Tag Archives: babies

Where Do Babies Come From?

How did it get in there?

How did it get in there?

We had the dreaded question from Motormouth the other day. “How did Mini get inside your tummy, Mummy?”

One look at his face told me he was in full Enquiry Mode.

We knew it had to come. His childminder is due to have her baby any day now.

He might only be 4, but he is persistent when he gets in this mood.

The Other Half and I had discussed this in passing, knowing how much Motormouth wants to understand how things work it is inevitable he was going to come up with this particular question.

We decided even before he was born, that we would answer any questions honestly and as simply as we needed to, to make sure he understood the answer. That’s the approach we took when he started asking why Daddy only has one arm. With the wisdom of small children he asks, listens and asks again (but only half a dozen times or so over the next few days if we’re lucky), but he doesn’t judge.

The dilemma for us was what do we tell him exactly? I know the common method is along the lines of daddy giving mummy a “special kiss” but am I the only one to find that a little bit creepy? I half expect it to be followed by phrases like “it’s our little secret” and “you don’t need to tell anyone”. Then I get annoyed with myself for allowing something simple to be tainted by the terrible actions of others. That then leads into the fear that I have about protecting my children from people who would do that to them. One thing I now have as a parent is this whole new universe full of things to worry about and I’m not sure I will ever get to grips with it.

What did we settle for in the end? Well, Motormouth has been keen to grow tomatoes and chillies in the garden this year so I told him daddy had given me a seed to grow in my tummy and that seed became Mini. Now I’m just waiting for him to remember this and come back with the watering can.

Here’s a challenge for you (sorry, no prizes except bragging rights for the most creative). How would you explain conception to a 4 year old?

 

Put a Sock On It

I don't care if they're not mine!

I don’t care if they’re not mine!

I’ve noticed that most of the recent posts have been about Motormouth with the occasional cameo appearance from young Mini.

This week, I thought I’d put that right.

The question is what to talk about?

Her plate envy? (She has the worst plate envy of anyone I have EVER met and is quite blatant about demanding her portion of the food in front of you.)

Her obsession with cleaning her teeth? (We have to do this at least 6 times a day at the moment, more if she walks past the bathroom more often than that.)

Her lack of compunction about shoving her big brother out of the way if he’s where she wants to be? (This can be a little disconcerting, especially as a parent cuddling a small boy who suddenly finds the small boy is on the floor and she is being scaled by a tiny toddler mountaineer.)

No.

I thought I’d talk about feeding.

And socks.

Are they related you ask?

Yep. Apparently they are.

Closely related.

I’m pleased to be able to say that I’m still feeding Mini, having taken the choice to feed her until she weans herself. She’s approaching 21 months now and shows no sign of giving up.

We have settled into a little ritual for the first feed of the day though.

Her little ritual that is.

First of all she climbs onto the bed, with her aah. (For those of you unfamiliar with the term, this is her big, fluffy blanket. By big, I mean it’s about 3′ by 5′. And by fluffy it’s sort of a fleecy, polyester blend courtesy of Ikea.)

By the way, those Ikea blankets are brilliant – they can go through anything including washing machines, tumble dryers, muddy puddles, pushchair wheels, upset stomachs (both ends), big brothers, being used to make forts, drag toys around and whatever else Mini and Motormouth’s minds can devise, and still come out looking almost brand new. And they are cheap. (No, I’m not paid by Ikea, just in case you were wondering.)

Sorry. Back to the point and apologies for the diversion.

She climbs onto the bed with her aah and snuggles under my right arm for a bit of a lounge and a thumb suck.

Then I get the look.

The “time to get your boobs out now Mum” look.

Of course, I do. I’m nothing if not baby-led when it comes to this feeding thing.

So my boobs come out.

Both of them, since, apparently, it’s the law that they both have to be out for the entire feed.

Then she’ll settle back for a bit longer, maybe taking in a show (Motormouth is usually practicing his star jumps on the end of the bed by this point, either that or trying to persuade Mini to sit on his tummy, a request she generally ignores).

When she’s judged the time is right (a bit like a wine connoisseur who opens the bottle to let it breathe a while) she’ll make her move.

Or rather moves.

First of all, she will shove me back until I am leaning at exactly the right angle.

Then she’ll position my arms so they are in just the right place.

She’ll spend a few moments tweaking the position of my hands and fingers.

Then she’ll sit back on her haunches and regard me for a few seconds before making sure I’m looking in the right direction (by virtue of placing her hands firmly on my jaw and shoving my head round. She’d make a good chiropractor one day. I’m sure I heard my spine crack this morning.)

