July 23, 2012

settling down

We are now in week 2 of being five, and things are settling down considerably.

Hugo is lovely.  We've had an exhausting first week and some days when he's been quite the cranky pants, but he is still lovely.  In fact, the word I'd really use to describe it would be magic.  It's been such hard work getting to grips with breastfeeding and lack of sleep, but every time I look at him, I melt a little, and when his eyes lock with mine... I can't begin to tell you how that makes me feel.  He likes to sleep and is a pretty ferocious feeder, but he gives me a bit of time between feeds.  He likes to be snug, held and cuddled but is getting better at spending a few moments in his moses basket while I prepare meals or get things organised for bath time.  That said, even when he's happy to be lying on his own, I choose to hold him, because there's nothing like that feeling of holding your own baby, barely a week old.  He locks his gaze with mine so that I can only assume he's trying to tell me something with those big, big eyes that might be blue like his brothers' or brown like his mum's, either way, he's a fuzzy little peach.

It's hard though.  I wish I could make everyone happy all the time, the boys are so good but I can't do as much with them as I would like, and the tiredness, it's a fog that makes it all that much tougher.  And if you are a mother, you might remember what it's like when you are just dozing off and then you hear the static of the baby monitor and you know you have to get up for an hour long breastfeed.  Having Will home these first couple of weeks is wonderful and in many ways it's him that's bearing the brunt of the hard work - looking after Max and Ollie.  We were saying only this morning that we don't feel much busier than we were a couple of weeks ago, and in fact Hugo makes me sit down for a little while each day, either when I'm feeding him or just stealing a cuddle.  But we are feeling like we need to be that much more organised.  What helps is that the boys are already learning to be a little more independent and they don't seem to object when the reason we can't do something is because we need to help Hugo.  At least, not yet.

But the good feelings have taken me by surprise somewhat.  It's as though we are that much more relaxed with it being our third time venturing into baby raising and so we are enjoying it more and savouring as much as we can.  The first was stressful for me because I had no idea whatsoever, the second was good because Max was such a chilled out baby but we really struggled with Ollie being a challenging toddler, but this time... even though Max is now that toddler, and I'm still not entirely sure what I'm doing (I've never had three kids before), I know Max will get over his tantrums, I know I will turn a corner with the breastfeeding and soon enough these new days will be over.  I don't know what the future holds, but I do know that we need to enjoy every moment we can.

July 19, 2012

the arrival

At about 4.30am on 14 July 2012, Will turned and asked me if I was alright.  2 hours 45 minutes later, our son Hugo William Downes was born.  Neighbours were called to look after Ollie and Max, bag was already packed and in the car, we drove in the dark to the hospital, cursing over every speed bump that seemed to bring on a contraction.  And it was an intense labour with contractions every 5-7 minutes from the get go, which meant I went from half way there to ready to push in about 30 minutes after arriving at the hospital.  The pain was unbearable and every contraction made me feel like I couldn't do it.  I remember feeling out of control, pleading for someone to help me, trying to push and feeling helpless, the birthing team telling me I had to get the baby out, out, out now... and then when it felt like it couldn't be any more unbearable, he was born.

The euphoria of giving birth is really something spectacular.  I had previously only ever had labour induced and was able to manage the pain of contraction upon contraction with an epidural.  This time, we decided to wait, and while we'd booked to be induced this week (at a week over), we were hoping labour would happen in its own time, and I would be able to experience that feeling of recognising the baby was coming, and the build up of labour, rather than the intense experience of being subject to the artificial hormones and pain relief.  I got my wish.  I can't say I was altogether happy about it at about 7am on Saturday morning, but to have got through the experience the way we did, makes me feel like I have lived an amazing experience.

I came home the next day, and since then, it's been about the little milestones, first bath, first feeds, first poos (mine, not his)... and we are getting to know little Hugo, who is (in my husband's words) very cute and very loud.  He is also as soft as soft can be, so soft he hardly feels like he is there when you stroke his cheeks and that brand new hair on his head.  Sometimes (like the moment he was born) I see Max in his face, and other times, Ollie.

Ollie and Max?  I think it's going to take some time for the little men to come to terms with what's going on.  They have been incredibly sweet, but I think it's hard for them to see me absorbed with this new baby, and they are struggling somewhat with Hugo's intense crying noise, which we hear a lot because he doesn't like to sleep unless it's on me or Will and doesn't like to be left alone.  It is again somewhat overwhelming, this feeling of surging love for all three of our children, even if it is interspersed with complete exasperation at not being able to meet everyone's demands all at once.  Ollie and Max are still so young, at 3y8m and 2y3m asking them to understand the impact of a newborn on our lives is so far beyond reasonable, I just need to remember that every time they act up or don't do exactly what I need them to do.

And so, we are new parents again and every day is a new experience.  Our future has been reset again. I'm trying my best to cope with the early days of breastfeeding, postpartum recovery, lack of sleep and complete lack of the predictability and routine that I normally thrive on.  The relief of being on this side of things relatively unscathed keeps me going.  We have three sons.  We are a new family.  We are happy.  We are blessed.

July 14, 2012


Me: His eyes are?
Max: Orange!
Me: His tongue is?
Max: Black!
Me: He has purple prickles all over his?
Max: Back!
Me: Where are you meeting him?  Here by this lake, and his favourite food is?
Max: ... Ice cream!

Ollie: There's a spider outside and he's trying to get into our house!  Let's kill it!
Me:  No!  Why would we do that?  He's just minding his own business, building his web.
Ollie:  Actually mum, we call it a webSITE.

