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 …

PicMonkey Collage


Handle with care

This afternoon I put Cameron down on the floor in the study and went to fetch some pillows with which to build a fort for him. Before I’d even left the room he’d fallen over and bumped his head on the only hazard available – the metal catch at the bottom of the door. Major tears ensued and my poor child now has a noticeable bump on his head. (Rookie mistake I know – always build the fort first.)

While this is the worst of the knocks he’s sustained so far, it is also the most recent in a worryingly regular series of them. Alas – it is not a lack of co-ordination that is to blame, but his doting parents. As Cam gets older and more interactive we are really enjoying playing with him. But occasionally we take it a bit far and laughter turns to tears. We’ve also stupidly allowed his interest in some things to warrant those items becoming playthings. Like the toy on a spring which resulted in said spring clamping onto his lip when he started chewing on it. Epic fail Mom and Dad! And then of course exhaustion is also a contributing factor. Not once, but twice, my tired fingers have dropped my phone onto the poor child’s head while he was nursing. My only consolation is that so far I’ve been alert enough to prevent him from falling off any beds.

I was at the clinic the other day and I saw a couple with a new-born. I had to laugh (inwardly – outwardly would have been rude) at the caution they were displaying while getting little one into her pram. As I played with Cam on my lap – bouncing him around and swooping him from side to side – I marvelled at how much more comfortable and confident Colin and I have become with our baby. And then Cam gave a mad wriggle which I barely saved from becoming a nose-dive into the floor and I thought that perhaps a little more caution wouldn’t go amiss…

The right side of the bed

So as I’m lying here with not much on TV and no energy for reading I thought I’d catch up on an overdue post.

While trying to get comfy on my single hospital bed last night I thought about our new sleeping arrangements at home. Since we got married I’ve always slept on the left and Col on the right. The left side of the bed is what you see first so during my time a neat bedside table and clean floor greeted you on arrival. Col’s side wasn’t visible unless you really made an effort to see it, in which case you’d find clothing chaos on the floor and toppling towers on the table. So you see, this arrangement had aesthetic benefits too.

However, two months ago I read that the baby gets more nutrients of you sleep on your left side and so I told
Col that we needed to swap for a while. Col was very fond of his side of the mattress but it was the loss of his secret messy corner that really hurt the most! And as I’ve had to accept the mess that greets me when I walk in, it’s been sacrifices all round.

We were warned that changes would need to be made for Speckle, so this hardly comes as a surprise. I’m just glad that this one can be reversed in a few months time!

Two down, one to go

This week finds me at 30 weeks so I’m well into my third trimester. (Speckle is the size of a cabbage apparently, but I’ve lost serious faith in that app.) My pregnancy continues to go really well. I’m carrying pretty comfortably, although I am starting to feel a bit more tired again. Speckle’s kicks have become really defined movements and sometimes I can actually feel his little foot (although it might be an elbow or knee). I absolutely love feeling all his little movements, but he’s pretty shy and invariably stops his aerobics as soon as someone else puts their hand on my tummy to try and feel them.

Speckle will be making his appearance in eight to ten weeks, and it’s interesting how differently Colin and I are handling this fact. Col can’t wait for him to arrive! He feels like this pregnancy is never ending and just wants a baby to hold now. I, on the other hand, am feeling slightly panicky because there is so much I feel like I need to do before he arrives (get the nursery ready for one). But as Col says, we are only 75% of the way there, so there is still lots of time for me to get through The List.

It’s been nearly three weeks since I stopped working and that’s also taking a bit of adjusting for both of us. It’s strange for Col to go off to work every day while I’m still lying in bed (although I do get up to make him breakfast and pack his lunch). I’m taking a while to adjust to the fact that I have whole days to get things done, and don’t need to pack everything into evenings and weekends. As this realisation sinks in, I’m learning to pace myself. Yesterday I spent a whole hour just reading a magazine – how’s that for progress?

As I said, I’m carrying pretty comfortably, but I have started to waddle a bit in the last two days. (That might be because I started Pilates on Tuesday though and have been seriously stiff since then!) Speckle has also started settling down on my sciatic nerve, which means I’m getting shooting pains down my right leg from time to time. My lower back is often sore and I unconsciously find myself adopting that classic preggie pose of supporting it with my hands. But it’s all part of the fun I guess!

So while it’s adjustments all round in the Rip household at the moment, we are now earnestly preparing for our boy’s arrival and are amazed at how much we both love this tiny person who we don’t even know yet. Excitement is running high!

Four quarters

I’ve seriously neglected my blog in the last while (due to lack of time, not lack of material), so here’s a bit of a catch up …

I was recently reflecting on how well this year has been divided up for me. Because I fell pregnant at the very beginning of the year, Trev and Marlies’ visit provided a delightful watershed at the end of my first trimester. Back from that two week break, I threw myself into Quarter 2 – my second trimester, but also my last three months at work (more on this in a future post). Quarter 3 starts in two weeks and is the ‘Get ready for Speckle’ phase. Quarter 4 will begin when Speckle arrives, and only time will tell how that goes.

I’ve very grateful for this neat division. Having such a clear focus for each quarter has really allowed me to deal with everything one step at a time. Of course, no sooner had I started sharing this epiphany with a few friends, than the whole system fell apart!

Various circumstances have resulted in an absolute manic few weeks at work recently. In the middle of that, I was suddenly overwhelmed with a whole load of parenting related fears, and my previously well-disciplined mind refused to put them on ice until Quarter 3. For about two weeks Pregzilla was on the rampage, and I have to say a huge thank you to Colin who did a stellar job of taming the beast.

In the midst of this turmoil I was reminded of Isaiah 40:11, the last part of which reads: ‘He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young.’ It was a huge encouragement to me, but also a bit of a reprimand because gentleness is not something I treat myself with very often. So I’ve fallen back on my first trimester lessons of reprioritising and being kinder to myself and I’m glad to say that, as a result, Pregzilla is back in her cage.

(Sjoe, bit of a deep post that one, but then you my dear reader, have gotten off lightly so far!)

The first of the foothills

I consider myself a neat and organised person, and as a result swiftly brushed aside all promises that when Speckle arrives my house will descend into a state of chaos. Much of this advice came from my mom, who claims that she was just like me when she was my age, and which I’ve struggled to believe at times. You see, my mom’s house has one or two rooms filled with towering piles of stuff that need sorting. We call these Mount Everest, and she’s always attempting to eliminate them. Mostly they just seem to migrate.

When the first trimester tiredness hit at week seven, cleaning up after myself swiftly fell into the category of non-essential activities. Within weeks, foothills of ‘stuff to sort’ had starting springing up everywhere. One day it dawned on me that I had my own Everest swiftly thrusting its way into my home and that’s when it happened … my first preggie meltdown. I didn’t have the energy to do anything about the situation, but its very presence buried me in despair. I hid myself under my duvet and sobbed my heart out, while Colin desperately tried to extract some understanding of what was wrong. Wails of ‘my life is already falling apart’ and similar sentiments were discernible from time to time.

And so began my first big lesson – give yourself a break! I tend to be really hard on myself, but was forced to re-evaluate my priorities in the face of my non-existent energy. Now that I’m into my second trimester and feeling a lot better I have to remind myself of this. Those foothills don’t clear themselves in a day, especially as I’ve adopted a slower pace in general.

What’s more, I suspect that when Speckle does make his or her appearance, the quest to conquer Everest will become a lot harder. Let’s just hope it won’t be insurmountable!