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Archive Category: Pikelet

    Hello, Pikelet!

      It’s not that I’ve been putting off posting this, it’s just that I wanted to do it right. And doing it ‘right’ takes time. Time? I don’t actually have any, so I’ll just post it anyway. I am almost 15 weeks PREGNANT. Wow. It feels kind of odd to even type it! Meet the Pikelet…

      Thumbsucker

      I feel some people out there slowly shaking their heads. How could someone so sleep deprived, whose life has taken on a completely different and barely socialising shape over the past two years actually choose to do it all again? Erm…he slipped? Sorry. No. A few reasons. One being that if we were going to create new spawn, now is the time to do it. We are living in suburban bliss near the beach, I continue to work my sucky job with a good hourly rate two days a week and M is available for mental health days as required.

      In a few years time we don’t know where we will be, and this is a GREAT feeling! But I would rather be toting around a two year old than a newborn at that time. For some reason after about six months or so, Small Z didn’t feel like she was going to be an only child. There was something missing. The other thing is, OMG – I know SO much more this time around. I worked so hard, SO HARD to get a few chapters of the ‘Having a Baby’ manual worked out that all that knowledge would be lost if I didn’t get to try and actually USE it again.

      The other thing is, if I actually made it out of the sleep deprived haze I continue to live in (and this is not due to much to Small Z, who is now slumbering better than I had ever dared hope even a month ago, but due to my weirdarse pregnant insomnia) I doubt I would be able to go back. No really. If I got a taste of my former sleep filled existence, it would be waaaay too tempting to remain there.

      And, just one more thing, during the ultrasound Pikelet had to be CONVINCED TO WAKE UP. I had to be sent to the loo and made to cough, and cough again. Small Z’s ultrasound was all waving and kicking and dancing to the beat. This one’s going to be a sleeper. I just know it.

      It won’t be at home

        At 7am yesterday morning I eased my way out of bed into my clothes, washed my face, buttered two hot-cross-buns and was gathering a few essentials when I heard Small Z wake and cry plaintively, “Where’s mama? Where’s mama gone?” She would not be consoled, and in the end it was easier to put in her in the car with me.

        I was going to an 8am appointment to meet my prospective midwife. Small Z was told that if she came along she had to stay quiet, because I needed to talk with Jane. Evilly, I expected the worst, but she was quite angelic. I don’t think I have mentioned this before, but when I found out about Pikelet I was determined to return to Casey Hospital where Small Z was born. Which left me horrified to find out that in the intervening couple of years, the ‘zoning boundaries’ for the hospital had changed and I was no longer in their ‘catchment area’.

        This is despite the fact that I remained in the same postcode. I was supposed to drive 30min to Frankston Hospital rather than 20min to Casey. The length of the journey wasn’t really an issue, it’s just that I wanted to go back to the place that I was familiar with, I did NOT want to go to Frankston Hospital, which has no birth centre, and I wanted to participate in the home birth pilot project, which is going ahead at Casey.

        I made it my mission to make sure I would be having Pikelet at Casey Hospital. I called many people, begged, harrassed and hissed. In the end it was my keeness to be involved in the home birth trial that swung it for me. Then we had to move house. Out of the area. AAAAAHHHHHhhhhh!! I tried to cover this eventuality by redirecting our mail for a year and not telling any relevant organisations that we had moved.

        I hoped that I could just wing it. I am not sure how. But anyway, this morning Small Z and I met Jane, and asked her ‘if’ I moved house, would I still be able to have a home birth? (Because I had lied and said I had not moved yet, but might be moving soon…) She went and asked the right people. The right people said no. You can’t bugger around with a pilot program. So there you go. I gave in gracefully, particularly in light of the fact that now I’m ‘booked in’ there, that’s where Pikelet will be born. Waterbirth again. And that’s fine by me.

        Jane was someone who I felt very comfortable with and she and Small Z got on well, which was a bonus. We listened to Pikelet’s heart and Small Z got to hold the doppler thing, and then, because she was so interested, we listened to her heart too. We drew the line when she wanted to use it to listen to (her toy train) James’s boiler. But you get the idea. We discussed what I wanted, which is basically the same as last time, and I met a few other members of the team there – if Jane is hit by a meteor, or has just attended a 12 hour labour, she won’t be able to be with me and I’ll have one of the others from the group – there’s five of them.

        And finally a little teary moment where we met Colleen, one of the midwives who was there when Small Z was born. I was so excited, squeaking “Zoe! Zoe!! This is Colleen who saw you born!!” She was lovely and said Small Z was beautiful and was very happy that we were coming back. I was in such a state of post-birthing shock the last time I saw her, it was so odd and uplifting to see her again.

        So Jane and I both mourned the loss of the homebirth option. I could still pursue it and go private – but it costs money that we don’t really have. Although I love the idea, because I had a good experience at the birth centre last time, I’m happy to return there. It’s just that I wanted Pikelet to be born and then just be able to be. Just BE. Be at home, in my own bed, with nowhere to go, no one to bother me, no one to tell me to wake the baby and feed it. But anyway, with experience comes knowledge, and I’ll be able to use what I learnt last time around.

        Smalls

          One lovely thing about the impending Pikelet is going op-shopping with Small Z. If I offer her a choice between the playground or the op-shop, she inevitably chooses the latter. Yesterday we went to one we hadn’t been to before, and it was having a sale. We began looking at tiny newborn clothes…

          “Ohhhh,” cooed Small Z, “Sooooo cuuuute. Pikelet would like this one!”

          I picked up tiny mittens, remembering when she was born that we didn’t know about such things until we had to buy some from the reception at the birth centre when she began scratching her face. She jams them on to her hands, digs through another basket, coming up with a hat…

          “Pikelet would be really happy of this one,” she said, putting into our pile.

          I showed her a tiny onesie.

          “A little suit mama!!” she squeaked. “Tiny for Pikelet!!”

          We found some socks, another suit and a tiny kimono snap long sleeved top. I have vivid memories of having drawers full of tiny 000 sized clothes and finding that all of them were too big and/or too fiddly for our tiny baby. So now I’m looking for 0000 sized clothes, none of which have to be pulled over a little head. It’s SO nice to have some hindsight!

          Shopping for smalls
          Socks and hat

          Limp

            I try and not be too much of a sooker. But last night the numbed out pain in my left calf (radiating to the arch of the foot and toes with associated paraesthesia – yep, that was a work sentence) got on top of me and I had a lovely big cry. Cleansing. And then spent the best part of an hour trying to get comfortable in bed, while Small Z slumbered a foot away, oblivious.

            In the end I couldn’t find the position, although I briefly had a window where circulation came back to my leg and my left foot (should that be My Left Foot?) got warm. Deliciously. Anyway, I just tried to think of anything besides the ache in my left hip/butt cheek and watched three episodes of 30Rock – bringing me to the end of my fourth season episodes (have to check with my dealer…maybe there are more?!) and was so weary that I passed out until 4am.

            This morning I acted against my previously espoused wisdom and attended a chiropractor. I’ve always been more of an osteopath person, but this chiro specialises in kids and pregnant people…and is two minutes drive away. The good news is that it is not, contrary to my GID (google inspired diagnosis) sciatica. Woo!

            So what is it? Hips and pelvic bones out of alignment and squishing some nerves, which is why my left leg is numb, painful and my foot is icy. I got poked, prodded, and ice packed for 20 minutes out the back under a big soft blanket. Then I stood on a hydraulic massage table thing and it gently made me horizontal and I got poked a bit more. (There was a gap for Pikelet in it, thankfully…)

            It was the prodding of my left calf that was the hardest to take – but both times I got down from the table it was obviously easier to walk. I was instructed to spend as much time as I could lying on my side on a firm surface with a pillow between my knees and my hips aligned, to take the pressure of the nerve/s. And to buy an icepack to try and bring down the inflammation.

            M has been cast in the role of carer, which he is doing with perfection. Apparently it thrills him to see me forcibly relaxing. And me? I am a convert to this particular chiropractor, particularly after she said I could call her out of hours on Friday or Saturday if things got worse. It’s good to have a fallback… Meanwhile, it’s great to know what the actual problem is, and I can alleviate it fairly well by lying on my side in the required position. Once this thing improves? There will be ongoing maintenance…

            Pack Ice….

            Pack Ice.

            Mother’s Day III

              I am posting this in a very belated fashion (written in mid June 2010, but backdated), but I did want my Mother’s Day to go on the record for historical purposes. (Here are Mother’s Day One and Two.) This year we went for a sail, taking my mum and T along for the ride. Just as we had in 2007, when Small Z was a tiny peanut sized blip in my belly, unknown to anyone but M and wide-eyed self…

              I made roast chicken, lemon thyme, chive and mayonnaise rolls, which went down a treat. The motor died, but we purloined another. Mum made a fabulous cake and spent a-g-e-s on the boat entertaining Small Z while I slumbered on the nets. We busted a shear pin on the replacement outboard motor and had to anchor outside the Warneet Channel while M and T performed emergency surgery.

              Ah, the wonder of the trimaran. I will never love a monohull in the same way. Too much lean, not enough room to spread out. Prior to our departure I had told Small Z the story of last Father’s Day, when she threw one of my anodised metal picnic cups overboard. It landed upright, bobbing merrily, while I shrieked, “Go about!! Go ABOUT! GET MY CUP!!” M obligingly turned the boat around as I hung over one hull and scooped the cup from the sea. Small Z thought this was very cool, and was therefore thrilled when her pink hat blew off and we had to re-enact exactly the same scenario…

              We had an excellent time…

              Mother's Day 2010 - Small Z & M
              Mother's Day 2010 - My Mum.
              Mother's Day 2010 - the CAKE!
              Small Z & her Nana - Mother's Day 2010

              And did I mention my beautiful and inspiring present from M and Small Z? It is a book that I never would have thought of, but is so amazing and presented in a gorgeous cloth cover over the hardback, with two bookmark ribbons (and you do need at least two…)
              My mother's day present...
              My day finished very nicely. M stayed aboard the boat due to tide constraints. Small Z was whacked and went to sleep before 7pm, giving me the e-n-t-i-r-e evening to myself. I cleaned the place to within an inch of its life and then luxuriated in the solitude and order before retiring. All being well? It was my last Mother’s Day as the mother-of-one…

              Backing away

                I gave up going to the chiropractor about three or four weeks ago, sick of handing over the $40 a week with no sign of improvement. I had asked repeatedly about any exercise I could do.

                “Gentle walking?” I suggested hopefully.
                “Mmmm, a bit of gentle walking,” he agreed.
                “Anything else? Any stretches?”
                “Well, you could do some stretching of your calf muscles when they feel tight.”

                It was so frustrating. I felt like a LUMP. I felt like there were things I could be doing, but I didn’t want to aggravate anything and make it worse. I was not at all keen to return to the state I had been in when I first attended the practice. Granted, I still have oceans of appreciation for the chiropractor that ended my pain – but after a few weeks, I made no progress and was basically told to come back each week for ‘maintenance’. Gah.

                I went to my GP to get her opinion and told her all of the above. She is a big believer in the wonder of the chiropractor and sees one weekly. However, she felt that I should also see a physiotherapist to get information on what I should and shouldn’t be doing. I procrastinated and left it for another few weeks, but over the past week I have had a few days with Small Z that have really shoved me to the end of my tether, as far as my stamina goes.

                Yesterday I went to the physio. She said I was her third pregnant person that morning. She kneaded one butt cheek and then the other, and was awed by the tightness.
                “It’s like there’s golfballs in there,” she breathed reverently, squashing one out of the way. “You have the tightest arse I have seen in two months.” I was prone, but attempted a modest shrug.

                “So, did the chiropractor tape up your back or did you get a back brace?” she asked. I shook my head. She sighed, and told me that she was going to tape my back and that I needed to report to her on whether it helped. I asked her to tell me what exercise I could do.

                “No walking,” she said immediately, “And wear shoes around the house for shock absorption. Avoid lifting and carrying Small Z. The only place I want you walking is in the pool. Jog in there too. Do aqua aerobics. But this is the the main thing you have to remember. At ALL times, in and out of the pool, think of yourself as wearing a short, tight SKIRT and fixate on not flashing your undies.”

                I gasped in appreciation at such visual instruction, and before I could say anything she was dragging me down the hall to the gym room, where she put me on a fitball and showed me the exercises she wanted me to do.

                Halle-f!@#ing-luah. This is what I’ve wanted for two months. She said that there was about a 50% chance that my L5 disc was not herniated but that my butt was SO tight that it was squashing things and making my calf, foot and toe numb. We would see. Once Pikelet arrives I will be able to have scans and maybe anti-inflammatories, but until then…it’s exercise and imaginary tight skirts. Which is fine with me. She drew a star on my hand and told me to fix my posture every time I glanced at it. Tummy tucked (as much as it can be) and bum relaxed…tummy tucked…and bum relaxed…

                I have been endeavouring to do gentle walking up until yesterday and am so glad I can stop. It left me wiped. Last night, with my back taped, I felt normal as I lay in bed. This morning, when I got up, I realised how crap I had been feeling prior to now. It’s the same as the time many years ago when I had a low grade throat infection for months, finally got diagnosed and given antibiotics and felt like the world had jolted into technicolour. I don’t feel anywhere near as whale-like and immobile as I did two days ago. Please, oh please let it continue…!!

                Now I just have to figure out if the pool has a lane for me to run up and down in or whether I have to do some scary aqua aerobic class with the blue rinse set.

                Sugar Sugar

                  Tuesday at 1.30pm I turned up at the pathology place to have my blood tests for iron levels, Vitamin D, B12 and… my glucose levels. Why I never thought to NOT have the glucose test is beyond me. It simply didn’t occur to me to question it. Oh, the woe that ensued.

                  The glucose test thing is to see if you have gestational diabetes. I had the test when I was pregnant last time and it was obviously a no brainer, because I barely remember it. This time? Ugh. I went in at 1.30pm, drank the bottle of hideous liquid sugar stuff and then had to sit for an HOUR. UNMOVING. Which would not have been such an ordeal if I hadn’t had to focus all my energy on not improving the decor with a technicolour yawn.

                  So you can imagine how thrilled I was to learn that my result had been too high and I had to return on Friday morning for a glucose tolerance test. A TWO HOUR one. I could only imagine that it was going to be doubly worse. I did a bit more reading (as opposed to the none I had already done) and found out that glucose tests are best done in the morning because your blood sugar goes up at the end of the day.

                  I suspected this was why my result had been ‘high’. Gah. Anyway. From midnight Thursday I had no food and no water and no nothing. At 9am they hoicked some blood out of my already bruised left arm, and then a bit more for the Vitamin D they forgot to do on Tuesday. I then drank the gross drink and sat on my arse. The nurse told me that there was no way I would be nauseous this time as I had an empty stomach. She was right. Thank GOODNESS.

