23 Months and 4 Months

This is the penultimate month of joint updates! I’ll carry on updating you on Max every month but I’ll revert to twice a year for Alexandra (otherwise I’ll end up being one of those moms ‘oh yes she’s 628 months old’).

Alexandra:

We’re still getting new words pretty much every day. In fact we totalled up how many words she knows (ones she’s used multiple times) and it came to around 90 which we were surprised by! She’s still not attempting many two-word sentences aside from ‘mommy do’ but she manages to make her meaning known with the vocal she has so I don’t think she’s that fussed about putting words together.

Talking of words, ‘no’ is still a firm favourite and we’re getting a lot of strops and tantrums. Alexandra is the most pleasant, cheerful child most of the time but she likes to decide what she’s doing and eating 100 per cent of the time so trying to change her nappy at the wrong time or get her in the car if she doesn’t want to go is met with strong resistance to say the least!

Animals are still a firm love and they capture her attention all the time. She went on a donkey ride recently which she loved and she also loves picking out stories featuring animals (if they have moons and stars in too then double bonus!).

Alex has now had all her settling in sessions in the toddler room at nursery and moves up next Tuesday. She’s not in the least bit bothered about the change!

Max:

Max hasn’t actually been weighed since the last update as he’s allowed monthly weigh ins now so that’ll happen when we go and see his paediatrician next week. I estimate he’s at least the heavy end of 11lbs if not 12lbs. He’s now mostly wearing 0-3m clothes but he does now fit into some of his 3-6m stuff which is good as we had lots of dungaree shorts and rompers in that size so it’s nice to get some use out of them before the summer ends!

The doctors are fairly confident that the anomaly in Max’s brain is just that rather than a bleed so they’re not too concerned about its effects and will rescan him in six months to get another look at the affected blood vessel. However there is worry about his diaphragm, with an X-ray showing it’s moved back up on the right side. Again he’ll be checked in six months to see what’s happening with his lung then but we have to keep an eye on his breathing in the meantime.

Most people say you’d never have any idea of the health issues he’s had. Max is the happiest, smiliest little boy and chats away all the time! We honestly couldn’t ask for a more good-natured baby (although today’s he’s been grumpy but that’s because he had his jabs yesterday so I can understand that).

He’s now having 5oz bottles at 8am, 11am, 2pm, 5pm and 8pm with the first four being expressed milk and the last one being Neocate formula. For the last two weeks he’s been sleeping through the night which is absolutely lovely. I don’t want to say he’s cracked sleeping through in case he goes back to waking up but actually when he wakes he’s not crying for food and will happily lie in his Moses basket for a bit. Or sometimes he doesn’t get up til about half 8 so it’s not as if he’s starving in the morning!

See you next month when the big one will be 2!

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

Being A Good Mom

This is a follow on from a couple of blogs I’ve already written – Being A Sick Mom which you can read if you click here and Being a 20s Mom which you can find here – so you can either read those first or after, or never, up to you!

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In the spirit of my little ‘Being A…’ series I’ve been thinking about the qualities of a good mom and really I think whilst it’s entirely subjective and everyone will have a slightly varying idea on the topic, it kind of comes in layers. Your first layer would (and I don’t think many people would disagree with this part) be taking care of your child’s physical needs: their nappy changes, milk, food, washing them etc.

To me, and I’m sure to most people, those are the absolutely basics you need to have covered if you’re thinking about entering yourself into the Not Completely Failing At Being A Mom Awards. But if you’re going for Mom Of The Year, there’s a whole heap of stuff added on to that which you might wanna think about, no?

There’s the educational side of things: teaching your child how to read, recognise colours and shapes, interact, talk proper. There’s the emotional side: being there for them when something goes wrong, helping them through the daily challenges of life, just giving them a big old cuddle when something sucks. Making decisions for them: getting them into a school where they’ll thrive, establishing a good bedtime routine so they’re not overtired the next day, laying down rules which they might not like but which keep them safe, happy and healthy. The fun side: taking them to the park, running around like a loon with them, singing them funny songs and playing with them.

There’s the financial side: keeping your head above water and sometimes making difficult decisions about home/work balances to ensure they have everything they need. The role model side: making sure you’re a good example for them to follow, admitting when you’ve made a mistake, generally being a nice person. The environment side: providing them with lots of things with stimulate their minds as they grow (books! So many books!), keeping the environment around them clean, tidy and as peaceful as possible. The social side: letting them interact with other children, taking them to places, teaching them to interact with adults too.

No wonder parenting is such a tiring job! If I sat here for a million years I could probably fill that entire time thinking of extras to the list above. So many ways to mess up, but also so many ways to be a super duper, amazing mom!

Harriet and Alexandra x

Being A Sick Mom

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Last night I got to thinking while I was washing up about what makes a good mom. What kind of mom I want to be. I’ve thought about it before but it crossed my mind again then. This morning while I was doing my eyebrows I start thinking about being an ‘ill’ mom and what the implications of that were. That sparked off a thought about the fact there are many different types of moms we each are, or aspire to be – whether it’s a ‘fun mom’, a ‘good example mom’, a ‘young mom’ etc. So I thought I’d explore some of these in the upcoming weeks on the blog. Starting with the one that’s probably been the most unexpected and most challenging one for me: being an unwell mom. Not sick as in cool, do the kids even say that these days?

