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

No Two Are The Same

I read a really interesting Instagram post from Poppy Dinsey the other day – she’s got newborn twin boys (who are ADORABLE) and she wrote about how fascinating it was that they were so different when they’re being raised exactly the same way, at exactly the same time. I think it’s very easy to place a massive focus on what we as parents are doing when it comes to raising the children, and to almost forget that the child also has a say in how they’ll turn out. Some of it has got to be nature rather than nurture, right?
So many of us are obsessed with whether our baby will be a fussy eater, whether they’ll sleep through the night, whether they’ll have colic or reflux or any number of other common tiny person ailments. We read baby books and consult others who are further along in their parenting journey, and worry and fret constantly about how we’re bringing them up. And yet from day one they have their own little personality, very quickly they have likes and dislikes. And I guess part of the joy of parenting is discovering their little quirks? (Unless their quirks are just enjoying crying ALL the time).
Certainly for me, it’s very true that you can have two children who can be really different. And while no doubt there are some things we’ve probably changed in terms of our approach this time round, like maybe being more relaxed or caring less about whether it’s ‘okay’ to rock the baby to sleep, some of it is definitely influenced by them.
Cuddles is the area that springs to mind when I talk about this subject. Now, you could say my babies had very different experiences when it comes to cuddling. Alexandra had hardly any with me in the first few months of her life, although clearly had plenty with other people, and as a result whenever I tried to get her to lie on my chest or snuggle up with me later on down the line, she normally tried to head-butt me and squirm away as fast as possible. Max was in an incubator for a lot of the first two weeks of his life, so whenever we had the chance he was out and having cuddles. Now at nearly nine months old, I still spend a lot of time cuddling him. He likes to be rocked to sleep if he’s overtired or teething or just because. We are making progress with Alex though and she now asks for cuddles before bed! And sometimes she runs up to us and throws her arms around our knees or gives us kisses. Very cute.
Our teething experience has also been different. Alexandra didn’t pop a tooth out until she was nearly 11 months old and hasn’t ever really struggled so aside from a couple of sleepless nights there hasn’t really been any issue. Max has had a really hard time with his – the first one popped through this week and the second is nearly there. You can tell they’re really bothering him.
Max will be on first name terms with the doctors as soon as he can talk. Alex on the other hand has been to see the GP once (for a rash that I was pretty sure was viral but wanted a second opinion on). I hope I’m not jinxing that!
And Max definitely started babbling earlier than his sister and is much more vocal. Only time will tell if that means he’ll start talking sooner!
Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

All I Want For Christmas Is…

Having an under-table party. I wasn’t invited.

We’ve all got something we’d like the big bearded man from the North to bring us on the 25th, right? This year my Christmas list is depressingly short. I don’t want clothes because the fanciest place I go to is baby group. I don’t want books cause the last time I read a book was during my first pregnancy. Alcohol and chocolates are both out of the equation. And I have far too many socks already.

So I got to thinking, what would I REALLY like as a mother this year? Aside from all that guff about cheer and happiness and world peace. What would make my life about a zillion times better? Here is my by-no-means-exhaustive-at-all-I-just-wrote-this-while-they-napped-SIMULTANEOUSLY-for-once-HURRAH list:

The ability to go for a shower and not have to stop the water at least five times because I can hear imaginary baby cries. Or just to learn that they’re never crying and it IS just my imagination.

To go to the shops without coming back with some sweets that I had to bribe the toddler with and a new outfit for the baby even though he has more clothes than the Kardashians.

To go out and come back with all the baby socks, dummies and sippy cups I left the house with.

A Sunday morning where you look at the clock and say ‘nah, it’s only half nine, I won’t get up just yet’.

Naps to continue until both children go to school.

Delivery drivers to never arrive when either child is sleeping.

The toddler to decide she wants the first thing I suggest for lunch, not the 47th.

A washing up fairy.

Never to have that awful feeling when you lose sight of your kid at soft play, frantically search for them for a minute and then they suddenly appear in a place you’ve already looked five times.

For them to finally make the episode of Bing where Flop finally flips and tells him what an ungrateful, whiny little nause he is.

