Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Ill Again

Joseph hadn't got over the first head cold before falling ill with the second. It's the main down side to education, the sheer number of kids who aren't kept home when they're ill so they share their bugs and nasties about with all and sundry.
I went to pick him up from pre-school yesterday and was confronted by the sight of a red faced and crying little boy, clutching onto his right ear a lot. He had, in the last ten minutes of the session, suddenly changed from his usual happy and cheeky self to a sad little heap. They didn't know why, but thought he was a little ill.
I asked him if he wanted to go straight home or have our usual Tuesday café stop. Not even illness can stop Joseph from wanting to go to a café, so we went. Andy came to meet us, he likes a late lunch hour does my Andy and works only a short walk from the café we like to stop in.
Joseph began to realise how ill he was. His ear was hurting and he didn't feel like his usual babychino with the marshmallows so had a cold drink instead. I presented him with his usual packet of wafers that he likes and he promptly burst into tears again. He did not feel like eating.
Oh dear, if even wafers can't tempt him then he must be really ill. He cried and it got louder and louder leaving poor Andy and I with nothing to do but finish our respected decaf and full-fat coffees as quickly as possible and carry poor Joseph the short walk across the precinct to the doctors surgery. Joseph screaming that his ear hurt the entire time and I was having visions of pussy ear infections, horrible antibiotics and nasty consequences. I kept my fears to myself, no point upsetting the poor little chap any more than necessary.
Good news, there was an appointment available if I didn't mind a short wait. Joseph looked like he needed a rest before attempting the walk home anyway so I said ok and sat down to wait. Joseph alternated between wanting me to cuddle him the whole time and wanting to go and play. I told him he couldn't play as there was a good chance he had something infectious and I didn't want to risk him passing it on.
I've talked to him about germs before, and he seemed to understand the idea when he had a head-cold. "I've got little germs living up my nose, Mummy?"
Yes Joseph, and they're trying to escape in your snot.
He was unconvinced until Daniel decided that he'd been in the buggy quite long enough now thanks and really wanted a cuddle. Joseph decided that my lap was not for sharing and decided he really was too ill to play and wanted me to hold him.
Worried now that all I was in fact doing was wasting the doctors time and annoying everyone sat in the waiting room I got up when called for Joseph's appointment with a degree of trepidation.
Could the doctor look and see if he had a rash?
By all means, but it might be a little hard to tell as he's still covered in red marks from the chickenpox.
He did have a slight rash, on his cheeks and lower neck. Ears look a bit red inside and please open your mouth Joseph so we can take a look....
He didn't want to. He wouldn't be brave or pretend I was cleaning his teeth or anything so had to be gently but firmly made to co-operate by aid of a lolly stick. One red looking throat, but not pussy which is good news.
The bad news? Infection most likely caused by parvovirus B19 aka the Slapped Cheek virus so named as its victims exhibit red cheeks as if they'd been slapped. Josephs cheeks looked like they'd been aggressively exfoliated and then had aftershave put on them. They glowed like hot coals.
He does go pink when he cries, but not this much. Oh well then.
Got given a printed fact sheet and sent home with the message "Give plenty of fluids and keep him off school for a couple of days."
The bad news? People with this are most infectious for 4 to 20 days.... before the symptoms are visible. Once the rash is showing they're not infectious.
Great! So just who has he managed to pass it on to in the last week? Have I had it yet? My Mum's not sure, she thinks so but isn't 100%. You can catch it and not have any symptoms at all or you can be quite ill there's no way to tell. It's a good job all the pregnant women I knew have all had their babies as it can be nasty for them especially if they're pre twenty weeks.

Today he's looking better. There's still a blotchy rash on his cheeks, but it's less and he doesn't look like he's had a rouge accident so he's on the mend, I guess the magic pink calpol is doing it's job. I'll keep him off pre-school tomorrow anyway as per doctors orders but I'm having a hard enough time persuading him to rest today as it is. We've had to compromise a bit, he's staying in his room for now playing with his Chuggington trains with the order to lie in bed if he feels tired or ill. He hasn't yet.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

No sleep for the tired

How does one persuade a baby to sleep when he's not convinced?
He'll take a dummy now, which helps, but on its own is no good. You can put him in his cot, give him his dummy, walk away....
He cries, oh he cries. He's tired, you can tell by all the eye rubbing, but still he cries and he doesn't stop.
I cuddle him, he calms down so I put him back.
He keeps crying.
I give him a feed, that settles him down after some initial fussing. He calms down, the breathing slows, the eyes droop....
I put him in his cot and step back slowly....
He wakes up and cries.
I give him his dummy, he sucks on it looking rather cross and makes a sort of "Omly omly omly" noise, well aware that he's not getting what he wants.
I leave the room anyway, thinking to myself that he is tired and that given some time he'll have to give in.
He doesn't give in. The crying gets louder and louder and louder.
I give in first, I try the dummy again and it is spat out. I cuddle him and he arches his back like a banana, making it hard to hold him. He is letting me know in no uncertain terms that he is not at all happy with the current situation and if it continues then there will be hell to pay.
I try feeding him again, he's not interested.

