Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Suburban walk to kindy

E started kindy at the beginning of 2014 but we only started walking there and home part-way through term 2. Before that I was too fat and immobile, and then we were too busy adjusting to life-with-two to organise ourselves to do it. We also assumed that it would be a bit far for E to manage - it's about 1.3km each way, and it would be quite far for her to walk, but now she rides her scooter and manages very well. 

Another reason we thought it would be too far/hard to walk is that if you go by the main roads it is very busy. But if you walk alongside the ovals and netball courts it is a beautiful walk, mainly under and alongside huge gum trees, and much safer and more peaceful than via the main roads.

Also, D bought a scooter! It is the best fun riding it and means we can keep up with E who at full scooting speed is very speedy indeed. In the weeks when D was home we would all walk to/from kindy together, one of us with baby C in the Ergo and the other on the scooter. Amongst all the other reasons I am sorry D has returned to work is that I now have to carry C all the time - so no scooting for me.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Poo, snot and roses: a suburban weekend

On Saturday morning I escaped for a spot of child-free grocery shopping (the relief of walking out the door alone! the part of me that cringes that that is a luxury!). Returned home with a mountain of groceries hopefully big enough that I will not have to venture near a shop with either child anytime soon. Discovered that whilst I was gone E had amused herself by going to the toilet, not wiping properly, and then remedying the situation by wiping her hands on the wall.

Our darling eldest daughter has always been supremely unconcerned by poo. As a baby, perfectly happy to squelch around in a dirty nappy. A reluctant toilet trainer, seemingly of the view that going to the toilet is a waste of time that could be spent doing something else, reacting to accidents with all the nonchalance of one who would not have to clean it up. It occurred to me that, given she has been toilet trained for a good year, the wiping aversion may well be a reaction to the baby and connected to her apparent fascination with the fact that the baby wears nappies that someone else changes for her. I might add that this occurred to me after I had cleaned the walls and listened to myself growling "but how did this happen? why would you do that? In this family we wipe our bottoms with toilet paper!" (because we are so classy around these parts). Also after E had attempted to blame her decorating attempts on the cat.

The better part of the weekend involved a pause in the rain during which we snatched some time outside to prune the roses.

The rest of it seemed to involve snot, mainly poor baby C's, who has succumbed to E's germs. There is nothing sadder than a little baby with a cold. Thankfully, despite the constantly dripping nose, she does not seem to be seriously sick and is still managing to eat and sleep. And E is well again and returned to kindy today - hurrah! How was the weekend around your parts?

Chopping, watching, eating a carrot: everyone's respective roles in the pruning.
Aren't you glad I chose a picture of the roses rather than anything else we
encountered this weekend?!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Welcome to winter

It's been winter for a while but today it really feels like it. Grey. Cold. It's been raining on and off for days and although I've given in and am using the dryer for loads more washing than I would like to, the clothes rack is also a permanent fixture in the living room. Because did I mention that the amount of washing we are producing is astronomical? I had been told that the second child would mean a disproportionate jump in dirty clothes and I expected it, but the reality of it is quite depressing.

Also, it is the season of the cold and E has a full-blown one. A disgustingly snotty, eye streaming one. At least she can blow her own nose this winter, and so is toting around a box of tissues and a plastic bag (that just screams out " GERMS!! CONTAGIOUS!! GROSS!!") We are going through litres of hand sanitiser, my constant refrain is "please don't touch the baby" and I am disinfecting surfaces like a mad woman in an attempt for C and I not to get it too (and D, I suppose, but he gets to escape to work for 9 hours a day).

Yuckity yuck. I am going to stop complaining and go and do 10 minutes of sit ups and squats for the baby's amusement and my sanity.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Welcome, Baby C

My last post was pretty much all about your big sister, darling little C, and I will try to make this one all about you. That seems to be the focus of my days at the moment - trying to get the balance of my time and energy right and fair between you - but that is another post.

