My daughter loves babies (especially yours)

My daughter loves babies. She loves to cuddle them, carry them, play with them, kiss them and otherwise smother them with attention. I remember being the that child too. The girl who my mum would introduce to friends with babies as ‘M, she loves babies’. I remember cuddling my baby cousins for hours, following my aunt upstairs as she went to feed them and helping at bath time. I would vie for the attention of the smallest guests at the various parties and gatherings we were dragged to as kids – taking turns with other children who loved babies. I was never scared of handling babies and I’m sure that helped me when I had my own little people to look after.

I remember all of that and how much I learned about baby care by being so interested and then I have to deal with a four-year old who ‘just want[s] to be his mummy!’. Poor Eli, she just wants to love him and I have to repeatedly say things like:

  • ‘Put him down!’
  • ‘He’s crying – that means he’s not enjoying that’
  • ‘Please let him play with his toys’
  • ‘I don’t think he wants a cuddle right now’
  • ‘Your brother is not a doll’

Of course, no matter how much Tilly loves her little brother, she loves your baby more. Eli after all is part of the furniture, your baby is like a new toy – unknown and probably smaller. I’m sorry. I am trying to teach her about personal space but it’s taking time. I know that when it’s your second, third, tenth baby you find it easier to relax in the face of her obsession with touching, cooing and toy rattling in your baby’s face (and tell her when to stop). When it’s your first I fully appreciate how big Tilly looks next to your tiny baby and how uncoordinated and dangerous she appears.

I know she’s got a few years of growing before she’ll be trusted by you to cuddle her baby for more than a few seconds but I promise that she’ll have made sure that she has loads of practise by then. My daughter loves babies and yours is most definitely the cutest she’s seen.

Eli at 12 months

Eli is now 1. It’s amazing how fast this past year has gone and I’m sad (he’s my last baby) and excited to see what kind of toddler he’ll become – with his lovely gentle personality it’s not too unreasonable to hope that it’ll be fun.

So, what is Eli like at 12 months?

  • Weight: 19lb 12oz (8.98kg)
  • Clothing Size: 6-9 months (but about to move into 9-12 months)
  • Teeth: 2 bottom central incisors and  2 top central incisors (4th tooth came through about a week and a half ago)
  • Mobility: crawling, cruising, can stand by himself for a few seconds if he doesn’t realise he’s doing it because then he panics and sits down, has walked one or two steps unaided a couple of times
  • Communication: if you ignore Eli (or he thinks he’s being ignored) he has a scream that pierces your skull, I guess as a thirdling you have to be loud to be noticed sometimes. He now points to things he would like or that he would like us to take him to. No ‘real’ words yet but he’s started saying something that sounds a lot like ‘bye bye’ (‘buh buh’) when he or someone else is leaving. He still chatters a lot as he moves around the place. Signing is not something he is particularly interested in – although he does very, very occasionally sign for milk.
  • Sleep: he is now (knocking on wood furiously) going to sleep around 7.30/8pm and not waking until I come to bed after 10pm – I have my evenings back!
  • Playing: still loves toy cars and balls, also enjoys shape sorters a lot
  • Eating: still enjoying his food, certain textures will get spat out but flavours don’t seem to be an issue
  • Personality: still my easy-going little monkey – can throw impressive tantrums if something he wants is taken away from him (like inappropriate toys belonging to his older siblings…)
Having both the big kids in school means that Eli and I will be spending a lot of time together – I can’t wait.

 

Sometimes the seaside is lovely and sometimes it’s cold and windy (but the kids had a good time)

We went to the beach today. It seemed like a good idea at the time – the children’s centre were renting a beach hut, there’d be activities for the kids and friends for me to chat to, in theory a lovely day. In reality it turned into a day from which each participant emerged with a different story.

Eli would tell you that he had a good time (mostly). He sat on a picnic blanket near the beach and played with shells, spades and pebbles. He had a box of snacks (but would have preferred the snacks his siblings had). At the café he chatted to the other babies and was most put out at not being allowed to crawl about on the, frankly, very grubby floor. He then enjoyed a lovely cuddly sleep in the sling as we walked down the beach before heading home and singing and chatting to Lex in the car.

