Starts, Stops and Stupidity

I recently read an article on Babycentre about extended breastfeeding and it calmed down my increasing feelings of guilt at my lackadaisical approach to weaning.  Most of the time I am letting Robert drive the process, and I have no intention of covering my nipples with chili sauce to put him off – which is a remedy I vaguely remember from the less worldly mothers of my native country. Robert is actually very mature about the whole thing, he rarely requests to be nursed during the day and I have managed two nights in a row to put him to sleep without resorting to the comfort of breastfeeding.  I feel comfortable that weaning will take place sooner or later, perhaps even before the end of the year.  A month ago I managed to reduce breastfeeding to nightly sessions only, but then his prolonged sickness was a setback; breast milk was the only food he wanted, and it was the only thing he was able to keep down when he had the stomach bug.  Today I am having another setback because I am suffering with an incapacitating flu (yet again), and breast milk is an easy meal to offer when mom is bedridden.

I believe my frequent bouts of flu are intimately linked to my emotional and mental state. The flu hits when I experience an emotional setback, a conflict at work or a disappointment, this weekend has witnessed two such incidents.

I guess I am not so lucky after all, the black cloud that my ex husband purported to float around my head is still very much there. Never mind my near miss with the cell phone; On Friday I lost my wallet for the second time in two months. Since this follows so closely on the heels of similar incidents, I can hardly make any excuses except for perhaps stupidity, confusion and absentmindedness.  I mean this is now the third time that I have something fall out of my pockets (from the same shallow-pocketed pants I may add) but I never really took notice of the problem until now. Well, not many people are this dense.  In the aftermath of the event I made a quick google search with the sentence “I always lose my wallet” and all I got was writings from party animals and people who generally get themselves too intoxicated to remember what they did on nightly revelry, let alone where they lose their wallets in the process.  Ah well, shit happens I guess.

My bad wallet jumped out of my pocket early Friday evening somewhere en route on Sea Point Main Road, and I only noticed its absence early on Saturday morning when I was getting ready to go to work.  I was too frustrated to go to work and I actually phoned to get out of it but a very nice Duty Manager was on the floor in the morning and she asked me to try my best to get there and I couldn’t say no. Lucy did not have any small change to lend me for the taxi and I do not have a change box at my little flat, so in the end I picked up a two-Euro coin and used it for my transport. At work my friend the Duty Manager gave me some money to tide me over until Monday when I will be finally able to go to the bank and get a new bank card.

The day progressed like a normal day at work usually does, no disasters, no major happenings. As I was ready to leave my Team Leader indicated that he wanted to speak to me for ten minutes about my quarterly review.  The review was encouraging, despite the fact that I made one serious mistake involving the transport of Dangerous Goods, and another less serious one which resulted in a complaint from a customer airline. I also had two incidents of late comings recorded during the time; it is hard to punctual when I depend on public transport and the early arrival of my nanny, and things easily spiral out of control when anything else goes wrong.

As I was leaving the little man from productivity planning, the star of my previous woes with the work schedule showed up. He had apparently been putting in extra time on this Saturday to prepare the shift roster for January. I went to get my copy and was unable to believe what I was seeing there. After all the trouble and the degradation I went through trying to explain to my situation to management, they put me again on flexible shifts, working afternoons as well as mornings.  I think I went straight to the little man and showed him my schedule, and he gave me a puzzled and uncomprehending look : “this is what I had” he muttered, and the only thing I could do was retort : “You guys are really funny, you know that?”. I just walked away, trembling with my pent up rage, and the desire to strangle and trample the blond cretin.  At the water cooler I bumped into a colleague, who pointed out to me the futility of getting mad and letting my mouth run away with me, whinging only as I usually do. He put into my head the idea of filing a formal grievance, which I definitely intend to do.  I cannot even begin to describe my feelings of utter rage at the incompetence and inefficiency of the people who plan our working schedules.

My worries about this recurring problem made me forget momentarily the problem with my wallet, and in any case my cards were safely canceled by then and there was nothing left for me to do other than casually ask at some of the places I passed yesterday, if anyone had handed in a wallet. At the first Supermarket I asked, there was strangely enough a wallet but it wasn’t mine. The fact that people seem to find things and hand them in, encourages me to ask further. I do not like it because it makes me relive my stupidity again and again (every time I ask) but I hope that the exercise will be humbling enough for me to learn a useful lesson.