Failing all that, just no tantrums for a week.

Failing all that, just no tantrums for a day.

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

Leaving The Kids

Who wouldn’t want to spend all their time with these adorable things?

If there’s one thing you learn when you become immersed in the world of motherhood (mothering? Motherdom?) apart from how to cut grapes correctly and how to poo in front of an audience, is how different we all are when it comes to our preferences and the way we bring/drag up our offspring.

Never is this more true than when it comes to leaving the kids. And by that I mean having someone babysit them while you have a break, not abandoning them on the steps of a local church when they’re being little shits. There are some women for whom dropping them off at the gates on their first day at school will be the longest they’ve left them for the entirety of their existence. For others, they’re jetting off on a kids-free holiday before the cord’s been cut.

I like to think I’m somewhere in between although I do veer more towards the ‘I made these children so I might as well spend some time with them’ camp.

With Alexandra we were forced to spend a lot of time apart in the first three months while I spent all my time lying around contracting near-fatal illnesses (dramatic I know!). When I finally made it out of the hospital, Dylan and I went on a couple of ‘dates’ while my mom looked after Alex and then there was a bit of a gap as I’d kind of bonded with this little thing and was happy to spend all my waking hours with her.

Then nana started having her for a couple of hours some weekends to take her to the park or to eat cake and whatever other glorious things grandmothers spoil their grandchildren doing. When I got pregnant with Max, we decided it’d be a good idea to get her used to sleeping at nana’s so she went there – and still does – perhaps every month for a sleepover. Other than that she’s had some time with my sister when I’ve been off at hospital appointments and she obviously was looked after by a few different people when Max was in hospital and I was by his bedside every day.

In terms of social events I’ve been to without her, there’s probably been a handful in her life. I went to a theatre show once, went for a morning at a spa with my sister and went out for my second hen do last summer.

Since Max has been here, I’ve spent most my time with him or both of them (Alexandra goes to nursery twice a week and that’s the longest time I spend without her normally). I haven’t yet got to the stage where I feel the need to have a break from him so apart from when he was in hospital the first time round and I slept in parent accommodation nearby, we’re pretty much together 24/7. I’ve been to the gym a couple of times and once or twice popped to the doctor’s just taking Alex with me and leaving Max with my sister.

So why am I sharing all this? I guess to promote the fact everyone is different and that’s fine. I know people with babies younger than mine who’ve been on nights out already and equally I know parents with babies older than mine who wouldn’t even dream of going to the gym for an hour at this stage (and some who would take their baby with them to the loo. I say pee in peace until they’re old enough to follow you there and ‘help’ with the loo roll in the style of an Andrex puppy).

I think you just need to have the courage of your convictions so if family ask to look after your little one and you’re not ready, then tell them ‘thanks but no thanks’. Approach them and ask weeks, months or years down the line when you ARE ready. Equally you need to respect your partner’s views when it comes to leaving the kids.

Dylan’s off on holiday in September for a week by himself (our children will be two years old and five months old at this point). He’ll have minimal, if any, phone contact with us as he’ll be diving off a boat in southern Egypt. The thought of leaving our children for an entire week brings me out in a cold sweat but the point is he’s happy to do it and so that’s fine by me. However I may decide to jet off somewhere sunny by myself when the kids are teenagers as I have a feeling I really will want some time apart from them by then!

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

Names I Love But Won’t Be Using

Max showing off his personalised cushion from J&PR. Thanks guys!

I’ve seen lots of people recently talking about names they love but won’t be using for their children, mostly on YouTube. I love the idea and really enjoy thinking about baby names so I thought I’d join in on here! If you have a blog or YouTube channel then please share your list too!

Girls:

Georgina – when I was six months pregnant with Alexandra, we went to Thailand and while we were bobbing around in the pool, we had a theoretical discussion about what we’d call a second baby. We quickly decided we loved Georgina and that it went perfectly with Alexandra, who we’d already named at this point. We loved the nicknames, especially Georgie, although did worry people would hear Alex and George and assume we had boys! When we got pregnant with Max, we knew straightaway that was our girl name.

