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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Introducing Aiden

At 8:59 on Tuesday morning our son Aiden Mackenzie Rip was born. He came into the world five weeks ahead of schedule and via an emergency cesarean. On Sunday afternoon Colin brought me to the hospital because I was having contractions again. I was admitted and the initial assessment was that I had a urinary tract infection. However on Monday morning tests showed this not to be the case and after a kidney sonor, the doctor was on the verge of discharging me. However during a routine check of the baby’s heartbeat the nurse noticed that Aiden’s heart rate had decelerated while I was having a contraction – a sign of distress. I then went to the gynea for a scan and although everything looked good, he decided to keep me for another night for observation. During the night Aiden’s heart rate repeatedly dropped, although this time without any contractions being present and the gynea scheduled the c-section as soon as he’d seen the results of the night’s observations.

So our little boy is now two days old. Lung x-Rays showed that he either had fluid on his lungs or congenital pneumonia. A sonor of his lungs yesterday showed them to be clear of fluid so he’s on antibiotics for the pneumonia. They are going to do a blood test this morning to test the level of infection and will then increase or decrease the duration of the antibiotics depending. At the moment he is unable to digest anything. They are feeding him intravenously and trying him on 2ml of breastmilk every three hours. I am getting to know my breastpump again and getting a nice stockpile of milk going!

I am doing well but finding the recovery from the cesarean much more painful than last time (although it’s possible I’ve just forgotten how bad it was). I was mobilized yesterday and Col and I both had our first Aiden cuddles yesterday afternoon – Col got first dibs this time round!

The first occurrence of premature labour was on 3 September and Aiden’s arrival brought to a close a long and taxing month. Both Col and I are finding our emotional capacity to be a little thin. Col is having to balance work with hospital visits as well as playing the role of single dad to a demanding two-year old. Between my parents and Colin’s mom we’ve got an amazing amount of help with Cameron but logistics are complicated at the moment!

I am finding the NICU aspect of things much harder this time. When Cameron was in NICU everything was overwhelming and new and I sort of developed tunnel-vision. Now so much of it is familiar and it’s almost as if I have more capacity to notice other things as a result. I am far more conscious of all the wires and tubes attached to my baby. He just seems far too tiny to be in the world and I find myself getting tearful when I’m with him.

Besides all of that though I think we are both struggling to process the emotional fall out from Tuesday morning. The gynea said that if he’d discharged us on Monday I probably would have noticed a decrease in Aiden’s movements but by the time I did anything about it, it might have been too late. The doctor’s relief was palpable when Aiden was delivered and it was only when we saw that, that we realized how serious the situation had been. As the days pass I’m sure the gratitude we have for our healthy boy will override the fear of the close call. At the moment it’s a bit raw though and creeps up on us at unexpected moments.

I’ll try for another post later today or tomorrow with another update (the fact that I have the energy and desire to blog again is definitely a good sign). But for now, nap time!

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Boy, oh boy!

At our most recent scan, the first image that greeted us was this one:

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Despite the notorious difficulty most people have seeing anything on a sonar, this is quite obviously confirmation of the fact that we are indeed having another boy! As with so many things, finding out the gender of this baby has been a completely different experience.

I got it all so right the last time – I had an inkling that we were having a boy, but I didn’t let my imagination run away with me. This time round I completely messed up! I was utterly convinced that we were having a girl and my first reaction when seeing that little penis was ‘Are you sure?’ I will man up (excuse the pun) and admit that I was disappointed. My first thought when I left the doctor’s rooms was, ‘I’ll never be mother-of-the bride’ and I will confess to having a little cry when I got to the car.

At first, the idea of another boy was incredibly overwhelming. When we made the discovery Cameron was in his first real ‘defiance’ phase and I just thought, ‘Good gracious, there’s going to be two of them!’ Twice the energy, twice the dare-devil antics, twice the fearlessness. I also found myself struggling to imagine another boy as the concept of a little boy is so wrapped up in Cameron. I know this baby is going to be completely different, but just as I couldn’t imagine what Cameron was going to be like, I couldn’t imagine what another boy would be like either. But I have always been a tomboy at heart and it wasn’t long before I started to get really excited. Someone also said to us that while a pigeon pair is nice for the parents, siblings of the same sex often have a closer relationship, especially if they aren’t far apart in age. So please hear me loud and clear when I say that I am thrilled about having another boy. It’s going to be great!

