Six Months – happy half birthday to Teddy

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Where did the last six months go? This little miss is fast leaving her infant days behind.  I’m trying to get my head around the idea that we’re half way to one already! Each day is a discovery of new skills that Teddy tries to master and seeing more of her personality shine through – she purposefully threw a ball this morning and played a simple version of “catch” with her dad. Proud parent moment.

The last month was a big one and our family of three is tired. We’ve had weddings and a trip away together and then a trip away just for me and social events and various illnesses and teething and Easter celebrations and a whole line up of babysitters to fawn over this little cutie.

I’m just hoping that the next month has more down time.

Lately: Teddy learned to sit! It’s her new favourite skill and she’s every willing to show off her talent to all our visitors. She can sit up for fairly lengthy periods of time without toppling over and likes to play with her toys this way. We’re working our way through lots of purees – she’s tried pumpkin, zucchini, beans, avocado, carrots, corn, peas, banana, apple and pear. We tried to take her “wings” off her Love to Dream swaddles and this resulted in short, inconsistent naps so they’re back on again and we’ll work up to this more slowly.

Likes: play dates with her babysitters (various family members), sitting up, playing in her jumperoo, cuddles with mum and dad, hearing music and being sung to, trying to eat everything, my glasses, her fisher price musical toys, her love to dream swaddle, pureed apple and pear, being outside, leaves and plants and trees, having raspberries blown on her tummy, her cousin Zac, her bath ring, wearing hoodie jackets and trying to have conversations in her baby talk. Teddy is very into just chilling out and observing the world.

Dislikes: teething, having a tummy pain, being offered a bottle when she’s not hungry, being cold, babies her own age (a firm fan of toddlers and up ONLY) and when I go away for four days. She’s also very suspicious of the strange looking baby in the mirror and gives herself a shifty side-eye look every time!

 

Around these parts

So my little sister got married a few weekends ago

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and I was THIS excited! (Not exactly sure what I’m doing in this picture)

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She looked absolutely stunning, her hubby was handsome and everybody had a great day. It’s been the wedding I’ve enjoyed the most (not including my own) as it was such a  heart-felt celebration of commitment.

I’ve also been to Canberra twice for residential schools for my Masters. The first time Teddy and husband came along, and the second time Teddy had to stay behind with her grandparents. Being separated for four and a half days made me literally sick to my stomach (I had cramps the whole time I was away) and when I came home she promptly gave me a massive grin.. and then poked me in the eye.

Our Easter long weekend was a bit uneventful due to my being sick AGAIN, although we did squeeze in a lunch with church friends, dinner with family and another dinner with more church friends. I managed to eat a total of ZERO Easter eggs, which is no small feat! My mum guilt is playing up because I took no photos of my child’s first Easter, although I did buy her a present – a toy toaster (she’s in love with pushing down the bread).

We’re deep in the trenches of teething and unsettled daytime naps and a pile of uni work that is being neglected and fussy feeding and forgetting to eat most days until well after lunch and frantic prayers of “Lord, let her sleep!”

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Gratitude

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I don’t often talk about my work as a social worker/counsellor here, as this is my personal corner of the internet where I get some space from thinking about my job. (I get a lot of space from thinking about my job while on maternity leave too!) One thing I’ve noticed that I do with people time after time, no matter whether I’m seeing them for casework, counselling or through a community program I’m running, is encourage them to practice gratitude.

No matter what your life circumstance, the benefits for taking the time to be grateful are endless. Studies have shown that people who are more grateful report higher levels of personal satisfaction, are more compassionate, sleep better and even have stronger immune systems. (Here’s an easy to read article that covers some of the research on this type of positive psychology). I’ve had plenty of clients report that practicing gratitude helped them see their strengths and resources, helped them be motivated to take steps to change and helped them to identify what they truly value in life, which leads to goal setting.

For me, my gratitude is also connected to my faith and the belief that the many blessings I receive are from God. But you don’t need to have a Christian faith to recognise the importance of being grateful and appreciating what you have.

One of the most common ways that people tell me they practice gratitude is through a journal and taking the time to pen lists of things they are grateful for. This doesn’t work for me as I’m a busy mum now – I usually just try to set aside a few quiet moments every now and then to reflect on my gratitude list. Whatever your method, I have two suggestions:

Make this a regular practice. Doing it once isn’t really going to give you a different perspective, it takes time.

Make it specific. Saying “I’m grateful for my family” or “I’m grateful for health” isn’t as powerful a motivator as listing the small, often everyday things, that really impact our sense of who we are.