Finally, she’ll take a few slurps from the right side.

If I dare move my head, she’ll give me “the look” and push it back round again.

She then stretches, stands up and belly flops on top of me to take a few slurps from the left side (just to make sure it doesn’t feel left out, you understand.)

It’s at this point that I think, hopefully, that we’ve settled down and can get on with it. (Usually with one eye on the clock calculating the time left before we absolutely have to get out of the door and sadly watching my shower time dripping away.)

Then she stops.

She’ll give me a “don’t you dare move!” look and wriggle backwards off the bed, walking out of the bedroom in that drunken toddler lurch that she has.

Only to return a few minutes later with….

can you guess?

…. no, not a fluffy toy, or even another aah….

she always comes back with …..

a pair of socks.

Yep. Socks.

Mini has an obsession with socks.

So there we are, mid feed, me trying not to move out of today’s approved position too much and her waving a pair of socks and a foot in my face.

So, we have to put our socks on.

Then, finally, we can get back to the business of feeding.

And feeding.

And feeding.

As the minutes tick by I console myself with the thought of how much good this will be doing her.

And how many calories I’m using doing this.

And I wave a sad mental goodbye to a nice hot shower.

And Motormouth (it’s his turn for a cameo), well, he’s still bouncing on the bed.

And me.

Just in case you thought mornings might be peaceful in our house.

 

Teeny Tiny Drunks

Just imagine the cute little snores...

Just imagine the cute little snores…

I had one of those weekends with Mini. You know the ones, where everything you try and do gets exponentially more difficult the less time you have to do it?

Well, when I was struggling to get her trousers on and she was trying to launch herself over my left shoulder (of course it was my left because that is my weakest side) it occurred to me that small children are like drunks.

Teeny, tiny drunks.

How can I say that?

Well, lets consider the evidence (in no particular order)…

Prone to falling and often over nothing… check. You spend time worrying whether it’s because their shoes are the wrong size, the soles aren’t flexible enough or they’re turning their feet in when they walk. In reality, it’s just as likely that their brains aren’t quick enough to warn them about all the hazards in the way (tables, chairs, steps, thin air) in time, or more likely, it’s too busy thinking of something else altogether much more interesting.

Prone to making a mess when eating… check. In fact, you’re lucky if it’s confined to their person. Retrieving peas that have rolled under tables can be tricky (not to mention bruising if you don’t watch your head) and as for dried ketchup that managed to get in the one place you didn’t look…

Prone to sudden vomiting… check. Who hasn’t had the pleasure of walking round with baby sick down your back, whether you know about it at the time or not? Calling it posset doesn’t make it any more attractive when you’re wearing it, and as for giving it the same name as a medieval dessert, well, I’m not even going to go there. Still, when else would you get to develop the parental (or it may just be mothers who do this) of catching vomit with your bare hands. (We’re saving the bedding, saving on washing and supporting the environment. Doesn’t make it any more pleasant? Oh well. I tried.)

Prone to delivering sloppy, badly aimed kisses… check. On reflection, this one isn’t so bad. You can get used to a big wet kiss that may or may not end up somewhere on your face, or even head. It is slightly more problematic when they’re in full snot production mode, which, uncannily, seems to improve their aim no end, well, enough that their nose ends up somewhere round your mouth.

Prone to making loud noises… check. This includes singing out of tune and, in common with drunks, at full volume and during unsocial hours. The concept of quiet and the fact that others might be trying to sleep totally eludes them. Still, despite this we try. Isn’t that one of the definitions of insanity, trying the same thing again and again expecting a different result? Hmm…

Prone to spontaneous outbursts of emotion… check. This usually amounts to crying. Loudly and often with sign language, just in case you can’t hear them. The cause and duration can rarely be predicted and may or may not involve interaction with siblings, real or imagined. Or even imaginary friends. Why can it never be the giggles? Why? Just once? Please???

Prone to erratic motion… check. It’s cute when you see them wobbling towards you, until they fall over… well, let’s face it, cruel as it might be, we sometimes find that amusing as well. Not that we would ever admit it to anyone. We hope it gets better before they get too mobile. In the meantime, we just move objects out of the way before they can be trampled. You know the usual things, toys, newspapers, pets, siblings… and back to the spontaneous outbursts of emotion.

Prone to falling asleep without warning… check. Usually in the car about 2 minutes from home or in the most uncomfortable position – half in half out of bed, in their high chair, anywhere really. You have to admit that the chubby cheeked drunken snooze look is cute when they’re that age. And as for the tiny little snores!

