Things Motherhood Has Taught Me: Humility

Motherhood has been the greatest teacher of my life.  Over an ongoing series of posts, I am going to share with you some of the things motherhood has taught me.  I’m going to kick off with what I feel to be perhaps the most important lesson so far – that of humility.

When I was pregnant, I knew it all. I knew exactly what kind of mother I was going to be and the choices I would make. I was one of those awful, awful first time preggos who think they know everything about things they have never experienced. Who want to give people directions for paths they have never walked. Sometimes I wish I could go back in time and give myself a good smack in the face.

I planned an all natural homebirth. I was going to use cloth nappies. I was going to breastfeed as long as my baby wanted to. I have to be honest, I judged people who did differently. I didn’t understand why anyone would choose a drug-filled hospital birth, to pollute the earth with disposables, to formula feed from birth.

It’s funny the way life has of teaching you these lessons. As it turned out, my homebirth turned into four days of agonising posterior labour that ended in hospital with gas, pethidine and an epidural (i.e. every drug possible!). I just couldn’t get the feel for cloth nappies for a long time and so she wore disposables for the first 8 months of her life. I hated breastfeeding and endured 6 months of it before weaning with relief onto formula.

At first I felt like a failure. I felt like everything I had tried to be as a mother, I had failed at. I saw other people having beautiful homebirths, easy drug free births, cloth nappying from birth, breastfeeding into toddlerhood – and I thought: they are the mothers I wanted to be… why can they do it and not I? I must be a massive failure.

But then, as I became more at peace with the mother I am and stopped comparing myself to others, I began to feel like maybe events had happened the way they did to teach me a lesson. A very very important lesson that I value highly, and that I feel makes me a better person in taking to heart.

It taught me the lesson of humility.

It taught me never – NEVER ever ever – to judge another person whose shoes you have not walked in. You can never know how you would react to a situation until you are in it. And just because someone does something differently to the way you would do it, doesn’t mean they are wrong. There is nothing to say that the choices I make are right – they are just right for me, in the moment that I make them. Everyone is just doing the best they can, with what they have, where they are. And if you’re sitting and judging someone harshly because they made a choice different than you think you would…. well, in my experience, life has a certain knack for chucking you into a situation where you may just come to an understanding of that choice.

The mummy wars that pervade modern motherhood drive me nuts. Except in a very few matters, there really is no black and white right or wrong when it comes to parenting. There are no true “experts”. We all come into this job with our own biases and personalities and life history. If all people are different and unique, it’s crazy to think that we should all conform to one way of parenting.

I parent my way – I stand strong in my choices, knowing they are right for me and my child. But I can also have the humility to know that they may not be right for everyone. And that is ok. It doesn’t make me wrong and it doesn’t make other people wrong. Even if I feel I have been in a similar situation to someone else – I haven’t truly been in their shoes… and thus, truly, I have no place making judgement on them.

I still do feel a little sad about the way some things turned out in my journey so far. I feel sad about the homebirth I missed out on. It sucks that I didn’t have an evangelical breastfeeding experience. It sucks that I didn’t emerge from birth instantly being the personification of the ultimate earth mother, but rather that I had to grow into (am still growing into) the mother I want to be.

But in some ways, I am glad as well. I am grateful for the lesson of humility my experiences have taught me. I am grateful to have had a glimpse of some of the things other women go through that leads them to make choices I once judged or pitied.

I am grateful to motherhood for bringing me out of my own head and back down to earth. I feel that it has made me a better, more loving, more accepting person. And that’s gotta be a good thing.

Cluck Cluck Cluck

I am clucky as a barnyard full of chickens at the moment.

It’s crazy, isn’t it?!  After my painful, drawn out birth experience… after how incredibly hard I found the first few months… even with how I still struggle to learn patience and to give up my alone time… even though my brain is in full knowledge of all of that….

I want another one.

Two!  Can you imagine me with two?!  My brain says it’s a ridiculous idea.  My brain says to wait at least one or two more years.  But everything else – whether it’s hormones or maternal instinct or I don’t know what the hell it is – just wants to make another baby.

I think part of the reason I had such a tough time in the beginning with Scarlett is because I was mourning the life I lost.  I was mourning sleep ins, quiet hours reading my book, uninterrupted cups of tea, nights out on the town without a second thought, doing what I want, when I want…. I was mourning a life which revolved around ME.

