Archive for August, 2008

The other side of hell

After three of the worst nights we’ve endured since Hugo arrived, his nursing strike seems to be over.

It started because his mouth hurt after his fall, but even once he’d returned to eating normal food and drinking water happily from the Foogo, he did not want to breastfeed. Actually, that’s a gross understatement. He developed an aversion to breastfeeding so intense that I really thought he would wean suddenly and permanently.

He refused passionately on Thursday afternoon and evening. He refused flatly on Friday morning, when I had rather hoped he might give in as that morning feed is the one he is most eager for. He showed utter disdain for the very notion throughout the day on Friday and didn’t even consider it on Friday evening before bed.

Each attempt was met with tears and frustration, generally from both of us. He took a vast amount of effort to settle and getting him to sleep was a nightmare.

On Friday night, about 36 hours after his last breastfeed, I knew we were reaching a critical point. At 16 months (nearly) I figured he might decide not to bother going back to the breast, but I wasn’t ready to give up. I know he would never have weaned at that point had it not been for the fall.

So on Friday night I slept on a mattress next to his cot. I knew the best chance of getting him to nurse was to catch him when he was just stirring. At the first whimper, I brought him into bed with me. No go. He wouldn’t even face me.

Same thing the second time around – he turned over, snuggled in, and went back to sleep (previously unheard of).

The next few times he still adamantly opposed nursing but couldn’t settle himself either.

By 4am we were wandering around the house, both exhausted and out of ideas, while he cried and cried and cried.

Eventually we went back to his room and I sat on the floor in the dark with him cradled in my lap. He let me – and that was the first time he’d even agreed to be held in that position. About 15 minutes later I was able to latch him, but he did not suckle at all. Eventually he went back to sleep.

The next morning I was hopeful of trying him again as soon as he woke, but Hunter came barrelling in and he woke with a start and the opportunity was missed. He refused to nurse that morning, and before his sleep.

But that afternoon he latched again. And that evening he comfort nursed for a few seconds. And yesterday morning he took about half a normal feed.

By lunch time the boob monster was back. Yesterday afternoon he even came running across the playground, ignoring all sorts of exciting play equipment and children and fun to NIP for the first time in a long while.

Before all this happened, I thought I didn’t mind when he weaned, as long as it happened some time in the next year or 18 months. Now I realise that I don’t want it to happen any time in the next three to six months at least.

Meanwhile, he’s learned nothing at all from the fall. He’s taken two big tumbles since – the first one got him a badly grazed nose and the second busted his lip.

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Hugo and the humpback

The baby whale I posted about yesterday is dead. He was killed this morning by a group of vets and other so-called experts who deemed it too late to save him after dithering about while he starved for days. I am so sad that I can’t put words to it. I had to spend five minutes in the car park at the shopping centre this morning after hearing on the news that the deed had been done.

Maybe it really was too late, and maybe it really was inevitable. I don’t know and it doesn’t matter. All I know is that he was just a baby and he spent his last few days hungry and scared and now he’s dead.

And I am projecting even more now than yesterday because today the whale is no longer desperate for its mother’s milk, but my baby is.

Yesterday Hugo had a terrible fall, landing face first on the concrete. The force pressed his top teeth upwards into his gums. There was blood oozing out around them and he cried for longer than I have ever known him to cry. We took him to the children’s hospital but they said there was nothing they could do for him and we just have to keep him on soft food and pain medication till it heals.

But he hurts so much. And what really hurts him is breastfeeding, the thing he has looked to for comfort since the day he was born.

Yesterday, he tried a few times and gave up in pain and frustration. Overnight he cried pitifully for hours, too scared to nurse but needing to be comforted. Today he won’t even try. I’m grief-stricken at the thought that this might lead to him weaning, when neither of us is ready.

I’ve been doing everything that everyone suggests in a nursing strike, and nothing is having even the slightest impact. If I lay him back, he won’t even turn his head in my direction now.