                  At 10am they took more blood. From the other arm, to diversify a little. I sat for another hour. My iPhone was low on battery – and this turned out to be kind of cool, because I was then forced to sit and read the book that I had brought along Just Kids – Patti Smith’s autobiography as recommended by my uncle, who was in that whole scene. It’s greatl

                  At 11am they took more blood and I was free to totter out. Actually, I exaggerate. I felt a lot better than I had earlier in the week. I felt more like a camel than anything else. I needed WATER… M, Small Z and I went and ate sandwiches at a cafe and then M went to Boat and Small Z and I began a long journey home. This involved much skankiness and her actually falling asleep three blocks from home…

                  Naturally I then had to continue onwards, because one never wakens the Kraken. I did a ruminative drive to Flinders, raced out to use the public toilets at the beach (Oh yes, bad parenting or urinating on own driver’s seat? Not a choice I even bothered to dwell on. Have you seen this ‘bad parenting’ list? I have done everything on it except number four. Which makes me a queen of the genre…) and then got back in the car. She slumbered on. I did a few more laps of Flinders, cursing that there were no places selling cake that I could go to that had a view of ones car, and drove all the way back to Hastings at a sedate pace. Small Z woke up as we pulled into the driveway. She does it like magic.

                  My reward? A somewhat less skanky litt le lovely, and a text message from my midwife…
                  No gestational diabetes! And Have A Good Weekend! I celebrated with a happy dance and some lollies. Because I could.

                  Ear’s where it might end.

                    Slowly the malaise is lifting. M is pretty much almost there, Small Z is lagging a little behind him, and I am last – continuing to operate with one ear and a snuffly nose. Have I ever been this sick? No. Not ever. Revolting. Winter colds are supposed to be fleeting, reminding you that you’re alive, causing you to dig out a few handkerchiefs and boost your Vitamin C intake for a few days and then take off somewhere else.

                    This? This came down like a prolonged monsoon. I would not be exaggerating to say that LITRES of snot have been expelled within our home over the past two weeks. It’s astounding. We are starting to peer out from behind our sore noses and realise it’s only about a month until we have a new little person here. Oh. My. GOD. M and I tend to occasionally look at each other with wild, staring eyes and wonder what the hell is about to happen.

                    Practicing birthing positions, nappies, frozen dinners, watching our Pink Kit videos again? No. Have done NONE of it. I mean, it is 8.30pm as I type this and I’m yawning like I just pulled an all-nighter. Hopeless. I’m putting it all off until my ear returns. And if this babe decides to arrive early, I’ll send someone out for a pack of eco-disposables and accept my fate.

                    Current cravings? Buttermilk pancakes with some sugar and LOTS of lemon. Weird nesting urges? Going back to making soft stuffed animals…just like I did last time. I have been gently suggesting to Small Z the extent to which things might change around here after Pikelet’s arrival.

                    Me: Hey Small Z, you know that when Pikelet is here, sometimes I am going to have to be feeding Pikelet and Dadda will have to do your stories and help you with your teeth and PJs, and that will be lovely…

                    Z: No. I don’t think that will be a very good idea at ALL.

                    Of course, just as we had started to make some headway in this direction, we all got the Plague and Small Z switched back to being utterly focused on me, which is more than a little bit wearing. The buck stops with me, and if I’m to tired to deal with it all, um – it’s irrelevant. It’s me or nothing. This is frustrating for both myself and M, but hopefully will sort itself out over the coming week.

                    Otherwise, we trundle on. I’m finding it really hard to get all my work done on my allocated two days. I have a serious case of baby brain and cannot focus. I have made good friends with my long neglected fit ball, as it’s one of the most comfortable things I have to sit my ever-widening arse on, and have been scaring myself by reading back on posts like this one. Which leave me thanking the powers-that-be that I’m not living in an uninsulated trailer in a fly-plague and that if I survived last time? I can do it again.

                    Pinned

                      On Thursday, usually one of my work days, I sent M to The Very Large Catamaran, and Small Z and I went along to her ‘dance group’. This is somewhere she has been going with M for the past few weeks and really enjoys. It was bizarre.

                      It’s in a hall. There were about 50 little kids there with their mums (no dads) and the thing was run by grandparenty looking people. The audio was atrocious and the words to all the songs were projected on to a wall with one of those transparency projecting things they used to use (and maybe still do) at school. And it was Goddy. Despite all of that, the kids all thought it was EXCELLENT. Small Z loved it all, and I became adept at covering her ears when the old bloke with the microphone waved it too near the speaker *groan*

                      There were actions and dancing to all the songs. I could tell Small Z was used to having M there to swing her up in the air during certain bits, but she is pretty au fait with the fact that I’m not that mobile with her at the moment. We had a ball! And at the end they threw piles of skanky looking toys all over the floor and handed out free museli bars – what was not to like!!?

                      My other priority for the day was my second ever acupuncture appointment. I had my first last week and found it quite good, but I hadn’t planned on having Small Z around when I booked for the second stab. Anyway, the only way I knew I was going to swing it was if she slept, so I took off on an epic drive along the peninsula, stopping briefly at Shoreham beach.

                      She finally conked it as I got to Flinders. Again. This time I was not swayed by good parenting practices. I raced into a cafe that I was able to park straight out the front of, ordered some cheese sandwiches, an offensively large donut and a chai. And then raced back to eyeball the car until it was all ready to go. Then I went and sat in front of an exceptional view and disposed of the drink and the donut. God, it was therapeutic.

                      Donut and View

                      Small Z awoke too early and I did another brief circuit around the town to resettle her before coming back to my spot, cranking the seat back and trying to rest. Then we ate our sandwiches. It was lovely. I explained how I had to see a ‘leg doctor’ who was going to stick tiny needles in me, and did she think she could come and play quietly while I stayed like a motionless pincushion? She assured me that it would be fine.

                      We went to an op-shop on the way and invested in a picture book and yet another soft-toy Tigger, and thus equipped, went to see Travis the pin-pusher. It was no drama. He also has a two-and-a-half-year-old and at the end of the session, she helped him pull all the needles out of my hip. Obviously needle-phobia is not genetic (M).

                      I think that, while it was useful, acupuncture is going to now fall by the wayside for me, as I did a bit of dancing with Small Z the other night that has taken me back to the land of craptastic. I need a whizz-bang physio person for some hands-on massage. Or something…

                      Get your votes in…

                        Last time I ran a proper poll, but it was kind of crap because some households have one IP address and two people that wanted to vote, and my WP-Polls plugin didn’t like that. I cannot find anything else to use, and as time appears to be running out – vote in the comments. And that means you too, Lorraine!! And you, Stacee!

                        I am not feeling too bad, my back painy stuff has slacked off. Mostly what I am is just a huge whale with very limited stamina. I can’t stay upright for prolonged amounts of time. However, despite the obvious obvious impending birth and the fact that I intellectually know we are on the cusp of having a new family member, it still feels somewhat bizarre and unrealistic to me.

                        I have been pregnant for this whole past year and yet it feels like it has been so static. What I’m trying to say is that pregnancy becomes so entrenched that the actual baby? I can hardly wrap my head around the fact that I’m going to have one, really soon. And what the hell goes on with a newborn? A lot of feeding, a lot of fumbling and a lot of learning on the fly… and that’s the limit of my recollection. Nice one, biology.

                        Of course, my brain immediately assumes that the new babe will just be another Small Z – because that’s been my only experience. But of course this won’t be the case. This one might take an hour to feed, whereas Small Z only ever took ten minutes. It might sleep for prolonged periods and not wake up the instant it has a wet nappy. It might HAVE A PENIS. And I won’t have a clue what to DO with it…

                        But I digress. For the purpose of voting let me tell you this. For the first five or six months I had a very strong BOY feeling. Since then? Nada. Nothing. Nil. I have no idea. Not a notion in my noodle. Which, incidentally, is driving me c-r-a-z-y, because it makes the name issue so hard. We have not decided on names, and M has taken to suggesting things like ‘Boingo’. Mr H has suggested, most recently, ‘Romulus’. As you can see, boys names are the most vexing as they just don’t seem to be as interesting, for some reason.

                        Anyway – it would be excellent to see people taking a punt…and if you want to suggest the date of arrival, feel free.

                        Hello Daisy!

                          Daisy Adams arrived in the early hours of 6 September 2010. In the front seat of our 1981 Mercedes. Contractions had begun at about 1.15am, and they were five minutes apart. It was so different from last time that I didn’t really understand what was going on. Which is why I didn’t call my mum until 2.20am or wake M until 2.30am.

                          Mum had her phone off – thank goodness T had his on and mum heard it ringing somewhere in their new house. She called me back and said she was leaving immediately. I told her not to freak out. But by the time I’d woken M ten minutes later, I was pretty sure that it was all going to happen. My iPhone contraction app SUCKED, so I downloaded another on in between – and I would say that was the last rational thing I did!!

                          The contractions were very full on. I had the TENS machine, which helped, but I couldn’t believe the agony that was kicking through me with the worst ones. I hung off M a bit and tried to breathe through them. He called my midwife and said we’d be at the birth centre in an hour. Mum arrived and we left straightaway. I had one contraction on the way to the car, another as M did a three point turn outside our house to leave and yelled at him to stop STOP STOP because I couldn’t cope.

                          In retrospect, my contractions were two minutes apart and we should have totally stayed home and had the home birth I’d been keen on (minus the pre-planning and the birth pool – obviously). M told me he suggested this and I’d refused. I think I was so focused on getting to the birth centre and into their bath, that I just assumed I would progress in the same way I had with Small Z.

                          Anyway, I made M drive. As we drove out of town I was out of my head with the knowledge that we had 30 minutes ahead of us. I didn’t see how I’d be able to cope. I was in the front seat, hanging from the handle above the door, lying on my side, holding on the TENS machine like it was the last thing on earth. It was then I realised it didn’t have any backlighting and I couldn’t see how much further I could turn it up.

                          I was so scared that I’d already got it to the maximum setting… I asked M, somewhat tersely, to turn the car light on so I could see, and then to TURN IT OFF, TURN IT OFF once I’d figured it out. The contractions were possessing my whole body and I kept trying to keep myself relaxed and to focus on breathing and not tensing. It was beyond mind-bending.

                          M asked if we should drive to Frankston Hospital and I said NO. Then he asked if we should go to the medical centre in Cranbourne. I said NO. My waters broke. Jane called M for an update. M kept his foot to the floor. Then we got stopped by police…

                          M jumped out of the car and ran around to explain. He assumed he’d been flagged down for speeding, but it was actually because a powerline was down and there was a live wire on the road. There had been a huge storm the night before. M told the policeman I was in labor in the car, hoping for a movie-style police escort to the birth centre… however he merely looked horrified and told M to get going.

                          By that time I’d felt urges to push and a bit of rationality had come back. This was the transition. I realised that if my body wanted to push, then I just needed to go with it and follow its lead. The gaps between the contractions were a little longer and I had more control over them. I could feel that there was progress, but didn’t tell M because I wanted him to keep driving to get us as near as we could. I had told him a few times he might have to pull over and then had changed my mind and felt I could keep going. He suggested calling an ambulance. I said no.

                          Then there was a contraction that I knew was going to be productive. I couldn’t think. It was primeval. I knew Pikelet’s head was born and screamed at M to pull over. Because I’d asked him before, when he didn’t respond immediately I assumed he was seeing if I was going to change my mind again, so I yelled at him again and told him to GET OUT OF THE CAR and get around to my side. He whizzed around to my door and I, with minimal dignity said PULL MY TROUSERS OFF…RIGHT NOW.

                          He yanked them down. I was kneeling on the front seat, facing the back of the car. I heard him say,
                          “Oh my god. I can see the head! Hello little one! I can see you!!” He was such a man of the moment that he then dialled the ambulance with the phone he just happened to have in his hand, and told them what had happened. However, another contraction came and he tossed the phone in favour of catching Pikelet. For which I am thankful.

                          The relief was totally incredible. He tried to pass Pikelet to me, but then had to negotiate the cord and had to put her under my leg. I told him to get back in the car and crank the heaters. I put Pikelet under my dressing gown on to my chest. M got back into the driver’s seat. We looked at each other and started to laugh and laugh. Pikelet had arrived! I told M how much I loved him and we kissed over Pikelet’s head.

                          It must have been interesting for the emergency services that were still on the other end of M’s phone that had landed on the floor. It was lucky it didn’t land in the puddle he had been standing in. We had stopped near a paddock right near a round-about. The emergency people told M to stay where he was and they’d send an ambulance. He told them not to bother, we were fine, and about ten minutes from the birth centre.

                          I made M run two red lights to get there. We pulled up at emergency. Apart from an initial yell when she hit the cold night air, Pikelet had stayed quiet and alert and had fed a little bit. Her eyes were open. I stayed in the front seat while M went into the building. He reappeared with what looked a doctor and half the staff, who all looked excited.

                          The doctor was super-cool and came over to me. He saw that Pikelet was fine and asked if he could take the baby so I could get out. I said no, I didn’t want to hand Pikelet over. So he and M and a nurse hauled me out, after unhooking the TENS machine, and got us into a wheelchair. All the nurses were grinning and showering me with congratulations :) I couldn’t believe what had just happened.

                          They took us into the back corridors, and M later told me they were going to put me in a room down there. Thank goodness Jane arrived and took over. She can be very authoritative. She gave me a kiss, grabbed the wheelchair, and she and M whizzed me through the building, up in the lift to the birth centre. I apologised to her for doing her out of a job.

                          Let me gloss over the next bit, which can be summed up as;
                          Placenta
                          One hour and 15 minutes
                          Hideous

                          The point is that I got through that last bit without having to have the syntocin injection, which I had last time and was determined to avoid. I wanted a ‘naturally managed third stage‘. Jane was a goddess, and she and M helped me through it. I was so focused on doing this and getting it done, that we still hadn’t checked to see if Pikelet was a girl or a boy! Finally we looked, and then double checked to make sure – GIRL!!

                          After a little while, M had to run down to move the car, which was still parked outside emergency. While he was gone I gazed down at Pikelet. To me, she didn’t look like the names we had got lined up for her – one of which had been a favourite for a long time, and another that was more recent. We’d talked about some others before going to bed the night before, and it popped into my head. She was Daisy.

                          Daisy weighed 7 pounds, 13 ounces or 3540 grams. She was 50cm long. She was born, we think, at 3.45am. And on her little card from the birth centre that has all her details, under ‘midwife’… it says M!

                          Eyeblink

                            The seven days from last Monday shot past me like Pharlap whacked up on amphetamines. Never has time gone so quickly. The birth was so fast and we only spent 12 hours in the birth centre – it hardly felt like we’d left the house, and yet – we had a new baby and I’d graduated back to a F-cup. (F being for f!@#ing ENORMOUS.)

                            It was a week of hormonal turmoil and new beginnings. Everything was more intense for me than it was two and a half years ago with Small Z. I was horrified to discover that two years of breastfeeding counted for exactly nothing when it came to another newborn. I spent three or four days with cracked and bleeding nipples and crying each time I had to feed her on the left side. We tried giving Small D a bottle – which was fairly ridiculous, as she had no idea what to do with it.

                            My midwife’s last home visit co-incided with my milk coming in and the onset of ‘baby blues‘ – a stupid name. It should be called ‘becoming emotional jelly’. I missed Small Z and felt I had taken a backseat in looking after her – which of course I had. She had begun sleeping in her own room with M, but cried for me at about 2am each night. After my midwife discharged me, my mum left after staying for four nights…

                            None of this describes the alternating feelings of despair, relief and infatuation that swamped me – with the despair bits made worse by the breastfeeding angst. By Saturday night I was a mess in this regard. I went to bed, stripped off and went skin to skin with Small D, and proceeded to watch all the old Dr Jack Newman breastfeeding videos on YouTube (as I had with Small Z). His fact sheet on sore nipples was also incredibly helpful.