So there you have it. We appear to be raising a nation of teeny tiny drunks.

Baby’s Guide to… Bedtime

Asleep at last.

Asleep at last.

Welcome to the guide to the controversial subject of bedtime.

Now you might not think this is a particular bone of contention, but there can be few other occasions where you and your parents will disagree quite so often, or so noisily.

So, how do you come out of this process on top? Read on to find out.

Delaying the Inevitable – It comes around every night, bedtime that is, and often it arrives a little too early for your taste. There are still things to do. Food to scavenge and make messes with. Toys to play with. Adults to be fussed over by. So, you need to have a strategy to delay things. You can be as inventive as you like. You can run (or crawl) for it and take refuge under the nearest piece of heavy furniture (providing you can fit). You can resist all attempts to pick you up. This can be achieved in a variety of ways from going rigid in a position that leaves you wedged somewhere to becoming boneless so they can’t get a grip under your arms to pick you up. There are riskier tactics you can adopt, for example reintroducing your dinner to the world, but be prepared for this to backfire since it might just result in an earlier trip up the stairs (if you have them of course).

Transportation – If you are fairly mobile they may allow you to traverse the rougher terrain (such as the aforementioned stairs) by yourself. Don’t forget to stop to check they are following you like a good support team should i.e. one step behind at all times. You may need to check this a dozen times or more. Once each step is good. When you get to the top, be sure to make a beeline for the wrong room. You will get extra points if you zag when they expect you to zig and you get over the threshold. If they choose to carry you up the stairs themselves then you should adopt an appropriately awkward body shape, again, rigid with arms splayed is effective.

Bath Time – Your parents may or may not decide to give you a bath every night. You may have particularly sensitive skin, in which case they might decide to dunk you in soapy water every other day instead. However frequently you go through this process you can treat it as a fun time, where you can splash to your heart’s content (or until your parents run out of their heart’s content) or as an ordeal, in which case you should adopt the standard tactics of screaming until they get you out. At this point you might want to go boneless again, that is if you fancy some extra entertainment, since there is nothing on the planet that is more slippery than a wet baby. Especially if you are trying to lift them from above. The less said about the indignities of having all your bits patted dry before you are shoehorned, still slightly damp (despite their best, and most personal, efforts) into your nightclothes the better.

Teeth (or Tooth) Time – Ah, the cleaning of the teeth, or tooth if you’re still waiting for the rest to come through. Your parents will have several options open to them – what flavour paste they will use to clean your teeth (mint is probably best, bubblegum may seem like an attractive choice but it will only make the switch to grown up toothpaste weirder. All grown up toothpaste is mint.). Now, the implements. You, or rather your teeth, will be cleaned using a foreign object that will be inserted into your mouth, forcibly if necessary. In the early days this might be a clean finger (apparently that’s recommended by the experts), later a cloth and finally a bristly thing on a stick. This all sounds quite brutal but there are ways you can regain control of the situation. You can refuse to open your mouth (parents are surprisingly wary of forcing your mouth open unless they believe you have something interesting in there. Please note that what we see as interesting they see as dangerous.), you can open your mouth long enough to fasten your teeth (or gums) on the object. Be prepared for loud noises if they are at the finger stage (being gummed by a baby can be surprisingly painful).

Story Time – This might be your favourite time of the whole routine. This is a good opportunity to cuddle up nice and warm and comfortable, for you at least. Don’t worry about them being uncomfortable, it’s part of their job description. Alternatively it could be a good opportunity to take some of the shine off those nice clean teeth. Or time to play at climb the parent (some parents make particularly good climbing frames and swings). You may even get a lullaby after the story. Some parents cannot sing, but it’s good manners to ignore this and give them points for trying. Try not to laugh at them if they are too bad. They might not sing to you again which could reduce the entertainment opportunities for later.

Sleeping Time – This is quite possibly the part of the whole bedtime routine where you have complete control, at least until your body takes over, at which point you will fall asleep regardless of what position you might be in. When your parent puts you down with a gentle kiss on your forehead, a good tactic is to lie still for a moment, just long enough for them to believe they have got the timing right for a change, before you sit up and look at them reproachfully. You can add tears and a scrunched up face for extra effect if you want. Your aim is to make them feel guilty for abandoning you in the solitude of your cot whilst the rest of the family, especially older siblings, are likely to be up and still enjoying all the things you have been deprived off, mainly food, toys and free-roaming rights. Lay that guilt on thick. It might not work this time but as the guilt accumulates they might start to reconsider your bedtime schedule.

