When three becomes four

Later this year, the Little Mister’s world is going to change forever. He’s going to become a big brother, and our little family of three will become four.

He won’t be quite 19 months yet, but suddenly, he will have a littler person than him making a big impact on his life. He will have a little sister.

We are immeasurably delighted that our little family will grow, but also wondering how the Little Mister will fare when everything changes. He is placid, calm, friendly, desperate to please and amuse. He is, at the moment, our everything – and he has never known life to be any different.

I wonder how he will react when he sees me cuddling a little baby – who I don’t give back to another mummy. I wonder how he will feel when he sees me kissing her, feeding her, and spending many a night-time hour with her. I wonder how he will feel when he starts nursery, and sees this little baby girl staying at home with his mummy – the one who cuddles him whenever he asks, who comes in the night, and who makes everything better with a kiss.

I imagine him cuddling her, and stroking her gently as he does with his soft toys. I imagine him being generous with his time and attention, and helping his mummy look after this new addition to our family. Later, I imagine him checking up on his little sister when she starts school. I imagine him looking out for her in the playground, and helping her climb the slide at the park.

One day, I imagine him giving her advice and not hesitating to help her when she needs him. I imagine him being the calm, serious, gentle older brother in her life who is always there when she doesn’t know where to turn. I imagine him loving her unconditionally and forever. And I imagine her knowing she couldn’t have ever wished for more in a big brother.

But first, will there be jealousy, confusion and tears? Probably. Will there be fights and tantrums and an entire little family feeling like they have reached the end of the line, with no answers left and nothing to make it all better? I expect so. Yet it will be the next part of our journey. We three will become four. Life will change, and once again, we will learn so much from the as yet unknown.

My Best Teacher

JUST like the Little Mister, I haven’t stopped learning for the last eight months. While he has learnt everything he knows, I’ve learnt more than any books, lecturers or study sessions could have taught me. And I’ve learnt it all from him.

I’ve learnt that for my Little Mister, there’s a certain cry which means hungry, a certain look ¬†which means tired and a certain grizzle which means bored. There is a certain jerky movement for wind and a jut of the chin to one side which means sleep is around the corner. When he was littler, Tony and I learnt (slowly) that swaddling, shushing, singing and rocking all worked when it came to settling our baby. We learnt he like to be winded on my shoulder. We learnt that tuning the radio off station and setting it at a certain volume helped him sleep.

I learnt everything about him. But I also learnt a whole heap of stuff that I wish I had known nine months ago.

I learnt that everyone will have an opinion on how best to settle/feed/clothe/bathe/generally care for your baby. I learnt that they might not always be right and to stop taking their advice so seriously/as a criticism/ to heart.

I learnt that baby books don’t have to be finished. Take what you want from them, then put them back on the shelf – forever. Then, use the spare time to sleep.

I learnt there’s no point filling the freezer with pots of home made baby mush. If the boy wants to eat food out of a squeezy pouch bought from the supermarket, it’s quicker, easier, and fine by me. Pick your battles – and this one isn’t worth fighting – if you win, it means more work for you.

I learnt that the human body can survive on very little sleep. Very little indeed.

I learnt that getting up at night, repeatedly, is only hard at the getting out of bed stage. After that, you get extra special cuddles with the little person who loves you unconditionally. And you get them while they are at their sleepiest – which is also when they are cutest.

I learnt that the world won’t end if the house doesn’t get cleaned twice a week.

I don’t like clutter. But I’ve learnt that sometimes you’ve just got to let go and put up with it. Because if the clutter involves an excersaucer in the lounge, it’s clutter which keeps the Little Mister entertained EVERY TIME he gets bored.

I learnt to always carry wipes, especially when you don’t think you’ll need them. The little person will be sick on your clothes if you don’t. Similarly, it’s not worth saving your best clothes for a special occasion. They’ll get pooed on. The same goes for baby clothes. Dress your little one up in their Sunday best as often as you can. Soon the outfit will be irreparably stained, and within two weeks it won’t fit anyway. On a similar note, only feed a baby banana while they’re in their yukkiest never to be seen in public pyjamas.

I learnt why take away outlets exist. I learnt that it doesn’t matter what toys I want Milin to like. If it’s not made in China out of cheap garishly coloured plastic with flashing lights and annoying music, he won’t love it. Similarly, it doesn’t matter how cute the outfit is, if it’s going to be difficult to take on and off – don’t buy it.

It goes on. There is so much more. He might be small, but he’s the best teacher I’ve ever had.

 

 

You Made My Day

I KNOW there will come a time when we stop celebrating the Little Mister turning a month older, but that must be at least a year or so away. Today, we celebrated eight months. Eight months! It’s been two thirds of a year of getting to know each other, adjusting to sleep deprivation, learning some big lessons, laughing lots, crying too, and discovering a whole other level of happiness.

So to mark eight months, we crammed a fair bit into the Little Mister’s day. It was the last day of winter, and the sun shone over Wellington. First up was the swing at the park with his nani ji. Milin loves the swing. Today, he couldn’t wait to get out of his buggy and get onto it. Which was good, it tired him out nicely for his second nap.

