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.

Daddy knows best … apparently

Once a week Little Miss and I attend Space – a support program designed to facilitate connections with other new parents and their babies whilst exploring developmental milestones through baby’s first year.  Each week has a designated topic linked to activities such as singing, reading and craft. It’s brilliant and we love it!

Recently we covered the topic of “What does baby hear?” and we went around the room stating what our baby seems to respond positively to.  To be honest, I hadn’t really thought about Little Miss’s preferences regarding music until then, so last night we did a bit of experimenting before bedtime.

NIH suggested I start with the song we’d played for her a few times in the womb. We’d tried out a few and hadn’t really found one we liked (ok, one that we agreed on) so I had to ask him to specify.

“Metallica,” he said in an “of course” tone.

“‘Enter Sandman’? ” I scoffed.  “I don’t think that’s really a suitable lullaby.”

“Yes it is,” he replied, “Go on, try it.” then went off for a shower.

Muttering to myself that father, in this case, does NOT know best, I totally ignored him and started playing a selection of songs from a recent Facebook post I’d saved called “17 songs to help settle your baby that won’t drive parents mental” .

She stopped whinging to listen to Snow Patrol’s “Chasing Cars” and didn’t seem to mind Pearl Jam’s “Just Breathe” but to be honest, I don’t think she could have cared less about Jeff Buckley’s rendition of “Hallelujah”, no matter how soulful it sounded.

NIH came back into the room.

“Did you try it?” he asked.

“Pffft. No!” I replied.

[Cue baby starting to arc up again]

NIH looked at me and raised his eyebrows in that way only he knows how. It says “I’m right. You know I’m right. I’m not going to argue with you or force you to comply but still … I’m right.”

I sighed (loudly) and with no grace whatsoever found the song on YouTube and pressed play.

The little bugger shut up instantly.

“Just a coincidence!” I grumbled under my breath, avoiding his smug smile.  To prove my point, I flipped back to the next suggested song on my baby lullaby playlist – Coldplay’s “The Scientist”.

Turns out she hates Coldplay. With a passion. And she’s not afraid to demonstrate it.

“Bloody co-conspirators,” I grumbled and switched back to Metallica, whereupon she went back to sucking peacefully on her dummy with a drowsy stare that signals sleep is on the way.

NIH and I smiled delightedly at each other … this could be fun …

I’m not ashamed to say we toyed with our daughter’s emotions last night, flipping back and forth between the two songs and watching her reactions. It was, without a word of a lie, freakin’ hilarious.

She’d settle right down for “Sleep with one eye open; gripping your pillow tight” then start the wind up for “Nobody said it was easy“.

I’ve given birth to a heavy metal freak. Daddy does know best after all.

Oh baby!

Damn!

I believe I’ve previously touted the amazing health system in New Zealand, focusing in particular on maternity and after-birth care. I’ve experienced the most amazing support from the time I realised at 8 weeks that perhaps I should actually go to a doctor and get checked out since I seemed to be ‘still pregnant’ (usually we’d make it to 7 weeks tops before miscarrying).

Australians are uniquely blessed to be considered ‘honorary kiwis’ if they decide to move to NZ and plan on staying more than two years. This includes cheap doctor visits; free antenatal care from a registered midwife up until six weeks after baby is born; free ongoing support from Plunket after baby arrives and being able to get prescription medication for only $5 a pop.

Now, before I go on, perhaps I should do a shout-out to my older kids …

Hey guys!  Mummy is about to tell all about something that could be construed as embarrassing so feel free to look away! Look away now!

I’m going to talk about contraception … and in particular, the prescription I picked up from the chemist yesterday. You may have noticed the photo. That’s the ACTUAL BOX … or should I say “boxes” – all 12 of them.

Yep, 144 stolen moments of Confident Pleasure right there. And I say ‘stolen’ because that’s what happens when you have a small child that may wake up at any time and demand attention.

To be honest, when the midwife first brought up the topic of contraception post-baby, I scoffed. Firstly, the baby in question was only two weeks old and I was currently undergoing a stark reminder of the consequences of sex. Secondly, did she not realise how much of a miracle this little bundle was? The idea that we (and by that I mean ME) could actually conceive another child seemed ludicrous. And yet … lightning has been known to strike twice.

I don’t like chemical contraception (and all versions of it certainly doesn’t like me) so to alleviate their concern and show that I was moderately responsible, I opted for the good ol’ Love Glove.

Yep, I got a prescription from the midwife for 144 Frangers. One gross of Frenchies. French letters. Dingers. Rubbers. Sheaths. Raincoats. (Oh yes, I am loving googling all the slang terms for condoms but in the interests of my mum have kept it to the clean ones!).  And I got them all for the bargain price of $5.

Since life has settled down somewhat and the baby is now nine weeks and showing signs of sleeping longer through the night, sex may be a topic of conversation again. Even though I’m not sure we’ll even use them, I decided that perhaps I should get that prescription filled yesterday, if only to see what a years’ worth of condoms looks like.

I don’t know who was more flustered – the chemist handing over the ‘package’ or me trying to stuff the damn thing in the tray underneath the pram.

When I got them home, I took a photo and sent it to NIH at work with the caption “DAMN!”.  He was suitably impressed.

The instructions on the label say “USE when required”. I’ve checked the Use By date and fortunately we have until September 2021.

Thank god for that.