Tilly and Lex would also tell you how much fun they had. They dug in the pebbles and collected as many shells as possible (although were somewhat disappointed to be limited to taking home two each). Tilly enjoyed the opportunity for some sticking and drawing in the beach hut. They had hot chocolate with both cream and marshmallows in the café and were allowed to chill out with the iPhones whilst the adults chatted and relaxed out of the wind. They then had a chance to run down the beach and explore the exposed rock pools which was fun even if there weren’t any crabs or fish to be seen. All the fresh air meant heading home, cuddled under coats in the car, was a nice time to rest rather than an end to all joy and fun (as it often is).

I had a reasonably good time, sitting with Eli on the beach, chatting to my friends and watching the big kids have a good time. The wind was annoying but on a pebbly, muddy beach at least there was no sand flying into my eyes (except when toddlers digging in front of us threw it in the air but I blame the parents for that). The most entertaining part was on the drive in when, on a narrow stretch of road on which we had priority, an older woman coming the other direction decided to try to push through. There was nowhere for her to go and no amount of her gesturing and driving at the car in front of us made it possible for her to pass us or us to pass her. The stalemate was only ended by R getting out of the car and pointing out to her the priority sign showing she was in the wrong. At that point, with much unhappiness, she made a complete hash of reversing back through the bollards that marked the start of the narrowing, to allow us to pass. She acknowledged R’s cheery wave with what I can only imagine were words not meant for young ears. The incident is still making me chortle hours later.

R did not have a great time. I don’t think watching the big kids whilst I socialise is his idea of a great time. Tilly spilling his drink and Lex dropping his phone on the floor weren’t happy moments either. He was especially narked when, trying to type in his pin code to pay for drinks, Tilly’s constant chatter flummoxed him and caused him to freeze his card through incorrect pin entry. His only happy moment (aside from unable to read signs lady on the way in) was probably when we left and just missed being soaked by rain. The drive back even annoyed him when a learner driver was sent to try his remaining patience.

So, 9/10 for the kids, 7/10 for me (the wind knocked a few points off) and about 2/10 (if we count the old lady as 2) for R.

How often do you manage a family day out where everybody has a good time? We achieve it occasionally but it often seems that at least one person will have a miserable time despite the activities. I’m guessing as the kids get older and their interests diverge it will become even more tricky. Still, at least kids (unlike grown-ups) are relatively easy to entertain even if it is overcast and windy digging in pebbles is great fun!

Worm sausages and tomato snail ketchup

I just can’t help it, my children ask a perfectly sensible question – e.g. ‘what’s for dinner?’ and I’m compelled to give them a very silly answer like ‘cabbages, snails and frog gravy…’. The kids are somewhat wise to this now and tend to double-check with their dad – I sense in years to come they’ll probably not grace my answers with much more than a shrug but yet I persist.

Cabbages are now code in our family for food you might not like (I managed at least 2 years of claiming chocolate was cabbages before they got suspicious and paid more attention to what I was eating). I’ve added snails and frogs recently as cabbages (no offense to those who eat the foul things) didn’t seem quite, well, gross enough any more.

The silly answers extend to questions about what, exactly, has gone into the food we serve the children. R made some sausage rolls for Eli’s birthday party on the weekend and we had some chipolata sausages left over that we cooked for dinner that night. Tilly took one look at what was on her plate, prodded it with a fork and did a typical kid ‘what. is. this?’. In error she asked me, ‘worms’ I said. ‘From the garden. It’s been raining and you know how they all come to the surface so they don’t get drowned?’ (useful to chuck in a quick science lesson if you can), ‘well Daddy thought they were looking particularly juicy so, ta da!’. ‘Mmm’, says R, ‘it’s worms, enjoy!’.

Lex, full of 6 years of knowledge says, ‘No it isn’t, it’s sausages!’, and starts scoffing his dinner. This reassures Tilly a bit but still, she can’t be 100% sure until I confirm it. ‘Tell the truth Mummy, it’s not really worms?’. ‘Well’, says her compelled to be silly mother, ‘it could be worms or it could just be the sausages left over from the sausage rolls.’. This is apparently not enough reassurance and I put her out of her misery and confirm her brother’s answer (eventually).

Honestly, it’s really entertaining coming up with inventive (and mainly disgusting) descriptions for everyday things – ketchup tonight became squashed tomato snails (Lex will apparently be using Google tomorrow to double-check that I am talking nonsense about the existence of tomato snails). I do try to do it in a way that the kids will find funny – not scary – and encourage them to question and not just accept, without thought, whatever adults tell them. The look on their face before the realisation that it’s just mum being, well mum, is pretty priceless though.

