Saturday, 16 April 2011

Things I love about my kids

Like any parent, I have times where my kids drive me absolutely insane. Particularly Seagull. I know he's only 2 and he can't help it, he's learning how to talk and he gets frustrated easily, but it doesn't stop me from getting rather irritated by it all. It occurred to me the other day that it would be a good idea to sit down and think about all the things I love and appreciate about my kids. It's easy to let the little things get to you, which makes it that much more important to remember those moments that make you go "aw!"

The things I love about my kids include:
- Snuggling up to Wombat on a cold night and feeling him burrow in to get that little bit warmer.
- Waking up to "Hello Mummy!" from Seagull of a morning. Or "Hello Fishies!" if he happens to spy my phone.
- That Seagull has started to grab random bits of clean washing to put in the box that forms the base of our cats' scratching post and pretends that it's a washing machime (yes, that's a deliberate misspell as that's how he says it).
-  How Wombat is so chilled out most of the time. I always thought that Seagull was pretty good as a baby, but Wombat is even cruisier (please don't hate me). I'm sure he's going to be just as difficult as Seagull once he hits the terrible twos, if not worse, so I'm going to enjoy him being chilled out while it lasts.
- The quiet times I have spent with both of them over the years as I've breastfed them. I get a certain sense of achievement and awe that I am completely responsible for their nutrition in the early months and that it is solely because of me that they get so adorably chubby.
- How cuddly my boys are. Wombat is such a snuggly cuddler. Seagull has always been the sort of child where cuddles are very much on his terms, which just makes the times he does come to me for a cuddle all the sweeter.
- That Seagull is so analytical. He has always been interested in any toy that has moving parts and he loves sussing out how they work.
- When Seagull says "I love Mummy. I love Daddy. I love Bubby".
- The way Wombat has an extra special smile when he sees his big brother. I really hope that my boys are good mates as they get older.
- How Seagull will sometimes lay down next to Wombat and give him kisses, stroke him or generally have a little play with him.
- How cute Wombat looks when he rolls onto his tummy, pushes up on his hands and looks around and grins at everyone.

As much as I feel worn out by my kids at times, they are the light of my life and I wouldn't have it any other way. I never got to spend much time with my Dad growing up due to Mum and I moving so far away after they separated, so most of my Dad's parenting experience has been with my much younger half sisters (henceforth referred to as sisters). He and my stepmother waited a few years after they got married to start their own family, but Dad once said to me that once they'd had my sisters, he didn't know how they ever lived without them. I feel exactly the same way about my boys.

Friday, 15 April 2011

We got our car back!

A bit over two months ago we were involved in a car accident. It happened on a highway through a town about 40 minutes from home. It was dual lanes in each direction and we were in the right lane. There was another car in the left lane. As we were driving along, a car pulled out of a servo exit straight into the left lane. He realised that there was a car in the lane and managed to back up in time. I maintained my speed rather than slowing down because I didn't want to end up in the other driver's blind spot if they decided to try to move into the right lane. Next thing I knew, Thunder Maker was telling me to "watch out". As I looked to the left, I realised that the vehicle that had been trying to leave the servo before was now immediately to my left and was going to be in front of me in about 2 seconds. I hit the breaks, but didn't even have time for them to engage before I hit the side of the nose of his car. It all happened so quickly, yet so slowly at the same time. I remember thinking as we impacted "Thunder Maker is going to kill me!" After all, it was his car I was driving.

Both children had been sleeping in the back at the time, but they weren't asleep for long. I heard Wombat squeaking in the back and Seagull was shrieking in distress. Once I knew that everyone in our car was OK, I forced my door open to get out and check on the people in the other car. I saw them both get out as I was opening my door. Once my feet hit the ground, my knees very nearly joined them. The only thing keeping me upright was that I was hanging off the car door. My attention turned to Seagull at this point. He was still screaming and I really wanted to get him out of the car and give him a cuddle, but I couldn't make my legs work to walk the three steps to his door to open it. By this stage, there was a really nice bloke who had witnessed the whole thing who had stopped to offer whatever assistance he could. He told me to go sit down on the bench seat that was on the other side of the road and he'd bring the kids over.

