Category Archives: Baby

Off the Charts

Oh hey.

Remember when I said, weeks ago, that my midwife measured this baby on the 10th percentile for size?

And remember when she said that if he didn’t grow, I might need to go in for a growth scan to monitor how things were progressing?

Yeah.  Remember that?

Somehow I don’t think I’m going to need that growth scan….

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…..unless they do it because they are afraid your stomach is going to EXPLODE because of the amount of baby you’re carrying.

Can you make sense of that projection?  Can you?!  Because my eyes can, but my head can’t.  This kid is LITERALLY off the chart.

Can someone please remind me of how I said I don’t put much stock in these fundal height measurements?  Because right now my mind is going to interesting places – bad places – places that fear the headline, “Woman in Britain gives birth to 20lb baby” with a picture of me craddling my toddler-sized newborn.

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25 Weeks 6 Days

Today I am 25 weeks and 6 days pregnant.

A strange milestone to point out, admittedly – not a round number – not even the milestone of the 3rd trimester.  My family will know this number.   They will remember it.   For my sister and brother-in-law those numbers will conjure intense memories of fear and hope because on January 1st at 25 weeks and 6 days pregnant, my niece and nephew were born.  Unbelievably small.  Fragile.  Dependent on modern medicine for survival.  Oblivious to the road ahead.  Here.  Living.  Loved.

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There were times in the earliest days that we feared the worst.  The absolute unthinkable.  Where we longed to wrap our arms around my family – to hold them because we could do nothing else.  My husband and I made tentative plans in case I needed to get on a plane in a moment’s notice.  It seemed we were all holding our breath.

We did make that trip home.  Weeks ago we flew across the Atlantic to meet thriving, growing, beautiful babies.  They are home from hospital.  Living.  Loved.  And so unbelievably adorable.  Am I right?  Image

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Today, I feel the movements of the baby within.  He’s a kicker in a way that his sister never was. I watch my stomach jump as he faces another bout of hiccups. I look forward to the day we go to hospital, hold him in our arms and introduce him to his big sister.   And I am so grateful that I am blessed to continue to carry him.  I don’t take these precious days and weeks for granted.

No one should because mothers all over the world, today, this very night, are facing the emotions that my sister and brother-in-law did just over 7 months ago.  Those same emotions of overwhelming fear as they hold on to hope, praying through each moment of each day because their sweet babies have arrived far too soon.

To find out more about premature birth and to support families who will so appreciate the smallest acts of care and kindness for their babies, please have a look at the links below.

If you are in the US and know a family who has had a premature baby, you can arrange for a free care package to be sent by visiting Graham’s Foundation.

If you are in the UK, you can order a free TLC package from Pop N’ Grow for families who have a premature or ill baby.  You can also order a free clothing modification pack for babies who have special medical needs.  Their clothing is adapted to fit over the wires and tubes that often come with treating these little ones.

Pop N’ Grow is aiming to raise £3000 by the end of this month.  Would you please consider donating via their site or sharing their site to raise the profile of this great organisation?

We’ve Got News, Baby!

I don’t like when bloggers post pleading for forgiveness for not posting, but tonight I am going to say that lately I recognize that I have been more lax about writing regularly on LOAEP.  There are good reasons.  Reasons like managing a team through a restructure at work and choosing to soak up my time with The Duchess in the evenings, but the reasons also involve the fact that I have been going to bed ridiculously early, feeling like I want to live with my head inside the toilet and the adjustment to all of the aches and pains that come with stretching ligaments.  Image

So please, forgive me.

I’ll do my best to keep you updated as we plan for the arrival of a Duke or Dame in November and what it’s like the second time around.

Finding the Words

I was sitting in The Duchess’s nursery watching her explore what the world had on offer.  She was hunching over a pile of her books and I said:

“Why don’t you change IgglePiggle’s nappy?”

Her eyes snapped up to meet mine and she waited to hear the instructions again.

“Find IgglePiggle and change his nappy.”