I’m always impressed at how a visit to A&E can make a poorly child well again – even before they see a doctor

Yesterday, at about 10.00am, Eli started throwing up. He then proceeded to sleep, wake, scream, arch his back, retch, vomit, scream, relax, sleep in a regular cycle that lasted about 20 minutes at a time for hours.

By 16.30, when it clearly wasn’t abating, I thought I’d give NHS Direct a call so they could tell me he probably had a virus and I should just keep him hydrated. Basically I wanted them to validate what I thought was the right course of action but, without access to my GP (why do these things always happen on a weekend?) figured NHS Direct would be the next best thing. They told me to go to A&E. Dammit. Of course, once you’ve been given advice like that you have to go otherwise what if it really is serious and you ignored it…

Packed up a bag with all the muslins I could lay my hands on and off Eli and I went. He finally asked for a feed whilst we waited in the waiting room and then proceeded to be violently ill about 10 minutes later. Yay to another mother in the room who helped me clear up the mess as cuddling Eli meant I couldn’t do much but stare at it. We didn’t have to wait long after that incident for a nurse to see us and she rolled her eyes when I told her what NHS Direct had said. Eli was looking ok, just a bit pale, but she had to double-check he could tolerate fluids so she started us on a fluid challenge, 5 ml of water every 5 minutes.

Poor Eli, he was so thirsty that he sobbed each time the syringe of water finished. He wasn’t sick again though and by the time we saw the doctor it was pretty clear we didn’t need to be there. Two hours after we arrived Eli was waving at other children in the waiting room and trying to talk to them. He was having 10 ml of water every 5 minutes and had had 5 minutes of milk without incident. Honestly, you would never have known he had been so ill for most of the day.

Eli today – if you hadn’t just read this you’d never know he’d been ill yesterday…

It’s always a bit embarrassing when you take your very ill honest! baby to A&E and they are clearly in absolutely no danger of anything except an over protective mother by the time they are seen. That said, all I have to do is remember the time I thought Lex (at 4) had a bit of a temperature and a cough and I eventually took him to the walk-in centre and he ended up in hospital for a week with pneumonia (in my defence he’s always been a bit stoic about pain, it really wasn’t obvious at all how ill he actually was!). So I go to A&E when advised even if I don’t think I should, even though I’m 99% sure it’ll just lead to a miraculous recovery and the doctor will think I’m nuts – ‘So he’s your first?’, ‘No my third.’, ‘Oh…’ – just in case!

Guiding hands and growing up

Eli is currently putting shapes in his shape sorter for the 5th time in a row. Each time all the shapes are in the sorter he complains until they have once more been released. It’s a bit of work for his helper – he’s still too little to find the correct hole for each shape and needs some help at points to orientate the shapes to fit them through – but the shouts of glee once the shape is in definitely make you smile.

Other than shapes, Eli most likes to play with balls. He’ll play by himself, throwing the ball and then chasing it, or with someone else, throwing the ball to them and waiting for it to be rolled back to him.

It’s in these games that his growing understanding and ability to communicate shine through. He was playing with a little toy golf ball the other day and when he threw it, it rolled under the side table next to the sofa I was sitting on. Unable to retrieve it himself Eli decided a big person should help and so he pulled himself up on the sofa, grabbed my hand and pulled it down gently willing me to get the ball for him. As we then passed the ball between each other it became my job to find the ball as it got stuck under the sofa. He’d have a good attempt at getting it himself but when that didn’t work my hand would be grabbed once more and I would be directed to do my part.

Moments like these remind me that whilst he is still my baby, it won’t be long before Eli is no longer an actual baby – toddlerhood is almost here.

It’s a recurring theme but we have a poorly boy again

A poorly (but smiley) Eli.

It is fascinating, in a completely sleep-deprived way, how each of my children has suffered teething differently. Lex’s first teeth resulted in fevers and a clingy, limp, sleepy (except at night) baby. With him Medised, now outlawed, was brilliant as it helped him sleep despite his discomfort. Tilly didn’t have the fevers, I do remember disturbed sleep but generally teething did not bother her too badly (that I remember – maybe I’ve blanked the memory!). Eli seems to be following in Lex’s footsteps and throwing in a couple of variations of his own.