You were born on 16 April 2014, at St John of God Hospital, at 8:11am. You weighed 3.5kg, were 50cm long and you head was 37cm around. We named you after your line of grandmothers - your first name is the middle name of each of your paternal grandmother, great-grandmother and great-great grandmother. Your middle name is the first name of your maternal great-grandmother. Lots of lovely women for you to feel connected to and inspired by throughout your life.

You were born via elective caesarean, a decision which I dithered and deliberated over, but which I think ultimately was the right one. Your sister was a big baby with a big head, and almost got stuck coming out, doing all sorts of damage to your Mumma in the process. The obstetrician was worried about all of this for you, in particular about your shoulders getting stuck. I was scared about more tearing the second time around, and about how out of control E's birth felt. Of course I had no control over the process of the caesarean but at least I had faith that those who knew what they were doing did. It was still pretty scary, and the immediate aftermath was not very pleasant as I lay there shaking and shivering in response to the epidural, but it was over, you were here, you were safe. The few days afterward were also harder than I had anticipated; somewhat naively I had not realised how incapacitated, dare I say, crippled I would be. Getting out of bed for the first time was terrifying and excruciating and I nearly fainted in the bathroom. Despite all this, by the time you were several weeks old I was in better shape than I was when E was the same age - only taking paracetamol and anti-inflammatories instead of the strong stuff and moving more easily.

We stayed in the hospital with you for four nights. It was noisy there because our room was near the nurses' station, and we were keen to get home and start enjoying life as a family of four. You were a sleepy baby in those first few days at home, partly because you were slightly jaundiced. As a result, in your first few days at home you didn't put on much weight and the community nurse said I should feed you every three hours, day and night, for the next week or so. So I did, and my goodness that was hard work. You have never had any trouble feeding, but when you were tiny you were very slow. It would take me at least 45 minutes to feed you, and then another half hour or so to get you back to bed. Repeating the process day and night meant I was snatching sleep in one or two hour blocks at best. But it was worth it, because by the time you were 16 days old you had stacked on 500 grams, the jaundice had cleared, and we could stop worrying.

You looked very much like your big sister when you were born; the same dark hair in the same shape across your forehead, the same blue-grey eyes. But a sweet little mouth and double chin that are all your own, and ears and long fingers that we think might have come from Omo. You somehow also looked more like me and my side of the family than E ever has. We have all been speculating about whether your eyes will darken to the same lovely chocolate brown as Daddy's and E's and until recently it has been anyone's guess but as of the last few days they are definitely browner. Your hair is starting to get thin patches on the sides - I wonder if you will have the same funny landing strip down the middle of your head that E had at five months?

You sorted out night-sleeping pretty easily and by six weeks old you were sleeping for a six hour stretch at night. Day sleeps have been more problematic - your preference is sleeping upright or in someone's arms. Our first miracle was a borrowed Ergo carrier which meant that you could sleep upright and hands-free. The second was a borrowed sleeping bag with "wings" and press-studs from which your best Houdini-like attempts are unsuccessful - we can pat you to sleep on a shoulder and then sneak you into your basinette, where you will now remain for 30-60 minutes at a stretch. For the baby who, until last week, had not slept for longer than 15 minutes in her bed during the day, it does feel miraculous.

You have discovered that you have hands and it is very cute and amusing to watch you rotate a fat fist in front of your face, apparently amazed that it is yours. You were even more pleased to discover that you can shove your hand in your mouth. As of about a week ago you have also learned that you have a voice. In a good mood you will sit on my lap, and conduct a loud and earnest conversation entirely in coos and gurgles.

We are so happy to have you, lovely little C. Your early days and weeks have been an unmitigated pleasure. I didn't know my heart was this big.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Big sister

For the longest time E wanted a sibling, specifically, a baby sister. She would tell strangers in the park "I'm getting a baby" - and they would look questioningly at me because this was months before we were even attempting to create one for her! Once I was pregnant we put off telling her the good news until after the 19 week scan, partly to be as confident as possible that everything was going to be ok, partly so we could tell her whether she could expect a baby brother or sister, and partly because we figured 4.5 months was plenty long enough to listen to her talking about nothing else.

