Dear One-Year-Old Max

Max, it’s your birthday! You may not be able to read this right now but I hope in years to come you will and you will realise how utterly loved you are.

A year ago today, on Mothers’ Day, I was in a delivery room at Birmingham Women’s Hospital with your dad, a fabulous midwife and various other health professionals buzzing in and out of the room. Although you were a little early, we were desperate to meet you. We didn’t know how well you’d be when you were born, but you surprised us all by not only being born very quickly, but also breathing completely by yourself.

Things took a turn for the worst and the next three weeks were a rollercoaster of ups and downs as your little lung collapsed twice, you yo-yoed between intensive care and high dependency, you were looked after by phenomenal people, no one quite knew what was wrong with you and then all of a sudden there was a hospital transfer to the Children’s and you were taken down to surgery to close the hole in your diaphragm which was the cause of all the problems.

At every step of the way, and every day since, you amazed me with your utter strength. You were 4lb 13, had the skinniest legs I’ve ever seen, you were so tiny and fragile. And yet you showed you were a force to be reckoned with – from your repeated attempts to pull your own ventilator out to your absolute refusal to lie with your legs tucked into the little comfy nest the staff would lovingly create for you – instead you wanted one leg draped over the nest at all times.

We took you home a week post surgery, a phenomenally quick turnaround. And then of course you were admitted to our local hospital where your allergic condition was diagnosed. Eventually your hollow features filled out a little, you gained weight, you thrived, you became the beautiful blond boy turning one today.

And I can’t explain in words how incredible I think you are. There are people in this life who think they have a raw deal, who whinge and whine at every opportunity, who think ‘why me?’ and then there’s you – this tiny being who’s had to fight to be able to eat anything at all, to be able to breathe freely, to catch up with his peers. And yet you have the biggest smile I’ve ever seen.

I’m not pretending you’ve been an easy baby this past year! Your sleep has been somewhat erratic for the last four months or so, and sometimes you just scream and scream for something as silly as me leaving the room! But my god have you excelled in certain areas. The list of foods you can eat is so substantial the dietician was shocked when she saw them. Your latest x-ray caused the surgeon to remark what a wonderful job he’d done operating on you. And no one who looks at you would ever suspect how much you have panicked us and the healthcare world at times!

The way you look at and interact with Alexandra makes me so happy. When you were tiny you would turn your head to look the instant she made a noise – and now you are desperate to join in all the games she plays. You have learned to toughen up thanks to the rough treatment you sometimes receive at her hands, but I have also seen the two of you in fits of giggles so many times, I have seen you beam from ear to ear at the sight of her and I have witnessed so many cuddles and so much love between the pair of you. I hope you always adore her as much as you do now.

I never realised that you can miss something you don’t have yet until I missed you so fiercely in that time when you weren’t going to be a possibility. Throughout my pregnancy with you, I kept positive because I had to believe that you had fought the odds to even get to week 1 of that pregnancy – so maybe you were meant to be. A lot of odds were stacked against you but you have not only defied them, you have defeated every obstacle in your way and you have shown the world how tough you are. How ironic that the name we picked for you, Max, means ‘the greatest’.

I said when you were born that there had been a Max shaped hole in my heart and you’d come along to fill it. Baby boy, you have made my heart so happy.

Mommy x

Baby 2: Nine Months Old

Three quarters of a year! Max is now nine months old which means it’s time for another monthly update about what he’s been doing and the new skills he’s learned. I’m finding it really interesting to go back and read what I was writing about Alexandra at this point in her development (her nine month update is here) – not because I want to pit them against each other but just because you forget so much, even in the space of 18 months, and it’s hard to remember that she didn’t pop out as this walking, talking, sassy toddler. Anyway, I digress. Onwards with the update:

Teeth: I’m starting here because there’s actually something to report! Max has one tooth now and potentially the corner of the second – although he won’t let me near to check properly. His sister didn’t pop one through til nearly 11 months so it was a surprise to me when his came through a couple of weeks ago. However, also in contrast to Alexandra who never seemed overly bothered with teething aside from a few restless nights, Max is really struggling. If all of them are like this then we’re in for a long and tiring ride!