Once the police came and took statements, we were left to organise a tow. We also had to organise to get back home. The bloke who had been helping us out offered to drive us back home, but we couldn't use the kids' car seats due to them being involved in the accident and he had none, so we had to decline. I ended up calling a friend of mine who has two children about the same age as mine and asking her to come get us.

We had to wait about 6 weeks before finding out that the insurance company had approved the repair of the car. Thunder Maker had been to the smash repairer and explained to him that we really wanted the car back (we wouldn't have gotten enough back to buy a new one if it had been written off), so he made the extra special effort to prove that the chassis wasn't bent and that it was going to be cheaper to repair it than to pay us out.

Today, Thunder Maker and I had separate places to be and he had misplaced his phone. We were hoping to hear back about the car today, so I dropped in to find out how the car was going. They were in the process of doing up the last bolts and were going to clean and polish the car before giving it back. The smash repairer told me that it was lucky I hit the other vehicle square on, because if I had have hit at an angle, I would have bent the chassis.

It was a very sweet moment picking up the car this afternoon. It's going to be very odd not having to juggle our movements and working out who gets to take the car any more. It's going to be very good being able to put the children's car seats back into the other car. My car is very small and Thunder Maker is very tall. He has to sit in the passenger seat turned to the side when I am driving because Wombat's car seat is behind the passenger seat and is rear facing, so the passenger seat has to be right forward to fit the car seat in. The best thing of all is, we are actually going to be able to go away for Easter and my uni residential now. Can anyone say "road trip?"

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Seagull's new shoes

When Seagull first started walking, I noticed that he seemed to be favouring the outside edge of his left foot. I wasn't sure if it was something I should be worried about, but I thought I should take him to see a podiatrist. Then I forgot all about it. Or more to the point, life got in the way and I figured that I'd get around to it at some point.

One day when I was dropping Seagull off to childcare, one of his carers commented that she had noticed him walking funnily on his left foot. I figured at that point that if other people were noticing, that it was time to take Seagull to see a podiatrist. I went to work, dug out the phone book and made a call. Seagull was booked in for that Saturday.

The podiatrist that I took Seagull to see was a really nice man. He was probably around about my age, certainly no more than a couple of years older. He explained to me that Seagull probably had metatarsus adductus. That means that the big long bones in his feet that connect the ankle bones to the toe bones were turning inward. It is something that is more common in first babies and occurs when their feet get squished up in-utero whilst forming and growing. Unfortunately, there are no paediatric podiatrists in the area, so he was going to have to refer me to someone down in Melbourne.

We went to get x-rays done the next week. I was expecting Seagull to want to run around and generally not co-operate, but he was surprisingly good. I had to hide away from the x-ray equipment because I was about 18 weeks pregnant with Wombat at the time. The x-rays confirmed the podiatrist's suspicions and actually showed that Seagull's right foot was more affected than the left foot, even though it was more noticeable in the left foot because of the way he walked.

We had to wait about 6 weeks before we could get in to see the paediatric podiatrist. She was wonderful. She explained that we could either treat Seagull by casting his feet or putting splints on them at night. Casting treats them faster, but she wasn't prepared to recommend it as I was pregnant at the time and she didn't want Seagull kicking my pregnant belly with casts on his feet. We made an appointment to see her boss/mentor the following week to have the splints made up. We were also asked to get Seagull a new pair of shoes. They had to have a firm sole and the inside edge had to be as straight as possible so that there was no room for his feet to turn inward.

The next week, Seagull had splints made up for his feet. He was not amused. However, he didn't mind putting them on at night. I had forgotten how much he loves shoes. I ended up calling his splints his bed shoes and he would quite happily toddle over to me to have them put on. He even got quite proficient at walking in them, which was no mean feat, given that they're not designed to be walked in.

