Thursday, June 26, 2008

The smallest member of our family

When I was pregnant, one of the things that a number of people told us we might need to worry about was how our cat would react to having a baby in the house. Apparently, cats can get jealous, change behaviour, and even sleep on the nice warm bundle that you have helpfully provided for them, thereby inadvertently suffocating your new creation. Some people were worried that our cat would take to attacking the baby, others (my Mum notably, who loves our cat, possibly more than me) were worried that our cat would feel neglected and whether it would be fair on her.

The Boy and I were a bit worried about this before Eve came along. Our poor cat has not had an easy life. She was a rescue cat from the UK originally, who got run over when she was about 5, got carted out here to Hong Kong with us to be cooped up in a flat all day (whereupon she started to pull out her own fur). She has had a few medical problems, and a sister she hated, who then died when I was about 6 months pregnant. Then H moved in a month later so everything had been very disruptive for her.

There seemed not much we could do about it. We didn't want to give away the cat, or the baby, and other than a cat net for the cot (something akin to a mossie net that wouldn't stop anything but the least curious cat anyway) we were just going to have to wait and see.

Our cat's response to Eve has been one of indifference. She has ignored the cot completely, only once come over to see Eve while I was feeding her in bed one day, sniffed her, and turned away to resume washing her bottom. In the last couple of weeks, however, she is showing a bit more interest.

She has noticed that Eve is now eating proper food and has rightly realised that at some point Eve will start to eat things that she also likes to eat and has been observing with noticeable glee as Eve throws things on the floor and on her table. Suddenly the cat is a fixture at Eve's meal times. But this is still about the only interest she shows.

Eve, however, feels very differently about our cat - she adores her. We have provided a moving toy for her and the cat beats the pink unicorn, monkey or even the squeaky chicken in the hierarchy of things Eve likes to play with. Eve has quickly realised that her current habit of bashing the table or floor until whatever she wants comes to her has no impact on the cat so is now copying me and holding out her hand (unusually quietly for her) and waiting for the cat to come to her. Sometimes she gets a bit too excited and lurches in the direction of the cat, but largely she is quite good.

The cat, however, is not so keen and will only occasionally bless Eve with the chance of touching her silky soft fur (as the cat thinks of the whole interaction).

Last night, however, Eve was beside herself with enthusiasm for stroking the cat and after following the cat around the flat for a few minutes, the cat finally condescended to letting Eve close enough to touch her. Whereupon Eve reached out, got a nice firm grip on her ear and pulled.

The cat, to her credit, did not hiss or bite or scratch but merely pulled her ear away and looked up at me with a look on the face that clearly conveyed "I told you so, now don't let that thing near me again", and sauntered off.

The cat is now viewing Eve's increased mobility with horror and now generally spends her time on elevated surfaces.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Daily dilemma

Things have been a bit unsettled lately at the bank where Yummy Mummy works and I need to make a few decisions. For starters, my boss is no longer going to be my boss and I will be reporting into someone who I don't know that well, already has a close knit team and, by her own admission, doesn't really know what I do. The job itself will be changing, but nobody seems to know what it will morph into (I am angling for a cute puppy but I suspect it will morph into something altogether less fun). I also have had a couple of other interesting opportunities land on my plate, all of which have got me thinking.

So, earlier this week I had a chat with my mentor. As a result of the leadership fast track thingy I am on at the bank, I get a mentor and mine is the head of our Hong Kong business. She is an amazing woman, straightforward, caring and brilliant at her job. We talked about possible career directions for me, what my aims were and the usual blurb. And then she told me that I would need to think seriously about what I was giving up with Eve before making my next move. This surprised me somewhat, surely she should be persuading me to follow the fast track and make the bank lots of money.

She has two children and so I asked her advice and how she handled it. She then, quite honestly, told me of some of the regrets she has about not being able to spend more time with her children, of not making all the school events, of them being in bed before she got home. She told me of an incident when her son, aged 10, had asked her why she was never there to teach him to bake cakes like his aunty was with his cousins. Her son is now 18 and, by her own admission, it is too late for her to get the time back now.

