The presents are wrapped, the cards have been posted, the cupboards are full of festive goodies and Rufus is thoroughly sick of shopping.
We're having Christmas at home - our little family of three. We'll sing carols (tunelessly) round the tree, eat a lot, walk a bit and make it a Christmas to remember - even if the little bean will have forgotten it all by boxing day. For us it's a dream come true
So to all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year - we hope you get all you wish for in 2011.
Last Saturday - the 18th December 2010 - Rufus Anthony Jones was six months old exactly. I can't believe that in just six months we have gone from this
It's amazing - he's a proper little boy now. He eats grown up meals - he loves a good stew. My kitchen floor loves it less, but doesn't get much of a choice about the amount it's "fed" every day. I'm thinking of starting a company that rents out Labradors to families with weaning babies. The cats don't do bits of chimbled pasta or beef that has been sucked dry - most unhelpful.
A friend asked me the other day if I miss my previous life? And I don't really think I do. Occasionally I'd love to sleep for eight hours without interruption and the other day I was walking through town and it seemed that everyone else on the street was a couple, meandering round the shops holding hands. I do miss that, just Me and Mr Jones time. Sometimes I miss it so much that I want to cry just a little bit.
But I wouldn't give him back, not for the world. I love watching him change. I never thought I'd be fascinated by the way that someone else holds a carrot. I certainly would never have walked around Waitrose singing, blowing raspberries and whooping just to make someone else smile. I'll do anything to elicit that laugh. The second his little delicious giggle escapes his mouth I do what ever it is that has brought it forth over and over again, even if it's throwing him in the air until my arms ache, or making popping noises until my lips are chaffed. It's like an addiction - I really can't get enough.
Sometimes I worry that my brain will turn to mush. That all I'll be good for is singing endless renditions of Old Macdonald or the Wheels on the Bus. Sometimes I miss the thrill of working to a deadline or running a shoot (and I certainly miss the freebies!). But most of the time I just love being a mummy. It's hard work, it's 24/7, but it is the single most satisfying thing I have ever done in my life.
When people ask what I do I don't miss saying "I'm a journalist", I love saying "I'm Rufus' mum". I wasn't sure how I'd feel about that, but I'm just so proud of him. If someone else pushes his buggy and people stop and coo I feel like grabbing the handle and saying "yes he's gorgeous isn't he, he's mine". Selfish I know - but he really is the most amazing thing I've ever achieved. I look at him every day and think - "wow I made him" and it stuns me everytime.
I've met the six months mark with a mixture of happiness and sorrow. I feel like the countdown is on. That every day now brings us closer to the day that I'll have to go back to work. The day that I'll have to hand him over and trust someone else to look after him (only for three days a week!) and it fills me with fear. It's not so much Rufus that I'm worried about, I'm sure after the initial wrench he'll be fine. He'll make new friends and learn new things and hopefully at the end of the day he'll be excited to see me. I don't think he'll miss out at all. But I know I will - I don't want to will him to grow up too fast, but at the same time I don't want to miss his first step or his first word. I want to be there for everything because it's such a privilege to watch him grow up.
And of course - if I'm truly honest - the control freak in me just doesn't want to let go. If I'm at work someone might feed him a jam sandwich made with plastic bread and marg (argh the horror) or let him sit in front of Cbeebies (or Top Gear!!!) for hours on end. At some point I'm going to have to let go - I'm just not sure I can do it right now. So I shall continue to dream of a gentle mooch around town with Mr Jones and a night in a soft fluffy hotel bed where I'll sleep for 12 hours in a gin induced stupor without worrying that something has happened to my little man overnight. I'm sure I'll get there one day - won't I?
Ps - I took Rufus to see the health visitor last Friday. He weighed in at 15lb 14oz - three weeks ago he was 14lb 9oz - it seems a bit of homecooking was all he needed to pile on a few pounds. The health visitor - remember she wasn't concerned, no not concerned at all - looked visibly relieved. In fact she was so happy she almost gave me a hug.
It's nearly Christmas, weaning has begun - between shopping, wrapping, cooking and feeding I have no time - so here is a brief synopsis of the past four weeks - in pictures - with few words - how unlike me. (Have you ever noticed that I use a lot of these - it seems I don't like commas!)
Rufus went to Southwold - a place of many happy childhood, teenage and grown up memories for me, and for him too in years to come I hope. He had fun, had many cuddles with Granny, Pops and Aunty Rach. We both came home with a cold - but we survived.
He started solids. Baby led weaning is messy. Purees make him gag unless they are very runny. He'd rather just eat sticks of roasted sweet potato and carrot, tuck into homemade stew (he even ate a bit of beef) and isn't adverse to pasta bake (apart from today when he threw a paddy and swept a good deal of it onto the kitchen floor - it seems today he only wants to eat pureed pear. I don't blame him - some days I just want to eat pureed pear). He seems to be producing little chunky rolls of fat on his wrists and thighs so I'm hoping when I get him weighed this week he might be heading in the right direction on the chart thingys.
Rufus went to visit the Williams' - he bought a hairband from Princess Lucy's shop. We all bought hairbands in fact - and had to wear them - even Mr Jones.
He's learnt how to roll over and he never sits still. He's seen his first snow and the other day I swear he made a noise that sounded like "Rufus" - but it was probably just a fluke! He has swum under water on his own, which is impressive and terrifying in equal measure, but don't tell him I scared, I'm very good at perma smiles to hide horror - I do them when he's choking on quarters of apricot and when he pours water all over himself and the floor and when he rubs pasta bake into his ears. And when he poos on my hand - but that is another story....
At university I was sometimes known as Monica. People used to ruffle the rug in my room just to wind me up - and in the second year my cleaning rota was constantly scorned and the bathroom left in a disgusting state until I gave in a cleaned it even if it wasn't my week. While 10 years with Mr Jones has forced me to relax on the OCD cleaning you may well recall that in the latter stages of my pregnancy I spent about 22 hours a day attached to the hoover or mop.
These days I'm lucky if I manage to get the hoover out once a week. I have vacuum withdrawal symptoms. I feel like I need some kind of support group. "My name is Rebecca Jones and I'm a former clean freak who now lives in a slovenly pit". I just don't have time for cleaning - Rufus thinks it's a waste of his day. I tidy, frequently, and the washing machine is constantly on - but my house is no where near as clean as I'd like it to be.
Mr Jones has a different level of acceptable cleanliness. He once exploded a hole punch over his bedroom floor at the beginning of term and by Easter the paper confetti was still adorning the carpet. The living room floor in his shared house was home to a scalextric track, which wove it's way around plates of furry mould encrusted food remants and empty pizza boxes. The bathroom was so disgusting that I used to go home to pee.
I am happy to report that over the last 10 years his standards have been raised to a whole new level - but his tolerance of filth still hovers somewhere way below mine.
That is why, when Mr Jones suggested that while Rufus and I were away on holiday he might give the house a good going over, that I knew things had gotten bad, really bad. So it's not just me that can see the marks on the kitchen cabinets, or the dust on the book shelves? Are other people aware of the cat hair on the stairs and the footprints on the windowsill? Is someone else irritated by the baby handprints on every mirror in the house and are the watermarks on the shower screen glaring at anyone who use our bathroom?
My dad recently found a old book on good housekeeping and childcare. Among the many choice passages, this manual for all exceptional wives and mothers, suggested that the house should be an arena of calm cleanliness when your beloved husband walks through the door after a long day at work. After a day cleaning the house and taking care of the children I should neaten myself up, apply a bit of lipstick and plaster a smile on my face to greet him in the hallway. The children should be clean and angelic, playing quietly, or better still, already tucked up in bed..... it goes on - and on and on.
So what does Mr Jones see when he walks through the door? A picture of 1950s domesticity with a nipped in waist, perfectly coiffed hair and a neatly swaddled baby - does he heck. I'm usually on the floor, my bottom hanging out of pair of mud spattered jeans, my hair wild from a trek across some field or other. The living room is generally scattered with toys, the dinner is usually half prepared, there are bits on the floor, cobwebs on the ceiling and the baby is most certainly not bathed and ready for bed (that's Mr Jones' job).
