Tuesday, 26 October 2010

17 weeks old - hello 3am (again)

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.

Despite all of this he is still very gorgeous.

Monday, 18 October 2010

16 weeks old - or Poo, poo and oh yes - a bit more poo

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......

15 weeks old - Rufus sleeps through the night (almost)

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!)

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

14 weeks old - Rufus goes cold turkey

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.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

13 weeks old - or Rufus goes on holiday

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.

Monday, 4 October 2010

12 weeks old - or you're my everything.......

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.
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