                            After a few hours I pretty much had a complete turnaround. I changed feeding positions, relaxed, and the pain began to decrease over the next 12 hours. Thank goodness – because the thought of having to force a bottle on my tiny babe when she didn’t know what to do with it was too difficult for me to think about.

                            We have only had one lot of visitors so far. D, E, Small E and Tiny O came over on Sunday for a few hours. Made us lunch, helped M move the fridge, brought presents and washed all the dishes. We asked them to stay forever ;) (Actually, that’s not true – I kicked them out when I couldn’t stay upright anymore…) It was lovely to have someone here who was just three weeks ahead of me in new-baby land.

                            The end of the first week saw us having a visit from the MCHN. She weighed Small D and found that she was almost back to her birth weight. I couldn’t believe how she had ever fitted into my tummy – and she wasn’t even as big as she had been when she was in there!! The MCHN was very nice and laid back. I was sad to find out that the Baby Health Centre had moved from a few blocks away to the other end of town – I had entertained the idea of walking sedately to our appointments… M, already keen to get me fit, suggested that I could still walk to the other end of town, which just made me think that this would then happen to me…

                            James James Morrison’s Mother
                            Put on a golden gown.
                            James James Morrison’s Mother
                            Drove to the end of the town.
                            James James Morrison’s Mother
                            Said to herself, said she:
                            “I can get right down
                            to the end of the town
                            and be back in time for tea.”

                            King John
                            Put up a notice,
                            “LOST or STOLEN or STRAYED!
                            JAMES JAMES MORRISON’S MOTHER
                            SEEMS TO HAVE BEEN MISLAID.
                            LAST SEEN
                            WANDERING VAGUELY:
                            QUITE OF HER OWN ACCORD,
                            SHE TRIED TO GET DOWN
                            TO THE END OF THE TOWN -
                            FORTY SHILLINGS REWARD!”

                            So anyway. Here we are, past the end of the first week as a brand new family of four. Small Z has no issues with Small D, and appears to look upon her as a pet we have acquired. I am feeling much better about everything- although this is indispersed with wobbly moments. M is a champ and is cranking out the meals and cleaning – suffering somewhat from disturbed nights, trying to convince Small Z to stay in her bed. And Small D is feeding, emptying, gazing, sleeping and generally being freshly hatched. She’s lovely.

                            Daisy - Eight days new...
                            Small Z

                            Gordon and Henry and Tootle

                              Apparently at the age of two or so, I began calling my parents by their first names as an experimental venture. I assume that I would have stood in the kitchen and said;

                              “Jan. Jan? JAN!! Get my cup down from the bench, I can’t reach it!”

                              Or, alternatively…

                              “Ray. Ray? RAY!! Read me another story, and stop giving me that Phenergan…”

                              My sister did not have this phase, as I distinctly remember walking along the beach with her when I was about five or so (her being three-ish) and writing my parent’s names in the sand. I told her what I had written and she looked blankly at me. “Who’s Jan and Ray?” she asked. “Their names are mum and dad.”

                              For the past month or so, Small Z has been calling us ‘Dadda’ and ‘Mama’ less regularly, preferring to refer address us as ‘Gordon’ and ‘Henry’, respectively. And herself? She is, of course, ‘Tootle‘.

                              “Ah Zoe,” I say to her, “You look gorgeous in that hat…”

                              She pouts. “I’m TOOTLE.”

                              Oops.

                              We just played with some fantastic Thomas the Tank Engine stickers that we were given, and there was one of Henry – the green train.

                              “Look Henry!” said Tootle to me, “It’s a copper of you!”

                              “A copy?!” I said, “How amazing! It looks just like me!” It was extraordinary.

                              Small Z has not yet come up with a concrete train name for Small D, but has referred to her as B’Doon – probably in relation to the moon, and similar to what she has named her large wooden train – G’Dain… which has been so pimped out that it is now hard to tell what exactly lurks under the multiple layers of multi-coloured frippery.

                              Baby on Board

                                The amount of advice that everyone from your landlord to your mother to people in the street want to give you when you have your first baby can, paradoxically, leave you feeling more confused and conflicted than ever. Obviously if you’ve had kids it’s sooo tempting to share what you learnt. But advice like “babies need to cry to ‘exercise’ their lungs” and “feed them for 20 minutes on one breast and then swap”… and suggesting Vicks Vaporub is a useful tool is just all antiquated quackery.

                                But it’s easy to buy into when you’re sleep deprived, lacking confidence, and just want simple solutions. Before Small D was born my midwife recommended Baby on Board by Dr Howard Chilton. I’ve dug it out again now she is here. It is a recent reissue and Dr Chilton is not only a paediatrician, but he’s an Australian paediatrician. I am now his disciple.

                                The subtitle of the book is Understanding you baby’s needs in the first twelve months. And basically, that sums up the book. It’s very readable and straightforward. I don’t know that I would have benefitted so much from it the first time around, but this time? It’s fantastic – because I remember so VERY little of all the newborn bits and pieces from when Small Z was a tiny dot (and this is a result of evolution – if you remembered all the minutiae and sleep deprivation, the world’s population would dive…)

                                I feel like it’s important to keep reading to keep myself informed, despite Small D being baby number two. Actually, it’s nice to tie in what I read with what it brings up from last time – which would otherwise remain unremembered at the bottom of my brain. I think it’s too easy to settle back and assume that because you’ve done it once, you know all about it. This is how those annoying ‘exercise their lungs’ people get created. And I’ve just returned from seeing our MCHN, a visit which left me wanting to kick her…but that’s a whole other story…

                                Jurassic Maternal & Child Health Nurse

                                  I just got back from taking Small D to her one month MCHN (Maternal and Child Health Nurse) appointment. Even this is probably a rude question, I have to ask it.

                                  DON’T THESE WOMEN (and they are all women, in my experience) DO REFRESHER COURSES EVER?

                                  Jeeez. She started out by telling me that cosleeping is not safe until at least four months of age. I resisted asking how people in the pre-industrial age dealt with this when they had to sleep together not only for warmth, but because that was actually how humans evolved. She said that it was fine when practiced in Africa ‘because they sleep on the hard ground’. Right.

                                  I spent the entire appointment biting the inside of my lip to stop myself from saying something that would put her offside. After all, I have to see her about four or five times over the next 12 months or so. She told me that Small D had put on too much weight and that I was ‘overfeeding’ her. Wrong. According to my guru, you can’t overfeed a breastfed newborn.

                                  Then she suggested I give Small D boiled water ‘to help her burp’, in response to me commenting that she burped far more than Small Z used to after feeding. Actually, breastfed babies don’t need water, and giving water to newborns is risky

                                  GAH! Why can’t I have an even remotely progressive MCHN instead of someone who doles out the kind of ‘information’ that I get from wellmeaning ‘experts’ in the supermarket. The ones that inevitably ask, “And is she a good baby?”
                                  “Yes, she’s given up raping and pillaging and now just confines herself to the occasional B&E. Thank goodness.

                                  Mission – failed

                                    Saturday morning I became obsessed with going to Balnarring. M was unable to come with me as he was committed to go and pick up a $50 pram I’d bought on eBay, that was in… Pakenham. It had a toddler seat – which I have belatedly realised is imperative.

                                    For so many years I have inwardly sneered at enormous looking children being pushed around in, er, enormous looking prams… but the first time I went around the block with Smalls D&Z in the late afternoon (*mistake*) sleep deprived Small Z made it three quarters of the way, and then became unbearable and floppy and had to ride the rest of the way semi-draped over my beloved Emmaljunga

                                    Have I mentioned that parenting is a process of becoming more and more humble as karmic payback for being judgemental? Now I crave to have the option to push around my enormous child, just so she won’t be melting down on the footpath. And I’ll cheerfully ignore all those non-sleep deprived childfree people who may appear to be inwardly cringing…like I used to do. Ignorance is bliss. But I digress…

                                    I got obsessed with going to Balnarring as the butcher there has excellent free-range meat and I have recently heard that Lilydale ‘free range’ chicken, that I’ve been buying at the supermarket, is really barely free-range at all. So I bundled both Smalls into the car and headed out. I took the Hug-a-Bub sling to transport Small D. And no pram. MISTAKE.

                                    Once the car stopped when we got to the car park, Small D began to scream. If you have read this blog for any length of time, you will know that I have very little ability to cope with crying babies (not other peoples so much, but definitely my own). And particularly in cars where it’s impossible to comfort them. So I had to calm her down, while placating Small Z with a game on the iPhone, and then I had to do the origami that is putting on the sling because I hadn’t thought to bring the pram.

                                    To cut a long story short, it was a nightmare. I couldn’t get Small Z to go with me where I needed to go. I got more and more stressed out as Small D wouldn’t settle. Then Small Z spied the library truck and had to go in. In fact, that gave me a chance to sit down and reconfigure myself. And after that, we crossed back to the car park and I told Small Z she had to hold it together – that we weren’t going to do all the things we had planned because I couldn’t cope, hadn’t brought a pram and I very much needed to go home.

                                    To her credit, Small Z listened to me, and although she didn’t like it, she got in the car. I promised her that M would take her out later that day. I started driving home. Small D began screaming about halfway home. Honestly. There is not a more disturbing sound to me than a newborn screaming and not being able to do anything. Small Z whimpered when I snapped at her. At one stage we were all crying. By the time we got home I was a complete wreck. Small D was out of sorts for the rest of the day. Now I have car fear. Again.

                                    After the hideous outing, we were lucky to have Mung come for dinner and stay the night – a fleeting visit, but appreciated for an injection of adult conversation and a window into the outside world. Small Z was quite thrilled to find that someone other than her nana had stayed in the caravan over night. She and M took Mung to the station before 9am the next morning, which was icing on the cake for the train obsessed!

                                    Welcome...

                                    I briefly lost the buzz

                                      Saturday we, plus E&D and Small E and Small O, and L&D and Small C all trooped down to Hastings Library to watch the duo from The Buzznicks play to a roomful of appreciative small people. M recognised the male half of the duo as someone he knew who used to play in another Melbourne Band, Ergot Derivative. I realised that the female half of the duo was someone I used to see perform all the time about 13 years ago (ouch) in an a capella group called Nude Rain. Their album Flood was on high rotation at that point in my life – they were great…

                                      After the show, and having failed to win Paul Kelly’s new book in the raffle, we all headed home at varying speeds and gathered for lunch and various cups of tea and coffee. A lovely morning. Just before they left I asked E about how she goes with settling Small O (three weeks older than Small D) to sleep. She said she basically just observes her tired signs, wraps her up, puts her in the cot, strokes her nose and leaves her to slumber. Which she then does.

                                      I am not sure why this took a large scoop out of my psyche. E certainly did not intend it to, she was just telling me how things work at her place. But I was suddenly full of self doubt and second guessing. Why don’t I have a baby that goes to sleep like that? Do I miss her tired signs? Why do I have to walk up and down and up and down for ages? Why, why and WHY!? I became despairing, visualising a repeat scenario from when Small Z was tiny. When I got thinner and thinner, and more and more sleep deprived and this stretched out over t-w-o y-e-a-r-s and took a large part my sanity with it…

                                      The thought that I might have to do that all again was suddenly too much to bear. Stupidly, after a day where we’d been out and things had been noisy, and sleep had been minimal, I tried to wrap Small D and emulate my friend. As if it was going to work. From an intellectual standpoint I KNOW that every baby is different. I KNOW that her first babe was the same as Small O and settled himself beautifully from the outset. And yet I tried. And failed. Obviously.

                                      The next day we had to go to my mother’s new house for lunch. This contributed to another unsettled day punctuated by a two hour round trip in the car, which was fairly tortuous. Poor Small D seems to be unable to fall asleep in the car, and we had to stop on the way home so M could get her to sleep pacing the car park of a petrol station and then stick her back in her capsule while still slumbering. *shudder* I was getting flashbacks to horrible drives with Small Z.

                                      So on Monday and Tuesday I stayed home. All day. Went nowhere. And Small D and I regained some sanity. I was able to watch her for sleepy signs and she was able to chill out without being dragged around anywhere. We had a friend of M’s stay in the caravan for two nights – the perfect guest, Stefan bought us fish and chips on Monday night and helped M bring the trimaran home to live in our driveway… as well as exploring some bicycle paths on his impressive machine.

                                      Of course, and I hesitate to write this, Small D has completely negated all my dire and Eeyore-like misgivings of the weekend. She slept for four and a half hours for two nights in a row *goggle* and was having at least one extended nap during the day in her pram. It’s taken me four days to get to finish this post and that’s not so bad, because I’ve attained some perspective during that time. Two things: THIS TOO SHALL PASS and, um, THIS TOO SHALL PASS. And this is both good, and sad.

                                      12 Weeks Today

                                        The beautiful Daisy Belle :)

                                        2010-11-29 07:44:49 GMT

                                        It’s ten past eight and I have to go to bed. The past 12 weeks (it sounds even more scary to say ‘three months’) are blurry, punctuated by the very good and very difficult. Dare I say that things are settling a little? Maybe the last three nights with both babes asleep for the night before 7pm is giving me false hope, but still… Having a new person in the house takes a bit of adjusting to!

                                        Small Z seems to be coping quite well. I have explained many times that as Small DB can’t feed herself, sit up or talk, I have to do everything for her. She seems to find this acceptable and is dealing much better with our bookreading times being chopped into occasionally by the needs of the tiny one.

                                        The tiny one. I am feeling again the edge of slight desperation that comes with realising she’s going to grow out of the beloved Emmaljunga and will then have to nap in something that DOESN’T ROCK. My mind goes there – and then darts away shrieking like its touched something hot – AY YI YI YI YI YI!!!

                                        She is also a 40 minute napper. And guess what? If I can’t rock (see?!) her back to sleep in five minutes, I give in to it. There will be none of the endless, slightly crazed attempts to ‘rock her through’ that I did endlessly with Small Z. I refuse to creep in 25 minutes into the nap and begin rocking for 15 minutes to try and foil the sleep cycle. There be dragons there….

                                        In the past three months I have said on many occasions that I will get out my cd with all Small Z’s tiny baby photos on it and look at them for signs of similarity between the two. I still haven’t done it. And I still don’t know if they are similar. I can’t even figure out if they are similar in temperament (not that it matters, but it’s interesting to observe). Small DB is very communicative – you know immediately if she has done a wee while sitting in her little chair, for example…

                                        And sleep? I am more chilled out about this. After two years of utter sleep deprivation, how could I not be!? Small DB is waking generally twice a night. Often both of us are wakened by Small Z joining us (something that is driving me mad, but I am trying not to make an issue of). She is a tummy sleeper, and I have decided to go with that. She is right next to me in bed; I don’t smoke, I don’t drink, and the bed is baby-safe, so I am fairly OK with this. Of course we have nights where she goes back to two-hourly wakings, but guess what?! I know that I’ll survive – because I did last time! Ah… the lovlieness of having been around the block once already. Knowledge is power!

                                        Happy 12 weeks Small DB!! We’ve grown accustomed to your face :)

                                        Small DB’s first camping trip

                                          Nothing drastic. A night in the caravan at Point Leo. Accompanied by D, E, Small E and Small O. So we had another baby there to keep people awake if need be. We were joined just for the afternoon by Mr and Master H, the latter of whom has a subzero body temperature and would probably bathe at the South Pole if allowed.