This could be the end of a very happy breastfeeding relationship, and it’s my own fault.

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Crying for “my” baby

There have been many stories in the news recently about an abandoned whale calf that has been seen around Sydney. I’m not what I’d call an animal lover, and I’ve not typically been as deeply moved by stories about the plights of other animals as I have been about the plights of humans.

But this little whale has really got my attention, in a not-altogether-good kind of way.

The story is basically that this little guy, only a few weeks old, has been abandoned by his mother. He’s been seen around Pittwater trying to suckle boats that he has mistaken for his mummy. Every time I think of that it just reduces me to tears.

I know I am totally projecting but I just can’t stop thinking that he’s just a little baby and he’s lost and hungry and confused. It really breaks my heart to think of him there all by himself wondering why he can’t feed. He hasn’t eaten in at least five days and so far attempts to hook him up with other whale pods at sea have failed.

He’s becoming weaker and there’s been talk of putting him down. I can’t bear to think about it.

Today there may be a last ditch effort to try to take him back to sea in a special sling, in the hope that he might be able to connect with another pod of whales, but if that doesn’t work, he’s probably doomed.

All the experts say it’s not possible to formula feed him and raise him in captivity. It’s a huge and incredibly expensive exercise that will probably fail. And yet I still can’t even think about them putting him down or letting him die. I wish someone would just offer up the kajillion dollars needed to keep him alive.

I feel so deeply distressed by this that it’s a bit crazy. It almost feels like it’s one of my own babies wandering alone out there. I keep thinking about how scared Hugo would be if I disappeared and he was left on his own for days and days. That’s completely dumb, because Hugo is not a baby whale, obviously, but I can’t help it.

I hope my baby whale makes it.

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All systems are (not quite) go

Our refinance is due to settle on Monday, barring disaster. I spoke to the builder and he says he’ll be ready to go in two to three weeks.

Now, I expect the settlement to go through. But I don’t expect the builder to be ready in two to three weeks. I am hopeful he might be ready to go in, say, four to five weeks, but past experience says he probably won’t be.

Still, I want to believe these renos will start soon, so for now I am going to be optimistic-ish and say we’re about four weeks from starting, so things could be underway by mid-September. Not bad for a job we thought would have been done by April!

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Happy birthday to me

Yesterday I turned (gulp) 33. I’m not sure how I got to be 33 without really noticing, but here I am. Leigh and I sometimes talk about not really feeling that different to when we were 16, but I can assure you I was not asking for a vacuum cleaner for my 16th birthday.

I DID ask for a vacuum cleaner for this birthday, and yesterday we picked up a Dyson, which serves the dual purpose of sucking up lots of stuff from our carpets and making us feel like accomplished members of society. How is it that a vacuum cleaner came to be a status symbol, anyway?

I gave the floors a once over yesterday and was suitably impressed/disgusted by the barrel of stuff the Dyson inhaled.

We did lots of other things for my birthday, too and apart from one lowlight which I am already over, I had a rather fabulous Birthday Festival.

It started Friday night with takeaway from El Jannah (smoky charcoal chicken with a potent garlic sauce, of which leigh and I consumed a LOT). Saturday morning leigh made bubble & squeak for breakfast then we all headed into the city.

We wandered around a bit, browsed the bookstore and the homewares store (Victoria’s basement) and looked for wedding attire inspiration at the designer wear section of DJ’s – though we’ll be spending less on the whole ceremony than we would spend on two outfits from there.

Then we had afternoon tea at The Tearoom. We bought a huge bowl of fries for the kids – a very rare treat for them, and it kept them totally occupied for the better part of an hour. That left leigh and I to eat three tiers of dainty sandwiches and pastries and two enormous scones with jam and clotted cream. We did have to sit on opposite sides of hugo and hold the tablecloth down with our elbows to stop him from up-ending everything, but it was otherwise fairly relaxed. The maitre-d’ commented on the kids’ excellent behaviour as we were leaving, which was nice.

