment were part of the equation. I imagined taking everything that I needed and relied on away and I came to see how people will do things that we could otherwise not fathom. And it scared me.

So I was filled with a powerful empathy for other mothers. It felt natural to engage with them. And for the most part, I found other mums reciprocated.

Until December 2007. It was the Christmas rush and I was mailing something at the post office. They were crazy busy. But I was still euphoric and floating a couple of centimetres off the ground. LD was being angelic in his pram. LD was always angelic in his pram.

A woman entered the post office. She had a very, very little baby with her and she carried him in a Baby Bjorn strapped to her chest. The baby was screaming. Absolutely screaming. The woman was packing something into an envelope and addressing it. She jiggled and shh shh’d the baby every now and then. The baby continued to scream. And the woman looked like she was about to splinter into a thousand tiny pieces.

I could see that once she was done, she would have to wait in the long line to pay.

I approached her.

“Hi,” I said. “Can I give you a hand?”

I thought maybe I could stand in line for her and pay while she soothed the baby.

“No!” she snapped, not looking at me. “Can you just go away please.”

I recoiled as though she had struck me. I was stung.

“Okay,” was all I said and I got the fuck out of there.

In the minutes and even hours afterward, I tossed the situation about in my mind. Of course, I was hurt. Fuck, I was only trying to help. But then, who the fuck was I to interfere? But then, what kind of idiot carries a tiny baby facing outwards in the Baby Bjorn? Everyone knows newborn babies like to snuggle into their mothers. But how the fuck do you know what the baby likes? Maybe the baby hates being in that position, you fucking know-it-all. But then couldn’t she just take a minute to cuddle her baby and then keep on doing what she was doing? But who’s to say that baby hasn’t been crying for six straight hours and the mother is just trying to run some fucking errands and the whole thing is hard enough and now you’ve blown in like fucking Mother Theresa and made her feel like a fucking failure. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!

So. This time around, you could say I was gun-shy.

It wasn’t as though I was going to tell this woman I thought she needed help. Of course not. I wouldn’t have even asked how she was feeling. What kind of presumptuous fuck would that make me? But I felt so strongly that I should connect with her, just for a moment.

Honestly, I don’t know what’s appropriate. And while some women feel the same bond of motherhood I do, others won’t. So I said nothing. Maybe wisely.

But I do regret not telling her how beautiful her son was. Because he really was. And I think, no matter what, she might have got a kick out of that.

Toilet Training 101: Fluffies Training Pants Review

14 Jan

A recently discovered relic from The Little Mumma's own toilet training days. No doubt, I was a gun......

It was time to take action.

B was on annual leave and would be home for three whole weeks so it seemed a perfect time to tackle a few things while we had both hands on deck.

The plan included weaning Zee off the boob and toilet training LD. As it turns out, both these tasks are fairly monumental so it became necessary to choose just one. And since Zee is a huge boob pig and LD is about to start college, the toilet training won out.

Actually, LD is not about to start college. He is 3.5 years old. So, clearly, too young for college but, let us speak frankly, getting too old for all this nappy-wearing business. But at 3.5, he is showing none of the initiative to start toilet training that all the books told me to be on the lookout for before even thinking about proceeding.

I waited patiently, the experts assuring me that to push a kid into using the toilet before he is ready is to create a painfully prolonged and possibly traumatic training period.

Boys matured more slowly than girls, I comforted myself when a dear friend’s daughter, nine months LD’s junior, began wearing underpants each day.

I waited.

And I waited.

And finally, it just seemed like the kid would be walking down the aisle to his future life partner in adult diapers.

So, it was time to take action.

On Facebook, a friend made a comment about her recent success with toilet training her son, a similar age to LD. I demanded she tell me her secrets and in doing so (there really aren’t any), she mentioned she had used Fluffies Training Pants.

Fluffies Training Pants

I wasn’t familiar with the training pants but I recognised the packaging and realised I’d seen them before. Fluffies Training Pants are made of terry towelling and have a foam lining which means they are more absorbent than your average pair of undies. However, they are not designed to absorb liquid the way pull-up pants are and subsequently, they will leak. I didn’t see the point of going the pull-up route because as far as I could tell, they were just a nappy by a different name. And hey, a friend said the Fluffies were good and I had exactly zero to lose.   

I got in touch with Fluffies and they graciously agreed to supply me with 6 pairs for review. The package arrived and I waited patiently for B to begin his annual leave so that we could begin the journey towards this momentous milestone in the life of our LD.

The night before we began, we told LD the Nappy Fairy was coming to take away his nappies. He seemed vaguely interested in this.

The first day was….a complete and utter failure. Before 12 noon, LD had pissed his way through four pairs of Fluffies. I asked him to let me know when he needed to wee and his response was, “No”. Ooookay.

I was despairing. But I was determined to persevere. Give it a week, I thought.

The second day after a couple of accidents, the M-G family could be found screaming, clapping and dancing around the potty after LD used it for the first time. We had progress!

I am writing today in the third week of our journey and I would say that 98% of the time, LD is using the toilet. And I do mean toilet – the little genius having graduated from the potty already. I am quite amazed. In two short weeks, we went from outright refusal, to potty use motivated by a praising audience, to “Go away, Mumma. I do it myself” as my kid sits perched on the toilet like he’s been doing it all his life.

We still get the odd accident (daycare poses a challenge) and there are still “travel nappies” and “night nappies” but we have made a start. Something has switched in that little brain and I am hoping like hell that it won’t switch back.

I think we’ve had success for a few reasons. Namely, LD was 100% physically and mentally ready for the challenge. The first day disaster was a normal resistance to change but calm and consistent perseverance meant we could overcome that resistance quite quickly.

The Fluffies pants have been great for a number of reasons.

–         They are slightly more absorbent than a regular pair of underpants so if you catch the little trainer quickly enough, there may be less mess after an accident.

–         Fluffies pants have some absorbency but the child will feel uncomfortable in them if they get wet. Pull-ups never worked for LD because they felt too much like a nappy and so he would use them accordingly.

–         Unlike pull-ups, they can be washed and reused which is a benefit financially and is also a greener choice.

–         The major advantage of using the training pants for us was, I think, psychological. We have undies with robots and undies with Spiderman. All manner of undie incentives we provided but LD preferred his “fluffy undies” and I think that was because they feel more like a nappy. They’re bigger than regular undies and they’re softer. So he was less resistant to wearing them. I think they’re an ideal in-between – going from the security of a nappy to a thin pair of cotton underpants is probably a bigger jump for LD than I figured.

So, we’re still in the early stages of training and certainly not “trained” yet but it’s a start and I am relieved because it was always a nagging thought at the back of my mind that my kid should not still be in nappies. Fluffies Training Pants have been a helpful transitional tool. And they’re cheap. I’ve seen a 6-pack advertised for $19.95.

Other helpful stuff included a sticker reward chart, keeping my mounting frustration to myself and just generally encouraging without overwhelming. In the end, what seems to have been the most cementing factor for LD was his own sense of independence in doing this most grown up of things.

So, I’m proud of the little fella. Wish us continuing luck!

LD dons underwear as headwear and declares himself "Undies Face!" Seriously.