Dark side of the baby

Before I go ahead and tarnish the up-til-now perfect reputation of Little Miss, I’d just like to reiterate how awesomely placid this kid is. She takes everything – and I do mean everything – in her stride with barely a whimper. From a few days after birth, we’ve taken her out and about and generally conditioned her to sleep whenever and wherever.

Ten days ago, she was woken at 1am, had a boob thrust in her mouth (no complaints there) then tossed in the car for a 1.5 hr drive up to Auckland, stuck in the sling, hauled to the airport, into a plane, across the Tasman, slung in the sling, hauled from International to Domestic, cuddled by Aunty and Uncle, back in the sling, onto a small pocket rocket before being greeted by lots of family she hadn’t met yet and a heat that she was not entirely familiar with. Travel time from whoa to go was approximately 14 hours.

She was magnificent.

Hardly a fuss was heard.

A wee little trooper.

Then she had days of being tossed around like a small cuddly football (it’s her own fault for being so cute, I reckon) as we made her introductions to all and sundry.  You have to understand – this kid is a miracle. We had people with their fingers crossed for years for us to hit the reproductive jackpot and finally all those positive thoughts coalesced into Little Miss. Consequently she was quite popular with the locals and let’s face it – everyone loves a baby.

 

Then the whirlwind week was over.

We were up at 7 am to say goodbye to her big brother at his work (and get one last coffee from him – he’s an amazing barista!) then troop around to family for breakfast then catch up with bigger brother before heading to the airport at 1 pm.

Then it was: sling – pocket rocket – sling from domestic to international – sleep on couch for 1 hr – sling – plane across the Tasman … and here’s where we start to break down …

She was a little grumbly on the plane. Nothing a boob didn’t fix, but we sensed a storm approaching. Fair enough, too. It was 11 pm NZ time so waaayyy past her bedtime. She eventually passed out in my arms about 45 minutes before landing in Auckland.

Then it was sling again so we could have enough hands to grab bags.

Still good.

We got through baggage and customs really quickly and were heading towards the shuttle bus area in record time, just taking the opportunity to do one last nappy change before retrieving our car and driving the 1.5 hrs home to Hamilton.

It was 12.30 am.

We took her out of the sling in the baby change room and she proceeded to goo and gaa and be smiley-cute while we changed her and told her she was our favourite baby because she’d been soooo amazing – not just for the flight but for the whole holiday.

It was a Kodak moment. Seriously.

Then we went to put her back in the sling for the last time.

And that, Officer, is how the fight started.

I think we can all agree that we’d really pushed the patience and good will of the poor little tyke and she’d handled it all with grace and aplomb. But that last tussle into the sling was the final straw for her.

She was in and I was doing up the clip on Daddy’s back when she arched her back and screamed so damn loud I thought a banshee had suddenly appeared in the room.

Uh-oh. Houston … we have a problem.

The wailing was less ‘cry-of-pain’ and more a roar of absolute fury. In fact,  she screamed so loud she actually choked herself and stopped breathing briefly.

Meanwhile, we’re frantically trying to figure out what’s wrong with the sling set-up. Was her arm trapped? Was her leg bent? Was there something sticking into her bum?

But no. She’d just reached her absolute limit and was letting us know in no uncertain terms that she was “Not. Happy. Jan!“.

Unfortunately, we needed her in that sling or we wouldn’t have enough hands between us to get her and bags out the door and onto the shuttle bus. Briefly, I wondered how the hell we were going to do this with a miniature Jack-Jack in tow.

I pulled her out and gave her a hug while Daddy checked everything over and gave the all-clear. Then we tried again.

This time, she cried and wrestled briefly but must have been all out of strength from her previous mini-explosion. Tired, miserable and all done in, she buried her head in her dad’s chest and passed out from exhaustion.

We breathed a sigh of relief, grabbed everything and got out while the getting was good. She slept the whole way home, through a final nappy change and into bed.

Watching her lose her shit, even if it was short-lived, was impressive though. Good to see the kid has a bit of bite!

Committing to it

I’ve been planning this post for a while now, as a celebration of our upcoming visit back home to Oz. It was just going to be a list of all the things I miss about home – Smiths original potato chips; Allens Jelly Beans; teabags with string; decent free television channels;  a bathtub and straight roads being my “Top 6 Things I Miss About Home”.

But recently, a group discussion made me question  how I really felt about our life here in New Zealand.