It was a hard transition for me to make.  I really struggled in those first few months.  If you had asked me then, I would have said Scarlett was going to be an only child and I was NEVER doing this again.  Ah female hormones are wonders for handing out rose-coloured glasses 😛

And yet, I think one of the things that made it so hard for me was the fact that I didn’t realise how rewarding it would get.  I had no idea how much I would really come to enjoy it.  From about six months onwards, I have found bubba so much more fun.  She moves around, she initiates laughter, her personality slowly becomes revealed, she smiles when she’s having fun, she chats.  She’s fun to be around.  She make me laugh all the time, even when I’m grumpy.

Seeing her amazing little personality begin to shine more and more each day, it just makes me think – we made a person!  And… we could make another one!  What would our next little person be like?  What would his/her personality be like, what would make them laugh, what would they find fun?

I’m never going to be childless again, and I feel like I’ve already mourned for that and come to terms with it.  In some ways, maybe that is the hardest part over for me.  For the first few months, the words “mum” and “daughter” didn’t feel right in my mouth.  I still didn’t identify with it – it sounded like someone else.  Now I hear a baby cry and instantly move as if to react – even if Scarlett is not around.  Now telling people I have a daughter is the most natural thing in the world.  I have accepted my new role, my new identity – Mum.

Which is not to say I have lost who I was – rather that who I was has been expanded upon, added to… made better.  Being a mum makes me a better person every day.

Life doesn’t revolve around me anymore – it revolves around her every second… and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  She adds the dimension to my life that I had been missing all those years of lostness and searching.  Even when it’s hard, I know my life is better for having her in it.

I would love to go through the whole thing again with the knowledge I have now – with less of the unknown, being able to enjoy each step a little more for knowing what comes after it.  Savouring each bit a little more.  Savouring that initial excitement of being pregnant.  Savouring the big fat waddling stage.  Savouring the birth – yes, even that.  Savouring that newborn time when they are needy and teensy and just eat and drink and sleep.  Savouring every bit in that bittersweet knowledge that it lasts just such a very short time in the scheme of things.

I would hope that I would cope better this time around, with the newborn stage, with all of it.  But adding a toddler into the mix… well, that’s just a whole new ballgame isn’t it?!  Who knows… but I really would like to find out.

But don’t go getting too excited, we’re certainly not trying yet, the timing isn’t quite right for us yet, and my IUD isn’t going to be letting in any “accidents”.  So I will just sit and cluck a little longer and enjoy my mini munchkin as she grows.

Cluck.

The Milestone Trap

As a first time mum, I try as much as possible to avoid falling into what I call The Milestone Trap.

At times it can seem like all around me there are babies who are rolling, crawling, walking, joining mensa… you know, reaching all those big milestones, while my own baby is nowhere near it.  As a first timer, it can make you start to question… “Is something wrong with my baby?” “Why isn’t my bubba doing that yet?”

When I find myself falling into that trap of comparison, I have to remind myself that there is a huge range of “normal” when it comes to children, especially babies.  Even physiotherapists have been known to say that “there is no abnormal under 1”.  I’ve heard of babies walking at 7 months, and I’ve heard of babies that didn’t crawl until they were 11 months and then were off and walking two weeks later.

The most important point to remember is that neither way is better.  Doing it earlier doesn’t mean the baby is cleverer or that the parent is somehow doing a better job.  Doing it later doesn’t mean the baby is slow or dumb or that it’s due to slack parenting.  All babies develop on their own schedule when it is right for them.

Some parents find themselves wanting to rush their baby along – to “teach” it how to crawl, to stand, to walk.  I think, if you do this, you run two great risks.  Firstly you risk pushing the baby out of alignment with its own natural line of development and pushing it into skills its not ready for.  And secondly, by always looking ahead and wanting your baby to be doing the next thing, the next thing, the next thing… you risk not being able to stop and appreciate your baby just exactly as they are right now.

So your baby doesn’t crawl yet?  Unless they’re over one or show other signs of developmental delay… who cares?  There are lots of advantages to having a baby that can’t get into the kitchen drawers!  Just enjoy it.  Enjoy who your baby is.  Enjoy watching your baby develop on its own timeframe.  Don’t be in a hurry.  Because the time will come when you look back on this age with a kind of aching nostalgia and wish you could go back and hold that sweet still infant on your lap again and smell their head… without being punched in the face.

