35 weeks pregnant – a quick update

This pregnancy has flown by and we are now just five weeks away from meeting our newest addition. It feels like she’ll be here in the blink of an eye. Little Chop made her debut at 40 weeks and three days so I’m not expecting her baby sister to arrive early, and that’s fine by me as there is still so much to do before she arrives!

To mark our five week countdown, here are five things going on in my world right now.

Nesting – Nesting mode is in full swing now. I’ve been Sorting, organising, washing and rearranging like a woman possessed. The clothesline is currently covered in newborn singlets, swaddles and onesies, which is making me feel totally clucky about our new baby girl and equally nostalgic about Little Chop’s first weeks in the world – she’s so big now – sob.

Acid Reflux – This hot, burny liquid that sits in my throat twenty-four hours a day is really starting to get me down. I’ve had to give up all but the odd well-timed cup of tea and acidic foods that I crave like oranges. I also wake up multiple times during the night in need of Mylanta. I’ll be so happy when baby is here and I can enjoy a cup of tea without it threatening to repeat on me.

Sleep – I need it desperately but it’s just not happening, and for the first time in about twenty months Little Chop is not to blame. My aching hips keep my tossing and turning all night, the acid reflux is ten times worse when I’m lying down and then there are the vivid dreams. All this makes sleep uncomfortable and patchy at best.

Packing – My hospital bag is three quarters packed and nothing says ‘reality check’ like a packed bag waiting to be thrown into the car when the time comes. What? You mean I have to get this baby out? Packing my hospital bag has been really exciting but not without the odd moment of freaking the f**k out!

Crying – At. The. Drop. Of. A. Hat! Happy tears, sad tears, I don’t know why I’m crying tears. It just seems to sneak up on me. I was sorting through Little Chop’s newborn clothes to wash and ready them when I came across the socks she wore in hospital shortly after birth. The tears came thick and fast and all I could say was ‘They’re so small, they’re so small.’ Yep, I’m all gooey and clucky and hormonal.

That’s all for now. x

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Sentiment, memory and the cull

My wardrobe is peppered with clothing that once belonged to my Auntie. Much of it was handed down throughout the years and some I pulled from her wardrobe when she passed away a few years ago. My Auntie wasn’t old – not old enough to leave us. She was very glamorous, always fully made up. When I was a child she always wore knee-high boots and kept her hair long, straight and dark – she was a rock star in my eyes. She gave me some amazing leather pants and high waisted Guess jeans when I was young, which I culled over a decade ago – a decision that makes my heart ache and my eyes well with tears today because I wasn’t to know that she wouldn’t be physically present in my adult life.

My Auntie fought a long battle against multiple myeloma. She remained strong and positive through rounds of chemo, only to have the cancer return again and again. She could have fallen apart when it took her trademark hair, only to return it silver and curly, but she didn’t, instead experimenting with wigs. She kept working until the end – you wouldn’t have known she was sick. But eventually she grew weary. My mother, sister and I visited her at the hospital to say goodbye. She smiled and was calm. She asked my mother to paint her toenails bright fuchsia, then let the cancer take her.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about culling and minimalism. I’ve been working on reducing the clutter in my house to make life easier when our second child is born in less than two months time, but when it comes to my wardrobe I’ve come to a standstill. A lot of the things that my Auntie gave me I’ll probably never wear – a tiny, leopard print, high-cut swimsuit for example – but I couldn’t possibly let it go. Whenever I come across a piece of clothing she gave to me, I lift it to my face, inhale the faint scent of the YSL Opium perfume she used to wear, and then return it to the wardrobe. Wardrobe clean out over, just like that.

I’ve been looking at minimalist blogs and websites trying to find out how to navigate sentimentality when clearing out clutter but what I’ve found is that there is no room for sentiment in the minimalist lifestyle. The minimalist says cull the clutter, keep the memories, but I have a problem with this notion. You see, memories fade. Sometimes we need a prompt to keep the memory alive, like a photo, a trinket, or a tiny leopard print swimsuit that smells of Opium perfume. So, while I’m happy to donate the tired looking jumper I got from Sportsgirl last year to St. Vinnies, I’ll be holding on to some of my ‘clutter’, because memories, unlike jumpers, can not be replaced.

The countdown begins

Today I am officially thirty weeks pregnant – let the countdown begin.

Ten thoughts for the ten weeks I have left…

1. I can’t believe how fast pregnancy flies by when you have a very busy toddler to entertain.

2. I’m absolutely exhausted but due to co-sleeping with my 18 month old, killer acid reflux and aching hips, the deep unbroken sleep that I really need at the moment continues to elude me.

3. This pregnancy has been so much easier on my body than my first. I’ve had more energy, put on less weight and have less aches and pains than last time.