Imogen – this was one of the names we discussed during the pool times and was probably our choice for the third girl we knew we’d never have. I love the nickname Immy and think it’s a beautiful name.

Zara – I regularly use a baby names board on a popular pregnancy/parenting website, just for fun, and I’ve seen Zara discussed a few times. I absolutely love it but as Dylan has an older daughter called Cara it would have never been on the cards for us.

Avie – Avie is the name that I probably would have called my daughter had I had one at any point in my very early 20s. It was the name of Dolly Parton’s mom and I remember falling in love with it the first time I read it. She was called Avie Lee but I loved the sound of Avie Cavanagh as I’d already chosen my little girl’s middle name at the time. I love it as an alternative to the more popular Ava/Evie type names. However I’m so glad now we didn’t use it for Alexandra as I don’t think it would have suited her.

Quinn – this is a unisex name but I’ve always imagined it on a girl, maybe because I grew up watching the American cartoon series Daria and that’s her sister’s name. I think it’s a really lovely name that works well for a baby and an adult.

Boys:

Oscar – this has always been one of my favourite boy’s names but Dylan doesn’t like it so it was discounted both times. I think it’s really cute and again works for a small boy and an adult. My sister had it  on her list too as we have a fair few joint boy favourites (but differ quite a lot on girl options!)

George – this was a name I put forward as an option when we were pregnant with our second, but again Dylan wasn’t keen. I guess as I love Georgina so much it makes sense but it wasn’t to be!

Noah – just like Avie, this was a name I was a huge fan of when I was a bit younger. Isn’t it weird that had I named my children five years ago on my own without any input from Dylan they would be Noah and Avie, but I actually own an Alexandra and a Max which are pretty different styles.

Ace – even though we’re quite traditional with our name choices, we stumbled upon Ace in the early days of number one pregnancy and it was on our boy list for a while. We ended up deciding our boy would be called Max and then obviously didn’t need the name anyway when he turned out to be a she. I still harbour a love for the name but Alexandra’s initials are ACE so I guess that’s the closest I’m going to get.

Clark – I don’t like all of the American surnamey type names but I do like Clark, and again it was on our boy shortlist the first time round although not the second time as we felt we needed a less modern name to go with his older sister’s. I also love Blake but as it’s the surname of one of my best friends it would have been a little weird!

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

Taking Two Under Two Out

Getting ready to leave the house is a day’s work in itself.

When Alexandra was tiny, leaving the house seemed like a massive feat, like a trauma that would surely involve tears (from both of us) and probably a poonami or two (hopefully just from her). Over time I gradually learned to become more confident about taking a tiny human being everywhere with me.

As most the time I’m going to fairly busy civilised places rather than travelling to the jungle or desert, I’ve learned you can pretty much always buy whatever you’ve forgotten or the baby’s ruined. Yes sometimes that’s meant buying an emergency pair of leggings from the supermarket or borrowing a nappy from a friend but clearly neither of those options are the end of the world.

What do you do if the baby cries? Well the simple answer is to have enough food on you to rule that out as the cause any time they cry and then to carry on like you would at home. Work your way through the list of possibilities until you stumble upon the correct one.

I quickly realised that everyone has run home in the rain having forgotten the pram cover, everyone has left a bottle top open and leaked liquid all over the change back, everyone has coped with a baby meltdown so bad they’ve just had to give the sorry eyes to anyone passing.

And then the game changed. I fell pregnant with number two. I then spent a lot of time worrying about how you could possibly take two out when there’s only one of you.

But just as I did with my first, you learn to adapt and you pick up tips along the way. Things like always ensuring you’ve got a snack for the toddler to have during baby’s feeds, even if they wouldn’t normally eat at that time, because they will get bored being strapped into the pushchair not moving for that length of time. Things like taking a blanket for the toddler so they don’t steal the baby’s because they will even if they don’t normally have one anymore. Things like what order to put them in and out of the car to avoid any issues.

Clearly I’m not perfect, I don’t have this parenting thing sorted just yet (does anyone?), mostly I’m just winging two under two. But my point is there is absolutely no need to worry. Parenting is suffocating at first but if you try to remain as calm as possible and not let the fear take over, you CAN get out of the house on your own. There is no need to be trapped. One day everything will click and you’ll look back and wonder why you worried. You got this!

