Monday, 11 January 2016

On being "just"

My fingers feel stiff and awkward as I attempt to move them across the keys. It's been so long since I typed anything never mind a full blog post of swirling, grey thoughts, that it feels like exercise after all this time. This is probably a horrifying indication of the last time I managed any actual exercise.

There is a temptation to do a full recap of life since the last time I managed to write anything here, but given that I know everyone who reads it is a bit foolish. And yet... We are now 4. We are still in LA, but only for a few more months, before we head to Denver, Colorado to start all over again. That's about it. That's everything you need to know.

I posted a photo on Instagram yesterday with a long, blabbing comment about how hard I found December, and how I was ready to tackle January. There was something cutesy about painting my nails. I definitely made a passing comment about my expectations of a glorious Christmas being shattered. 

January saw my comments and laughed. Today is our first day back to normal of the new year, as husband worked for most of the holidays everyone else had. I was so ready and raring to go. I had totschool activities planned for K, who is learning letters and can count to 20 and is an absolute sponge, for good and bad. There was food to make and activities and games to play and the house was mostly clean but a few things needed done. 

Then there was a night with no sleep and raging temperatures and this morning; more snot and self pity than I care to think about. Then the inevitable "I have to work late" text. It's funny really, in the most ironic and least 'ha ha' way. Of course illness was almost inevitable, as I watched my toddler eat chocolate cupcake off the airport floor (the one we told her she couldn't have but the cashier decided otherwise) and aeroplanes are always the kind of hotbed for disease that make my normally laissez-faire skin crawl. I should not have been remotely surprised.

And yet here I sit, wallowing in a steaming hot bath of woe-is-me. Yet again, reality has quietly shaken its head at expectations, lips pursed and muttering a half-hearted platitude of apology, Which begs the question- should I just accept that things are inevitably going to be hard and a bit rubbish for now (at least until the kids are like, 8 and 6,) and embrace the good moments when they happen to pass by? Should I remain ever optimistic and occassionally (frequently) heartbroken? I have no answers to that.

There is, of course, the additional voices of guilt, desperate to make sure I don't miss them out too. The one that says "Jesus Christ, woman. Your kid has a COLD. A COLD. They'll be better by the weekend. Man up. Imagine they had something actually serious. Then imagine that parent sitting reading this pile of self-indulgent nonsense." This voice is often right and rarely welcome at any self-respecting pity party. There is the other one that says "Don't you know how lucky you are to even have kids? Right now there are people pouring their heart and souls into making that happen- think they'd say 'no thanks' if they got offered one with a cold and one that doesn't sleep? Course not. Get on with it." Often joined by her friend, who likes to make sure I know that no one on earth is interested in Mum Problems. Especially Stay-at-home Mum Problems. And I should try having some real problems.

So what's my point? I'm not sure I have one. Perhaps that being "just a mum" is an insult leveled at those of us who don"t leave the house to go to work every morning, and yet it is an astonishingly challenging hat to wear. On the one hand, I am unspeakably proud of what I do. It is something I enjoy. It is something I think I'm fairly good at (I am 2/2 at keeping early walkers alive so far, which is pretty impressive if I say so myself) and I HATE the way people look down on us, as if we are too stupid or unambitious or whatever else to have a life outside in the real world. We are not entitled to an opinion on anything outside the domestic sphere, and the only solution anyone ever has to offer to any problem is to go out and "do something with yourself", as opposed to all the "nothing" I do around here all day.

And yet at times like this, being "just a mum" feels every inch the insult as thrown at you. I have nothing else to talk about bar my own grumpiness. There is endless chores to be done and nappies to be changed and the walls are closing in on me. I can, of course, handle it. But I am tired of handling it and really want to enjoy it. I just need to decide if it's a matter of will or luck. 

But I do intend to try and write again. Mostly because I feel better after that little rant and let's face it, Instagram isn't really the place for it. It's for over-exposed pinterest projects. Everyone knows that.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Packing it up...

