A Day for Firsts

Lying on his rug in front of the fire, Milin rolled from his back onto his tummy tonight. Well, it was really more like he launched himself onto his belly and then wasn’t quite sure what had happened.

He’s been trying to roll off his back for weeks. Which is interesting, because he hates being on his tummy. So tonight, after his bath and nightly massage in front of the fire (I know, lucky boy), the Little Mister surprised himself. The move usually starts with a serious back arch, then he looks all the way over his right shoulder, chin angled up, and tries to push himself round. Tonight he managed it, and landed rather unceremoniously with his face planted on his mat. He was shocked. I picked him up quickly, gave him a cuddle, and we continued with some good night songs.

And then he did it again. And again. Except when I didn’t pick him up these two times he got rather upset. He realised he was on his tummy, and with one arm stretched out underneath him, he couldn’t roll back. Ah the joys we will have if he rolls onto his tummy at night…

Of course, I am suitably proud of my Little Mister. I’m also filled with awe at how much he is learning. He has so much to figure out, and every day, he figures out a little bit more. Sometimes he gets frustrated at what he can’t do, but mostly, he just tries again and he gets it eventually. Amazing.

He showed me today how much he is growing up. We went down to Island Bay for a walk along the south coast and a hot drink at a cafe stop with Tony. What a beautiful winter’s day it was out there. Milin had enough after a while in the buggy and I got him out and held him as we walked.

He’s seen the ocean before. But today, he really saw it. He was transfixed. He didn’t even want to look at Tony, his favourite person. He couldn’t take his eyes off the huge moving blue mass which stretched into the distance. I wonder what it is like to see the world for the first time. And to like it. It was a day of firsts.

Watching the ocean

Advertisements

Happy

Today I had to go to work. Before I did though, the Little Mister spent the morning being generally awesome, super cute, and very cheery. In short, he made me very happy.

20120629-233410.jpg

Baby Karma

When I was three weeks old, my mum apparently offered me to the dustbin men. They refused to take me, and she was left to carry on walking me up and down the street through the early hours while I wailed in my pram. I never did become a good sleeper.
Later, it was trying to feed me that became the next battle. I didn’t want to eat, apparently.
So now, more than three decades later, i’m wondering if I should really be surprised that feeding and sleeping aren’t the Little Mister’s favourite activities. Maybe it’s some kind of cosmic payback for my own trying behaviour as a little one. Maybe its baby karma.
After six weeks of waking every two hours through the night for feeds, I’m hoping Milin has turned a corner. We’ve just had a few nights of four hour stretches, and while I’m trying not to set myself up for disappointment, I can’t help feeling a tiny bit optimistic. Which is good, because trying to get food into him is exhausting.
Given that I (pre-baby) wore heels out of necessity, Milin was never going to be a big baby. Tony was a nine pounder, but the Little Mister weighed in at six, just like me.
And now, with his weight sitting at the bottom percentile of the chart, I have to try not to obsess about what the scales say. (Story of my life?) He’s such a happy one, who finds so much joy in the world he sees with his big awe-struck eyes. But I would  like him to have a few more baby chub dimples on his arms and legs, and for his ribs just to poke out a little less.
We’ve been trying food for about a month and Milin has probably ingested a tablespoon of pear and half a teaspoon of baby cereal in that time. He’s become quite expert at pursing his lips, turning his head away from me, and pulling off his bib with a screech when he sees the spoon. He is also terrified of the noise made by the whizz as it purées his steamed fruit. It is, it would seem, even more frightening an object than the noisy hand dryers found in cafe toilets.
My freezer is full of tiny pots of liquidised pear and puréed kumera. Will they ever be eaten? Of course we’ve tried making meal times fun, I’ve sang songs, created puppet shows, distracted him, let him hold the spoon – yes, we’ve tried it.
I’m not worried – he is growing and will eat when he is ready, I know. In the mean time though, it’s hard not to turn our daily attempt at solids into a battle of wills. I have to keep reminding myself that such a battle would be pointless anyway, given that Milin is far too clever for me! And even at our failed meal times, he continues to amaze me. I would never have believed that someone so small could be so strong-willed. He might not like food yet, but at least he knows what he wants.