Robert’s dad brought him home at three, and he was burning up with fever, presumably the side effect of his MMR vaccination, so I was caught up with this problem for the rest of the night.  Sponge baths and suppositories absorbed me with wallet and work forgotten for while. However I still managed to email my incompetent management to ask about the scheduling; my tone in the email was not as poisonous as I felt. I am saving all my wrath though for the grievance letter which I have started to work on.  Another battle for the walking wounded… life can get too interesting sometimes.

Lost and Found

My absent-mindedness almost caught up with me today ( yet again).  This happens two months after losing my wallet on board a bus – a situation I haven’t recovered from yet, I might add, since I haven’t had the time yet to replace my driver’s license. The near miss today was my cell phone.

The day started in the usual rush to get Robert to day care and myself to work. I had arranged with his father to pick him up early today so that we can take him for his immunization, but in the rush I forgot to take his immunization card.  So the day did not bode very well from the start.

At the Cape Town Mediclinic Robert sat through two injections on each shoulder crying only for the second one. He was however very fidgety as I carried him to the parking lot. I took out my cell phone to call his father who was out of sight as we returned to the car, but before I could use the phone, my ex showed up and we quickly got into the car and headed home.

I only discovered that I misplaced my phone two hours later as I was ready to leave with Robert. I went through the usual routine of phoning it and was dismayed that I did not hear it in my flat. The next check was to phone my ex, which is rather embarrassing for me, because my ex always lambasted me for my absentminded and disorganized nature. Surprisingly this time he was rather accommodating and went through searching the car twice, and then offered to walk to the Mediclinic and ask at the desk. He came up with nothing and I resigned myself to the fact that I have seen the last of my cell phone. The only question in my mind was when should I actually give up and order a new one ?

I researched and located a replacement at a cost of R2500, it could have been worse I thought. Then I remembered with dismay all the photos I took yesterday and never had time to download. I also realized with shock that I lost everyone’s number including my nanny’s. I managed to find her number somewhere else, which was somewhat of a relief because my only contacts to her -Jackie and her mom- are not talking to me anymore. In the end and after futile phoning to my lost cell, which was always ringing forlornly somewhere, I decided to go to the shops. For some reason I started buying the things that I was putting off, never mind the fact that I was going to have a huge bill for a new cell phone shortly.  Robert was oblivious to my trouble and slept peacefully in his buggy. Today he wore a lime-green shirt on top of his army camouflage pants and looked so cute, and again I thought of my missing cell phone and its camera.

Shortly after our return from the shops I made one more call to my cell phone and to my amazement someone answered, saying that they found my phone on the sidewalk; I had dropped it right in front of our block. The kind man explained that his housekeeper found it and I was so pleased I told him I would give him all I have in my wallet as a reward, he said that his housekeeper will be pleased.  A few minutes after this phone call the kind man arrived with my cell phone, and he only took part of  the money I offered in gratitude. My good Samaritan lives and works a few blocks away as a children photographer, so I am certainly going to see him again for photos with Robert.

What a surprising and pleasant end to another misadventure. Thank you Cape Town, there are still good people out there.

Update on Robert: My worries about Robert’s eating calmed a little after his measurements at the clinic. He actually put on a few grams since he recovered from tonsillitis.

Today his stats today are as follows:

Weight:  10.35 kg

Length: 82 cm

With a Little Help from Friends

Jenny was supposed to come join us for breakfast so I baked scones for the occasion, but she never showed up and when I called her at around nine she was still sleeping. Of course she still needed to wake up and have a shower and we ended up arriving a little late for the appointment.

Robert got his hepatitis vaccine and measurements. He still hasn’t cracked the 10kg yet, weighing at 9.94 kg and measuring 77 cm in length.  During the first nine months he was almost on the average 50 percentile graph, now he is starting to go a little lower than the average, of course this makes me wonder -as any other parent- what I am doing wrong.