She turned around, a toddler on a mission, and marched over to her changing bag.  She searched through the disorganized contents and found her changing mat, unfolded it, and carefully placed it on the changing pad that was lying on the floor.  She turned again and scanned her soft toys for the red padded feet that match his trademark side mohawk.  Clutching IgglePiggle, she toddled over to the doubly stacked changing mats, put him down, and crouched in front of him.   I beamed and let out a loud laugh.

How is that she has become this little person that can now comprehend instructions?  When does that happen?

The Duchess is 13 months and while she is an absolute sponge when it comes to taking in the meaning of words, she hasn’t yet found the way to form many of them herself.   While she’s still waiting to find the words I decided that I’d teach her basic sign language – American sign language, not because I’m trying to revolt against the Brits, but because I don’t know basic British signs and I do know American ones from some time with mommy acquaintances years ago.

We started with “please.”  This short clip shows you the motion.

It teachers manners.  It helps her to communicate what she’d like.  A good first word to sign, yes?

And when she pulls at my trousers, stares up at me with her big brown eyes, points at a book and rubs her little chest it is undeniably adorable.

But she also learned “please” around the time I was cutting out her evening nursing session.  My supply was getting low and I knew that what I could give her wouldn’t satisfy her.  In the vein of our normal routine, I dimmed the lights and quietly read her a book, and then turned her on my lap.  But instead of offering breastmilk, I put the cow’s milk to her lips.  Her cries made the betrayal clear as did the repetitive cycle of offering her the milk, her seeming acceptance of said milk, and then the subsequent throw of the milk across the room.  Post throw, she would turn towards me and put her hand on my chest and then, choking on her sobs, would sign “please.”

Torture.

Maybe communicating is over-rated.

Should I Have Children?

I recently had a conversation with a friend who has been thinking about starting a family.  A part of her is excited and expectant about what this new stage of life would bring and another part of her….well, just isn’t so sure about it all.

“Should I really have children when the world is so screwed up?”  

Read the news, watch the headlines, listen and grieve the heart-breaking stories of friends and acquaintances and quite quickly the weight of what it is to have a child really can feel too much.  There are natural disasters and diseases.  There are accidents and those willing to harm.  There are devastating acts of rebellion and unrelenting bullying.  Is it worth it when the cost, the worry, the fear, the loss, the heartache is so high?

When we were family planning, The Native and I honestly never weighed the decision in those terms.  Our questions and fears were more centred on whether we were ready physically and emotionally to give so much to this little person and whether we wanted to “give up” the lifestyle we had built for ourselves.  A life that we really did enjoy.

It wasn’t until she was here and I felt the uninhibited love I had for her that I began to fear the reality of seeing her hurt, of feeling her reject me, and worst of all – of losing her.  Even thinking about the possibility is unbearable.

So, are we being careless by bringing children into a world that is so full of hurt, hate, disease, crime, and disaster?

Some would say yes and have made a very personal decision not to have children for this exact reason.  I do respect that.

Here is why we have had a child and may have more –

Love is an investment of the soul.

When you love ANYONE you risk having your heart broken.  Really loving someone requires you to give yourself over to them.  Love your parents, love your spouse,  or love your child – and you will experience a joy and fullness that is almost incomprehensible.  Love them and you also risk experiencing disappointment and sorrow like you have never known.  The problem with investing your heart into someone is that you cannot do it without making yourself vulnerable.  There is no way around it.

I feel that vulnerability every day.  Right now, she is full of life.  No one has bullied her, no one has hurt her feelings, no one has physically harmed her (Intentionally! Sorry about that time I elbowed  you in the nose, sweetheart.  It was the result of a series of unfortunate incidents).  Here’s the thing – that day is coming and it hurts like hell to think of it and I cannot spend too much time thinking of any of the rest without spiralling into a totally anxious state.  I could speak of hope, protection, how to raise her, and praying that the world gets better, but what it boils down to is this: having her in the world is better than having a world that her little life will never touch.

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
― C.S. LewisThe Four Loves

I would love to hear what you think:  Do you think it is unwise or too scary to bring children into the world?    If you have children – what influenced your decision?  Did you think about this before you got pregnant?

Children or Career?

