30 January 2009

Doing it all again

So as I hinted in my last post, we’re having another baby. Most of my friends have been guessing due to odd behaviours such as not swimming laps, having blood tests, cutting back on coffee and cutting out alcohol, soft cheeses, throwing up in car on way from picking them up from airport without an alcohol fuelled night beforehand, eating monstrous amounts, and random questions about whether or not they’d recommend their obstetricians. Or I’ve gradually told other friends because it felt odd not to given things we were talking about, and because they understand that you don’t blab about these things until the end of the first trimester public announcement, because of the higher risk of miscarriage in those first 3 months of pregnancy (speaking of which, we did have a scare just before Christmas, but all is OK, and baby is now 13.5 weeks old).

Now all I have to do is tell work. That’s another topic for another day.

We’re looking forward to having another baby. We love our little boy, and wouldn’t swap him for anything. He is a source of so much more happiness than we could ever have imagined. Sure the first 3 or so years of a child’s life is challenging, until you have toilet training and communication going well. But the journey is lifelong, and we love it so far.

So here are some of the things that have been occupying my mind regarding the birth and soon after:

- The delivery. We have to have a c-section this time. This is due to my injured nerve in my leg last time (see posts around July 2006 - probably a bit melodramatic, I daren't go back there), which we can’t rule out happening again, and could cripple me. You can’t really tell whether bub #2’s head will do it to me again. Depends on gestation time, gender, size, how the delivery goes, genetics (will they inherit their grandfathers unusually large head size?). The worry of not being able to walk properly again would do my head in. On top of that I had another injury during birth that I prefer not to discuss in polite circles. But it hurt, still does sometimes.

- Recovery from major abdominal surgery. Sewing up of 7 layers of flesh including abdominal muscles. Eeek. Gross. And EEEK! Not being able to walk at first, pain, not being able to lift, reach up, drive for 2-6 weeks. I need to talk to the few people I know who have had a Caesars and hear how they managed, where they needed help. But millions of women do it every year, so it must be manageable. I have 6 months to get used to the idea...

- On the upside, having a pretty good idea when baby will be born and how, and being able to plan family visits around then and the looking after of E-chan. And given experience from last time, perhaps coming up with some ground rules with house guests, or being ahead of the game enough so that we can agree on tasks so that our personal space isn’t invaded too far. Parents – mothers in particular – take liberties as house guests that others wouldn’t dare. All with helpful intentions, but often without just checking with you first.

- Breastfeeding. Where do I start? Didn’t go well last time, due to what I think was 4 major factors – 1) E-chan had difficulty sucking properly for the first 9 weeks of his life, 2) my body was in shock due to injuries mentioned above, 3) stress from not being able to feed ("I’m a failure, Ow that hurts, I’m so tired from feeds taking an hour or more when you add in expressing milk and having to supplement with a bottle" etc), 4) supply issues. Despite that I managed to partially breastfeed for 8 months. I know breast milk is best, and am going to put as much effort as I can into being able to breastfeed my 2nd child as I did my first. I personally can’t do it any differently. I can only hope this one is able to attach a lot quicker, I am a lot more relaxed about it this time, and I manage to get through the challenges that having a c-section imposes on feeding establishment.

4) is the big unknown – my physiological capacity to produce breast milk. I suspected last time that in the range of physiological ability to produce breast milk, I was at the lower end of the scale. I tried everything to increase supply, but couldn’t really produce enough. It’s hard when you leave hospital co-formula feeding to get to a stage where you are producing everything your child needs yourself. But it was the right thing to do at the time, I have no doubt about that. We got off to a bad start, we all did the best we could, but throw attachment issues into the mix, and it doesn’t give you much of a chance. So assuming we get off to a better start next time, I should be able to see what my full potential is. It will be interesting. If I could do away with needing bottles at just about every feed, it would be lovely. If I can do away with bottles almost entirely, I’ll be ecstatic!