So, there you have it. The guide to bedtime. Apply the above suggestions diligently and persistently and you will retain the mastery over the end of the day, just as you do during the day.

B is for Boredom

 

B is fo Boredom

B is fo Boredom

Oops, sorry. Was that a naughty word?

We’re supposed to love every second of motherhood, cradling this precious new bundle that we’ve introduced to the world aren’t we?

And we do. Quite often.

Even so, boredom with certain aspects of being a mother can set in surprisingly early, slipping in sneakily between the moments of bliss and happiness and the minutes of panic.

So what could possibly bore us about being a new mother?

Hmm, let’s think.

How about cleaning?

Oh I know that cleaning for most people (like me) is not high up in the top ten list of exciting things to do today but it takes on a new meaning when you have small baby that can cause a mess out of all proportion to their size.

It’s the new stuff that’s suddenly been added to the list. Nappies. Bottles. Their clothes. Your clothes. Changing surfaces. Cooking surfaces. Floors. Furniture. Family pets (You’ll know what I mean if you have had a feeding baby suddenly disengage. Cue one very surprised cat who was hit by a stream of milk from across the room.)

The list goes on and, whilst it’s not always boring, sometimes we wish it could be just a little more exciting (but not in a “how high up the wall can I spit this milk” kind of way).

Then there’s the feeding. Most of the time it’s the best feeling in the world whether we’re using boobs or bottle (I use boobs but there’s nothing wrong with the bottle route). But sometimes, only sometimes, we (or at least I) wish they could be a little quicker about it.

Those of you who know me know that I like lists and, like any other neurotic new mother, I kept meticulous records of feeding times (this was necessary since, in the haze of new mother exhaustion, I could barely remember when I last ate let alone when I fed the baby). This enabled me to work out how much time I spent feeding this noisy little thing that was not backwards about coming forwards to let me know he was hungry.

Guess how much time it was.

60%

Yes, that’s right. At one point it was 60% of my waking time just plugged into my new master, and, since I wasn’t getting too much sleep, that was an awful lot of up time.

Getting back to the issue of boredom? How could I possibly find it boring?

Well, I didn’t all the time, but there is only so much TV I can watch (and thank heaven for e-readers), so around hour 6 or 7 of the day’s feeding I would get a little twitchy, wanting to do something else for a change.

Like have a pee.

There’s one thing being a mother has taught me – to share – and I’m still learning it (even if it is with gritted teeth sometimes).

I have got used to sharing basic things like my food, my trips to the loo, my Sunday morning lie-ins (wait, I can’t share what I don’t have, but I would if I could… honest). Mini, at the grand old age of 18 months has even taken to putting my socks on if she can get hold of them. At least they go on her feet, unlike my knickers (clean, I hasten to add). They go on her head.

We also share information with others, whether they are interested or not, to the point that we even bore ourselves (see the clever link back to the topic there?).

And it’s amazing what we can find to talk about – how much milk she takes and how often, the frequency, colour and consistency of her poo, the funny little expression she pulled last Thursday.

Sometimes it’s a toss up as to who gets the glazed expression on their face first – me or the person I’m talking to. Despite that, I stand by my belief that we are rightfully proud of the achievements of our children and that it’s our duty to spread the word of their achievements. Within moderation of course.

Do you think blogging about it is in moderation?

Oh yeah, the sharing thing? It only goes so far, which means that yes, I am one of those mothers who stands behind the kitchen door to eat chocolate. It’s not that I don’t want to share, I just don’t want to upset them by getting their hopes up since they’re too young for chocolate. Honest.

Ten Step Guide to… Christmas

What's normal when kids help decorate trees?

What’s normal when kids help decorate trees?

Well, it had to be done. Everyone else is obsessing about Christmas and we can’t be left out here. So, here it is, the guide to Christmas for all those parents with small children.

Step 1 Talk to your children about the spirit of Christmas, how it’s all about the giving and ask them to think about what they would like to ask Santa for. Wait several minutes (or hours depending on the mobility of your child) to receive your copy of the biggest shopping catalogue you have ever seen, neatly colour coded with page markers.

Step 2 After organising a loan from your bank, start buying the presents, secreting them in secure locations around the house. Conduct surveillance on your children to determine the risk of finding the presents. Once you have assessed the impact on your stress levels give in and ask your neighbour to keep the presents in their garden shed.

Step 3 Spend two hours rooting through the items in the loft to find the Christmas tree and the set of lights that actually worked last year. Test the lights and decide to buy a new set when they refuse to work this year. Test the new lights, then spend twenty minutes working out which bulb needs tightening properly to make them all work.

