Friday, 30 December 2011

Help me, she's teething!

I am presently so sleep deprived that I am surprised I have the energy to type. Wait, go back - I'm so sleep deprived I'm even surprised I have managed to find the laptop's ON button in the first place!

My 3month old is teething. Yes, teething. My mother-in-law managed to diagnose it over Skype (gotta love Skype), but I told her that it couldn't possibly be the case. Three month olds do not teethe! Do they?

Frankie was showing all the classic teething signs; drooling like a Pavlovian dog at supper time, more grumpy than a Snow White dwarf, biting down on anything (and everything!), and so irritable at night that she won't sleep for more than an hour at a time.

At first I worried about my milk supply. Maybe I wasn't producing enough? Was she simply going through the infamous three month growth spurt? The constant feeding would point to that. But growth spurts are supposed to last only a few days and Frankie's mood swing was worse than a hormonal teenager's, and it had lasted well over a week. What to do?

After the Mother-In-Law-Knows-Best Skype call, I decided not to rule out teething simply because of my wee-one's age, but to have a feel around and see what I could find.

Frankie was more than happy to let me go all 'Indiana Jones Explorer' in her mouth, because every few seconds she'd get to heartily chomp on my finger which seemed to provide some comfort. Eventually I found it - her tooth had already cut! It wasn't in the standard spot for first teeth - it was on the left and quite far back. But there it was, none the less. My little girl's first tooth!

The next day the doctor confirmed my diagnosis and suggested some Nurofen or Paracetamol for bubs. But so far, there's been no relief. I'm still getting up more times in the night than a pensioner with a bladder problem. Feeding seems to be the only thing to soothe her, but I physically don't know if I can keep it up.

And herewith goes my first call-out to all the parents out there.... can anyone suggest how I can help get my bub to sleep during this painful teething process? I'm literally at my wits end and hate to admit I'm not coping well, but just when I thought Frankie had managed to sleep through the night this has happened and I'm beginning to worry I'll never know a full night's rest again...


Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Forgive me, Santa, for I have sinned

This year my daughter will not hear the rich baritone of Santa's Ho Ho Ho. She won't feel the tickle of his synthetic beard upon her chin, or be bounced on his knee with the assurances that she is a good girl.  You see, I've committed a cardinal Christmas sin and I have not taken my daughter to meet Santa Claus.

It's Frankie's first Christmas and I must admit that I failed to see the point of introducing her to Santa. At the ripe old age of 3 months, what exactly was in it for her? I had foresaw hours of waiting in line with Frankie, who would be huffing with impatience and unpleasantly surprised when the time came for her to sit on a complete stranger's lap. Frankie would then pass through the irritability phase, landing firmly into the realm of pissed-off-ness, and for the next twelve months I would be forced to look at the photo on the fridge of my daughter screaming bloody murder into Santa's ear.

As you can clearly tell, I was less than happy about participating in this Western rite of passage. But as piece by piece of the advent calendar chocolate started to disappear and the Big Day loomed, I began to question my vehement rejection of this festive custom. Literally every other mother that I know had taken their newborn to visit Santa Claus - it would seem that I was the solitary Scrooge who refused to let my daughter wade in the merry pool of Christmas.

On Christmas Eve I decided I would hope for the best, brave the crowds, and make the voyage to Chatswood shops to introduce Frankie to that jolly red lump of a man named Santa. 

But, despite my last-minute best intentions, fate did not play ball. Three buses passed me, all of which could not cater for prams on board. Now I won't spend a long time whinging about how pathetically archaic the Sydney Transport System is. Instead, I shall just make the point that we never made it to Chatswood. We returned home - dejected and photoless.

When Christmas arrived, I attempted to wash away my guilt with a glass of Champagne and a toast to my daughter's first forced-rejection of community spirit. Let's hope Santa's the forgiving type and gives her a nice present next year, hey?!

Monday, 19 December 2011

Ain't no dummy

My little baby is a genius. No, seriously, you don't understand. She's really clever. At least that's what I keep getting told, time after time after time, when I announce that she flat out refuses to take a dummy or the bottle.