This is a video I absolute love, of a baby called Liv as she develops the skills of rolling over and crawling in the first year of life.  What I absolutely love about this video is how it shows all the tiny little steps that lead up to the bigger milestone – placing her feet together, kicking the floor… little things that may go unnoticed but are actually crucial stepping stones in the learning process that eventually end up in the big action you’ve been waiting for.

Another thing I love about it is the look of absolute pride on her face when she learns to roll over.  Another risk of trying to teach a baby something it’s not ready for is that you deprive it of that proud feeling of acheivement babies get when they figure something out all by themselves.

At the moment, Scarlett has just learned to pull herself up to standing while holding onto the couch.  Every time she does it, she gets the biggest grin and laughs.  It’s the cutest thing ever!  She’s so proud of herself and so amazed at what she just made her body do.

And so I try not to get caught up in the big milestones.  They aren’t the only milestones anyway.  I remember the day she smiled for the first time, without it being followed by a burp or a poo…

Bubba’s first smile at 10 days old 🙂

I remember the day she lay and examined each individual finger one by one, as if just discovering that they were separate from each other…

Hrmmm, I found these little sausages on my hands…

I remember the first time she laughed at something because she found it funny, not because I was trying to make her laugh (I sat her up in the bath for the first time instead of lying her down – she slapped the water and thought it was the most hilarious thing ever!)…

Baths are fun!

I remember so many little funny gorgeous things… things that aren’t in most baby books or developmental emails, things only a mumma would notice.  And somehow that makes them all the more special to me, those little milestones, those tiny moments frozen in time.  And they’re all part of the process, all part of her learning about herself and her world, just as much as the big, well known milestones like crawling and walking.

Whenever I catch myself comparing her to other babies, I just use it as a trigger thought to remind me to appreciate her for exactly who she is, as she is.  She is my Scarlett, she is doing things her way (as is every baby), and why would I wish her any different?  She is perfect just as she is.

Oh Child Asleep Upon My Knee

When my bubba was very small, my mum sent me this poem she had heard years ago.  It brings tears to my eyes everytime I read it.  Screw the washing and the cleaning – my small excuse, you’re growing too fast.

Oh Child Asleep Upon My Knee

Oh child asleep upon my knee
what will your memories be of me?
When you are grown and think of now,
will you stop and remember how
the floors were dusty as you played
and dishes seldom put away,
I rarely got to make those beds…
or all those books we read and read?
Will you remember on the chair
the pile of wrinkled nappies there
that seemed to stay forever, or,
the other things I had time for?
You might recall my face was plain,
hair unkempt and apron stained,
or how from school back home you’d tear
safe knowing I was always there.

Oh child asleep upon my knee
you’ve made my life such luxury.
If not for you I’d have to do
the cleaning and the ironing too,
I couldn’t move at my own pace,
I’d have to join in the rat race.
From nine to five in stiffened clothes
 with clipped-up hair and powdered nose.
You fill my life with many reasons
for being lazy through the seasons.
But with each autumn as you grow
I think it’s such a shame to know
my small excuse, you’re growing fast
this peaceful life, it will not last.
But perhaps when I am old and grey
my grandchildren will come to stay,
and with housework neglected then
my house I know will shine again.


9 Months: Clapping, Waving, Standing

Well, we are almost at the end of another month and bubba is becoming such a little person.  I feel like she has gotten so much bigger recently… not necessarily physically, just less… baby-like.  My little baby has gone!  In her place is this little girl who gets cleverer and more independent by the day.

Early in the month she figured out clapping all by herself – and decided to express her love for food by applauding every mouthful.

The daycare lady had been trying to elicit a wave from bubba for ages and drawing only blank “what the hell are you doing” stares.  But once she had discovered clapping, she soon decided waving was good fun too.  Although she doesn’t quite grasp the “coming and going” sense of it, more just that it’s a fun way to flail your arms around and get people to exclaim happily in high pitched voices.

And then a few days ago, we discovered that she could stand against the couch all by herself!  She has always loved to be held into a standing position – but one day I let go and she just kept standing there!  Holding onto the couch mind you, but still… she was pretty darn proud of herself and I couldn’t believe what a grown up little girl she looked.

The next day she even pulled herself into a standing position.  It’s only happened the once so far, but I was pretty surprised!  Clever monkey!

A funny thing happened the other night.  I’ve never really played peekaboo with her cos she never really seemed to “get” it – she would just look at me like “seriously?”  But then the other night, she was down the end of the couch and she started peeking over the top, cracking up laughing and dropping down again.  She did it over and over, it was so cute!

