Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Dirty Tactics in the nappy change challenge

I can smell her from across the room. I stretch my neck left, then right. I crack my knuckles. C'mon baby - let the games begin.

Effortlessly, I scoop my child off the floor and into my arms. She's pinned. I hold her tightly and off we go to the changetable. One count, Two count, Three count - she's down!

My hands move momentarily away from her tummy and she seizes the opportunity to free herself. While I reach for the nappy that I will shortly need, Frankie twists sharply to the left. Her legs are now pressed against the wall, and she arches back to grab the stuffed toy behind her. Normal people have mobiles hanging for their children as a pleasant distraction from the changing process, but not my Frankie. She has managed to rip the hook right out of the ceiling, and I've never misjudged her strength again.

I know what she wants, so I give her the toy. I pray that by now my opponent is calm enough for me to go in for the kill - that is, the removal of the soiled nappy.

I hear the velcro rip of the nappy tags as they come apart. I hoist Frankie's legs into the air and hold her ankles. By now, I only have one free hand, as I must manoevre to wipe her wee bottom whilst not letting go of those teeny tiny ankles. I see Frankie grin. If she could, she'd mouth "gotcha", because it takes her only a few twists of her powerful thighs and she's free of me once more. Before I can blink, she is on her tummy having successfully overcome the pathetic sidebar of the changemat.

She kicks her little legs and I move left to right, trying in vain to get in between her bubba-fat-folds. I swipe here, I swipe there, I swipe everywhere that I can manage and (using the if-you-can't-see-it-it-isn't-there argument) trust that I have it all wiped up.

Next comes talc.

I flick Frankie over onto her back and use one hand to liberally sprinkle (OK, pour....) the lavendar scented talc. I drop the bottle to the ground - there is no time to put it onto its appropriate shelf -  and use my newly available hand to pat the talc into her bottom.

By the time she's talced, Frankie is really pissed off. She's smashing her hands repeatedly against her sides - like a drunken version of paper-scizzors-rock, where she seems to have forgotten how to do any gesture other than rock.

I switch to dirty tactics. I squeal like a stuck pig and Frankie is intregued. Deftly, I open the crisp new nappy and fold it underneath her, squealing once again to throw her off the game. She is fascinated: How can that unhuman sound be coming from my mother?\

"Ha!" I shout, as I put my elbow across her knees and fasten the nappy tabs with my free hand. "Done!" I pump my fist with self-congratulation. I feel like running up the 20 steps in my front yard and singing Eye Of The Tiger. She's clean, I DID it! And only another 2 hours before the next one... I better eat my weetabix. I'll need the strength.

Monday, 20 February 2012

An outpouring of love.

Frankie is now five months old. I am already so in love with her that I wonder how my heart will be able to cope with a lifetime of further love to come.

When she gets food all over her face and wedged up her nostrils, I can't help but lick little bits off. I love her plump deliciousness.

When she pulls my hair I smile and wince simultaneously; everything she sees is teaching her something new!

When I recite my favourite Mem Fox book to Frankie as she lies on her back in the crib, she reaches out her chubby fingers and traces the shape of my face. It seems as though she is trying to commit it to memory before sleep engulfs her. When I close the door to her room so that she can fall deep into her dreams, I grieve a little because she is only going to grow in her sleep and will be even bigger when we meet again in the morning.

Today I felt like writing a small tribute to love. What Frankie has given to me is joy, pure and simple. I feel as though I am closer to understanding the meaning of life as a result of her teaching. I look forward to the times ahead - each stage rich with its own perks and challenges - and I thank the heavens for giving me such a wonderful, healthy child. Somebody up there likes me...

Monday, 13 February 2012

The runt of the (breast) litter...

By my calculations I have breastfed Frankie roughly 600 times since her birth. I look back and laugh at the trauma I experienced in those first few weeks, wondering whether she'd latched on correctly, whether she was getting enough, which side she'd fed on last... Nowadays, feeding the Little Miss is every bit as routine as my brushing my teeth.

I must admit that I love breastfeeding. I don't want to echo every hospital pamphlet you receive from the moment you announce your pregnancy, but it truly is fast, free and (for some) easy. But there is a massive side-effect that seems to go unspoken. It's a hush-hush, "mum's-the-word" secret that - brace yourself kids - I'm about to reveal.

In some unlucky souls like myself, your boobs go wonky.

No longer do my lovely breasts enjoy a happy life of identical-twinnage. My left breast has become the runt of the litter, whilst my right breast swells so proudly with rich milk that it's become the Older Sibling Bully.