I would love to be the perfect housewife - but somehow I just can't seem to manage it. I feel guilty if I leave Rufus to play on the floor while I hoover - and his naptimes are too precious to disturb with a roaring vacuum. I've tried to make like Mary Poppins and turn cleaning into a game, but a five month old doesn't really get it. So I sit in the evenings, worn out after a day of play, and listen to the dust bunnies scuttling under the sofa and watch the cobwebs idly weave themselves across each room. Inside I cry just a tiny bit for my lovely tidy pre baby house.
I love the days I get to run the hoover round and file away the paper work. But on the ones in between I remind myself of a little poem sent to me by a good friend:
When my children look back on today, I hope they see a mother who had time to play,
There will be years for cleaning and cooking, But children grow up when you're not looking.
So, settle down cobwebs, and dust go to sleep, I'm cuddling my baby, and babies don't keep.
So, if you know me, you'll know that in a previous existence I would never have written that title. You see I've always wanted to be a princess. I've wanted to be a princess since forever. When I was a very small girl I walked around the ruins of a Welsh castle telling anyone who would listen that "I am the princess, and this is my castle" and that they were all my doting subjects. I wanted to ride horses, because princesses rode horses. I wanted to be a bridesmaid because they wear dresses like princesses and get to marry the prince. I wanted to be a princess because they live in castles, have long hair and because their daddy is the King.
When I was a teenager I went through a rebellious stage (clearly I didn't because I pretty much always towed the line - but bear with me). I went through a rebellious phase when I wore sneakers, listened to Britpop and denounced the establishmnt (for about three months) and went about telling everyone that I thought the royal family were a waste of time and money and should put to death by firing squad (is that treasonous - can I get hanged for writing that these days??). This was during the period in Prince William's life when he was all teeth and ears. Before Princess Di was killed, before he went to university and before he became the object of all my royal lust.
Let me also point out that I know that it is completely not cool to have a crush on Prince William. In fact you get more points for having a crush on Harry and he has ginger hair and his "royalness" is still very much in question. But I hold my hands up. I have often dreamt of marrying Prince William and being a princess. (I might add that I always factored in Mr Jones as the illicit love interest in these dreams - princesses always get to have affairs - anyone who has read anything about the Tudor court knows that. Mr Jones would have been the Robert Dudley to my Elizabeth the first - before her teeth went black and fell out).
When he started going out with Kate Middleton I got a bit Daily Mail about it all. I liked to check out what she was up too in a slightly stalkerish manner. Not because I hated her - but because I was in awe. Fabulous figure, bit of a clothes horse, intelligent, good looking - and going out with Prince William - who wouldn't be a tiny bit jealous. After a while I got a bit bored - until the split when I thought there might again be hope. But alas it wasn't to be.
So you might expect me to be just a mite peeved with all this talk of weddings - but when it comes to it I'm really not. Aside from the life of duty in the public eye - which I'd hate because quite frankly I detest the general public - the very thought of having to plan a royal wedding fills me with dread.
Every family has their black sheep - the relatives who make you cringe, who you know will just disgrace themselves by getting drunk and abusing someone, or if not that there's the lairy friend who can't be trusted in a civilised situation. You ummm and ahhh about whether you can get away with not inviting them to your wedding and generally deem that for the sake of peace you'll just put up with them and forewarn anyone who might be offended. BUT what do you do if your wedding is to be attended by the Queen and representatives of every Royal family in the world? What if the prime minister is going to be there? What is Elton John is singing you up the aisle? What if you're selling the pictures to Hello for a banker's bonus? Do you say "sod my family - I've got a new Royal one" and be forever hailed as the sell outer who thinks they're too good for their past? Or do you hope that Prince Harry digs out that fancy dress outfit or pray that Prince Phillip is allowed to voice an opinion so that it's not your disgraceful acquaintance that ends up fodder for Quentin Letts and the rest of his cronies?
Then there's the dress. People still talk and cringe about Princess Di's crumpled, puffed sleeved monstrosity with bows on - it's such a responsibilty. I was nearly consumed with stress about my dress and it was only going to be judged by 120 people - half of whom were men and couldn't give a fig - but poor old Kate has the entire female population of the globe to please. (And don't deny that you aren't interested because you know you are).
What if she wants to get married somewhere other than Westminster Abbey? What if she's always dreamt of a beach wedding or wants (God forbid) carnations and babies breath in her bouquet? What if she rather have something a bit smaller and really doesn't want it on the BBC?
In the end she's just a girl, who fell in love with a boy - who just happened to be a royal. It might seem like a dream to marry a Prince - but when your wedding turns into a national event I think it takes away a bit of the excitement and the meaning. No I'm glad I'm not Kate Middleton - I don't think I could take the responsibility - not for all the castles and tiaras in the world.
It's cruel I know - but this will probably be the only year I get to dress him up without him wanting some kind of input. There was a halloween party - the babies got dressed up and the mummy's drank wine. By the time we got home I had almost lost my voice. By the time I went to bed it had completely gone.
Mr Jones went off to work in Kent, leaving me alone and snot filled to look after the small boy. It wasn't long before I had packed my stuff to head to my Mummy's. You're never too old to need your mummy.
Before I could escape I had to see the breast feeding woman. She was an hour and 15 minutes late - and she was lucky that Rufus decided to have an extra long nap because other wise I'd have been long gone by the time she rocked up. No apology, no nothing - rude I call it. I hate people being late.
Anyway. She came and asked me how the two hourly feeding had been going. I said I hadn't done it because the extra feeds coincided with his nap times and he was just falling asleep anyway so it was pointless. This was a lie because I hadn't actually tried it. I hate liars - but sometimes a little white lie is necessary - and being a mummy makes you do things that you usually wouldn't. She looked at me slightly sternly and I suddenly felt a bit guilty and started jibbering on about how my instinct had told me that he didn't need feeding that often - rah, rah, rah! Then I said I had a cold and was off to my mum's in a bit because Mr Jones was away and I thought it'd be nice to have a bit of a hand.
Luckily Rufus decided to wake up at this point so we could get on with it. She weighed him - he screamed and flailed about - he'd gained three ounces. Poo! I'd hoped it would have been more. In the past week he's developed some of those lovely chubby wrist bracelets - I thought they'd weigh at least an ounce each. Plus a couple of ounces for each thigh and maybe half an ounce on his chin. But no - just three. She tutted a bit and then said - "So explain again why you didn't feed him two hourly." So I started with the lies again and then said - "actually I think he's fine - he's sleeping well and feeding well and he has six feeds a day - he never cries for food and he seems perfectly happy."
"Well yes - he does seem fine. So I think it's probably best if you stop panicking about his weight gain - because it's really not that important as long as he seems fine. It's good that you're going to your mum's for support. Being a mum is hard work, you're doing a great job, so don't get worked up and try and relax. When is your husband back? Are you going to be on your own at all? Make sure you have someone to look after you and to help you because it's good to have support......"
She went on like this for about five minutes. Speaking to me as if I was on the verge of some kind of mental break down. I felt like stopping her and saying - "hang on a minute - I never asked to see you, I was told to see you. I'm not concerned about his weight, it's you lot who have been making a fuss about it. As soon as I was told that he was within the healthy range of the thrive line thingys I was fine. Yes I'm going to my mum's because I'm feeling just a tad rough and I can't really sing and play with what is left of my voice - but ordinarily I am quite able to cope - and I most certainly don't need to be patronised by you."
But of course I just smiled meekly and listened to her cringeworthy attempt at being sympathetic and supportive. I probably should have offered her a cup of tea or asked if she wanted to use the loo - but I just wanted to get rid of her. In the end I started to feed Rufus and said "Are you ok to see yourself out so I don't have to disturb him?" And off she went. Then we went to stay with Granny Sue and Pops and were thoroughly looked after and spoilt. I'm sure I gained several pounds even if Rufus didn't.