Being unwell, wherever you are on the spectrum between slightly unwell for a short period of time or being drastically ill or permanently disabled throws up extra challenges. You may have known about your condition or illness beforehand and had the change to prep a little, you may have it thrown at you unexpectedly.

As I was most acutely unwell in the first ten weeks of Alexandra’s life, for me the impact was not getting to bond properly with her, not getting to learn how to be her mom in those first precious months, not physically spending as much time with her as you’d expect to get with a newborn ie 24/7. I missed her first smiles, her first set of jabs, her eight week check up, night feeds and so many cuddles

I didn’t look after her completely on my own for any length of time until she was about 14 weeks old and when I did it was both a physical and an emotional challenge. I had to think my way through everything – how would I get her up and down the stairs (answer: I just didn’t until I was strong enough to get her and myself around), how would I change her nappies and clothes (answer: I learned to do everything differently, from poppers to bottles). I had to work out I could feed her if I held her with my right arm, which meant I wasn’t using my dodgy hand and then my good hand was free to hold the bottle.

Now if you saw me out on the street you probably wouldn’t see any difference between me and any of the other moms out there. But everything has been harder, everything has come slower, I still find myself facing situations every day where I struggle a bit more than I would have done before.

As she grows up, Alex probably won’t notice a huge difference between me and her friends’ moms although there will always be the little signs. I’ll always be on meds, we don’t think I’ll ever have full feeling in my hand (although there have been improvements in recent weeks), I’ll never join her if she decides she wants to follow daddy and go diving, she’ll never see me drink alcohol and of course she’ll never have a little brother or sister.

When the time comes we will have to explain those things to her, but I guess she will never know any different so it will all seem normal, whereas for us it’s taken a lot of getting used to (I’m still not there with it all). All in all, I feel incredibly lucky to now be at the stage where I can parent her fairly effectively. Where I can have her every day by myself without assistance. Where I can play with her, take her out and see to her everyday needs.

Being a sick mom hasn’t been easy to come to terms with and I feel like we’ve had a harder journey than most but I count myself incredibly lucky because there are three things which would have been far, far worse: if the illness had denied me of the chance to have a baby, if its impact had been much more severe and I’d not been able to take on her day to day care, or of course if I hadn’t made it. Being an ill mom is definitely infinitely better than being a dead mom.

Harriet and Alexandra X

A Test? More Like A Marathon

My fave two faces.

My fave two faces.

In the hazy, pre-Alexandra days of our relationship when we occasionally didn’t bother to wake up until late on a Sunday or decided to pop to the pub on a whim at 10pm on a weekday evening, I don’t think I ever contemplated how much life would change with a baby. Yes, I knew my world would spin on its axis but I didn’t expect my relationship to alter at all. But the simple fact of the matter is that it did. And it’s always going to.

I’d heard all this business about a baby testing even the strongest relationship but to be honest, I didn’t think it would make a jot of difference to us and thought the only test would be if you were having a ‘band aid baby’ to try and patch up whatever problems there were between the couple. But we had no problems. I was genuinely and utterly happy (I still am…it sounds like I’m gearing up to tell you I hate Dylan now. I’m not!) and aside from the fact he’s chronically late and always messes up the cling film, I think he’s the most wonderfully perfect person. And I’m not just saying that because I know he reads these blogs.

So, I really didn’t think adding a baby into the mix would be much of a problem. I thought we’d just change up our schedules a bit and that’d be that. Oh how gloriously naïve. When you throw in bucket-loads of sick, a baby wailing for food and utter, all-consuming tiredness, it turns out a relationship is much harder. You don’t love them any less, in fact I love Dylan a whole heap more seeing how he is with our little girl and seeing how much he loves her. But we have to actually make time to cuddle now, or chat to each other about something that isn’t how many poos Alexandra has done that day. Sometimes I feel so absolutely exhausted I don’t want to talk to anyone at all and I have to remind myself that really, it’s pretty awful not to be cheerful towards a man who’s dragged himself out of bed, driven down the motorway, spent a full day working, come home and probably bathed the baby and put her to bed, all to make your life so much better.

To turn your life around from being a two to a three is such a massive adjustment and I feel like we’re still trying to get the balance right – between us having one-to-one time with Alex, us all spending time together and us actually managing to talk to each other sometimes as well! It requires planning now: not, shall we go out now? But shall we get a babysitter next week and go out? Or shall we run round the house grabbing multiple items the baby will need in the next couple of hours and then take her out too?

I know I absolutely chose to have a baby with the right person and I can’t imagine anyone else being Alexandra’s daddy – but it makes me think how awful it must be if you’re not sure and you don’t like the other person as much (or at all). To not enjoy those rare moments you do get together when one of you isn’t rushing somewhere or finishing doing some chore or another, is pretty grim. As the title of this post suggests, having a baby isn’t a relationship test, it’s like some bizarre marathon where you’ve set off never having run a metre before, the path is strewn with hurdles, challenges, and you will NEVER SLEEP SOUNDLY AGAIN. (echoey voice)

Harriet and Alexandra x