Her advice to me was thus: if I decide to pursue a career (and she thinks I have a very promising one at the bank, which is nice of her to say), then I need to realise what I will be giving up with Eve, accept this as the necessary compromise I will be making and make sure I will not regret it. If I do that and make an active and considered choice, and remind myself of this choice if I miss a sports day or bath time because I am travelling, then it is possible to be a working Mum.

This was possibly the single most useful advice anyone has ever given me, and has got me thinking hard about what I want my future to be.

More to follow.


Eve's first tooth has come through, the second is chasing rapidly.

I don't think I will be breast feeding for much longer.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Eve by name, Eve by nature

We started Eve on solids a couple of weeks ago. She was munching through more milk than ever and waking up more at night so the time had come to see how she did on solids.

I will leave the precise details to the Boy, who will tell the carrot debacle yesterday far better than I ever could, however all is going well and she seems to rather like the mush that Mummy prepares for her (being of Italian stock I insist on making all her food becase it has been indoctrinated into me that the way in which one shows love for your family is by feeding them).

Of course, being my daughter, Eve is a bit picky and while she will happily eat most things, she has definite preferences. She is not too keen on banana (and it does funny things to her insides so I can quite understand why), pear and papaya are nice but not favourites. The favourite by far is apple. She managed to munch her way today through all of the apple mush I had made for her (which was made up of 3 baked apples). At one point she tried to climb into the bowl and shouted at me when I stopped her and insisted that nice girls used their spoon. Apple is the only reliable hit of everything we have tried. Which is odd, because it's a bit sour compared to the other things she has tried.

And then it dawned on me. If you give the girl a snake and a gullible man then the scene is set for one of the greatest female protagonists in history.

Good things come in threes

1. Eve is happily gobbling any food we can put before her and drinking a bit less milk as a result. No sign of improvement on sleep as yet, but we live in hope of dropping the 3am feed soon.
2. I bought a gorgeous, sexy DVF skirt today which made me look thin. Wheeeeeeee, finally.
3. I got quite tiddly tonight on 2 glasses of wine at a work meeting. It makes me a cheap date but also very happy

All in all, a very good Friday.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

More celeb bollocks

Angelina Jolie quoted on the BBC website:

"Movie star Angelina Jolie says being pregnant is "great for the sex life". The actress, who is expecting twins with partner Brad Pitt, says the couple have become "a lot more creative" in bed since she gained her baby bump. "As a woman you're just so round and full," she told Entertainment Weekly magazine in the US, "so you have fun"."

As a woman you feel fat, tired, have heartburn, boobs the size of mountains and about as hard. Let's not forget needing the loo every 30 minutes and being unable to get out of a chair. I admit the lure of Brad Pitt may mean you make a bit more effort (like put on nice knickers) but in the last month of my pregnancy you could have had Sean Bean, Daniel Craig and Christian Bale tied up, naked, with a nice bottle of champagne on ice and I still would have preferred sleep and a bit of a cuddle.

I am filing this one along with the "my body miraculously just sprung back into shape after I had my baby" rubbish.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Which bit of that did you not understand?

A few years ago, when I was annoyed at the fact that the Boy never seemed to hear what I said - or at least never took it in - I spent one weekend counting how many times the Boy actually heard what I said and how many times I had to repeat myself. After this small experiment, I found that he only hears about two thirds of what I say. After speaking to a number of other married friends, the ability to phase out the voice frequency of ones wife is quite a common skill.

Now we have Eve, and I am primary caregiver and spend more time with her, I find myself often telling the Boy crucial things about Eve (he would argue that I nag). The same two thirds principle applies, so often something quite crucial about Eve gets missed. It annoys me that I have to say things over and over again.

However, today Eve decided, in a more effective fashion than I ever could, to ensure that the Boy always listens to me regarding Eve in the future. We were playing at home and the Boy decided that he would "fly" Eve (lie on his back and hold her in the air - it makes her giggle lots). I advised, quite firmly, that as Eve had just fed he shouldn't play flying because it presses on her tummy and she would be sick.