Yet at the same time, a separate part of me had to come to terms with the fact that we aren’t having a girl. There is always the possibility of another baby, but both Colin and I feel that two is our number and therefore there was a bit of grieving to do. Simply put, there’s a vast array of mothering experiences that I just won’t have. In my haste to embrace this baby I initially pushed this knowledge aside and it caught up with me a few weeks later while I was having breakfast with a couple of friends. I suddenly found myself in floods of tears in the middle of the mall, blurting out incoherent statements, which, being women, my friends somehow understood!

The reality is though, all families are different and I have no idea what ours will look like in a few years time. For now I am appreciating the ways that having another a boy is making some things simpler (for example we have so much ‘boy stuff’ already) and am getting excited about meeting our new little man!

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…

Beaming from ear to ear

Yesterday Cameron gave us his first real smile! He’s been on the verge of doing so for days and Colin and I have been walking around like demented Chesire cats trying to coax it out of him. And then yesterday, while we were out to lunch with Colin’s dad, Cam flashed Col his first smile! A few minutes later a gummy grin was bestowed on me too so neither mom nor dad needs to feel left out in this case (what a considerate boy he is!).

Now that we know he can do it, the demented Chesire cats have taken it up a notch, but then we have so much to smile about so why not! To further mark his nine weeks in this world, Cam flipped from his tummy to his back while Col was giving him his bath yesterday evening. And so an eagle eye and lightning hands, as well as a huge grin, are now requirements for these pround parents!

Two months old – take two

I’m posting a second series of monthly pics for Cam’s two month mark for two reasons (wow there are a lot of ‘twos’ in that sentence!):

  • The idea is to show how he’s growing and the best way to do this is to use the same composition every time. As much as I love trying out new poses (and Cameron becomes a more willing model with each month that passes) I don’t think the photo I posted yesterday really captured the change in his size. While he hasn’t grown that much length wise in the last month, he’s putting on some serious weight and as I mentioned previously, has developed the cutest little fat rolls!
  • We went to a wedding last night so I took the photos yesterday afternoon, as opposed to after his evening bath, and it was really bugging me that the light was different to the previous pics.

So here is Cameron, two months and one day, but close enough to count I think!

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Sparkle and Speckle’s baby shower

When the news first broke that I was pregnant, my friend Karen immediately asked if she could organise my baby shower and I was only too happy to oblige. We had tea a few months back and settled on a date (with my Mom living in Tzaneen keeping such things a surprise borders on impossible) and I left her to it.

The amazing race

When the big day dawned on 7 July, the first surprise was a brown envelope that was delivered to our door. Col and I had a few tasks to get done it seemed as we embarked on a bit of an amazing race. Among others we had to price all the items needed to change a nappy, sample some baby food, come up with a plan of action in the case of a high temperature and drive to KFC for a mini-cone since sleep was allegedly eluding our little baby. It was tons of fun (who doesn’t like ice-cream at 09:30 am) and by the time the last clue led us to Karen’s house I was well into the festive mood.

The big event

Surprise two came with the theme that Karen had chosen – Dr Seuss. I’m going to make a shocking statement here and say that I might just prefer Dr Seuss over Winnie-the-Pooh so it was just awesome! Karen’s attention to detail was phenomenal. I was dressed up ‘Cat-in-the-hat’ style and allowed a brief look at all the delightful treats on offer before being whisked off to say my hellos. There was too much to take in at the time, but I do remember ‘Thing 1’ and ‘Thing 2’ cupcakes, Truffela Tree lollipops and of course the cake. What a work of art! Let me just say that whether Karen intended to or not, she has now given herself the job of making all of Speckle’s birthday cakes for many years to come! (This photo doesn’t really do it justice but it’s the only one I have right now so it will have to do.)

A marathon

The next few hours passed in a blur of games and gifts. The amount of stuff Speckle was spoilt with was absolutely overwhelming! Blankets, clothes, toys, toiletries – you name it, we got it. It took Colin four trips from the car to unload it all when we got home, and it took me hours to sort through and make sense of. Once again, thank you, thank you, thank you to all our friends and family for your insane generosity. (Proper thank you cards are still on my list by the way, but I’m pulling the preggie card and am giving myself another few weeks to get them done.)

A delightful day

Other delights of the day included a photo booth that my friend Lee set up. She’d come to visit me a few weeks before and we’d both been saying how sad we were that the photo booth craze only took off after we got married. I had hours of fun posing for pics and will post some when I get them.

All in all I could not have asked for a better baby shower. Col and I still have a bit to do in terms of sorting and organising before Speckle arrives, but we were given an incredible head start and are so appreciative of all the love and support we’ve been given. Once again – a massive thanks! Our friends and family just rock!