I want to be his hero

This morning, while I was grabbing a quick shower, the boys spotted one of Aiden’s birthday presents at the top of the cupboard. I explained that Aiden’s birthday wasn’t for another week and that he couldn’t have it now, but Cam was determined to get it for him. 

While I was getting dressed, Cam kept trying. First he fetched a stepladder. When that didn’t work, he collected pillows from throughout the house and tried to build a tower with those. 

As impressed as I was by his persistence, I was about to get annoyed with Cam for disobeying my instructions. But then he turned to Aiden and said, ‘I’ll get it for you Aidy. I won’t let you down.’ That stopped me in my tracks. 

I took Cam aside for a little chat. I told him that it was lovely of him to help his brother but we needed to wait for Aiden’s birthday. And then Cam said, ‘But I want to be his hero.’ I couldn’t shut that down. So I grabbed the ladder, lifted him up to the top of the cupboard, and victoriously, he presented the prize to his brother. 

And I’m thinking, this is one of those teachable moments parenting gurus are always going on about. Delayed gratification is an important lesson for my boys to learn. But relying on each other? Helping each other? Being heroes for each other? That’s important too. 

I could leave this post here. I could end off by saying there’ll be other presents on Aiden’s birthday, but maybe this one will make a lasting impression for more important reasons – for both of them. But even as I congratulated myself on imparting wisdom to my offspring, even as I basked in the glow of my wonderous parenting, they started squabbling over the trains. Then Cameron started asking for juice and within moments that had escalated to a full-blown meltdown because I said he couldn’t have any. That lesson on delayed gratification involved tears, foot stamping and door slamming, before evolving into a tantrum about not going to school that lasted the entire drive there. 

I stand by my decision to let Cam get the present for Aiden. I hope it taught him that when one is persistent for the right reasons, it pays off. That he got a warm and fuzzy feeling inside from seeing Aiden’s delight, and that it showed him that putting others first makes us feel good. I truly believe his intentions were noble, that I saw a bit of gold in him and went after it. 

And the fight about the juice? As emotionally exhausting as it was, I had to do it. I know it’s just juice, but I hope he learnt that he can’t get his way just by throwing an almighty tantrum. That sometimes the answer is ‘no’ and we just have to accept that. But I always find these stand-offs leave a bitter taste in my mouth – maybe because they push me so close to losing my temper? 

As I sit here enjoying a quite moment while Aiden naps and Cam’s at school, I marvel at how much these little people pack into our hours. Golden moments followed by tough ones. Smiles followed by tears. It’s exhausting. It’s an emotional roller coaster. And there’s no getting off! I’ve just got to hang on and try to enjoy the scenery as it whizzes past. 

How I survived my first six months with a toddler and a tiny baby 

A letter to an expecting mom who already has a toddler. 

Dear mommy-friend

In my previous life (you know, the one where I actually used to sleep) I was a bit of an adrenaline junkie. Ever since my parents took us to Disney World when I was 14, I have loved roller coasters. There’s nothing quite like that moment of anticipation when you have climbed ever so slowly up, up, up and are now braced and waiting for that first stomach-churning plunge. You wait on the precipice, totally committed and hugely excited, yet a small part of you is shouting ‘This is madness! Get me out of here!’ And then it begins, and you just have to go with it. A barrage of swirling, twisting, turning, flashing that leaves you breathless with laughter and flushed with excitement. It’s over before you know it, and that moment of apprehension is forgotten in the tidal wave of adrenaline and the relief of solid ground beneath your feet once more. Continue reading

Finding a new normal

We’ve had a number of milestones to celebrate lately: Aiden has been home for three weeks, he is now a month old, and this past Tuesday would have been his due date. With these events behind me I feel like I can finally find a bit of objectivity to write an update.

The first week home was incredibly tough. Having two kiddies under one roof was much more of an adjustment than I anticipated. I spent most of it on the verge of panic, feeling as though someone had turned the speed on the treadmill up to max and that it was only a matter of time before I face-planted into the floor! Cameron and Aiden seemed to have such vastly different needs and I couldn’t fathom how I was going to find any sort of rhythm that somehow juggled both. This wasn’t helped by the fact that the brotherly love we’d anticipated just wasn’t there initially. Cameron wasn’t aggressive towards his brother, but any time I was with Aiden, he pumped up his attention seeking antics a few notches. This meant a high energy toddler throwing himself around the room, shouting ‘Look at me’ and resorting to physical violence (towards his mother) if that didn’t garner the required result. I had also forgotten just how exhausting the newborn phase is. Aiden has been struggling with bad cramps which hasn’t helped and I am averaging four hours of very broken sleep each night.

But somehow in the weeks since then we’ve all adjusted. Cameron is much more settled and starting to accept his brother. He very sweetly imitates Col by saying ‘Hello boy’, asks to hold Aiden occasionally and doesn’t get as stressed when his baby brother cries. He’s also protective of Aiden and gets upset if other people go near him ­­– evidenced by him shouting ‘No’ and pointing an accusing finger at the guilty party until he or she backs off!

