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

What Am I Doing Wrong?

I finally got around taking Robert for his Chicken Pox immunization. The logistics got complicated by Jackie working. I had asked my friend Jenny to give me a lift there on Wednesday, but on the day I first had to wait until Jackie’s mom came with the municipality evaluator. Residential properties were re-evaluated by the Municipal Council last year, and the property taxes were calculated accordingly. Most people found that they have to pay a lot more to the Municipality as a result, and therefore opted to try and re-evaluate. Jackie’s mom is one of these people, and I can’t blame her. Jenny came right after that business was finished and we headed to Cape Town Mediclinic. Nurse B has now seen me twice without Robert’s father, and if she wondered what the story was she never said anything. Robert had his injection and was good as usual. The shocking realization for me however, was his weight.
He did not put on any weight in the last month and is now clearly below average. This trend started already last month, but the difference now is almost one whole kilogram, I was very worried for a second there.
The conclusion that the nurse drew from questioning me was that he was not drinking enough milk. A baby his age is supposed to drink 750ml of formula day and in Robert’s case I would be lucky if he finished 250ml; this excludes the one or two feeds he gets daily from the breast, which are impossible to measure. Nurse B followed with a number of suggestions like sprinkling his veggies with olive oil to add more calories, and feeding him cheese. The main thing however was to increase his intake of formula. She tried to calm my panic by pointing out that his height continues to be above average, my feelings of guilt however remain strong, and throughout the day I kept asking myself what I had been doing wrong in the past months. It is not good enough to make excuses and cite the strange living conditions and circumstances; I am the child’s mother and I am supposed to put him first. Up until now he has been a good child, but feeding him is a bit of a struggle because he is always interested in what’s going on around him, and does not sit down willingly for a longer period of time. I try tying him down on the feeding chair, but my success there is also limited. I will have to dry harder before my next visit to the nurse.

Robert’s measurements for the day : Weight 9400 g; Height 76cm; Head Circumference 45.8 cm.

It was one of those warm winter days today, and Jenny and I spent the day around her neck of the wood in Vredehoek. The area nestles up high below the flat summit of Table Mountain, and is traditionally very windy, but on the calm days like today it affords a great view over the city bowl towards Table Bay and beyond. You can see Robben Island if the sky is clear of fog or haze. We walked around negotiating hiking trails with the stroller, and then Jen took us to an abandoned quarry. We walked through an abandoned tunnel, and once we emerged out into the sunshine, the whole noise and hubbub of the city had disappeared and there was only the peace of the mountain wall and the calm pool of the abandoned quarry pit. Robert found the stones and pebbles fascinating, but Jen and I just hung out in the sunshine, we talked about work, and life in general and it was a very pleasant time.
Later we had lunch at her place, wonderful German bread with Wurst from the German bakery in town. Her quaint flat and the lovely area made me again yearn for a place of my own, where I can start building a life for myself and Robert.

When I arrived home I started what will become a quest for stuffing more and more food into my son. I kept the bottle of formula ready at all time, and tried to give it to him whenever I had a chance. I cut chunks of cheese and gave them for him to nibble on. I even sprinkled olive oil on food as the nurse suggested.

Apart from my feelings of inadequacy and guilt, I had a good day. Jen was recently in Germany and brought Robert a nice present. A soft toy, that can be also used as a sponge for the bath, I am going to call her Patty, although she is a bear ( I don’t understand why all teddies have to be male). She also bought a cuddly blanket, which will sure become a hit with the little one, he snuggled to sleep with it tonight.

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.

Robert the Fire-Hose Tips the Scales

Today was a very important day for me and Robert, because the outcome of our visit at the Well Baby Clinic determines the future of our breastfeeding relationship. I was positive that Robert has gained some weight; his face looks more rounded and when I lift him to my shoulder I can definitely feel that I am hefting a healthy baby, not a little kitten. Still, there is only one way to find out for sure.

Ron left us at the clinic and went to do some shopping while we waited our turn. Twenty minutes later I took off Robert’s outer clothes and nappy, then carried him to the scale. The moment he was up there he peed all over the scales and the examination table, I was trying hard to catch most of the stream in a towel so I did not look at the reading. I only heard Sister B. saying: “look at that weight!” then I did a double take and saw the number, it was 3.8 kg !
“Did you feed him mealiepap?”she asked jokingly (this is the Afrikaans name for corn porridge).
This took my mind off the embarrassment for a minute, my baby and I have succeeded ! In the past week he gained 400g – I do not know how this was possible. Sister B addressed Robert as Robert the fire-hose, and told him that he was ‘sorted’. When Ron came to get us I gave him the good news, and I must say that he was really proud of us. Best thing is that weekly assessments are no longer necessary, and we only need to come back in two weeks time to chart Robert’s weight and height.