I was in my final year at university and I was taking a Family Studies class.  With  my carefully crafted essay (read: I was printing it at 3.30pm, when it was due at 4pm), I made my way to the classroom on the ground floor, crossed the semi-circle of gathering students, and sat myself at a desk under the windows.  We had written our essays on traditional versus modern roles of males and females and were preparing to argue our points.  When you become a parent, who should work and how should they do it? Should anything of the traditional role be maintained?  How do we feel about fathers staying home with the children instead of mothers?

I sat listening to my cohorts and I mostly agreed.  Why should both not be able to work?  Why should both not be able to chase their ambitions?  Why should women be expected to hold their spatulas instead of their briefcases, don their aprons instead of their business suits?

But then I started to think back to discussions that had taken place over the course of the last few weeks when we had been talking about children, rebellion, and why they behave as they do.  I collected my insight and opened my mouth before my good reason had a chance to stop me:

If we say that, we cannot complain about how our children behave.  We cannot expect to chase our ambitions and dreams first and to be parents second, to work in an office in place of spending that time investing in, nurturing and caring for our children and then act surprised when they won’t listen to us.  

I held my breath as silence filled the room.  It’s not what my paper said, but common sense was screaming that we can’t blame a teacher, a peer, the neighbours or TV for the way our children behave or treat us.  We will either cling to the primary role we are given in this life to lead them or someone else will lead them instead.

Cherie Blair (Tony Blair’s wife for those of you not from the UK) was recently criticized for publicly challenging the attitude of “Yummy Mummies” who stay at home to raise children instead of working.    I haven’t read the transcript of the event, but I do know that the press will always gun for a reaction.  Having read the article, I think this provides a decent summary:

“One of the things that worries me now is you see young women who say: ‘I look at the sacrifices that women have made and I think why do I need to bother, why can’t I just marry a rich husband and retire?’ and you think how can they even imagine that is the way to fulfil yourself, how dangerous it is.  

And yes, I agree.  Partly.

I agree that if your view is to marry rich, then your view is distorted.  Businesses fail.  Economies shrink.  Companies cut back.  We know that.  Marry because you long to commit your life to loving that person, not because you think this partnership will enable you to retire and rear children.

What I don’t agree with is the implication, should you be fortunate enough to be given the option, that if you feel your greatest fulfilment will be found in being a stay-at-home-parent to your children, that this is less worthy than being professionally ambitious.  What is more ambitious than leading your children?  What is more challenging than pouring your life into another human?  It will be the most disciplined, hand-wringing, heart-warming, gut-wrenching, rewarding work you do.  And choosing to do it is hard.   I often wrestle with my professional ambitions, ambitions that would certainly require me to be full-time employed, and my personal desire to be with my daughter.  I am positive that most parents wrestle with the same and we  might come to different conclusions based on our circumstances.  But I know that I am not setting a bad example for my daughter by choosing her.   I am not just telling her that I think she is important.  It is a way for me to show her that she is and I honestly believe she will be better for it.

And here is the other thing:

Even good men could have an accident or die and you’re left holding the baby.”

It is foolish to need someone.  It requires humility.  It requires reliance.  It requires trust.  And last time I checked, people are not permanent.  They will let you down.  They will leave, in one way or another.  They will also affirm you, support you, hold you, and they will absolutely fill your life to brimming.   I could make a list of what-ifs about our lives, about what would happen to me, as a wife, mother, and expat, if my husband died and I was left with a part-time charity sector job that would barely pay the rent.  I could spend my life building my professional house, in case my husband’s crumbles, but we don’t make decisions from fear.  Neither do we make decisions assuming that each member’s self-sufficiency is at the core of what is best for our family.

Our family has holistic needs in the way that individuals have them.  If I were to argue that I needed to pursue my career ambitions to be happy, but it overlooked the needs of my family, I’m not setting an example for my child, I’m being selfish.  We make decisions that account for all of our family members in the hope that spiritually, relationally, financially, emotionally, and mentally we will be the ones to lead our children.  And respectfully, Ms Blair, that might just mean putting my ambitions to the side for now.