Teething Pain

The first week of May was mostly associated with the pain of teething, it is also my first month on my “special” work schedule, where I don’t have to drop Robert off at his dad’s.

I almost wanted to miss my first full working Saturday, because Robert had a fever in the morning. I suspected it was an ailment associated with his inflamed gums, but I was still worried as I went to work. I phoned Lucy several times during the day to inquire about Robert, especially since I have been having problems feeding him. He didn’t have great appetite for cereal or solids, and did not take much of his bottle either. When I returned home Lucy reported that he ate well, and I was relieved. She says that he eats very well with her, which makes me somewhat jealous. This time she cooked him some vegetables with little pieces of chicken. The chicken -more specifically granny Jocelyn’s roast chicken- was a great hit with Robert. He enjoyed gumming it and was ready to open his mouth for the next big juicy sliver, while he was still busy chewing on the previous bite.

On Sunday morning we had company. Friends came for tea and cake, and we had an enjoyable morning. Our friend Monz came with her little daughter Olivia, who is a sweet little baby of six weeks. I would have enjoyed the visit even more if Robert wasn’t acting up because of fever. On Sunday afternoon he had a runny tummy as well, and I needed to change his sheets and sponge the mattress. I suspect that Robert’s first tooth finally cut through on Saturday (May 3rd). The fever however did not completely break, and he was still in pain. While previously he used to gum and bite everything in site, during these few days he couldn’t tolerate anything to near his swollen gums. He would stiffen and cry and not even allow me to rub them with soothing gel. During this trying time I kept him on a routine of pain drops, and tried in vain to give him some food, but he just accepted breast milk.

I did not expect to continue breastfeeding this long, but I still enjoy it. It is also much easier to give Robert his nightly feed from the breast rather than fiddle with bottles and formula at dawn. I always thought that once his sharp teeth start causing damage I will have to stop, but Robert seems to give mom some consideration in this respect, and there weren’t any biting accidents so far. My nanny said that she breastfed her older children until three years of age, I cannot see myself doing that, but as long as we both enjoy it I won’t stop. It is not an inconvenience for me at all, it is rather a special pleasure.

Today Robert had a specially bad day, he was tired and cranky. In the morning I had to deal -again- with a huge mess. Robert’s nappy had leaked and soiled his clothes, his sheets, and his mattress. I had to put him in the bath, and wash all the bedding and the mattress. During the afternoon I had to put him to bed on a make-shift mattress of blankets and towels. He finally went to sleep after a long crying session, with Canuck as his pillow. Later, when I put Robert down for the night did I noticed that something was not quite right with Canuck. At first, and in the dim light, I thought that Jackie has given him a new ribbon, but then I discovered that the pattern on the ribbon was dried up nappy mess from this morning. Disgusting to think that I allowed Robert to sleep with his face next to that filthy toy. Canuck had to be washed ! In fact he remained outside for a few days taking in rain and very little sun, until he finally dried a week later. Due to these washing disasters I had to enlist my ex’s help with laundry, he wasn’t too impressed. It is really hard for me to ask him for help and endure his sour reaction.

Robert is showing steady development with his motor skills. He tries to stand independently for a few seconds or lifts his butt of the floor from a sitting position trying to stand. I am starting to notice more emotional and social development. I think he is at the stage where he observes stuff closely and tries to learn how things fit and relate to each other. One day this week I was amazed at his interested reaction when I put my large hand next to his small one on the side of the bathtub; he examined them intently for a short period of time and then proceeded to examine the large hand with his tiny one. Most of the time I try to give him free reign as he discovers things; even when his journeys of discovery mean rearranging our room into a total mess. Sometimes the simplest object catches his attention; he might spend a few minutes examining the waste paper basket, a pamphlet, or the all time favourites: cell phone and keys. Sometimes he just spends time scrutinizing the tiny letters on a the label of his baby oil bottle, but to my disappointment he still hasn’t found great interest in books. I read to him often, but the colorful pages often end up in his mouth. At the end of Moms and Tots Class, the teacher always reads a story, and he shows some interest but he is rarely captivated long enough by the pictures in the book. The text of the story is only a mimic of animal sound to accompany their pictures. In addition to songs and story, there are many activities that we get to do with the little ones during Moms and Tots class. I get a lot of ideas for games and exercises to do with Robert. He also gets a chance to interact with other moms and babies, which is very important especially in our current circumstances.The pictures shows Robert in one of the moms and tots activities.

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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.

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