More on the Bad Mommy

Something that I fed Robert during the past two has caused an awful rash in his nappy area. He is red and sore and can’t even stand the touch of warm water. I tried to think back about the food I gave him in the last 48 hours. First I suspected the olive oil, which he has ingested for the very first time. The other foods he has taken before without any problems. After his dismal weigh-in on Wednesday, I have been running after him, trying to convince him into eating different types of high calorie foods. I lined up a variety of foods so when he refused one I moved on to the next. At any given lunchtime we had toast, yogurt, eggs, avocado and cheese, in addition of course to the ever present formula bottle.

The situation did not improve with the application of soothing cream. Today, Lucy mentioned that he was very uncomfortable from the rash, she only fed him yogurt and baby porridge, avoiding adult foods to give him a break. Later I figured out it was possibly my milk that caused this reaction because the day before I had a huge craving for chocolate and went on a chocolate binge. My milk probably caused him diarrhea and rash, so here I am to blame again. To add to his troubles, poor Robert also has an absent minded or sleepy mom most of the time these days. I have landed a big project, requiring me to translate 20,000 Words from Arabic into English before the 10th of August. This means that I need to churn out just over one thousand words daily. I am trying hard to meet the quota, but most of my working time happens in the evening after Robert goes to bed and extends into the small hours of the morning. It follows that I am not at my best in the early hours of the day, and I have less energy to play and take the little one out.

Apart from these few complaints Robert is thriving. Between myself, Lucy and Jackie we manage to keep him entertained. Lucy turned out to be quite a gem; last Tuesday I came home early to find her sitting in our room watching over Robert as he slept in my bed. Lucy made me forget my disappointment at missing his good night hour, when she said to me:”touch my hand… he is walking !!”. Apparently she encouraged him to walk two steps independently after she practiced with him, holding his hand and then holding onto his sweater. Lucy has a terrific way with babies, and Robert loves her, I am truly blessed to have her help.

A Little Help

Robert and I are struggling along and trying to cope around our busy routine. Things are starting to fall into place, albeit very slowly. I sat down with Lucy one Saturday and we worked out a schedule when she can look after Rob, then I came up with my own work schedule based on it. I presented the schedule to my managers at work, and they were nice enough to accept it. I will thus be working the same shifts every week: Tuesdays and Thursdays in the afternoons and then Saturday the whole day. I threw in a whole day on Sunday every other week, where dad has to look after Robert, to make up a 20-hour week. This makes me work every other day, with a two-day weekend only every two weeks, but I have no alternative at the moment.

Lucy is very good with babies and small children. She raised half a dozen of her own children and grandchildren, in addition to many others she cared for in her working life. On the very first day I left Robert with her, I came home to see him strapped to her back African style, and he seemed to enjoy it immensely. I am glad to have peace of mind in that area at least, my child is well looked after in my absence.

When we are not running around on some errand, Robert and I enjoy soaking the sunshine in the yard, on the beach or in the park. Sometimes Jackie came along too, and I took some photos. The effects of pregnancy, continued breastfeeding and the added stress of breaking up are finally showing. I look thin, tired and haggard these days. My hair has lost its luster, and has become brittle and dry. I received unflattering comments about the way I looked, and I know why. But, I am going to ignore my growing roots for now; I want to give my hair a break. If god wants me gray, then gray I should stay. The only reason why I dyed it before was in deference to my husband. Now I have only myself to answer to. I will find a solution that suits me this time, and I do not want to succumb to the pressure of looking younger and sexier, I am not young anymore, so who am I trying to fool. I am not scared of my scars or of my approaching forties. I have lived, loved, and born a child; I have smiled, frowned, laughed and cried and I have the scars and the gray hair as witnesses. I am not going to pretend otherwise.

