Archive for January 2007

snot bubbles

We’re almost healthy, healthy enough to venture out of the house at least and spend some time hiking in the woods and walking on the beach. This has improved my mood tremendously, as there’s nothing more dreary than feeling sick and sorry for yourself for days on end.

There’s also lots to look forward to, my parents are visiting in April and we’re renting a self-catering apartment in the Lake District (Keswick) for a week. Nana and Papa are excited about spending time with Duncan, I’m excited about going out for dinner with Cory without Duncan, and Cory’s excited about the fact that Keswick has 17 pubs serving real ale. That’s a simplified list of course; Papa’s also excited about the 17 pubs….

I’m also excited (and apprehensive) about travelling to Liverpool next week for work. I’m not even gone overnight, but as the longest I’ve ever been from Duncan is 6 hours and this will be over 14, it’s a big deal. We are concerned that he’ll refuse to drink any soy formula or water while I’m gone, but I’m sure when he realizes I’m not there he’ll be okay (he happily drinks water at nursery). As for me, I’ll have to pump while I’m gone so it’s not like I wont still be thinking about him but I’m going to be surrounded by adults and nothing but adults all day….
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seven months and super fast

Now that you’re almost old enough to understand what I say Duncan, I feel like I should be taking to you for these monthly posts. I know that you understand me when I say ‘no’ as you crawl over to the fireplace. Right now you think it’s funny that I’ll jump up and go and get you every time, but eventually no will start to mean consequences. Like when you bite my nipple at the end of a breastfeed with your sharp little tooth. That means no more mummy for a couple hours for you. Sure it’d be a stronger deterrent if you didn’t bite me as a way of saying “I’m full” but it’s all I got…

We’ve had a tough month. Our sleep-training at the start of the month may have worked well but it’s left your parents pretty run-down and open to infection. You and I have both been very sick with colds and fevers and your Daddy is getting sick too. You had a reaction to the antibiotics you were on causing something that looked like green acid to gush out of your bottom on a regular basis, horrible! We think you’re almost better, but Mummy’s got a sinus infection (and probably an ear infection) and really feels lousy. Now you’re getting all sorts of things through my breastmilk, antibiotics and antihistamines and decongestants. Probably if I’d taken a decongestant at the start we wouldn’t be in this state now, but no one wants to let a breastfeeding woman take anything for a cold.

The doctor told me yesterday that maybe I should be putting my family first if we were having trouble balancing work, our health, and you. That made me really mad and I want to let you know that I am putting you first. We moved all the way to Scotland so I could have a good job that would be great for having kids (faculty positions at universities aren’t known for their family friendly nature). I’m part time right now so that you can still breastfeed in the afternoons and, in honour of your new found ability at crawling, we’ve redone the dining room as your playroom. You are the centre of our lives but if you were all of my life I know I’d smother you with worry and expectations. Sexist stereotypes that suggest all mothers should be at home with their children are wrong – every family needs to find their own balance of parenting and work and I will keep fighting for my right to do my research during working hours and be a fantastic mother every other second of the day.

Finally, my speed-rocket son, I have to ask you to not come after me when I leave you in the playroom with the door closed. You can’t get through the door and when you’re pressed up against it, I can’t open it to get in without hurting your fingers. I promise I’m just stepping out for a second, to get a cup of tea or run to the washroom. Please let me back in!
Your first cookie. Full of sugar and definitely not approved by the health visitors but you needed a treat my brave sick boy!

Nothing beats coloured bits of plastic. Except Daddy’s computer cables of course.

boogers in unmentionable places (to non-parents)

D’s sleeping on my shoulder right now, after spending the morning resting in Cory’s arms. He’s a good baby even when he’s sick, looking at us with soft loving eyes even while letting out another hacking cough.

He did get my cold, and it’s a horrible one. I was off work and running a fever for three days and now it’s his turn… I feel cheated by the breastfeeding propaganda again: “often the only healthy member of a family is the breastfed baby” and here’s my breastfed baby running a fever, coughing, and even snottier than I was. (Our latest feeding session left green boogers hardening all over my boob until I had a hand free to wipe them off, poor wee loon!)

Before the descent of general pukyness around here, work and nursery were going well. Duncan’s drinking breastmilk out of a cup while he’s there and greats me with a happy smile when I pick him up. One of the deciding factors in choosing a nursery for us was the sleep room, and I’m so glad it was as he’s sleeping between one to two hours each morning in a proper cot with fresh linen.

And I love being back at work. I can’t believe how excited I am to do research again! Even the duller aspects of writing code seem fun after a six-month enforced absence. (Note: administrative paperwork still sucks. (Note 2: the lab’s upper management reads my site so perhaps I shouldn’t admit that, but since they’re scientists too I bet they feel the same way.)) I’m still not totallyhappy with leaving Duncan in someone else’s care but to give up work would be like giving up a limb, I’d lose a necessary part of myself if I wasn’t using the skills I worked so hard to develop. And I need all of myself to be a good parent…

(I just finished reading Dorothy Canfield Fisher’s The Home-Maker and I can see bits of myself in both the main characters. What a brilliant look at our percieved notions of parenting and self-identity…. )
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nursery = germs

I’d meant this entry to be one about letting Duncan cry himself to sleep using a controlled crying method and how tough that was on us emotionally. We’d gone way past the time for non-crying solutions and with him waking every hour he needed to learn to sleep again. Fortunately most of his bad habits were new ones from our trip and it only took a couple nights to turn him around. He’s only up once or twice a night now, which we think is a success (*) and he’s asleep after less than five minutes of crying most times.

But really this entry is about the perils of sleep-deprivation on a parent’s immune system. My third day at work and I’ve had to call in sick. I woke up twice last night with a throat so raw and swollen and full of phlegm that I couldn’t breathe. It was terrifying for that brief instant before I managed to cough myself clear… I don’t want to think of Duncan going through this. Until we know that he’s not sick, crying it out wont be a part of our nightly routine.

(*We’ve had lots of discussions about whether or not Duncan needs to get up in the night for food but we’ve decided that since he’s an active boy who’s on the lower end of the growth charts we can’t deny him food after 7 hours of sleep.)
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kisses & nursery…

Duncan had his first kiss yesterday, a tongue-twisting smooch with his friend Freya (us mums were too busy laughing to capture the moment with a camera). They’ve also both learned to really belly-crawl over the holidays so they were able to play together in a way they never did before. It was a real treat, Sandra and I could just sit back and chat instead of entertaining our wrigglers (aside from a small disagreement over who could play with the cylindrical blocks (much superior to rectangular blocks apparently)).

Yesterday was also Duncan’s introduction to nursery. He took to it immediately and when I picked him up a few hours later, didn’t really want to leave. He was clinging to the woman who’d just fed him beef stew and I swear he was thinking “why would I leave the beef stew woman to go home with you, stew and toys is perfect!”. Not to be outdone, I made him a lamb and broccoli casserole for dinner. He loves me again.

And no, I didn’t feel guilty when I dropped him off, strange yes, but not guilty. He loves other kids, sitting and playing with toys, and exploring the world, he’ll be 100% fine. Six months is probably an excellent age for going back to work.
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