Posts in babies one year apart
Theobug at 1

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My goodness.  It breaks my heart in ways I didn't know were possible when I think about the fact that Theo turns one today.  The immensity of the last year and the suddeness of his arrival in our lives.  I can not believe I cried so much over such a joyous boy. 

But there you go, whether I want it to hapen or not, he is 1. Fun and funny.  Full of bounce and energy.  His greatest loves are food and his family. I look at him some days and I feel like I don't know him at all and other times, it seems like he was always here, practicing his love of throwing, kissing and climbing for as long as I have been a mama. 

 

 

One Year Ago

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One year ago today, our world was rocked to the core with the discovery that I was expecting a little Baby Oops.

I remember so well the tears and worries and upheaval of those early days and months. How I wish I could go back and give myself a gentle hug, to come back from the future and relay just how beautifully it all works out.

How rich our lives are, even without the second income.

How happy we all are in the chaos that 3 children bring.

How much our little Theo-bug is loved by all of us.

And of course, I couldn't imagine it any other way.

But, what the 1st of August really means is that for the first time since 2008:

I HAVE NOT FALLEN PREGNANT IN JULY!!!!!!!!!! *sighs with relief*

High 5s all 'round, people!

 

Rhythm

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Slowly we move from carcophany and chaos of the new baby days to a more unified rhythm of morning, noon and night. The change has been almost imperceptable...the slowest of shifts that, over time, has resulted in us all having found our feet.

The summer has brought remarkable changes in Ellis.  He is so helpful and engaging.  We have many fewer meltdowns...those of you who know us well, know what an acheivement that is.  He makes us endless cups of coffee, brings them to me in bed.  He cleans his own messes and will even occasionally leave the house without a fight.  

He has even taken an interest in painting and "makin' stuff".  We have made countless rockets and covered vaious household objects in paint.  I mixed up this recipe of fingerpaints for G, which she loved...to eat.  

But mostly, we spend our days napping (the babies), playing (all of them), cleaning (me) and going to the park (all of us).  It is a good and simple rhythm...which are usually the best kind.

What to Say

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I used to consider myself the queen of the witty comeback.  I've had a lot of training, as growing up the motto was "be witty or die".  Sarcasm, insults, and tireless ribbing are the way my family communicates and I could whip out one liners with the best of them.

Recently though, I have been left a bit speechless.  It seems wherever we go, someone has something to say.  "You're mental" was the first comment I had about he age gap.  Theo was 10 days old and I was at a park with all three.  I get a lot of "I don't know how you do it" "Are they all yours?" and "Are you a childminder?" and then of course the near-constant "You have your hands full."

In fact, people fall over themselves telling me how full my hands are.  Walking up to me in parks, pulling me aside at birthday parties, stopping me in the shops. As if I didn't notice the 4 year old disagreeing with EVERYTHING (apparently this is what 4 year olds do), the one year old running as fast as her fat little legs can go in the opposite direction and the newborn sleeping soundly on my chest, my to do list clutched in my hand like a child's letter to Santa - hoping for a gaggle of elves to get it all done on my behalf.  

I have tried telling people the truth- its not that bad.  We are busy, but we are fine.  In fact, my house is cleaner, my laundry pile smaller, my heart happier than we have been for awhile.  Heck, I even get more sleep now than I used to. But people don't believe me...they can't imagine anything but a car crash.

So I keep trying out my one-liners, but so far they've fallen flat.  When people ask if I am a childminder, my standard response of "No, but I play one on TV" seems to be a purely American cultural refernce. My friend's suggested response to "Are they all yours" is "Yes and their 16 brothers and  sisters are at home," but people just look vaguely bewildered.

And so, like any good stand up comedian, I will keep working on it and secretly hope someone in the neighbourhood has triplets, because really, we are fine. 

Its like a mountain climbing only with more snot

So, for the record, this whole 2 babies in 1 year and 4 days thing, its not nearly as bad as I imagined when sobbing on the kitchen floor at 4 weeks pregnant.  As we reach the end of Theo's second week on the outside, its all OK. Everyone's been fed, clothed, bathed.  I have done laundry and steam mopped* the kitchen floor.  I even made muffins and went to the store.

But it is exhausting.  The lifting, the carrying, the walking, the feeding, the nose wiping (ok, they usually use my shirt), the clothes needing chaged from the leaking too-big cloth nappies, the running to who ever is crying the loudest leaves me physically exhausted and achey in ways that hill walking used to.

Only the view is much better:

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* Steam mops are the single greatest cleaning invention ever. If I didn't have so many children, cats, husband and visitors, you could eat off my kitchen floor.  Well, actually Georgia does eat off my kitchen floor and she seems to be fine.   

Glimpses

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This is the view from my washing line.  I liked hanging out washing at the old house.  I actually think I might love it here. The only problem is that its quite a posh neighbourhood, so I feel like I need to be dressed to hang out my washing...flip flops and jammies doen't seem to cut it.

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I swear I cleaned this room mere moments before this photo was taken. Kevin thinks I just make up the cleaning so it seems like I do something all day.  I think its lucky he's still alive after 10 years. 