Sitting/crawling: He’s been practising lots and can now sit for a few seconds unaided but he’s definitely not at the point where he can be left to it. Max’s crawling is also coming along and he’s able to get around really quickly with his commando type crawl on his belly. He does now get on to his hands and knees occasionally for a few seconds so he’s making progress in the right direction.

Playing: Max loves playing with his sister’s Lego and cars, some pom poms (I think I spoke about them in his eight month update but he still loves them) and still spends time in his jumparoo and bouncer. Among his Christmas presents were a Nuby police car with lights and sounds which he loves, and some little sea creature themed soft building blocks which he’s also enjoying.

Eating: We had some really good progress with that this month and have passed three new food trials bringing him up to a total of 13 foods I believe. New on the menu since the last update are lamb (which we thought he might have reacted to previously), salmon and pineapple and we’re now trialling white potato which is slightly higher risk but we think would be a good addition to his diet. So everything was going as smoothly as it can with an FPIES baby until he had an accidental exposure to dairy on Boxing Day. Unfortunately half a teaspoon’s worth was enough to send him to A&E as he was as white as a sheet, very lethargic and vomiting like nothing you’ve ever seen. Luckily after a while there must have been nothing left in his stomach at all and after a sleep he woke up looking much brighter so they let us go home. We obviously didn’t record any of it as we were focused on him but I almost wish we had so we could show people who are likely to be around him and food how ill he can get from just the tiniest bit of cow’s milk.

Sleeping: You know when you write a blog about people’s reactions when you say your kids are good sleepers – and then karma turns round and bites you in the bum? Max’s sleep has been awful since he had a bout of bronchiolitis a month or so ago. We made the transition yesterday from our room to the nursery (as his sister has now vacated it for her big girl room) and he lasted until half 10 before I brought him back in with me after getting up six times in the preceding half an hour. He seems to want different things each night: sometimes it’s clearly his teeth bothering him, sometimes he wants a cuddle, most the time he will settle a bit more if he’s in the bed with us but sometimes nothing works at all. Dylan wants to just leave him in the nursery to cry it out but I’m concerned firstly that he just wouldn’t settle and the long-term effect of that, and secondly that if he wakes Alexandra we then have two crying children to deal with (third reason would be we’re not exactly getting any more sleep than we would be if he was crying in the same room as us.

So that’s the round up of his nine month update. Let’s see what this month brings!

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

Baby 2: Seven Months Old

Such a happy chappy!

Max turns seven months old today and I think there’s been a real difference in him during the last month. Looking at his six month update, he was only really starting to get to grips with rolling – whereas now he flips from back to front and vice versa all the time. He’s also able to commando crawl along the floor so he’s easily moving around the room. Gone are the times where you’d put him down and he’d stay in one place!

He doesn’t seem to have as much interest in sitting up, he’ll do it supported but he’s not really trying hard to do it unaided. I remember with Alexandra, she’d constantly be trying to pull herself up into a sitting position if we lay her down, but it doesn’t really seem to bother Max. At this rate, I think he’ll be crawling before he sits!

He was weighed a few weeks ago and was 14lb 1, so he’s probably still 14 something. Clothes wise, we’ve just moved up to his 6-9m stuff as everything else was getting too short. He’s a long baby but still very skinny so everything looks a bit baggy. He’s still in some of his smaller t-shirts and his 0-3m coat still just about fits him! But he’s definitely making progress and going the right way with everything.

No teeth yet, but I’m fully expecting a late teether if he’s anything like his sister. His hair is growing back beautifully and he’s still very blond, although I’m sure it’ll go darker over time as no one else in the family is blond.