                                          As a baby camping experiment, it went well. Both Small DB and Small Z slept better than they do at home, despite an enthusiastic thunderstorm with all the trimmings. However, Small Z is having difficulty sharing her space – this is probably somewhat related to her space being invaded by the arrival of Small DB. The sharing issues seem to only be with kids her age. Master H, aged nine, is no problem and nor is the six year old next door. But small two and three year old people? It’s meltdown city. Sigh.

                                          It’s hard to know whether to just ignore her upsetness and tell the other kids not to worry, or to just avoid the situations altogether until this phase passes. Was she going to let Small E into ‘her’ caravan without a fight? No way. So we had some interesting moments… But some lovely ones as well. M started putting Small DB in the sling this weekend, which was lovely (for me…and them!) and we went for a family frolic along the beach creek and fossicked for washed up treasures…

                                          The good thing about Point Leo is that it’s only ten or 15 minutes away, so if it all goes to hell, we can just come home. (This has happened, but only once.) Anyway, we are now more confident taking Small DB out overnight – particularly while she still fits in the wonderful Emmaljunga bassinette, which we take off the pram chassis and just put on the caravan floor. Perfect.

                                          E and I got some baby-free time, and even some baby-free AND toddler-free time, which was very highly valued.

                                          Blokes with their babies
                                          Dec 10 059

                                          Oh. And I got to get out some of Small DB’s warmer clothes – ones that I thought she would never wear, it beeing SUMMER and all.

                                          Colder than usual

                                          Heated

                                            One of those hot summer days where it didn’t get unbearable until after lunchtime. We spent some time in the garden during the morning. Small Z had some blue gloop…

                                            A hot summer's morning
                                            She looks like an extra from Avatar

                                            Suck pads

                                              Despite the fact that I want to freeze Small DB in amber and keep her tiny forever, I was very thankful when she hit four months old and could begin to go in the Ergo. The Ergo is the best baby carrier (and I paid a LOT less than this when I got mine – it was on sale). It craps all over the Baby Bjorn. Its one failing is that the infant insert that is supposed to make is usable from birth is really cumbersome and difficult to position. I tried it unsuccessfully on several occasions, and it now sits on top of my Sell On eBay pile. It really sucked.

                                              Other than that – it’s awesome. If my back could handle it I could still stuff Small Z in there if the need arose. And you can use it so the baby can ride on the front, on your back and on your side. Without it, I don’t know how I’d get anything done. I want to preserve it and that means not washing it every time Small DB gums it to death or spits up some milk on it. Thus…I finally made some suckpads! Ergo flog these off for $18.50 or THIRTY TWO DOLLARS in organic cotton. *shudder*

                                              I followed this excellent pattern. I used a vintage sheet, bamboo and cotton flannel, all of which were already hanging about in my cupboard… Voila!

                                              You say tomato…

                                                Just after Small DB was born, M and Small Z went to a church fete. And as well as picking up a swing set for forty dollars, M also got a whole stack of seedlings for about five bucks. There was bok choy, some leeks, and many many tomatoes. They planted the lot. We ate the bok and the leeks. And waited…

                                                We now have more tomatoes than we know what to do with!! And I have found myself feeling somewhat zen – twice in the last four or five afternoons I have taken Small DB out with me and fossicked for tomatoes. It is REALLY like hunting for Easter Eggs (minus the chocolate – which is fine by me, because those little Easter Eggs are always cacky cheapass milk chocolate…)

                                                Yesterday I chopped up a bucketful of tomatoes for the second time and chucked them in the slow cooker with some red wine and fried up garlic. The slow cooker, although not in season, is the fatigue-laden person’s friend – because stuff HARDLY EVER BURNS! Even when you forget it. Awesome! So I had that bubbling away, and then I went out on the hunt, passing by Small Z who was standing like a small thrilled monkey, in her very first ‘treehouse’….

                                                Tree house!!

                                                Small DB and I proceeded into the weird fenced off (for dogs we don’t have) section of the garden. It’s good for keeping the paddle pool in – there’s a gate. M has noticed lately that Small DB becomes very chilled when you lay her down outside on a rug, leaving her little feet and hands able to touch the grass. So that’s what I did.

                                                Have I mentioned that M neglected to ever stake the tomato plants? His method of gardening is kind of ‘if it doesn’t grow untended…let it perish’. So the tomato plants have gone totally apeshit. Helped along by being directly on the other side of the fence from the pile of lawn clippings M has been making for almost a year. The thing is, you have to assume ‘mission impossible’ style yoga positions to extract the fruit without crushing the plants…

                                                Secret tomatoes
                                                Tomatoes in the grass!!

                                                I have to reach my leg over to balance. One foot on the fence, and one on tippy toes trying not to squash anything important. And then I chuck the tomatoes out behind me, trying not to hit Small DB by accident. I got another bucketful…and she was happy…

                                                My mother picked a bucketload...

                                                Op Shop Loot. And progress?

                                                  I think today I had a taste of how lovely things can be with two Small People when Things Go Right.

                                                  About a month or two ago, Small DB turned into the Automobile Antichrist. A major blow to me, as I thought I had got myself a car-friendly baby *sob*. So yeah – anywhere that takes longer than 20 minutes or so is disastrous. My fingers are crossed that this might change.

                                                  I have, therefore, not taken her anywhere in the car for ages. Today I drove to Balnarring. I have tried a couple of times to go there with the two Smalls on my own. There have been meltdowns and spasms. But today? Today was just awesome.

                                                  Small Z behaved like a saint. We went to the op-shop on the proviso that she would get ONE thing. And here’s where the odd coincidence happened. [Prepare yourself for tangential warbling... ] Four months or so ago we went to E&D’s house and Small Z saw they had a toy seahorse that glowed and played music. She was captivated. I saw that Small O had some very cool things by Manhattan Toys – and I was captivated (on behalf of Small DB).

                                                  I then, as Small Z kept referring back to the seahorse over the weeks that followed, started investing in the idea that if she had one, she would wake at night, hug it, and drift sweetly back to sleep, lulled by it’s soft song, luminous glow, and gurgly water noises. Obviously, I am an idiot. However, I got online. Both the seahorse and the Manhattan Toys toy were $30 apiece. So I went to Amazon, where they were $13 and $10 each and had them sent to Small Brother. Dramas about shipping costs then ensued, and they arrived a few months later.

                                                  But the point of all of the above is that I SHOULD HAVE WAITED. If I hadn’t bothered with the seahorse and the cool baby toy (which neither of them give a toss about) I would have been rewarded by what I found at the op shop today. A Gloworm toy – which does exactly what the bloody seahorse does. And a Manhattan Toy thing. They were twenty. cents. each. *clutches head*

                                                  Anyway, as well as those fated objects, the Smalls got a cardigan each, M got a pair of trousers, I got a scarf, the caravan got a double bed sheet, Small Z got some boots and Small DB got some stacking blocks and a basket which will become her Treasure Basket – something that I read about in Barefoot Magazine and again online, here.

                                                  Op Shop Loot

                                                  We went and bought Small Z an apple, and me a sausage roll. I took Small Z across to the park. Small DB travelled on my back, and slept there for an hour. Although it is a bit exhausting carrying her, being free of a pram (which she will not sleep in) and having my hands free was excellent. It’s been a-g-e-s since Small Z and I have had fun at a park. I think it was this that really made me feel like juggling the two of them is starting to come together for me (watch it all fall asunder now that I’ve jinxed it).

                                                  We wandered over under the pine trees and Small Z found Small DB a pinecone, and then found one for herself. She occupied herself picking berries from a tree for ages. We meandered back to the grocery shop, scored some eggs, rhubarb, plums, mandarins… Then went to the butcher. And finally to a cafe, where Small DB woke up and we sat on a couch reading Where The Wild Things Are as the tail end (i.e. best bit of) The Blues Brothers played soundlessly on a large screen.

                                                  The lack of stress involved astounded me, which is why I wanted to record it here. We got home without a screamfest, and found that our vegies had been delivered… The coloured carrots look amazing…

                                                  Coloured carrots!

                                                  I had the bright idea of taking all the potatoes I wanted to peel for soup outside into the garden. We all sat in the sun, and the two Smalls were thrilled – Small Z used twigs to give her potato arms, while Small DB was charmed by all the peelings and the different shaped spuds. Kept them occupied for an unnaturally long time. A win!

                                                  Spuds.

                                                  Getting high

                                                    Small DB figured out how to sit up unaided almost the day she hit seven months old – April 6th. I still put two cushions down either side of her in case she goes ‘clunk’ but that’s not happening much anymore.

                                                    Of course she was so thrilled not to be on the floor on her tummy, or sitting up in the big blue bucket on her sheepskin, but over the past week or so it feels like she misses out on the action when Small Z and I are doing something in the kitchen, or eating at the table. She’s down on the floor, always looking up at us.

                                                    Not anymore.

                                                    I actually have two kids. Weird.

                                                    Her new highchair. She loves it.

                                                    The small one in her new (eBay) high chair. Makes her look tinier than ever!

                                                    Trundling

                                                      Last night I pulled out the trundle bed. I have been sleeping in Small Z’s bed with Small D for a few months now, but over the last few nights I worried I was waking her up. I thought how delicious it would be for us to have our own space each.

                                                      Until I’d lain there on my own for a while, and missed my little warm softly breathing creature that usually lies right next to me. It was, of course, lovely to stretch, and turn, and not worry about waking her up. She woke up just fine on her own. At least ten times. Oh GOD. I got out of the trundle each time and on to the bed where she was and cursed the non-existence of a double bed that I could have just rolled over in.

                                                      It was an awful night. And this morning I couldn’t even bear to swim. Small Z woke with a cold and refused to go to kindergarten. And Small DB? Halfway through today I saw that she has another tooth down the bottom, next to the two that are through in the middle. It hasn’t broken the gum yet – but it explains why her patience is short…

                                                      Tonight while I was getting Small Z’s dinner together I had her on my back in the Ergo. She’d done a couple of yells to say she was getting pretty over it. I’d kept on chopping and cooking. So she bit me on the back. Three times. WTF?! This is where she diverges from Small Z – no WAY would she have ever bitten me to make a point. On the boob maybe, but the back?!

                                                      It’s the teeth. She seems to be having more angst with this one than the previous four combined. I gave her a cold carrot and she settled down, but…. geeez. So tonight, if the 90 minute wake ups kick in again in a few hours, she’s going to be trundling along with me. We’ll try separation some other time. Maybe also not during the famous nine-month sleep regression…*eyeroll*

                                                      Eyeteeth

                                                        I have realised that Small Z never did much teething. I have learnt this from having Small DB. Her teeth come through in twos. And so her eyeteeth began to try and make an appearance, just on the tail end of her month long cold and consumptive-Dickensian cough.

                                                        As my brain has been leaking, I spent my work day on Thursday working on what I thought were files for the coming Monday. Finished them – just. And whizzed to the post office to send them. It wasn’t until a few hours later that I realised I had been working on files for Monday week and still had THREE looming files due for next Tuesday that could be completed and posted no later than Friday afternoon.

                                                        Therefore I had to ask M, yet again, to stay home and go on kid duty while I typed like a loon. So I didn’t notice straightaway that Small DB didn’t feed very well during the day. Because she’s eating a bit now, she didn’t starve. But by nightfall, when it was time to feed her to sleep, I realised what was going on. She would go to latch on, but draw back and cry and cry. She couldn’t feed. It hurt her too much. It was so sad.

                                                        She was so tired and beside herself. I walked her around the block, around the garden, around the house. I had given her Panadol and realised that I should have given her Nurofen (anti-inflammatory) instead, and had to wait for time to elapse so I didn’t double dose her. After we finally got that into her, she was still dehydrated. M had been holding her while I pumped my aching mega-boobs. She cried and cried. She couldn’t use a sippy cup and was too out of control to try a normal cup.

                                                        M had the idea of giving her expressed milk in the Nurofen syringe. We just squirted it into her as she screamed and spluttered. After about the seventh one, it was like magic. She just revived and began pointing and smiling. It was SUCH a relief. I could then give her a normal cup, and she blew bubbles into the milk and thought it was great. She drank h-e-a-p-s.

                                                        The rest of the night was still hard, because she’s used to being fed when she wakes. I had to do some pacing as well as midnight pumping. But I’ve realised that pumping is not so bad when you watch Downton Abbey at the same time! We made it through the night and the next day, both eyeteeth had come through enough for her to be able to feed again.

                                                        We have been through an entire bottle of baby Panadol with this kid – it’s a totally different deal this time around!!

                                                        The Weigh In

                                                          I continue to be a size nine stick insect. And this fearless and hardhitting investigation illustrates why.

                                                          I change Small DB’s nappy once in the night. But last night, this didn’t happen. I forgot to bring a spare one into the bedroom and was too tired to get up and get one. I figured that the worst that could happen would be a leak.

                                                          This morning I took off the nappy that had been on Small DB all night. It contained a nights worth of wee. It was a weighty tome. I decided to investigate (and if you’re offended by the site of a wee’d in nappy, leave now)…

                                                          Here is a brand new unused nappy (yes, I use disposables at night, and when we’re out and about): .046kg
                                                          The start of the night

                                                          And here is a nappy with a full night’s worth of wee.
                                                          The end of the night. Morning.

                                                          It weighs OVER HALF A KILO. Five hundred and eighty grams. That is all coming out of me. Into her. And out into the nappy. [shakes head] Admittedly I do drink 3/4 of a litre of water during the night, but I always wake up feeling like I’ve spent a week in the Gobi Desert.

                                                          With my body working this hard to make at least half a litre of milk a night, I think my stick insect status is a given until she weans. Yikes. (Head also now boggling at the thought of breast feeding twins – yes L, that means you.)

                                                          Plummet

                                                            I’m not sure whether Small Z was so driven to investigate every single thing in her living space – high, low and otherwise. I was just as sleep deprived, but at least I wasn’t trying to keep track of her AND another small creature. I think it was my sole attention, and her being a somewhat less crazy baby, that generally allowed her to evolve unscathed.

                                                            On Saturday morning, just before I was about to go to the osteopath, I tried to get Small DB to sleep. And failed. I was sitting on the side of the big bed, with her behind me in the semi-darkness. It took a second. She climbed over the bolster and the side rail and dived headfirst on to the floor.

                                                            Thank god for the carpet. The noise of her hitting was so huge that I think M was running in before I even started shrieking. And then, thankfully, she did too. But I couldn’t get out of my head what I’d seen in that halflit room. Her little body just twisting as it fell a metre to the floor taking the full whack to her head.

                                                            I wasn’t sure which bit of her head had hit. I’d just grabbed her and started yelling at M to phone the ambulance. It sounds like an over-reaction, but it was the noise that really had me panicking. I was unsure whether to keep her still, but she solve that for me by wriggling around, so I just started to feed her to calm her down.

                                                            The ambos turned up about ten minutes later. M and I were pretty confident by then that she was OK, but I have done too many medical files to be blase about head injuries. I wanted someone who was trained to check her out. I was a shaking wreck. Small DB sat solemnly looking at the ambo-man who was looking at her.