I realise this space is pretty neglected. I think that's probably the way it's supposed to be. To be so busy with real life that online life slips by the way side. And I am busy in the dullest, most boring stay-at-home-mom kind of way. My days are spent chasing the blur that is K, trying to keep her alive (a job that gets increasingly difficult with time, I must confess) and attempting to maintain some facade of normality- a clean(ish) kitchen, clothes without oatmeal on them, eating actual meals.

And I think here lies the problem with my sad, lonely little blog. On the one hand I am acutely aware that I don't really have much going on. Generally people don't want to hear about boring mum stuff. You hear that criticism all the time. Hell, I levelled that criticism at people: 'All they talk about is the baby.' And yet I have become one of those people. Because life is so incredibley FULL of her. My absolute basic needs are dictated by her. I sleep when she has a clean nappy, a full tummy, the temperature is right and she is not teething. The fact that my sleep will be dictated by the temperature of someone else's bedroom is insane to me even now, but before I had her I couldn't have possibly have got my head around what that feels like. So I have these discussions with other, similarly shell-shocked parents (I'm not saying mums here, because I hang out with a stay-at-home-dad called Steve most days) and find myself not saying anything to my other friends/this blog because I can't think what to say that won't bore them. It's hard. Because I crave non-baby conversation, but feel like I have nothing to add. I've started reading again, which jolting my brain back in to action. But even that, which has always been such a defining part of me, is only happening because K lets me (she is now napping for an hour plus at a time. I don't know what changed but there you have it.) But it's a start. A small glimpse into a world where Other Things happen. Maybe one day in the not so distant future I will have other things to talk about.

The flip side of this is that I want to talk about her a lot because, holy crap, she is awesome. And no longer a little baby. Going from pregnant to holding a baby was a bit of a mind-blowing experience, but going from a little blob that just eats and sleeps to one who makes decisions about what she wants to do next, who has a tooth and eats real people food and learns a new skill every.damn.week has been all the more incredible to me. We mark the time now by the things we pack away. The clothes, the baby bath, the swaddles, the play mat, the breast pump; all these things we depended on and used faithfully now surplus to requirement. It is the packing away that leaves me in awe. That we are passed this phase, then that, then the next. It is a constant reminder that in spite of ourselves, we are surviving. actually succeeding at this.

Of course this is insane, because, duh, the lucky babies grow up. But I had no concept of life beyond the first few months when I was pregnant. I had no idea what it would look like when she went on the swings for the first time, or chased after a ball, or munched on a spicy beef taco. The continual surprise of how much joy I get from these moments is staggering, and something I am so grateful for. And it's probably boring to other people because they don't see the tiny moments, don't know what it's like to feel like the non-stop feeding and nappy changing and moving gingerly will never end. I have repeated "This too, shall pass" to myself, and others, more times than I can count and yet I am continually surprised when it does.

So the blog will remain neglected. I'll write about books and exciting trips and all the rest of it soon enough, but I'll probably just enjoy things as they are for now. I don't want to bore anyone.

Monday, 28 April 2014

Earthquakes

It has been so long since I've written anything at all. Not that I've not wanted to, but we are now firmly in the trenches of parenting. So deep undercover that we've forgotten our real names and our families back home. Evenings are a blur of bath time, bed time and eating dinner; our blessed Dodgers and dear friend Vin Scully getting us through the hardest parts, then getting my trusty breast pump out (always, always 15 minutes too late) then trying to stay awake long enough to actually pump, finally collapsing in an exhausted, happy, if slightly bamboozled, heap.

I could make this post about the unbelievable battles we are having with sleep, but honestly, I'm sick of talking/thinking/dreaming about it. Basically, my 'she sleeps brilliantly' baby hit 4 and a half months and decided to be a dreadful sleeper. My awesome friend talks about the effect bad sleep has on your confidence in your parenting abilities here, so I'll just let her say it all, and will gladly accept any and all offers of 'but Lorna, you are a GREAT mum' anyone cares to throw my way.