Today:

  •  I’m grateful for my husband, who washes up most nights, even when he cooks and brings me a coffee before he goes to work each morning.
  • I’m grateful for my daughter – for her cute giggle, the way she wants to hold my hand when she drinks her bottle, the way she looks so proud of herself when she rolls over, how well she sleeps and naps, and the way she interacts with her extended family and friends.
  • I’m grateful for risotto and wine and cookie time biscuits and tiramisu and falafel – although my thighs might not be.
  • I’m grateful for The Blacklist because that is damn good TV.
  • I’m grateful for sunny weather so my washing dries faster and I can sit on my front porch.
  • I’m grateful for my best friend Elisabeth and her continued friendship despite our inability to see each other very often.
  • I’m grateful for workout videos that I can stream off youtube because the gym – ain’t nobody got time for that.
  • I’m grateful for my church and the way they rally around people to support them and share their life moments, be it joy or sorrow.
  • I’m grateful for my mother’s group because they are awesome sauce.
  • I’m grateful for my sister getting married this Saturday!
  • I’m grateful for all the people who babysit Teddy and help me out.

Theodora at five months

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We’ve had such a big month of firsts with Teddy. These past few weeks have been super busy for our little family and the excitement just keeps coming – Teddy’s going to her first family wedding this Saturday. Her Aunt (my little sister) is getting married! This baby is growing up way too fast (as evidenced by now wearing size 0 in clothes, or 6-12 months, because she is tall like her giant uncle and not short like her parents).

Lately: Teddy had her first trip overseas, which included her first trip on a boat and steam train, as well as a plane. Teddy said her first word “Mum” right on five months old! Earlier that week she had also given her first kiss to me, which started off rather lovingly and ended in her trying to gnaw on my face.

Teddy also started her first foods and moved into her own room! That was a great night of sleep for Teddy but a tough one for me; checking up on her every few hours and clutching her baby monitor in a half-roused state.

Likes: Going on planes, being admired by people (particularity fond of those her grandparents age or older), steam train whistles, playing in her jumperoo, the word “burp,” being tickled on her neck, anything to do with trees/plants/leaves, her love to dream swaddles, pureed zucchini and beans, riding in the car, having her hair brushed, being sung to, her mirror toy penguin, rolling over, putting things in her mouth and looking at her reflection.

Dislikes: Getting a lump in her food, not being able to eat mum’s food, having a tummy pain, when she accidentally swallows the bathwater (now a regular occurrence as she tries to put her face in it ALL THE DAMN TIME), getting her arm stuck when she rolls.

 

A trip to New Zealand

IMG_0108At the beginning of the month, our little family of three took a trip to New Zealand for 11 days. I won’t use the word “holiday” because I think they cease to exist once you start having kids. Your “holiday” revolves around the tiny human feeding and napping. That being said, we still had a great time and it was wonderful to be together as three, the first time this has really happened since Teddy was born.

We spent a few days in Auckland and then had a week in the Bay of Islands, the very north of the north island. It’s stunning there and quite remote, not too touristy. Perfect for a quiet escape (disclaimer: our baby is a little trooper and travels well so this may not be the case for everybody) and I recommend you pay the Bay of Islands a visit at some point. See how pretty it is?

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Teddy’s godmother came to stay!

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Reading some Peppa Pig. I thought this was Katalina’s book but apparently it was ours. We ALREADY own Peppa Pig. How did that happen? 

We had three wonderful, noisy, busy weeks with Elisabeth and Katalina visiting from Tonga. Teddy just loved her Godmother pulling funny faces and her Godsister reading and singing to her everyday.“Happy B B B Birthday…… TO YOU!” Note: it was no one’s birthday.

Teddy’s at an age where other babies aren’t very interesting to her (she frequently ignores all the other babies in our mother’s group) but a two year old? A two year old is a marvelous thing, according to Teddy. Two year olds are more fun than even mum and dad.  Two year olds sing and dance and spin around and are fun to watch. 

It was helpful for me to get a sense of what it will be like to parent a toddler. I plan to baby proof my entire house by removing all items with any type of sharp edge, wrap Teddy in bubble wrap permanently and invest in a lot of ear plus. I kid. Mostly. Katalina is actually a fantastic two year old – bright, engaging, able to entertain herself and is caring of others. But I don’t possess enough energy to run around after an active toddler! Hopefully, that will come.