                                                            I was thinking, “She’s tired – so that’s why she’s quiet.” “She’s never seen these people before, that’s why she’s not engaging.” And then she smiled when he tickled her foot. He looked at her pupils and the bump on her head. He said he wasn’t worried about her. And I started breathing again.

                                                            The lump on the side of her head, above the end of her eyebrow, just grew over the next hour. And kind of took over the whole front/side of her head. The very front of her forehead just went a different shape. But she remained in good spirits, if a bit clingy. M stayed home, made cups of tea and dismantled the bed frame. It is now on eBay and the mattress is on the floor.

                                                            I spent the rest of the day on edge. I haven’t been in so much shock since she was born in the car. But it seems this was just to prepare me for the next few months. Today she learnt to climb on to the couch herself (and no, she is nowhere near walking) and, while I was in the kitchen, she fell over near Small Z’s table. I don’t know what she did, but she now has the beginnings of a possible black eye.

                                                            Hello? WTF is going on here?! I think she’s got her pedal to the floor as far as her development is going – and this is also stuffing up her sleep. For the last two days she’s had one small sleep. All day. And that’s it. We went to a birthday party yesterday where there were three and four year old who still have lengthy afternoon naps. This is all from M’s side of the family. Someone find me a bottle of whiskey. I need it.

                                                            Small DB is ONE

                                                              My beautiful little Small DB turned one today. One year old. Here’s where I write the predictable stuff about it passing in the blink of an eye, and also how hard the transition is from one to two kids… It’s all true. Small DB has been an essential plugin to our little family unit.

                                                              She is joyous, smiley, determined and can double as a wrecking ball if you ever want to borrow her to reduce your living room to rubble. I have loved watching her grow over the past 12 months, and I know how much she has benefitted from being the second-born.

                                                              She has had a much calmer mother; someone who has learnt not to fight the inevitable difficulties and one that has oceans more confidence in herself than she did the first time around. Of course you can never truly tell how much is down to nature and how much is due to nurture, but still… This past year has had far fewer depths of the struggling despair that punctuated 2008!

                                                              In watching her evolve I have seen how she relates to her sister. And Small Z has been a gorgeous surprise. She was never one of those kids that want to grab babies and smother them with sticky kisses. While Small DB was tiny and fairly uninteresting, she was fairly uninterested. But as there has been laughing, sitting and now crawling and cruising, Small Z has realised she has a little playmate. She is heroically patient with Small DB, who wrecks her corner full of books and toys on a daily basis.

                                                              She has never screamed or yelled at Small DB – she is truly amazingly tolerant. I have learned that not only am I a role model to Small Z for how to behave in life, but also how I treat Small DB. She is modelling what we have shown her – patience and care for a baby that is learning and finding her way.

                                                              I still have a segment within myself that mourns a bit for my relationship with Small Z. It’s inevitable that with the arrival of a new baby, the spotlight shifts. Both Small Z and I have struggled with this a bit. I miss being able to just hang out with her one on one – the bedtime snuggles – and our days together – I miss them!! While Small DB is exclusively breastfed and a 40 minute napper and M is working berko hours on The Boat, downtime with Small Z has just not happened for me.

                                                              I think some of the success with Small Z accepting Small DB into our family was due to us not making a big huge deal of the imminent exciting arrival of the new baby. And I made a particular effort once she was here, that Small Z was still SMALL. She was still my baby too. I did not want her to feel 1) like she had been usurped and 2) like she had to act ‘big’ because she was the ‘big sister’.

                                                              We had a lovely, low key day today. Small DB has been sick with roseola for the past week. Today was the first day she wasn’t fevery or rashy. I made her a daisy flower cake, and she and Small Z had some after breakfast. How I’ve changed! Cake did not pass the lips of Small Z until she was at least two, I am sure!

                                                              Happy Birthday Daisy Belle, we love you!

                                                              Blerg and Thuglet

                                                                We (myself and the Smalls) have been comprehensively annihilated by some vile ailment. I have felt as if I’m gargling razorblades for three days. We have had the full body sweats, the chills, fever… the works. Small DB may have had it before any of us – but I thought it was teething and I’m still not sure. Whatever it is, she still has it, and I have barely been able to put her down on the ground for two days now.

                                                                About a year ago M and Small Z invented a game with a toy dog – they would throw him to each other and shriek, “Don’t drop him! HE DOESN’T LIKE THE FLOOR!!” And since then, the dog has been named Dog-That-Doesn’t-Like-The-Floor. And that is what we have started calling Small DB, because if I start making a move to put her down she just starts to scream. If I do manage to put her down but then dare to leave her line of sight, she starts to scream.

                                                                “Dog that doesn’t like the floor,” Small Z will say sadly when this occurs, shaking her head. She is being very patient, but she is sick as well and needs more attention than usual. Small DB, on the other hand, is not patient. Let me digress for a moment…

                                                                When Small Brother was here in April he was looking at some photos we had taken of Small DB – all tiny defined muscled arms and hair in a duck quiff. “She looks like a baby thug,” he said. I was horrified. But it was true.

                                                                Back then, of course, she had only just learned to sit up and she remained cutely cute in every way, but now…

                                                                [end of digression] Now she is a Thuglet. I do not know, if Small Z had not been the firstborn, whether she would have also behaved this way. I tend to think not. But the moment I cuddle Small Z, the Thuglet shrieks, makes her way over at baby-warp-speed, and starts trying to remove Small Z’s head. With her fingernails.

                                                                Oh my. Just in the past month this FURIOUS and FRUSTRATED aspect of my beautiful baby has come to the fore. I suppose this is the beginning of juggling a sibling relationship. Small Z hasn’t twigged that Thuglet is consumed by baby-jealousy, we have been telling her she is just grumpy because she’s teething – which is also true. But giving Small Z affection while her sister goes hysterical on the floor is less than soothing for all of us…

                                                                And the sad thing? The sad thing is that paradoxically, Small Z has been more loving and interested in Thuglet than ever before. And so she tries playing with her – and gets attacked for her trouble.

                                                                Keep tuning in for the new adventures of Thuglet…don’t go to a football game without her.
                                                                I’m off to gargle…

                                                                Hips and Makers

                                                                  No unschool monday post for me today. But feel free to check out that link because there is always something interesting to read at Owlet.

                                                                  Small DB had x-rays of her hips and pelvis this morning. We get the radiologist’s report tomorrow. I have a bit of dread in me. I have looked at the films this afternoon at home and I don’t think that her hips look the same – the right one (the one that clicks) doesn’t look, I don’t know, like the other one, I suppose.

                                                                  But I am not a radiologist. And that is a good thing! My Small DB, who is so tricky, feisty and fierce – I just have trouble thinking of her being immobilised in any way. She. Never. Stops. Moving. Really – she is in constant motion. I am hopefully making a storm in a teacup, and even in voicing my worries here I am hoping that will count towards me just being overly concerned about nothing.

                                                                  Meanwhile I have so many things to write and so many things to make and I’m not getting to any of it. Small DB has got another tooth coming through, Small Z is sick, and I have not been swimming for ONE MONTH. I am back where I started. Numb toe, tight hip and zero stamina. I’ve been a fucking witch parent the last two days. Need to sort it.

                                                                  Meanwhile, here’s a picture of Small DB in the lowlight of this morning. Sitting on the bedhead.
                                                                  On the bedhead in the morning

                                                                  And on the way to the radiology clinic this morning, Small Z sat in the back looking like an extra from Grease in her sunglasses (‘borrowed’ rather permanently from Elijah at his second birthday)…

                                                                  Three going on thirteen

                                                                  Hip Hooray

                                                                    She is fine. Small DB has her bones all in the right places. The x-rays were unremarkable in the best possible way. She had been referred to a paediatrician for the ongoing clicking, but pffft! At least her bones are tickety-boo! Can you feel my r-e-l-i-e-f?
                                                                    She's suddenly started to love books

                                                                    A much better day today. I SWAM this morning. Holy crap. I pumped up the tyres on our old bike and felt renewed, bicycling to the pool through the morning sunshine, cold air biting my knuckles and baby rabbits running for cover under the hedge.

                                                                    I’d almost forgotten that I had a new bathing suit. This made a difference as well. Built for lap-swimming, I hadn’t realised how little my previous fashionista suit held all my bits in place! Now I am all business. I have asked this lovely lady, brought to you by Speedo, to model my suit for me…personally I think I rock it better than she does – and there is my triumphantly immodest statement for the year ;)

                                                                    It was nice to start back again with pumped up tyres and new togs (and no, don’t snicker, this is not in reference to the mammaries above). And I made it through the day without becoming a witch – one of the main reasons for the fitness thing. The day was warm, Small Z’s lurgy is almost over and we had fun.

                                                                    And the practice pays off

                                                                      I was going to post about my evil op-shop habit, but that’ll wait for tomorrow. Guess what? This just happened. Twenty minutes ago…


                                                                      At exactly the same time that Small Z walked.
                                                                      Watch out world, here she comes…

                                                                      When I look down…

                                                                        This is often the little face that I see. She is currently obsessed with Small Z’s cd player. And drink. At least in this picture one of her limbs isn’t blurred – because, omg, she’s actually still.

                                                                        When I look down...

                                                                        …and our night away in the van was great. I was exhausted this morning, as Small DB does not sleep well in the caravan and as well as waking all night, started her day at 5.30am. But M turned up mid-morning and I was able to nap. Didn’t get a swim in – the tides and the weather did not align to my liking!

                                                                        Eeny Weany Mine-E Mo…

                                                                          I’m back at that point. I have almost reached the end of the line with breastfeeding Small DB.

                                                                          She is not as boob-obsessed as her sister was. However, the nightfeeding is doing me in. I have been operating as a zombie for the past ten days. I am no good for anyone, operating on about two cylinders in place of my usual six.

                                                                          Of course, I’m going to try again to avoid a massive scream-a-thon. And of course, I’m having the same internal struggle where I think if I was just hardcore with her for two nights and bluntly refused to feed her, I would have a hysterically upset baby…but it might be the key to sleep.

                                                                          I’m sick of the lack of it. I think Small DB would be doing better with some solid lumps of it. I resent that I am not functioning as I could be – especially as Small Z is sleeping like a champ and should have a fun person to hang out with and not one that is a veritable zombie holding on to consciousness with the tips of her fingers.

                                                                          I am going to start gently and hope that it’s not a rerun of the times I’ve tried it before with Small Z. Small DB is a different deal, and with any luck will be an easier nut to crack…

                                                                          New Words and Awesome Music

                                                                            We started a list the other day of Small DB’s words. It’s a little bit of a useless exercise as she’s gaining more every day, but it was nice to begin when we did – capturing her first twenty or so words. The more we wrote down, the more we realised she had! Without further ado:

                                                                            Chair
                                                                            Shoes
                                                                            Fish
                                                                            Mama
                                                                            Dadda
                                                                            Nana
                                                                            Dodie
                                                                            Hot!
                                                                            Pop!
                                                                            Balloon (it’s not crystal clear, but, yunno)
                                                                            Door
                                                                            Miaow
                                                                            Tiger
                                                                            Ow!
                                                                            No!
                                                                            Bum!
                                                                            Duck
                                                                            Quack
                                                                            Moo
                                                                            Neigh
                                                                            Boob
                                                                            Book
                                                                            More!
                                                                            Baby
                                                                            Nunga (our word for stewed fruit…)
                                                                            Nose
                                                                            Down
                                                                            Bib
                                                                            Swing (Ning!)
                                                                            Drink
                                                                            Ta
                                                                            ————-
                                                                            After we did this the other day M then sought out something he remembered blogging long ago – Small Z’s first words. Now I thought that Small DB had more than Small Z ever did at the same age, but – as has happened many times before – sleep deprivation has killed my memory – Small Z had a billion words as well as songs.

                                                                            In my opinion, Small DB is easily as sharp as Small Z was at that age – but have we been playing her those kids cds with the ‘Wheels on the Bus’ on them or reading to her quite as much? Nope – because time is tighter and I, almost impossibly, am more tired. But that said, she does have more relaxed parents AND a big sister to emulate – so it all pans out in the end.

                                                                            And speaking of kids music – a great post over at Owlet where she’s linked to a gorgeous video about the making of Laura Veirs’ album for children. I was only listening to her Carbon Glacier album last week and realising I’d missed it! But this – this is so fantastic!! Somehow it is going to make its way into our home to see in the coming year…

                                                                            Christmas Eve Eve

                                                                              Sewn up Xmas Cards

                                                                              And further to my attempts to leave Small DB at childcare. We left here there with Small Z and it made no difference, as Small Z was too busy doing her own thing to be overly concerned with the welfare of her sister. The woman who runs the place held her for most of the time we were gone (30 minutes). When we got back I saw her sitting in her arms, not crying, but looking desolate. When she saw me her little face crumpled and my heart broke.

                                                                              The childcare woman said, as she had last time, “Don’t look like that. It just takes time for some of them to get used to it.” And when I didn’t pay enough attention to her words she stated, “I just want to slap that look off your face.”

                                                                              She said it three times. Interesting phraseology. I don’t like her and I still think she just tells me what I want to hear. I would have said something to her about it, but I was tuned out, comforting Small DB. I’m calling off the experiment for the moment, it’s not sitting well with me.

                                                                              Later in the evening the Smalls hung out on the street with the kids next door – Small Z trying to keep up with a very sweetly patient eight-year-old and Small DB trying to keep up with everyone… Later I made some Christmas cards and was soothed by having made at least SOMETHING!

                                                                              Christmas Eve Eve Street Scamper

                                                                              Boxing Day: Loch 2011

                                                                                Boxing Day. My Dad is, it seems, happy to sit out on Christmas. We usually attempt to descend on him the day after, hopefully with Small Brother in tow. He is here this year for a scant nine days, but just slots into everything with a comforting normality: washing up, occupying the baby, heckling M…

                                                                                I got on a bus this morning In Tooradin with Small DB. I was tempted to stay in the car and drive the extra 40 minutes to Loch, but was glad I did not. Small DB went to sleep immediately on the bus, which winded its way through all the greeness… far more soothing that trying to entertain the baby whose mouth is a warzone…four teeth on their way through.

                                                                                Small Z and M are in the Merc pulling the caravan and Small Brother is leading in the brown Datsun…
                                                                                The Datsun & Merc - on their way

                                                                                Ah! Homemade croissants and strong tea greeted us. I was comforted because I had been walking the streets at 6.45am and drinking the only tea Hastings had to offer – something called ‘Paddington’ – it did taste a bit more like bear than tea.

                                                                                We have now been here for about six hours and have lunched. M has imbibed an irritating amount of expensive champagne and is now, as I type, high up in a black wattle tree with a bow saw talking with loud animation.

                                                                                Dad and Small Brother (their plans to chainsaw more wood for winter derailed by Small DB asleep in the caravan) are giving him direction, and Small Z has climbed up a stack of something and is bleating for help. I sit, here in my caravan, with the breeze creeping through the door, feeling relatively content. I will now away to my Kindle and see what it can do!
                                                                                Longest nap of the year - pretty much

                                                                                Top of the heap...

                                                                                We said tomato. Red tomato!

                                                                                  At around this time last year we had more tomatoes than we knew what to do with. Well, I exaggerate a little. We did know what to do with them – but there were SO MANY. Look at my Small DB in this post from back then. OMG I am so glad cameras were invented – where did that little baby go?

