Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Grace - 2 months old

You know what the secret to being a good parent is? Having bloody good friends. James was away last weekend, entertaining work clients (that is how he sold it to me anyway - he actually went to Paris to see the Rugby) so Grace and I were on our own, except we weren't. Grace's marvellous god-parents made me the most wonderful dinner, put Grace in the bath with their daughter Matilda (SO sweet to see the two of them together, Matilda washed Grace with her little yellow watering can), and let me talk all the way through the film they had rented whilst eating popcorn and peanut M&M's. They even picked me up and dropped me off home. It's friends like these than keep me sane and smiling. It's amazing how much little things, like being made dinner, or even a cup of tea can reduce me to tears of gratitude.

So, while James was in Paris..I decided to break our rule of never letting Grace in the bed. I figured he would never find out anyway...BIG mistake. While it was wonderful to watch Grace fall asleep in my arms, full of milk, smelling like heaven and smiling sweetly, we both got in big trouble the next night when James returned and wanted his side of the bed back. Grace did not want to be in her cot, she wanted to be in her new favourite place, and let us know by howling when we laid her down to go to sleep. James said "Grace did not sleep in the bed last night by any chance did she?" - honestly, he can be a right know-all at times.
When Grace finally does go down for the night, she sleeps for about 7 hours which is just amazing, but she can be a bit of a monster in the couple of hours leading up to bedtime. We have learnt a couple of tricks however;
1: She stops crying if James does impressions of her crying?!
2: She stops crying if you poke her nose and blow a raspberry (NB: You have to do this repeatedly, quite fast, the second you stop she pipes up again - so it's best not to do it when you are tired or it's dark as you may poke her in the eye)
3: She stops crying if I feed her - always. The problem with this is how long can you sit with someone tugging away on your nipple before you go insane?

I have started to get a tiny bit of my old life back. I now go swimming twice a week while James drives Grace round and round in the car to keep her asleep. It sort of works, I have to feed her to the hilt just before I want to go - and I can't think about her while I am in the pool, or everyone swims in my diluted breast-milk (Which is supposed to be quite good for you actually), but it's my stolen half an hour and I love it. The first time I did it I went a bit mad, trying to cram as many lengths in as possible, and then when I mounted the steps to get out the pool I realised I had two dead legs and had to sort of hang off the ladder for a minute - like a pratt.

I have still been doing my power walking round the park, I have taken to doing it in sports gear, hoping people realise it's a form of exercise. I was furious to learn I had only lost 1lb last week, after two high energy swimming sessions (if you can call that breast stroke that girls who don't like to get their hair or face wet do high energy) and all the walking. Damn peanut M&M's. The hardest thing is James bought me back loads of Toblerones from Paris (During the last month of my pregnancy I was so miserable and fat the only thing that cheered me up was to wallow in the bath eating bars of Toblerone, James must have thought he had a pet hippo) - and I can't eat them as I am supposed to be on my diet, but they call to me from the dresser. They say "Eat me, I taste much nicer than the muesli rivita you are breaking your teeth on", and they say it in that seductive voice the woman uses on the M&S adverts, "This is not just any Toblerone.." I think I am going to have to give them away and ask James for a corset instead.

Anyway, I've upped the exercise again. I made a new play list for my ipod, full of angry teenage music, and started walking down to the open market at the bottom of my road, where I buy lots of very heavy veg and then power back up the hill with it all. I was soon in abundance of potatoes and so decided to make my hardworking boyfriend a lovely cottage pie for his tea... Needless to say because it did not involve playing with Grace, she started to whinge. I swear she can read my mind. She knows when I just want half an hour to myself, and decides all she wants is to feed and cry and cling to me like a little monkey.
Somehow I cooked the pie, it took about 2 hours as I had to stop in between every step of the recipe to sing to Grace or feed her, or change her. I was so proud of myself when I FINALLY topped it with the mashed potatoes I had lugged all the way up Elm Grove, I even put little dobs of butter on top so it would go crunchy in the oven... and then James walked in and said "Aren't you funny, why do you always put so much mash on top of the mince? What you want to do is level some of that off and then you can freeze it to make bubble-and-squeak." Not the best comment to make to a harassed and hungry mum, who did not want to cook in the first place, who HATES cooking in fact. Needless to say I had a few suggestions for James and what he could do with dinner...

Anyway, mash-potato mountains aside, it's all going pretty well I think. The jabs were not as awful as I thought they would be. Grace did cry, but not too badly, and it was nice to see all the other babies and realise Grace was by far the best one.
Everyday gets easier as Grace is learning more and more. She has smiling down to a T, she does it to strangers, at her mobile, in the bath, when she does a poo. She is just starting to show an interest in her toys, she tries to reach out to touch them now and again. She has also learnt how to turn the weird noisy, squeaky water garden cot toy on and off, which is great fun for James and I in the middle of the night.
She was the only one holding her neck up all the time at the mum and baby group on Monday, and was also the only one showing an interest in sitting up. She is interested in everything in fact, the world is a constant wonder to her. She gawps at anything she sees, mouth open in wonder (or hunger - sometimes hard to tell). She has been described as 'advanced' by two health care visitors now. She is falling just below the average for her weight and height, but the nurses said it's nothing to do with hunger or a lack of food, it seems she is just going to be more my build than James'. Good - if she had carried on the way she was going I feared her nickname would be giant haystacks. Who wants that for their little princess?!