Mr Jones thinks we should move to the Southern States of America so that Rufus grows up with an accent that will enable him to sing this song (you have to listen right to the end if you want to hear the kids singing - this will be enjoyable if you like country music - as I do - if you don't like country music you'll have to just grin and bear it. If like me you also have a thing for men in cowboy hats you may like to watch the video!). Mr Jones would probably like it noted that he isn't - in general - a country fan - he just thinks the kids at the end sound cute. I love country. I'd love to move to a Ranch and ride horses all day in a cowboy hat like I did in my previous life. I think about it a lot when all I can hear is a small boy grizzling. I could be the next Pioneer Woman and homeschool my kids and cook beef on a skillet and eat corn bread and cookies.....
Alternatively Mr Jones thinks we should move to Bristol so that Rufus will speak like the kids from Skins. Somehow I find this less appealing. Anyway I digress.
So you will remember how the Health Visitor wasn't concerned, no not concerned at all, about Rufus' weight. Well I took him back to be weighed again and he had put on a measly three ounces. "Hmmm - I'll just measure his head and length and get my thrive lines out to be sure, but I'm not concerned."
"Ok" says I not believing a word of it.
She measures his head - which is still big enough for me to be very thankful that I didn't have to push him out - and his length which is above average - something I could have told her because his three to six month babygros are all too short in the leg and he's only four and a bit months old.
She gets out her thrive lines (a piece of acetate covered in lines which apparently when laid over your baby's weight chart tells you whether or not he is thriving for his weight?!). All the while she is muttering about not being concerned, about how he is a gorgeous little boy and very alert and active and sleeping well......
She puts the acetate over Rufus' weight chart and traces a line with her finger up to where he should be on the chart for his age. The black dot on the weight chart is glaring at me in the bottom third of the page - her finger is resting in the top third. I suddenly feel a bit hot. It's cold out and I'm wearing layers and have a baby sling pinning them all to me. I feel the sweat start to trickle down my back as I watch her stare (now looking very concerned) at the chart.
Unnecessarily she points out the dots to me. "hhhhmmm I think I'll just call the doctor in to check him over, I'm not concerned because he looks well and his head is measuring fine and that's the next thing we check after slow weight gain, but just to be sure I'd like to call the doctor in - do you mind?"
Do I mind? What a ridiculous question - this woman is telling me that my baby may well be malnourished and she's asking me if I mind seeing the doctor? I reassure her that this is all quite fine - trying to ignore the sweat that is pouring down the backs of my knees while at the same time trying to wrestle Rufus back into his trousers.
The doctor appears, takes one look at him and says - "he looks fine to me." Meanwhile the health visitor has been ferreting about in her folder and pulls out another piece of acetate. "Oh" she says - "I've just realised that I'm using the wrong sheet - that's the one for babies who are gaining too much weight - see look he's fine!" She spends the next five minutes apologising to me while I begin to recover from what was possibly the beginnings of a mild cardiac episode - or less dramtically a few dark days believing that I am clearly a terrible mother who has been starving her child by feeding him from malfunctioning bosoms.
Further discussions ensue about the fact that Rufus clearly isn't actively feeding during these lovely 45 minute feeds we've been having. I am sent away with instructions to massage my boobs when I feed (delightful) and to start expressing in the evenings to make sure my milk supply is good enough. She also recommends that I see the breastfeeding counsellor for a bit more advice.
So off I go feel just slightly rattled and ever so much relieved. I begin the massaging (not easy) and I listen out to make sure he's swallowing all the time. We get fewer green poos which must have been caused by the fact that he was crashing out after he'd quenched his thirst with the foremilk. I start to feel encouraged.
I get out old Gina Ford's missives because I remember a section on increasing your milk supply. It appears that I need to express about five times a day - at specific times - while eating a small snack and drinking a glass of water. I am reminded of the panic I felt when I first read this book and it's routines - "your baby must be up and fully awake by 7am, offer 20 minutes from the first breast and 10 to 15 minutes from the second. Do not feed about 8am because you'll put him off his next feed. Eat a piece of toast and drink a pint of water no later than 8.30am......" When Mr Jones read it he sent me a text saying "errr can we send the baby back please - this sounds like a nightmare" - I was about 20 weeks pregnant at the time.
I duly start expressing per the timetable. This didn't last long. As I sat there in a roomful of other mums at 11am with my nipple being sucked in and out of a pump we all laughed at how our lives had changed. When would I ever have thought it was acceptable to get my boobs out in front of a room full of other women? And worse, when would I have ever sat there doing my best impression of a cow hooked up to an industrial strength milking machine - never! So I decided that my life was far too short. That Rufus could up my supply himself by taking more - because he clearly isn't starving because he is still gaining weight - just not as fast as he could.
On Tuesday I saw the breastfeeding counsellor. I didn't warm to her - she very kindly announced to a group of some 15 mums that she would speak to me after the weaning talk that we were all attending because she'd been informed that I was "having problems with breastfeeding" (see a mixture of sympathetic/smug looks fired in my direction from the various mothers in the room). She hardly listened to the problems I was having before barking "Feed him every two hours - that will make him gain weight and stop him biting you. I'll come and see you next Tuesday."
I leave, feeling flustered, trying to calculate in my mind how I'll get anything done if I feed him every two hours. Within about an hour I decide to ignore her. As far as I'm concerned he's fine, he's happy and alert, he's developing well, sleeping and napping well and seems to be perfectly jolly on his routine. He's never fed two hourly, not even when he was first born - so why would I go backwards? I've been keeping him awake during his feeds and the biting has lessened, we've had no green poos since I started with all the massaging and he's started to go through until 4.30/5ish at night again - so I think he's fine. It's not as if he's losing weight. Having made this decision I spend the next few days feeling very naughty. In the end I give myself a good talking to - I'm his mother and I know best. We shall see what she says next Tuesday.
PS - he's wearing his pjs in the pics because we had been through four outfits in one day - the first two were puked on and the second two were pooped on and I hadn't had chance to do anymore washing - pjs were all we had left.
Hey Mama, what you doing? Are you taking pictures again? You're nearly as bad as Granny.
It doesn't matter what noises you make - I'm not going to look at the camera.
Mama, have you ever tried fingers? They're tasty.
I can push one hand right in with the other one. It means I can get my fingers all the way to the back of my throat and make myself gag!
See how slimey they are - in a minute I'm going to give you a cuddle and wipe them all over your face and neck to show you how much I love you.
What do you mean you'd rather I didn't? Love you Mama xxx
I knew writing it down was a bad idea. Rufus appears to have forgotten how to sleep until 5ish. We've been back up at 3ish instead. I hate 3ish. By then you've just about had enough sleep to survive, but not quite enough to feel like a human being. And while Rufus happily nods back off post feed, I'm wide awake and watching reruns of Frasier.
He's also learnt to bite me during feeds and delights in practicing this new skill at every opportunity. Apparently you're not supposed to react(!) for fear of scaring your baby(!!) - this is easier said that done when you have some very hard gums clamped around your nipple. There have been times when I have wanted to throw him across the room and the odd squeal and some very sharp intakes of breath have escaped me. The purple tube of nipple cream has been recovered from the depths of a draw in a vain attempt to soothe the damage. Happily having the heating on means I can stick it on the radiator to soften it up so that I can actually squeeze it out of the tube.
His first feed of the day is a bit of a struggle too - apparently there is nothing quite so exciting as my bedside lamp - despite the fact that it is sitting there, doing exactly the same thing as it was doing at exactly the same time the day before. That and the radio alarm clock can capture his attention for hours (unless I'd actually like them to so I could get one with something else - in which case he wouldn't be at all interested).
