I’m a rubbish blogger, not just because of other priorities but also because no one is interested in yet another parenting blog, and most of the time life for us is the same as it is for all families.
Anyway, as of the last couple of months, my boy now sleeps all night! I feel like a right idiot because it has taken so long and was relatively easy to sort out: I stopped offering him the bottle when he woke and asked for it, and after a couple of nights he was fine with this. I only did it because my hand was forced after he bit holes in all his bottles’ teats and I refused to buy new ones for an almost 2.5-year-old, embarrassing. So now he’s off bottles completely and I get a fairly decent night’s sleep after a long 2.5 years, bar the interruptions from about 5.30am after he throws himself from the cot into my bed and kicks my face, stomach, back, snarling when he can’t snuggle into the right position… I should have done this a year and a half ago, if not earlier. If I had another child, I would be a lot more regimented, I think.
I would truly love a sibling for him but it’s not on the cards for many reasons. I feel we tempted fate with both my borderline pre-eclampsia and late-onset blood pressure problems last time, which I think would be a lot worse in a second pregnancy, and his heart condition, which we were so lucky to sort out before he was even two weeks old. Plus my eggs are getting on and incurring the expenses of another round of fertility treatment would not be the most sensible course of action at this stage. However, I feel an ache when I see tiny babies and I feel very sorry that he is on his own. The only solace is the possibility that a man with kids may be in the future, who knows. And of course I am very, very lucky to have my boy here in the first place.
He turned 2.5 this month and is such a smart boy. Current TV loves are Abney and Teal, Thomas the Tank Engine, and still Duggie, Tee and Mo, and Peppa. Plus some old nostalgia faves from the 1970s that I was brought up on, Mr Men, Mr Benn and Bagpuss. He didn’t take to Bod, another oldie. I didn’t realise as a small child quite how subversive Mr Benn was – antihunting, anticapitalist and definitely on the side of the underdog. And the music in those old BBC programmes was so good. We’ve so far avoided the whole smartphone thing, and I’m staving that off for as long as possible. Not having older siblings helps.
We started a new crèche in September, as we’re moving house soon, and he is not loving it yet but getting there. The school’s ethos is to encourage the kids to pursue what they’re interested in, which is fine but with a very strong-willed boy like mine runs the risk that he’ll just spend all day playing by himself in the sandpit. This only child needs to interact with other kids, which he was doing in his last crèche, so we will have to work on this. I also want him to have respect for his teachers and to do as he’s told, at least most of the time, or we’ll have a nightmare on our hands.
He has my immune system for sure. Since starting his first crèche in October 2017, he’s only missed 2.5 days, and two of those were because he had been slightly off colour the night before and I decided to keep him at home. I think he’s only vomited on two occasions, one of which was just because he wouldn’t stop making himself cough. I feel very lucky in this respect, as I haven’t had to endure the stresses of not being able to work when he’s unexpectedly at home. If I don’t work, we don’t make any money.
We have our next checkup at the children’s hospital in November to make sure everything is still okay with the aortic valve stenosis, but he seems fine. Fingers crossed.
His speech is really incredible, full sentences with lots of little nuances like “either” and “yet” thrown in. Sentences like “I goed to the shop to buy sweet and juicy strawberries” will never get old. He can’t pronounce his s’s very well, so can sometimes be a little hard to understand, but he’s having proper conversations and able to communicate most things, which stops him getting too frustrated. We don’t have many tantrums, and when he does throw himself on the ground everyone just laughs at him and he stops pretty sharpish.
This boy’s memory is phenomenal and in such great contrast to my sleep-deprivation-destroyed 45-year-old brain. He seems to only need to be told something once to remember it, and his visual memory is way better than mine. He will remember a TV episode he hasn’t seen for months from the first frame, which I definitely wouldn’t, and recalls exact episode names even if he doesn’t understand what they mean. Oh too have a memory like that.
And he’s definitely a man, as he’s already criticising my driving. “Mammy!” (outraged), “you take hand off steering wheel!” Oh dear.
My boy had his second birthday this month. What a character he has become. Full of energy and curiosity and never wanting to stop. He refuses to sleep at crèche and so is hived off to the older class while his group naps. This doesn’t faze him at all and he happily does his own thing with this group of Montessori kids until I collect him at lunchtime. He moved up to the Senior Wobbler gang a few months ago without any bother and seems to have made friends with one or two boys, inasmuch as any of them are friends or really play together at this age. I’m told he’s quite kind and empathetic with the other children, which pleases me. He came home with a bad bite on his arm a couple of weeks ago after he and an anonymous Child A had some sort of a scrap. It looked quite shocking but healed quickly. You can’t help wondering if there have been other incidents in which he was the Child A. I really hope not.
His sense of humour is great. He likes doing funny voices to make us laugh and he gets a kick out of arguing eg insisting something is red when it’s orange or calling a dog a fox, and then laughing. He can spend hours in the garden just pottering around with sticks and stones and generally getting filthy jumping in puddles and playing with sand.