                                                                                  This year – she’s eating a few each day. And has learned her first colour. Red.
                                                                                  Contemplating the tomato

                                                                                  Goodbye, freshly picked tomato. Say hello to Daisy.

                                                                                  I’m reading back on a few posts from this time last year. There is a similarity there to what I’m feeling now. I hesitate to write it, in case it vanishes, but a certain zen that has pervaded the last week. Something to do with the end of Christmas and the five family birthdays in the month immediately afterward?

                                                                                  A year on

                                                                                    A year ago, less one day, we journeyed to my Dad’s place in the country. Small Z was just three-years-new and Small DB was zero and had her first taste of food – an heirloom apple.

                                                                                    This time, I took the Smalls myself. It’s not that we only visit once a year, but we usually only make it up once during the time that the blackberries and apples are ripe. I had intended to take the caravan, but the electrics for the indicators packed it in as I left. Here’s a pic of Small DB vigilling by the window as M tried fruitlessly to fix them.

                                                                                    Waiting by the window with apple

                                                                                    The good thing about our bad luck was that by the time we got going, it was nearly nap time. I don’t think I’ve mentioned it here (probably so as not to jinx it) but we have recently had a breakthrough on the I-hate-the-car thing with Small DB. Improbably simple.

                                                                                    We tell her where we are going.

                                                                                    It seems that if she’s keen to go to the beach, or to playgroup, or to visit MWB, Mgs and their cat in the country – she’ll endure the car. Our trip there was nothing short of heaven. Any of you who have tiny children who don’t mind the car have no idea of how amazing a scream-free trip is. So much less tension! I know that she has also had a big growth spurt, and this has helped as well. It was worth all the non-sleeping involved…

                                                                                    It had rained during the morning upon setting out, so I had to pack extra toys…

                                                                                    Packed for one night away

                                                                                    We plundered blackberries, plums, apples and some truly beautiful pears (that are gargoyle-like, but angelic after peeling). We climbed into the treehouse a few times, made much fuss of Splodge – the snakebite survivor, went to the local park and cafe, and to the Loch market the following morning. I was gifted a rhubarb plant (something I’ve wanted for just about ever) and some Leatherwood Honey (my favourite kind).

                                                                                    Plums

                                                                                    Apples

                                                                                    Across the way

                                                                                    Old Humber. Old tree.

                                                                                    Underneath the apple trees

                                                                                    "We're going to pick some blackberries..."

                                                                                    Yum. Blackberry.

                                                                                    Peaches and Plums

                                                                                    Sleep Strike

                                                                                      Ohhhh. It is 9pm. I just ate dinner. Both Smalls are still awake. Hardly believable. Each night has been like this for almost a week. We eat dinner. I walk with Small DB around the block while Small Z rides her scooter… We do the goodnight wee, teeth and two stories.

                                                                                      It is then that sleep is supposed to come. Small Z goes on strike at that point and I have been reduced to snapping, “Do whatever you want, just stay. in. your. room.” She reads in bed and then later comes out for a drink of milk…or a chat about dinosaurs…or whether soy milk is preferable to oat…and then cries as we have one, but not the other…

                                                                                      Meanwhile, Small DB bounces around resolutely sleepless. I get to sort out some kind of dinner for M and I, but I have this thing about eating uninterrupted… You know – the only kidfree time of my day and night? Then this is what she does…

                                                                                      Then she gets me to sit in the middle of the trampoline while she runs circles around me.

                                                                                      She has already got three of her four two-year-old molars (I’m assuming that’s what the huge teeth at the back of her head are). Those were the ones that made Christmas such a delight. Now she’s got THREE more coming through – and she’s not miserable, but she can’t get comfortable to go to sleep either. Medication does not seem to help… My sanity is waning…

                                                                                      Dishing the Dirt

                                                                                        Small DB fell under the water for a second or two in the bath about five or six months ago. Since then? She has refused to bathe. She got an occasional wipe down, would get wet in the paddle pool or at the beach, but would begin screaming hysterically if her clothes were taken off in the bathroom with the bath full.

                                                                                        You know how you live with things and start not to notice? Small DB, already olive skinned to start with, turned a dirty brown shade. If it was a paint colour it would be ‘Neglected Brown’. Finally I noticed, while we were out one day, that she had dirt stain marks around her neck and up toward her ears. Her head was all cradle-cappy; I kept putting cream on it – but what it needed was a soak.

                                                                                        It took my embarrassment about having a daughter in the shade of ‘Neglected Brown’ about two weeks (once I actually noticed it) to decide she was going to be bathed No Matter What. I put Small Z in the bath with some bubble mixture and a wand. I stripped off myself. Then I grabbed Small DB.

                                                                                        Oh the s-c-r-e-a-m-s. I had never realised that when she really gets going, not only her face goes red, but so does her neck, her shoulders and upper back :( Poor little mitey. I put her in the bath on my lap and Small Z and I conversed in sign language for about five minutes until she finally calmed down a little bit.

                                                                                        She did have a nice splash in the end. I gave her head a good rub – and the rest of her. She avoided sitting on the bath itself and made sure she was on my lap at all times. I have given her two baths since then, and each time there has been less drama, but…

                                                                                        After the first time M and I were somewhat shamefaced. She had been the shade of ‘Neglected Brown’ for a-g-e-s. We just didn’t really notice or care. After bathing, she was literally a different colour. I call it ‘Lathered Latte’. Her head wasn’t scungey anymore, her hair was soft and her little tidemarks had dissolved.

                                                                                        After a good dinner...

                                                                                        God knows what our friends had thought – but it’s a measure of their tactfulness that they never said anything. Thank you! ;)

                                                                                        (And yes, I know she doesn’t look particularly well-scrubbed in the above photo – but I love it regardless – and she is ‘Lathered Latte’ underneath those clothes…)

                                                                                        Back at it

                                                                                          It’s taken me a long while to get to the point where I felt I could have a good go at nightweaning Small DB. I think I’m there. I think I was there at the beginning of the month…but then she got a cold. So I’ve been hanging out, waiting until it felt right.

                                                                                          I went through this whole thing with Small Z. If I recall correctly, it wasn’t a huge success, but I think it did improve things a bit.

                                                                                          As much as I try to avoid comparisons, when I removed the boobs from Small DB’s list of going-to-sleep options last night between 11pm and 6am (as suggested by Dr Jay) her scream-a-thon had nothing on Small Z’s a few years back. Small Z screamed for hours and hours as I sat an held her. It was awful.

                                                                                          Last night Small DB remained furiously upset for about an hour and a quarter. It was exhausting and emotion-sapping. I felt very bad for her. But I have had enough – getting five or six hours sleep in a row will not just be good for me, it will be good for THE WORLD. I am hoping once I get some sleep (see how positive I’m being?) I will be less irritable and zombie-like. I will have more time and stamina for doing my stretches and learning new ones…

                                                                                          So here we go. I’m about to head on in and get underway with the Second Night. I already feel annihilated invigorated. Cross your fingers for me…

                                                                                          Nights Two and Three

                                                                                            The second night of nightweaning Small DB was the same as the first :( Much screaming – for up to an hour. Last night – the third night, there was no screaming. I fed her each time she awoke – and she awoke many, many times – but only for a minute or two. Then I told her it was time to go to sleep. Most of the time she accepted this and just rolled back over.

                                                                                            Sadly, she seems to be getting another cold and this leaves her snuffly and harder to settle. Gah. This stuff is impossible to avoid. At the moment I’m swinging in between doing one more night of super-short feeds or moving forward with the Dr Jay plan and not feeding at all between 11pm and 6am. Now that is going to be a big step – and not a nice one…

                                                                                            Getting there…

                                                                                              Of course changing the way my nights go causes ripple effects. Small Z has been a crazy clingbot for a few nights and has been in the big bed as I try to teach Small Z that there is no more snacking in between 11pm and 6am. Luckily, she sleeps like a log.

                                                                                              Our evenings have been cast asunder with two nights of screaming meltdowns from Small Z, followed by two nights of gently negotiated peace. Small DB? Since her nights are changing, she’s not getting enough sleep – but still awakes at 6.30am ready to hang on in there until 1pm. When she wakes I pick her up, feed her, and she puts in another hour as I am pinned under her on the couch, grasping for my book, my drink, my sanity…

                                                                                              The last two days, M has been home, so that has been able to transpire. This has led to her then stayin up until about 9.30pm. Both days I have tried to work. Then I have been able to get nothing done at night because she has to be entertained. And then suddenly, it’s bedtime…

                                                                                              Reminding myself – this is just a short time. It’s all for the best. But… OH MY GOD, I just want some hours to myself to MAKE something on the sewing machine, to fix my jeans, to alter Small DB’s trousers, to even make another chicken.

                                                                                              But must bide my time. I am feeling better in the mornings. Less like something that has been scraped up off the floor and reconstituted with bits of porridge and tea. And Small DB? She’s an angel – a demanding one, but so calm.

                                                                                              “Boo mama! Boo!” It’s the 3am wake-up.
                                                                                              “No baby. Boo’s are sleeping. Time for sleep.”
                                                                                              A Wot Wot storwee mama! Wot Wot storwee…”
                                                                                              Sigh. “OK. Once upon a time…

                                                                                              And then what happens is I fall asleep halfway into the story. I am awoken again. I pull her on top of me and she finally settles. And rolls away of her own accord 15 minutes later. Baby steps.

                                                                                              Tonight is the beginning of the ‘no picking up’ bit of the plan – but I am feeling more confident. The first two nights were the worst. Everything since then has mostly been an improvement. We’re still shaking down – I was up with her at 3.30am this morning for an hour or so because I thought she was hungry…

                                                                                              Please excuse the probably unnecessary detail of my nightweaning strategies. They’re for me to read back on when I don’t have babies anymore. And they are for other people who are looking for examples of the Dr Jay Gordon approach. I would have liked to be able to find a few more to read myself…

                                                                                              I have fond hopes that in about a week we will be settled into a new groove and I will begin to function as a somewhat more productive human again. I’ve actually got a few four or five hour chunks of sleep in the last few nights. And it’s like a drug. I need mooooooore…

                                                                                              Say cheese. And drop it.

                                                                                                Today in the supermarket in the dairy aisle I let Small DB out of the pram. She was instructed NOT to run away. So she didn’t. I turned back to locate her after just one minute. In her mouth was a one kilogram block of cheese. Like this:

                                                                                                She was actually leaning over into the cooled section and biting the cheese where it was unfortunate enough to be lying. I pulled her backwards and she leered up at me. One kilogram of cheese was still clamped in her tiny, almost two-year-old jaws.

                                                                                                “Let. It. GO!!” I shrieked. My life has devolved so far that I shed all dignity as soon as I enter any supermarket with more than one of my children. So I didn’t care that I sounded like I was about to lose my mind. There was no one in Hastings IGA that I felt any need to impress…

                                                                                                Somehow, through a mouthful of plastic and cheese, she gleefully refused. Somehow, her sharp little vampire bat teeth remained on one side of the manky plastic and the object of her desire, the cheese, remained on the other.

                                                                                                She wouldn’t let it go. Small Z was hysterical on the floor close to weeing herself with laughter and Small DB was encouraged by her mirth. She was the toddler pitbull of Tasty Cheese. I had to actually shake her to make her drop it.

                                                                                                And that about sums up my Saturday.

                                                                                                Two.

                                                                                                  She’s two. Last night I rocked her in the chair – the same chair I was photographed in about eight hours before she was born. It’s a super-ugly chair, and yet…and yet – each time I go to get rid of it, I inevitably need it for rocking a Small one.

                                                                                                  And about eight hours later…

                                                                                                  Small DB. What a package. So unexpected. Such a beautiful foil for Small Z. The second child, besides being the ‘healing child’ (in relation to all the difficulties and unknowns of the first time around – coined by Wise Jen), is such a revelation. It’s like I had only seen in two colours up until I had her, and now I see the other colours on the spectrum.

                                                                                                  You never know what you’ve missed until you get it. I never realised that Small Z was not particularly affectionate when she was very small. (This has changed…) But in comparison (as comparison is unavoidable) Small DB is a delicious snuggler and has been whispering “I wub dyou mama” since she could string a few words together.

                                                                                                  She is emotional and sensitive to completely different things. As befits a…completely different person. I suppose when you house people in your belly for nine months you expect similar results. Nope. She worries about noises, big unusual animals – but she is so people friendly – this is such a blessing to experience! She is a generally amenable and jovial little thing. And hysterical – she has been doing funny voices since she started talking…

                                                                                                  She has a worried little concern that everyone and everything is OK. If I hurt myself she runs to me, “Wha ‘appened mama?” She pats me comfortingly, “Don’t cry mama, don’t cry…” (She says it whether there are tears or not.) She is the weathervane of my temperament. She is in thrall to her big sister, but also won’t stand any crap from her. For a single moment. She gives as good (and often better) than she gets.

                                                                                                  She is a joy, a lesson, a clown…and the completion of our Pie family unit, the necessary icing on our cake. Happy Birthday divine Daisy Belle – you’re TWO!
                                                                                                  xxx

                                                                                                  Daisy Belle is Two from beth on Vimeo.

                                                                                                  A wee bit of PartyPie…

                                                                                                    Two small friends of Small DB came over to celebrate her birthday, along with a Nana, a MWB and various siblings and parents. The flooded front path was a hit – as were the big bubbles…

                                                                                                    Paddling in a line...

                                                                                                    Nana. Queen of the couch.

                                                                                                    Birthday snacking

                                                                                                    Cake!

                                                                                                    Paddling. The beginning of many wet clothes...

                                                                                                    The path provided hours of fun...

                                                                                                    Bubbles...

                                                                                                    Puddle Jumping...

                                                                                                    Reflective...

                                                                                                    Bubbling over...

                                                                                                    DB and her Nana

                                                                                                    Bees. And? I suck.

                                                                                                      A school holiday ‘activity’. This was the good part of the day. A visit to Pure Peninsula Honey, where we learnt about the lives of bees. Small Z tasted five different kinds of honey, topped it off with a honey lollipop and promptly dissolved into sugar-fuelled irrationality. And tears. I had anticipated this but as she refused to eat the brown bread I kept thrusting toward her, I took both Smalls to a cafe for a cheese sandwich antidote – worked like a charm.

                                                                                                      An unconvincing lollipop
                                                                                                      Observing the Bees!

                                                                                                      Compared with what happened later in the day, we were coasting along surrounded by bubble blowing unicorns. Later in the day? My stellar prioritising meant that I was so worried about losing my 100% rating on eBay that I put a tired Small DB in the car at 3.30pm to drive 20 minutes to where I was supposed to pick up a radio that I had bought on eBay two weeks prior.

                                                                                                      The seller was losing patience with me not turning up to collect it. I had asked M to get it, but that didn’t work out. Small DB screamed all the way there – and by that time I was halfway out of my mind. With a horrible stomachache. I got the Smalls out of the car and heaved myself over to the gate at number 24. There was no driveway.

                                                                                                      The woman took one look at me and said, “Are you alright?”

                                                                                                      “No. Not really. My baby hates the car and has screamed all the way here and now she’s going to scream all the way home. It was really hard for me to get here.”