An hour later I try again, repeat all steps as above with the same result. He hasn't got bags under his eyes, but a whole set of matching luggage. Sleep you little thing! You'll feel so much better. He droops and dozes for a moment, but wakes immediately and if I'm daft enough to put him in the cot... well, you'd think the wretched thing was made of boiling hot lava, the way he reacts!

Give up. Get a cup of tea and sit glaring at the news headlines on the computer with evil babe from the depths of hades squiggling on my lap. Ho hum, lots of stuff happening in the news today... check facebook....
Evil babe has stopped squiggling... he's only gone and gone to sleep just like that!
Load up program on Netflix, sit down slowly on sofa and try not to move....
Realise I've left tea by computer out of reach......

Daniel is definitely a coyote baby. If you get him asleep and go to put him down you find yourself asking whether you'd rather chew your own hand off than risk waking him by removing it from under him......

Bad Behaviour

I can tell Joseph is settling into pre-school. He's confident enough to be naughty now. At the start, he had something of a confident shyness about him, he didn't have the massive screaming tantrums or melt down into tears, he just looked very sad and just kept asking "Why?" when I said I had to go. "I'm too big and too old." I told him. He still looked sad.
He didn't want to sit with the other children. He just wanted to play in the sand - just the sand and nothing else. As I said, confident in his shyness. I would go and pick him up and he'd say that he was ok - but he missed his house. Yes, that's where he went first, not me or his baby brother or even his toys - his house.
He's managed to make a couple of friends in his little group. I asked him what their names were: -
"Angry Boy and Pants - because I shout pant at him."
"Why do you shout Pants at him? That's not very nice!"
"But he shouts pants at me!"
Angry Boy is so named because they just shout. I have mentioned at other times that I have little understanding of the male mind and the mind of a three year old boy is shrouded in deep layers of mystery. These boys a friends and they like shouting at each other. His pre-school keyworker said that Joseph and Pants (I'm not going to use his real name, I do know it but for privacy's sake... no, it's just coz it's funny, I'm sticking with Pants) were as thick as thieves and having lots of fun, but don't worry, he didn't wet himself, they had to change Joseph's trousers because he'd had a little too much fun in the sand pit.
I got home, got the dirty trousers out of the bag and promptly got wet sand everywhere. Fun in the sandpit, according to Joseph meant he and Pants had dug a big hole, Joseph had got in and then buried himself with a little help. The problem with sand is it just gets everywhere. It's clingy when wet, but scatters off like mad when dry. I washed said trousers - they were new and all, the one day he goes in with new trousers and he tries to wreck them - and there was still sand on them and in the pockets.
I got to meet Angry Boy in the queue one morning as we were waiting to be let in. He had some lengths of dry grass in his pocket which he was calling sticks so they were happily shouting "Sticks!" at each other for a while. Then one of them decided they were bread sticks and that was shouted too. No, I don't know why.
On two occasions I have gone to pick up my lovable little scamp and been told that his listening skills have a little something to be desired. I am aware of this, Joseph will often decide to not listen when being told something he doesn't like or isn't interested in. I have at times held his head in both my hands and looked him right in the eyes and still what I am saying does not go in.
We're working on it, but it's very hit and miss. Having tried one or two ways round with the whole discipline thing, we've gone back to bribery. The carrot is better than the stick, or at least a whole lot less stressful.
He doesn't even like carrots, but there you go. We're using skittles right now. I line them up on a shelf he can see but can't reach. Whatever it is we're trying to do, be it getting dressed, tidying up or eating dinner he knows that if he's given warnings and told off enough times then I'll start eating them. And that would totally ruin my diet.

In other news Daniel is still a bit ill, there's nothing so sad as a baby with a chesty cold except the mother of a baby with a chesty cold who keeps being woken up in the night. Sometimes putting the dummy back in works, sometimes not. Sometimes he just needs a cuddle, sometimes I have to feed him, sit with him for a bit and make sure he's nice and snug and warm before he'll give up and go back to sleep, usually just as I've got to the interesting bit of the program I'm watching on Netflix to help me stay awake. I'm really getting my moneys worth out of the subscription at the moment. 