Happy Father’s Day

We’re claiming Father’s Day today, even though it’s not celebrated today here in New Zealand. Tony’s a British citizen, and Milin will be one day, so we’ll take it.

It’s an unbelievable bond between a father and son. I hadn’t seen it close up until the Little Mister came into our lives. Milin is truly transfixed by his dad. Each morning, his sheer delight at seeing him is written all over his face. It starts in his eyes. They light up when he sees his beloved dad. Next is his cute little gummy smile which he beams in the direction of his favourite person, dad.

Because Sundays are “daddy day care” days, and I go to work, the two had the whole day to spend together. Tony usually brings Milin in on a Sunday for a pitstop feed (he sometimes goes on hunger strike when I’m at the office) and today was no different. Except it was as if he knew it was father’s day. While the computers, bright lights, large open space, and array of new people were pretty interesting, and it was exciting getting a real feed from mama instead of the bottle, Milin was most interested in his dad.

He’d take a look around with his big wide eyes, take it all in, and then look back at dad and break out into his huge smile. I’d talk a little to him, give him a cuddle, show him the sights, and then he’d look back at Tony and out would come that smile again.

Milin and Tony are, I believe, incredibly blessed to have each other. I know Milin will get Tony’s jokes (I don’t), and laugh at them always. He’ll agree with his man-logic and he’ll talk in funny voices right back to him. In fact, he’s already trying to do that.

Happy father’s day Tony, from Milin. One day you guys can hang out in the shed together. (But not yet, it’s too dusty in there.)

And to my own papa, Happy Father’s Day. You’re amazing.

Image

taken by Aunty Julia http://travellingkiwi.wordpress.com/

One Hectic Schedule

For a very little person, the Little Mister has an incredible social life.
His week kicks off with Monday morning coffee group. He’s pretty taken with some of the other mums and babies in the group, but the real highlight for him is staring into the fish tank at the Wellington Zoo cafe where we meet. Maybe it’s the flourescent light that’s so appealing because the fish are pretty tiny and slow moving.

Tuesdays see us go to the Space course at Play Centre. Again, he’s starting to get into watching the other babies there, and it’s hard to believe we are almost at the end of our second term of the programme.  Milin slept through most of the first term though, so in a way he’s really only perhaps nearing the end of term one. He’s starting to get into the songs, but I don’t think he’s figured out that some are the same every week.

Our slow winter mornings, where as much time is spent under the duvets as possible, mean getting to story time at Newtown Library on Wednesdays can be a struggle. But when we do, the Little Mister is one happy chappy. Apart from hearing someone else read him a stories, in a far more riveting manner than mama, Milin loves listening to Stu playing the ukelele at the end of the session. I simply cannot compete.

Thursdays at the moment usually involve playdates, although next month we will be adding Baby Sensory to the diary. After such a busy week, perhaps it is no wonder that come Friday, it takes everything I have to get us both up, dressed and fed before I head off to work just after noon.

When he was even littler, and we first started venturing to these various baby clubs, it’s fair to say I viewed them with something close to disdain. I had no desire to learn the words to Old MacDonald, or spend each morning talking about how often he was feeding. That changed quickly though, and now, each morning, I am looking forward to the next engagement on Milin’s busy social calendar.

The play dates, library sessions and music classes aren’t just about Milin. Of course, they are mainly about keeping him entertained – though while I appreciate that babies need to be stimulated I doubt waving finger puppets at a five month old is going to turn him into a genius later in life. But more than that – they are about me.

Without these activities, not only would Milin get so bored of me trying to entertain him with the same activities on the same play mat, in the same room of the house, but I too would likely go more than a little crazy.

But not only are they a way for me to entertain the Little Mister, they are also a constant source of support. My most-loved parents and sister are so far away. But here, thanks to Milin’s various social activities, I have found myself surrounded by the most amazing women. Five months ago, we didn’t know each other and many of us had little in common.

