Friday, 18 April 2008

Grace - 4 months old

Grace gave up sleeping through the night about 3 weeks ago. She now wakes up at 11.30pm, 1am, 3am, 6am and 7.30am without fail. She is also capable of waking in between those times if she so feels like it. We are so exhausted we fall into a semi coma each night, only to be woken within the hour by an "Err, Err" from the cot. Grace does not actually cry, she makes this throat clearing noise instead, which gets louder and longer if you don't pick her up.

Could she be hot, cold, hungry,tired, ill, bored, attention-seeking we wondered? I decided to ask my health care visitor at her Monday weigh-in, who gave me the same answer she gives to any question I ever ask her "Put her on the breast more". I told her I feed her on demand and she said " Can't you encourage her to feed more in the day" Is she joking? In the precious few hours between nursing I quite like to get things done. Have a shower, do the washing up, eat something perhaps!

I went and sat down, utterly dejected. "Pssst" came a whisper "Have you tried giving her food?"
"SOLID FOOD?!" I asked
"SSHHH!" the girl next to me looked over at the health care visitor to make sure she had not heard, before adding "We are all doing it".

It turns out everyone else was giving their 4 month old babies the odd bit of baby rice and mashed banana and they were all sleeping through the night.

Could that be it? Was Grace hungry? Was my milk no longer enough for her? I had noticed her checking out James' sausage sandwich the other day. Was she ready for solids? I sat and turned it over and over in my mind, finding out how much and how often, and what it did to the nappy situation.

The whole feeding thing is so mad. Once upon a time it was solids at "10lb or 10 weeks, whichever came first, then it was solids at 12 weeks, then 17 weeks, now it's 6 months, and the health care visitors really frown on you if you attempt it sooner. It's so hard to know whats right. The lack of sleep and success rates from my mates made my mind up to give it a go though, so off I went to Boots to get my Hipp organic baby rice.

I was so excited all the way home, visions of Grace having one mouthful then sleeping for 16 hours straight made me practically run up Elm Grove Hill (no mean feat I can tell you!) To cut a long story short she ate the rice, and the banana, and drank the 6oz of expressed milk I gave her that night before bed and she still woke up at 11.30pm "Err Erring". Our plan to knock her out with food failed!

I even went to a Breast Feeding Support Group. What a mistake that was. I was actually just dropping off the keys to the hall we hired for Grace's Name Day, but the girl who buzzed me in saw the buggy and assumed I had arrived for the BF Group. I had twenty minutes to spare so I thought I would pop in and check it out.

A normal looking woman came over and asked if I was OK. Yes, I told her, I was just popping in, I had a 16 week old daughter (ah, that's nice). Yes I was breastfeeding (Good for you!). Yes it was going OK (Brilliant!), in fact I had just started to top her up with a bit of baby rice and banana... (Sorry?!) A deathly silence fell over the room. Toys stopped beeping and flashing, children stopped crying, tea slurping ceased, all heads turned in my direction, and it was then, in that second, that I really took a good look round. It turns out I had stumbled into some weird cult for people who want to exclusively breastfeed, and be breastfed until they are about 15. Oh yes, toddlers were undoing their mummies tops asking for "bitty", hessian wearing women were touching each others boobs, showing one another how to latch kids on with full sets of teeth, and in the middle of it all, with a dreamy expression on her face was "Kathy - The Health Care Nurse" (AKA Jabba The Hut). Her exposed breasts were bigger than Grace's buggy, she had something akin to Joseph's technicolour dream coat on and upon hearing the word "banana" she seemed to be attempting to get up and come over (Not an easy thing to do with those pendulous boobs weighing her down!) Needless to say I ran away, will never be going back there ever, and breastfeeding has never felt quite the same since.

So anyway, I made another appointment with another health advisor who told us Grace is attention seeking and to ignore her cries, offer her only water when she wakes and not to breastfeed her in the night. She has come down with a cold now though so I am not trying it. She has gummy eyes which I have been advised to spray breast milk in (of course!). She keeps sneezing and coughing and all she wants to do is feed and cling to her mummy, so we are spending the day indoors in our jimmy jams. She also has a bit of a rash which I have been told might be an allergy to fabric softener so I am having to rewash EVERYTHING she uses.