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

I hate the 80's

Ah Wednesday, it's supposed to be the calmer day of the week, no rushing off to the shops or pre-school or playgroup. Catch up on a few chores, spend some real quality time with Joseph and unwind.
Ha! Don't make me laugh.
Joseph, over the last few Wednesdays in particular, has been nothing but a total pain in the bum. Far from unwinding, I've been doing nothing but getting repeatedly and excessively cross. As for quality time, I think he spends more time in the naughty spot (the front hall) than anywhere else. It's as if a little switch has pinged somewhere in his head and he's forgotten how to listen and even when he does hear, it's not relevant unless he can see just how angry I am - angry enough to boil a pot of water if you put it on my head for example. If I ask him anything nicely I might as well just be reading from a glossary of medical terms, for all the relevance to him. Inevitably he pushes his bad behaviour too far and ends up in the hall for three to five minutes. Speaking of which, I'd better got let him out.
I promised myself I wouldn't be a shouty mum. I wasn't going to go flying off the handle and getting cross, I'd be reasonable - and if that didn't work I'd bribe him.
I'm so tired I forgot to buy sweets this week, so bribery is hard.  Talking to him reasonably only gets you so far and it's as if he wants to annoy me at the moment. I tell him - stop shoving your face right close to Daniel, you've got a cold and I don't want him getting it!
He doesn't listen, just carries on. I can talk calmly until the cows come home, whenever that is, and it does no good. It isn't till I'm actually shouting he listens and even then I have to physically drag him away.
He giggles and then tries to go straight back, coughing in my babies face. Daniel has been enough of a pain at night as it is without another head cold, he's barely over the last one.
He wants a biscuit. I tell him no, not till after dinner now.
He doesn't listen, just keeps on asking. I repeat myself ad nauseam, but it does no good until I shout NO!
He points out that he's been good, so he needs a biscuit.
I point out that he has not been good, he's done lots of things bad and has been told off quite a lot today.
But I AM being good! he squeals, starting to whinge and whine.
If there's one thing I really struggle with at the moment, it's the whinging. It's possibly the most annoying sound in the world, even more annoying than turning on the radio to get the traffic report and being aurally assaulted by Eurythmics. Seriously, why do some local radio stations think that everyone wants to listen to "There Must Be An Angel" by Eurythmics? It's terrible! Yet they all put it on with depressing regularity, or at least all the times I'm daft enough to put the radio on.
I digress.
The power of the whinge.
I can keep my cool unless he's about to injure Daniel, or I really have no sleep or...
He whinges. Why is that sound so annoying? I don't know. I do know that when it starts it doesn't stop and the net result is I'm hauling him off to the hall to calm down. I then go get a cup of tea to calm down.

And what of Daniel in all this?
He's still only sleeping when he feels like it, which isn't much in the day. At least last night he slept till 5.20 am straight through and then settled after a while with his dummy. I eventually drifted off to sleep again to be woken by the radio alarm not long later playing....
You guessed it, Eurythmics.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Tiredness and Trains

I'm tired.
I don't just mean that I've done a bit too much, or the kind of tired where you feel better after putting your feet up for a bit and having a cup of tea - although that would probably help.
I'm the kind of tiredness that goes more than skin deep, it's set in past the muscles and the rather thicker than I'd like adpose layer, through the bones and into the marrow. My lungs are tired, as is my heart, liver and kidneys. My spleen feels quite tired too, but it's a bit less vocal on the issue than the rest of me. My knees are probably the worst, barring my brain, but that's got so bad it's given up complaining now.

Daniel woke me up five times in the night. At 1.30am I was naive enough to think he might be hungry, so I came downstairs to feed him only to discover that he wasn't, not really. He did go back to sleep, but not for long. As far as I could tell, he was waking up because he'd lost his dummy as putting it back seemed to help.
I don't get it, I really don't. He's never slept as well as Joseph, but he's been pretty good over night. He had been, up till recently, sleeping from nine-ish to between five and six am. That's not bad, so I'm told, but regular waking when the hour begins with a five is not good for the soul.
So why the wake ups now? Last night wasn't a one-off, he's been bothering us over night once or twice for the last week now and I don't know why. Sometimes putting the dummy in his mouth works, sometimes not. Sometimes I feed him and discover that he's not really hungry, but it does help him get back to sleep and I'm really making good use of the Netflix subscription now.
It would appear, however, that the best way to get a couple of good naps out of him in the day is to have a rubbish night. He did a full hour in the moses basket today, which is more than twice he usually manages in the day time.
After the hour had passed, I went to check on him, more out of curiosity than anything. I opened the door slowly and discovered a baby... with a blanket over his face.
Panic mode! He's lying there so still and quiet! Oh no oh no oh no! How did that happen?
Quickly twitch blanket away from face to reveal a fast asleep baby complete with drool. Breath a sigh of relief and step back only to discover that your panicked actions have woken the baby. Oh well.