At our last weekly Space session we were talking about the principles of respectful parenting and asked to share an experience that we’d found challenging but eventually succeeded at – the point being that our babies are constantly meeting challenges but will get a great deal of satisfaction out of succeeding on their own and at their own pace.

I shared my experience of finishing my degree whilst raising three kids, managing a home and working simultaneously – it took me 10 years but I eventually got there and it’s something I’m immensely proud of.

Others related stories of sky-diving; having twins and coping largely on her own and travelling overseas alone. But something one of the ladies shared really struck a chord with me.

She talked about the time she made the decision to really commit to settling and making a life in New Zealand. It was difficult, she said, but in the end she realised that she’d been here long enough that whichever way she went, she was going to miss someone.  That resonated with me and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

In the famous words of Peter Allen, I still call Australia home, even though it’s been over a year. In my mind, I’ve realised I’m still treating this time in our life as a brief sojourn overseas and haven’t committed to the idea of living here ‘forever’.

The other day NIH and I were discussing what we’d do if we won the lottery and our lists were fairly comparable – pay off the mortgage currently giving us grief; travel around NZ and really see everything (we’ve barely scratched the surface!); buy a bigger car; find a bigger place to rent – but then I finished off with “or move back home”.

NIH stopped and looked at me. “Really?” he said, “I haven’t actually got to the place where I think of going home yet.”

Maybe it’s because I miss my ‘big kids’ so much.

Maybe it’s the emotional and physical demands of a new baby combined with the financial stress of one income to tackle a mortgage and rent.

Maybe I’m just bad at commitment.

Whatever it is, I’m not quite there yet.

When I use the logical part of my brain (rather than the purely emotional sooky-lala side), I realise that moving back to Emerald is not the solution.  As NIH put it, we’d be taking a huge step back rather than moving forward.  The only things I miss from there are my kids and friends.

So if we did move back to Australia, we’d be living somewhere with a more favourable climate … but I’d still be in the same boat, missing the kids and friends.

And I’ve realised I actually rather like it here. The climate suits me. The surrounds are beautiful. We have access to all sorts of services and events that make life more interesting. I’ve even started to build a community of mums with bubs as well as strengthen good friendships from work.

All in all, where we are is really good … I just have to commit to it.

Drinks with the girls

Last Friday night I met up with two girlfriends from work for drinks and a catch-up. Of course (as with most of my expeditions) there was some minor drama beforehand to add to the excitement.  I won’t go into detail but suffice to say that due to circumstances out of my control, I had 20 minutes to get dressed, prettified, say goodbye to the baby (oh … and NIH), drive, find a parking spot and walk the 5 minutes to the bar.

Challenge not only accepted but achieved. What can I say? It’s a gift … and there was the promise of wine and gossip at the finish line!

For two hours we shared a bottle of wine, some hot nibbly food and chatter. It was such a treat for various reasons:

  1. I was out in clothes that I hadn’t fit into for some time – and not to boast but I think I looked pretty fine for someone who, up until 7 weeks ago, looked like Moby Dick’s twin sister
  2. The clothes were not chosen according to how discretely I could pop a boob out (although some may argue that’s precisely how you should dress for a Friday night out on the town)
  3. I got to spend time with two lovely women who make me laugh, keep me grounded and fill me in on happenings outside my temporary but very narrow world
  4. Hot food that I could eat without interruption
  5. Wine. Enough said.

My life at the moment revolves around a small, squinty-eyed dictator who calls the shots … and I’m ok with that. It’s all part of motherhood.

However, for a brief two hours I was just Me. And that’s something we mothers tend to put on the backburner – sometimes for so long we forget where we left it. Having a baby can be a very isolating experience if you let it so as a “Do-Over” mum who’s been through this before, I’d like to say “Don’t”.

Don’t forget who you are.

Don’t put off catching up with the outside world from time to time. It would have been far easier for me to just cancel, considering what was going on that afternoon but I had made plans and by golly I was going out, even if it meant I was late and it was only for a little while. Once you start down the road of opting out if it gets too tricky, it gets harder and harder to turn back. It’s ALWAYS going to be tricky with a baby. Work around it.

Don’t ditch your mates from BB (Before Baby). You need those girlfriends without kids just as much as you need girlfriends in the same boat as you. They not only remind you of who you were before but also give you a chance to talk about something other than sleeping, pooping or feeding. Make the effort. They are totally worth your time.

Take a step out of your routine of feeding, changing nappies and coaxing the little darling to go to sleep and do something for yourself.  It refreshes your batteries and makes you appreciate motherhood all the more.