I could make this post about how I now have a baby that EATS THINGS. Not just milk, but (really squidgy, pureed) things. This was a mini-meltdown situation for me as I had wanted to wait as long as possible but the kid was literally wrestling food out of my hands and was so obviously ready to eat that we just had to bite the bullet and start weaning a full month earlier than I expected too. At the same time, in an effort to save what remains of my sanity, husband started giving K a bottle of formula instead of breastmilk before bed. Partly in theory that it might help her sleep better (mixed reviews: jury still out) and partly because the constant cycle of feeding and pumping and being ON all the time was wearing out my boobs and my brain.

I could also make this post about the fact that she can now move. As in, be in one place, see something she wants in another and get to it. Not crawl, although it's coming soon, but still. Move. But this post is about none of these things, really.

Instead it's about earthquakes. We've had two decent sized ones in the last few weeks (months? Where the hell did April go?) Husband got nervous. Terrified of 'The Big One' and how the potential for bad things to happen is so much worse now we have K. I'm kind of a fatalist, and consider all these things future Lorna's problem.* I'm not so scared of earthquakes really. 'The Big One' might happen, but it might not, so why worry about it? And honestly, I just see earthquakes as a big giant metaphor. A metaphor for how our lives are steady and routine until one day they just... aren't.

This is the bit I missed when other people tried to explain having a baby to me: that you'll find your footing and feel safe and confident and secure, then a little earthquake. The ground will rattle beneath your feet and everything appears exactly the same but it isn't. And you have to figure out where you are and what just happened. By the time you've done that, the next one hits and it's time to start all over again. I never expected so many days/weeks of feeling utterly lost, of having the strange sensation of having absolutely no idea what K wants or needs. The plates shift under my feet, and I have to re establish myself all over again.

And K? She loves earthquakes. The whole world in a gentle rocking motion, just for her. Like her baby carrier, or travelling in the car. She doesn't understand tsunami risks or falling down buildings or the general feeling of unease left in their wake. Literal or metaphorical. She moves and shakes and expects us to keep up. Most often with a hearty chuckle, sometimes with dragon screams of frustration and rarest of all, thank goodness, pure blind rage. We are left rubbing our eyes, shrugging our shoulders and wondering if we'll ever catch up with her: read from the same page, sing from the same hymn sheet. And then one day we do, if only briefly.

The hardest part is realising that we've just had a shift. There are days of tears (mine) and frustration (mine, hers, his, Joanie's) whilst we realise that the ground has moved and we need to readjust everything. And I'm left wondering if it gets easier as they get older or do we just get better at sensing that the earth has moved, that we need to move with it? Who knows. For now, we're just rolling with it.

*Future Lorna must HATE past Lorna, she gets dumped with all her crap.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

One Quarter

Three months have passed now, since the walk and the football game and the pain and the baby. A quarter of a year. And here we are, husband a little greyer, extra lines round my eyes, settling in like the tiredness I wear like a cosy jumper. And the baby. Fatter and happier and louder and angrier and so much more of a person with every passing day. And as she becomes more of a person she begins to own all those aspects of herself, or so I tell myself as she SCREAMS in protest that she's tired or hungry or it's Tuesday, goddammit. But now she laughs too. And one came with the other, and I wouldn't dream of giving up the 'heh heh heh' sound for anything. 

I often wonder what I'll remember about these days- the ones that I think of as new infant, not newborn. Newborn was an amazing glowy haze. New infant, well, it's a bit rougher round the edges. Higher highs, lower lows and everything in between. She either sleeps all night (our personal record is 8.5 hours) or wakes every two. Often on consecutive nights. She can smile and charm or be full of rage and anger and there is nothing to be done with either but ride it out. This season is lukewarm tea, the faintly musty smell of fat folds that need constant treatment to stop rashes spiralling out of control. Big juicy smiles that go from ear to ear, the 'heh' sound of amusement as we expend untold energy on The Wheels on the Bus or making the little lion roar. And crying crying crying crying. Big fat tears falling as if her heart might break, soft wet cheeks squashed hard against mine.



