Last night I was so wrecked I nearly went to bed at 8pm. I ended up staying up later only because I wanted to hang out with Sharon, who was actually too busy to hang, so I went to bed at 10pm. After I went to bed, Sharon had a crook guts, which kept her up until 1am.

At 4am I awoke to the sound of Lex being loudly happy. I knew immediately what the result would be, if not the cause. When I went into the room, MaybeZoe was wide awake as well because Lex had decided to play with her. At 4fuckingAM. Took a while to find out Lex had a headache, and then I had to lie with him to get him settled. Meanwhile, Zozo got progressively more unhappy.

At 6am she showed no signs of settling. In fact she was getting louder and more unsettled. By this point nappy had been checked, she had been fed (I woke Shaz a quarter hour before her alarm would go off to feed bub), and given she's teething I'd tried pain relief. Nothing was working.

Then I remembered something. It was something I'd not used with her because unlike her brother, she'd seldom had a lot of trouble settling.

I tried throat singing. Within 30 seconds she'd quietened down. By the five minute mark she was asleep. Hooray!

Now if only I had someone to help lull me to sleep...

Might be time to break out either the Dead Planet soundtrack, or the Warriors' Gate one.
Been ages since I posted up one of these, but dealing with a teething MaybeZoe reminded me of a big one - medication. Could be an interesting post as I suspect it may open a hornet's nest with some people.

There is a tendency these days for people to over medicate. As soon as there is a small issue, people will break out whatever and give the kid the biggest dose possible. Many will follow it up at the required intervals with more full doses, whether they are needed or not. Rest below the cut... )
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I read a lot to Lex. And because of who I am, I usually try to give most of the characters distinct voices. And for my own amusement, I pretty much always try to make one of those character voices... a bit extreme.

Little Golden Books, Fairy Tales, just about everything benefits from one character who has a voice that bit off kilter.

The Cat in the Hat is much more enjoyable to read, and a hell of a lot more disturbing, if you read all the Cat's lines as a cross between Richard O'Brien's portrayal of Riff Raff from Rocky Horror Picture Show and Anthony Hopkins playing Hannibal.

Try it for yourself! )
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Every baby is different. I've said that a few times, and it never ceases to be true.

Every tooth is different too.

Lex's first four teeth caused only a small amount of fuss. He was a bit more needy, had a light nappy rash during the first few days before each one cutting the gum, and gave us a few broken nights. He also had minor tummy issues which gripe water seemed to help with. Read more... )
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Every baby is different. I've said that a few times, and it never ceases to be true.

Every tooth is different too.

Lex's first four teeth caused only a small amount of fuss. He was a bit more needy, had a light nappy rash during the first few days before each one cutting the gum, and gave us a few broken nights. He also had minor tummy issues which gripe water seemed to help with. Read more... )
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As your baby ages, you will find from time to time, that you need to give said baby something to drink that they may not want. In our case, it's gripe water. We've found it does a marvelous job of settling his tummy when he's not feeling the best.

However, to say that Lex hates the gripe water would be to understate the matter. When he smells it now, he clamps his little jaws shut and tries to cry through gritted gums. The thing is, it settles his guts in a very short space of time, and gives him relief, but of course he doesn't understand the connection between foul taste and the vanishing of the pain in his tummy. And so he screams, bats at us, clamps his mouth shut, etc.

And then if you get the medicine into his mouth, he makes excellent use of a baby's inbuilt gag reflex, and his tongue, to spit it all out.

So what to do?

You take a small syringe (without a needle in it, of course) and fill it with the medicine. Then lay bub on it's back, slide the business end of the syringe down the inside of the baby's cheek, between the cheek and the gums. You need to get the medicine into the baby's mouth behind it's tongue. Then you start squirting small manageable amounts of the medicine into bub's mouth.

In our case, each small dose takes a little while, as Lex will gargle it for a bit first. While crying. And screaming. But the end result is that a good 90% of it goes down, unlike previously where maybe a quarter made it into his gullet, and everything and everyone nearby was covered in a gripe water and drool cocktail.

There may be other methods, but so far we've found this to be the most effective way to get him to down the lot.
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The straitjacket was first designed way back in the dim, dark days of dealing with mental illness. It's main function was to prevent the wearer harming themselves or other people. One school of thought was that by holding the arms immobile, if the wearer were to struggle and fight against their bonds, they would soon themselves out and become restful.

Swaddle cloths for your baby perform much the same function when it comes to getting the little blighters to sleep. The baby's arms are held immobile, and struggling tends to help tire them out even more. Certainly Lex will not sleep unless securely swaddled. It's amazing to watch how often he changes from screaming and not wanting to be put down, to comparitively quiet and restful once swaddled.

But like a madman, he screams and struggles against it every single time.
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One must always remember to feed their baby, this much is obvious. But you also have to take into account the things a baby eats, so if you're breast-feeding you look after your diet, etc. Fair enough. What you probably didn't realise is, now and again they like to snack between meals. It's true!

