Week 43 – attachment

The time has come for me to accept that Reindeer struggles to be apart from me.

For a while now it’s been obvious that he’ll calm down from a bad dream or other upset far more quickly with me than with his Dad. Not overly surprising when you consider that I’ve been with him all the time since birth, but not ideal for Reindeer or my husband.

Recently I’ve noticed that if I hand him to anyone but my husband then leave the room he cries inconsolably and finds it very difficult to calm down and get settled. This isn’t good for either him or me – especially as I need to return to work in three months time and don’t want him to be upset by my absence.

I don’t know how to start dealing with this as we don’t live near anyone who could take him for us and help him to feel OK away from us. This is really stressful for me and I just haven’t got any answers.

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Week 43 – forgetful

The morning I forgot that Reindeer normally eats a fruit pot at breakfast time. I’m putting that down to us being away.

He was offered porridge, rice cake, banana and strawberry – and ate some of each – but wanted something else. For the life of me I couldn’t think what he might like. It was only after he started his nap that I remembered the fruit pot.

What’s amazing isn’t so much that I forgot about it, but that I felt so horrendously guilty about forgetting it. He’s fine, but I just feel like a bad parent. Over a fruit pot. This doesn’t bode well.

Week 43 – travel cot

I am writing this post on my tablet with the screen brightness turned right down and whilst hiding under a duvet trying to make NO NOISE.

Why? Not because parenting has left me wanting to build dens and set near impossible challenges for myself in my spare time (Ha! Spare time! See what I did there?) but because I’d very much like Reindeer to get a good night’s sleep.

Ordinarily, a good night’s sleep isn’t this hard to come by. A breastfeed, some singing, maybe a little rocking and jobs a goodun. Tonight though Reindeer and I are visiting my parents. This is a good thing. As with previous visits we’ve brought the travel cot with us. Unlike previous visits Reindeer hates it and won’t settle.

It took 90 minutes and a ridiculous number of attempts to get him to sleep in it earlier. My back is still protesting about the depth we were required to lower our almost-two-stone baby.

Since we’re sharing a room, I came to bed very quietly and carefully about an hour ago. I’m using the world’s squeakiest bed, so that wasn’t as quietly as I’d hoped. Naturally, he woke up as soon as I was settled and falling asleep.

Once again, trying to get him in the travel cot was more trouble than it was worth. So, in frustration and near-total darkness, I’ve created a floor-bed for Reindeer. The mattress from the cot, my pillows and a towel have created a safe space which I devoutly hope will result in a good night’s sleep all round. I suspect it will also rely on me laying perfectly still all night, not snoring and definitely not forgetting where he’s now sleeping. Should be a doddle…

Week 34 – more things to remember (unfinished)

So many changes so quickly necessitates another list of things I don’t want to forget:

1. Reindeer reaching out to hold my hand for the first time when unsure of another person
2. The way he stretches his arms above his head when he’s finished breastfeeding
3. Pushing me aside to reach the cane on the back of the rocking chair so he can play with the texture
4. Burping and then laughing because he surprised himself

I’ve just found this unfinished post which I’m going to publish now so I don’t lose it!

Week 42 – socialising

I’ve mentioned before that I’m an introvert who is also shy. This means that I find social situations very draining with the added bonus of never knowing what to say or when (and preferring if people don’t notice me anyway).

What I’ve discovered today is that, if you add an independently mobile baby to this mix, you end up with a recipe for a very emotionally exhausting afternoon.

Meeting some baby group friends for a catch up and advice is probably a good afternoon out for most parents. To be fair, it was for me too. It’s really hard for me to make friends (I don’t trust many people) but these ladies from baby group have been great and we have stuff in common which helps a lot.

We met at a friend’s house which made life a bit more comfortable (no worries about what facilities may or may not be available) and had a lovely chat. However, it wasn’t easy to chat whilst keeping an eye on Reindeer. Conversations take a lot of attention for me as my mind is constantly whirling and analysing whether I’ve said the wrong thing/missed a cue/said too much/not said enough/not responded appropriately, etc. This doesn’t leave a lot of processing power for other things.