Weaning has been, and continues to be, a challenge! Poor Max is very into his fruit and veg and is always keen to try new things – but as much as he likes food, food doesn’t seem to like him! I’ll update more soon but wanted to share his rough daytime routine: wake up any time between 7 and 8, breakfast and bottle at 8/8.30am, nap around 9.30/10am, bottle some time late morning, lunch around 1 but can be any time between 12 and 2 depending what we’re doing, longer nap in the afternoon, bottle some time in the afternoon, dinner around 5.30/6, then a bath every other night, bedtime routine, bottle around 7.30pm.

Max is incredibly vocal, he ‘chats’ away constantly and sometimes likes to talk to himself early morning in the Moses basket which is incredibly cute. He’s discovered he can do a weird clearing his throat/cough thing and also that he can scream very loudly. It’ll be interesting to see whether his speech develops well or if it’s just these early noises that he’ll be so competent with.

He’s got an MRI next week which should (fingers and toes crossed) be the last time they need to scan his brain. I can’t remember how much I’ve updated about that on here, but essentially post surgery they detected an area they thought may be a bleed on a cranial ultrasound. He then had an MRI when he was a couple of months old at our local hospital where they (and the radiographers at the more specialist hospital they checked with) concluded it was probably just an anomaly in a blood vessel, which wouldn’t affect his development. They suggested a follow-up MRI done under sedation so they could just confirm – if they think again that it’s this vessel anomaly then there’ll be no need for further tests. Max then goes to see the dietician the week after where they’ll be able to give us some advice about his allergies. Then we’ll await an appointment at the hospital where he had his surgery for them to do another chest X-ray and see what his diaphragm is up to these days.

For a baby who’s had quite a lot thrown at him in his seven short months here, he’s absolutely lovely and he charms everyone he meets! He’s a wiggler, a giggler, a smiler and a joy to be around. Yes he has his moments! But on the whole we are super proud of our little boy and how well he’s withstood all of the challenges which have come his way. Hopefully next month we will have some positive news regarding his brain and then we don’t need to worry about that!

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

Baby 2: Six Months Old

(You know when you think you’ve posted something then suddenly remember at 4.30am while expressing that you totally didn’t? I can still use the baby brain excuse, right?)

Tuesday was a milestone in our house as the baby turned six months. Yes, Mr Max has been around for half a year now – and what a half year it’s been!

He’s doing so well and we’re really proud of the leaps he’s taking each day and the new things he’s learning. Of course, anyone is proud whenever their child achieves something but considering how poorly he was we often look at his progress in amazement!

Weaning:

I will no doubt post many times about his weaning journey, but I can’t update you at six months without talking about food. He’s not sitting up unaided yet but we decided to try him on some solids when he turned six months to see how things go. We’re doing the traditional purée route as well as giving him some bits and bobs to try and pick up and gum and starting off with two weeks of just veg before moving on to the fun stuff like fruit and the really fun stuff (carbs).

Development:

Max is a little wriggler and he’s very confident at getting from his front to his back. He can roll from back to front but spends a lot of time on his side and somehow managing to move across the floor using a complication system of lying-down lunges and half rolls.

His head strength is much better and he’s also enjoying being sat up more, although he still needs some support with that. He’s now reaching out and grabbing toys and he LOVES bouncing in his jumparoo and being on his playmat surrounded by toys.

Routine:

It’s still 150ml bottles every three hours from 8am to 8pm roughly. He’s up any time from 7am and is the chirpiest morning person I’ve ever met. He’s just started having solids at 12pm and 6pm. Naps are variable but he tends to have one approximately 9.30am for anywhere up to an hour, then another one mid morning or early afternoon then perhaps another one before dinner.

Growth:

Max is set to be weighed next week so we’re not 100 per cent sure how much he weighs but he’s definitely gaining so that’s positive. He’s fitting most of his 3-6m tops now although a lot of them are still a little baggy. He’s about ready to go into 6-9m babygrows in the next couple of weeks and he’s also rapidly outgrowing most of his trousers. Unfortunately we either have the option of horrendously baggy waist and the right length or less likely to fall down but way too short when it comes to his trousers! He’s still very skinny and people are quite surprised when I tell them he’s six months.