After the immunization I deliverd my ill PC to my friendly computer guru, and Jen had to drop us off at home, we did not have much time to visit because she had to go to work afterwards and I was to follow later.  For her effort I got her a scone and some of the stew I cooked yesterday. I would be in a terrible state if it was not for helpful friends.

Somehow I still got to go to the shops before I got to work and I had  a feeling that I should go past Jackie’s place to check if there was post for me, and sure enough I collected the police clearance certificates I applied for many weeks ago, it was stuck to the gate and not dropped in the mailbox.

Reclaiming My Space

Robert’s mom has moved her virtual space. I decided to change the blog address and make it un-googleable. This is now my private space to curse, scream, laugh and cry. The only person who got hurt by leaving it open to my ex and his family was me, and therefore I decided to reclaim it.
Now I can say whatever I like about my ex, but mostly I can grieve in peace, without him eavesdropping or gloating over my sorrow. At times it is very difficult to keep my feelings apart: I am angry, then sad. I am driven by a powerful hatred, then I feel the awful pain of rejection. It is an emotional roller-coaster.

I am still hurting and will continue to hurt for a while. The long nights I spend in front of the computer are devoted to an obsessive search for my ex. I try to find his profile on social networks, so that I might get an inkling of what he is up to. Outwardly though I try to appear as if I couldn’t care less. I did make the decision to stop loving my ex, but sometimes I still miss him, or more accurately I miss the person I thought he was. I have to figure out the extent of my responsibility toward the disintegration of my marriage, and I am desperate for answers. Yesterday I discovered the online presence of the first ex-wife and I had to stop myself from typing her an innocuous email. I don’t know what I am trying to accomplish by contacting her, find answers, revenge or vindication? Maybe one day when my emotions cool down, I will be able to understand my motives. Until then, what I do with the information is irrelevant because the woman I found does not match the unfair portrait he has drawn at the beginning of our relationship.

Although I did reclaim my private virtual platform I do not want to remain a prisoner to the inner dialog of internet ranting. I want to get out and get a life. Towards this end I am going to get mobile and take my son wherever I want to go. Tomorrow will be the beginning of this plan.

Some Random happenings:
– Looks like I do not have sufficient credit rating to get a contract with my cellular provider. I am trying to get a new camera phone without success. Even the cell phone company does not believe that I am a good person. God knows what put me in the dog box this time: My divorce, my new ID number since my naturalization or my poor salary.
– Jackie is a great sport: She took Robert yesterday to get his immunization for the month, then drove me to the wool shop. I bought some delicious new yarns because I want to knit Robert another a sweater and a new jacket to replace the one that got lost on dad’s watch.
– Robert had two injections yesterday, and I expected him to have a rough night, but he handled them better than last time. His weight was 9.38 kg, height 74 cm, and his head circumference is 45cm. He has dropped to slightly below average in weight, but he is still taller than 90% of babies his age. I think I have to feed him more.

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Surviving the First Day

I am ready to drop off with exhaustion, but I feel like I have to write a few word. Today was tough, but baby and I survived. In my panic to get things done before I become officially homeless and transportless, I begged Mr. Negativity to take me and baby to the clinic as he was due for an immunization. The timing was perhaps not so good, but I knew I will be overwhelmed with many new things in my new place of residence, and I did not want baby’s immunization to slip through the cracks. Also I do not see myself calling Mr. Negativity for such things once I am done with him. He likes to think of himself as a benovelent benefactor, but I know better. I would rather call a cab and pay the exorbitant fare than put up with his sighs and complaints about “effort and expense”. Right or wrong, I decided to go ahead and give my baby the injection, and we both lived with the consequences.

Today was really a bad day. The child had a slight temperature and an obviously sore leg. He whined a lot and did not want to eat. His father was so anxious to get rid of us he actually helped drop off my boxes at the new place. He made THREE trips, which is phenomenal. Unfortunately in the confusion of the last trip I forgot a few bags in the garage, one containing baby food and formula. I only realised that much later when he had left.

On that final trip we had an argument as Mr. Negativity implied that the flat was now his and I should hand over the keys. I argued that I am leaving my computer and some household items he will carry on using and will only give him the keys when I take posession of my things. Well, that earned me again a storm of his temper and added to the agitation of my poor child strapped in the back of the car. On the one hand I feel like giving him the retort he deserves and on the other I know I need to keep quiet until this is over. I am buying myself out with silence.

