Thirteen Weeks : Are We Teething Already?

Mom and dad have been busy this weekend. I got another long-winded translation projects, and I have been putting in too much time in front of the computer. Ron had a role in an interesting European ad, where he was an 18th century soldier, marching across a sun-burnt field. Robert was busy in his own way, trying to stuff fingers and whole fists in his mouth as we saw. I know that he is not supposed to be teething until around six to seven months but this activity, the slobbering, general crankiness, and a pinpoint of white on his gum makes me think otherwise. It would be a real shame, just as colic is about to end to have aching gums to worry about, it doesn’t seem fair.

Out of all the presents Robert got two weeks ago, the mobile is still the most fascinating. To spare our ears we only wind it up in the morning as we wash up and have breakfast. It keeps him busy and happy for some time, provided of course all his other needs have been taken care of. He is sleeping longer at night, and most of the times I have to wake him up at dawn for his early morning feeds. He slept through the nights a few times already.

Ron also has been trying to put him in his ‘bumbo’ seat for a few minutes at a time. He tires out quickly because his head is not totally steady yet, but he seems to like the sitting position. The developmental play-gym hasn’t been a favourite so far. He starts fussing as soon as he is laid down on it, especially when in the tummy position. When I put him on his back he doesn’t seem too interested in the colourful animals overhead, and he hasn’t reacted much to the ‘baby’ in the mirror either.

We did notice that babies this age have a very short attention span, and focus on one particular object excluding the rest of the world. For example, Robert has not yet acknowledged Petey the black cat. It is not possible to draw his attention to the animal when he is focused elsewhere. Petey for his part gives Robert a very wide berth whenever possible.

Today when we put Robert in the bath we could not help remember how small he was when we first bathed him. Actually it was Ron who bathed him in the first few weeks. I was too intimidated to try it alone, because he seemed so small. Fortunately we have the pictures to prove it : bath; mirror.

I just had to take some current pictures to illustrate our progress. In this bath picture Robert is in the middle of a full stretch. A few months ago he used to flop passively in the warm water, now he wants to kick and splash a little. I suspect the action will become even livelier in a few months’ time.

Eleven Weeks: Christmas Comes Early

We are only a couple of weeks away from the magic number… three months. Many things are promised then: The end of colic, better head control and hands moving to their target quicker. We are definitely seeing some improvement in these areas, and our hands can now find our mouth after only a few tries.

Ron and I take it for granted that little Robert will be right-handed; it is interesting to note though, that so far he still favours his LEFT fist for the comfort of sucking.

We now have a fixed evening schedule leading to bed time. I start to calm Robert down from around six, then depending on his general state, I either feed him while watching the afternoon soap, or in front of the computer while reading my mail. A little bit of rest after feeding and then he gets dunked in the bath after seven, where he winds down and tires himself out. Finally he will nod off to sleep as I give him a little night cap. Once or twice so far he was calm enough to fall asleep by himself but these are still isolated incidents, and I don’t think they are part of the routine, not yet anyway. Night feedings are now down to only one, after which he promptly falls back to sleep. In short, the nights have become routine, but the days are still far from sorted.

Robert’s quick growth is a constant reminder of the passage of time. In a few weeks’ time I should be back at work, and I still can’t figure out how to solve the problem of breastfeeding. I do enjoy this special bond I have with my son, and I consider my ability to give him nourishment and help him grow, not a mere duty, but a privilege. If it was up to me, I would continue to breastfeed exclusively for the recommended six months, I would try pumping, working less hours, anything. But the best case scenario of course, is to stay at home for two more months. I am not sure that my management at work would go for it though.

Ron is not keen on the idea of using a breast pump, he thinks it is too much of a hassle, and does not trust me to have the dedication required for the cleaning and sterilizing routines. The complications increase exponentially when we start thinking about the procedures for storing and freezing breast milk. My sister-in-law, who is a strong believer in nursing, surprisingly vouched for formula. She had to start using formula early for her youngest son, and it turned out well. Her testimony convinced Ron, but not me. I would love to continue breastfeeding exclusively for six months.

To explore the possibility of using a breast pump, I tried to speak to women who had previously used one. Ron’s advice was to look at “For Sale” ads on the internet for breast pumps in the last few months. I only managed to get hold of one mother, who was of little help since she only used the breast pump once. I was left with my usual weapon of last resort: Ask Britt, and as it turned out she was forthcoming, and then some.

She came in on Saturday with her older girl, carrying bagfuls of stuff. There was a play-gym, baby soaps, bubble bath, and a small headrest for little Robert, in addition to a special baby chair ‘bumbo’ which is made of soft plastic and designed to mould around baby’s bum, back and upper thighs. It was one of the products on our to-buy list for Robert. Britt also brought along a manual breast pump for me to try, and answered all my questions about its use.