The Tresillian nurses, bless them, tell me that Frankie is smart enough to reject cheap imitation nipples. Why would she want a poor substitute when the real thing is just so soft and delicious? Well, I guess there goes the 21st birthday present to Thailand to pick up a fake Mulberry bag. And I'd better not buy her any homebrand biscuits when she's in primary school or I might just get them thrown back in my face. And let's not even think about what she might do to me if I suggest we make a cup of instant coffee instead of venturing down to the local cafe for an organic, fair trade, Caffea Arabia blended espresso.

You see, I differ with the opinion of my doctors, nurses, and well-meaning friends and family because I don't see Frankie as demonstrating cleverness, but rather pickiness.  Would a clever baby not seek comfort from any object possible? Would a clever baby choose to limit her options to just one thing?

You could be forgiven for thinking that Frankie's refusal of all-things-artificial stems from bad parenting. Maybe I didn't try the best type of dummy? Maybe the conditions weren't perfect when I introduced the bottle? Maybe I just gave up too soon?

No, no and no again. I'm doing everything humanly possible (and within legal and reasonable limits I might add) to get this child well-aquainted with teats of all shapes and sizes. If Frankie would only give in a little she might just gain a lot. Wouldn't it be lovely to be fed by her dad or her grandma for a change? Wouldn't it be lovely if mummy could have a few hours to herself so that she could return a happier mummy? Oh, and wouldn't it be terrific to fall asleep in the pram or crib without a battle of wills with all those game enough to take on the challenge?

Each day brings with it a hilarious (and tedious) fighting match:
Frankie vs. Bottle, Round 1: the breastmilk is warmed to perfection, sugary and silky it lies waiting inside its plastic pool. The nozzle of the bottle is silicone (as predecessors of other types have failed miserably in the past). Frankie is cradled in the crook of her grandmother's arm; there is no temptation of a mother's swollen breasts to lure her away from the bottle in front of her. Grandma smiles and speaks with a voice as smooth as honey, enticing the child to drink. The bottle enters the baby's mouth, slowly and patiently. It teases her lips, and the baby looks up with confusion. What is this? Why is this happening? She opens her mouth wider - keen to explore. And suddenly, it dawns on the child. This is not a breast! What foreign beast dares to touch her sacred mouth, where only the true nipple should be? Frankie's body stiffens like an ironing board and she begins to thrash her head about. Puddles of spit fall into grandma's lap, as the child tries to flick the bottle out of her mouth, partly choking on her own wails in the meantime. Ding, ding, Round 1: Frankie. 
I won't even bother going into the next few rounds of the match. But guess who wins?

Come on, Frankie baby - a dummy and the bottle could actually be your new best friends. You just have to give it a chance! Any clever clogs knows that....

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Missing the Moro

It was my daughter's 3-month-anniversary yesterday and with it brought the dawn of a new developmental milestone. Frankie is no longer a newborn. She is now just a plain old regular baby. This has its good points I must admit, but already I miss some of the joys known only to the newborn bub. And the most enjoyable of all - for me - was the distinctive Moro reflex.

When Frankie was born I remember the nurses explaining to me that newborn babies will often accidentally startle themselves when placed on their backs. Once startled, they'd fling their arms out to their sides and fan their fingers out in hope of clasping onto something to halt their descent into an imaginary vacuous pit.

This startled behaviour, called the Moro reflex (after the Austrian bloke who identified it) used to serve a good purpose. Once upon a time when we were hairy primates 'nomadding it up' in Africa, we'd carry our infants on our backs. As we travelled vast distances these bundles of joy would cling on to our fur for dear life - much like chimps do today. And as you can see, the Moro reflex, just like the swallow reflex, was a sophisticated evolutionary tool for survival.  

So really, I shouldn't have laughed when I first witnessed my terrified infant startle herself. It happened at her inaugral nappy change in hospital and for some reason quite beyond my understanding, she felt as though her whole world was slipping away.