It was my daughter who gave me this condition. Her and her picky preference for one side over the other. When she decided that my right boob was her vessel of choice, it was "Sayonara Sister" to little old leftie. One breasticle is currently surfing a milky tidal wave, while the other is riding out a drought of epic proportions, doing its desperate tribal rain dance.

I've gone from having pretty 'City Titties' which butt up against each other, to 'Country Titties' which stretch miles apart. If we were to compare my boobs to cities, you'd have the very populous Right "Mumbai" Boob, versus the Left "Timbuktu" Boob.

It's all so unfair! Do not both boobs have equal rights? How has it happened that Rightee is enjoying all priviledges - it's taken top spot in the class-struggle atop my chest.

I can only hope that once the breast feeding stops all balance shall be restored. In the meantime, I shall give my little leftie some much needed affirmations: "Groooow, little one....Groooooow"

Monday, 6 February 2012

Sodden knickers, and my trip to the A&E

The sun was taking its late afternoon bow as I settled down to feed my freshly washed baby. She hooked on beautifully, and so began the tried and tested bedtime routine. Or so I thought...

After a few minutes of feeding, Frankie got restless. I picked her up for a quick cuddle and my reward was a projectile vomit so powerful it literally soaked through my trousers, soiling my underwear! Andy (my partner) and I had quite a giggle. How very unlike Frankie to be so sick. Anyhoo, one costume change later and I reaffixed Frankie to my breast and feeding began again in earnest. Shortly afterwards, Frankie lifted her head and I found myself sodden once more, shaking my head in disbelief that another knicker change was required. I didn't laugh quite so hard this time round, but similarly, I wasn't at all worried that something might be wrong. What's a bit of baby sick in the grand scheme of things, hey?

It wasn't until the third vomit that Andy and I got truly concerned. As Frankie's little body began to heave, all sound was sucked from the room. It went whisper-quiet in my mind. As my child's cheeks reddened with the strain of yet another vomit - this time bile - I felt the fear rise inside me, scalding me raw.

I sprang into action, calling the national healthcare line. I was greeted by Jacinta on the telephone, who grabbed my hand and launched me into a bureaucratic red-tape waltz, first asking me details that seemed so meaningless to me at that moment in time, just to  set up my 'file'. Impatiently I performed the steps required of me, answering about Frankie's name, birthdate, address.... finally, I was asked to answer some questions about her current state of health:

Does she have a temperature? no, it's normal; 36.8C
Does she have a rash? No
Is she breastfed? Yes

I rushed through my responses, getting quite frustrated by this stage as I hadn't yet told of Frankie's symptoms. My baby was turning grey before my eyes and I was being asked about breastfeeding!

'Stay calm' seemed to be the directive of all in the room. My parents were there, my partner, and of course, there was bloody Jacinta telling me - forcefully - to shut up and listen on the other end of the telephone. With a will that defied my fear, I was able to keep the panicked tone out of my voice, sure that Frankie would pick up on it. Whilst the tone wasn't there, the words certainly were: "I'm very worried" I repeated over and over again. "She's not normally like this."

Jacinta tried to reassure me that Frankie's condition didn't require hospitalisation, but I wasn't pacified. My gorgeous daughter, already crawling at 4 months, constantly restless and alert, was now struck immobile and listless. Something didn't feel right... 

I hung up the phone and defied Jacinta's orders. "Get her a change of clothes" I asked my fella, both of us thinking of the old saying 'Better safe than sorry'. What harm would a second opinion do?

As we raced to the car and strapped her into her seat, something curious happened. Frankie's eyes snapped open and she lifted her head, absorbing all of the commotion about her. By the time we arrived at the A&E and met with the Triage nurse, Frankie's face was awash with smiles and she was bearing weight on her legs with such eagerness I thought she was trying to leap into the arms of the nurse to tell her what a silly bunch we all were, getting so worked up by a little baby vomit.

What a cheeky monkey. I must have seemed like a neurotic mother, displaying classic Munchausen syndrome symptoms. Thank God they didn't rip her from me and throw me in a set of cuffs.

The colour returned to Frankie's face and body. Her eyes were strong and vibrant. No traces of lethargy lingered about her. Frankie's one little dimple was flexed and deeply entrenched in her cheek, proof indeed that all was well.

I've never known fear like it, and I've also never experienced a gratitude so deep for her health. Whatever bug it is that has caught my precious child (for it is a bug, she is still displaying some rather unsavoury bowel issues) she will recover and for that, I want to reach out to the world and give everyone a great big kiss. Mwwwwwwwwah!