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During their visit we went to Taronga zoo, drove to Kiama for the day, went into the city twice (to see the harbour bridge, opera house, botanic gardens, Centrepoint, darling harbour and the kids playground/water park), hung out with a bunch of our friends that Elisabeth knows, had Teddy’s baptism, did some shopping, went to Symbio zoo, visited Scenic world and Katoomba, went to the beach, did some more shopping, hung out at an indoor play centre and had various trips to the park. There was much cider consumed (the adults, not the babies), many a late night run to the supermarket and too much butter chicken.

We also tried to take photos where both children were smiling at the same time. We were unsuccessful.

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4 month update (a bit overdue)

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Always pulling the same, slightly shocked face in photos.

This post is ONLY two weeks overdue. Teddy and I have been having too much fun lately and kept forgetting about taking her four month photos. Teddy’s godmother (my best friend Elisabeth) and 2 year old god-sister visited us from Tonga for an amazing and busy three weeks. Teddy also had her baptism during this time.

Lately: Teddy has moved out of her bassinet, had her four month injections, had her first cold (terrifying when she couldn’t breathe), learnt to roll over, has properly discovered her voice and makes herself known, sits up in her Bumbo, plays in her jumperoo and still sleeps through the night and naps well during the day. Proud mum.

Likes: Her godmother and god sister Katalina, although like is a bit of an understatement. It’s more a deep, passionate love where she only has eyes for them. Likes rolling over, watching leaves blow in the wind, putting everything she can in her mouth, playing in her jumperoo, having people sing to her/make funny faces/make funny sounds. Likes being tickled on the side of her neck and on her tummy. Thought it was hilarious when a baby wallaby licked her foot at the zoo. Likes the bath, taking rides in the car and sleeping. Likes tugging on her bib and hiding behind it.

Dislikes: Accidentally drinking bath water, being hungry, being tired, having a stuffed up nose, when her pram is reclined too far. Dislikes nasal spray intensely.

My week… according to Teddy

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We’re practicing our rolling over. I can only make it to 3/4 of the way over and then need a bit of a hand from mum. I think it’s hilarious and am super proud of my rolling skills.

Lots of sleep is happening. I love my sleep! I do 3 naps a day and sleep through the night for about ten hours. Mum says she has her fingers crossed that I with this routine – it’s great!

I “made” valentines for my friends at mothers group. Those babies are my besties! I helped by sucking on a piece of felt and watched as mummy played with her glue gun.

The vaccum cleaner became my mortal enemy. Too loud.

Grandma and Auntie Irene babysat me on Monday when mummy went to a meeting at work. They played with me so much that I got tuckered out and had a 3.5 hour nap.

I’ve realised that things are best enjoyed by putting them in my mouth… hands, mummy’s hair, mummy’s necklaces, mummy’s clothes (pretty much anything of my mummy’s), my purple pink ball, my doll, all my rattles and most definitely my bibs.

 

Surprising things about being a parent

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I’m NOT surprised that becoming parents has made me love my husband more. Good dads are hot.

Since Teddy was born, I’ve had a lot of people ask me how being a mother is “going.” Sorry if you’re one of the people who asked me that (still love you!) but it’s a ridiculous question. How could I possibly sum up the one million and one conflicting emotions that I experience each day, into a few words?

Mostly I say that it is not what I expected. It is more wonderful, more challenging, more tiring, more uplifting and more frustrating than anything else I’ve ever done in my 27 years of doing things. Being a parent is full of surprises…

I’m surprised at how much I am obsessed with baby sleep. 

How much Teddy sleeps has become the barometer of my life. She sleeps well at night and has consistent naps during the day? Wonderful! I am a sleep guru. I am a natural at this parenting thing. I should pen sleep manuals full of my wisdom, as clearly, getting babies to sleep is my gift and I am the whisperer…. but when she doesn’t nap so well? Disaster. I am ruining her life, my life, my marriage, all at the same time. I have established bad habits. I have failed to teach my baby to sleep. She will never sleep well for the rest of her life.

Yes, I’m neurotic.

I have read around 14 different sleep books and can’t decide if I’m trying to “save my sleep” or be “baby wise” or if I’m pro Gina Ford or Tracey Hogg. The 14 different sleep books succeed only in confusing me thoroughly and crying to my husband that I can’t decide an “approach” to take. I then abandoned all 14 books because my kid sleeps well anyway, without much intervention from me and as mentioned before, I’m neurotic.

I will have to find something else to obsess over. Maybe feeding….

I’m surprised that I wasn’t able to breastfeed. 