It’s been a rough couple of days and nights for Eli and those of us he has been depriving of sleep and I think that he has another tooth (or two) on its way out. Of course whether or not I’m right won’t be proven for a day or so but it helps to have something to blame!

Just like last time he cut a tooth we have a feverish boy – his temperature’s been up for the last two days, at its highest reaching 38.9°C (easily controlled using paracetamol or ibuprofen luckily). A new variation on the theme was the D&V he had after his nap this afternoon. Whilst smelly and messy it was a good opportunity to end the extended play date Lex and Tilly were having with some of Lex’s friends from school who live nearby. Eli’s nappies generally have been yuck and frequent for the past couple of days.

No sign of any other illness though and there is a massive bump next to his one existing top tooth. I really hope I get some sleep tonight but I won’t expect it, pity it’s R’s turn for a lie-in tomorrow morning.

Why is a developmental milestone so often followed by a parenting fail?

Yesterday Eli figured out how to climb stairs for the first time. He has been trying to figure out how to climb – mainly into the shower cubicle to access toys he’s thrown in there – for a little while but yesterday it clicked and off he went.

It probably helped that one of Tilly’s toys was sitting there, tantalisingly out of reach, providing a great target for an almost one year old to try to reach.

Of course, no good developmental leap is finished without a bit of parenting fail attached. I didn’t move the toy. I just left it there, sat on the stairs, and then we fast forward to today. Today Eli had the most epically awful pooey nappy – it was one of the reasons why cloth nappies are both perfect and horrible. It was in his night nappy and thankfully contained by the wrap so not many of his day nappies would have coped and a disposable, no chance. I mention this not in the way that parents feel they need to talk about the contents of their baby’s nappies but to explain why I might have been a little distracted.

Eli was playing with Tilly in the lounge (or so I thought), I was finishing sorting out the dirty nappy and then I heard the – in hindsight inevitable – bump, BUMP, WAAAH! I gathered up Eli from the foot of the stairs, cursed my shoddy parenting, despatched Tilly to her bedroom with the offending toy and was thankful that said toy was only a few steps up. The boy had given himself a fright but had no injuries. We now have a policy that nothing is to be left on the stairs and I’ve had a reminder that new skills will be practised, preferably supervised and regardless of pootastrophies.

Kids always have to prove you wrong

Today at our baby group (only allowed to attend one more session <sob>) while watching a 5 month old who had just conked out on the mat, I said to those around me that I have never had the type of children who could just fall asleep anywhere, like in a highchair for, I don’t know, an example.

Guess what Eli did tonight… How does a baby do that – you say, oh he never does x, y or z and within no time, and despite not having the receptive language skills or forward planning to make their parents look silly, they’ve done whatever it is they never do and you look like you don’t know your child very well.

Today it is possible that Eli had just not had enough sleep during the day as a trip to the zoo and then baby group had scuppered his ability to nap but it was, almost certainly one of the funniest things I have ever seen. The poor child was trying desperately to eat but just. couldn’t. keep. his. eyes. open. He then tried to sleep in the high chair but only lasted a minute before he realised he was horribly uncomfortable and started screaming. After I released him from his plastic not-a-bed he snored happily on my lap until bath time. Of course I was concerned that his impromptu nap would mean difficulty in getting him to sleep at bed time but no, he really was tired and had no issues dropping off in bed.

Sadly of course, this type of one-upmanship does not take place when you say things such as ‘they never sleep through the night’ or ‘they never spend days not bickering with their siblings’ <sigh>.

Teething – here comes tooth number 3

Teething must be one of those topics that sends a shudder through all but the luckiest parent. It seems that all unexplained fussy/cranky behaviour after the first couple of months is generally assumed to be the ‘T’ word, of course whether it is or not is never proven except for the odd occasion when the screaming does in fact yield a tooth the next day.

Eli has been a little slow in gathering teeth – although strangely aside from one notable exception this seems to be true for most of his baby group peers. For the last few weeks though I have been suffering with screaming at night (sometimes this is not only from Eli) that only abates with pain relief and today, finally, I can feel a new tooth! This will be Eli’s third, he has the two bottom central incisors and this is the top left central incisor (thank you Google for the names of the teeth!).

I am hopeful that this means I will be getting less interrupted sleep soon – a girl can dream can’t she?