I feel like she has changed so much over the past few weeks and I feel like I’m settling more and more into motherhood.  As she grows and becomes more interactive and more like a little person, I find myself enjoying it more and more.  Yes, I still get frustrated.  But I’m learning that the trick is to alter my expectations.  If I don’t expect to spend an hour reading my book, if I don’t expect to sleep through the night without interruption, then I don’t have to get frustrated when those expectations/desires aren’t met.  And when I do happen to get a moment with my book or a good night’s sleep, then I can just enjoy them as happy little bonuses.  All in all, I’m starting to see what this motherhood thing is all about. 

The older she gets, the more rewarding it gets.  I would say I’ve definitely enjoyed this age the most so far.  The only thing I’m not quite sure of is whether that’s actually because of her age or because of my own personal growth.

Understanding Breastfeeding Aversion

Yesterday I came across this post about breastfeeding on the alivingfamily blog.  In it, the author describes her feelings of breastfeeding aversion while feeding her toddler, which surfaced while pregnant with her second baby.  As I read the way she described the feelings, I felt this massive surge of relief wash over me.  And then I turned to google and started researching breastfeeding aversion, which I had never heard of until now.

The reason I felt these feelings of relief and almost excitement, is because the feelings of aversion while breastfeeding that she describes in that post are exactly how I have always felt about breastfeeding, right from the beginning.  I have written on here once before about my love/hate (and to be honest, it was more of the latter than the former) relationship with breastfeeding.  At that point, I was in the middle of my breastfeeing experience and trying to come to terms with how I was feeling, trying to maintain a positive outlook on it, as I knew I had to continue until at least 6 months (we were moving interstate when bubba was 6 months old and I felt that breastfeeding would be a lot more convenient for the move!).

For this reason, I don’t think I was entirely truthful about my feelings, even in that raw and honest post.  After reading Sheila’s post on alivingfamily, I started googling like mad and hungrily reading up the limited information I found.  While there seems to be little official information, the web is filled with desperate and confused women describing all the feelings I had while breastfeeding.

“when my son wanted to feed I dreaded having to do it, felt almost repulsed the whole time, it made my skin crawl, I felt ‘wrong’ and it lasted during the whole feed, sometimes getting worse during the feed.” (source)

“Some people go as far to say that feeding feels like they are being ‘molested’. Another mother says ‘After the feed I’m angry at myself, but during the feed I’m just sitting there resenting **** and wanting to hit him’ whilst another responds ‘ it’s hard to admit that sometimes you really do want to hurt your baby. Except that, at the same time, you really don’t.'” (source)

“I felt an overpowering urge to stop nursing, immediately. It was a visceral, gut reaction like an itch, making me tense, anxious, cranky, and agitated.” (source)

“…it was so instinctive to recoil from nursing that I really almost couldn’t help myself. I had a strong urge to pick her up and throw her off of me and run away from her. I was in no way prepared for it and I felt like the worst mother on the planet” (source)

“For months I’ve been dealing with more than feeling touched-out, more than just being a bit antsy. I’ve had a genuine dread of breastfeeds, a feeling like breastfeeding is like being touched by a creepy uncle, that it’s wrong and it’s weird and it must stop now.” (source)

I wish I could accurately portray to you the feeling of relief I get reading these words coming from other people’s mouths.  It makes me feel validated, it makes me feel understood, it makes my whole breastfeeding experience finally, finally make some kind of strange awful sense.  Apparently this is more common in women who continue breastfeeding through pregnancy or are nursing an older child – but I certainly experienced this right from the very beginning of breastfeeding and surely there must be others out there like me.

I never even questioned, while I was pregnant, that I would breastfeed my baby.  It wasn’t a decision, it was an assumption.  I expected to enjoy it, for it to be the magical bonding experience so many women seem to love.

I wasn’t prepared for the pain in the beginning, but pain can be overcome.  What was worse was what came after the pain.  Other people’s words above have described it perfectly – the feeling of wrongness, of skin crawling antsy-ness, of wanting to fling your baby away from you and scream GET THE HELL OFF MY BREAST!!  My favourite is the last quote above – where she describes dreading breastfeeding and a feeling like you’re being touched up by a creepy uncle.  That’s exactly it.  Molested is a harsh word but there you go, I said it anyway – it feels like being violated, like doing something physically that every visceral piece of you doesn’t want to do.