When we did tell her, the reaction was even better than we expected. She got all wide eyed and said "my wish has come true!" And then she did talk about (pretty much) nothing else for the next 4.5 months. She told her good news to friends and family, people in the park, the lady at the supermarket checkout. She talked to the baby in my tummy and sang her songs. She speculated endlessly about what the baby would be called, with her preferred options being Rainbow and Lola (for anyone who knows our surname, it sounds hilarious when teamed with Lola - if one is keen on bestowing a name fit for a stripper upon their child). We wound up telling her that she could "put names on the list" but that it was for Mummy and Daddy to ultimately choose which one we wanted. Her only worry was that when she stayed with Granny and Grandad whilst Mummy and Daddy were in the hospital that they wouldn't let her visit as often as she wanted.

E stayed with my parents for five nights whilst we were in hospital. We didn't tell her ahead of time why she was going to Granny and Grandad's; she just thought she was having a sleepover because it was school holidays. The afternoon that C was born Grandad, Granny and E were our first visitors. E was wearing the "I'm a Big Sister" t-shirt we had ordered her and carrying a little balloon on a stick for the baby (and a big Dora the Explorer balloon for herself that she had apparently wrangled out of indulgent grandparents). Having spent seven hours or so in the company of a newborn baby my immediate thought upon seeing her was "who is this giant? what on earth have Granny and Grandad been feeding you in the last 24 hours?" She sat on a chair and her expression when Granny put the longed-for baby sister on her lap was wise, curious, vulnerable, tender. Entirely heart-catching.

Since then, the reality of having a baby in the house does not appear to have disappointed E. She still speaks adoringly of the baby and is only occasionally jealous (one or two presents have appeared that she wishes were hers and although she doesn't articulate it, Granny is not allowed to pay too much attention to the baby when E is around). Her biggest treat is to be allowed to sit on the couch and hold the baby on her lap, and I try to accommodate this request as often as possible. She loves to "help" change the baby's nappy, mainly by jumping in the baby's face and furiously shaking and squeaking various rattles and other toys "to distract her." She draws endless pictures and makes multiple little crafty presents for the baby. She talks proudly of being my "helper" and at four and a bit, she actually is helpful - she can pass and fetch things and the fascination is reciprocated - C stares and stares at her and always fusses less in the car if E is in the back seat too.

Having C join the family has been a really lovely experience for all of us and I truly hope that the beautiful interaction we have seen between our two girls over the last three months continues as they grow up.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Return to suburbia

At the beginning of 2009 we were two almost-30 lawyers living on the edge of the CBD. We poured the majority of our two incomes into the mortgage over our three bedroom apartment, or on large overseas adventures. We married in April 2009 and spent three weeks honeymooning in Italy.

Two months later we discovered I was pregnant. This was not entirely unexpected  as we had thrown out the contraceptives upon returning home. However, friends' experiences of the baby-making process had led me to believe it was likely to take us six to 12 months to succeed. Two months was somewhat of a head-spin, and in retrospect I spent the first trimester quietly and guiltily convinced (because I had done this on purpose! why wasn't I happy?!) that life post-baby was going to be far more reminiscent of Gwen Harwood's Suburban Sonnet than I wanted.

In December 2009 we gave up on the apartment and moved to our version of the suburbs (still only 15 minutes from town, but we have now have such grown-up accompaniments as lawn, roses and a wheelbarrow).
Our lovely little bundle, E, arrived in April 2010 and I was thrilled to discover that I adored her and was (lagely) happy to spend my days at home with her. Parenting definitely had its unpalatable - and certainly plenty of sleepless - moments, but on the whole I was quietly stoked - albeit a little surprised - to realise that staying home suited me.

These pages began as a reflection, celebration and record of life with a baby in the suburbs. I lost momentum about a year ago when, in between working part time and falling pregnant again, I lacked energy and enthusiasm for doing much besides sleeping in my spare time. Special bundle #2 is now three months old, Dad is back at work, E is about to return to kindy, and I'm again looking to start chronicling this lovely time in our lives.

If you haven't come to visit before - welcome! To old friends - welcome back!
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