He's also been a bit distracted by my morning toast. (Weird things happen when you have babies - I have never eaten toast - but I had some straight after he was born and have eaten it everyday since. Mr Jones makes it for me every morning - one slice of marmite and one of marmelade, cut into triangle, to be eaten alternately). Anyway - young Rufus has started noticing what I put into my mouth and took advantage of my being momentarily distracted by the news to grab a slice and squidge it between his fingers. He then proceeded to lick the marmelade off of his fingers. The weaning books don't seem to mention marmelade as a first food, but I don't suppose it will kill him - it hasn't done so far anyway.
You will no doubt recall poogate - which was superceded and surpassed in many ways by the nine day poo. Well the days without poo are now long gone. Since we went cold turkey we poo a lot.
Rufus was for a long time quite tricky to feed. He'd guzzle away for five or so minutes and then pull away, screaming and failing his arms about, punching my chest and tensing his whole body. He'd latch back on, do a few more sucks and then start getting cross again. I'd switch him to the other side and he'd go back to guzzling before going through the whole tantrum again. He wouldn't feed for longer than 15 minutes max which included time spent screaming and punching. He wouldn't relax until he had his dummy.
All this has changed since we got rid of the dummies. He now feeds for a good 30 to 45 minutes. He eats calmly and dozily and often nods off. I relish this time, mainly because I get to sit down. He gets that lovely milk drunk look after his feeds that he used to get when his was a tiny baby - it's gorgeous.
Along with all this feeding comes a lot of poo. Before I think he was eating just the bear minimum of food to keep himself going - which was why we were getting poos so sporadically. There just wasn't any wastage. Now his little tummy is full to bursting at every meal and he's got plenty left over after he's done a bit of growing. I have been doing a lot of washing, we've gone through a lot of wipes and the nappy bill has increased - but it must be much healthier for his insides.
I was expecting an enormous weight gain with all this feeding - but when I had him weighed he'd only put on a measley 4oz. He's even dropped from the 50th to the 25th centile for weight. The health visitor said she wasn't not concerned. She kept on saying she wasn't concerned. "I'm not concerned, no I'm not concerned about that, I'm really not concerned..." she told me that she wasn't concerned so many times that I started to wonder who she was trying to convince, me or herself? But I'm going to take him back in two weeks anyway just to see if things have improved at all. He seems happy and healthy enough - and he's certainly eating as much as I can give him - so as long as she isn't concerned......
Auntie Lauren got married in Hawaii. Mr Jones spent two days flying there and two days flying back to give her away. He was only there two days! It was all a bit mad and I of course spent the entire time envisioning scenes from Lost - no - not the ones of Sawyer looking all sweaty and rugged on the beach (well not all the time anyway) - but all the crashing planes, exploding helicopters and sinking boats - I didn't get as far as him being eaten by a polar bear or enveloped by the black smoke - but you get the picture - I was slightly worried about him leaving us to go half way around the world. Luckily he got home safely via LA and huevos rancheros with Mr and Mrs Allsop (thank you again for looking after him for me).
Meanwhile - back at basecamp - Rufus decided that without his dummy he might be able to sleep through the night - well pretty much through anyway. He is now in bed by 7pm with little fuss and then doesn't wake up for a feed until 4.30am at the very earliest and more generally 5-5.30am. Which is "through" enough for me at just 15 weeks old. I am beyond gleeful about this and I'm trying not to get too attached to the whole thing in case it all goes tits up - so to speak. But blimey I'm chuffed. All the hard work on bedtime routines and fighting the urge to cuddle him to sleep has been worth it - hurrah. He even managed to do it away from home at his first sleep over at Granny and Pops.
It has taken me a while to adjust to this new routine. For a while I had a bit of jet lag - I'd been living on planet Rufus with it's weird time zone of 11.30, 1.30, 3.30... wake ups for so long that actually being able to get a six or seven hour stretch of sleep in one go took a bit of getting used to. The exploding bosoms don't help matters much and I haven't quite mastered staying up past 9pm without a serious amount of entertainment to keep my eyes open. Mr Jones has required little adjustment and snores quite happily the whole night through - bless (grr!)
As I have said before I was a fully paid up member of the "my child is not having a dummy" club. In fact I could probably have been its president, secretary and cleaner. But it didn't take me long before I excommunicated myself just to get some peace and a couple of hours sleep.
Although it pained me to see Rufus with a dummy in his mouth it did make life easier and a whole lot quieter. That was until we hit 14 weeks, when the little mister decided that it was not at all possible for him to sleep without the dummy in his mouth. For three nights Mr Jones and I were woken up every hour and a half to put the dummy back in. The first night we decided it was just a bit of post holiday unsettledness (I think I may have made that word up), on night two we thought he'd sort himself out and by night three we decide he was just taking the proverbial.
At 5.30am I lay in bed with Rufus screaming next to me - we'd been up every hour and a half through the night and everyone - including him - was knackered. He spat the dummy out again. I snatched it up and hurled it across our bedroom floor.
"Put the rest of them in the wheelie bin," I snapped at Mr Jones. "I've had enough - we're going cold turkey"
In the darkness I could see Mr Jones looking at me (well actually I couldn't because it was dark - but I could imagine the look on his face). "Are you sure?"
We'd discussed getting rid of the dummy before and chickened out because the thought was too terrifying. He needed it to stay calm, he needed it in the car, when he went to sleep, when he was in his pram, when he wanted to sleep in the sling.... it just seemed like too big a task.
"Yes I'm sure -that's it - it's more of a problem than it's worth. I'll deal with him."
I'd read about dummy dependence on a few forums the day before. I love a good forum - I'm a forum voyeur - I don't post - I just spy seedily on the sidelines, reading what everyone else has written. The vernacular confuses me (what is a DD?) and some of the advice makes me cringe in horror - but it's often good to know what other people are thinking/doing/going through.
One crazy woman spent three months getting up every hour and a half to replace her daughter's dummy and gleefully reported that by six months old the little girl could find it herself! I wasn't up for that. A lot of people had gone cold turkey in a fit of frustation and found that after a few days it was as if the dummy had never exisisted. No one had problems longer than a week - so we decided to go for it.
By 6.30am I'd managed to get him to sleep on the sofa with me sans dummy. There was a lot of screaming and much cuddling. I sternly talked to myself - "There is no going back on this now - if you give him a dummy after making him cry himself to sleep once then you've put him through that distress for absolutely nothing and you've got yourself back to square one. No, this is it, you're doing it and you'll just have to steal yourself to his crying."
At 7.30am I was frozen so I carried him upstairs and laid him in our bed - he didn't stir once and slept until 8.30am.
His first nap took some effort but within 20 minutes he was asleep. The same at his lunchtime nap. And in the afternoon he fell asleep in the sling on our walk with no fuss at all.
That night it took an hour for him to settle. We've tried really hard to always put him down awake in the hopes of teaching him to settle himself to sleep and I decided not to undo all of our hard work by cuddling him to sleep. I figured (rightly or wrongly - you be the judge of my evilness) that if he was going to cry about not having a dummy he might as well cry about being put down awake too - to save us all the stress of having to do it again later on.
I made up a bedtime song and sung and hummed it to him for an hour with my hand on his tummy until he finally went to sleep. At 11.30pm I did the same. At 1.30pm I fed him and he settled within 20 minutes and slept until 5.30am. Part of me wonders if the screaming was more about drowning out my tuneless singing than anything else - but it gave me something to focus on to pass the time.
Letting him cry wasn't easy - but it was actually really interesting. He makes so many different sounds - it's like a conversation. The hard distressed cry never lasts for long - a minute at the most. Then he starts making a rah, rah, rah, rah, shouting noise that sounds like he's telling you off. Then you get a few wahaaa whaaas, some hahahahahahas (not in a laughing way), then some whoooos, eeerrrrs, gheeeeeees, arghws, owwws and finally a big yawn and sleep.
The next morning he settled himself for his morning nap with just a bit of shouting. And he was a treasure all day. He was more alert, he was grabbing at toys and making an attempt to hold things. He seemed less stressed when he was feeding and he just seemed generally happier.