4. I feel more confident about parenting a newborn, particularly with regard to breastfeeding. Establishing breastfeeding with Little Chop was really difficult, physically and emotionally – it was extremely painful, she lost too much weight, I became disheartened and unsure of my ability to provide enough milk for her, but I was determined and we successfully breastfed for 16 months. This time I don’t expect it to be easy, but I am sure of my ability.

5. Am I physically and emotionally capable of parenting two children under two? To be honest, I don’t know. I hope so. I know that it will be really hard, I will be sleep deprived, I will feel stretched thin, I won’t have time to myself. But maybe it will be easier because I know these things. I am also very lucky to have family support nearby.

6. I’m so excited to have a newborn in the house again. It will be a different experience to bringing Little Chop home because I had all the time in the world to hold her while she slept and take millions of photos.

7. I can’t wait to introduce Little Chop to her baby sister. She adores babies, and while I’m sure she will be a bit jealous that mummy’s attention has been diverted, she will also be very interested in our new arrival.

8. This is probably the last time I will be pregnant, unless the universe sends us a surprise. We only plan to have two babies, so looks like we’re just about done.

9. I feel guilty about how little time I’ve devoted to concentrating on and documenting this pregnancy. When I was pregnant with Little Chop, I noticed every movement, I read up on her development weekly, I took pictures of my growing belly and videos of kicks and tumbles. This time around, I simply don’t have the time. I also worry that I won’t take as many photos of this baby as I did of Little Chop as a newborn because I won’t have as much time.

10. I plan to do a couple of things differently with this baby. I was always quick to settle Little Chop when she woke up during the night – I will give this baby more opportunities to self-settle. I will vaccinate at eight weeks instead of six because Little Chop had a week long vomiting reaction to her first set of vaccinations, and I don’t want to go through that again. I won’t be using Farex, as I found it to be really constipating for Little Chop so this time we’ll only be offering non-starchy fruit and vegetable purees as first food.

Anyone else expecting their second?

And the award for the worst week of the year goes to…

On Monday, I let out a big sigh of relief because one of the worst weeks I’ve had for a long time was finally over. I didn’t know it was going to be a bad week. A busy week? Yes. Moving house is always exhausting and we’d never moved with a toddler before, which basically means that you need extra eyes and hands to replace the ones that are busy toddler wrangling.

Last Sunday was moving day – hubby had enlisted a couple of mates to help with the heavy lifting and Little Chop was set to spend the day with her ever doting Non Non (that’s toddler speak for Nonny, because my mother is far too young and stylish to be a Granny) – boxes were packed and we were ready to tackle the moving thing head on. And that we did. At some point in the afternoon our helpers headed home to resume their weekends and Little Chop returned to join the chaos of boxes, packing paper and randomly placed furniture.

When 7.30 rolled around and the pantry box was yet to be found, we decided to order some takeaway from the local Korean; chilli prawns, barbecue pork and rice.  The prawns were enormous, like clenched toddler fists, and really spicy. Eye wateringly spicy. So spicy I couldn’t sleep because I could feel the chilli burning and gurgling all the way through my sensitive, pregnant intestines all night long.

The next day I felt a bit off, nauseous – I blamed the chilli. Then in the afternoon I felt the familiar feeling of hot saliva rising in the back of my throat. I’m not usually a fan of throwing up but I was finally going to get some relief, praise Jesus. I felt so much better, it was over, out of my system, time to resume life.

Except it wasn’t over.

Little Chop was awake in the night, teething. I was sitting up holding her, trying to rock her back to sleep when the acid came up in my throat again. I passed her to hubby and ran to bathroom where I threw up so violently that the little red capillaries around my eyes burst and I peed myself a little bit. Not my most glamorous moment.

When I woke in the morning my underwear was damp. Weird, I thought, must be from the pee that came out when I was throwing up. I went to the bathroom and put on clean underwear but within minutes had another wet patch. I started to panick. I had vomited so hard my waters had broken. Non Non hurried over to watch Little Chop while hubby took me to emergency.

At the hospital a lovely young midwife checked my temperature, blood pressure and monitored the babies heartbeat. She also checked my panty liner, which was dry…hmm. Then two doctors came in and prodded at my tummy while examining my cervix for leakage. Nothing. The doctor explained that the vomiting had probably caused my bladder muscles to weaken a bit so I’d leaked wee. I was embarrassed, but relieved that baby was okay. I then proceeded to throw up again so another nurse came and gave me an anti-nausea injection in my bum cheek. By this stage I was feeling fairly mortified because apart from peeing myself, and having two doctors looking up my vajayjay, and getting an injection in my bum, I also hadn’t shaved my legs in ages.