Then we hit the shops again and I tried on a few wedding dresses while Hunter climbed on the little platforms in front of the mirrors exclaiming, “I look like I am six standing up here!”

Before we headed home we stopped at Lincraft and Dymocks and bought paper for leigh to make me a handmade book as my birthday gift.

On Sunday we went to yum cha with the kids, and then yesterday, leigh and I had a lovely dinner after the kids went to bed – Atlantic salmon with colcannon followed by cheese and cherry strudel, all made by leigh.

Last night leigh finished off my beautiful little book. She learned to hand-bind books many years ago from a friend and has a sweet little book she keeps her favourite recipes in. She thought I might like to do the same thing, and that’s what I will do. I am going to start writing them in today.

Here’s my book:

The front cover


Inside front

The spine, bound with ribbon and cotton

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Toddler haircut how-to guide

Step one: decide on a whim that today is a good day for a trim and it cannot possibly wait.

Step two: Locate all purpose scissors used for cutting paper, fabric and all manner of adhesive substances, and which are known to be mostly blunt.

Step three: corner child outside in least sensible location. Grab small hunk of hair and snip blindly. Admire inch and a half long swathe of hair in your hand. Admire the way one of toddler’s eyes is now visible.

Step four: watch in dismay as toddler runs off, one eye shrouded in hair, the other not.

Step five: gather toddler up. Attempt to settle on your lap. Reach from behind to grasp what seems like an appropriate bit of hair. Feel pleased to be able to straighten up the mess. Try to snip, only to discover you’ve applied the blunt bit of the scissors.

Step six: Try to adjust scissors but fail, and feel dismayed as toddler squirms down and runs off into yard.

Step seven: Notice toddler is standing still. Approach from behind and make second attempt at that remaining long bit of hair. Keep pace as toddler begins to walk off, trying to catch the right bit of hair and not accidentally snip off an earlobe.

Step eight: Start jogging as toddler picks up speed. Realise that jogging behind your son with a pair of scissors pointed at his head is stupid.

Step nine: Give up.

Step ten: Take photos of bad haircut.

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Boring renos update

I’m so sick of this stupid reno process that I can’t imagine anyone else can be bothered to read about it at all, but since I’ve documented our trials to date, I’ll persist.

We got our bank paperwork sent off on Monday and have been waiting for them to send it back so we could rectify the bits that we screwed up. Today we got an email that it has all been checked and they’re proceeding to settlement – all I can say is, they must not have checked very closely! There’s one form that asked for the date of the new mortgage but we didn’t know what that would be so we left it out and signed the form.

They shouldn’t be amending our signed form so we were expecting that to come back. There are also variances between the amount the builder put on the contract and the amount the bank has allocated to pay him (they didn’t allow for GST, even though the tender clearly states that the price is ex-GST), so we thought that would come back, too.

Then there’s the small matter of the progress payment notes saying that the third installment will be paid once the new kitchen is in. Um, we are not getting a new kitchen! Anyway we just lined through that bit and they didn’t say anything about it.

Oh, and our insurance now lists two mortgagees becaue we didn’t want to go removing our old bank before settlement. I was sure the new bank would have a problem with that, too, but nope.

We’ve also finally signed the contract with the builder and I am not that confident that’s all on the up and up either because the builder kept asking me questions about what details went where – eg there was a question about financing for the project and it was not clear whether we should write in the amount of our whole mortgage or just what related to the renos. The builder let me make the call, seeing as I have no experience with building contracts or renovation loans whatsoever.

Meanwhile, the builder started in with the line about it being close to Christmas when everything gets busy so it’s hard to say how long the job will take. Dude, it’s the first week in August. Even the department stores don’t have the gall to pull out the “Christmas is just around the corner” line.

Anyway, I’m starting to feel like we won’t be finished this year, and getting a little bit nervous that we may not be started, either.

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