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

Bonding – A Rush Of Love?

Before I had children, I subscribed to the theory that you would experience this magical, other-worldly moment when your baby was placed on your chest and suddenly the stars aligned, you became a mother and you loved this being more than anything else you’d ever seen or known. It’s a popular theory touted around by the media and, I hate to say it, often by other mothers too.

For some people I don’t doubt that’s what bonding with their firstborn (and all their subsequent children) was like. For some I suspect it all falls into place.

For me, I loved Alexandra from the moment we knew she existed. Despite hating being pregnant, I already felt protective over this little being growing inside of me. When she arrived, again I felt protective over her. I felt like she was my child and I needed to do right by her.

But I didn’t feel like a mother.

I felt like an amateur when I watched the midwives swaddle her and rock her to sleep. I felt like I should have L-plates on when other mothers offered advice or support. And ultimately I felt like a failure as I returned home after nearly three months to begin the process of becoming a mom, when my husband and others had stepped in and filled in that role for me as I lay in a hospital bed for the first weeks of Alexandra’s life.

As well as repairing myself, I had to repair my confidence. I felt scared to take her out, I felt scared to be on my own with her, I felt like I had no idea how to be her mother. She was (and still is) beautiful, precious and amazing. But I still didn’t feel like she was truly mine.

I’d say it took until she was about six months old for me to start enjoying her properly. Now, she’s 20 months and I genuinely enjoy every day (not all of every day, that would be ridiculous), I find her hilarious, she’s like my little friend who I can laugh with and have proper conversations with.

Sometimes I look at her and feel overwhelmed by how much I love her. It sounds cheesy but it’s true. What’s also true is that didn’t happen the day she was born, it was probably about a year before I ever had that feeling. That’s not to say I didn’t love her – I did. But I had no idea how all-consuming that love could be, that the bond could deepen to a point where it would fundamentally change me as a person, that one day I would feel truly like a mother.

This time round I wasn’t sure what to expect. Perhaps because I’d already been through that process with Alexandra, perhaps because I was well this time, perhaps because he was so poorly or perhaps because I got to spend so much one on one time with him in hospital, it was almost an immediate feeling with Max. And that’s not to say I love him more than her, I love them equally although in different ways (and at different times depending who’s crying!).

Of course during my second pregnancy I had times when I wondered how I would feel about this baby. They tell you your heart will expand and it does. There was a little part of me that never healed after our first experience – a little Max sized hole in my heart that doesn’t take away from how much I love Alexandra but reflects how much my heart needed two little babies to love!

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

A Chatty One

img_0616

A bit of a chatty blog today. I sat down yesterday to write something, as I normally post on a Thursday, and quite honestly there was nothing coming to my brain. There’s not a whole lot more today hence probably just a bit of a ramble.

I finally took the plunge today and booked us in to visit a nursery for a little look round next week. Immediately I wanted to hold Alex and never let go but seen as she’s 14 months and much more interested in trying to dismantle her dolly’s pram (and anything else she can get her little hands on), that lasted all of about 0.0005 seconds so now I’m just sat looking wistfully at her while she plays slightly hoping she hates it and cries from the second her toes cross the threshold so I can whisk her away and go SEE I TOLD YOU IT WAS A TERRIBLE IDEA. In reality (based on what happens every time we go anywhere new), what will actually happen is she’ll run off to play with all the new children and toys she can get her hands on and probably never want to leave. If she learns to talk in the next six days she’ll probably ask us if we can book her in full time.

We’ve had a very stroppy few weeks with her and I’ve uttered the sentence ‘why won’t you just give me a break’ more times than I care to remember. Which is why it’s a miracle that I actually feel slightly emotional about the whole nursery thing. Life has involved a lot of tears (both hers and mine), refusing to nap (just her, I’d utterly welcome one), destroying everything (her again) and Googling ‘why has my sweet angel baby turned into Satan overnight’ (me).