But wait, it gets worse…

Embarrassment aside, I was feeling a lot better after the injection. I managed to eat something and hoped my stomach would stay settled. And it did aside from a little gurgling. That evening, Hubby went to his course and I carried on with Little Chop’s regular routine with the false sense of security offered by that cheeky injection. Everything was going smoothly until I took Little Chop to bed and, without going into unnecessary detail, I erupted again…from the other end. That evening it took me an hour and a half to get Little Chop to sleep because I was running down the hall to the bathroom every fifteen minutes with her trailing behind each time. I got about two hours sleep that night.

I lived between the bathroom and the couch for the next four days, surviving on rehydration salts, lemonade ice blocks and the odd piece of toast. The midwives at the hospital were fairly certain that I had food poisoning from the prawns – apparently they can stay in your system for several days and don’t tend to elicit a quick reaction from your body like other sources of food poisoning. I am finally feeling better and baby is fine, but needless to say I will not be eating prawns, or Korean takeaway, for a very long time.

The week that was…

What I really mean to say is ‘the weeks that were’ but ‘the week that was’ sounds better so I’ll go with that.

You may remember me telling you about my plan to walk everyday. Yes, everyday!

I had very good intentions and was off to a good start.

I walked while Little Chop ran.

I walked while Little Chop slept.

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It rained so we took shelter and warmed up with hot milky delights.

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All was going well…until the friday before last.

We went to the supermarket, I unpacked the car, and on bringing in the final load was struck with an excruciating pain in my hip, like nothing I have ever felt before. I began limping with every step. My leg felt like it was going to go out from under me. What the…?

Sciatica.

So, it looks like I’ll be wearing a back support and doing weekly pilates for the remainder of my pregnancy.

Can’t wait…

Gentle ‘no cry’ sleep training for toddlers

Yes, it is possible!

I recently wrote about co-sleeping with my 16 month old daughter, an arrangement that has worked for us for over a year now –  an arrangement that I love and hate in equal measure – so it is with mixed feelings that I have taken the first steps in transitioning Little Chop out of my bed.

A month or so ago, as I moved into my second trimester of pregnancy with baby number two, I decided that it was time to begin some gentle sleep training with my snuggly little bedfellow. This has coincided with attempted weaning so it’s been an emotional, anxious and frustrating time for both of us. I say attempted weaning because although Little Chop’s daytime breastfeeds have been successfully replaced with cow’s milk, her overnight comfort feed has proven much harder to shake.

To set up our new sleep arrangement, I had my partner remove the infant side from the cot and replace it with the toddler side, then position the cot like a sidecar by my bed. I didn’t want Little Chop to feel imprisoned in her cot and I wanted to be able to reach into the cot to comfort her without getting out of my own adjoining bed.

We established a loose bedtime routine – dinner between 5.30 & 6, a few books, an episode of The Night Garden, into jammies, kiss Daddy goodnight, change nappy then cow’s milk bottle in bed at 7pm.

I sit on the end of the cot while Little Chop has her bottle. When she’s finished, she always sits up, burps, occasionally stands up, and will come to my lap. We cuddle, I rub her back, talk to her in a calming voice and shoosh her gently if she becomes too animated. When she is calm, I say ‘time to lie down’ and I lay her down on her back. She will usually sit up again a few more times. Each time I repeat ‘time to lie down’, I lay her back down and rub her belly or feet while continuing with the gentle ‘sh sh sh’ sound. If she gets up repeatedly, I say a little more firmly, ‘lie down now’. If this upsets her, I distract her by singing a lullaby or a soothing song – I like ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’ from The Wizard of Oz. She often turns onto her tummy when she is ready to go to sleep and when she does, I rub her back a little bit then take my hand away so that she can try to go to sleep without my help.

This isn’t a quick process. At first, it took about 45 minutes to an hour, but as Little Chop got used to the new routine it became faster and easier. She now climbs up into the cot herself and is usually asleep in about 20 minutes, sometimes less. When she wakes up later in the evening, as she inevitably does, I go in and comfort her, lay her back down and stay with her until she’s gone back to sleep. She also still wakes during the night and if I can’t settle her with shooshing and patting I bring her into bed with me. If she still doesn’t settle, I offer a breastfeed – but this is now my last resort.

I am flexible with the new routine and if Little Chop needs her mummy because she is sick or teething I put her to sleep in my bed where she feels the most secure and comforted, then back to the cot in a day or two when she is feeling better.

I don’t believe in using ‘controlled crying/comforting’ or ‘cry it out’ sleep training techniques – any method that causes distress or anxiety to my child isn’t an option – I’d much rather transition Little Chop slowly than risk damaging the strong bond that we have established.

If you’re after a quick fix sleep training method, this isn’t for you, but if you have time and patience, it may be an option. As with everything, the sleep training method that’s best, if you decide to use one, will depend on your child and what you feel comfortable doing – it’s personal choice. But whatever you choose to do, good luck!

 

* I am not a medical professional or sleep coach, I’m just a parent, sharing my experience with other parents who may be in a similar situation.