I have been surprised by how I’ve adapted to the lack of sleep. While it takes me half an hour to wake up in the mornings (and I spend most of it wondering how on earth I’m going to get through the next hour, never mind the day), when I’m up and going I’m generally okay. My short-term memory is completely shot though and I’m doing a number of incredibly stupid things every day, but fortunately to no detrimental effects yet! I am also feeling much stronger physically which is a relief as I found the recovery from this c-section much harder and more painful than my previous one.

The passing of Aiden’s due date didn’t find me as contemplative as Cameron’s did, but I think that’s because I’ve had too much emotional baggage from Aiden’s last month in utero, birth and hospital stay to work through. I am just grateful that it has come and gone as we’ve now caught up to where we should have been and I know that soon the pressure of this phase will lift a bit.

Physically Aiden is doing really well, starting to put on weight and developing some lovely rolls. (This does lead me to think that while I’m disappointed I didn’t have the natural birth I was hoping for, when I look at the size of him now I’m just grateful I didn’t have to push him out of my lady parts!) Aside from the cramps, the only struggle in his life is second-child syndrome. Cameron is such a forceful personality and at such an attention seeking age, that poor Aiden is getting lost in the whirlwind a bit. But our tiny man has a big voice and is starting to use it with gusto.

Despite the chaos that is our life right now, I find myself in a contented and grateful space. I am really enjoying having a baby in the house, probably because I am so much more relaxed this time. In the absence of anxiety there is far more space for delight and appreciation. We have also decided that we won’t be having any more children and consequently I’m cherishing everything about Aiden so much more because I know I won’t experience this again.

And as for Colin … he’s burning the candle at both ends! Work is incredibly busy yet he’s putting in plenty of hours playing with Cameron and bonding with Aiden. The pace is taking its toll, and while I’m trying to ensure he gets good sleep, the man is exhausted. But December is not far away and in six weeks or so he can take a well-earned rest.

But now I must wrap up. Aiden is stirring and once I’ve fed him, it’s time for me to snatch what sleep I can! Until next time …

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Cameron, classic

Of late, Cameron has developed the most endearing way of describing things. He puts the adjective after the verb so says things like, ‘Park, lovely’ or ‘Milkies, yummy.’ Today however he came up with a combo that is sure to haunt him to his 21st birthday.

This morning Colin took him to a zoo. Amoung the ‘ami-nals’ they have are a number of tortoises roaming the grounds. At one point they came across a pair who were mating. Cam took a look at the male’s face, turned to Col and said, ‘Tortoise, happy.’ Classic!

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The big brother

I think the time has come for a post about how Cameron is handling the arrival of Aiden. It’s been a tough month for Cam with his mom disappearing off to hospital every few weeks and not being her usual active self when at home. As I’ve been here since Sunday this is my longest stay and the way things have worked out, we’ve only managed one visit a day. But we’ve developed a few hospital routines that Cam enjoys – eating my jelly and custard for one! Since Tuesday there have also been exciting gifts to play with – an Avengers balloon my brother brought and a huge Mickey Mouse and teddy bear that have been put into service as wrestling partners! My bed moves up and down with a remote so we’ve had fun riding that. And of course Aiden, being the generous soul he is, has given Cam presents for the last three days.

Yesterday we had a really wonderful visit as I was feeling strong enough to walk to the coffee shop. Cam held my hand the whole way and gave me such wonderful cuddles while sitting on my lap and drinking my milkshake. Between the bed rest before Aiden was born and the pain I was in for the first two days after the op I’ve been handling Cam a bit cautiously lately. Yesterday was the first time in weeks that I could physically engage with him more normally and it did my heart and his a lot of good.

As for the reality of being a big brother, we aren’t sure how much Cameron understands. He hasn’t been able to meet Aiden as he’s not allowed into the NICU. We’ve shown him photos but we aren’t sure what sort of connections he’s made yet. With Aiden being in NICU, Colin and I are finding ourselves thinking of our sons in a compartmentalized way. It’s going to be special moment when we can finally see our boys together!

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Cameron turns two

On August 26th, we celebrated Cameron’s second birthday. It was far more exciting this year, what with blowing out candles (and relighting them so he could do it again), and the mind-blowing excitement of opening presents. (I think the act of opening was more fun than the actual gift. Cam kept saying ‘Next’ without actually taking an interest in what was inside!)

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We started off the day with tea, muffins and presents in bed. Cam and I spent the morning at home, and had visits from my parents (Pops and GG), and Colin’s sister. Colin managed to take the afternoon off, so we went for ice-cream and waffles and visited the bird sanctuary (always fun for Cam).

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Last year we had huge party at the Botanical Gardens, but this year, for a number of reasons, we decided to just have a family tea. That did mean 27 adults though – Cameron’s 20-day old cousin Caleb was the only other little person there, and he didn’t take too much of an interest in proceedings! All these big people totally overwhelmed Cam, and he spent most of the afternoon clinging to Colin or I for safety, warming up towards the end to open presents or run around outside, far away from the crowds. He didn’t even want to blow out his candles, a skill we’d been practising all week!

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Cam’s first love is any kind of construction vehicle so I made a cake with a bulldozer, cement mixer, crane, digger and dump truck on. It was a huge success, and the toys are the still the first thing he asks for each morning!

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