I started going to a 'Mommy group', in spite of myself. In some ways, many of them are not my people. They are vegans and concerned about the chemicals in the swimming pool and talk about things that are made of hemp, and I sit guiltily munching a ham sandwich and putting chemicals on my baby's bum then wrapping them in plastic. But there is a spectrum and I am grateful for someone to share the tired look in my eye and to hear them complain that no one warned them that breast milk shoots out like a water gun and watch their babies pee all over them and for someone to say 'I'll watch her whilst you run to the bathroom/get a glass of water/step outside in the fresh air and breathe'. It's ok that we are all doing things differently, because the reality seems to be that no matter what principles and dogmas they may have started with, everyone is just getting by. And honestly, hearing that is the most reassuring thing in the world. Some days 'getting by' feels like a collosal victory.

Other days, we do a whole lot more than get by. We had a visitor from home, and we went to the Sunday Morning Farmers Market in Santa Monica. (Somewhat hilariously, husband over heard a SUPER hipster guy complaining that this was a 'sham farmer's market- it wasn't real at all.' I would be shocked if this guy has ever been near a farm in his life, in his $500 hobnail boots and red fedora in 80 degree heat.) I was worried about a day out with a baby who has taken to screeching loudly and often at weekends, but she adored it and I ate chicken and waffles with one hand and she sat in the shade and watched the little kids ride on the ponies and pet the goats, then switched to gazing at the leaves overhead and we chatted in the dappled sunlight. I could sense the future then: of mornings full of adventures and new foods and funny animals.



And that's where we are, a quarter of a year into owning a baby. Owning this baby. It's hard and it's not: no more and no less. I hate when people say 'it's worth it' because of course it is because the human race would have long since died out if it wasn't, and I never really know what they mean by that exactly. It's joyous, most of the time. And every one needs more joy in their lives. The cost for ours in less sleep, in long days with crying all round, but it seems a pretty reasonable price to pay.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Onwards and Upwards

I have 4 or 5 posts sitting in my draft folder, mocking me for never being able to finish an idea, for not being able to come up with anything coherent or even sensible to say. Life has been interesting the last few months. We came to LA on a 2 year contract. A Post-Doctoral fellowship, same as everyone who wants to stay in academia does in a desperate hope that maybe, eventually someone will give them a permanent position. Sadly recession means less funding, less permanence. We have friends who DREAM of a 2 year contract, who never have any stability. This contract is up in July, and husband decided the best next step was to undertake a clinical residency. Basically, learning to become a physicist who plans radiotherapy for patients, who understands and checks the MRI and CT machines to make sure they don't turn anyone into a superhero* by mistake. The idea behind this being that he could maybe, eventually get a job in a big research hospital, but when there wasn't as much research funding kicking around, he could up his clinical hours and not be without a job.

This works pretty well at UCLA, where most of the staff is part clinical, part research. The residency is a set 'thing', and husband applied to 14 places throughout the US in the hope that he could get a few interviews and maybe a job offer. He wasn't terribly confident, but was hoping that he at least had a shot at staying at UCLA, where he knows everyone and generally is pretty useful. He was offered 11 interviews. He turned down 5 (for being somewhere he didn't want to go or for getting back to him too late). This was a confidence boost to start with. He went to 6 places, including the east coast and midwest during the hideous snow storms they've had there.

He was away fairly consistently for 2 weeks. I have a whole new respect for single parents. 5 o'clock would come, and I'd try desperately not to cry as the realisation that no one was coming to help hit hard. My sister-in-law tells me that in Denmark they call 5pm the 'wolfing hour' as the babies howl to welcome the moon. This makes absolute sense to me. K loves to welcome that moon. The main thing is we coped, K and I. I may have eaten pasta and pesto 4 nights in a row, but everyone was fed and clean and breathing and no one bled much, so I am claiming these trips as an overwhelming win. The stress was slowly building though, and for reasons I never expected.