In the midst of this, she’s been growing a fourth tooth, running EVERYWHERE, developing a liking for playing with washing up sponges?! and she also appears to have had a growth spurt while at the same time her hair’s grown loads too.

We’ve enrolled in Tumble Tots which essentially involves her trying to go on the seesaw for 40 of the 45 minutes we’re there and then mooching around look at the rest of the equipment for the other five. It’s horrendously tiring running round after her and getting up and down off the floor repeatedly but on the plus side it might be making up for all the gym work I’m not doing.

Right now Alex is now happily banging the patio doors and shouting ‘ohhh’ into the garden. In the time it’s taken me to write this sentence she’s started shaking the plant in the corner of the lounge and throwing the placemats on the floor. Excellent.

Harriet and Alexandra x

Q&A First Few Months of Motherhood

Alexandra and Zachary

Alexandra and Zachary

You may have noticed if you’ve read a few of my posts that my sister Henrietta had a baby in May this year. Zachary is now nearly five months old and, as we did a question and answer post while Henrietta was pregnant, we thought it was time to update on her experience of motherhood so far.

How would you sum up your first few months of being a mother?
Tiring, lots of crying and lots of poo! But great overall.

What’s been the biggest surprise for you in terms of becoming a parent?
I feel like I sort of knew what to expect because of being around a newborn baby a lot when Alex was born. I prepared myself for the worst of everything and so far there’s not been any massive issues with him so I don’t think anything came as a massive shock to me.

Zachary was diagnosed as having silent reflux when he was six weeks old, what advice would you give to parents who think their child might have it?
Don’t delay getting them checked out. When we noticed there was something wrong, we went to get him checked within 48 hours. You know yourself if there’s something up and they’re not going to turn you away because you know your baby best and you know if there’s a problem. Also don’t trust everything you see on Google, they will be fine!

What’s been the best thing so far?
Smiles and laughs! Also newborn cuddles.

What did you buy which you’d recommend for any prospective parents?
The Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep has 100 per cent been the best thing. At night time, it makes everything so much easier. You don’t have to put up with a screaming baby for long. Also the bouncer we got, the Baby Bjorn one, was quite expensive and he didn’t really like it at first but now he does it gives you five minutes to get on with jobs you want to do as he’s quite happy to sit in there for a while. And muslin cloths. We’ve bought loads and they’ve been a daily essential.

When we talked about your pregnancy in a post back in January (here), you said you thought people treated you differently because you’re fairly young. Have you found this to be true since having him?
I think a little bit, more from older people to be honest. When we go to get him weighed or see midwives or health professionals they always comment how well he’s doing and that we’re doing a good job with him; so I think that proves you don’t have to be older to do well. I do sometimes miss the freedom I had before but I’ve got a good support network to have Zach when I’m ready to start going out again without him.

Harriet and Alexandra (and Henrietta and Zachary!) x

How To Prepare For Motherhood

13335672_10157040455795232_3135189684108767703_n

They say nothing can prepare you for the whirlwind of motherhood and I wouldn’t like to claim to be an expert since I’ve only been in the job since last August. But here’s a few of my thoughts on ways you could prepare to become the mother of a nine-month-old baby.

Attempt to wrestle a live octopus into an item of clothing with at least 500 buttons, poppers and zips. Extra points if you button it up right the first time, or even the seventh time.
Grow a third arm.
Balance something very delicate, perhaps an egg, somewhere where it’s likely to fall to the ground and smash. Practice turning away for a second, turning back and then using some sort of superhuman skill to run back to the egg and catch it before it smashes.
Chew everything you own to check you prefer it slightly dog-eared, torn and battered.
Play the same ten-second segment of music to yourself on repeat over and over again until you hear it in your dreams.
Smear sick, dribble, yoghurt and snot on all of your clothing.
Carry about a 20lb weight all day, while getting someone to poke your eyes, put their fingers up your nose and pull your hair.
Start eating all your meals in secret so they don’t get stolen.
Get someone to follow you around all day saying ‘dada dada dada’ and ‘nana nana nana’ repeatedly to check it won’t send you insane.
Grow a fourth arm.

Harriet and Alexandra x