As the week went on he got better and better. He chatted more, slept better and ate well. And I turned into a bit of a smug mum. I was/am so chuffed that he no longer had a dummy and how well he's done without it. It might have been a coincidence and at 14 weeks he would suddenly have become more alert and relaxed anyway, but I truly think the dummy was holding him back and making him just sit there passively monging out and ignoring the world.
He is truly a little star. I'd say cold turkey is worth it - it was nowhere near the nightmare I'd imagined. And is certainly beats three months of no sleep.
Have you ever been to Blakeney? Rufus has. It's rather marvellous - when you arrive you immediately want to buy a house there because you feel so relaxed - then you look on Rightmove and see that the minute cottage next to the one you're renting costs THREE HUNDRED THOUSAND POUNDS - despite the fact that it basically consists of one main room, a loft bedroom and somewhere tucked away a very small bathroom. We discuss buying a lottery ticket but never get round to it.
Going on holiday with a small person takes military planning. I had five sheets of paper laid out on the kitchen worktop each containing a detailed list of things we'd need for him, us and to eat for a week away. As I packed I piled bags in the hall. Mr Jones began to bewail the fact that we decided against buying a volvo estate in favour of paying off the rest of the wedding bill (Oh how much smaller my wedding and that bill would be if I could have forseen a baby nine months after we said "I do"). There may have been some swearing as he packed the Prius.
As we headed for Norfolk Mr Jones asked:
"So what's the plan. A lie in, breakfast by the pool before retreating to a sun lounger with a good book to snooze away the hours until lunch. Then a lazy couple of courses followed by a bit more sun, an afternoon nap and a leisurely shower before heading to the bar for a pina colada and then out for a slap up meal and a few more drinks?"
"In your dreams my love," says I. "We'll be up at 7am at the very latest - most likely following a broken night sleep. I will continue to do my best impressions of a dairy cow and a performing monkey. We will walk miles and miles each day, sing silly songs, make ridiculous noises and generally live out my day to day life. The bonus being that you'll be here everyday to share the load - hurrah!"
There are no holidays when you have a baby - you just move your daily life to another house. That said - we had a marvellous time - despite the lack of 30 degree heat and sun loungers. We walked and played, cuddled and kissed, ate brownies and peanut butter blondies (I'll find a recipe and post it one day - yum), paddled in the sea, sung and laughed and Mr Jones and Rufus had some amazing bonding time and I got to read a book - whoopee.
We even got brave and hired a babysitter so that we could have a night out. This was done with no small amount of trepidation on my part. Luckily the babysitter was a trained nursery nurse so I felt confident that she probably wouldn't kill him. However the night before I had a dream that she kidnapped him. I spent a few hours mulling this over before confessing to Mr Jones.
"Don't be ridiculous - we're hiring her through the company we hired the cottage from, there are posters up all over Blakeney advertising her baby sitting services - she's very unlikely to steal him."
"But he's so lovely," I argue. "Who wouldn't want to steal him?"
"This is such a small place that even if she did steal him she'd be pretty easy to track down - people know who she is."
"A-ha - so you will admit that it's a possibility that she might steal him?"
"Er no - again you're being ridiculous."
"Well can I tell her about my dream just so she knows I'm on to her if she tries anything?"
"If you do I will disown you - he'll be fine"
Matter closed. When the babysitter arrives she's in her early 20s and when I start babbling about dummies and the fact I've not left him and the fact that he's unlikely to wake up but if he does..... she looks and me with a bewildered expression and says: "If it makes you feel better [you headcase] I used to work in a nursery - in the baby baby section - so I'm used to anything he might throw at me..."
I resist the urge to tell her that my baby is different - that he is special - that I know what it is to be a carefree childless babysitter who rifles through your kitchen cupboards and wakes up your baby for a cuddle with no regard for the fact that you've spent the last 13 weeks of his life trying to get him to sleep for any decent length of time. I don't tell her that I'm on to her - that I know she'll sit there calulating the cash that will cross her sweaty young palm when we finally stagger home three hours later full of scallops, steak, Eton mess and wine and I don't tell her that she can have absolutely no idea of the sheer weight of responsibility that is hanging on her young shoulders.
I don't tell her because I realise that it's better not to know. No one told me that at the age of 14 I was left in sole charge of many a baby who meant five-pounds-an-hour to me and the world to its parents. I couldn't appreciate at the time that those parents were placing monumental amounts of trust in me to keep their child safe while they had a much deserved night out. So while I sat on the sofa watching Eastenders and eating their crisps - I didn't for one minute think about the magnitude of what I was doing or consider the fact that when they came home to find me napping on the sofa they probably felt just a tiny bit terrified! So I repaid the favour - and I had a wonderful night out - but my God was I pleased to get home and find that everyone was still alive and that Rufus was very safe in his cot.
I was less enamoured by the fact that having gone to bed at 10.30pm I was woken up at 11.30pm by a grumpy baby who spent the next hour resisting sleep as I hung with a pounding head and a gurgling stomach over the very high sides of his travel cot trying to coerce him into a slumber. Ouch!
It was a lovely holiday. We felt like a proper little family and Rufus and I have definitely missed daddy now that he's back at work.
You're a falling star, you're a getaway car You're the line in the sand when I go to far You're a swimming pool on an August day, you're the perfect thing to say....
We like a bit of Michael Buble in this house - the man has magical powers over small babies who are in grumpy moods. Everything is our song. We dance around the kitchen to it. Something slightly terrifying has happened to me since giving birth - I've suddenly started dancing like a mum(!) - to be more specific - like my mum. A sort of side to side bum wiggle with a flick of the hips at each side and a flex of the knees inbetween. Hmmmm. My dad always warned me that I'd turn into her - I guess it's happening. I don't really mind - she's lovely and there are definitely worse people to turn into. I'd hate to be Catherine Zeta Jones - I can't stand that woman - but that's besides the point.
So we've hit the hallowed 12 weeks and we've survived. We had the injections and Rufus slept until 4.30am. I, of couse, was awake at 1am, with exploding bosoms and my ear pressed to the monitor convinced that he had contracted meningitis from the jab and was most obviously dead. At 3am I allowed myself in to his room to check on him. He was alive and sleeping nicely - phew. The long sleep was short lived however and we were back to an 11.30 jibber and a 1.30 wake up for a feed again the next night - rats.
The last 12 weeks have surprised me in lots of ways. I'm surprised at how much I can love someone I've only just met, how every little thing he does amazes me (and bores everyone else I'm sure). I'm amazed that I can function on just three hours sleep and at how much my life has changed. I do miss an afternoon nap on the sofa on a rainy day though.
What I really love is how Rufus seems to make other people happy. Now that he faces outwards in his sling he gets a lot of attention when we go out. Old women stop us and tell me he's gorgeous (I know) and try to grab his hands and stroke his cheek (not appreciated by either of us). Stamford school girls squeal with delight and say "ahhh what a cute baby - I want one" and then scamper off talking about when they get married and have kids. The women in the bank and the post office love him - and he flirts with them. But the times I love most are when we cross the path of a grumpy looking business man - they look at his face and smile, then laugh to themselves and give me a knowing look. Some of them apologise for staring and then say wistfully - "I remember that time....they just get more naughty you know." Then they wander off with a smile - hopefully thinking of happier times and cheered up for the rest of the day - just because they happened to bump into my jolly little man.
PS - you may have noticed that the quality of the photography is vastly improved - these were taken but the lovely Ruth Jenkinson - an absolute star, marvellous friend and very talented lady.
Aunty Rachel likes riding bikes. She and Pops ride their bikes all over the place, doing crazy long distances at stupid o'clock in the morning. They just bought new racing road bikes. Last weekend Aunty Rachel rode hers into the back of a parked car and went straight through its back windscreen. Very luckily she was wearing a helmet and cycling goggles. According to those in the know this type of accident happens a lot. Poor Aunty Rach is a bit battered and bruised - she has stitches in her chin and right eyebrow, a graze on her nose, cuts on her forehead, a bruised arm and one hell of a headache. She is not a happy Aunty. So on Tuesday Rufus and I went to cheer her up.