The Boy looked at Eve with a look on his face that said "silly Mummy, she just wants to ruin our fun". He lay back, picked up Eve, where upon she smiled and threw up on his face (and in his ears) making it look like he had just been hit in the face with a large custard pie.

As he wiped the baby vomit of himself I found myself, with some satisfaction, uttering "I told you so".

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Rice facial

We thought we would try Eve on some semi-solids today, as a precursor to weaning. So I mixed some leftover breast milk with baby rice to make a watery, wallpaper paste-like, goo for Eve. We popped her into her high chair at breakfast with us.

The first issue was with the high chair. Eve chose to loll backwards, as if having a TV dinner in front of a rather good film, instead of sitting upright. The Boy was tasked with coming up with a way that we could make her sit up straight, so wedged a towel behind her, but then had to strap her in, making Eve look a little like a fighter pilot about to head off on a new mission. However, the stage (or rather, the tray) was set.

First she tried to eat the bowl itself. However, a cunning inventor had clearly come to the realisation that babies put everything into their mouths and put a sucker adapter on the bottom so it could stick in place on her tray. Aha, foiled that one. Then she decided that the spoon was ideal to chew to ease her teething, cue a bit of a battle with Mummy to extract the spoon long enough to put some food on it.

Finally, the spoon, with baby goo on it, made it's way into Eve's mouth. Where she promptly started to chew the spoon again and all of the baby rice went down her front. We tried again, same effect. On the third attempt Eve, clearly entranced with this new fun game, grabbed the spoon and tipped the whole lot over her face. And smiled.

By now the bib, and Eve's top were soaked, she had baby rice all over her face, I had it all over me, and the Boy was laughing from behind the video camera at both of us.

And then, because she is our daughter, she figured out that this was food and when I next put the spoon near her mouth she grabbed it and sucked off all the baby rice. And kept sucking, getting more and more annoyed that unlike my boob, it didn't automatically replenish with food once she swallowed. She got a bit angry, shouted at the spoon and me, and after another small battle gave me the spoon long enough to get more baby rice into it before she grabbed it and sucked at it again. This scenario was repeated a few more times until she finally figured out that she had to wait a bit between mouthfuls so alternated between sucking the spoon and sucking her thumb (which was covered in baby rice so another food source by this point).

I don't think much went in, but she seemed to take to food like, well, I do. A success I think!

Come on baby, do the locomotion

Having just managed to return to near normality after the disruption of Eve's cold, and got back to only one feed at night, along comes another challenge to screw it all up.

Eve has been rolling around for a few weeks now. It is the only way she has of moving, and she happily trundles her way across the floor to grab a toy, or chase the light, or the cat (who still moves much faster, but is looking increasingly worried about the latest turn of events). However, it takes a lot of effort on Eve's part to do this so it is usually reserved for when she really needs it.

Except now she is stronger, and rolling is easier, she has started to move at night. A lot.

Every couple of hours when she wakes from her deep sleep into a lighter one, she rolls around her cot. Last night she did a full 180 so her head was at the bottom of her cot, she rolled into the bars, onto her tummy, over her toys. She woke me up at one point shouting because she had one arm and one leg through the bars of her cot, flailing, and was banging her head against them trying to get free. Her favourite seems to be ending up on her front, wedged next to the bars, hanging onto one bar with her hand and wailing at me to help her move - she looks altogether like someone trying to escape the Scrubs.

Sadly she reliably wakes herself up doing this every couple of hours, when Yummy Mummy, bleary eyed, wanders over to the cot, moves her into the middle, and shoves her thumb in her mouth.

I know I should rejoice in her new found skills, but I am not sure whether I preferred it when she wanted food, at least that had a purpose.

How life has changed

Yesterday was the dragon boat festival, marked by lots of dragon boat races in Hong Kong and parties that go with them. The biggest (races and party) is at a normally quiet beach on the South side of the Island. Pretty much every year since I came to HK I have gone. Boats pumping out loud music line the side of the course, races run every few minutes, and lots of fun and partying is had. For the last 2 years I have been part of a fantastic team of men and women who, traditionally, do rather well at the races and have a good time to boot. This year I took the decision that with Eve and rowing and being back at work I didn't want to spend the time training again at weekends so opted out.