And I don’t mind if we have a boy or a girl. Either would be nice! We may find out beforehand so we can plan the name, but we won’t announce it to anyone outside family until the birth.

29 January 2009

Why is science important?

Came across this site debating why science is important. Ever been asked by a child, teenager, anyone really, about why anyone should bother with studying science, why science should be funded etc? You may find your answer here...

I quite like this answer...

adjustments, adjustments

I do hear of children who go to bed at a set time every night, without fuss, and who have a day nap every day, without argument. Not our little boy. Our little boy is a routine smasher. As soon as you feel like you’re getting into a routine of some kind, he will start struggling against it, and will enforce a change. We think he thinks too much. It runs in the family. Sometimes something else will break a routine – a visiting relative, a trip interstate, moving house, getting sick - which happens often and disrupts sleep patterns big time. But much of the time, he just works out what is going on with his bedtime routine, decides to throw a new thing into the mix to keep us on our toes, and we need to work out how to reign him in so we can get him to bed at a reasonable hour and have some time to ourselves to discuss, well, adult things.

For example: we read to him every evening before he gets into bed, and have done so since he was tiny. It’s time alone with him, time to look at pictures, learn, cuddle, and hear stories. For a long time we’d read 3 books, then put him to bed. Then at some time he started to demand “more?”. Then before you know it, he has tantrums when you stop reading! Tired at the end of our days too, it can take us a few nights to come up with the right counter argument.

Multiply the above negotiation by 10 as you add in all the little necessary steps that have to happen before going to bed. On a bad night, every one of these steps can require negotiation:
1) going upstairs
2) washing/bathing
3) nudie streaking from the bathroom to the bedroom (lately has included bonus shrieking – not very conducive to toning things down for bed time)
4) Nappy change and PJ’s
5) Getting room set up for sleep (soft lighting, toys away, comfort items such as teddy and cup of water at hand)
6) Choosing a book or 3
7) Reading books
8) Hopping into bed (and staying there)
9) Low-key end of day conversations, singing lullabyes, cuddles
10) Going to sleep

So at any given stage (or all of the above stages), our little boy can throw something new into the mix, refusing to do something, or insisting on something new. I hear you all saying “so don’t put up with nonsense – what’s wrong with you?”. Well to that I say we are no-nonsense parents, but it ain’t that easy. Toddlers get upset when they can't make themselves understood, and when they feel they haven't been getting their way all day which is unavoidable some days.

It’s down to how you say “no”. If you say "no" the wrong way, it leads to whole new conversations, or worse – tantrums. And at the end of a long day, your brain isn’t always at its most inventive. Once I got cross with him and told him in a very firm voice that “Be quiet and go to bed NOW, you are making me very cross!”. And it worked once, but never again. It only seems that on those odd days when I feel well fed and rested at the end of a day, I respond to these challenges thrown at me in a way I’m proud of, that leaves me beaming with parental wisdom. I often think it would all be easier if my little boy would just have a day nap and give us a moment to ourselves to recharge. But it’s been over 6 months since that has happened reliably - time to give up that dream.

I’ve had “morning” sickness* for the last month and a half, which hasn’t made it easier. Add to the equation me feeling pathetic, tired, on the verge of throwing up, or actually throwing up, as many as 4 times in a day. Hardly equates to an influx of innovative parenting ideas. Blargh. Literally. But the nausea is easing off, and is now a dry retch before breakfast every 2nd or 3rd day.

Saying all that – we’re getting there, and things are getting easier lately. And happy toddler = happy parent = happier toddler, and so on, in one massive feedback loop mechanism. I feel infinitely better equipped to deal with all this 2nd time around. Except there will be two of them. But by the time #2 hits toddlerhood, E-chan will be a big, responsible 5-year-old, so the collective wisdom of my parents and friends with older kids tells me. I can’t help but think it will be easier....

* by the way, we’re pregnant again!