Monday, November 24, 2008

Skills ...

I was asked yesterday what Chet's skills were and like a proud mother I thought I would note down what they are at 7 weeks and again at various intervals. That way I can observe his development and keep track of changes as he grows. So, 7 week skills:
  • Smiling - this is a good one. He has been smiling for a few weeks now and it really is very exciting when he breaks into a big, goofy toothless grin.
  • Blowing bubbles - this is quite new, maybe just the last week. I guess it is a precursor to dribbling. Better get those bibs out.
  • Sticking his tongue out - this has also been going on for a little while now. He will stick his tongue out if I persistently stick mine out at him or sometimes he just sits there continually sticking his tongue out.
  • Cooing - he mostly does this when he is in the shower with the K-man. Very sweet - I cried the first time we put him in the shower - he loved it so much and looked so happy.
  • Wiggling and squirming - this is a skill that started in the womb - hence the initial moniker of Mr Leapy. It does not seem to have abated any.
  • Throwing his arms in the air. I call it his black power salute because he often looks as though he is saluting me with his right arm. Sometimes he doesn't quite make the salute and wacks himself in the face instead. Mostly this doesn't seem to worry him.
  • Weeing and pooing - like all babies he is a champion at these basic human functions. And like all boy babies he ocassionally wees across the room or on me when I am changing his nappy.
  • Sucking on his dummy - he was a little over a week old when we got him his dummy and it made the world of difference after a particulalry bad night of screaming. Even in the hospital I was saying that I thought he might need a dummy and I wasn't wrong. Although he doesn't always want it he loves his dummy and can get very crochety if I am driving and it falls out and I can't get it back in his mouth. I often find it under his ear which isn't really the best place for it. And it is quite amusing when after a period of time of sitting quietly he suddenly starts sucking really hard on the dummy - it must be some sort of comfort sucking! He also likes to suck noisily on his fist - he often wakes me up with the sound of the sucking. Presumably at some stage the fist will replace the dummy ...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Things I learnt about birth

  1. Giving birth is not like a car crash. I encountered a woman at a party a week before I had Chet and she was at great pains to tell me her birth theory. "It's like a car crash" she repeated to me ad nauseum in the way that drunk people tell you the same thing over and over in the hope that it will get more interesting with repetition. My instant response to her was that a car crash is quick whereas giving birth generally takes a long time and is more of an endurance test. After giving birth you may feel as though you have been in a car crash but that is not the same as birth being like a car crash. Not the same at all. I encountered the same woman four weeks after Chet was born and she rushed up to me to repeat her theory. All I could do was smile weakly and look for an excuse to end the conversation.
  2. Midwives are quite different. During my 15 hour labour I encountered three midwives in the labour ward and they all had very different approaches. Then once I was in the maternity ward I encountered many more midwives and they also seemed to be quite different. I count myself lucky though in that they were all pretty good aside from the third midwife who assisted during my labour and the final midwife I dealt with before I left hospital. The labour midwife had an unfortunate manner and I didn't really like her - although at the end of labour I might not have liked anyone - and the midwife sorting out my discharge from hospital was really trying to rush me out the door. She also barged in on me when I was in the bathroom and wanted to argue with me when I repeated to her things that other midwives had told her. She also kept me waiting for half an hour with a screaming baby when all I needed was some formula. Still, other people have had horror stories so I can't really complain.
  3. A room to yourself in hospital is fantastic. Somehow I ended up with my own room which meant I had a lot of privacy and also that the K-man could stay over night and help out with Chet. He complained vociferously about the comfort (or lack thereof) of the fold-out bed but it made a big differenced to have him there.
  4. The public health system is actually pretty good (in the inner-west at least). I was booked into the Birth Centre and wasn't able to give birth there due to the fact that I had to be induced, however the room I had in the Labour Ward was large and comfortable and had a huge bathroom (like the Birth Centre). I felt pretty well looked after during the entire process.
  5. It is best not to have too many pre-conceived notions as to what kind of birth you might have. I didn't have a birth plan as I thought that it was all a bit unknown and I was right. I was disappointed not give birth in the Birth Centre and I really didn't want a caesarean but I had resigned myself to the fact that an induction could very well lead to one - which was indeed the case for me. I had my membranes broken at 8am, then one and a half hours later was induced via an oxytocin drip, then gas, then epidural, then caesar with Chet being delivered at 1.30am the next day. It really was a cascade of intervention which I believe is not uncommon. I realised that I didn't know that much about caesareans which was a little unfortunate. The books I read tended to gloss over the details, such as, with an epidural and a caesar they cut you open and physically push the baby out and although you can't feel pain you can feel the sensation of the cutting and the pushing. Still, giving birth vaginally can also be problematic - tears, episiotomies, forceps etc - so it is best to be prepared.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Things I learnt during pregnancy