I've added some more photos at the link below, including a photo of Grace in her Spurs babygro. It seems she brings them luck!



Ericka and Grace

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Valentines Day

So it's Grace's first Valentines day, she did not get any cards but her daddy did buy her a Spurs babygro - so that's nice, just in time for the final. Grace made her daddy a lovely Valentines card, with minimal help from me, she also helped bake him some heart shaped jammy dodgers (well she poked the dough a bit anyway).
It's amazing how each week she grows and learns so much. She sleeps in her cot now as she has gotten too big for her moses basket. The first night we put her in there we thought it was going to be a nightmare. The only way we could stop her from whinging was to keep winding up her very annoying mobile and pressing her even more annoying Fisher Price water garden which plays a selection of awful and strangely eerie songs, lights up, and blows bubbles. It's second-hand and somewhere down the line it has started squeaking so James and I have to try and sleep with 2 noisy, eerie, squeaky brightly lit baby toys going off all night - it does keep her quiet (not that we would be able to hear her over the din anyway), I am not sure it's the sort of "mood music" one would chose for Valentiens Day however. Anyway, the first night in her cot she slept from 12.30pm to 6.30am - I had to keep going over and checking on her, funny how I wanted her to sleep at nighttime so much and now that she does I don't like it as I worry something is wrong.

She smiles all the time now (at people she likes), I took her to the park this week and sat on the swing with her and she seemed to love it. I am a bit embarrassed when I go though as people seem to have cottoned on to my power walking pattern. I go round the outside of the park, then round the inside past the pond, then outside again, inside again and then outside. How anyone could work out such a complicated routine is beyond me, but they have, and they make comments like "Oh, you again" or "How many times do you walk round this park?" or "You are not very busy are you", it makes me feel like a right saddo.
Worse still, I have even been made unwelcome from Grace's weekly weigh-in! When I went on Monday the health care visitor said (loudly) that I did not have to come each week, maybe just once a month from now on. I can't believe it. I love the weigh-ins. I like to check how much Grace has grown and feel smug when other babies have less hair than her, but now I feel like they will all laugh at me if I keep turning up.
My weekly weigh-ins are a different story however, according to the Boots scales in London rd, not only have I lost 5lb in the last week I have also shrunk 2inches! If we keep going at this rate Grace and I will be able to share clothes in no time.

Anyway, I've had to try and find new activities, being as I am too embarrassed to do my old ones, and that is how I ended up at Baby Jam last Friday. My friend (who shall remain nameless) text me and invited me to (and I quote) "Baby Jam, babies, dancing to rock music" Well, I was beside myself with excitement. I love to throw some shapes to a bit of rock music and Grace loves a sing song - we often pogo to NME tv together, so I thought it would be perfect... It seems my friend is a big far liar however, as when we got there there was no rock music, no music at all in fact. It was some hippy dippy tie-dye woman with cornish pasty shoes and a flute skipping around in a circle singing "Hop little rabbits, hop hop hop" As you can imagine I was furious and far too self-conscious to join in, so I skulked about at the back kicking the radiator and scowling. Grace liked it even less, she slept the whole way through. At one point the woman even got out a huge patchwork blanket which she called a parachute and made us spin it round and throw it in the air and sit under it and things, how awful. It was like being in some sort of cult. I am lucky we got out of there alive..and that was only after paying £3.50. £3.50!! For 45 minutes of cringeworthy crap singing and sitting under a stinking patchwork quilt!! I am missing a trick here, I should start up a baby group.

Anyway, Baby Jam is not for me, I am looking into "Little Dippers" which is a swimming programme for tiny babies, but Grace can't start that for a few weeks, so it looks like I am either going to have to walk round the park in disguise, or face my fear of seeing people from work while I am still in what I call "recovery" and walk into town and along the seafront. I am trying our another mum and babygroup tomorrow morning, so we will see how that goes.

We went for our 6 week check up.. Grace did really well and passed all the tests with flying colours. I did not do so well... I am so used to the doctors/nurses/healthcare visitors wanting to check my stitches, I did not even ask first before starting to strip off when Dr.Clifford said "And how are you getting on?" He looked horrified and asked what I was doing, I was horrified and so said "Nothing!" Nothing?!! I had my jeans round my knees! I I am lucky they did not take Grace off me, thinking I was unhinged and trying to hit on the Doctor. Oh the shame.. It's another place I wish I could put on the 'to be avoided' list, but I have to go back on Tuesday for Grace to have her first jabs. It's going to be horrible for both of us, I bet I cry more than her. I have to go for a filling the next day, which I kind of see as my punishment for putting my little girl through pain.