Husband got offered a job. Not just any job, but one at a seriously impressive university. In a place people are desperate to live. In a place he was was desperate to live. The thing with places like that is that they are expensive. As in, we couldn't afford to live there expensive. He was still travelling. He had 4 days til he was home and the university were hassling him for an answer immediately and it was shit. Then came another job offer. And another. In the end he was still on the road and 3 different universities were hassling him to know RIGHT NOW where he was going to accept and his boss here was scrambling desperately to put together something that would make him stay.

We discounted two of the offers. San Francisco was too expensive to live in on one salary, and nursery fees would negate any money I could earn by going back to work. Chicago was -18C on the day he visited, so even though we have lots of friends there it was out. This left good university (which I won't name because we'd still like to keep the option open to go there eventually!) and UCLA. He had managed to buy himself a few days grace before giving them an answer. This left us 2 hours after he came home to discuss it and decide on his future, where to live, how we saw the next few years panning out. 

We love LA, but it's not the most child friendly place in the world. X is in a small-ish town, with public transport and lots of parks, but still a city vibe. It would have been lovely. In the end though, the compromises and the risk were too much. We'd have to pile into a one bedroom apartment since we couldn't afford anything bigger. I started going to a new moms group and a yoga class and am meeting people. Nice people. The thought of trying to find them again and starting over when K was 7 months old was kind of daunting. There are SO MANY kids around her age in our apartment complex, and there is potential for her to have lots of friends (and maybe us too, who knows.)

The decision, made in two hours during naptime after 4 days away and 3 inteviews and snow delays and willthiseverend was to stay in LA. With no firm offer (but a lot of potential) from UCLA, he turned down the other university. It was a bit of a leap of faith, but now it's done (with a firm offer from UCLA and discussions of a job after the residency is finished) the relief is palpable. The system for interviewing is a nightmare. The universities generally don't offer any financial assistance for you travelling all over the country (two of husband's did, which was a massive relief) so the whole thing costs hundreds of dollars (thousands, if you attend all the interviews you are invited to.) They are supposed to wait until February 17th to offer places, so everyone does it at the same time. This didn't happen AT ALL and left him in a really crappy position of being expected to accept an offer with no information on his other options, and at some places without even knowing salary or benefit details (quite important when health insurance is so vital and some of these cities are insanely expensive.)

I'm so proud of him. He is brilliant, which he now can see a bit better since he was 'in demand.' He made a tough choice with no time to decide and when he was sleep deprived and exhausted. We're getting settled into our apartment for the long haul. This is an amazing feeling. We'll be here for another two and a half years, which makes it the longest I've lived anywhere since I left home for university, the weekend of my 18th birthday. K will have her own bedroom and stability and we won't have to move house with a baby or find a new local coffee shop. We're going to paint the walls and upgrade some of our super cheap Ikea furniture and generally settle in a little, let ourselves breathe a bit slower and calmer. It's exciting in a totally different way.

The day husband got a firm offer from UCLA, he sent me a message asking if I wanted to go on a road trip somewhere this holiday weekend**. Then if I wanted to go on a summer holiday to Austin, Texas while he was at a conference. Then asking about booking flights home to the UK for the spring***. I could feel his relief seeping into these texts- planning new adventures. Different ones from what we had expected, or maybe even hoped, but exciting ones none-the-less.

*I joke, but the actual result of not doing that job properly is hideous radiation burns and death. Scary stuff.
**Instead we are going to Home Depot to look at paint swatches because we left it too late to book anywhere and I really want to start re-finishing some crappy inherited furniture and good Lord I am now turning into my parents.
***UK, we will be IN YOU come the end of April. Once I have finished eating Marks and Spencers sandwiches and eating a packet (or 6) of Salt and Vinegar Squares, I am up for hanging out with EVERYONE. Especially since this time I will not be crippled by morning sickness and can drink all the wine. And whisky. And tequila.