I am not the only one trying to adjust to our new lifestyle. Robert is also going through this phase. He has started to wake up every night for a feed, and it is something else for me to get used to. It is good that I can survive on very little sleep, and I am also grateful that I do not have to work night shifts. I want to be the one to reassure and hold him when he wakes up during the night. My feeding routine has also been disrupted, back in the old flat I used to confine Robert to the Bumbo chair in the kitchen where he was stuck in a seated position until he polished up the cereal bowl. Here, I am struggling to keep him in place as I try to aim the cereal into his mouth. I do my best to anticipate the turning head and dodge the swiping hand, but we still end up both with splats of cereal on face, hair, and clothes. The solution came from the resourceful Jackie, who got us a feeding chair from the next-door neighbors. The family was in Israel for a holiday at the time, and the maid gave us the chair, but when they came back they were very happy to let us keep it.

Once Robert was strapped behind the tray of the feeding chair, he knew that it was mealtime and there was no more messing around. Since I moved in with Jackie I also started to let him snack with me on my food, so he has started on toast, avocado, rice, beans, and many different fruits.

In other activity news, Robert and I are going to Moms and Tots class every week. It is something that I can hardly afford, but I wanted to do it, to get some social interaction with other moms, and to give Robert a chance at some fun time with other babies. The first few weeks were a little challenging but soon Robert started to enjoy the activities and get used to socializing with other people. I also met many interesting moms and learned new games to play with my little one.

Blogged with the Flock Browser

Times Together and Times Apart

Robert’s mom is back to work part time as of today. It is strange to show up at the office again and try to be part of the team. During the months that I was away a lot changed and I have to work for the first few weeks together with a coach. Dad has passed a milestone today as well, looking after Robert for almost five hours. He did not have a great success in putting him down for his morning nap, but I did not have any better luck either. By six thirty poor Robert was so whipped he went to sleep immediately after the feed.

I think we made some progress –hopefully- in finding someone to look after Robert for the weekends, when I work the longer shifts. Miriam is a wonderful lady, and I hope she will prove to be a keeper. The only problem is that she cannot arrive earlier than nine in the morning and has to leave by six thirty in the evening at the latest. This means that the pressure will be still on Ron to take over for roughly four hours per day. Unfortunately, I will face the same problem whenever I hire any African lady, because they rely on public transport, so this cannot be helped unless I quit. The other option is to hire an au-pair, who commands a higher salary than mine, and then it doesn’t make sense at all.

Robert and I still go often to the park to enjoy the warm autumn weather. These days, he is happy to spend longer times there and interact somewhat with other moms and children. Today I had a nice visit with a few moms, and Robert charmed everyone with his giggles and smiles. I managed to get home after a couple of loud squeals and we did not get a full performance of his crying orchestra. I think he is a very happy and content baby, especially considering the little sleep he got today. If he is just a little bit cranky then it is because of his aching gums.

Over the weekend Ron and I went and bought a new supply of clothing for the little guy. He has finally outgrown the outfits I received as a present for his birth. We also bought him a set of huge plastic keys, designed as teething aids, and a small tube of teething gel. I think his first tooth will be making an appearance before the end of the month.

Another milestone for today was Robert’s first tablespoon of butternut pumpkin. Last week I cooked the pumpkin, pureed and froze it in an ice cube tray. Then I emptied the frozen portions in freezer bags. This morning I put one frozen cube in the fridge to defrost, and I later gave it to Robert as a lunch snack. He enjoyed immensely, perhaps because it was still cold and soothing to his gums. Butternut is very popular with babies because of its smooth texture and sweetness. Tomorrow I will give him a larger portion.

First Taste of Solids

Again I am running late on updating with Robert. I will restart my retro-active blogging tomorrow. However, today we need to mark the occasion of our first encounter with rice cereal.

Robert was seated on top of our oak dining table, in his Bumbo seat of course, and opened his mouth nicely for the little spoonfuls of cereal. The whole meal was about a teaspoon of runny rice cereal thinned with breast milk. He still needs practice though, the cereal gets into his mouth, but he doesn’t know what to do with it, he needs to figure out the act of swallowing as opposed to sucking. Some things definitely point out his readiness for this new taste; the tongue reflex is no longer present, and he seemed interested in the experience. I will keep up with a small daily dose of the cereal, so that he can take one full meal by the time I get back to work.

The Doctor Said..