He's quite happy now, playing on the floor and kicking his little feet. His toy rabbit is lying a few feet away with an expression of relief on his face as it's having a break from having its ears chewed. Joseph is demanding more television and I am hoping I am not too tired to resist. He'd watch all day long if I let him.
Today Joseph has been to pre-school and he came home with a picture that had one thing stuck on it. I think Joseph favours a minimalist Dadaism school of art. He certainly has an unusual way of looking at life, he decided to put all of his clothes on backwards this morning, which would have been funny had it not been that we were running late.
After pre-school and lunch I asked Joseph to play upstairs on his own for a bit so I could have a moment to rest my aching bones while Daniel was sleeping. Joseph was tired, he had just fallen asleep on my lap, but the idea of having a nap upstairs was greeted with much derision. He played with his brio instead.
Have I mentioned that Joseph likes Thomas the Tank Engine? He does. The wooden brio is now the Isle of Sodor with Tidmouth Sheds and Brendam Docks which now extend out of his room and down the hall and almost into another room. I'm not allowed to put them away or the Fat Controller will get cross.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Behavioral advice around pregnant women

This is the last blog post I was writing before Daniel made his early appearance.  I'd been to the NEC the day before to the big craft fair they do. It seemed to be "be rude to a pregnant lady day" so I was feeling a little cross. I found it rather amusing that when there's a shortage of seating, everyone pretends they can't see you when you're heavily pregnant.

I'd just like to give out a few tips and pointers for what is and isn't really acceptable behaviour around the pregnant ladies of the world as sometimes there seems to be a lot of people who... well, to be brutally honest either have no clue at all or actually seem to be going out of their way to be difficult on purpose.

1) Don't drive mobility scooters into us. Seriously, this is very important and I had a bit of a close call yesterday. Don't have the full speed turned up while you're inside and please don't drive straight at someone who happens to be dressed in a bright red and white stripy top and is the same approximate shape as a weeble. I am not a target to hit, you do not get ten points for knocking me down and it's not my fault you don't know how to drive.
2) Don't slam your chair back into mine in a restaurant. I'm sitting as close to the table as I can possibly get, which I admit isn't as close as usual - but then there is a bump in the way. What's your excuse?
3) It's my bump, hands off. Thankfully I have managed to avoid any unwanted bump contact, but plenty of other women I know have not been so lucky. Why is it ok to randomly grope a stranger? It's not, so just don't do it.
4) Yes it takes me longer to walk places, I just can't go that fast. Don't push me.
5) My hormones are all up the spout and I can't help it. I'm pregant, making the next generation who'll pay taxes to cover our pensions when we're old. I don't expect to be always treated with kid gloves, just give me a break sometimes. 

Things I've Learned from Childrens Television

1, You can successfully bandage a fish - Octonauts
2, Goats really don't like Jazz - Shaun the Sheep
3, There's always a good excuse for casual violence - The Sooty Show
4, Don't get on the wrong side of the Fat Controller or he'll brick you up in a tunnel - Thomas the Tank Engine (the old version)
5, If you're trying to do well at school, don't make friends with a badger - Timmy Time
6, I don't know what it is Mr Maker is taking, but I'd like to try it
7, Pigs have both eyes on the same side of their face - Peppa Pig (can't watch it, the neo-cubism gives me a headache)
8, Cement looks like pink blancmange - Bob the Builder
9, The BBC is making some real budget cuts in childrens televison and in some areas it's really starting to show - Sarah and Duck
10, You can live successfully on nothing but porrdige and smelly lake-water - Abney and Teal.

Almost anything is better than Abney and Teal. I've sat through episode and episode of Tree-Fu Tom, a truly bad cartoon, safe in the knowledge that at least it's not Abney and Teal. What's with the accordian playing dog? And Toby-Dog played some "bugging the wits out of your Mum music".And guess what? It sounds exactly like his "it's a rainy day" music or his "Teal's caught dysentry from the lake" music.