Quite often they like the simple snack of a few hours. Not too many, just a couple. Those things you were going to do? Gone, because the baby just ate the time.

Not only that, but occasionally they get really hungry, and eat whole days! Sometimes several in a row...
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One of the most surprising things that new parents will find once they have their nipper, is the variations in understanding from other adults. People with and without kids can show levels of extreme understanding, or lack thereof, for the plight of the new parent.

Some of those who were good friends will vanish into the ether, people who should know better will cut you off, meanwhile folks who were acquaintances will become Godsends, and people who have been less than social will suddenly be offering you company and help - and not because they want to see the baby.

I think it's horribly dismissive to suggest that those that don't have kids just don't understand, especially when I've seen people who have children show way less understanding than some that don't. Yes, if you don't have kids you don't know what it's like, but that doesn't mean you're stupid, or lack empathy. People are people, some get it, or at least try to, and some don't, and don't care to try, and it's got nothing to do with whether they've pumped out a sprog.

I recently tried to visit a friend of mine, a single mum living with her parents. As much as she wanted me to visit, her parents wouldn't have been receptive to visitors (anyone, not just me), and so instead she ended up collecting up bub, hopping on the train and meeting with me that way. Life would have been much simpler for her if I'd been able to visit, and one would hope that her mother, a woman who has had a few kids, would understand how nice it would be to have someone happy to come and visit. But no.

Some parents are preternaturally thick when it comes to people not themselves. Like the woman who, when ever someone would mention their premature baby, would immediately talk about how hard it was for her. Her baby was a couple of weeks early (which is medically considered full-term) and she acted like it was a terrible strain to have to deal with one so young. And she'd be saying this to people whose children were born so early they were in humidicribs for months and unable to breastfeed because they were too small and didn't have the strength!

Sharon and I have been lucky, we've only had one person seriously distance themselves from us, and we've had other friendships grow and blossom. With those we've been pleasantly surprised, and are happy to see them grow.

So be prepared for it. Know that relationships are going to change with people, and don't begrudge those who distance themselves. Just try to offer them some understanding, and in the really extreme cases, forgiveness.
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If you are sharing the care duties of your child with someone else, you will start to play The Game. You can't help it, even if you don't want to, you will keep hoping for the other person to lose. Not beacsue you hate them, but the alternative is you losing.

The game is called Russian Poo-lette, and the rules are simple. Every time you get a non-pooey nappy, you're relieved. That relief then turns to the hope that the other person will be the one to get the pooey nappy. Naturally, they are thinking the same way.

The game has really come into its own in recent weeks since Lex has become a one poo a day baby. It's virtually always a huge, nappy-breaching monster of a dump, and every wet nappy I get brings the chances closer that Sharon will be the one to get Poozilla. But you can't rely on that.

Sometimes they miss a day... and then all you can do is wait with dread in your heart.
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By three months, you're well into the reward phase, and the interactive phase. Oh, it's still tough, but at least you get the smiles, the almost laughs, the assorted cute and delighted noises.

Dante's Tenth Level of Suck is over.

There are still other sucky things, but overall, it's improving. Less and less often do you want to shake your baby like a British nanny. Playing with bub, reading to him, singing, all gets a noticeable response.

Still hard, but way more worth it than in those first few weeks. Hang in there!
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Having just come from making sure Lex was breathing, I thought I should mention the all-encompassing paranoia and fear that goes with being a parent. Forget all the worries about what you might be doing wrong, the things that, if you stuff up, will ensure you kid thinks rap is actually a valid musical choice, or that socks and sandals are a fashion statement.

This presupposes that your child will actually survive that long.

There's so many things out there to keep you frightened. For instance, this last week, even though nothing has changed, I have suddenly found myself checking on Lex several times a day to make sure he's still breathing.

I still remember taking off Lex's sleepsuit only to find that during the night a single 3cm long hair had wrapped around his middle toe, cutting into it deeply enough that the end of the toe had turned a reddy-purple colour and had swollen to twice it's size. The crease in his toe has finally faded.

And then there's all the other stuff...

- Sheets and blankets have a life of their own and they like to smother babies.
- Keep the pets away, dogs will eat your baby, cats will steal their breath, the mongoose will mistake it for a cobra!
- The first time you don't have your child strapped down on the change table, it will roll off and hit the floor with an audible thud!
- The first time you fail to take your baby out of the car seat and carry it in with you while you pay for petrol, that is when there will be some baby stealing psycho nearby who will pinch your kiddie and bring them up to be the sort of person who enjoys watching reality TV.

All this is before your kid has independent movement.

The best description I can give you is not one of my own, but comes from Jeff Vogel's book, The Poo Bomb.
"I know now that I did not truly understand terror until I got myself in a
position where I loved someone who thought staples were food."
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Interviews with the artists and actors that used to reside inside the dalek casings of the original series of Doctor Who often contained a moment where they were asked how one operated a dalek. The reply usually consists of a quote not unlike this -

"Well, you sit on the seat, and scoot the dalek along the floor with your feet. There's a crossbar you can hold onto with one hand to give you better control. With your other hand you operate the sink plunger, with your third hand you move the gunstick, and with your fourth hand you move the eyestalk and operate the lights while remembering your lines so you can synch with dalek dialogue coming in over the speakers."