He announced his arrival by presenting her with a poo that had been another six days in the making(!) - she thought it was hilarious. Then we went for a walk. I love this time of year - cool and crisp and sunny, hedgerows and trees full of things to pick. If you're clever you never go anywhere without a bag. With Master Jones hitched up in his sling we found ourselves in a thicket of trees, we wound through the tiny paths trying to stop his legs from being stung by stingers or snagged by brambles - difficult when he won't stop waving them around with excitement - he does love a good tree.
Then lo and behold the path opened out into a grassy little orchard. The trees were literally dripping with apples and plums. Over ripe fruits littered the ground giving off that lovely heady boozy smell a mixture of damp grass and fruit sugars fermenting. We assessed the situation - the grass is very over grown, there's an abandoned tractor in the corner, there's an enormous amount of fruit going to waste. It's clearly not public countryside - but at the same time it doesn't appear to be a money making orchard. Surely the crime is not in filling a Tesco bag with Damsons and a rucksac with apples? No the true crime is allowing all that glorious fruit go to waste.
Despite this judgement we get to picking tentatively, talking in whispers and fearing discovery. I pick with one hand, all the while trying to keep a very excited 11 week old baby quiet. I will him not to grizzle and draw attention to us. I have visions of trying to run from a farmer wielding a shot gun and a grumpy old sheepdog without falling over and crushing Rufus in the process. Luckily he decides that now would be a good time for a nap. Or perhaps he realises that some sort of minor crime is being committed and that if he's asleep he can plead innocence in the dock and get off as a mere accessory.
We stagger home under the weight of the "borrowed" fruit and decide that if we're caught we'll offer to make them a pie or a jar of jam. I used my spoils to make a damson crumble the next day. I proudly serve it to Mr Jones and then watch as he winces at the first spoonful. I taste mine - I didn't put enough sugar in the fruit - it's the kind of sharp that makes your jaw ache and your bum clench. I battle on through with the help of custard and a bit more sugar - Mr Jones eats the oaty crumbly topping and leaves the fruit. Rubbish.
In other news this week - Rufus has done a bit more rolling, has improved his sleep pattern to feeding at 1pm ish and then again at about 5.30/6am - hurrah (if only he didn't keep rousing himself at 11.30pm and 4am too - but beggars can't be choosers - we're getting there). Oh and we went to Baby Beans - which involves a lot of very twee singing and dancing that is soooooo not me. Rufus kept looking at me with one eyebrow raised as I sung silly songs to him and made him dance - "Mummy - what on earth are you doing?". Then he was sick and halfway through - despite the noise of rattles, 11 other babies, their singing mums and a very smiley instructor chirping away - he fell into a deep sleep - as if to say - "hmmmm not sure this is really for me." Bless him - we'll try again next week.
Technical glitch resolved - however the little man is now a fan of waving his arms about so getting good pics is very tricky!
When you have a baby you suddenly become obsessed with poos (well to be honest I've always been a bit obsessed with poos - I love a good chat about bowel habits - so if you think toilet humour is quite foul and get a bit squeamish around all things gut orientated it's perhaps best if you move along now to another blog - perhaps one that talks about food or other frivolities - this post will be all about poo).
Babies poo a lot - at least in the beginning - after practically every feed they present you with a full nappy. It becomes a bit tiresome after a while, although I still delight in the noise of it all, it makes me giggle. However during the earlier part of this week Master Jones seemed to have had enough of pooing. He's gone one or two or occassionally three days without one in the past but this week we got to four and then five.
It became the topic of every conversation. There were texts and emails being fired across the country enquiring after the elusive poo. The styles varied from the inquisitive - "Any poo yet?", the slightly coy (probably from someone who isn't really into toilet humour but feels they must be polite and enquire) "has he been?, to the slightly rude "Hey, is your baby still full of S*&t?" and on day six - simply - "poo?"
Yes day six! On day five I called the health visitor. "Erm it's about Rufus - you see he hasn't done a poo for five days now, he's a bit grumpy, should I be doing something."
"Right dear," says she in a slightly -'oh another neurotic first time mum' tone of voice. "Are you breast feeding? They can go up to two weeks without doing one."
"Two weeks!!!! He'll explode."
"Just feed him for England, massage his tummy when he's calm, give him warm baths to help him relax and keep him upright in a sling close to you. If he still hasn't gone after seven days take him to the doctors."
So I duly started feeding him every two hours. I tried massaging his tummy, he was not amused. He grizzled through his baths and was generally a very grumpy little man. So focused had I become on the poo that I even found myself talking to his tummy post feed asking Mr Poo to come on out and see us! Nothing seemed to work. I was beginning to wonder where exactly on earth six days worth of poo was residing in such a small being when it happened.....
I gave up feeding for England and went back to our three hourly routine. He obviously felt like he was being starved and settled in for a marathon mid-morning snack. Then I got that unmistakable waft of dirty nappy. My sister says they smell like ham, but to me they smell like a microwave two days after you've made yourself some of that delicious buttery popcorn. A kind of rancid, sweet, buttery stench that lingers.
Master Jones is the king of the stealth poo - they creep up on you unannounced and assault your nostrils. This one could offend my nose all it liked - I've never been so happy about a poo in my life. I danced a little jig of glee up the stairs.
I opened the nappy and couldn't help but feel disappointed - such as small amount of poo for such a long time. My dismay didn't last for long. All of a sudden there was poo oozing out everywhere. I tried to contain it in the nappy but it couldn't take it, this was the poo to top all poos.
The clean up operation was immense and involved half a pack of wet wipes, a quarter of a box of tissues, a towel and a bin liner. It was really a two man job. My hands were covered, Rufus seemed determined to dunk his feet in the carnage and threatened to leave poo prints on my top. But by some miracle I managed to keep both of our outfits clean - his because it was up around his neck - and mine because I was doing all of this with my body on the opposite side of the room to my arms!
Clean nappy on, I got him dressed again and popped him under his mobile to recover with a good kick. I dealt with the fall out, washed my hands and went to sit down to watch him giggle at Malcolm - the pink monkey with the black and white striped legs. But there it was again - that popcorn smell. I unpoppered his trouser leg and peeked into his nappy - more poo. This time the whole thing was full to bursting and I'd only just caught it in time. It kept on coming - I gave up with the wipes and fully sacrificed the towel that had taken a hit in the last onslaught. I waited a full five minutes, holding his feet in the air to see if there was anymore to come before I finally got him clean.
There was a time in my life when I really wouldn't have found it acceptable to be covered in someone elses poo. But not anymore. My jolly little baby was back and I'd spend everyday covered in poo for his smiles. I wonder how long it'll be before we get the next one?
PS - technical hitch still in full swing - pics to come soon.
Master Jones has lifted his head and chest off of the floor for the very first time this week. He's getting rather good at it and does it (rather alarmingly) at the same time as making crawling gestures with his legs - hmmmm. He's also rolled over a few times - more by accident than design we think - he cries with shock each time he does it. So that would be the steps forwards.
To counterbalance all that cleverness he appears to have forgotten how to go to bed nicely and how to settle back to sleep after his first feed. This could be down to the fact that he's moved into his big boy cot - but really he's been playing in it and sleeping in his moses basket in it for weeks so the fuss really isn't necessary! We're hoping it's just a temporary glitch.
Earlier in the week he decided he just didn't like eating either - a screaming paddy ensued every time I suggested he might like to feed for more than five minutes. Perhaps he just wasn't hungry, he didn't seem particularly bothered by it all. I on the other hand felt most unloved and quite put out that my carefully manufactured meals were being shunned. The poor boobies decided that they'd just have to empty themselves he wasn't going to do it - which just added to my misery and embarrassment. Grr Babies.