We think he may be teething as there’s a lot of dribbling and hand chewing going on, but I feel like Alexandra did this too and she was nearly 11 months before her first tooth came through so we may be in for another long wait if he takes after his sister!

All in all, he is still so happy and cheery. Yes he has his grumpy moments and he cries and he grumbles (don’t we all) but if he’s fed, not tired and not in pain from his reflux then he is just the loveliest little boy. The kids do this thing where most days at least once they lie together and get the absolute giggles and just spend five minutes laughing at absolutely nothing. Looking at them and how much they love each other is honestly the best feeling and makes any and all of the hard bits of his pregnancy and the early days more than worth it. I wish I could share that moment with anyone worrying about having two babies close together!

Here’s to the next six months and all they have in store for us.

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

18 Months Old

One of my favourite recent pictures – how happy can a toddler look in a trolley?!

On Tuesday, you had an update about how the smallest member of the EE clan is growing, now it’s time for a review of how the biggest one is getting on. Alexandra turned 18 months old this week (although in the absence of a leap year was denied the actual day!) – I asked her if she felt responsible now she’s a whole year and a half but she said no.

Speech: Her favourite words are no, oh dear, nose and daddy. New ones this month include uh oh, eyes and she’s also attempted shoes a couple of times. Still talking much more at home than she does while we’re out.

Nursery: Alexandra absolutely loves nursery still and has been getting up to all sorts, she came home the other day with a stack of pictures they’d taken of her doing various things, which was really sweet to see. She runs in and barely looks back at me/Dylan as she knows it’s breakfast time as soon as she arrives.

Activities: She’s definitely enjoying colouring (and predominantly using her left hand, which has been her preference since she was tiny and first started grabbing things. I’ve probably mentioned it before but we’re fairly sure she’s going to be a leftie), she loves playing with her dolls both at home and at nursery, has now done some baking for the first time, loves finding different facial features (on herself and others) and thinks Tumble Tots is the best thing ever.

Teeth: We think her bottom two molars have come through now (but we have to pick and choose our times to check!) so that would make 12 teeth in total.

Also this month, Alex has: helped granddad in the garden, been to Llandudno, stayed at nana’s house, played football in the park, continued enjoying swimming with her armbands on, enjoyed patting mommy’s tummy where the baby is a lot.

Harriet, Alexandra and bump x

 

17 Months Old

So here we are again, another month on! Alexandra turned 17 months at the weekend. I was thinking recently how lovely it’ll be to have these posts as a record of her life to look back on, alongside all the photos of course.

Last month saw huge progress in terms of her talking and I feel like this month has been the same. She’s definitely much more understandable than she was before and is also making great use of hand actions to direct us when she doesn’t know the word. She’s a complete bossy boots, at the weekend she was telling her dolly off and then told daddy off (including shouting ‘no no daddy’ and waggling her finger at him) because he was drinking his drink which clearly she didn’t want him to do.

Alex is definitely catching up on the teeth front which is a relief as we thought she was going to remain a gummy bear forever! We’re now halfway there. She’s got all eight of her front teeth plus the first two molars at the top – to be honest we didn’t notice they were there for a while as she just bites us if we try and put our fingers in her mouth, so there’s a chance the bottom ones might be there too. I’m really glad she doesn’t appear to be suffering too much with them.

She’s still loving nursery and we had a good report from her key worker at parents’ evening, they’ve got no concerns about her really. She doesn’t seem to talk much while she’s there even though she’s chattering away all the time at home.

To celebrate turning 17 months, we put on Wizard of Oz. For some reason, Dylan started playing the songs to her to calm her down whenever she was crying when she was tiny but she’s never actually seen the film. We expected her to watch maybe half an hour at most but she actually watched all of it! Just shows she can concentrate when she wants to.