She really is such a joy-giver, I can't explain the way I feel when she hears my voice and smiles. She is just so, sweet. I know I should have a better word for it, but I can't find one. I am simply loving every second I spend with her.

Anyway - enough gushing, more photos at below link.


Monday, 4 February 2008

Grace - 6 weeks old

So Grace is 6 weeks old, and the last week has been HARD work. Our lovely, happy, contented, easy-going princess got temporarily replaced with a grizzly old monster. She caught some kind of virus which involved lots of screaming, no sleeping, many many noisy green poos and a very sore bot bot. I always knew that it was all going a bit too well and that we were yet to experience "real" parenting - we have now though...It's amazing what no sleep can do to a person. It makes you go slightly insane. I was forced to give up everything for 2 days. I did not bother dressing or doing housework or attempting to go out, I just sat with Grace doing lots of feeding, very poor singing and tea drinking.

We took her to the doctors, who was wonderfully reassuring that it was nothing I had done or not done (I must remember to stop doing internet research) and armed us with many lotions and potions. We had great fun with them. Grace needed changing 6 times one night, and each time I took off her nappy, wiped her, applied all the creams to her bum and was just about to put on a clean nappy, she would wee on me and all over herself, so as well as having to do the whole nappy thing again I also had to change her whole outfit - with her screaming the whole time.
I always worried that I would have no patience for this kind of thing, I mean the sound of any other child crying is one of the most annoying noises ever, but the sound of MY child crying just makes me want to do anything to help her. I would honestly have cut my arm off the other night if it would have made her feel better for even a second.
Luckily she is over it now and is back to her beautiful self (She looked horrible for a couple of days, her skin was all flaky and she was red and spotty, it was like having a giant angry flapjack).

Today when her daddy came home she gave him a smile which lit up the room, her first smile at the sound of his voice, my heart hiccuped with love for my amazing family. Everyday she is getting more and more aware of herself and her surroundings. She has learnt to suck her fist, and is holding her head up for much longer. She loves being propped up on pillows so she can see what is going on around her, she makes noises at the TV. We took her to the supermarket the other day and all the lights in the ceiling fascinated her. If only I could be so easily amused. I keep forgetting to get the remote control before I sit down to feed, and James likes to put Sky on channel 401 (the very very dull sports update channel which just list scores of games) and then he walks into a different room - so I am stuck watching the results of matches I don't care about while Grace takes her time to feed, stopping every few minutes or so and whinging if I take her off (even if she has fallen fast asleep on me, the second I try and detach myself she starts sucking with gusto, and looks a bit annoyed at me for daring to try and claim my breast back). Sometimes I am sat for hours, and there is no point calling out to James to come and change the channel either, he develops that selective hearing thing that men get.

I think I mentioned last time that I was going to attempt expressing milk... to cut a long long story short it did not go well and I will not be doing it again. The whole point of trying it was so I could nip out for half and hour to go for a run now and again. There is nothing quick about expressing however, 2 hours and only 2oz of milk is NOT quick, or anywhere near enough either. I could only manage to express if I fed Grace off one side whilst using the pump on the other (I really do know how cows feel) and so by the time I had fed Grace and also produced enough milk to be able to spend about 10 minutes away from her, I was so exhausted the last thing I felt like doing was exercising! (One of the other things parenting has taught me is how far the human nipple can stretch when stuck in an electric breast-pump).

Running is also a no anyway - I tried it very briefly the other day... I don't want to go into details but I was lacking a couple of essential items, a shock-absorber bra and my pelvic floor. I am going to stick to power-walking round Queens Park for the time being.

I took Grace to be weighed again today (she is 10lb 4oz. She has not put on much this week as she has been poorly) and met a lovely boy for her called Ernie, he is a big bruiser like her and they even had matching hair. Sadly Grace decided to go boss-eyed and do a big noisy poo just as we were introducing them, so I am not sure Ernie was too impressed. He projectile peed and vomited on his mum when he was placed on the scales, so Grace and I soon went off him anyway. He was probably just showing off - everyone knows men can't multi-task.

I also took myself to be weighed, at Boots on London Rd, where I thought I would be safe and not see anyone I knew. No chance, I lurked about for ages with my seventy pence getting sweaty in my hand as I worked up the courage to see the baby damage done, and then just as I stepped on, and the scales told me to grip the handles firmly while they tried to work out my body fat ratio, my nosy neighbour appeared, saw my weight and announced it to the whole shop. Marvellous (I am not telling you what it is, or how much I have to lose, I am sure she would be delighted to though).

So all in all it's being another roller-coaster of a week for me and my girl. We've had some hairy moments, but motherhood is still MUCH more fun than work and without question the most rewarding thing I have ever attempted.

More photos here, including grumpy Grace in swimwear, hilarious.


Lots of love

Ericka and Grace