                                                                                                      She looked contrite. “Ohhhh. I’m so sorry for hassling you to pick it up, I thought you might…”
                                                                                                      She didn’t say ‘…be a trolling eBay lowlife who dicks people around’. And I didn’t say, ‘I have over 230 transactions and a 100% rating – could you not cut me some more slack?”

                                                                                                      She offered me tea. I declined. Why prolong the inevitable. I took the fucking radio (that I’d bought because I thought it was cheap and the transaction would involve M dropping by on his way to the boat) and threw it in the car. I only had to turn in the direction of the car for Small DB to start screaming, “No mama! NO CAR! Peeeease…no car!! We walk! We walk!!”

                                                                                                      I had to hold her down to buckle her in, and by then I was crying. Small Z was crying. Small DB was leaving the atmosphere. My only thought as I drove home was to stay within the speed limit and not to kill us.

                                                                                                      Small DB did not abate. Have you ever seen a very distressed cat, covered in its own saliva? She was in a foetal position, scratching at herself and choking huge sobs from her tiny body. She was gagging on huges strings of spit that were all over her face, in her hair…. When I pulled up in front of our house I reached back and unbuckled the fucking fucking seatbelt. “Oh no mama,” she hiccuped, “I hurt. I hurt.”

                                                                                                      I went around to get her out. Blood was dripping down the side of her calf where she had scratched herself raw. And I was officially done in. I took them both inside and sat on the couch and bawled. Small Z patted me, got out her pretend phone and told me to call the ‘Calming Mama Emergency Number’. I did. What possessed me to put my eBay rating ahead of good, compassionate sense?

                                                                                                      I took a photo. To remind myself to…to just try and be better than that. The radio’s still in the car. And no, she didn’t bite her own finger off…

                                                                                                      Car fallout

                                                                                                      Trench Bear

                                                                                                        For the past ten days or so – after M and the Smalls emerged from their illnesses – I have nightweaned Small DB. She was feeling so rotten while she was sick that she wasn’t eating. Instead she was feeding six or seven times a night. Kill me now…it nearly did.

                                                                                                        Cue: no more boobs at night. Mix in some daylight saving. Fold through no more feeding to sleep and add a cup of phasing out the one remaining nap. Result – one grumpy strung out mama who let her magnesium supplements run out. ALERT. ALERT. ALERT. The icing? Troubles with Small Z that have left me flailing in her wake and reading this with a sense of recognition (discount all the parental issues – they do not exist here).

                                                                                                        There are a few wins with which I am going to boost my floppy mood… Tonight Small DB lay down with me, and after cavorting about the bed like a happy trout…she conked out asleep WITH NO SCREAMING. And the world strangely and illogically continued to turn. I couldn’t understand it. *furious happy dancing*

                                                                                                        Tomorrow morning, I’m skiving off work for an hour or so and taking Small Z out for a milkshake – some one on one time. I think it is badly needed. Our weeks are like this:

                                                                                                        Sunday: B with Smalls. M at boat.
                                                                                                        Monday: B with Smalls. M at boat.
                                                                                                        Tuesday: M with Smalls. B works at home.
                                                                                                        Wednesday: M with Smalls. B at office.
                                                                                                        Thursday: B with Smalls & Nana. M at boat.
                                                                                                        Friday: B with Smalls. M at boat.
                                                                                                        Saturday: B with Smalls. M at boat.

                                                                                                        We don’t have those weekend days that a lot of families have where one parent might take the kid to the hardware shop or the grandparents, while the other parent hangs with the other kid. No. It’s all or none – except for Tuesdays and Thursdays when Small Z is at kindergarten. So Small DB is getting her quota of parental/grandparental one on one. Small Z – especially with her sister beginning to phase out the nap – is getting none. Time for a rethink.

                                                                                                        Tending

                                                                                                          Soon this will be the night I’ll refer to as, “Remember that night when Small DB vomited SIX TIMES?” But right now, having been up since midnight – and it’s now 5am, I am just in the moment. She is a tiny beige creature on a sheepskin rug in front of the heater. The last two times she’s vomited she has barely woken up, and I have to just change the pillowcase underneath her head, hold her as she chokes up what is now just greenish liquid, wipe her mouth and lie her down again.

                                                                                                          “My tummy hurts. My tummy hurts,” she told me, over and over the first few times.

                                                                                                          Small Z had this three days ago and I thought Small DB had escaped. But their cousin visited today, and the first thing he did was vomit…about four times. So I’m supposing it’s some kind of far-ranging bug – to be both here in Small Z and in him – way on the other side of the city.

                                                                                                          I have a furry jacket on, and my slippers. I’m on the couch. Not sleeping, just waiting. I have to stay awake for the next bout. She sleeps still and then begins to move around in discomfort. And we begin again. God knows how the parents of really ill children do it – it’s beyond my comprehension.

                                                                                                          She has nothing left in her. She’s very slight to start with – a two year old beanpole. She won’t drink any water and I am grateful that I haven’t paid my mother any heed and am still breastfeeding. She had a good feed…but it all came back up an hour later. The amount of milk surprised me – I don’t see it as it goes from me into her – but could see there was close to a cupful. She won’t have any more now – she won’t have anything. She’s sleeping again.

                                                                                                          We have SWWNBB in our second bedroom. Small Z is in the big bed, blissfully unaware that the other half of the mattress is covered in vomit. Mrs H is in the caravan. M is asleep in the boat out the front. It is good to know that there are extra people around here because I don’t think the two hours sleep I’ve had are going to get me through the day. And someone small is going to need a lot of extra TLC.

                                                                                                          Feel better Small DB. Eat, drink, find your merry. xxx

                                                                                                          Finishing up

                                                                                                            Yesterday was the first day in more than two years that I have not breastfed. I have called a halt. And when she is not tired, Small DB is OK with that…well, if she’s not OK with it, at least she’s easily distracted.

                                                                                                            I had been feeding her at 5am for however long because that is when she has always woken. It sent her back to sleep and also gave me a chance to get another hour or two of slumber. But it was exhausting.

                                                                                                            On Sunday I steeled myself and got up with her at 5am when she woke. No boob. I noticed that despite having awoken so early I had SO much more stamina. I fed her in the afternoon. M suggested that if this was the way things were going, I should just go cold turkey (as long as mastitis could be avoided).

                                                                                                            I thought I’d use the Tue/Wed when he has the Smalls. Yesterday was fine. Small DB was well rested and fairly content to accept that the boobies were ‘broken’. This morning – not so much. She wouldn’t sleep until very late last night, and (of course) awoke at 5am. Poor little thing – she’s begging me to feed her…she runs to M and says;

                                                                                                            “Dadda – mama won’t feed me.”

                                                                                                            It is hard. HARD. I love being able to feed her. I love being able to feed her if she’s sick or hurt. But as the feeds have been less frequent there is less milk for her to have… Sometimes she sucks like a vacuum cleaner = not pleasant. If I was not slightly underweight things might be different – but I feel like, even though I won’t be able to comfort her with a feed – I will be a better mama to the Smalls once the weaning has happened. I will have more energy and thus more patience. This is consoling, but it doesn’t make the process any easier :(

                                                                                                            Don’t cry over spilt…

                                                                                                              I’m at the start of day six of weaning Small DB. It continues to be h-a-r-d. The 5am wake ups have sapped my non-feeding stamina. Dealing with a tired Small DB who spends a good part of her day pleading for “my fwiend the boobies…my fwiends the boobies are bwoken…” is soul sapping…

                                                                                                              It doesn’t help that the girls are full, sore and ready to save the lives of babies everywhere. I’m chomping down sage…raw…with no appreciable effect.

                                                                                                              The weaning has prompted Small DB to have earth-shattering tantrums. Of the sort where she has to be put in an area where she is unlikely to hurt herself. (Yeah mum, I’m torturing the kids again, look away now…) She screams and screams and screams and screams…she’s not screaming to be fed, she’s screaming because she’s tired…so tired…and the comfort she’s had access to from birth whenever she’s feeling out of sorts is denied her :(

                                                                                                              I have to just stand aside. She won’t be interfered with. I’m not even allowed to look at her. It is so desperately dispiriting to feel like I am the cause of my gorgeous two-year-old lying on the ground writhing and screaming, “Don’t look at me. DON’T LOOK AT ME!.” If I leave the room, she continues. If I stand there, she continues. All I can do is just be present and wait it out… and then she’ll come to me, and collapse…

                                                                                                              I hope this is fucking worth it. I would far prefer to feed Small DB until she weaned of her own volition, but I just can’t go on feeling so leached – running on a cocktail of vitamins because my body appears incapable of producing milk AND iron/magnesium/calcium etc. etc. Let me advise anyone out there with this scenario in the future – MAKE SURE YOU DON’T EMBARK ON THE WEAN AT THE SAME TIME YOU’RE ABOUT TO HIT SOME PMT…it will make you second guess yourself, feel doubly bad…the works. Just saying…

                                                                                                              Milk Bar = Closed.

                                                                                                                Small DB has not breastfed for a week. She had her two-year-old check up with the health nurse (the good one) the other day. She asked how I was and I confessed to staggeringly sore mega-boobs. She suggested I express as much as I could to alleviate the OW! factor and keep chomping down the sage. I didn’t cry, but I was wet-eyed. This shit is hard. She passed the tissues.

                                                                                                                I went home and did as she suggested. Five ounces later, I offered the milk to Small DB, expecting her to pounce upon it like a small and ravenous lion. She was absolutely uninterested. In fact, she requested “the other mama-drink” – kefir. Sigh. There was no way I was going to waste the boobjuice…

                                                                                                                Don’t be offended when I tell you that I threw it in a smoothie with some yoghurt, raw egg and honey. It was undetectable – but anyway, in case you don’t know, breastmilk is very sweet. I’m assuming that’s the last time I’ll ever pump, and the last time I’ll ever taste it. I feel a combination of disquiet and ambivalence.

                                                                                                                The 5.30am starts continue. I am seriously considering covering all the windows in the bedroom with tinfoil to block out the light that inevitably leaks through the blackout curtains. I’m wondering whether the experiment would be worth the effort…

                                                                                                                A room with a spew

                                                                                                                  Small Brother and the Canadian set off early to go to my mum’s house. My mum had a class to go to and they went to look after Small Z (who had stayed the night) to give us a break. SO HAPPY! M and I had a startlingly leisurely morning with Small DB, getting a few things done around the house.

                                                                                                                  We left to meet them and had a good drive in. Just as we were to arrive Small DB started looking glazed in the back and we thought we would keep driving in the hope she would have a nap. We reached Hampton and she began making strange little coughing noises…

                                                                                                                  And then threw up copiously. Poor little thing. Serendipitously were were out the front of L’s mother’s Book Shop. I dashed in with a dripping Small DB and cleaned her up in the bathroom upstairs. Then we had time for a browse and a few purchases!

                                                                                                                  It was the birthday of SWWNBB who arrived for cake and singing in the afternoon. We gave her two books, the titles of which I will not divulge to t’interweb, and a calendar that I had printed out for her that came with the Incredible Year Workbook and Planner…

                                                                                                                  /TANGENT/

                                                                                                                  I had wanted to give her the Incredible Year WorkBook. However…. Printing. I got some quotes for printing out a 76 page full colour document. Prices up to $105 *gasp* I could have bought a colour printer for that… I don’t understand it.

                                                                                                                  Anyway – my colour printer that M got for me on Freecycle printed out the calendar part very well. It took a while, but it managed it. Just. When I have a spare three hours I will see how it goes with the WorkBook (which is triple the length). Sorry SWWNBB! In the meantime I will email it to you!

                                                                                                                  ./end of TANGENT/
                                                                                                                  ./end of POST…/

                                                                                                                  Slip Sliding Away

                                                                                                                    Can’t even remember if I’ve written already about how big a chunk Christmas and all the associated hooha took out of, what I am tempted to refer to as, our routine. *boggle* The end of the structure that kindergarten gave our weeks… smooshed into Christmas (and the birthdays that bookend it)… yeah, well – it was all good…BUT…

                                                                                                                    It was only today that I realised how long it has been since a ‘normal(ish)’ week had occurred. You know – the one with me working on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and M at the boat all other days. He has marked (how weird it must to to have a name that is also a verb) the days that he has done boat-work on the calendar thus far this year – and it is scarily minimal.

                                                                                                                    Of course tomorrow is a public holiday and we have been asked to lunch in Emerald. And it’s the old toss up – do I ask M to come along because it will be more fun (and easier, wrangling-wise) or do I command him to STAY AND WORK ON THE BOAT?! It will probably be the former – because we all might be hit by a meteorite and at least then we would have seen our friends. Right?

                                                                                                                    Meanwhile – today was a home day of baking – biscotti and brownies – and making – pesto and a waterslide

                                                                                                                    It has taken five years, but Small Z has finally begun a phase that consists of her pouting, assuming a baby voice, and saying loudly, “I BORED.” I have so far resisted saying, “Well you better go to school then….” I figure I can definitely leave that one for my mother…

                                                                                                                    This is happening in the current context of her being unable to sleep and staying up until after 9pm. Death for kidfree time. Ruinous for five-year-old reasonableness and revolting when mixed with The Two-Year-Old-That-Won’t-Nap.

                                                                                                                    In the face of I BORED!! I put the hose at the top of the treehouse and announced I’d created a waterslide. It bought me an hour of excellence… :)

                                                                                                                    Z goes watersliding!
                                                                                                                    DB goes watersliding!

                                                                                                                    Just whistle…and sing

                                                                                                                      Just for posterity here are a few little videos. The first is Small DB showing me how she whistles and throwing in a pop-culture reference to the first song she ever wrote ;) called ‘Butter, Butter, Butter’. And once you’ve learnt the title, you’ve learnt the whole thing… Note her shrieking CHEESE! at the start because she thinks I’m taking her photograph…

                                                                                                                      And the following is over a minute long, where Small DB demonstrates her guitar chops and her in-depth lyrics. She’s just one month older than Small Z was when I filmed her performing her own seminal tune, ‘It Started Raining…’

                                                                                                                      Today. And last September.

                                                                                                                        I don’t know what it was – but we were walking past the bus stop and I remembered the photo I had taken last year. A photo that I love. So I took another. It turns out that Small Z was wearing the same top?

                                                                                                                        Bus Stop. September 2012

                                                                                                                        Bus Stop. March 2013

                                                                                                                        Bathing in a bucket in Midwinter…

                                                                                                                          This is for posterity. I love how she is just making up all her own words and songs. She went on like this for several minutes…

                                                                                                                          I was inside doing the dishes and I heard a s-c-r-e-a-m. There had been a few screams over the course of the day, so I didn’t drop everything and run.

                                                                                                                          I got to the porch and poor Small DB was saying over and over, “Get me out, mama. Get me out. There’s a THING. THERE’S A THING!!” She was pointing to what I discovered was a stick insect about two feet away from her. I picked her up and she was so scared she was rigid :( After I took her inside and calmed her down, Small Z and I took her outside and showed her where I had relocated the stick insect.

                                                                                                                          We got her to look at it and see how beautiful it was. She nodded and smiled like a pro. When we came back inside she stated, “That thing. That creature? It was walking. I don’t like things that walk. I like things that are DEAD.” And went back to what she was doing. I almost fell on the floor with silent hysteria. She’s obviously genetically linked to her aracniphobic uncle – she won’t go unaccompanied to the toilet for fear of a daddy-long-legs…

                                                                                                                          Another car milestone. Nothing to see here.