With his grandparents and me, the Little Mister spent the afternoon at Oriental Bay. The sea was calm, the fountain caught his attention, and I found myself remembering the last time I’d put my toes in the ocean there. It was Christmas Day, the day the doctors had wanted to induce me, but we bought ourselves and the Little Mister a bit more time. Christmas morning was spent at the hospital and I was discharged after two nights there. Still pregnant.

Today, the Little Mister wasn’t sure about sitting on the sand. He didn’t mind watching the water lap at the shore, but really it was a short stint on the beach. He didn’t let me rub sun cream into his face, and so spent the afternoon looking like an Australian cricketer with zinc-based sun block on one cheek.

So, we went for a walk, which the Little Mister was much happier about. People watching, today, trumped watching the ocean. And then a stint at the Beach Babylon cafe saw me become probably the proudest mum in Wellington. My eight-month-old, he was perfectly behaved. While we had our tea and cakes, Milin sat in his high chair, chomped for a while on Sophie and his set of keys, smiled flirtatiously with the other customers, and spent the outing being generally charming.

I thought I was being optimistic when I left the house with a pouch of pureed fruit and two teaspoons (one for Milin to hold, one for me to use, and feeding time can happen anywhere). But, I pulled out the pouch and two metal teaspoons, put on the bib I had also brought along, and started to feed my boy. He kept up with his tremendous run this week of eating solids. He seems only to be eating pear, apple and banana (pureed together by Heinz) – but he ate lots. And slept all the way home. Yep, I’m the proudest mum in Wellington. Happy eight months my cheery little Milin baby, you made my day. Again.

 

 

Baby Brain

Pregnancy was, for me, a long eight months of myths being shattered. I never glowed, until the end when it was summer and lugging around an extra 20 kilos left my forehead with a permanent sheen. I never felt great or had lots of energy, even after being prescribed high dose iron tablets. I rarely felt as if I was going through one of life’s most magical times – I just felt like I was carrying around alot of extra weight and it was making me feel pretty anxious, tired and stressed.
But there was one aspect of my pregnancy which conformed to the stereotype – baby brain.
It turned out that baby brain wasn’t a myth at all. For me, it was this weird inconvenient phenomena that turned my usually organised, punctual, together self into, quite frankly, a mess.
It wasn’t just a case of a little forgetfulness either. It was doing things like driving to the shops at Lyall Bay and having to come straight home again because once there I had no idea what I had intended to buy.
It was a case of completely forgetting social engagements and just not turning up. I’m still sorry about that.

Once I accepted that my somewhat impaired mental function was yet another of the tests of pregnancy, I consoled myself with the naive belief that it was only temporary. Well, I’m still waiting to get my marbles back. Because the worst thing about baby brain is now that Little Mister is nearly six months old, I’ve still got it.

I don’t think I’m alone in this. From a quick poll of some of the other amazing Wellington mummies I have met on this journey, baby brain has a habit of lingering around far longer than is welcome. Kind of like those last five kilos.

This week, I took afternoon tea along to one of our baby club activities. I thought it was my turn. It wasn’t. On it’s own, this kind of slip up isn’t so bad. But, I did the same thing three weeks ago. It turns out I’m on the calendar for taking afternoon tea next week – which I would have known had I checked my own diary. How on earth did I get this wrong -twice? I never would have got dates like this confused pre-baby. On the plus side – Tony scored some home baking this week that he was certainly not expecting.

Further proof of my diminished mental skill is becoming increasingly obvious in my decision making abilities. I’ve never been an indecisive person. But now, ask me to make a simple choice – particularly when I am already actively doing something else – and I’m stumped.

Which ties in with another new problem. I’ve lost the ability to mentally multi-task. All that criticism I have heaped on Tony over the years for not being able to do it, and now I’m even worse than him. It seems that my brain just can’t cope with turning the cogs or making a decision when it’s already keeping me going at something else. Tony kindly volunteered to take Milin for a buggy walk today so I could have a little time out. But when he asked me if I thought they should take the long or the short walk around the block – it was too much for me to compute.

When my brain allows it, I’ve been thinking about this, because I don’t want to end up unable to make the simplest decisions, or make a habit of turning up at the wrong events on the wrong days. So far, my take on it is that the Little Mister takes up so much head space that fitting the rest in his hard work. I’m constantly thinking about Milin. How long has he been up? Is he starting to look tired? If we’re leaving the house at 11.30am what time should I try to put him down for a nap? What food shall we puree up today? Is the heater on in his room? Should I take some pear out of the freezer? Why isn’t he hungry yet? Is he warm enough? It goes on. All day. All night.

Oddly, I’m still able multi-task when it comes to Milin. Making my lunch with one hand, while having him on one shoulder, and making a game out of it for him while singing a song at the same time seems to be no problem. It’s just finding the brain power for all the other aspects of life sometimes feels like a challenge.

So maybe, with my mind full of thoughts about the Little Mister, plus a little bit of sleep deprivation thrown in, there just isn’t room for some of the small stuff. Which, I guess could mean that Tony keeps getting bonus home baking on the days I get it wrong. Which, given that I seem to be finding less and less time to cook us real meals, perhaps isn’t a bad thing after all.