Being in a child safe place helped me feel more relaxed, especially as the other babies were there with their mothers. Mostly Reindeer was content to play, coming back to me for the occasional cuddle. During the afternoon a few things happened which were either amusing, or potentially embarrassing, or both.

When some books were brought out for the kids, Reindeer went straight over as he loves them. The eldest child (age 2 years) was there first and began reading. On arrival at the book Reindeer muscled his way between the child and the book. At first I was mortified, thinking he was pushing in and taking it away, then we realised that the older child had been saying words aloud, so he was trying to sit in her lap while she read, the same way he does with me when we read at home. It was actually very cute!

A bit later he went over to the young baby and tried to pat his head. This wasn’t too bad as he was quite gentle, but he then made a grab for his nose (thankfully missing). Worrying and embarrassing.

He also grabbed the older child’s hair gently – she didn’t notice as it was more like stroking, but her Mum spotted it! Embarrassing and alarming as I didn’t get there quickly enough.

He was also a bit windy yesterday so broke wind whilst sat on the floor. This caused the wooden floor to vibrate so everyone noticed. And commented as they tried to find out which baby it was. Oops.

It’s stuff like this which adds a whole new layer of anxiety to social situations; is he being judged too? Am I being judged on his actions? I’d like to believe babies and children, and their parents, aren’t judged by other adults, but that would be folly. They clearly are, I did it myself before having Reindeer. Now I’m horrified that I used to think like that and, understanding what it’s like on the other side now, I need to learn to deal with that.

Thankfully, my friends also share my concerns about their own children and how other adults respond, so I know I’m not alone. I just need to become resilient and not allow anxiety to take hold. This would be better for Reindeer as I don’t want him to know anything about my worries; I’d prefer it he could grow unhindered by them.

Week 42 – cuddles

There’s something really special about cuddles with Reindeer.

In those first few weeks it was amazing, and a little scary, to have this new life snuggling in my arms. Whilst he wasn’t tiny, he certainly felt fragile to me! It took a little while to find his favourite cuddle position.

As he got older we noticed that he would prefer me to hold him to my shoulder for cuddles, whilst he wanted his Dad to hold him across his chest.

Now that he is very mobile, Reindeer’s cuddles have changed again. This evening, after reading a story, I sat him on my lap for teeth brushing. I gave him his toothbrush and he sat on my knee and leant back against me. After a minute or two he shuffled sideways until his head was on my upper arm and he was nestled into my torso. He stayed like that for a few minutes, listening to his music and chewing the brush. It was a really lovely time.

Whilst folk are right that newborn snuggles are great, I think I love these cuddles even more. Because Reindeer is choosing them. He is not forced to cuddle me because he can’t move on his own, instead, he comes to me and gets comfy and snuggles for as long as he wants. He’s really relaxed and I feel so happy that he wants cuddles with me. I’d put up with a lot to have these cuddles continue!

Week 42 – give and take

For a little while now I’ve been watching Reindeer for signs that he’s ready to deliberately hand items to other people, and understand people giving items to him. I’ve made a point of saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ when we’ve been playing, or if I’ve needed to take items away from him.

Today, I was sorting out the kitchen after lunch and Reindeer was playing on the floor nearby. He’d taken a magnet off the fridge door and was examining it closely. After a minute he looked me in the eye and deliberately held out the magnet to give me. Since it was the first time he’d done this I was very excited!

He handed me the magnet, I thanked him and then offered it back.

A couple of minutes later the same thing happened again. Even more excitement for me as I realised the first time wasn’t a fluke.

The third time was a little different. He offered me the magnet, I moved to take it, and just before I reached it he pulled it away from me and laughed. I was completely taken aback. In just three attempts he’d moved from learning give and take transactions to making a joke of them – I’m actually surprised but proud of him.

This isn’t the first time he’s made up a small interactive game which involves doing the unexpected to create amusement for the other person; if I’m getting clothes from under his cot he’ll stand up and try to reach my hair when I’m not looking. He wants me to look up before he reaches my hair as being caught out makes him laugh.

Tomorrow should be fun!