I may have made the last one up.

Sleep - I need it, he wont have it

Well it's been a long time, hasn't it?
Daniel, my new lovely little bub is six months old and getting bigger every day. The problem is that whenever I try and sit down to do anything that doesn't get classed as "urgent" Daniel wants my attention. Actually, he wants my attention pretty much all the time, but I can justify putting him down to cook dinner or do laundry, but not to read a book or write a blog.
As if on cue, as soon as I start typing he wakes up and yells. You  know, I ordered a book for my kindle months ago. I've read the first three pages about four times now, but never got any further as the one thing he really can't stand is me sitting and reading.
Joseph used to nap like a pro. I got him onto a pretty good routine and I was always guaranteed a morning nap of about an hour and an afternoon nap of about two hours until he was past one. Even then he napped in the afternoon till nearly three. Sometimes he still does, but I can't force him into it.

Daniel is not like Joseph. He was born nearly a month early which meant a week-long stay in hospital as we recovered from the stress of it all - and massive infections. He was exclusively breast-fed till nearly six months whereas with Joseph I lasted less than six weeks. Daniel hated formula, Joseph greeted the sight of a bottle with great gusto. Now Daniel is weaning I have persuaded him to take a couple of bottles in the day, but it's taken some convincing.
Oh Daniel, what is it? Why is it whenever I sit down to do something that is even remotely close to something classed as "me" time you always dissolve into a mess of whingy tears? I haven't put makeup on since your birth, you never give me the time. Joseph always used to, but he was quite a sanguine baby who would not yell just becasue he'd been put on his play mat for a few minutes.
Daniel wears his little heart very much on his sleeve. Joseph had several sorts of cry, I could tell if he was upset or tired very easily. His routine meant he was rarely screaming hungry. Daniel was demand fet up until now and that means more screaming, but he only does one volume - loud. He howls just the same when he's tired so it's just so hard to tell what's what with him. Right now I think he's hungry so I'd better pour some milk over a rusk and sort him out. I'm pretty sure he's tired too, but that's another story.

He's eaten, and got a lot of it down himself, but that's just how it goes. A breastfed baby has a tounge reflex that they find hard to stop, which means spitting out half their food when it comes to weaning time. Joseph being bottle fed lost the tongue reflex early so weaned easily and tidily.
Daniel had a breastfeed right after and started to look quite drowsy, so I have taken him upstairs to sleep. Ha ha! How naive am I? Do you know, Gina Ford reccomends that you do not let your baby fall asleep while feeding them. Her advice is ridiculed by many, but they never stop to think that she might have a point. I let Daniel fall asleep at the end of a feed a lot and soon ended up with a baby who would only sleep after a feed. He would also only sleep lightly, so transferring him from arms to moses basket was risky and usually ended up with him waking up. As he had got used to sleeping after a feed he would not settle himself in his basket and would just plain scream. Scream and scream and scream....
Joseph had a tired cry. Sometimes I would put him down to sleep and he'd cry his tired cry and within a few minutes he'd go quiet and be asleep. I have learned that this does not work with Daniel. If I put him down to sleep and he cries then all that happens is that he gets louder and louder and louder.
So the choices are - let him sleep in my arms or risk putting him down, which is 50-50 at best. Either way, half an hour is usually the best he'll do. Fifteen minutes is more likely and that means he just cat-naps, long enough to take the edge off so he wont go back to sleep but not long enough to sort out his tiredness so I have a grumpy baby on my hands all day long.  If I ley him sleep in my arms then my poor circulation ensures that my arm goes numb in a few minutes and I have the hell of pins and needles in a short space of time.
I've looked around. The advice is - put him down awake but drowsy and let him get used to it. I've tried it, he just cries. He wouldn't go long enough between breastfeeds to cope with the routine I had Joseph on and even when I can get him asleep in his basket he doesn't sleep for long enough.
Speaking of which.....

At least now at six months he's relented and is taking a bottle and now will take a dummy. Six months of no dummy and no pacification! Now my new technique is take him up asleep and shove the dummy in when he inevitably wakes upon arrival in his basket. If I'm quick enough, he'll settle himself off quickly. If I don't take him up asleep he needs to be a bit drowsy after a meal and a breastfeed. I shove a dummy in and walk away. He sucks like mad and then cries. After a couple of minutes I go back in, shove the dummy in and walk away again. Rinse and repeat.... it can take a while, but he does nap in the end. Sometimes. Well... occasionally.

Doesn't seem to be working today. Got to go....