Divorce is final he says and we are no longer married. I point out to him that as far as I am concerned nothing has been finalized yet. The consent papers are awaiting his signature and my bank account is hemorrhaging and will soon be no more. I haven’t seen a cent yet from the promised “generous” maintenance. I suppose when the guy married me he never counted on me becoming old enough to answer back. So now that it’s happening he cannot control his rage. This is the mood he left us in at our new home.

A bad day continued getting worse, when baby started acting up. Either the bad energy of dad or the injection’s side effects caused continous crying fits. Meanwhile I was trying to find and organize things in our new room. It was then that I realised that his bottle and formula were missing, but when I called Mr. Negativity he said: “No way I am going to deliver it, let your friend come and get it”, then hung up on me. I managed to keep the little one sustained with some breast milk, but he remained hungry and unhappy, and I was tied down and couldn’t leave to get the stuff. I swallowed my pride and tried phoning again and this time the mood was slightly better: “Okay I will bring the things on my way to town”.  He was going to town to sign the consent papers for our divorce, he said.

The trials of the day left Mr. Negativity unscathed. He showed up in a fresh, nicely ironed shirt, asked me to phone the lawyer’s office to make sure they will still be there by the time he gets to town, and carried baby and talked to him (something he rarely did in the past few weeks, at least not in front of me). He also brought me along the stroller which I had forgotten in the confusion as well.

Experience has taught me that Mr. Negativity becomes nice only when he has something to gain, or has much to lose. I think after the argument we had in the car he figured it was too much of an effort and expense to live without the modem, the microwave and my few pots and pans, so he thought he will play softball for a while. He did not even ask me when I was going to get my cat. God help me until this whole thing is over.

In the papers I am filing for my divorce there is a letter he wrote to me when I tried to leave him for the first time. It was full of love, regret and promises. I keep it to remind me how false people can be when they have something at stake.

Another Needle

The South-Easter is blowing and there is a chill in the air, later in the day it also started to rain. Since there is nothing better to do, it is best to get another injection over and done with.

On accounts of the weather the clinic was very quiet, and we were the only ones in line. Nurse B took Robert’s measurements and when it was time Robert took the needle with minimum fuss. As he quietened down to his feed, my consultation with nurse B slowly warmed into a motherly chat. We talked of the joys of motherhood, and how precious the little ones are. The nurse spoke of her two boys (aged ten and six) and about the upcoming family holiday to the Kalahari, they will be driving there to camp. On the way there, they will also stop for some fishing, which her husband enjoys.

The nurse said that she took her own child camping at three months. It does sound tempting; I suppose when a baby is breastfed there is very little to worry about. The only things to haul would be the nappies and changes of clothing. And if the holiday takes us to a warm enough place, then washing can be done on location, and the little clothes would dry anywhere. Ron is an experienced camper, but I am still a novice. Adapting to life on the move, and functioning in small quarters is not a natural skill for me yet. We did have a great time camping though, and summer is just starting, so maybe we can still go on a little trip and surprise ourselves.

Robert’s measurements today: Weight 5900g; Height 62cm; Head circumference 39.2cm.

He is now slightly above the 50th percentile in terms of weight (getting fat as Nurse B jokingly said), and his height is clearly above average.

Our next injection should be in four weeks’ time, but nurse B will be on holiday then until the second week of January. I pencilled in the dates for the earliest and the latest dates where this immunization dose can be taken. Ron and I prefer to continue seeing nurse B rather than her replacement. Robert is used to her by now, and she does have a very gentle and loving touch with babies.

Robert did not have major adverse reactions to the injection. I gave him a course of fever drops every four hours, and before he went to bed. I think he will be a hundred percent by tomorrow.

Worse than an Injection

On this cold and cloudy day, we took Robert for another vaccination. I knew that it was going to be oral drops rather than an injection, and I thought this would be another dose of a Polio vaccine.

