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Avocado baby.

When I was little I think I remember this book, either being read to me or more likely being read to my younger sister and brother.

I had a moment during a weigh-in with Toby when I remembered the pictures of the baby performing amazing feats of strength, when Toby decided to lift up the scales. I was trying to lift him up of the scales but he had a firm grip on each side and what followed was this…

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And there we all stayed, suspended for a minute in disbelief (Toby literally suspended) that these really heavy scales were hanging beneath Toby who looked like he was just sitting on them, holding on like they were some kind of magic carpet.

The excellent part of the whole day was finding out that Toby is still following the curve that he had been gaining weight on (somewhere around the 95th percentile) and that I was therefore feeding him about the right quantity of solid food now that we have started introducing that into his diet.

 
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Posted by on December 15, 2012 in Baby

 

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Attachment anxiety

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Now Toby is six months we have reversed all progress made at getting him to sleep in his cot. This is because of multiple challenges. The first one was that he suffered from a round of bronciolities which made it hard for him to breath lying down in his cot (where he had been sleeping for some of the time, I’ll be honest, some not all, but some) and for a week slept in bed with me as he would go to sleep sitting up on my chest and then I would very carefully lie him down next to me and we would both go to sleep.

After he got better from this he refused to even be put near his cot, but at the same time hit the age where he gets anxious if away from his mum. It gets worse, interestingly, if dad (our lovely Jeremy) attempts to replace mum. If I go and have a shower the hysterics are less if I leave him playing on the floor by himself, then if Jeremy tries to read a book or play, or even sit quietly and sing songs with baby.

So all in all we have been co sleeping these last few weeks with J sadly cast adrift in the spare room. It is easier sometimes to take the path of least resistance.

 
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Posted by on December 11, 2012 in Baby

 

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The things we do

One thing that arrived at a similar time to the baby is my lovely iPad. My mum very sensibly suggested there would be no way I would be able to spend any length of time in my study on my iMac and so in order to be connected with her in nz on Skype she funded this beautiful piece of ‘new mum’ kit.

As well as having a connection to the outside world through this lovely gadget we also bought a Wacom stylus for it and an app called ‘paper’ which has been somewhat of a revelation. Certainly it is very easy to sketch and share our little day to day moments this way.

Some of these drawings have made it into a show at Radio Active http://www.radioactive.fm/moma so stay tuned. It should be up soon I think.

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It does occur to me that a substantial portion of these drawings are concerning sleep or the lack there of. Toby has a habit of now only settling himself in our bed and sleeping in such a way that it would be impossible to fit around him except to curl up in a little ball and sleep in the corners. A amazing feat for someone so apparently little himself – he takes up a surprising amount of space.

 
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Posted by on December 3, 2012 in Baby

 

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Moving house count-down. Two days to go.

As mentioned in our last blog we have two helpers staying with us to help us with the move and to help me look after Toby while I have been recovering. Here they are packing up all our stuff. :)

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They like to leave messages on boxes as they pack them.

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Posted by on September 20, 2012 in Leamington Spa, Warwick

 

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Resuming blogging again. A fourth degree tear and Motherhood.

Dear readers of this blog, it’s been a while. This is the second large lapse in our blog since we left New Zealand and a lot has happened since we last blogged, some good some bad. I’ll get the bad out of the way first.

When I gave birth to our son Toby on the 18th of May I was torn badly. What is called a 4th degree tear, and what to me meant a loss of mobility, a great deal of pain and loss of control of my bowel. I know dear reader that you don’t want to know about this in great detail, to be honest I don’t want to talk about it in great detail either. But the sense of complete isolation in what I was going through when I tried to google other women who had experienced this complication in child birth compels me to be honest with my friends and family and anyone else who might stumble upon this blog. It was the most terrible thing I have ever faced, and in the space of moments I went from a young healthy woman to a person who could not venture out of her flat, for fear of episodes of incontinence, and a keen walker and cyclist of many miles, to a woman who triumphed in the month of August, three months after giving birth in her ability walk a slow mile. It was difficult reality to come to terms with.