Despite the hunger strike he weighed in at 12lb 5oz on Friday and the health visitor confirmed my fear that the weird eating pattern might have something to do with what looks suspiciously like a tooth under his gum!
On the upside Mr Jones has had some time off and we've had some much needed family time. He and the little grizzler have had lots of cuddles and I got to do aerobics and have my eyebrows waxed - hurrah. I didn't realise how much I missed time to myself and a good workout. I now feel like a human being and no longer look like a freckly albino (alright I know that albinos can't be freckly - but seriously my eyebrows had faded to whiter than white and had grown so much that they were trying to move in with my eyelashes - it was not pretty!)
We have a technical glitch this end in the computer has died so I will upload some pictures once it's all fixed - which I'm hoping won't be long.
....I married Mr Jones - hurrah. And what a year it's been. I can't believe we're a family already. I never imagined a year ago today that we'd have a baby by our first anniversary. The wedding seems ages ago, but at the same time just a few moments in the past. It almost seems like a dream now (especially when it comes to fitting in that dress again!).
We certainly tested our vows. Poor Mr Jones spent the first four months of his married life looking after me, the cats and the house. Cooking me whatever weird concoction of food I thought I might fancy and then watching, patiently, while I threw it all back up again. The thought of baked beans, fish fingers and smash now makes my toes curl. But we got through it.
Then there was pregnancy insomnia, my sudden hatred of being pregnant which meant he found me inconsolably sobbing on more than one occasion. And of course the hideous labour - throughout which he held my hand and whispered words of encouragement in my ear. The relief on his face and through his tears at the end of it all spoke volumes.
And now of course we have sleepness nights and Mr Jones is struggling a bit to get to grips with fatherhood. But we're getting through it all together and despite the grumpy words at 3am and the scowls through another screaming fit (the baby - not us) we still love each other - and plan to for many years to come.
He's getting big - he now weighs 11lb 14 and a half ounces. Though I'd swear he was more like two stone! It's a tricky time - he's got past the newborn "I just want to sleep all day" phase, but hasn't quite reached the "I'm happy to be put down and play on my playmat" stage as yet. So he spends the majority of the day awake and demanding to be carried about so that he can be generally nosey, which is a tad tiring. It also makes getting anything done hard (see Mrs Jones trying to mop the bathroom floor with a baby on one arm or hang out washing one handed)
He had his first lot of injections this week. Bless him - he was doing his best flirting with the doctor as she did his check up and then she repaid him by stabbing him in both thighs with giant needles. He was not a happy boy and spent the next few minutes doing his purple faced screaming cry. Suffice to say that she won't be getting his lovely smiles in the future.
We had some glorious nights of sleep - he was tucked up in bed by 7.30/8pm and managed to make it all the way through until 2am one night. He'd eaten and was back asleep by 3am and then snuggled up with me in bad at 5am (without eating) and slept until 7.15. However this was all ruined by two nights of leaky pampers - rah - which had us back to waking up at 11.30pm and then again at 3.30am for food - rubbish. We're hoping he gets back to the long sleeps again soon.
This week was tough. Mr Jones was in Scotland and Master Jones had awful wind - of the trapped variety. We have now changed the Boomtown Rats Song to Tell me why do I hate Wednesdays?. Rufus it seems isn't a fan of Wednesdays - if he's not grumpy during the day then he will be come bedtime.
This Wednesday he was so hacked off that he decided it wasn't even worth sleeping past 11.45pm! I spent the whole night carrying him around trying to get him to go back to sleep and stop grizzling. People keep asking me how I've lost my baby weight so fast - well people if you have an 11lb baby to carry around permanently you'd lose weight fast too - jiggling burns lots of calories. My mummy was my saviour. Sometimes only a mummy will do. She took the little monster off my hands at 5am to let me get some precious sleep. She discovered that this sleeping position is good for Rufus' with wind. Rufus loves his Granny - she likes to play - lots. Thank you mummy for being such a star.
This week he seems to have discovered his tongue and delights in poking it out at every opportunity and giving things a good lick.
Someone cuddle me. Let me lick your ears and chew your hair. Let me wind round your legs and try to trip you down the stairs. Let me curl up on your tummy while you snooze on the sofa and let me jump in bed with you and burrow under the duvet every morning.
I used to do all this with Mummy. But I've been replaced by a monster that cries a lot and has stolen all my cuddles.
I try to help when he's being washed and changed by climbing up Mummy's jeans. When he's being fed I lick his feet and try to lick his head - he tastes funny. I've tried to lick his hands too but Mummy seems to get a bit cross about that.
I've let him stroke me (though I'm sure he didn't do it on purpose) and it made him smile. I think one day we might be friends - but right now I just want my Mummy back - her fleeting cuddles aren't enough.
Another busy week. Mr Jones turned 30. Rufus graduated into size two nappies and out of his newborn clothes.
We've learnt a lot. Mr Jones learnt that hangovers and babies do not, under any circumstances, mix. I've learnt that I don't like anyone else to look after Rufus and that I can't bear to be separated from him for any extended length of time.
Call me clingy. call me possessive but I just don't like handing him over. Maybe it's because I spent nine horrible months making him and vomiting all the while - or maybe it's just normal? But everytime I hand him to someone else I worry that they're going to damage him - and if they do I'd never forgive them, so in my mind it's just simpler to keep him all to myself. (Hear the Daily Mail readers tutting and the feminists of the world bewailing the introduction of another pampered Mummy's boy!)
I've also learnt that being a mother brings with it a hefty dose of guilt. I constantly feel guilty. Guilty that I can't comfort him when he cries sometimes. Guilty that I haven't quite got enough to milk to satisfy his hunger somedays. Guilty that I don't want to let anyone else have him. Guilty that I catch him with a nail. Guilty that I've given him a dummy. Guilty that he has to go in his car seat. Guilty that the poor cats are supremely neglected (bless them). Guilty that all I want to eat is sweet stuff and carbs and not fruit and veg (although frankly I blame him for that because it's clearly down to lack of sleep and a need for instant energy to get me through the day) and guilty that I might not be doing everything right.
Rufus has learnt that his legs are attached to his body and that he can kick them, he's learnt to giggle a bit and to suck his fingers (bring on the thumb sucking so I can get rid of the dummy and won't have to keep getting up to put it back in when he's trying to settle himself to sleep). He's also worked out how to have the most disturbing tantrums and turn his face purple for what seems like absolutely no reason - they're always when he's got a clean nappy, a full tummy and has been burped and cuddled. Most odd - hopefully he'll get over it soon.
He's also still gorgeous and we took so many pictures of him I couldn't choose just four. He's growing up fast and is starting to look like a proper little boy.
This week we managed to catch his smile - yes he is smiling even if he looks like he's about to cry. He still hasn't quite worked out how to do smiles and giggles without them turning into a bit of a grizzle. Smiling is hard work when you're five weeks old.
We went back to the hospital and thankfully the jaundice isn't sinister and should clear up of its own accord - hurrah - no liver transplants here thank you very much scary health visitor.
We're also trying cranial osteopathy. I like a good airy fairy therapy and lots of people rave about it and say it helps to calm babies down. Master Jones screamed through the first session and did an enormous poo. He grizzled and wouldn't settle all that night but the following night he slept from 7.30pm-Midnight - which was unheard of and gave us some much needed rest. He was also a complete treasure at baby massage too and let me get through most of the routine. In previous weeks he's either slept through the whole class or screamed the first time I touched him.
Mr Jones and others think it's all a prodigious waste of money but I'm willing to give it a go for a few weeks. I just like to feel like I'm doing something to help him feel less tense and stressed - and I think it's working. Plus I'm his mum and I'll do what I like!
The little porker now weighs 11lbs 5oz (after the hospital appointment we thought he weighed a whopping 11lb 7oz - but it seems the midwife wasn't very adept at converting kg to lbs). I am developing a rather large left bicep and I'm now conciously trying to carry him on the other side for fear of ending up with Nadal-esque wonky arms.