This last week of November has been quite busy for all of us. I am still working on my translation assignment, and I am finding it very hard to stay concentrated while trying to keep Robert happy at the same time. Ron has his hands full trying to help out and keep everything else in order. I would have never been able to pull it off without him.

On Wednesday I had my dreaded interview at work. It went unexpectedly smooth, and I did not have to negotiate down at all from my initial request. I now have two additional months of leave. The finances have to be thought out and planned later, but for now Robert and I are sorted. When I return to work in March I might have the option of working half days which means that I can spend maximum time with the little monkey. In theory I can continue breastfeeding for as long as Robert wants, and I needn’t worry anymore about pumping breast milk.

The news from work was positive. I got a T-shirt, a pro-rated bonus for the eight months I worked this year, and an invitation to the year-end function. In short I was made to feel part of the team, which makes going back to work next year not a totally bad idea. The only technicality I need to grapple with in the next few days is the imminent expiration of my Dangerous Goods License on December 1st. People who work in the transport industry have to take a refresher course every two years to keep the certification current. It just happened that I had to do this refresher and test within the next two days.

I opted to take the test on the very next day, Thursday. I left immediately after feeding Robert at about two in the afternoon. The course was a module which I followed on a multimedia CD, after which I was required to complete a test. Finally my certificate was printed, and my license was brought up to date. The training module and test require one and a half hours to complete, but I needed more time, because I chatted to colleagues and superiors. As usual there was more than one crisis on the floor to scatter the attention. Near the end of the test I kept glancing between my cell phone and the clock, expecting a call from Ron with a screaming baby in the background. I was heading home on a taxi, when the call finally came. Ron had done his best to entertain Robert. He took him out for a walk and played with him, but once the baby got thirsty there was nothing he could do to calm him down. Poor Pea was hot and thirsty, and so worked up it took some time to get him relaxed again for his feed. All of us were exhausted by this exercise, and I am glad we won’t have to do it again. I was only away for a little over two hours, but obviously it was too long. Once Robert was fed he regained his good humour; Ron even got a rare laugh when he popped a plastic bag near him.

Today, we had another big excitement on the calendar; Robert’s three-month check up. Ron and I had a long list of questions for the pediatrician, and I added one more after inspecting an abnormal diaper surprise in the morning. The doctor put our doubts to rest: Robert was NOT teething, and the little white spot we saw was a normal discoloration on his gum. The mole on his thigh was nothing to worry about, and the mark on his back is not a mole, but a mark that will perhaps disappear in time. The doctor explained that a child is considered “moley” if he or she has more than ten moles over the body. Such a child requires further monitoring and dermatological tests, but at this point Robert did not fall into this category. My diaper discovery this morning was a sign of diarrhea, caused by a transient virus. It would only be a cause for concern if the diarrhea becomes severe and/or lasts for a longer period of time. We discussed formula, feeding schedule, and the introduction of solids. The doctor reiterated what we read in most medical books and childcare sites: Breast milk is perfectly sufficient for babies in the first six months of life, and no supplements or solids are needed before then. Furthermore he advised against any introduction of solids before four months. Our doctor said that he advises parents to start on rice cereal after four months if their baby wakes up several times at night because of hunger. When we told him that Robert has in fact started sleeping through the night, he said that it was impressive and a little unusual. We shouldn’t brag about it to other parents, he cautioned, because they would be murderously envious. The doctor carried on with Robert’s examination and wrote down his height and weight. The numbers were as follows: Weight 6005g; Height 64cm; Head circumference: 39.5cm. I realized with dismay that he has only gained about 100g since his last assessment nine days ago. He is still on the 50% percentile, but it is obvious that he hasn’t been getting enough food since he started sleeping in. I need to do something about it, perhaps feed him one last time before I turn in for the night.

Before we went home for the day we stopped at the post office. An old friend of mine from Johannesburg had sent us a little present for Robert. We opened the present as we were having lunch. It is something that Robert will surely have lots of fun with in the future. A big blue whale and three little whale pups, they are his future bathtub friends. For now he was just happy to practice grabbing their package and try to get them into his mouth.