As one of the mothers quoted above said, “I felt like the worst mother on the planet”.  All these other women seemed to love breastfeeding, to find it a special bonding experience, to do it past infancy, to not want to stop.  I have been looking back lately, wondering to myself – do those women just have a very different experience of breastfeeding than I did, or are they just better at coping with it?  Are they just better women – better mothers?

Having stumbled across this information about breastfeeding aversion, discovering that other women have felt what I felt about breastfeeding, makes me feel like yelling from the rooftops: I AM NOT A BAD MOTHER AFTER ALL!  It’s a genuine experience that some women have, it does not mean you don’t love your baby or that you don’t have the right maternal instincts or that you lack some kind of essential mothering ability.

Experiencing breastfeeding aversion does not make you a bad mother.

I just want to say it over and over again, for myself and for any other woman who has ever had this confusing, gut wrenching experience.
Hating breastfeeding does not make you a bad mother.

One of the hardest things about writing about this, is that describing feelings of wanting to fling your baby off you or hating having them at the breast may make it sound like you don’t care for your baby or you lack some attachment to them.  This is so far from the truth.  In fact, that’s what makes this experience so difficult, so confusing.  You love your baby, you want the absolute best for you baby – that’s why you put yourself through these feelings over and over again, multiple times a day.  I remember how much I couldn’t stand feeding and yet when she looked up at me with those eyes…

… oh god, she NEEDED me, she needed me and how could I fail her?  How could I have those feelings about doing something so beautiful for someone so incredibly beautiful?
Even now, looking at that photo makes me well up with tears.  She needed me so much – oh my little one, I did the best I could for you.

In the early days I contemplated weaning but found I still had an instinctive need to keep breastfeeding – and the feelings were at a manageable level.  But it got worse as time went on.  Once she got to about 5 months old, the long nighttime feeding sessions were like an incredibly unusual form of torture.

I held on to 6 months and as soon as we arrived in our new city, I began the switch to bottlefeeding, which thankfully went quickly and easily.  My boobs shrunk quickly and my bubba was happy on bottles.  I was happy with her on bottles.  Oh the relief.  Oh the immense relief to leave my breasts inside my bra all day and not have anyone suckle on them.  Oh the relief to hold my baby and feed her without my breasts being involved, to feel nothing but love.  Oh I can’t even describe to you the relief.

If I ever have another baby, I will spend the whole pregnancy freaking out about breastfeeding.  Because I really do believe in the importance of breastmilk in the early months.  But the thought of having to do it again makes me feel like putting on a steel bra with a lock and throwing away the key.  It makes me feel like crossing my arms tightly across my chest and curling into a corner.

I felt I needed to write this post because I feel like I want people to be aware of this issue, to know it exists, to understand.  I want the staunch breastfeeding activists to read this.  I want people who judge those who bottlefeed to read this.  I want anyone who has ever had or who is currently having this experience to read this.  I want them all to understand that this is a real phenomenon, and that it can be unbearable.

I want to tell them –

– I want to tell myself –

– hating breastfeeding does not make you a bad mother.

Attachment Parenting Says You ARE Mum Enough

Doubtless by now most of you have seen the controversial TIME magazine cover, featuring a woman breastfeeding her almost 4 year old boy, screaming the headline “Are You Mom Enough?”  It seems to be all over the news and social media right now.

Oh man.  I don’t even know where to start with this.  This cover angers me in so many ways.

Firstly, it pretty much sums up a lot of what I have experienced in the modern world of parenting – so much division and judgement, so many people examining every parenting choice you make to figure out if you are “mum enough”.  Rather than joining us together as a sisterhood, as a human family, becoming a mother these days is to put yourself under the microscope of ARE YOU GOOD ENOUGH… and 9 times out of 10 you’ll feel the answer is a resounding “No” – even if you’re doing everything “right”.

As if women didn’t judge each other enough!  As if people in general didn’t judge mothers enough!  As if mothers didn’t subject themselves to enough guilt and judgement every single day!  And then we get this – a popular magazine screaming all over the newstands the idea that some women are “more mum” than others.

That brings me to the second issue I have with it – breastfeeding is already a highly contentious topic in mother-land.  You have the “breast is best and anything less is child abuse” nazis and you have the “breastfeeding is yuck” ignorants – and inbetween you have a whole swathe of women just trying to do the best by their babies the best way they know how.  This cover is deeply offensive to a whole hoard of loving mothers who are unable to or choose not to breastfeed.  I am personally offended by this cover.  I no longer breastfeed my baby.  I feed her formula with as much love as she can handle.  Does that mean I am not “mum enough” for my baby?