The fact I had another disastrous trip the the hairdressers last night may also be a reason why I am hiding out today. I went in and told Jon I really liked the colour and style of Agyness' hair :, and came out looking like this (but much shorter).

Poor old James, he was stuck with a sneezing sobbing monkey for 3.5 hours whilst I had my hair RUINED (at extortionist cost), then when I finally got home all I did was moan and sob and whinge. Grace had fallen asleep on him and he did not want to move her, so he drove to London to do a site visit last night with no dinner inside him and two red-eyed girls feeling very sorry for themselves back at home. He did not get back till 3.30am, which coincided nicely with one 0f Grace's feeds so he has had about 2 hours sleep in the last 2 days. He claims he likes my hair but lack of sleep has made him delirious, I know he does not, he can't possibly. No one could.

I phoned up Jon today and told him that I hated it, that I asked for blonde and instead it was black, and the dye was all over my face and would not come off. I have an appointment at 10am tomorrow to try and sort it out and have been told to "Wash my hair lots in the meantime"(Because us mums have LOADS of time to do that). I feel a million times better though, I am rubbish at complaining normally, but I just look so ruddy awful I had no choice. My hairdresser sees me as some kind of joke. He did the exact opposite of what I asked and then got in a big gay strop at the end when I started crying. I was so looking forward to getting my hair done as well, I am going back to work one day a week from the 29th of this month and I really wanted to look my best.

Anyway, whilst feeling empowered I also called up my estate agent and told them they were rubbish and that we had not had any viewings for 2 weeks and what on earth were we paying them for. I might ring the doctor now and have a go at them. They sent a letter last week to let me know Grace was due her next set of jabs, so I dutifully took her down on the time and date requested, and sat waiting for an hour and forty minutes only to be told it was too soon since Grace's last jabs and that she could not have them. Has anyone sat in a waiting room full of screaming bug-ridden babies pre and post jabs? Not fun I can tell you.

I seem to be full of negativity today, there have been some wonderful moments this month also. Grace rolling over from her front to her back (obviously if I try and show people that she can now roll over she refuses to, stubborn like her father!). We have also booked her in for her "Little Dippers" swimming lessons. Her and her daddy will be going each Wednesday. I can't wait to see them together. It's going to be so lovely for James to have something special he does with Grace. She adores him, when he gets home for work she gives him a huge grin then goes all shy and looks away. She also gets shy if she sees her reflection. She has started to favour some toys over others, but the best thing ever is to be sat in her jungle bouncer watching the rugby and eating mashed banana. Life for my girl does not really get any better than that. If only we could all be so easily pleased eh?! I have started to read Roald Dahl to her in the evenings. Although she is too young to understand the story she likes the sound of voices, and I am loving it.
Anyway, Grace has just woken up and looks so sleepy and gorgeous I am going to have to sign off for a cuddle. I think we will get back into bed and find some rubbish films on Sky to amuse us. Not 101 dalmations!

More photos here:

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Name Day Celebrations

As Grace was born on Christmas Eve, which is a bit of a rubbish time of the year to be born (until she is older, then she will always have people to go out and get drunk with!) - James and I decided to honour a Polish tradition and celebrate her "Name Day"as well. The Name Day for Grace is on the 1st April, so we set the precident this year by gathering close friends and family for a small ceremony.

We hired a lovely room in the local community centre, blew up lots of balloons and served a high tea. (I would like to take this opportunity to point out that I made 95% of the food. The fairy cakes, flapjack, cookie-shine cake, cheese straws, pigs in blankets, mini pizzas and shortbread millionaires were all handmade by me, (at about 6am in the morning before Grace woke up). James made the sandwiches and sausage rolls, which were of course more popular than all my food, but he also made the hummus which is horrid.

