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.

Autumn’s Golden Moments

I love autumn, it is a season of quiet and maturity. My trips to the park are becoming more frequent, and I am savouring the time I spend with my son in the golden warm weather.

Yesterday we happened onto two birthday parties in the park. The kids and their nannies were the main guests, and of course a handful of moms and dads completed the picture.
Although we received an invitation to one of them, we remained on the sidelines watching the festivities.

The party went in full swing after singing the traditional “Happy Birthday tooo yoooou” and its Zulu equivalentMine mnandi kuwe = God bless you today”. The nannies broke out in full song, with their harmonious, velvety voices. My heart soared on wounded wings, and I was reminded again, why I love this place. I can relate so much to the African spirit, its capacity for great joy, great anger and great pain – sometimes all at the same time. The women especially fascinate me. I can see the love they bestow on their charges. I can see that they are real mothers to these children from morning till afternoon, Mondays to Fridays. At the same time, they do have their own families. Their own children are perhaps neglected, and left to fend for themselves, it is a hard life. Yet they take whatever joy they can from it. When there is an opportunity for happiness and cheer, however fleeting, they grab it with both hands and embrace it with their hearts. Tomorrow they will go home to face their never ending problems, but today they sang and danced and enjoyed themselves, and lifted my spirit in the process.

Making Plans

The countdown is on. I am going back to work in less than three weeks. Today I even received my shift plan, and it is time to make plans for the next phase. I will be working four-hour shifts during the week, and full eight-hour shifts on some weekends. Ron and I agreed that I should find a nanny to look after Robert when I work weekends, and he will try to manage for the rest of the time. It is all tentative at this point, and we will have to see how practical the arrangement is. Robert has progressed from half a teaspoon of rice cereal, and can now finish two tablespoons of it. The bottle is in the cupboard ready for a test drive, and all we need is some formula and water.

On Wednesday we took him for his second (and last) Rotavirus vaccination. It is an oral dose, and I have been dreading it, because he had such an adverse reaction to the first dose. This time he had almost no problems. Baby’s measurements this week: Weight 7460g; Height 68.5cm; Circumference of Head 42.4cm. His weight gain has slowed down as it should and he is now averaging 100g per week. The nurse also noted that he only grew 0.5cm in the last three weeks, but this is probably due to the inaccuracy of the process, but even with this Robert is still in the 90th percentile in height. His head though is getting bigger, he added one more centimeter on the measures since last week.

Thursday I took him to visit my friend Jackie, where we spent the morning. Robert felt very much at home, and even went to sleep in her room, hugging a little pink teddy bear. He was curious about everything especially Jackie’s gorgeous cat. Unlike our skittish Petey, Spliff came close and let him have a good look at her (under my watchful eye of course).

This week I also noticed that Robert is starting to put himself into crawling position. He sometimes lifts his butt up in the air and then pushes his chest off the floor. He also lifts his chest quite high off the floor and then propels himself forward with his legs. Most of the time though he inches himself backwards, and I keep putting him back in the centre of the playmate. He now turns over so quickly, it is no longer safe to leave him on the centre of the bed, not ever for a moment. I am dreading the day, when he will find a way to turn over on the concave changing mat.