Step 4 Assemble the tree, ensuring you have selected the ideal spot in terms of safety and lack of accessibility for small children. Move the tree two minutes later, having removed the baby from the lower branches first.

Step 5 Decorate the tree with the aid of your children, disguising the fact that you are redistributing almost all of the decorations they have hung on a single branch as best you can. Move the lower three rows of decorations to the top of the tree when you find the baby has decided to try and eat the shiny shinies.

Step 6 Wait until the children have gone to bed and are asleep before you start wrapping their presents. Ensure you have a large sheet ready to throw over the unwrapped presents in the event one of your children suddenly decides to wake up since they have left something really, really important downstairs that they must have in order to sleep that night. This will be the one occasion when they are unlikely to sound like a herd of line dancing elephants on their way down the stairs.

Step 7 Assess the pile of wrapped presents and spend some time wondering how they can have increased in mass thanks to a single coating of paper. Place the presents in twice as many bin bags as you needed previously and stumble up the garden in the dark to deposit the presents in the neighbour’s shed again. Discover that you forgot to change your slippers and that they are not impervious to mud and water (at least you hope it’s that rather than something you heard the foxes fighting over earlier).

Step 8 Go to bed at approximately 3 am Christmas morning, having finally assembled and wrapped the toy kitchen (the one that looked so easy to put together in the instructions, which incidentally failed to mention you would need 3 hours and a masters in carpentry to make it look like the picture). Finally drop off to sleep with the fond prayer that your children might forget that today is a Special Day.

Step 9 Wake up 10 seconds later to the sounds of a small child squealing excitedly as he bounces up and down on your stomach demanding to know if Santa has been. Briefly consider trying to persuade him that it’s not morning yet and they should go back to sleep, rejecting the concept as entirely implausible. It’s Christmas Day not April Fools. Remember that your slippers are still damp from your journey up the garden path as you put warm feet into wet… something. Accompany your insanely excited child downstairs to officially start Christmas Day.

Step 10 Put on a large pot of coffee to help sustain you through the day ahead and surrender yourself to the fact that your day will be punctuated by the verbal input from small children. This is likely to vary in tone from excitement to frustration and anger. Add some brandy to the coffee. Or, since it’s Christmas, some Baileys.

Christmas Bonus – at the end of the day, when the children have succumbed to gastronomic and play exhaustion, console yourself with a nice glass of egg nog or spirit of choice, ignoring the scatter of small toy parts that pepper the floor like caltrops for the unwary foot soldier. And remember, tomorrow is all about left overs. Left over food, left over presents and left over arguments but not left over chocolate, since you’ll be eating that now.

Z is for Zees

Oh yeah, she can sleep anywhere, any time!

Oh yeah, she can sleep anywhere, any time!

Zees, Zzzzs, Zeds, that unobtainable, state of nirvana, the thing I would dream of if I got any… sleep.

Sleep, sleep, sleep, I remember it well.

I’m sure I used to get it on a fairly regular basis about, let me see, when did I get pregnant for the first time?

I listened carefully to all the advice that they gave me when I was pregnant, rest while you can when you are pregnant. Good one that.

I tried.

The only thing was, that when I had the chance to rest, my body had different ideas. Oh, no, I don’t think we’ll do that just now. Let’s do something fun instead. Like clean the fridge.

When I did need to rest, when my body was saying OK, that’s it, we need to shut down for a while, life had a different idea. Like work. Or other minor things like showering, eating or on one memorable occasion, having a wee.

It didn’t change much after the baby was born.

Sleep when the baby sleeps is the mantra. I can laugh about it now, but I had a little boy who decided he’d got night and day sussed pretty much from the moment he was born. Which was to say, you sleep at night, not during the day.

Sounds wonderful doesn’t it?

Until you realise that a baby that small really does need to feed every couple of hours and if the baby’s tummy doesn’t sound the alarm you have to.

Every two hours.

Without fail.

I know some people are lucky but I always feel like I have done the Rochester Mile if I get sleep that broken. (For those of you not familiar with Rochester that’s a pub crawl with a pint in every pub in the high street. All twelve or so of them). And I am pretty much tee total.

In the end I found it was easier to just stay up longer. There was a positive to this though.

I did manage to get more than one wee a day.

This is the end of the A – Z of parenting.

If this alphabet has made you see all the negative sides of being a mother I am sorry, there are so many more positives that it is worth the occasional discomfort or embarrassment and I wouldn’t change it for the world. What I will do is haul out the bad bits, give them a bit of polish and have a laugh at them.

That’s much more fun than crying.