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Finding The Happy

Looking for joy in all the right places

Month

July 2011

Toga! Toga! Toga!

Lately, my time has been spent either Facebooking about how cute my child is, or taking happy snaps to prove how cute my child is. I am nauseating in my love. I want to smack myself.

Anyhoo.

Here’s a piccie of Arddun, who had somehow managed to wriggle OUT of her onesie in the middle of her sleep. Which just goes to show that any form of swaddling is futile, really.

Arddun in a onesie with her left arm hanging out.
I've just woken up, and I'm hungry, and why are my parents laughing at me? THEY SHOULDN'T BE LAUGHING AT ME!
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Hypochondriacs R Us

I need to take a chill pill. Ironically, that might involve a doctor.

Okay, back up. Here’s the situation. In just 2 weeks, my girl’s got the sniffles. And then 10 days ago, her face exploded into a gazillion pimples so innumerous, they’ve sorta merged into one giant crusty, flaking mask of yuck across my offspring’s gorgeous face.

Baby modelling career over before it ever began.

On a more serious note, it’s really distressing to watch. Mostly because it just looks so painful. To add to the litany of skin-related woes, her nappy rash came back with a vengeance and now we’re talking major ouchy looking sores.

And I feel terribly guilty. Like I didn’t wash her face properly. Or keep her dry enough. Or hydrated enough. Or cool enough. Or warm enough. Or something.

Not enough! Nothing I do feels like enough. I feel like a man, and want to run out and DO something. Get a cream! See a doctor! Alleviate the pain and suffering. Except the books and websites all claim that nappy rash and colds and baby acne happen, and I should just sit tight and let it run its course. That medication at this age would be overkill. That it’s normal. That This Too Shall Pass.

Not on my watch! another part of the brain yells. And as with any extensive sleuthing on the internet, the worries grow. It’s probably nappy rash… but it could be THRUSH! Quick! Run to the chemist! Call the GP! Get Canesten! No wait, too strong for baby! No, it’s alright! Leave it alone! No, do something now before it gets worse! No, if you fiddle, it WILL get worse!

She has a snuffly nose. Or it could be… the FLU! Viral! It’s winter! What if it gets to her lungs! Quick! Get her booked into the after-hours clinic at the hospital! Turn up the heater! No wait, too hot. No wait, turn down the heater but turn on the humidifier. No wait, get the Vicks vaposteam thingamajig to menthol-ise the air! No wait – not advisable for babies! Might burn her lungs out. Or something. No wait – says it’s okay on the box…

She’s got a bad case of baby acne, but it could be… DERMATITIS! Or SEVERE ECZEMA! She could be allergic to EVERYTHING! Quick, change her formula supplement to soy! And change your diet so your breastmilk doesn’t taste of chilli. Or something. And run out and get this cream that everyone swears by – Aveeno. Or Weleda. Buy them both. But patch test first! But where! Which part of baby would you like to patch test on, so that if it goes balls up you can just say, “Phew. Thank goodness that was only on [insert body part here]”. Tell me that.

They never told me this was part of motherhood. I wish I can turn this part of my brain off.

Month One

you love
having your forehead
lightly brushed with kisses
and we love breathing you in

you smell
sweet and slight
musky
intoxicating
you fill the room with your scent
after each lovely, long nap
it is the smell of contentment
and addictive as opium

it is, ultimately, the reason mommy and daddy
forgive you
after hours and hours of screaming blue murder
until you are hoarse

that, and your involuntary
gurgle of laughter
and your smiles
melt even the most the stern and sleep-deprived heart
even though we’ve been told
it’s just gas
not love

you’ve turned mothers
into every grand cliche about
grandmothers
just by folding your hands
and sighing

you stare
and stare
and stare
at Mr and Mrs Owl on the wall
behind the chair
in which you feed
day and night and midnight and twilight

you hate being swaddled

you will work your way out of your
blankets and covers
and with a loud “Hai… YAH!”
you free both arms
before you finally fall asleep
spread eagle
or resembling a plucked chicken
depending on what you’re wearing

you hate having your head covered
and it’s taken mommy
exactly 4 weeks
to work out how to put on a singlet
without incurring
the wrath of baby

you absolutely abhor
the bouncy net
but you fall watchful and
silent
as soon as you are placed
in a car seat
because you know we’re
going places

social butterfly, you

sleep through noise and crowds
which means
lots of walking around
shopping malls
which means
the church
has never seen your eyes open
which means
you sleep through
worship and bible class
thus sparing mommy the slight agony
of feeding you in the back room
in winter
where it’s freezing
you gorgeous child

you sticky beak
you oompa loompa
you sweetie pie

insect
terrorist
demon child

chica
chicken

my funny valentine

you make me smile with my heart
and take pictures twenty times a day
and fall in love more deeply
with you and your father
every day

as if it were possible
but it is

Crying over spilt milk

A quick word on breastfeeding: bloodyhardwork.