Like some kind of jumbo Jack in the Box, Frankie's wee body literally bounced in fright. Her arms went out, waved a couple of times for good measure, and were then pulled forcefully back into her ribs. There they stayed, bound so tightly you'd need to pry them open with industrial equipment. It looked like an audition gone wrong for Glee club; Frankie's co-ordination was severely lacking, but I had to rate her A+ for effort. She really, really, meant business.

From that very first Moro, I was in stitches. My partner and I would giggle and chant with big wide smiles "Good Moro to you" at our crying baby.

Now, you may rightly question what kind of perverse satisfaction I drew from my daughter's primative instinct for survival? It's a tough one to answer, but upon reflection I think I relish the redundancy of the reflex. What purpose, exactly, does it serve in today's day and age? We no longer carry our children on our hairy backs. And (with a few exceptions) our backs are not actually hairy enough that a falling child could save themselves by clutching to our thick manes thereby avoiding a long, lonely plummet to the hard earth below.

There is a lot to look forward to as my bub enters babydom, but it is a sad occasion to have to wave goodbye to the newborn Moro as Frankie matures enough to realise that, quite frankly, it really is pointless.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Sneak-peek saboteurs

Lately I have been on the receiving end of a faux pas from the well-intentioned.

As they peel away the curtain of my pram, they loudly administer admirations upon precious my infant reassuring me that my child is, in fact, a cute one. They coo "what beautiful eyelashes", and "ohh, look at her teeny tiny toes!" to make my chest swell with pride. It's all very kind and I shouldn't feel fury - but I do. And here's why.

When my bub is asleep, it would be great if she could stay that way. Usually, it's taken me a fair bit of time to get her into that perfect state of slumber. And the reason she looks like a sleeping angel is because she is (and here's the interesting bit) sleeping. It's when she's awake that she descends into devilry and I do all that I can within my power to avoid that outcome.

My humble request is that the muslin sheet curtain is left tightly tied around my pram. Think of it as a "Keep Out" sign if you will. My dear friends, resist your urges to have that solitary sneak-peek which might just stir my child awake. Tell me instead that you can imagine how beautiful Frankie is, especially if she takes after me. (Because, after all, there's no point in totally wasting your flattery....)

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Fuhrer of the NAG party

At some point over the last two months I have managed to win a secret election and am now officially the Fuhrer of Nagsville.

Where once I operated under a liberal idea of equal partnership in all matters of the home, I am now a power hungry dictator. And I can't help myself; lately it's my way or the highway, baby.

I have started to perform self-righteous speeches from atop my living room soapbox. I preach about cleanliness, order, and the superiority of my "people" - clean people. With an eagle eye I watch my fiance dare to put objects even slightly askew from their rightful place. "Does that belong there?" I question, eyebrow raised and finger pointed. Immediately, said-object is placed in its correct location, with a quivering look of subservience and a pleading request for forgiveness.

I can only presume that I have become this housework nightmare on account of my general tiredness. I used to be willing to clean up after others without too much of an after-thought. I had the time and energy to invest in maintaining a comfortable degree of tidiness to placate my house-pride. That time and energy abandoned me the very moment my little Poppet popped into the world. I started to prioritise sleeping over sweeping, and suddenly, things got bad. As it turned out, without me doing the cleaning, the cleaning didn't get done. Who knew?

Whilst I greatly dislike that I've become a ball-breaker of epic proportions, I must admit I am disappointed that I have been forced into this role. I am happy to do the washing, put the dishes away, make the bed, and vaccuum. As a SAHM (Stay At Home Mum) I feel that it is (to a degree) my responsibility. But there is a point when a relationship morphs from a partnership into a dictatorship and that point, dear friends, comes right about the time that your partner doesn't bother to pair his own socks.

I question: should we SAHM's have to do all the general cleaning and tidying up after our adult partners too? Sure, they are sweating hard to bring home the bacon but one would argue that as mature adults they should be responsible for keeping their own possessions in neat, working order.

Or am I just being demanding?

Personally, I think a happy balance must be struck. I must acknowledge that men - in general - aren't as house proud as their women folk. But lads, LISTEN UP, a little bit of laundry will get you a loooooong way. It might just be your ticket out of Nagsville!