On Saturday, Robert opened another generous present, this one from Auntie Carla in Canada. The package contained colourful musical mobile, educational books, a shirt, a baby bathing suit, and a soft sleeping bag. I think Ron and I were as excited as Robert about the beautiful things ( possibly even more about some of them). It took us some time to figure out how to attach the mobile to Robert’s crib. When we finally mounted it there he was captivated, and we could tell that it is going to be his favourite.

He wakes up in the morning to look at it, and then starts talking and cooing to the animals hanging overhead, it is quite funny to watch.

We Are Four Weeks

Today Robert is four weeks old; four weeks fresh as I like to say. Ron and I had another restless night, and thereafter it was decided that we cannot sleep with the baby in the same room anymore. It is strange that I can sleep through his grunts, while Ron can’t, so we both end up sleeping equally bad, because I wake up for Robert’s nightly feeding sessions, while Ron wakes up at every grunt and groan coming from the cot.

The solution is definitely to move the cot to another room, but it is easier said than done, the way our flat is laid out. The cot is now in the corner of our dining room/office which is technically the second bedroom of the flat. I have a feeling that I will have a harder time with this sleeping arrangement than the previous one, because I tend to worry if I do not hear baby noise at all. I am still not over my compulsive habit of getting up to check baby’s breathing every few hours. In fact, whenever I put him down at night I find that I can only go back to sleep once I hear him grunt.

I have also started to monitor what I eat more closely. Some vegetables that were harmless or even healthy during my pregnancy, now turned out to be no-nos for breastfeeding. The list keeps getting longer. I cannot even have Ron’s wonderful lentil soup anymore, but I cannot bring myself to give up garlic and onion yet, as they do not seem to cause much trouble.

Today is a public holiday here in South Africa, it is Heritage Day which marks the celebration of the diverse heritage of South African people, and it is one of the new holidays created for the democratic South Africa. Informally though it is known as ‘national braai day’ and we planned to mark the occasion (and Robert’s fourth week) with a braai of our own, weather permitting. Cape Town weather is still unpredictable, and it is disappointing to watch the weather forecast, when day after day Cape Town temperatures are barely in the teens while the rest of the country basks in thirty degree heat. For our braai today the sky cooperated, it was a clear and sunny with no sign of rain. The temperature though were around 16 degrees, quite fresh for this time of year.

Our landlady and her husband came to visit us during the afternoon and see little Robert. They brought him another fluffy teddy bear, so he now has a complete family of three (they are shown in the picture, and were named Pinky, Rusty and Canuck). Throughout the visit with our landlords I was busy entertaining, feeding and changing baby, and it was up to a very tired Ron to entertain the visitors for a couple of hours.

As the visitors were ready to leave Robert was finally ready to be put to bed, and then Ron headed to prepare our long awaited braai. Soon enough the briquettes were starting to heat up, and I wanted to head along and help, however our little sweet pea had something else in mind for me; he opened his eyes again and demanded more drinks. Ron prepared dinner by himself as usual. Half an hour later he came to say it was ready, but found me still feeding Robert, and getting exasperated with this. After all I spent at least two of the last three hours with Robert semi dozing at my breast, and I wanted us to have dinner together for once. We had planned to have some red wine with our meal (a first for me since I gave birth), and it was the first time we had a braai since Christmas ! In the end we managed it, sort of. Robert dozed in his car-seat, near the table and at least it was quiet throughout dinner, and we could watch some mindless television, the South African soap opera Isidingo. Of course, the little boss’s chair needed rocking occasionally with a free hand or foot, but it was a small price to pay for his silence.

The red wine we had for dinner was a year 2000 harvest which I bought from a wine farm in Cape Town in November 2001. We were still living in Johannesburg then, and I went on a trip to Cape Town sponsored by the tour company I was working for at the time. Interesting to note that the wine travelled from Cape Town to Johannesburg, then onwards to East London, and returned on a moving van again to Cape Town. We only had the pleasure of drinking it today, and we couldn’t have found a better occasion.

Robert’s Fluffy Friend

The parcel Robert got in the mail yesterday was a present from his auntie in Canada. The challenge for today was to open the present at a time when Robert was in a good mood and when his parents weren’t under pressure to do something else.

We opened the present after breakfast, and it was a soft fluffy teddy bear in white and blue. Ron gave him the name Canuck, and I can see him becoming Robert’s favourite fluffy friend in the future, especially because his stomach rattles whenever he is moved. Next challenge was to convince Robert to pose for a nice photo with his new friend.
It took several attempts, but in the end we managed to get Robert’s official teddy bear photo.