It is getting better, very slowly. Now in September I am able to walk two miles, I hope that in a few months I will be up to more. The rate of improvement is slow and gradual. The control of my body is more slow to return, this is in part because the muscles in the pelvic floor were damaged, and in part because the nerves connecting them to my brain were severed and have to grow back and new pathways must be formed. This takes time, and in the meantime physio visits are a regular part of my schedule, tests are booked and with any luck will eventuate in October and I have taken up yoga to try to take control of whatever I can take control of. One of the more difficult things that I have been told, is that it will not be a 100% recovery, there is no guarantee of how much things will improve, but it will not go back to the way it was. To be entirely honest this was a devastating thing to hear in May/June, but as things have slowly improved it becomes a disappointment rather then the despair from earlier.

Motherhood was a bit of a kick in the teeth initially, due to being in incredible amounts of pain for the better part of a month I was not able to hold, carry, lift, sit up, walk any further then the bathroom etc. and so the vision I had had of motherhood, realistic or not was vastly different to the reality of it. I did imagine that I would be able to carry my child, feed him sitting up (though this leads onto another story), go for little walks with him in the pram, and all the other things that I had seen other mothers do, that I had seen my sister and my friends do with their babies. This wasn’t to be. We soldiered through breast feeding, one day at a time using a side to side lying down position so that the baby’s weight did not rest on my body. In retrospect I am surprised that I did not give up on this, but as breast feeding afforded the cuddles with Toby that I wasn’t able to otherwise have, I was motivated to keep going with it. The first month was very much about just feeding the baby.

In the hospital had I not felt that it would indicate some kind of depressive state of mind I would have asked the nurses to take Toby away and bring him back when he needed feeding, I was so tired, in the way that a person is tired when recovering from injury I was tired, and in the way that a woman recovers from three days of labour I was tired. But when I got home this is what my family did for me without judgement. For the last three months after being discharged from hospital I have been surrounded by friends and family, who due to the fact that we lived so far from home, went to enormous lengths, in some cases literally the other end of the earth, to be there for us.

At this point when we both feel the need to exclaim “but we love Toby,” which we do, but have to keep explaining to medical professionals who seem to only catch us at our worst possible down swings (Jeremy has suggested the the encounters with some of these people might have some correlation to these moods). Of course we love Toby, we love him with the ferocity and paranoia of new parents. I have never been more frightened, and more confident in equal measure then when I suddenly had responsibility for this new person. And Toby is a fantastic person.

It’s amazing what you end up loving about a baby. I was in love with his long little fingers when he was born, and the way he curled them together, in this evil genius way. Sort of like Mr Burns from the Simpsons. During the week after the birth in the hospital he spent a lot of time in the night co-sleeping with me in a single hospital bed, the nurses having become frustrated with having to keep getting the baby out of the plastic crib by my bed for night time feeding, ended up just leaving him in bed with me between feeds. I use the term co-sleeping liberally, I didn’t sleep, I did spend a large proportion of the night watching him uncurl his little fingers and recurl them again. I had a theory that this was what he had done in the womb after it got to cramped to move around terribly much. Developmentally we have watched Toby free his hands (on the sudden realisation that there is more space on the outside of the womb) and then find them, (which is where I guess he realises what hands are, and that they are connected to him and can be connected to each other again).

In writing this it occurs to me that I have memories apart from those that dealt with the 4th degree tear. What is more interesting is that the memory of Toby’s little Mr Burns fingers are more powerful then those of grief and pain. I feel lucky, because although the memories associated with the accident are not insubstantial or faded at this point, the memories of Toby’s first hours and days of life are more powerful and more real then even that trauma. I guess that is what being a parent is about.

Hopefully now we can move onto more exciting news. We are about to embark on a house move to Warwick, Toby is four months old today, and we have two New Zealand back packers called Myf and Georgia staying with us for a few weeks to lend a much needed hand.

Stay tuned.

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Posted by on September 18, 2012 in Baby

 

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Symphonies

I have many bad habits*. I follow the 3 second rule when I drop food on the floor (unless it looks unsalvageable, sometimes I will wash it before resuming eating it i.e. in the case of fruit – but it is worth mentioning that Jeremy has banned what he calls ‘floor-food’ while I am pregnant.) I will trade any amount of household chores of any kind to avoid cleaning the bathroom. I leap in front of Jeremy when he is playing games on the PS3 with a pointless interjection on something (that could have waited for another time) boring. I read Mills and Boon romances, I cut my own hair when I am feeling idle and contemplative usually resulting in a mullet or uneven cut, and I save all files to my desktop – giving myself the file management system of a compulsive hoarder. The other bad habit my family (and Jeremy) sometimes give me a hard time about is that I listen to whatever is on the pop’iest of pop radio stations and love it for the average time it stays in the top 20 charts.