The Well Baby Clinic was quiet today, and nurse B remarked that she usually only vaccination cases show up on cold days like this one. This time there was a little girl who was in for her second dose of the hexa-injection. I remembered her from a few weeks back when she showed up with both her mom and dad. She was then a very small newborn, due to the fact that she was five weeks premature.
Today Robert weighed in at 5460 g, and measured 60.5cm in height which is a great improvement from last month, and leads me to hope again that he will take after his dad’s family when it comes to height. His head circumference measured 38.5cm. Nurse B then gave the oral drops in a prepacked syringe. Strangely enough, infants usually find it very difficult to swallow any liquid injected into their mouths, as they only know how to suck/suckle. Robert got the hang of it after a little bit, and only a few drops of the liquid were spat out. The nurse warned me that the side effects for this vaccine were stomach cramps, gas, and irritability.
Once home though Robert also became very lethargic and slept most of the time. He seemed to have very little energy and was hardly able to pick up his weight when held upright. This worried me somewhat especially because I was under the assumption that he’d had polio drops. Later in the evening he had bad gas, some cramps and was generally indisposed. We also went through three shirt changes, one of them during the night. Robert would normally spit up (or burp up) some milk after each feeding. This time, however, he vomited up quite a lot, and ended up soiling his outfits and my shirts several times.
Robert’s general condition improved slowly, and he was completely over these symptoms two days later. But I was so worried about this nasty vaccination that I looked up its trade name on the internet, and only then I found out that it wasn’t polio drops, but immunization against the Rotavirus, which causes a particularly vicious diarrhoea. The malady itself lasts also for a few days, and is dangerous to little babies under the age of two years, because it drains and dehydrates them. I could not help thinking though that the vaccination must be nearly as bad as the illness. It surely is much worse than the injection we had two weeks ago.

Robert Gets the Needle

Robert was in a very good mood this morning, he actually went back to sleep between us on the bed after his 6 a.m feeding, which is something he rarely does. I woke up at nine and had a full breakfast before he finally called for me.

Ron was busy checking out tennants at our rental flat, so Robert and I managed together with feeding, bath, and two nappy changes. He was perfectly content through all that, and fell asleep as soon as I put him in his car seat, it is such a pity that we were about to spoil such a perfect day by giving him the needle.

We arrived at nurse B’s rooms shortly after twelve, with less than an hour to spare until closing time, and I feared that we will have a long wait ahead. As it turned out, however, she was busy with one baby, and we were immediately next in line. During the past weeks I got to watch many babies and children getting the needle. The nurse uses one room, she attends to injections and assessments on one side of it, in clear view of the waiting area, where all the moms, babies, toddlers, and some dads are seated. Last week there was quite a line-up of vaccination cases, their reactions, and that of their mothers varies dramatically: A mother of an eleven-month-old girl winced and hid her face as her daughter was jabbed, while another Afrikaans-speaking toddler did not issue a single whimper. In general, though, most small babies would be content throughout the examination right until the moment they feel the needle. The only exception was one older toddler near the end of the waiting line; he started howling the moment his mother moved with him to the other end of the room towards nurse B. He had been silently watching the procession of happy kids working themselves into screaming fits once they go to the other end of the room, and was old enough to know what to expect. Of course, little Robert was innocent of any experience in this regard and did not know what was coming.

Nurse B weighed and measured baby Robert, he weighed 5060 grams, and was gaining beautifully. Next on the agenda was the vaccination, which is a combo injection for: Diphtheria, Tetanus, whooping cough, Hib Meningitis, and Polio. The nurse advised me to sit with Robert in my lap and put him on my breast in order to calm him down quicker once he gets the injection. She injected the vaccine in his right thigh, and there was a little bit of crying, but he soon calmed down and resumed the feeding session. The nurse said that we should expect some fussiness in the next 24 hours. Baby will feel some pain in his upper leg for the next few days, and there was a rare risk of running a fever. We had given Robert a dose of infant drops before heading to the clinic, and the nurse advised us to continue with the recommended dosage at least for the next 24 hours, and later as needed.

Robert did not run a fever. He was a little bit cranky in the evening, but the drops helped calm him and he slept through the worst of the injection’s side effects. His next vaccination appointment is in two weeks’ time, and that one will be oral drops.