But one of the worst things about this cover is that TIME magazine have gotten their wires seriously crossed and completely confused two separate issues.  The article is apparently actually about attachment parenting (the cover has made me feel so judged already that I have no intention of actually reading the article).  However, because of their sensationalist choice of cover photo and words, all of the attention, controversy and conversation has become focused on extended breastfeeding past infancy.  Which is a COMPLETELY separate issue.

Did you know that Attachment Parenting is a philosophy that embraces all parents who want to raise their children with love and compassion, regardless of whether they breastfeed or not?  Attachment Parenting International states that “The essence of Attachment Parenting is about forming and nurturing strong connections between parents and their children”.  If you read the API’s eight principles of attachment parenting (found here), they include feeding with love, responding to your children with love and sensitivity, encouraging nuturing touch, and striving for life balance.

Attachment parenting is an INCLUSIVE philosophy.  Sadly, there are people, having seen the pain life can bring, that think they shouldn’t encourage their children to become too attached to them.  That they should teach them to “do it on their own” early, so as to ready them for the harsh realities of life.  The truth is, the more you foster a strong, attached bond with your child in early life, the more secure and confident they will become as people, and the better able to cope with life’s disappointments and setbacks in the future.

Think about this: imagine you are learning to walk a tightrope.  In one scenario, imagine your instructor is sometimes there to catch you when you fall… but sometimes isn’t.  On the other hand, imagine your instructor is there every single time you fall, without fail – you absolutely trust that they will be there to catch you.  Imagine the rope is raised higher and higher as you learn.  Which instructor do you think would make you feel safe and confident about stepping out onto that rope?  The one who lets you fall sometimes so that you know what it’s like?  Or the one who has always been there beside you, no matter what?

This isn’t just lovey dovey hippy talk – scientific studies have shown that children who have a strong bond with their parents become more confident, independent young people.  They are not afraid to be independent because they know if something goes really wrong, there will always be someone to fall back on.   As opposed to a child who has had “independence” forced upon them, who will only become more clingy, searching for their parents’ love.

All in all, then, attachment parenting is about loving and nuturing your child with respect and compassion and using gentle parenting techniques.  How infinitely sad that TIME magazine has taken what could have been a great opportunity to educate people on this beautiful parenting philosophy, and turned it into a huge judgement statement that suggests that some mothers are “more mum” than others, turned it into a heated breastfeeding debate, turned it into YOU ARE NOT GOOD ENOUGH.

The whole point of attachment parenting to me is that YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH!  You are good enough to love your child and all they really need is your love.

This morning on breastfast television they were discussing this cover and going on about breastfeeding being “the best start in life” and one of the women said “The thing that gives children the best start in life is love.”

That is what is really comes down to.  Love.  Teaching your child that it is ok to love, it is ok to feel strongly attached to another human being.  Because yes, attachment is risky to the heart – if you lose that person somehow, the pain will be immense.  But if we didn’t allow ourselves to love, to be attached to people we care about – then what would life be?!  We have to run the risk of great pain in order to experience great love and joy.

There are many “ideals” of attachment parenting – co-sleeping, babywearing, breastfeeding.  But at the end of the day, you parent with love in the way that works for you.  My baby sleeps in her own room – but the slightest hint of a cry and I am there to rock and love her.  For short trips I take my baby in the carrier close to my chest – but for long trips I take her in the pram (with regular chats and kisses).  I feed my baby from a bottle – but whenever I feed her, I hold her in my arms and kiss her forehead.

I do not need to follow a list of “approved practices” in order to be “mum enough”.  I parent my baby with all the love in my heart and teach her that I will ALWAYS be there for her and have her back.

I am all the mum my baby needs.

4-8 Months: The Big Move Out West

It is beyond time for an update!
We survived the great move across the desert to the wild wild west when bubba was 6 months old and have spent a couple of months settling in.  The house was ready almost as soon as we arrived and we moved in after only just over a week at Daddy C’s sisters’ house.  I’m loving the house, the area, the city, the weather – everything!  I even have a part time job Mondays to Wednesdays now, which is great for a bit of grown up time… not to mention pocket money!  I’ve also met a few local mums.  Daddy C has a high falutin new job and it’s safe to say the move is suiting us very well so far.