But it’s not crap – I defend my pop music. Its wonderful. Every song is pretty much the same. I have defended Mills and Boon in a similar way. I love the way each story or track is a different variation of the same thing, much like listening to Mozart’s Variations.

I am not really saying that pop music is Mozart… I am pretty sure you could use many of the current top 20 chart songs played over and over to drive somebody insane, and I am fairly sure that Mozart on repeat would have a less damaging effect on the human mind – but there is an overlooked wonderfulness in the way pop music is constantly producing the same song, but different.

And this afternoon I found this video by Norwegian Recycling showing how six popular songs from the last 10 approx years are pretty much the same thing. It fills me with glee to hear them like this all together. It’s like the pop industry has been composing it’s own ‘Variation’s’ in this particular little sequence of chords.

I am not sure what my taste in music is doing to our baby son. He’s still on the inside – but it is commonly agreed now that he can hear what is going on on the outside. Jeremy tried to explain Derivatives and Differentiation to him last night for his bed time story (and because I couldn’t remember what they were and made the mistake of asking). During the last appointment it was decided to send him for an additional ultrasound scan as the bump looked larger than usual for the stage of pregnancy we were at. Today a scan confirmed that the baby is taking more after his dad, or perhaps his very tall maternal great uncles and great grandfather (my mum’s whanau), with his head and torso measuring larger then average.

Baby size graph

The graph above here shows the baby sitting nicely above the 90th percentile of baby sizes on the graph (the darker top line) and way above the middle average baby grey line. The star indicates the guesstimate based on measuring my stomach with a tape measure, the circle with the dot is the actual scan 2 weeks later.

Time seems to be flying by now. Personally I am in denial about the fact that we will soon be parents to an actual baby, or based on his musical exposure so far, parents to a very tall future pop star – who is also good at maths and computer science (a wee way off). Jeremy rightly pointed out that even though the baby is bigger then average, he is not yet as big as the baby we will meet in May. This briefly reassured me and then made me think of Kaz Cooke’s ‘Up the Duff’ guide to pregnancy, which I have been enjoying, when she says towards the end of her pregnancy diary that she now knows why whales beach themselves.

I find myself wanting to stay on the couch rather then going to work. Wanting to get into bed early rather then staying up on Friday and watching television or lurking in the living room. This has incidentally stemmed another one of the bad habits I mentioned above. Jeremy is able to play Mass Effect 3 in the secure knowledge that I am unlikely to leap in front of the TV during a critical battle for the safety of the planet Earth against the Reapers.

*the following list is not all-inclusive.

 
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Posted by on March 12, 2012 in Baby

 

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Local Adventures

In recent weekends we’ve discovered the liberating experience of being able to ‘just go’ and see the local sights in our car. Lesser known sights – things that aren’t strictly tourist attractions, but instead are neat places that locals go for walks, photography, or just a dose of free history. These places are not on public transport routes, and are far too far away to walk to.

The first such adventure was to the Chesterton Windmill, which is readily accessible in the centre of a functioning paddock. I’ve seen photos taken by a workmate with the mill surrounded by a beautiful yellow crop on a bright spring or summer’s day. When we went it was partly cloudy, and the field had clearly recently been sown, so it isn’t quite as picturesque, but it’s still pretty cool to look at.

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The photo above shows me in the field in question. I got so much mud on my shoes that when walking back I felt considerably weighed down. We had to find sizeable sticks to get it all off. I hope I didn’t kill too many plants!

On another day we went on a trip to Henly-in-Arden, in order to find a shop that Fran was looking for. The trip was successful, and into the deal we got to see another small town in Warwickshire. On the way back we stopped at the Hatton Locks, which is basically the answer to “How on earth do we get this canal to go up a fairly significant incline?” It’s pretty cool, and we’ll definitely go back there another day with our proper camera in hand – it should be able to capture the experience somewhat better than my phone did.

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In our quest to find affordable baby related goods, we also made it our mission to find the fabled ‘“Baby Barn” in the very small town of Marton. The store is great, but let’s just say it really does live up to the name. It is literally in the middle of a farm. I wish I’d taken some pictures, but even better would have been photos of the random tiny towns Google Maps took us through on the way there. I highly recommend visiting both Eathorpe and Wappenbury if you’re looking to find places that accurately represent the term ‘village’. Awesome.

 
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Posted by on March 11, 2012 in Baby, Leamington Spa

 

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