Friday, 3 January 2014

Tiny pools of light

I'm still in awe of people who manage to blog regularly with a baby. A newborn. That being said, K doesn't feel so new as she side-eyes me from her swing. She feels old and wise and simultaneously surprised but knowing about my decision to put her down from the spot she has occupied in the crook of my elbow all day. There are days (yesterday) where I feel like I could take on the world. K and I work in perfect rhythm, with perfectly timed portions of sleep and play and eating and I manage to clean things and my husband comes home from work to domestic bliss. There are others, like today, where I sit pinned under the weight of someone who has discovered how incredibly taxing it is to just exist- that things are not always comfortable or pleasant or fair and is simply going to sleep it off, with the occasional wail of unhappiness followed by a fart of such spectacular proportions that it wakes the cat.

There are other days that veer wildly between these extremes. We are starting to emerge from the depths of The First Cold, which perfectly punctuated The First Christmas and The First Full Month. To me, the more important memories are The First 18 Hour No-Sleep Marathon, The First Use of the Snotsnucker and finally, blissfully, The First Six Hour Stretch of Sleep. And none of these types of days have made me want to write. Not necessarily out of tiredness (although I'm sure there is a healthy dose of that somewhere in the background) but because I've not really felt like I've had much to say. Our main obsession is sleep, spoken in a coarse, jagged numeric code- last night was a 5-4-2, the night before a 6-4, the night before that 2-1.5-2. 

Night time has changed for me entirely. I am not good during the night. My left eye usually refuses to open. Literally, I pad between the tiny pools of amber light projected by the nightlights we had to panic buy when she was 3 days old with one eye firmly closed, like I've been sucker-punched. I no longer dream, the strange and vivid imaginings of pregnancy so long behind me I feel like they happened to someone else. Instead I jolt awake, brutally and forcefully as I remember I'm supposed to be looking after my baby rather than peacefully dozing. I guess this is the thing I have noticed most, that sleep is no longer peaceful. Night time is no longer something to be treated as a calm relief to the end of the day, but rather a gauntlet to run. Good night or bad? We have become superstitious in the manner of baseball players and football fans. The tricks that work are fastidiously upheld, those that don't cast aside without a second thought.

K now feels like mine. It took a long time to really believe, especially as I have held and bathed and cared for thousands of babies in my time. This one was no different until she was. I think it happened whilst I watched a David Attenborough documentary on Netflix (the Official Saviour of new parents everywhere) and it was 4am and there was no escaping that she was sick and miserable and just wanted us. It was simultaneously amazing and terrifying. I finally got round to reading 'The Fault in Our Stars' by John Greene last week and the idea that there is no way out of being parenthood now really gripped me. That regardless of what happens, whenever it may happen, I am K's mum, and there's nothing else to it. I can't tell if the terror outweighs the joy in that statement, but some ideas just need to exist, hanging in the back of your mind, waiting until you have the time (or the brain power) to untangle them.

I have become resolutely more British, and even more Scottish since K was born. Words appear from recesses of my mind that I couldn't have brought out if I'd wanted to before. I 'shuggle' the baby to sleep and tell her she's 'awrright'. I listen to BBC Radio, treating the traffic reports with the same reverence as radio plays on 4extra and the inane chat of the Drivetime show. Hearing tales of the A62 and gale warnings for Lochgilphead and crashes outside Basingstoke somehow makes the world more manageable. I knew where I stood in that world, at home where things were safe and we didn't live at the whim of someone who genuinely has no idea what she wants half the time.

This isn't to say that I wish I was at home, per se. After a particularly fractious day where husband was supposed to go back to work and didn't because things were so mental ,we went for a long walk, the top of K's head bobbing gently in her carrier. We talked about being home sick. And we realised that in reality nothing would have been any different if we were in Edinburgh except we'd be colder. Much colder, if we'd stayed in our beautiful yet drafty Victorian flat. 4am would still be 4am, Snotty noses would still be snotty noses and we wouldn't have any more idea what we were doing. And having that conversation by the orange glow of a beautiful sunset helped.