Me: Ollie, it looks as though you need to do a wee.  Do you?
Ollie: No
Me: You are squirming a lot. Are you sure you don't need to go?
Ollie:  I don't need to go to the toilet
Me:  Ollie, are your underpants wet or dry?
Ollie: (pauses...) Mum.  I am going to the toilet and I am NOT going to answer that question.

Ollie:  I don't know where I've put it, mum.
Me:  Me neither.
Ollie:  It must be with all my other curiosities.

Ollie: (to Max, who was this close to being put in the naughty corner) Max, do you want to go to jail?  Or something similar?

Me:  Do you know Ollie's full name is Oliver James?
Max: (who's favourite engine is James) No
Me:  And your full name is Max Henry
Max: NO!
Me:  Well, what's your name?
Max: James
Me:  It's Max Henry
Max: No! James!
(a small tantrum ensued)

Ollie:  You know mum, your mouth is going to have to get REALLY BIG for the baby to come out of it.

(Isn't it just.)

July 12, 2012

fry me some chicken

Seriously, this was good.  As close to that famous takeaway chicken as you can get without the grease, questionable chicken, excessive salt and the MSG.  In other words, very flavoursome and dare I say it, wholesome.

I mixed a couple of cups of flour with the following (recipe adapted from here):

1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp ground, dried sage
2 tsp celery salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp dried onion flakes
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp ground white pepper

I generously dredged my overnight-buttermilk-soaked free-range, organic chicken pieces in the seasoning and fried for about 12 minutes on each side before finishing in the oven for a few minutes.  Served with coleslaw made from 1/4 cabbage, half a red onion, a couple of carrots, a fennel bulb, plenty of fresh parsley, mint, dill and a dressing of natural yoghurt, a little mayo, lemon juice, smooth dijon mustard, salt and pepper.  A triumph.  The only thing missing was a cold beer.  Not long now.

July 4, 2012

food and feelings

I think I'm done nesting.  Not that nesting-me is much different to normal-me; I do love to have a clean, organised house, and most of the time we do tend to achieve that, with a little compromise thrown in for our current 'young family' status.  But I think I'm done washing teeny tiny baby clothes, working out how my new (second hand) breast pump works, finding the steriliser, descaling it, cleaning windows/skirting boards and stocking up the freezer with nutritious and delicious meals.

Since going on maternity leave about 10 days ago (baby is due this weekend), one of our biggest achievements has been the amount of cooking we've done.  In our freezer is harira, home-made-from-scratch-including-the-pasta-lasagnes, eggplant parmigianas, pork dumplings, boeuf bourguignon, stock for soups, and a few things like sausages from our favourite butcher to throw in the oven with some jacket potatoes and eat with a nice salad.  Oh and a New York Cheesecake for good measure, which wasn't so much for the freezer as it was for the baby (that's right).  You see, much as I love to cook, it really can be a chore when you are looking after three children.  I imagine.  At least everyone keeps telling me so.  They also keep telling me how I will have my work cut out for me.  How busy I will be.  How tough it will be to have 3 kids under the age of 4.  How brave I am.  And then there are the comments about how low I'm 'carrying'.  How small I am for full term.  How big I am.  How I must be due any day now.  Yes, all true.  Thank you people, I appreciate the observations, but it's rather like telling me all I want is a bucket of fried chicken and a beer.  I am well aware of it already.

So, with the freezer full, the bathrooms sparkling, the boys fully taken with using the baby bath as a car in the shower and probably won't want to give it up, I think we are ready.  At least in the practical sense.  Emotionally, who knows?  And who knows what this baby will be like.  Will he/she be happy?  Be a good feeder?  Be healthy?  Be easy going?   And then there's the feelings... We couldn't have even guessed how having Ollie and then Max in our lives would make us feel, so for now, the jury's out.  Whatever happens,  God willing there will be health and contentment.

July 1, 2012

the waiting game

It's been a long time since I updated the blog.  I could try to summarise the events of the last few weeks but not everything has been that important, or that memorable.  The main thing is that we have been waiting for our baby to arrive, I've now finished work (finally) and I'm feeling... pretty good about myself, my family and my health.  Which is quite something as we've all been quite poorly for some weeks now and only in the last week or so have we come out of this winter fug of illness which lasted around 4-5 weeks.

The boys are wonderful.  Max is talking lots now, although not as articulately as I recall Ollie doing so at the same age.  He loves to sing, or rather make us sing for him.  He's fully ensconced in the 'terrible twos' and is going through (what I hope is) a phase of taking what he wants when he wants it, much to the upset of his brother, and he's becoming very apt at throwing a tantrum at the drop of a hat.  Ollie is starting to do some amazing things.  Like writing his name.  Telling the time (well ok, he can't quite tell the time but he is very keen to tell us what the hands on the clock are doing).  Drawing shapes, trucks, people... and his conversation - wow.  His energy can be difficult to manage, he loves to play with sticks, to shout, to make ridiculous noises and to tear around the house at full speed.  They both do.  They are boys; they will do that.

And then there's Will, who quite aptly described himself as my slave yesterday.  He's been my energy while I have been ailing, and then growing this baby, feeling low and then good again.  He runs around our house, keeping it organised, our boys entertained and me with ice-cream, all whilst working at the job he continues to love.  We celebrated 6 years of marriage a week ago, a milestone that came and went quietly but not without the recognition it deserved and then a belated lunch at a local French restaurant which was really quite lovely, and somewhat of a surprise that it was as good as it was.

So now, with a week to go until our due date, we play the waiting game and I'll try to control this obsession with Instagram.  I will rest while the kids are at kindy and when they are not, I will continue to spend time with them the best I can, with the energy  I have before life changes again for us all.  They are as excited as we are and as loving as they can possibly be towards this belly in which I carry this life.  Maybe the next time I write, it will be with news of how they (and we) are coping with the new addition to our family. Maybe.
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