...Sammy. We've taken to calling Rufus Sammy - just because at times he bears a startling resemblance to the Samiad from Five Children and It. If you weren't born in the early 80s this will mean nothing to you.
So at the time of writing he's actually five weeks old - but I just haven't had a spare five minutes in the past week. It's been a tough one. There has been a lot of crying! Mr Jones went away and despite the very welcome and generous help of my sister it was hard work without his support - especially at night. The grunting and groaning continues and I've just decided that it's easier to let the little monkey sleep with me for that portion of the night than to make us all suffer. I'm still trying to settle him in his own bed just in the vain hope that one day he might stay there, like he does for all his other sleeps - fingers crossed.
By Wednesday I was a bit of an emotional wreck. The health visitor came. Master Jones now weighs in at 10lb 12oz - porker! When she asked how I was I fought back the tears and failed. She said lots of reassuring things and then asked - "have you ever had depression?" Blimey - I didn't think I was that bad - it was just a "moment".
Then she proceeded to put the wind well and truly up me by saying that I needed to take Rufus to the hospital for a jaundice test because he still looks a bit yellowy. (I bit my tongue and stopped myself from saying that I had pointed that out on the last visit and she'd told me he was fine!). Then she proceeded to tell me that if he was still jaundiced after he was six weeks old he'd have to have a liver transplant. Not news you want to hear when you've had two hours sleep and have a baby who has what appears to be chronic wind and keeps spitting gripe water at you.
So on Friday Mr Jones and I took Rufus to Peterborough Hospital (oh so grim). We were handed a bottle and told to "collect some urine"
"er - how?"
"You just have to hold the bottle on his willy and wait until he pees"
"Riiiight! How long is that going to take?"
"It depends - some people are here for four hours"(!)
So in the waiting room we sit. Poor Rufus is naked from the waist down on a changing mat - his nethers on display to anyone who wants to look - while Mr Jones holds the bottle on his willy and we both make water noises, blow on him and generally will him to pee.
After 30 minutes I decide that perhaps I need to put something in to get something out. But of course we need to keep the bottle on his willy to ensure we don't miss any wee that might appear. This means that I can't pick him up and feed him as usual. So I end up leaning over him while he lies on the mat - in the waiting room(!) - and dangle my boob into his mouth so that he can eat. Not the most comfortable of feeding positions nor the most glamorous. (I add this one to the list of "things I never thought I'd do" along with going to the loo in the middle of the night while hoiding my baby, and singing nursery rhymes in the street). Thankfully no one comes into the waiting room to witness this spectacle.
In the end the nurses decide to scare the pee out of him by doing his blood tests. They viciously extract blood from his little hands and he screams until his face is a horrid shade of puce. I try hard not to get angry with them for faffing about (why is there always a "I haven't done many of these before" person around when you just want the most skilled professional to get the job done without causing your baby undue trauma??!!). The fear brings forth the wee and we are free to go - until next Wednesday when we go back for the results. Fingers crossed all will be well and he won't need treatment.
In happier news he's started to smile at us properly - and he looks gorgeous - but unfortunately he doesn't smile at the camera. And today he is wearing his first little boy outift and he looks very cute - I'm sure you'll agree. And finally Boots Gripe Mixture appears to be a winner - he takes it off the spoon with out spitting it at me or choking and it has produced some very impressive burps - hurrah.
Getting a wee bit tired now. On the whole Rufus is pretty good - he has his days - like yesterday when we miss the window for a nap and he gets very overtired and then won't settle despite all our efforts - but that's our fault and we have to pay the price.
But we are a bit perplexed by his nighttime shenanigans. He wakes up every two-three hours (depending on the day or night should I say) to feed - nothing too unusual there given his age. However after the 1.30/2am feed he settles back to sleep fine and then all of a sudden it starts. He roars and grunts and groans and chunters so I end up getting in and out of bed to check him. The thing is he seems to be asleep. He won't have his dummy and if I get him up to feed him he'll take a few minutes and then drop off again. It's very odd - and not at all conducive to sleep.
I resorted to bringing him into bed with me - something I really didn't want to do - but it seems to work. Snuggled up next to me he doesn't seem to feel the need to grunt. The thing is that I find it hard to sleep because I'm worried about squashing him or waking him up if I move too much.
I have googled in vain - nothing official seems to explain it. There are lots of mums on chat rooms complaining that their baby is rather adept at pig impressions too - but no one seems to have an answer for it. Maybe he'll grow out of it, maybe it's because he's a bit chilly in his own bed (he's in a grobag and a sleep suit as per the instructions - but maybe he's a baby that need to be warmer?), maybe I'll learn to sleep through it (I doubt it - it's REALLT loud). SO does anyone have any advice - any tricks to make him sleep peacefully - as he does during the day when he doesn't make a sound, or any suggestions for helping me sleep through it? Help!
He's three weeks old and I think he's starting to recognise me. There are times when he looks at me with what amounts to pure disgust - usually when he's just woken up. And there are times when he looks like he actually might love me - or at least like me a little bit.
If you're ever planning on being a parent I would suggest never reading We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. Mr Jones keeps reminding me that it is just a novel - but it sticks in the back of my mind and niggles at me time and again.
Everytime he gives me one of his nasty looks I wonder if he's going to turn into a Kevin and end up trying to kill Mr Jones and any future siblings he might have just to spite me - then I remember that it's just a book - and then he smiles and even if it is just because he's got wind, I think - "no you aren't evil - even if you do keep waking me in the middle of the night and insist on starting the day at 5am"
I will admit that the tiredness is kicking in. The initial post birth adrenalin has gone and the lack of sleep is taking it's toll. There have been fractious exchanges between me and Mr Jones - but we're still talking and with a bit of planning and organisation - and the realisation that sacrifices have to be made - we're getting on better.
We're learning how he works and how to make him feel better. He loves cuddles, but he also likes time on his own. Somedays he loves his bath, other days he hates it. He's a typical male and can't multi-task - breast feeding anywhere with any distractions really doesn't work.
Perhaps the best milestone achieved this week is that Rufus has his first piece of Boden! A pair of blue ticking dungerees - which won't fit him for ages - but I love them and everyone needs a bit of Johnny in their wardrobe. Plus when they arrived there just happened to be two mummy sized tops in the bag too - ooops!
There is an interloper in my house. It smells funny, makes odd noises and seems to be demanding all of the attention of my formerly doting parents.
I tried demonstrating my displeasure by disappearing for four days (well I snuck in at night to eat - I'm not about to go without food - or heaven forbid try to catch my own dinner)- but when I finally came home the creature was still in residence.
I suppose it's going to be one of those things that I just have to get used to - like the fluffy thing that appeared three years ago - I moved out for a good month that time, but alas she's still here and I will admit she's grown on me.
In an attempt to garner some attention I've taken to trying to sleep in what is known as "the cot" which is in what was my old bedroom and is now referred to as "the nursery". It seems to belong to the interloper - although appears not to be in use currently. It's been in there for months - but I've only just noticed how comfortable it is. Anyway - everytime I get myself settled mummy comes in and turfs me out. She hasn't shouted yet - I think she's worried about upsetting my equilibrium - you see I'm a sensitive soul.
We're two weeks in, he's still alive, and we still love each other - so I'd say it's going quite well! We're a mite tired - and the 4-5hour stretches at night seem to be a thing of the past, but he's still gorgeous. He's put on nearly a pound in a week and now has a little double chin. Bless.
We've given in to the lure of the dummy. I was always of the "my child isn't having a dummy camp" - but after several nights with an agitated baby who can only be calmed by sucking on your little finger, we gave in for his sake as much as our sanity. I'm sure my mother (and countless other people) disapproves - but we're doing what works for us and lovely Rufus.
Mrs Jones is a far from yummy mummy with a penchant for M&S fudge bars and a mojito on a Friday night. She became Mrs Jones in 2009 and a mummy in 2010. In 2011 she is attempting to remember her own name and not put washing powder in the dishwasher....