I fully recommend spending some time as a dalek operator as it will furnish you with the extra manual skills and dexterity you will need before attempting such things as nappy changes and baby baths.
If you're the partner, or just a good friend, there's not a lot you can do to help out with things like breast-feeding. Only get mum a drink, make her a sandwich, put on the TV, DVD, or some music for her, pass her things she needs, give her a shoulder massage or backrub, talk to her when she's feeding in the middle of the night so she has company, be ready to take the baby when she's done so she can see to her own needs, etc.

So don't feel bad you can't help out much. I mean I'm still recovering from my stroke a couple of years back, and get exhausted easily, so this was all I could do ;-) Read more... )
One of a baby's favourite places in the world is lying on it's father's bare chest. It's warm, the baby can feel and hear the heartbeat, and there's the skin contact. Interestingly, if the contact is skin to skin, both mothers and fathers will react to the temperature of their child's body, becoming slightly cooler if the baby is warm, warmer if it's cool.

In the 1952 Warner Brothers Cartoon Feed the Kitty, a big brutish bulldog called Marc Anthony ends up with a small kitten as a 'pet.' The kitten likes sleeping on Marc Anthony, and as it kneads his back to get comfortable, a wonderful array of comically pained expressions pass over the dog's face.

These same expressions will pass over your face, as your child digs his sharp little nails into your chest, and repeatedly kicks you in the testicles.
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Even if you can't sing, your child will like it if you hold them and sing to them. There's something about the rhythm and cadence of a voice in song that they respond to.

And you will find that you enjoy it too.

If you wish to spend the time, there are many, many beautiful lullabies from all over the world you could learn to sing your child into the arms of Morpheus. But honestly, you can sing pretty much anything.

My main lullaby so far has been Sixteen Tons, but I also like to sing him the Money Song, Highway to Hell, and The Time Warp.
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There's no doubt about it, children have a sixth sense. Not a "I see dead people" sixth sense, or a "Here are the tattslotto numbers," sixth sense, or even a "You're going to die!" sixth sense, but they have something, all the same.

It is how they know, when in the deepest, most solid sleep, that you're having sex or masturbating, even if it's at the other end of the house. And so choose that time to wake and start crying. We haven't experienced this yet, but have it on good authority.

It is how they can tell you're in your nice, expensive, going-out clothes, and will choose that moment to vomit all over them. We haven't experienced that one either, though we have had Lex vomit all over himself just as we got him out to the car.

It is how they know when you're just sitting down to eat, or to watch something, and decide to wake and need instant attention.

Lex has the uncanny ability to completely sleep through and ignore Sharon doing all sorts of noisy stuff. But should Sharon try to lay down for a sleep or rest, he will wake and want attention. He does the same thing when she eats.

They do not grow out of this, their targeting system shifts slightly from 'annoyance' to 'embarrassment.'

It is how you explain their capacity, in later years, to unerringly find your vibrator and bring it out to show when your maiden aunt is visiting. "Look, a rocket!" they will proudly proclaim while making whooshing noises.
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It bursts forth from your nether regions or stomach in a memorable way that may just be the start of your own personal franchise.

It uses the tried and true brainwashing methods of sleep-deprivation and other intense psychological manipulations designed to break down the autonomy of the individual, usually quite successfully.

You have no basis of communication with it, and yet you are under its control.

You feed it when it's hungry, clean it's bodily wastes, attempt to appease it when it is unhappy.

When it smiles or is happy you will echo the emotion, when it's unhappy you will feel sad.

Everything you do will have the allowance for the well-being of the creature built in. You won't go on holiday, change jobs, or even think about going to the movies or renting a DVD without due consideration to what will work within the constraints of your new master/slave relationship.

If it allows you just one extra hour of sleep, you will be pathetically grateful to it.

This is your baby, and you will obey it.
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Lotteries are very popular, kind of like sex.

Many people spend lots of time trying to win lotteries, just as many spend a lot of time trying to get laid.

Most people fantasise about what they would do if the won a big prize, most people have fantasies about sex.

Even if you have the desire for sex or masturbation in those first few weeks after the baby is born, your chances of having the correct mix of time, inclination, and energy to follow through on that urge, are about the same as you winning a really big prize in the lottery.

Good luck!
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Many people have standards - there are minimum levels of behaviour, cleanliness, etc., and levels below which they will not descend.

I have some standards. No stop laughing. No really, stop it! I do! I won't wear tracksuit pants outside the house. Hell, I won't even wear them to go out and check the mail. I don't care if others do, but it's just not for me. I'd rather go out in my underwear, or dressing gown... and have done. Just today as Sharon backed the car out of the driveway, I stood on the bonnet in my dressing gown, waving to people.

I would never do that in trackie dacks.

You may start off changing your child's clothing every time they vomit on it, but there will soon come a time when you simply say, "There's not much," and leave it.
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