                                                                                                                            We drove all the way to Kinglake. And all the way back. And there was no screaming. Miraculous. We felt like normal people must feel all the time!! If you are unfamiliar with the distances involved in between Hastings and Kinglake – it's about and hour and forty minutes each way. Eeep! A record for Small DB….

                                                                                                                            Our lovely former neighbours have finished building (more or less) their very beautiful, very thoughtfully designed house. So we celebrated that, the fifth birthday of their oldest Small…

                                                                                                                             

                                                                                                                            It was lovely to have a proper chunk of time to hang out and kick back. The awesome lunch was also a treat :) It is a shame to lose such awesome neighbours, but good to know they've chased down and created a dream. Their house is inspirational – all that was really missing was Kevin McCloud…

                                                                                                                             

                                                                                                                            Small DB? She is THREE!

                                                                                                                              Small DB turned three on Friday. THREE!!! I could trot out the disbelieving descriptions but we’ve heard them all before. Suffice to say – I no longer have a two-year-old *sob* Both she and Small Z have turned three in this house. Strange for us!! Small Z turned three here a year after we had moved in.

                                                                                                                              There was a party to celebrate Small DB’s milestone. I had lists of things coming out of my ears – lists of Small guests, their siblings, their parents. A ‘little’ party with about four guests aged two and three immediately morphs out to include older and younger siblings and parents.

                                                                                                                              It was great :) I was keen for Small DB to have a really lovely party, firstly just because OF COURSE! But secondly because her last birthday was so pivotal for her – she talked about it every day for months and months afterward. Being the second kid, not so much is just completely all about her – but that was.

                                                                                                                              She began her day with these:

                                                                                                                              Daisy-Belle's chosen birthday breakfast. Peaches bottled by MWB.

                                                                                                                              Peaches bottled by MWB – she had been eyeing them off for a year…

                                                                                                                              Let me just record the menu for posterity (and in doing so, empty it from my brain). It was quite fortuitous that I was a bit behind with the catering. Small DB and I had made hommus the day before – the little ones were getting hungry, so I put out heaps of carrot and cucumber for them to dip in, as well as fruit ‘porcipines’ – oranges with sticks in them with strawberries, pineapple chunks and watermelon balls on the end – my mum churned these out like a party machine. (As well as having made tissue paper pom-poms with the Smalls the previous day – thanks mum!)

                                                                                                                              MACHINE! I haven’t mentioned the main thing!! As a member of the local toy library committee (my one official community committment) I get one free use of a mini jumping castle each year. Oh my goodness. M made friends with it immediately and it was a total hit! I don’t see much point in structured games for two and three year olds – they were much happier to bounce…and bounce…and bounce… And the older kids were equally thrilled.

                                                                                                                              Milly, Polly, Daisy and Kena

                                                                                                                              Whoops. Back to food. I’ll just list it. Raspberry orange jellies, allergy-free chocolate crackles, oven baked potato chips, sausages, colourful brown rice salad, chickpea and cucumber salad, gluten free brownies and of course – birthday cupcakes with strawberry cream cheese icing. And that paragraph basically sums up my brain last week.

                                                                                                                              Small DB spent the day being somewhat overwhelmed by the whole thing. She didn’t melt down, but her eyes were bigger than usual and she was a little bit edgy at times. She was super-happy to she her favourite Lucinda Rae :)

                                                                                                                              Daisy Belle and Lucinda's Rae :: Love

                                                                                                                              …and to have some reading time with the Nana…

                                                                                                                              Reading with the Nana

                                                                                                                              Everyone filtered away close to three o’clock – but our old neighbours who had journeyed from Kinglake stayed and we convinced them to sleep the night in the caravan – so we had an awesome opportunity to catch up, and also avoided that post-party slump.

                                                                                                                              Sweet Small DB is becoming a delicious, hilarious feisty three-year-old. I can hardly believe it. And if there’s anything that should encourage me to post more often it is this – because the past three years have snapped by so fast, I want records, RECORDS damnit! Records that help me hold on to and remember all the things that will otherwise swirl by… Happy Birthday Born-in-a-Car Baby – you’re the icing on our family cupcake.

                                                                                                                              DB3

                                                                                                                              Save the Great Barrier Reef

                                                                                                                                Small Z has been involved in a protest once before, but she doesn’t remember it. This time she was very vitalised and keen to present an opinion. We happen to live in the electorate of Greg Hunt – the environment minister of our recently elected government. GetUp are running a campaign to protect the Great Barrier Reef from the development of coal exports. They had a petition signed by over 240,000 people (including me) to deliver to him, so we gathered at our local park and then walked en masse to his office.

                                                                                                                                Look at Small DB hanging tough on her wheels in her PJs. Small Z clutches emblematic seabird and has on a bath-toy fish necklace, hastily assembled ;)

                                                                                                                                I was heartened at how many people gathered. Not all of them were from Hastings, but I’m sure quite a few were – an encouraging thing. I made Small Z a placard to hold. I explained that we were presenting a letter signed by more than two hundred thousand people who wanted Greg Hunt to say there would be NO dredging close to or through the Great Barrier Reef for big boats to carry coal out of some proposed coal mines. We hoped he would also say NO to the coal mines as well – this being an era where we hopefully promote clean energy and the health of our planet and people over dirty coal mines and a quick buck.

                                                                                                                                The latest logistical fail. Again.

                                                                                                                                  Small Z is similar to me in that we both become fixated with THINGS. Not a wholly pleasant trait. But we love the chase! She has gone through the Dinosaur Train fixation (used her paltry funds to pay for figurines she played with for a week and then cried about her boredom with them), the Octonaut fixation (I used my paltry funds to buy her a figurine, same deal as before) and now…the fixation is an expensive one. Sylvanians.

                                                                                                                                  Yes. Tiny titchy little animals that probably cost twenty cents each to manufacture flogged off for about five bucks a pop – and of course you can’t get them singly – you have to buy them in pairs or ‘families’. Sigh. Our lovely friends have a five-year-old Small Z equivalent – but she has two older sisters – and it is that situation that means Small Z gets to latch on to/experience all these things that would otherwise go unknown… Polly Pockets are another thing… My eBay searches of late have all been about these tiny little things…

                                                                                                                                   

                                                                                                                                  After a week or so of concerted petitioning, I took the Smalls to a toy shop. Small Z and I had agreed we would go halves on a Sylvanian. I would buy one for Small DB who doesn’t have her own money yet (thereby unable to count it every day to see if the total has magically grown). Massive logistical #fail (did I mention that in the title?). The previous night Small DB had woken at 2.30am into a full throated scream of, “SMOOTHIE. SMOOTHIE. I WANT A SMOOTHIE.” After speaking to her savagely several times, I realised it would be easier to make the goddamn smoothie than have M and Small Z awoken. I smoothied. She slept. Eventually.

                                                                                                                                  Therefore, by the time we got into the car at 3pm (what was I thinking?), Small DB was a looooong way past rational. She just hid it well. I was hoping she would sleep. Sigh. This is how it would have happened if she didn’t exist.

                                                                                                                                  Go to toy shop, luxuriate in picking the cheapest possible Sylvanian (two babies = $9.50), get back in the car, go home, drink wine. Happy single child. Happy happy me.

                                                                                                                                  What actually happened was that Small DB fastened on to two different boxes, neither of which she could do without. I reasoned with her (idiotic), pleaded (stupid), demanded (useless), and finally paid for her little Sylvanian baby ($8.50 for one baby WITH A CRADLE – honestly – they are less than an inch high) as she threw the ones she couldn’t live without on to the counter and I had to ask the lady there to ignore them – then I carried the screaming and kicking Small DB out of the shop and had to sit on her to get her into her carseat. The joy.

                                                                                                                                  Of course, by then I had been reduced to seething, “I’m NEVER taking you to a toy shop again. EVER. EVER.” Indispersed with self-loathing about failing to recognise what a stupid time I had chosen for such an expedition. Small Z tried to comfort me, “No, you’re not an idiot mama. Don’t worry.” Then she couldn’t help herself, “Are you really never taking her to a toy shop ever again?” I drove grimly onward. Small DB eventually passed out utterly. For at least three hours. That hasn’t happened for such. a. long. time. that I literally luxuriated in the splendor of Only One Child. Yes. That sounds harsh – but it is SO RARE. And on reflection – oh my god a three-year-old demands so much energy! And the combination of both of them increases that again.

                                                                                                                                  I busted out the white wine, the Kindle, the knitting, the blue cheese and biscuits. Small Z entertained herself with her new toys, dinner, and a special extended iPad session (hooray for Dinorama). It was like I’d had a holiday – and almost worth the drama. Almost.

                                                                                                                                   

                                                                                                                                  Trousers for Small DB

                                                                                                                                    I made my first sewing project using a P-A-T-T-E-R-N! I think I'm turning into my friend Jess!! She gently suggested a year or two ago that trousers work best with a pattern – after yet another of my attempts using the arms of jumpers. I printed out a free pattern many months ago and finally taped it together. It worked perfectly. You can get the pattern and tutorial here.

                                                                                                                                    I am such a sewing novice and it was a thrill for me to follow a pattern. It was even more of a thrill to have it work!! I began with the intention of making them as shorts, as Small DB has a shorts-shortage. She also has ongoing issues (particularly when sick and tired) about how things FEEL – too itchy, too tight, not soft enough. Her three pairs of shorts got thrown on to the op-shop pile this week and I was on a quest to make her something cool and comfortable.

                                                                                                                                    She picked out these pink spotty adult PJ pants that I've been keeping in my scrap box for…something just like this! It was an excellent suggestion, as it meant I didn't have to hem the bottom.

                                                                                                                                    The tutorial made me think of the Jamie Oliver recipe app that I have – the 20 Minute Meals – both of them suggest little extras that really lead to the thing you're making (whether it be green chicken curry, or spotty pink trousers) to be much better than they would otherwise have been. Thus…I ironed the seams…

                                                                                                                                    There is mention of serging the edges. And if you don't have a serger, to zigzag them instead. What is this serger of which they speak? Is it what we call an 'overlocker' or something completely different, distantly related to a famed French singer? I know not. So I zigzagged…(see above, that is me zigzagging over my straight stitches.)

                                                                                                                                    And…VOILA! They look really cute!! Too bad it's so hot here, I can't get anyone to try them on!

                                                                                                                                    Flextime

                                                                                                                                      In our house, money is always a juggle. In comparison to many people we know, we don’t have a lot. This obviously has its down sides. But a big positive is this: I have had a week of hell with Small DB being ill. And a day of hell yesterday. Both Smalls need some one-on-one time; and I feel like I need to focus on Small DB (I’m getting to the big positive…here it comes…)

                                                                                                                                      And this can all happen. In the interest of family sanity, M is recalled from boat duty and sent to the weekly WildThings adventure with Small Z. I am home with the other one – who awoke with a freshly made tantrum, but is responding to a quiet house, a bowl of blueberries and ‘Dinosaur Train’ watched in a patch of sunshine. And this is good.

                                                                                                                                      365/41 • We're having some one on one time today. Badly needed. #2014_ig_041 #3yo #sunshine

                                                                                                                                      Her own adventure – 3yo kindergarten

                                                                                                                                        Small DB woke up with a buzz of excitement and a smile that did not stop. She missed her first day at kindergarten last week, but I never told her, so today was her ‘first day’. She was a different kid – ate her breakfast, willingly got dressed into something that was not a flowery dress and was standing ready by the gate with her backpack on while everyone else (me) was still getting ready.

                                                                                                                                        Her first day at 3yo kindergarten.

                                                                                                                                        I belatedly realised that this was one of the first thing she has ever down ON HER OWN!. It was her own gig, and she wanted to jump in with both feet. She was ready in more ways than one. While she was waiting she renamed the family for the day (she’s kind of quirky like that). I became ‘SilkPot’, Small Z was ‘Mizzarky’, she named herself ‘Spotplant’, and M became (kind of hysterically) ‘Tomato’.

                                                                                                                                        B and Smalls. DB is off to 3yo kindergarten!

                                                                                                                                        Yes – it’s actually a photo with me in it! (Thank you, M!) Small Z and I walked her down to the kindergarten, took her inside, hung out with her for about ten minutes. Her best little three-year-old friend arrived. She seemed happy for us to leave her there. So we did. There was no heartache involved. She was confident, but a little bit shy.

                                                                                                                                        Small Z and I headed off to the library and The Local cafe for a little bit of much needed one-one-one time.

                                                                                                                                        Small Z. She owns that library. Really.

                                                                                                                                        The kindergarten session was only two hours long and we were almost late back to pick up Small DB – we ran all the way! She was very happy to see us! We were told about singing ‘Dingly Dangly Scarecrow with a Flippy Floppy Hat’, story time, her snack, going to the toilet on her own… She was so pleased with herself. :)

                                                                                                                                        It is, of course, hard not to make comparisons with what the experience was like with Small Z – they are both so different (such a stupid but unavoidable statement of the bleeding obvious). But reading back on what Small Z’s experience was like (thank-you, Interweb) – they are not dissimilar! One of my fervent hopes was to not have children that were shackled by their shyness, like I was, and I think we’re doing OK in that regard.

                                                                                                                                        Our night time stroll...

                                                                                                                                        Hooray for Small DB! You’re all kinds of a-w-e-s-o-m-e!! :)

                                                                                                                                        A reversal of sorts

                                                                                                                                          April has begun with a change of mind where kindergarten and Small DB are concerned. They have kind of parted ways. There was an incident where her friend at kindergarten got very upset and her mother was called to take her home. Her teacher reported that after it happened Small DB was sad and quiet. The following Friday she refused to go. I asked her why she no longer liked kindergarten.

                                                                                                                                          “I miss you and you’re not there. I wanted you!”

                                                                                                                                          “If you ever want to come home from kinder you can always ask your teachers to call me. Did you tell them you wanted me?”

                                                                                                                                          “No.” A pause. “I was too shy.”

                                                                                                                                          Unlike I was with Small Z (who I coerced and manipulated into going along when she really didn’t want to) I am not going to make Small DB go. She is very social already without three hours a week of kindergarten. And it is also expensive as it is non-compulsory. I will offer to go with her and stay for as long as she needs me to – but if she really doesn’t want to do it, I won’t pursue it. There is a full month away now because of school holidays, so maybe a break is all she needs – we shall see.

                                                                                                                                          Smalls DB's first kindergarten excursion

                                                                                                                                          In the meantime she was very happy to go on a kindergarten excursion to a local farm with me, Small Z and The Nana on Friday. Last time she was there a sheep said BAA!!! very loudly and she climbed me like a startled monkey and stayed in my arms for most of the time. The word she used was ‘worried’.

                                                                                                                                          This time she refused to leave without a pony ride – a radical change… Small Z had a ball (as the lone 6yo homeschooled freak she was a giraffe among four year olds and I had to ask her a few times to not answer every question asked by our farm-tourguide and to let others have a go).

                                                                                                                                          Z and a guinea pig
                                                                                                                                          This little pig...
                                                                                                                                          Hay Ride! So haphazard. I love it!
                                                                                                                                          DB's first horse ride!

                                                                                                                                          Don’t you love her little horseriding face?! It’s very pleased…but secretly so.
                                                                                                                                          :)



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