A TV favourite at the moment, apart from the ever-reliable Peppa, Twirliwoos and Duggie, is Tee and Mo. If you don’t know it, this is a delightful cartoon about a female monkey, Mo, and her son Tee. The music is great and I’ve bought the CD of songs for the car. It’s a lovely gentle show about the fun and love shared by a mother and son and it’s a bonus that it’s about a single mother (I wonder is she a solo monkey mama by choice or did it just not work out with the father).
The boy’s speech has really come on in recent months. He’s stringing together three or four words, usually an order (“Mammy, read Zog book” (he’s loving all those Julia Donaldson books, The Gruffalo especially, and is also quite partial to the Max Velthuijs Frog books) or telling me where something is (“Red balloon under sofa”). I love it when he exclaims “My goodness!” (I don’t think I had ever uttered those words in my life and now that I have a child it’s suddenly all I say 20 times a day, along with “Now!” like a bossy matron). My heart dissolves when he says “Mammy, come here,” and drags me by the hand.
He doesn’t seem to hear the “f” sound very well, so words like “finger” and “fish” are “shinger” and “shish” (I must try him with fish fingers). And for some reason he pronounces his “s” words a bit like a wee Sean Connery, as in “Shee you shoon.”
There is definitely a stubborn streak in this boy that I think is more than the terrible twos. When told not to do something, he looks you in the eye and does exactly the same thing again. It’s just so hard not to laugh. We had our two-year developmental check and the nurse asked him to make a tower with some bricks. He does this all the time at home and in crèche but there was no way it was going to happen for her. “Long bricks,” he said, and instead made a long line of bricks. And then did the same again. And again. She asked him to identify some pictures in a book and he went along with the first few before just making what sounded like “blah” sounds for the rest. Obviously he wouldn’t let her weigh him either, so she had to weigh me and then the two of us together. I was looking at him thinking “Why are you frigging messing with me buster.”
In other, more significant medical appointments, we had our annual checkup for his aortic valve stenosis heart condition in February, and all was fine. They continue to be chuffed at how well his valvioplasty at 11 days went. They want to see us in the autumn, which I could do without because I have the sense it’s just because they are so pleased with him and these appointments weigh on my mind for weeks before. But we have no complaints with the brilliant care we’ve received and long may this good news continue.
On my side, I’m still constantly knackered, as the boy’s sleeping at night is not great. I am weak-willed and continue to give him a bottle and take him into my bed when he wakes in the middle of the night. As it sends him to sleep in five minutes, I’m leaving things as they are for now. I know he’s probably only waking to get the bottle and that I should wean him off but I’m so tired I lack the energy for a fight. Breaking another cardinal rule of sleep training, I also stay with him until he goes asleep. I just never got around to training him to nod off on his own and if I try now he leaps out of the cot and heads towards the door in his Grobag, giving me horrible visions of him tumbling down the stairs. So we hold hands, sing and chat until he drops off.
This is fine on the crèche days when he hasn’t napped and we make it through the day without napping at home; on these glorious days, he is out like a light at 7.30pm. On other crèche days, he’s so tired and cranky/hyper by the afternoon that I have to let him nap in the afternoon, which of course means it can take an hour, often more, to get him asleep. This is super-frustrating when I have work to do or would just like to sleep or have some time to myself, but it’s also nice spending that time with him. Overall, I am less of a zombie than before. At the end of last year, he was waking every couple of hours, which was torture, but he’ll now wake at 1 or 2 in the morning and then sleep until 6ish, dozing on and off until we get up around 7, which is still not great for a two-year-old but an improvement. How I would do things differently if starting again (or having another).
Life is busy, so blogging has been pushed down the list. My Dad is very unwell and has just been admitted to hospital for the fifth time in five months. He adores my boy and the feeling is mutual, and their relationship has provided some light in half a year of stress and sadness. When I was pregnant, my Dad half-joked that he would hold on until the baby was born. Since the birth, he has wistfully remarked many times that he hopes my son will remember him when he’s gone. Sadly, that seems unlikely now. However, I know my Dad has had a strong influence on who my boy is and what he has become over these past two years, which is maybe just as important.
Even before I had the baby, I worried that I was setting my future child up for bereavement by making his main role model a not very well man in his mid-70s. Now it looks as if that will be irrelevant, as a two-year-old who doesn’t understand death is likely to quickly forget and move on. Which is good for my boy but sad for my Dad and me.
You know when you’ve had pain or discomfort for a long time and you suddenly realise it’s not there any more? A bit like constant noise in the background that disappears without you noticing. That’s what has happened in the last few weeks. My fingers are often a bit sore after I wake up and my feet a bit creaky but, by and large, it’s slowly dawned that my body feels more or less back to normal.
I mentioned the last time that post-partum arthralgia might be caused by the hormone relaxin. It occurred to me recently that my sister had symphysis pubis dysfunction, also caused by relaxin, with her first pregnancy and ended up in terrible pain and on crutches as a result. I wonder if there’s a connection.
Whatever the cause, thank the universe it’s almost gone. My boy is 10.5 months old, so it’s taken bleedin’ long enough. How lucky we are not to live with pain, most of us.