This is similar to the splints that Seagull had to wear.
Just imagine it in a child size.

Seagull had to wear his splints for about 4 months until just before Christmas, when we were given the OK for him not to wear them any more. This is not the end of our journey where Seagull's feet are concerned though. We still have to be very particular about his shoes so that we don't give his feet enough room to turn inside the shoe. To add to our issues, Seagull seems to take after me in the small foot department, which makes it just that little bit harder to find shoes for him.

There is a really good shoe shop near Seagull's podiatrist that I don't mind making the drive down to Melbourne for. Of course, I plan other things to do as well. I'm not going to drive for 2 hours just to get shoes. We happened to be down that way a few weeks ago, so we stopped in and got Seagull fitted for a new pair of winter shoes. As they cost less than I thought they would, I decided to stop by a shop that sells sports shoes and pick up a pair of runners as well. The guy there talked me into getting a size larger than I had wanted to get, telling me that Seagull will grow into them.

A couple of days later, I put them on Seagull. He took three steps and tripped over his shoes. When I checked them, I realised that they were a good couple of centimetres too long for him. I knew I should have stuck to my guns and bought the smaller size.

Yesterday, I decided that I was sick of Seagull trashing what I had bought to be a good-ish pair of shoes and took him down the street to our local sports store. They had the froodiest pair of black and yellow runners and they happened to be in Seagull's size. At last, success!

I'm not going to lose Seagull in a hurry when he is wearing these.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

My weighty rant

Glowless tweeted something earlier on Twitter that got me thinking. I personally have never had problems in this area, but I know several people who have. I'm talking about baby weigh-ins.

Now, my Maternal and Child Health nurse is lovely. She has children of her own and has been a MACH nurse for quite a few years, so she's seen children come through her door of all different shapes and sizes. Her attitude with both of my children has been that as long as they are putting on weight consistently, reaching their developmental milestones in a timely fashion and look healthy, she isn't too concerned as to where their weight sits on the weight charts in the back of their respective blue books.

I was worried about Seagull's weight when he was a baby. He wasn't a big baby when he was born - 2.87kg (6lb 5oz for those of you who prefer it old school), and he has stayed small thus far. He has, however, had consistent weight gains since birth. I thought for a while that he was trying to play catch up with some of his bigger friends, because he was putting on around 500g per week for the first few weeks, but that soon tapered off to more modest levels. My MACH nurse was wonderful, asking if Seagull had plenty of wet nappies and if he was otherwise well in himself. When I answered those two questions in the affirmative, she told me not to stress. After all, I'm not the tallest girl at the ball, so even though Thunder Maker looks like something that was felled from an old growth forest, it is not outside the realms of possibility that Seagull is just going to be a small, short child. Seriously though, I'm holding out hope for a puberty-fueled growth spurt for him.

Wombat, in contrast, looks like a seedling that would be right at home in an old growth forest. He is currently in the 90th percentile for height and 98th percentile for weight. Wombat was an average weight and length when born, but instead of those 500g per week weight gains tapering off after a few weeks, they kept plugging on until Wombat was about 6 or 7 weeks old. He's down to about 500 - 700g per month at the moment. I was freaking out when my sweet little baby started to turn into Chubzilla, but my beloved MACH nurse was there again to reassure me that there was nothing wrong with him. As she said, it's not like you can ration feeds with a breastfed baby - you feed them when they are hungry and they will only feed for as long as they need to in order to fill themselves. Reassured, I put Wombat back in his Ergo, grabbed Seagull's wing as he tried to make a dash for freedom and headed home.