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Theo sleeps in a baby hammock. All day.  He loves it.  Except between the hours of 4pm and 3am, when he doesn't.

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We eat a lot of eggs.  A lot.  Well, I don't really eat that many.  Its because when I lived in Calcutta there was a flood and I was stuck in my accomodation and all they served us was eggs for two weeks.  Deep fat fried, curried eggs was my breaking point.  Of course I get a child that loves to eat eggs above all else.

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Georgia loves Theo. As in Hugo the Abominable Snowman "I will love him pat him and squeeze him and call him George" sort of way.  

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Ellis loves him to, but I am less worried about Theo being literally smothered with love. 

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My life is filled with Lego.  We've graduated to itty bitty lego.  Is it wrong to hate it? It'd suck it up with the vacuum, but then I'd have to listen to how all the pieces are missing. 

 

 

Hitting The Wall

It happens in every long-distance race.  That moment when you hit the wall, think can not go any further and want it all to stop NOW.

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That was this week.  I knew it was coming...could see it happening in slow motion. All week, I felt just plain old sorry for myself. But when big, chocking sobs hit me yesterday I was still slightly surprised. I cried and cried that I could not do this any more.  That I did not want to stay home and clean and cook and make babies and look after babies and get snacks and most definately did not want to be pregnant a moment longer.

And so I threw a bit old fit.  I cried.  I stomped. I threw a pillow across the room (oooh, I do love throwing things when I am mad, a terrible habit I know!!).

And then my two little monkies wrestled on the bed next to me. My knight in shining armour and hiking boots came home and played and laughed and brought me cookies. I took a bath and did a bit of knitting.  I went to bed and got up and realised that, yes, I could carry on and that, no, it really wasn't all that bad.  

 

So Precious

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Maybe its the fact that she isn't going to be "The Baby" for very long.  Or maybe its the experience of knowing how quickly it passes.  Maybe its the simple truth that Ellis never really enjoyed babyhood himself and was a much happier person when he could walk and talk, but I catch my breath countless times a day just marvelling at her delicious babiness.

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She is just so good at being a baby.  Waving, saying "Hiya", playing with her toes, playing peekaboo, putting everything in her mouth...she does all of the things that one imagines babies should do.  Some days I think I could spend hours just blowing raspberries on her fat little tummy.  

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 But I can't.  I have housework and cooking and errands and a new baby in a few short weeks.  The guilt and sadness haunts me. Many days, I feel like I am in mourning.  I want to enjoy every single precious moment, but can't.  I feel like there is a clock hanging over me, reminding me with every kick, stab of heart burn, twinge of my pelvis that I am carrying the next baby and Georgia is going to be the toddler faster than I would of like.

Of course, the new baby isn't making her grow up.  That is happening already.  My determined little girl is convinced she can walk at 9 months (she can't).  When Ellis is rough housing with his friends, Georgia jumps straight into the fray.  Heck, she's even learned how to roar back in the faces of any 3 year old boy who tries to scare her with his dinosaur impression.  

 

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More than anything, I think its the deadline: 11ish weeks until she is no longer the baby.  I suppose most people don't have that kind of deadline when their baby is not even 10 months old.  I know how love grows when new children enter your life.  I understand that Georgia will never even know what has been lost, only what's been gained.  And I need to spend less time mourning the things that I haven't really lost at all, enjoying what I have and looking forward to what I am going to get.

 

Easier said than don, but still...blowing raspberries on fat tummies does help.

 

 

 

 

Unfailingly Positive

 

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When I tell you, or you guess, that baby number 3 is on the way, you will not hear me say, "We're going to have our hands full."

When you realise that the babies will be one year apart, my lips will not utter "I'm not sure how we will cope."

When I indicate you we are not moving from our small 2 bedroom house, I will not show you that I am not sure where we will put them all.

When you ask "how are you coping?", you will only hear me say, "Fine.  Tired but fine"

You see, I know how people look for the chinks in the armour.  Stories are better when they are dramatic, when there is a damsel in distress.  I ain't no damsel and I am certainly not in distress.  I know, because I remember the gasps when telling and retelling similar tales of oh-so-closely spaced children.

And so, you will find me being positive.  Unfailingly so. 

 

You Know Your Pregnancies Are Too Close Together When...

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:: You tell the midwife at the booking appointment the age of your babe in arms in weeks.

:: The same maternity clothes are in season at the end of your last and beginning of your next pregnancy.

:: Your GP considers you some sort of medical miracle and phones to tell you the statistical chance of you concieveing in the given circumstances are "aproximately 1 in 100,000" (no idea where he got that from??).

:: You calculate your gestation by subtracting your baby's current age in weeks from the number of weeks she was when you fell pregnant (14, if you are wondering).

:: You take a quite pleasure in the fact that the baby cardigan you have been knitting since before your baby was born and still isn't finished will have a new baby to fill it within a year (yes, I am still talking about Jasper).

:: Men's most common response to the announcement is to comment on your husband's super swimmers.

:: People begin thinking wild and untrue thoughts about the amount of "couple time" that goes on in your house. 