Back at Birth Weight

I slept until nine this morning, after a rough night with Robert. This meant that I had to start feeding immediately then rush him into the bath, because we had to take him for his second assessment at the Well Baby Clinic.

All this rushing did not help much because we had a long queue in front of us at the clinic. There were many babies and kids of different ages, most were really large and chubby. Robert looked so tiny in comparison. The nurse’s room was crowded and noisy, and I got nervous of the long wait. That is why I immediately started getting Robert ready for weighing and measuring, while sister B was still busy with the patient ahead of us in the queue, and I made the mistake of prematurely taking off his nappy. This, inevitably, resulted in an accident, for which I was ill prepared. My nappy bag contained a spare nappy and an undershirt, but not a complete change of clothing. Fortunately his outer clothes were only a little bit wet.

Sister B did her quick check-up. She said that the navel was healing fine, and pronounced the acne on baby’s face as normal. She also gave me some advice on dealing with gas, and recommended colic drops. Robert’s weight gain was still on the slow side for the second week running; 160g this past week, which means that as of today he has only regained his birth weight. The nurse advised me to make sure that he was getting enough in every feeding, by draining one breast, then switching to the second near the end of the feed, so that baby gets both breasts in every feeding.

It was good to know that baby was okay. Even the discharge from his eye, which is a result of a blocked tear duct has cleared up by itself. His weight gain was within the lower range of what is considered normal, but I was still worried about the quality of my milk and my ability to continue breastfeeding. Ron jokingly suggested that we might need to put Robert on the bottle, but I did not find it funny. From today I started tracking baby’s daily feeds to make sure he gets enough feeding sessions. Tonight we woke up twice for feeding; it was very cold, and the south easter was howling.

First Weight Assessment

Today we wanted to take Robert for his first weight assessment at the Well Baby Clinic. Sister B is available for walk-in consultations on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, whereas on Tuesdays and Thursdays she is only there by appointment.

Robert woke up this morning with a wet nappy which completely soaked his clothes, so we used the opportunity to give him a bath. This time everyone –including Robert- had better control over the situation. Ron had the idea of using a wet flannel to cover baby in the bath, and that helped keep him warm in our chilly bathroom. Robert did not complain about bathing at all after that.

When Robert had his feeding we headed straight to the clinic. This was our first ride in the car with him since coming back from hospital, and Ron had to revisit his strategy for buckling and unbuckling the car-seat. He got the procedure figured out after a couple of practice runs, and I do not think he will have to wrestle with an anaconda seatbelt again. Unlike our trip from the hospital last week, it was overcast and rainy today, but I still took the backseat next to Robert. I needn’t have worried because he slept as soon as the car started moving, and was still asleep when we carried him in his chair into the clinic.

It was amazing to see all the little babies with their moms and dads. Our little one was by far the youngest and the most fragile-looking. The five and six-week olds looked huge in comparison.

He weighed in at 3.24 kg, which is still less than his birth weight. According to the nurse his weight gain of 140 grams is on the slow side since breastfed babies are expected to gain between 150 to 250 grams per week. I explained to her the mishap I had with feeding earlier, and she said that this could have affected his weight. I showed her his left eye where the yellowish discharge was getting worse. His eyelids were glued shut because of it. She advised regular washing with sterile cotton dipped in salt water. She also recommended some ointment for sore breasts, which I planned to get then forgot with the confusion that accompanied our departure from the clinic.
Ron and I did not have the moves quite right; I got on his nerves with my usual slow and deliberate dressing and undressing of baby, which in turn made me fumble even more. I don’t think anyone else noticed, and if they did they would have just put it down to the obvious lack in experience. Sister B. advised that we should come in next week for another weight assessment to check again on Robert’s progress.

Robert’s little outing did not alter his good mood, and he kept on his feeding and napping schedule, which gave me another chance to go for a walk on the promenade on this cloudy afternoon. He was also sleeping in time for supper, so Ron and I could enjoy our nice steaks and then tea and cake. We are so lucky to have such a good baby.