Not breastfeeding never really occurred to me. I’d done a lot of research before birth and was prepared for breastfeeding to be difficult, painful and perhaps stressful at first, yet it was something I thought I’d eventually get the hang of. When Teddy was born, we didn’t own a single bottle or tin of formula, simply because I hadn’t thought to buy them. I didn’t even make the choice to NOT buy them. I didn’t think to.

On the day of going home from the hospital, my husband and mother in law had to make a mad dash to the shops as we were about to take the baby home and there wasn’t anything for her to eat.

I pretended it didn’t bother me, the not breastfeeding, but it really did. The day I made the decision to stop trying to breastfeed and hope/pray/pump unsuccessfully/take medication that gave me blinding headaches to bring that milk in, was simultaneously freeing and devastating. I couldn’t make the decision on my own and after three appointments with lactation consultants, the last one looked me in the eye and very kindly said “it’s not going to happen for you, it’s ok to stop trying.”

I’m grateful for formula and Teddy is thriving on it – her dad gets to feed her, heck anyone who wants to can give her a bottle. I get to sleep more. She sleeps for longer. But still, it felt like my body failed me and I get a little pang of envy when I hear about how “breast is best.” Clearly my boobs didn’t get the message.

I’m surprised at how much I love my mother’s group. 

I was hesitant at first, thinking that maybe we wouldn’t have much in common or that it would be full of super competitive women comparing how quickly their babies rolled over. It’s not.

My mother’s group is wonderful and meeting up with these awesome ladies has become the highlight of my week, the one thing I will drag my baby to no matter how unsettled she is…. because I need it. These women have been kind, supportive, reassuring and just damn fun to be around. I’m so hoping that our group doesn’t fall apart after we return to work, as these are friendships I want to last the distance.

I’m surprised and perplexed by my stomach. 

I was very lucky and lost all the baby weight, apart from one kilo, within two weeks. I must have good genes. Thanks Mum! That and my body went into shock after birthing complications, which probably sped up the weight loss. I fit back into all of my pre-pregnancy clothes. I have no stretch marks. So I know I shouldn’t complain.

But my stomach? It’s weird. Some days it looks flat and some days it looks oddly distorted. I’m working on it by alternating between yoga, zumba and a healthy diet of iced coffees and milky ways.

I’m surprised at the weird things I now google and discuss openly with anyone who will listen. 

I already know that I need to work on my mental filter and have “over sharing tendencies” (hey, buy me a coffee and you’ll get my life story. Unedited.) which I positively re-frame as “refreshing honesty in an age of superficial relationships.” But talk to me long enough and now I will very happily discuss baby vomit, baby poo, ear wax, post birth hemorrhages and a whole bunch of other gross topics that someone more polite would avoid.

The history on my computer detailing my searches is full of exciting queries like “how to tell if your baby has constipation.”

I’m surprised at how bored I get sometimes.

My kid is such a great sleeper that I find myself with a lot of time on my hands when she naps. Now, I’m not complaining but there are only so many books you can read and so many times you can watch the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice. When the washing is done and the house is tidy and my “to do” lists have been updated and my emails answered, sometimes I wish that my uni would start back sooner so I have something to do.

I’ve surprised at how quickly my emotions can change. 

One example…. (sometime last week, perhaps on Wednesday)

4:03 pm: (Thinking to myself) Oh, she is an angel when she sleeps. She is such a good baby. Look at her. No one else’s baby is as beautiful as mine. (Note, I’m rather self centered and obnoxious when left alone with my thoughts). How could I possibly go back to work and leave her? Maybe I should be a stay at home mum. That wouldn’t be so bad. I wonder if we can afford it. (Clearly I had forgotten at this stage how bored at I get at home sometimes and that I love my job).

4:07 pm: She’s awake. Gah, why is she awake? She needs to have a nap or she will be overtired and won’t sleep properly at night. 

4:11 pm: I’m patting you and have turned on your sound machine. Why aren’t’ you sleeping? No, don’t smile at me. Go to bed. 

4:17 pm: Ah, sweet baby. Look at how well and quickly you have settled yourself. No one else’s baby settles as well as mine. Clearly, you are a genius and very advanced for your age. (Told you I was obnoxious). 

4:28 pm: Crap. Awake again. Sigh… You really need to sleep. Sleep is nice! It makes you feel better! Sigh…. I miss my work. At least they have air conditioning. How many months until I go back? 

I’m surprised at how fiercely I love my kid.  

I would move mountains for her.

Or spend the entire morning trawling through ebay for a second identical doll to the one she is starting to prefer, that happens to be discontinued, just in case the first one gets dirty and needs a wash.

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