Anyway, I think people had a nice time, I certainly did and so did Grace, she did not stop smiling once. I cried at all the wonderful speeches. Parenthood does that to you. I weep at absolutely anything these days. A sunny morning, a lonely snowdrop, a cup of tea made for me in the morning, how handsome my brother looked in his suit on Saturday.

It was the first time my brother John had met his God-daughter, and he got to know her far better than planned. James was so nervous about his speech he was FORCED to get leglessly drunk and pass out on our bed in a star shape, meaning John had to share the sofa bed with Grace and I, poor chap. My other brother took it upon himself to top up everyones glass the second they had taken a single sip, and ate all 12 cheese scones in as many minutes. He made a wonderful speech though, so I forgive him his drunken antics. He also bought Grace a lovely tatty teddy bear and wrote "Love from your Uncle Mickey" in the card, which had me gulping and wiping my eyes for a good half an hour.

We filmed alot of the day, so when she is older I will be able to show Grace what a lovely day she had. She can hear her god-parents wonderful speech, and she can tell me off for dressing her as a small German boy! (see photos...).

She is learning more and more, and dribbling more and more also - we think teeth may be on the way as she does lots of noisy fist sucking, or James' nose sucking if he'll let her. She is now capable of sleeping through the night, but does not always do it! She has also learnt to turn her head and so watches me race round tidying up. (She must have learn that trick from her dad!)

We just bought her a rain forest themed baby bouncer thing which she loves almost as much as James does, I swear he would get in it if he could. She also loves Tom & Jerry, or any sport, cricket being her favourite, much to her dad's delight.

On Saturday she got passed round everyone all day long without so much as a whimper, but when I finally got her back she rested her head on my chest and gave a sigh of sheer delight at our reunion. My love for her grows even faster than her hair. (She has the most hilarious bald patch on the back of her mullet now. It's so great how babies don't care about anything other than being warm, dry, fed and entertained. Imagine not being bothered that you had wet yourself, or dribbled all down your chin, or were wearing a Lederhosen! Since I had Grace I care less and less about my appearance. Everything else just seems to be more important to me...not to James however, he keeps asking if I need anything from the shops, like hair removing cream!)

He has been fantastically supportive, thanking me in his speech, which made my heart skip a beat even after all these years. Sadly he did not follow it up with a proposal, but I have learnt not to get too excited about it these days, especially since New York (First of all I was CONVINCED he was going to propose at the top of the Empire State Building, which of course he had no intention of doing and was entirely clueless as to why I was in such a foul mood in the lift down, when all I had talked about since he booked the holiday was how "magical and romantic" I imagined the view would be. Then I thought he was going to do it via the scoreboard when we went to see a Basketball game at Madison Square Garden. He even nipped off at half time, leaving me 100% positive it was to "give the nod", imagine my surprise when all he had done was go to get a drink!)

Anyway, our flat is still on the market. We had a second viewing yesterday. I went to my neighbours house so I could spy on my homes new perspective owners out the window. They looked like a right pair of geeks. He was a driving instructor who wore short trousers and a peaked cap. I hate driving instructors (see previous blogs on how long it took me to pass my driving test, whilst my instructor was busy getting an extension and booking cruises), and I don't like short trousers either, I have actually been known to dump men for owning ankle bashers (That is not as bad as my friend Jemma, who dumped a chap for falling over on his rollerboots, after he had skated about 10 miles just to see her).
I had pulled out all the stops on my flat as well, my fairy lights were twinkling away, the bathroom was gleaming, I had left the radio on to make it "homely" and had even baked a banana loaf, making the whole place smell delicious. I have not heard back from the estate agent yet, but I don't care if it's bad news. I don't think I want to sell my flat to a pair of saddo's anyway.

Anyway, all in all, life is still as mad as ever for my girl and me. I can't believe she is 4 months old at the end of April. This year is flying by. I look at my friend's kids who have just started walking and saying the odd word or two and can't believe that soon Grace will be doing all that stuff. It makes me more determined than ever to soak up every precious second of this baby time (apart from when she howls like a monster, like she is right this second - James can soak those moments up!)

Anyway, latest photos attached. I had better go, James is singing "Ginger Whinger"... Grace is NOT amused!