There have been many, many hilarious moments, lest this all sound melancholy, somehow. The cat is at the centre of most them, whether it is violently killing Winnie the Pooh, leaving a trail of dead soft toys in her wake near daily, or the day I found her traipsing around with the Snot-Sucker in her mouth, or jumping up to drink the water we use to clean up during nappy changes. K makes some of the most hilarious faces I've ever seen, and I'm genuinely sad they are rarely caught on camera. I hold the record for the most nappies used during one change- mortifiying for someone with my experience. She loves to be in the bath, and that is where I got to see her first real smile. 

This year is completely unknown for us. Husband has job interviews in a few different places and we don't have any idea where we will be come July. It's scary but exciting too. We decided we're still in for the adventure. We'll just bring K along with us. Famous last words, but how much harder can it be?

Saturday, 14 December 2013

The Rules

I am a natural rule follower. Breaking them, even other people breaking them, causes me anxiety. Like, sweaty, uncomfortable have-to-leave-the-room anxiety. In so many ways, it makes life much easier for me. I don't always agree with the rules, but I always know which course of action to take: the one that will not get me in trouble. The natural rebels amongst you are horrified right now, I can tell. My husband (not a natural rule follower) puts forward arguments about Nazi Germany and dictatorships and why it's important to break the rules, and I know I can if I HAVE to but I'd really rather not, thankyouverymuch.

This has given me an interesting parenting dilemma. I'm happy to follow many of the 'rules' about parenting. K will get all her vaccinations at exactly the time she is supposed to because I trust the science and I trust the people who make the rules (in this case the American Association of Pediatrics, which has remarkably similar guidelines to the Royal College of Paediatricians, who I DEFINITELY trust.) I put K down to sleep on her back* and I have not yet introduced a bottle that will disrupt her truly excellent breastfeeding skills.

But I am breaking one of the rules. I am not breastfeeding on demand. Now this is not to say that I am starving my baby, trust me, this baby is gaining weight like a champ (and in fact had gained over a pound at her 2 week check-up) but feeding on demand just does not work for her. When left to her own devices, K will feed every 2 hours-ish during the day. This is pretty normal, but she just cannot handle it. The occasions when she has done this have resulted in miserable evenings/nights of inconsolable crying thanks to stomach pains- knees at her ears- as she screams. She is sick, bringing up whole feeds and flooding herself and everything around her (ie. me, her dad, her grandad, the cat, ohmygodIhavetochangeourbedsheetsat2am) in milk. Not even partially digested milk, just straight up, not touched her stomach, milk. It is a deeply unpleasant situation all round. Now when she goes 3 hours between feeds during the day, magic happens. She sleeps longer stretches at night. She is content, happy and laid back. She isn't sick at all.

It took me ages (and a bit of input from my mum) to figure out that this was what was going on, but now I have, life is easier. She starts making hungry faces at around the 2 hour mark (usually 2 hours 20 minutes, actually) and we distract her. It helps that she doesn't really cry a whole lot. If playing and cuddles aren't cutting it, I bring in the big guns dummy/pacifier. This almost always works to get us to around 3 hours (maybe slightly less, maybe slightly more) where she has a massive feed and is then satisfied to the three hour mark at her next feed. I do this dance maybe once or twice a day, she's mostly happy to go the whole 3 hours.

It is not what the rules tell me to do, but it is better for K. I'm trying to learn to trust my instincts more. This is hard for a natural rule follower. I'm not reading any parenting books. I do get the Lucie's List emails (which really helped us make sleep feel less chaotic, even if it didn't actually change anything) but I'm not reading anything else. We know the basics, we can google any issues that come up, and we are just trusting ourselves. Big adjustment, I love to read. But this is what works for us. Mostly, what works for K. And ultimately that is what counts.

I'd love to know what rules you plan on breaking/break/broke- no judgement here (unless you are not vaccinating your kid, in which case I'm heaping the judgement on. Sorry.)The main thing is, you are almost certainly not alone. So confess- I want to know what else I should ignore...

*mostly. If she is really vomit-y or choke-y (which she has been a few time) I'll swaddle her and prop her on a 45 degree angle. Which is what we do in the hospital so I'm pretty confident about it. Husband hates it.