Harriet, Alexandra and bump x

13 Months Old

At a tiny pal's birthday party.

At a tiny pal’s birthday party.

Deary me, it’s time for another monthly update already. Alexandra is 13 months old today – where did that month since her birthday go? This month Alex:

  • Has perfected her climbing skills. She can now climb off the sofa and the bed, climb on to the sofa and the windowsill, and likes to climb on to tables whenever she gets half a chance. Basically if you take your eyes off her for half a millisecond she’ll find somewhere to shimmy up.
  • Still hasn’t got any more teeth. Although there are signs one of the top two is coming through. Update: I wrote this on Tuesday then the day after the corner of the top one popped through!
  • Has been busy growing her hair. It’s really lovely and thick now. Every few weeks we decide on a different celebrity she looks like: for a while it was old-school Justin Bieber with the flicky fringe, then it grew into a Gallagher brothers barnet and now it’s most definitely the same hairstyle as Pauline Quirke. We’ve been calling her Pauline for the last couple of weeks which must be fairly confusing for the poor child!
  • Possibly has worms. She wants to eat non-stop. We took her out to a buffet place for lunch on Monday as Dylan was off and I swear she ate more than the two of us combined!
  • Is even cheekier than before. She knows if she’s doing something wrong and keeps glancing back and grinning, wondering if you’ll catch her. I’ve spent the entire month picking up things she’s thrown/broken/moved out of their correct place/hidden.
  • Has become much better at walking. She now hardly crawls anywhere and spends about 70 per cent of the time walking holding on to something or someone and the other 30 walking unaided.

She’s got such a little funny personality now and although it’s hard work keeping up with her as she wants to mess with EVERYTHING all the time, she’s really good most the time and an enjoyable little person to spend time with!

Harriet and Alexandra x

10 Months On

IMG_0897

Our little cupcake turned ten months yesterday – eek double figures! – and I feel it’s been one of the biggest months for changes yet. She seemed to have a real leap a couple of weeks ago where all of a sudden she could do loads of things she couldn’t do before.

The main change is she’s now crawling! Alex can get pretty much anywhere now on hands and knees and is certainly loving her new-found freedom. Mostly she uses it to go round taking the radiator caps off, who knows why? Also (and this happened pretty much on the same day as the crawling), she’s pulling herself up to standing and climbing – she really can’t be trusted now!

On the talking front she’s begun making a whole range of noises. We’ve had the whole ‘nanana ‘dadada’ thing for quite a while but now she’s making so many different sounds and babbling along as if she’s really talking to you. Most of it makes absolutely no sense but sometimes you think she could actually be saying a word. She tends to say ‘yeah’ after I ask her a question, so often that I’m starting to think she means it! She definitely says ‘daddy’ (or something like it) more at the weekends and evenings when Dylan’s here and sometimes she picks up my phone and holds it out to me saying ‘daddy’ when he’s not here, almost like she’s grasped that most lunchtimes we call him. (You never know whether you’re attributing too much intelligence to them when you think they’re doing something like this!)

Alexandra is starting to love having her picture taken and especially loves looking at herself in the mirror. She’s still got absolutely no teeth and not really any more signs of one than she did last month. Still eating and drinking milk really well and I’d say most of the food she has now is solid rather than mushed up. We got some toys down from the loft for her at the weekend (thank you Pearle for the donations!) and she’d already grasped some of them by the Monday including how to play the xylophone which she’s merrily tinkling away on while I write this.

I’m really proud to call her ours as she’s always been a lovely baby to be around, we get so many comments when we’re out about how smiley and happy she is. She’s doing really well and now it’s just a matter of time until the next leap which will no doubt see her standing unaided!

Harriet and Alexandra x

Don’t Break The Baby

Trying to break out of baby jail.

Trying to break out of baby jail.