  1. It is true, random people do like to feel your stomach. It didn't happen as often as I thought it might and the most annoying incident involved a member of staff from a local fruit shop who followed me into the shop when he saw I was pregnant, initiated a conversation about the pregnancy and made a grab for my belly. On the other hand, most people, especially people I knew, asked me if they could 'cop a feel' as it were. I didn't mind if it was someone I knew but I did draw the line at strangers making a grab for me.
  2. People generally offered me a seat on public transport and it was mostly young people who did the seat offering.
  3. Pregnant women are public property so people feel free to make comments on your weight gain, how well or otherwise you look, whether you should be driving, walking or generally getting on with your life. This can be mildly irritating. A couple of times I had to make the observation that pregnancy is not a disease ...
  4. Once people know you are pregnant stuff seems to drift into your house - maternity clothes, baby clothes, baby equipment, bath toys, etc. There is a whole other world out there of stuff I didn't know existed and didn't know I would need. Some things I didn't even know what they were for. But, I really like the fact that there is an underground economy happening out there - things are passed on to you and you in turn pass them on to someone else. This is fantastic as some things hardly get used. Chet has already grown out of some of his clothes and they will certainly be passed on so that they can be used by another small person.
  5. I was asked many times how the 'nursery' was going. I don't have a nursery and nursery is not a word I would think of using, to my mind it sounds like something out of Mary Poppins. Chet has a corner of a room which seems to be adequate. I am sure Chet won't be unduly harmed by the experience. Obviously we will have to move somewhere bigger once he needs his own room, by which time it wouldn't be a nursery anyway, it would just be Chet's room.
  6. Acid reflux is very unpleasant and uncomfortable. And it disappeared when Chet was born - instantly.
  7. During pregnancy, it is possible to clothe yourself entirely in clothes obtained from eBay or friends and never have to set foot into the maternity section of any shop. I once strayed into the maternity section of Target and was so horrified by what I saw there that I ran, practically screaming, from the shop.
  8. Pregnancy jeans are very comfortable and good to wear after the pregnancy as well. I continued to wear my pre-pregnancy jeans up until the 5 month. This was only possible because the jeans were hipsters, you couldn't do that with currently fashionable high waisted jeans. When I finally put on the pregnancy jeans a friend had given me I breathed a sigh of relief. And, there is such as thing as a maternity cape. I bought one on eBay and quite enjoyed wearing it although at the beginning I felt a little like a 19th century highway man. It covered the bump very well, you can wear anything under it and you could conceivably wear it when you weren't pregnant. Highly recommended.
  9. Being the only sober person in the room can be strangely liberating. And I discovered I often had more stamina than those who were drinking plus I had the added bonus of being able to remember all the events of the night before and recount them to embarrassed and hungover parties the next day.
  10. Pregnancy is a state that seems to go on forever, especially the last month (or last week if you are overdue) but afterwards it seems to have gone quickly in an underwater kind of blur.
Anne Enright writes very tellingly about the pregnant state in Making Babies: Stumbling into Motherhood. She says: "Pregnancy is a non-place, a suspension, a holiday from our fallible and compromised selves. There is no other time in a woman's life when she is so supported and praised and helped and loved. Though perhaps it is not 'she' who gets all the attention, but 'they'; this peculiar, mutant, double self - motherandchild."


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

What and why ...

First post, what to write? I have been thinking for a while about writing about my pregnancy and life with a small infant. Writing about the pregnancy didn't happen and now I have the small infant, Chet, and a lot of time at home, so it seems as though now is the time to start. As for the title of the blog - K-man and I called Chet 'Mr Leapy' when he was in utero so it seems apt that 'Leaps and bounds' should be the title of this blog. He will no doubt grow in leaps and bounds - in fact he has already over the past five weeks. He can now coo, stick his tongue out and suck his fingers as well as continue to demonstrate why we called him Mr Leapy in the first place. He wiggles and squirms and kicks his legs around, so, Leaps and bounds it is.
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