:: While sitting in the waiting room after a scan, the health professionals become most insistent you and your baby are there for a hearing test and not to see the midwives. 

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(Top picture is edited in Lightroom, bottom is straight out of the camera.  Goodness, my new lens is joyous!!)

A Tale of Two Babies

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Baby A was born at 35 weeks gestation, without the ability to coordinate sucking.  The first few weeks of his life were spent with his mother in tears attempting to breastfeed on a rigid 3 hourly schedule of try to breastfeed, top baby up with a cup of breastmilk or formula and then pump milk for 30minutes, all to begin again 3 hours later.

Baby B was born at full term, breastfed beautifully within an hour of being born, and other than being quite a sicky baby, never an issue with breastfeeding.

Which baby was being formula fed at 6 months and which one breastfed until over the age of 2?

Its a bit of a trick question, isn't it? All evidence points to baby A, Ellis, but of course the answer is B, Georgia.

As my pregnancy progresses, my milk supply is dropping, no matter what I do. Normal rules of breastfeeding fall in the face of the hormones that govern a pregnant body.  I was told this was a liklihood.  While many women who are pregnant with older babies and toddlers are able to breastfeed successfully whilst pregnant, most experts in the area warned that such a young baby is still 100% dependent on my milk for nutrition and a drop in supply would have to be compensated with formula.

I had hoped I would be lucky, that my supply would be ok.  Weeks of Georgia wanting to feed every 45 minutes then sobbing at the breast plus a steep drop in weight centiles that coincided with my pregnancy told me the truth.  She needs formula supplementation.  

And so, special formula was organised and she's taken to it fine.  I, on the other hand, am not so fine--but I will be.  Mixed feeding is working for now and the future is looked at purely on a day by day basis.  A couple of bottles a day satisfy her hunger and she is back to her lovely, happy self.  The formula stinks to high heaven, but it is what she needs.

I get it now--the guilt women feel when they want to breastfeed, but can't.  Innocent comments from friends send hot pokers of embarrassment and sadness through me.  I am afraid to give Georgia a bottle in front of one lovely friend who has previously described formula as poison. The health visitor's remarks about Georgia's weight gain and obviously needing the formula made me feel I was somehow hurting her by breastfeeding in the first place. Logically, I know none of this is true and that we are in a completely unique situation. However, when I put my brain aside and feel the issue with my heart, it hurts.  More than anything, I hope that I've never made anyone else feel this way.

Change is scary and hard, and as with this entire journey, it is full of ups and downs and heartache.  But we will be fine...in fact, we are mostly there already.

I Think You Should Probably Sit Down...

Eight weeks ago, Kevin and I were walking with the kids through the park.  As we walked under the big tree at the far end, our conversation turned to what we would do next with our lives.

"I can feel that there is a big change coming, something huge" I replied.

That night, I stepped out of bed and landed on a foot that didn't hurt* and I knew instantly what that change would be. I walked into the bathroom and dug to the bottom of the drawers and found what would confirm the thing I already knew.

Two lines told me in one second that...

...exclusive breastfeeding every two hours day and night...

...having extremely limited "couple time"...

...having had to give up breast feeding and trying for a year and a half for baby Georgia...

...co-sleeping...

...were not contraception enough.

A new little life will be joining us in early April 2011. For anyone counting, I am due just days after Georgia's first and Ellis' fourth birthday. 

I can not tell you the news was met with open arms.  There have been a lot of tears, a lot of heart ache, a lot of guilt. We had to begin telling people almost instantly.  I needed to see about special formula for Georgia, in case my supply dropped.  We needed more help than just having two children normally neccessitates.  I needed people to talk to as my focus careened to a new world view, to being a mother of three.

The responses we received have been mixed, to say the least.  Congratulations are weighed equally against the "I didn't know that was possible" and "How are you going to cope?".

We have heard a lot about our "bad luck". 

At first, I believed that it was bad luck.  I focussed on it. No, I obsessed about it. I cried over it. I yelled it as I slammed the door.

One night, I realised I was wrong.  My pregnancy isn't bad luck at all--it is a miracle.  Against all of the odds and precedent, this little life was formed.  As a friend wrote "This is a little soul who obviously wants very much to be part of your family."  Yes indeed.  And who am I to do anything but welcome him/her with open arms? 

Slowly hope has built, along with the nausea and exhaustion.  Its not something we were expecting, in fact the odds were essentially against us. But its here, this new life, ripping our plans to shreds and turning our world upside down.

We needed some time to get used to the topsy turviness. Now, upside down turns out to be OK.  It has forced us to ask ourselves lots of questions and to look hard at where we are and what we are doing.

As I write this, we don't have the answers.  I don't know when or if we will, but the fear that came with the realisation has faded. We are stepping forward into a new world as a family of five. And its a good world...and scary and full and overwhelming and exciting and exhausting and good.

Plus, I've never met a baby I didn't fall hopelessly in love with, so we'll be just fine. 

* I suffer from plantar faciitis in my left foot.  The only time it doesn't hurt is when my body is flooded with the pregnancy hormone relaxin.