We still have a bit of furniture to buy to kit the house out and the front and back lawns need landscaping… so it will be fun to get those things underway and see the house come together over the next few months.
Bubba has grown up a crazy amount.  The difference between 4 months and 8 months is immense and amazing!  Seeing as I have let this blog lapse for far too long, I thought I would do a little month by month update of the last little while.
Baby on a Plane!

4 MONTHS: At four months, she was definitely still a baby.  She couldn’t sit unaided, roll or move and still hated tummy time.  We started a bit of spoon fed solids around 4.5 months which she absolutely loved.  Vocalising consisted mainly of squeals and some giggles.

4 months old and not to sure about this whole Christmas thing…
5 MONTHS: Right toward the end of five months, she started sitting forward a little bit when propped to sit on the couch.  However, she was definitely still way too unstable to sit on her own unsupported and there was still no rolling or movement.  She was still enjoying her spoon fed mash and was starting to try to steal the spoon to do it herself.  At the end of the month, we packed up the house in Melbourne, shipped our stuff, and then went to New Zealand for the week.  Her sleeping started becoming very disturbed during this period – I’m not sure if it was an age thing or if she was sensing all the changes happening, but we started having difficulty going to sleep and night time wake ups again (after sleeping through since 9 weeks old!).

5 months old and gorgeous 🙂
6 MONTHS: Bubba had her 6 month birthday on the plane from New Zealand to Perth!  For the first week and a half, we stayed with Daddy C’s sister and niece while the house was being finalised.  During this time, a lot of things happened in bubbaland!  She started to prop herself up with her hands in a sitting position, although was still a little wobbly.  She learned to roll from back to tummy and started sleeping in a side-lying position.  And she got sick for the first time, with a head cold.  That was a particularly awful few days, all she did was cry and sleep and her nose was all stuffy.  She would sleep for only 30-40 minute periods before needing cuddles and consoling again, right around the clock.  It was exhausting and heartbreaking at the same time.  Luckily it only lasted for around 3-4 days until she was back to her happy self.  This was also the time that I weaned her from breastfeeding to bottle feeding, which was surprisingly easier than I expected, but I plan to write about this separately soon.

My poor sick baby 😦
By the end of the month, she was starting to sit better unaided , although still tended to fling herself backward without warning and get upset when she hit her head!  She was also rolling happily both ways.  We also got a highchair and began a fully Baby Led Weaning approach, with her eating only foods she could pick up herself.  She absolutely loves it and it’s surprising her manual dexterity in getting food to her mouth.

Beautiful clever girl at 6 months old
7 MONTHS: During this month, bubba’s sitting became much more confident, so that towards the end of the month, she was easily able to be plonked down in sitting position without fear that she would fall backward or sideways and hurt/stun herself.  She started moving around in circles while on her tummy.  And finally, a few days before her 8 month birthday, she figured out the inchworm maneouver!  This move has come in leaps and bounds from the moment she figured it out and she now scoots all over the place, mostly in attempt to get at the power cords and playstation controllers, which are far more interesting than her actual toys!

7 (almost 8) months old and learning to inchworm… all because she wants the power cords!

At around 7 months , Mum got her part time job and bubba started going to family daycare three days a week.  This is where another mother takes some children into her own home during the day, as opposed to using a big childcare centre.  I am really happy with this smaller, more one on one approach, the lady lives just around the corner from us, is absolutely lovely and I feel her approach to caring for babies is similar to mine.  I feel really happy leaving bubba there and I actually feel that she is thriving on all the stimulation and contact with new people and things.

Enjoying her food at family daycare!

8 MONTHS: Well, now bubba can commando crawl, there’s no stopping her!  She may not have figured out the “all fours” concept yet, but her funny little dragging frog-swim motion gets her surprisingly far!  If it’s on the ground, she’s gonna find it… and probably try to eat it.  Speaking of eating, she loves her fingerfood and eats like it’s going out of fashion – she prefers solids to a bottle most of the time!  She now has four full teeth and four little half-teeth inching their way out of her wee gums.  Her babbles consists mostly of “Dadadadad”, “Mummmm!” and “bubub”.  She loves a good chat!

My very cheeky monkey at 8 months old

 Some of her favourite things include: fresh plums and strawberries, power cords, harrasing the cat, turning down the surround sound while we’re trying to watch TV, pulling mum’s hair (and dad’s!), trying to play with the Wii remotes, trying to eat paper… and basically anything that involves being a cheeky little wriggler or eating food!