I have friends who have seemed to cop a lot of unnecessary grief over a small baby having small weight gains and have even had MACH nurses suggest supplementing with formula to increase weight gains. From speaking to friends who have supplemented or even gone to feeding formula full time, it has made no difference to the weight gains their babies have had. In these situations, I'm not sure that their MACH nurses have been considering other indicators like if the baby is otherwise healthy and happy in their self and if the baby is reaching developmental milestones within a normal time frame. Being a parent, a first time Mum in particular is hard enough, why give someone even more to stress about? Yes, those charts can be a good indicator to flag if a child is not thriving, but there is a big difference between a child who is failing to thrive and a child who just happens to be a skinny mini.

The other thing to remember about those charts in the back of the blue books is that they are calculated from the weights of children who were predominantly formula fed and were compiled back in the mists of time. If your baby is breastfed, chances are their weight gain is going to occur at a different rate to the way that the charts in the back of the blue book indicate. The WHO charts are a much more accurate reflection of the growth patterns of breastfed babies. Feel free to check them out. Hell, print them off and stick them over the top of the charts in the blue book if you want.

Wow, I feel better now I have that rant off my chest.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Over the fence she goes

Seagull figured out how to unlock our glass sliding doors right about the time when he was tall enough to be able to slide them open. We normally get around it by key locking the doors, but sometimes I forget or I don't realise that Thunder Maker has unlocked a door. This morning was one of those times.

After getting out of the shower this morning, I was greeted by the dog running around the dining room. "That's odd", I thought to myself, as the dog should have been in the yard. Then I realised that the sliding door in the dining room was wide open. Shit, Seagull had opened it, which meant that one of our cats would be in the yard. We have two cats and they are both indoor cats. It doesn't stop one of them from escaping if the door is left open though, which is why we key lock the doors. Seagull is an absolute champ at opening the doors, but isn't so good at closing them afterward.

I went into the yard to look for the cat. I checked all of her usual hiding places to no avail. I asked the dog if she could find the cat. Normally she is really good at locating and rounding up cats (she's a kelpie x some unknown breed of terrier and at 5 years old is about the size and appearance of a 3 month old kelpie pup). She kept bouncing around the yard and indicating at various places, but there wasn't a fluffy gray and white cat to be found under any of them. I figured that she had probably jumped the fence, but just to be sure, I took the bag of cat food outside and shook it around, hoping that she'd come running for a feed. No such luck.

I went back inside to feed Wombat and ponder my next move. Just as Wombat finished his feed and fell asleep, the dog started barking. I figured that she had located the cat, so I shot outside to see a fluffy gray and white bum on top of the wood shed as it disappeared over the back neighbour's fence. Crap.

I tried to climb over the fence from my side, but there was nothing to get a foot hold on. The horizontal supports were on the other side of the fence. I dug out the ladder from the shed and propped it up on the fence. By this stage, I could hear the cat meowing to me. Over the fence I went. Once on the other side, the cat actually came towards me. I think she was a bit disoriented and confused. I moved toward her and she moved away a bit, but there was no real effort to it. She was done exploring for the day. I moved over, picked her up, moved back to the fence and turfed her over. There was a locquat tree conveniently placed near the fence to help me climb back over.

Back on home soil, I looked around to see where the cat was. Poor thing was by the sliding door. The dog had her rounded up and was making sure that the cat stayed put. I went over, scooped the cat up and went to open the door. It was locked. Seagull had locked me out. Here I was with no glasses, no key and no phone. I called out to Seagull to come open the door, but he wasn't having a bar of it. Fortunately, I remembered what Seagull's most recent favourite game is. I started calling out "Where's Seagull*? I can't see Seagull anywhere". It worked, he came running and I was able to say "There's Seagull! Now, could you please open the door for Mummy?" Seagull happily obliged and I was able to take the cat back inside.

*Obviously, we use Seagull's real name when we play this game. He particularly loves playing it when he gets out of the shower. We have to put a towel over his head and ask "Where's Seagull?" He gets very upset if he doesn't get to play the game after a shower. It conveniently works at other times too, when he won't come to where he is needed. We pretend we can't see him until he runs up and goes "Here's Seagull!"