But babies are true levellers. As new mothers, we now share tips, recount disasters, offer advice, sympathise over sleeping patterns, and we listen and we laugh. Sometimes it’s over the phone, sometimes it’s over a coffee, sometimes it’s over the internet, sometimes it’s while feeding a baby or changing a nappy – it doesn’t matter. We are all grappling with trying to do our best for our little ones, and that has brought us together. And now that I’m on my sixth straight week of being woken every two hours at night, by a baby who still refuses solids and formula, I’m so glad I didn’t turn my back on baby club.

Magical Mummy Powers

Long before Milin arrived, I used to wonder how my mum knew the answers to life’s little mysteries. As a child, I wondered if there was a secret book mums were given in hospital when they gave birth. I wondered if it was divided into chapters such as ‘how to do practical things’ (like clean up a graze, put a plaster on, and make an injured child feel better), ‘how to get a child to eat their vegetables’, and ‘how to sew name tags onto clothes so they don’t fall off’.

It wasn’t until a few months into my pregnancy that I faced up to reality. There was no book. Of course, there are lots and lots of books, but there was no one book which would suddenly give me magical mummy powers.

Still, I read many, many books – or at least parts of them – before realising that none were going to instill in me an innate ability to understand a crying newborn, or help them get back to sleep. I was terrified. How would I know what to do?

Today, the Little Mister and I visited a friend who is due to have her own little one any day now. We talked about having a baby in the winter. I have no idea, I admitted, whether I am over dressing Milin at night. But as well as confiding in her about all the things I don’t know, (such as how to get him to sleep through the night, or take formula, or eat solids) I surprised myself because I also had snippets of advice based on the things I do know, or am slowing working out.

It’s not that I always know what Milin wants. Most of the time I don’t. But sometimes I do, and, each day, I know a bit more than the day before.

Perhaps my advice was obvious. Feed them lots – they feed all the time! Burp them often – honestly, I didn’t know to do this before Milin came along – and if they want to sleep on you let them. (It works for me.)

And as I talked about how I have learnt to settle Milin (cuddles, lullabies, swaddle and rocking), how he likes to be burped, and how he needs to be somewhere without distractions in order to feed well – I realised how much I had learnt in five months.

So when I got home and he refused to take a bottle again, and I couldn’t get him to sleep, again – I reminded myself that we are both still learning. And in five months, I might not have acquired all the magical mummy powers that are out there, but I have gained some.

The List of Things I Would Never Do

So Little Mister is in bed. He’ll sleep for about two hours and then wake up and want a feed. But for now anyway, he’s tucked up, swaddled nice and snug, and smelling faintly of vomit.

It’s one of the things on the list of many things I thought, pre-baby, I would never do. Putting the baby to bed in the clothes he was a little bit sick on. But then, pre-baby, I didn’t know what it felt like to have spent every night for the past month getting up every two hours to breastfeed. (It feels, by the way, like you are living in some surreal underwater dream-world where sometimes you manage to respond in whole sentences when people talk to you.) And I also, pre-baby, didn’t know that if the baby spews a little and falls asleep – you do not, under any circumstances, wake him just to change his clothes. Of course, I never knew how precious a treasure a sleeping baby was.

Until Milin was about a month old, I would change his clothes often. Perhaps it was because we weren’t very adept at ensuring the nappies were on properly. More likely though, it was because I wanted to look at him in his many, many cute and tiny new born outfits.

Five months on, Milin is spending tonight in the same vest he wore to bed last night. I’ve not got round to changing it yet. Tomorrow, if I manage to get us both out of our pyjamas, we will have achieved more than we did today.

Of course, I love dressing him in his many, many, cute and tiny outfits. But when it’s the coldest day of the year and he’s so snug and the little bit of sick is dry – there just seems very little point. Particularly because changing time could be sleeping time, and sleeping time is precious and to be strived for above all else.

As for that mental list of things I would never do – use the television to distract him, get takeaways two nights in a row, compare Milin’s achievements with those of other babies – etc etc – it didn’t take me long to realise that it was unrealistic to say never. Now Little Mister is calling the shots, I don’t have a list anymore. We just do whatever works – and it’s different each day.