This has to be a quick post, because it’s 6am and I’ve been up for 3 hours. But I’m hungry, I’m slightly stressed, and my daughter might have a cold – or so we think. And while the stress is mostly about her suspected cold, the straw that really broke the camel’s back has all to do with breast milk.

For some new mothers, their milk comes gushing forth like a savanna after a drought. Their newborns face the ridiculous difficulty of getting rained on as breast milk comes spurting out of mommy. I’ve been told it’s like trying to drink from a garden sprinkler.

I am not one of those mothers. I wish I need only sneeze to fill a milk bottle. I hear of mothers who express milk by the litres (seemingly), and have freezers full of bottles ready to go. I vacillate between wanting to shake their hand, and hitting them with it. It has taken me a full month to get to a stage where I can express 100ml – and only after I’ve missed a feed. Arddun gets a cocktail at every meal, thanks to my skanky supply: half hour from the source, about 20-40ml expressed milk, and 60ml of Evil Formula. It takes me 1.5 to 2 hours to feed her every time. I am exhausted. (And yet blogging! Which tells you where my priorities are this morning. Vent first, sleep later.)

So when I spill any expressed milk – even a smidgen, like 10ml – a part of me dies because it feels like such a colossal waste. People get outraged by news of tonnes of food from Australian household fridges going to the tip every year because of over-purchasing and bad planning. Not me. But I literally kneel on the floor moaning in pain when a milk bottle accidentally falls off a fridge shelf and splashes some.

Liquid gold. That’s what breast milk is.

Earlier this week, I was absolutely stoked when I managed to express 60ml after a feed. Only to waste it all when I didn’t screw on the teat bit properly so it dribbled down Arddun’s front. And then she threw up the rest. I was so mad with myself the whole day. I even scolded the poor chit. For spitting up! She’s 4 weeks old! That is how crazy things have gotten. Utterly ridiculous.

ElilyMommy mentioned how an acquaintance’s mother-in-law was so disgusted by the concept of breastfeeding (strange woman), that she drained all the bottles of breast milk from the fridge/freezer when her daughter-in-law was at work. I was appalled BEFORE I even had Arddun. Now that I understand how bloody hard it all is, I want to take that crazy woman to the back somewhere and explain life to her. Preferably with some assortment of torture devices like endless re-runs of Teletubbies, and an electric breast pump.

I want you to do three things when you next see a mother of a newborn. I want you to ask how the whole feeding thing is going – and listen without judging. No matter what she says she’s doing, I want you to tell her that she’s doing a fantabulous job. And if she is having low milk supply issues, I want you to hug her and stroke her hair while muttering, “there, there”.

Arddun in action

"Fly me to the moon, and let me play among the stars..."

Okay, this post is really one for the family. The problem with photographs is that they’re all still shots. And with newborns pulling 20,000 different facial expressions by lunchtime, photos really don’t do much justice to the cute factor.

Yes – am exceedingly biased as any new mother is, but when she isn’t squawking, Arddun’s pretty darn cute.

I call this video Silent Concerto with Two Sneezes. Enjoy.

For goodness’ sake, feed her!

Just got back from Arddun’s first Mother’s Group/Play Date! Okay, “Play Date” might be stretching it because it’s not like she sat on a play mat and networked with the other babes. No, she spent majority of the time sleeping, grizzling, feeding, getting her diaper changed, grizzling, checking out the stylistic decor, returning some milk from half hour ago on Mommy’s right sleeve. She evens that up 15 minutes later on the left sleeve. Very considerate.

Swimmingly well, all things considered. She is, after all, 19 days old.

No, the doofus of the afternoon was the Mommy, who did two silly things.

  • Left the milk bottle behind, which meant someone else now has to wash and dry it (and get over the fact that it still has drops of breast milk. Ew!)
  • Forget to eat.

The second is by far the stupider sin, because said Mommy had every opportunity to down a few slices of scrumptious cake and Rocky Road before Arddun decided to open her eyes and her stomach. But no. The Mommy got distracted, didn’t she. With all the feeding and the burping and the poo-control and the staring into Arddun’s Eyes of Infinite Depths.

And then she reaches home, and it’s 2pm, and the Mommy suddenly realises she’s famished. To the point of distraction.

So she raids the fridge and finds some leftover pork bone soup, and empties half the saucepan into a bowl, and races over to the microwave oven, and presses a whole bunch of buttons, and walks away to take piccies of Arddun because hey, she’s cute…

And then the soup explodes.

So the Mommy is caught in a quandary. Should she try and rescue the soup and start all over? Which means cleaning out the microwave oven? Or should she just cut her losses and drink the lukewarm soup?

The Mommy does both. It is the most pathetic sight, involving lots of paper towels and desperate slurping  in between. There is even a moment where she contemplates scraping post-explosion pork ribs into soup bowl but manages to hold back. Only at the very last moment.

Welcome to motherhood. It ain’t pretty. It’s a huge time suck. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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