Instead, I spent yesterday pottering around Central and buying some baby rice, having lunch in a nice cafe with the Boy and Eve, then I spent 2 hours in the afternoon lying with Eve on her play mat mucking around, making her giggle, and copying her movements - to her obvious delight. In the evening we had a lovely bathtime, with Eve jumping and splashing and shouting with glee at the top of her voice.

This morning, I find out that the men's team actually won the event (well done boys), and I admit I felt a tinge of regret at not having been there to celebrate with the teams, many of whom I consider very close friends. However, I think that despite not having a hangover, and not dancing in the streets or on the boat, and not soaking in the intoxicating team spirit that exists, I think I may have enjoyed my day yesterday just a little bit more than I would have done at the races.

How ones life changes.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

What kind of breast would madam like today?

Eve has just turned 5 months and we are rolling rapidly towards 6 months when things all change. At 6 months babies have another large growth spurt, get more mobile and (if you listen to the WHO) move onto solids.

I have found over the past 5 months that my attitude to breastfeeding changes all the time. There are times, usually when I am trying to fit in expressing milk at work around all the other things I have to do, that I wish I had never bothered. There are times that I panic that my milk is running out (usually by Friday I am lucky if I manage to express a full feed full during the day), and look up at the unopened tin of formula in our kitchen expecting to have to open it. Now I am back at work I get increasingly annoyed that I always have to wake up to feed Eve overnight and still go to work the next day while the Boy sleeps through. So, there are lots of reasons why breastfeeding really pisses me off.

However, on balance I am so glad I did it. Aside from all the health benefits to Eve, it is just usually much easier. No need to take bottles or worry about heating or whether we have enough formula when, as she has a lot over the last week, been eating variable amounts and at odd times because she is ill. If she is with me and we get stuck in traffic or something takes a bit longer than we thought, we have no issues because I can, and have, feed her in the car if I need to (although not while it was moving!). Even at night, Eve wakes up for her feed, I attach her while lying down and fall asleep until she finishes - all in the dark. No faffing with heating or mixing.

But, most of all, I have loved the closeness that it brings. She now has a habit of gazing up at me while she munches away and it is a lovely time, just the two of us. I also find it amazing, and something of which I am increasingly proud, that this fat little happy bundle has been entirely sustained by me. She has, quite literally, got her fat thighs from me.

So, it is with some regret that I realise that in one months time I will feed her less, that over the next few months she will move more and more onto solids. While many people I know have breastfed well into the first year, I have a bit of a personal icky thing about breastfeeding someone who is mobile, so I suspect I will stop in a couple of months. I had thought, many months back when breastfeeding was so time consuming and hard, that this would make me happy. I can, after all, start running again. But, surprisingly, it makes me very sad that I will stop.

Although the mummy daughter time will be replaced with me clearing up whatever food she throws on the floor, at the cat, and in my face.

Lest you forget

For the last week Eve has been waking up 3 or 4 times a night. This has nearly killed me and the Boy (mainly me, as the Boy has managed to develop the ability to sleep through quite a lot), and has led to such delightful comments from Yummy Mummy as "If I smothered her do you think that would help her sleep?" (do not panic, it was meant flippantly) and "You are not hungry, you are just tired and pissed off so suck your thumb and go back to sleep darling".

It has also had the effect of reminding me just how much hard work a newborn is. How on earth did we do it for so long? I have uttered the words "never again" quite a lot in the past few days.

Of course now Eve is better, as delightful as ever, feeding normally again and we have just come back from a lovely afternoon shopping with her. As is the way with motherhood, I have almost forgotten the past week.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Cough, splutter, snort

Having a little baby is hard work, having a little baby with a stinking cold who can't sleep is awful. Apparently children get, on average, 8 colds a year. Oh goody.

And to add insult to injury, I have caught it now too.