Adjusting to parenthood has been a hard road for me.  I think I didn’t realise in the beginning, having never spent much time with babies, how rewarding it would become.  She is such a little person now, and getting so big.  She is so funny and makes me laugh every day.  It’s still hard and I still get frustrated every day too.  But she is beautiful and fun and crazy.  And now that I’ve walked the path, I even miss her snuggly little newborn days, despite the lack of sleep it came with, and wish I could go back and appreciate her more rather than be so wrapped up in my own struggle.

But I can’t go back.  So I just love her now.  I’m not perfect… but she is, even when she’s not.  She’s growing up so fast, I can’t even imagine what it will be like when she’s walking and talking… but I guess I’ll find out soon enough!

Where did my little baby go?!

Essential Parenting Items

Emily’s Guide to Motherhood

Ingredients:

1 x grizzly baby
1 x Ergo baby carrier
1 x bottle of wine

Method:

1. Put on Ergo baby carrier (aka magical baby whispering contraption).

2. Insert grizzly baby.

3. Go for a 20 minute walk around the block.

4. Come home, ease sleepy baby out of magical contraption, rock a couple of times and slide quietly into cot.

5. Crack open bottle of wine.

6. Ahhhhhhhhhh

Four Months Already!

I can’t believe my bubba is over 4 months old already!  The first couple of months felt like forever, but since then, time has just flown by.  And we have come so far since “the dark days” of the first six weeks… I have come so far.

Slowly I have become acclimatised to my new life, my new role.  I think the biggest step for me has been getting used to no longer being a singular person, looking out for number one.  Somehow Scarlett has become like a part of me, an extension of myself, so that she no longer seems like an intrusion on my existance but an integral part of it.  I don’t even think of her as a “baby”, I just think of her as Scarlett – my constant little companion, my little person with a personality and presence all of her own with whom I share my day.

And what a personality! 😛

She’s such a character!

 I understand now why people say that motherhood makes you a great multitasker.  I always thought that the female multitasking gene had passed me by, but it turns out it was just a muscle waiting for motherhood to force it to be flexed.  I am getting used to starting things knowing that I may be interrupted part way through, I am getting used to being ok with that, I am getting used to letting go and giving in to the needs of the moment.  And I think that’s what the trick really is to enjoying this motherhood thing – learning to live in the moment.  That the dishes don’t matter if your baby’s hungry.  That your half written email can wait when your baby is feeling playful.  That everything else will still be there later if you want to take a moment to bathe in your baby’s smile.

Cheeky girl 🙂

It has been so amazing to watch her “wake up” from being a sleepy newborn to the funny little person she is now.  I look at newborn photos and can believe she was ever so small!

And there have been so many little firsts along the way… her first little laugh was a funny milestone, the first couple of times she tried out her laughing voice she laughed so hard she spit up and then got the hiccups!  Now she is slowly starting to laugh more often and without needing as much prompting – her funny little giggle is so infectious!

Funny bubba!

She found her hands around 3 months old and examined them with fascination…

Hrmmm, what are these?  Are they mine?

… and then closer to 4 months, she discovered her feet – the left one is her favourite 😛

Look Mum, I found this foot thing!

She’s always experimenting with funny little noises and vocalisations, deciding which ones she likes the best.  Currently it’s the squeal 😛

I’m incredibly lucky that, at around 9 weeks, she decided to start sleeping through the night.  I can’t tell you the secret because I didn’t do anything – I followed her lead in everything and fed her any hour of the day she wanted.  I think the most important thing is that I made a clear distinction between night and day – day sleeps in the pram in the lounge, where it’s light and noisy, night sleeps in the cot in the bedroom and night feeds in the dark with no noise or interaction.  It seems she got the idea and now I am a very lucky mummy who gets a decent sleep most nights (touch wood!).

At around 4 months, we moved her cot to her own room… I was reluctant to do it at first, but it has actually worked out well, it is nice to have our grown up bedroom back and she sailed through the transition.  I couldn’t have done it without my movement monitor!!!  It’s a sensor that sets off an alarm if the baby stops breathing or breathing slows below a certain point – I love that thing, I couldn’t do without it!  Soothes my mummy paranoia no end!

Snooooze!

The first four months have been a rollercoaster and a massive adjustment… but we have been blessed with such a happy, beautiful baby, I am becoming more and more comfortable in my role as mother and my heart burns with love for my little chicken nugget.  I’m so excited to see how she continues to grow and discover the little person she is growing into.

Most beautiful girl in the world 🙂