About a year ago, Dylan and myself sat among a group of seven couples and decided one of our biggest parenting aims was not to drop the baby or break the baby. Up until she was around eight months old, I felt I was doing pretty well with these targets. I’ve never dropped her and, aside from accidently clipping the end of her finger during a minor nail cutting incident, don’t recall ever having injured her in any way. In the early days it was so gloriously easy – you put baby down in one place, turn your back for a minute and turn back and guess what? Baby’s still there.

Now the real parenting shit has started. Now she’s everywhere and into everything. Yes ladies and gentlemen, we have a crawler, a roller, a ‘standing holding on to stuff’ baby. Never did I realise how much sharp stuff we have in our house – or solid stuff. Walls, doors, tables, all built much harder than a baby’s head. I feel an overwhelming urge to remove every single bit of furniture from the house, pad the walls and buy her a helmet, maybe even a bubble wrap suit – is that a thing? Or perhaps I could put her permanently inside of those huge Zorbing balls and just let her roll around?

I like to think I’m a fairly laidback parent, when she comes into contact with something potentially germy I don’t run to A&E but instead try to think about all the good it’s doing to her microbiome. I try to let her explore and learn about textures and sounds and sights. But she’s really testing this to the limit by trying to pull over candles that live either side of our fire (thankfully not lit, I’m not an idiot), using our GLASS television table to pull herself up on, trying to constantly open and shut doors even if her tiny hands and feet are in the way.

We’re having constant panics of ‘where is the baby’ when it turns out she’s crawled under the little table to mess with the internet wires, or gone into the kitchen to lick the floor (think of the microbiome!), or is for some inexplicable reason trying to bash her head into the wall?!

In order to try and combat her constant urges to be like a dented-head, spatial-awareness-lacking Christopher Columbus, we’ve purchased a baby jail, otherwise known as a travel cot/playpen. It’s excellent in a lot of ways: she can sit in there with her toys and happily amuse herself, she can move around in it (but not too far!), I can see her through the mesh on each side while I’m trying to get some work done. The only downside is that I can’t make her live in it until she’s learned how to not smash her head off every object in the house!

Harriet and Alexandra x

9 Months On

You forget how much they've grown until you put them next to a newborn!

You forget how much they’ve grown until you put them next to a newborn!

Three quarters of a year has passed since the lovely little human being we called Alexandra entered our lives. She turned nine months old on May 29 and what a nine months it’s been!

Alex is now moving around using a complicated system of rolls, commando crawling and odd frog hopping. Some of it looks a bit dramatic, like the end of an action film where the hero is desperately trying to crawl to safety using the last ounce of his strength before he pegs it. But still, it’s a form of movement! And no doubt proper crawling will happen very soon as she’s making huge progress every day and she gets up into the crawling position and rocks backwards and forwards.

She’s also moving between positions much more easily, trying to pull herself up from sitting to standing or lying down to sitting. It’s quite bizarre to get used to, when you’ve spent months leaving the baby in one place and coming back to see the baby in the same place and now baby can be halfway across the room in an instant.

Food wise she’s still having three bottles a day (hopefully soon to be reduced to two) and three meals. She absolutely loves food and has just got to the stage where she’ll cry if we’re eating and she’s not. She wants to eat anything and everything we’ve got and is particularly fond of oranges, yoghurt and any type of bread, but really isn’t fussy and will eat anything put in front of her. She’s also very good at drinking water out of her sippy cup too.

On the sleep front, we’re still generally getting around 12 hours from her overnight (from around 8.30pm) although sometimes she wakes for a minute or two wanting her dummy to be put in. We really can’t complain at all! In the day she tends to have around twenty minutes or so in the morning then maybe one or two naps in the afternoon, of varying lengths.

She absolutely loves going on the swings, hasn’t quite mastered the art of being gentle yet (either with mommy or her friends), still loves daddy more than anyone else in the world, doesn’t quite know what to make of her tiny cousin Zachary and is still a gummy bear with a grand total of zero teeth.

Harriet and Alexandra x