Friday, 22 January 2010

Sleep Talking

12:40 AM. Alex snuffles himself awake. As per the system, I drag myself out of bed to try and get him back to sleep. Alex is not for playing ball. Eventually I pick him up to see if that helps. Apparently not. I give in (it's been 15 minutes now) and go to wake Nic so she can feed him.

"Sorry, love, but he's not going back to sleep."

"Okay. I'll just be... Zzzzzzzzzzzzz-snark-zzzzzzzzzzzzz."

Right, guess it's just you and me then, Alex.

P.S. He did actually drop off again pretty soon. He wanted to be rocked side to side with a bit of up and down in the mix. Demanding and specific. Just what you want in the middle of the night!

Wednesday, 20 January 2010


One of the side effects of our great Christmas marathon is that Alex's previously brilliant sleep pattern (one awakening per night) has got all shot to hell.  First, it was sleeping in funny places.  Then it was the cold.  Then being back home.  Then being away again (Aberdeen, this last weekend).  He's now far more disturbed over night than he used to be.  It's pretty demoralising.

It's also hard to know how to deal with it.  The difference between "I've awoken and am a touch confused and grumpy, but will settle on my own/with a quick shhhh" and "I am hungry and wet" is impossible to spot at 2am.

While Alex was sleeping well, our overnight system was that Nic would feed and change him to let me get a reasonable night's sleep for work the next day.  Because we're creatures of habit, and also because I'm a lazy git, we didn't change this routine when Alex started waking more.  Suffice to say the toll taken on Nicola was pretty high.

We've not got a new system in place.  By default, before 3am if Alex wakes, I go and try to get him back to sleep with the head-pin shush.  This is usually, but not always, successful.  (The last two nights he's woken at 12am and refused to go back to sleep.)  The first awakening after 3am, Nic does the feed and change routine.  So far, it's been pretty successful.  I'm far better than Nic at getting back to sleep, so it doesn't matter too much if he wakes me up three times in an hour and half.  (Like last night.)  Plus, we each have a half of the night where we don't need to respond unless called in by the other.  (This happens more to Nic than me, it must be admitted.)

Hopefully Alex will, over time, get back to only waking up once, then maybe not at all, during the night.  Of course, that might be a while away yet!

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Baby Talk

Babies have their own language.  I'm sure that if you could understand gurgles, it would unlock the secrets of the universe.  I can't though.  I can translate the language of parents though.

Stinker: (n) A poo.  Traditionally "laid", as in "Alex has laid a stinker."
Pung: (v) To pop off the nipple, often with enough force to wake yourself up.  Note that pung is past, present and future tense.  "If you keep wriggling like that, you'll pung."
Do The Prawn: (phrase) To curve one's body backwards into a ")" shape.  The allusion is to a live, swimming prawn, not a dead cooked one.
Shake The Room: (phrase) Being lifted by the armpits and swung about, so that you rotate around a fixed point, roughly where your heart is, legs swinging out to the sides.  Usually part of a larger dance routine, such as "Boom, boom, shake, shake the room."
Small Fry, Smallest of Fries, McSmall, Snugget, Chops, Choplet, Honeychops, Pumpkin, Parsleychops, Honeybuns, Smudge, His Smallness, Little Man, Big Heefter, Chumkins, Poplet, Popples, Mankins, Manchops, Mr Man, Mouse, Mr Mouse, Mouseman, Lovelykins, Noshlet, Nosher: (n) Alex.
Bottom Water: (n) The water used to clean off a stinker (q.v.).  Bottom water is a much prized delicacy of large black cats, and so must be defended vigorously. "Ringo!  Get your face out of the bottom water!  Filthy Animal!"
Nyapping: (v) The noise made just before getting fully angry about something.  "I think I just heard Alex nyapping."
Get Your Rage On: (phrase) A full blown, red faced, inconsolable howler.  The capitals must be pronouced, as in "Oh no, Alex has Got His Rage On."
Little Lip: (n) The stage between nyapping (q.v.) and Getting Your Rage On (q.v.).  The little lip is a sure sign of imminent rage.
Sleepy-time: (n) Optimistically, 8pm.  Realistically, 9:30pm.
Head Pin Shush: (v) Pressing your head against Alex's head, trapping him in place, whilst shushing.  "I've fed him four times already tonight, can you get off your lazy arse and head pin shush him, please?"
Hairdryering: (v) What you resort to after sleepy-time (q.v.) and the head pin shush (q.v.) have failed.
Om-nom-nom: (n) The noise made when eating Alex's hands.
Noshing: (v) Breastfeeding.
Fighting It: (v) Struggling against something you really want.  "Alex is fighting the snooze." "If you keep fighting it, you won't get any nosh."
Cheesers, Big Cheeses, Total Cheesers: (n) Grinning like a loon.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Pattern Recognition

Mr Toucan (a.k.a. Timmy, a.k.a. Monsieur le Toucan, a.k.a. Signor el Toucan when we want to work on Alex's Spanish) is no doubt the product of thousands of pounds worth of design.  He has baby friendly chewable bits.  You can grab his tail.  He makes an interesting noise.

He is also significantly less interesting than a cushion.

It goes like this:

"A toucan eh?  And one that's making an interesting noise?  Hmm, better check this out.  Wonder what he tastes like? let's just...  Whoa!  A cushion.  Sorry, toucan, but I've got some serious staring to do here!  Man, look at that stitching!"

Obviously it's not the stitching that Alex is really interested in.  Nor is it the cushion's inherent cushiony-ness.  It's the stripes.

Alex is a sucker for contrasting patterns.  (All babies are, apparently.)  He'll regularly become fascinated with the most random things, just because they've got patterns on them.  Nic's shirts are a common source of entertainment.  The aforementioned cushion gets a lot of interest as well.  His stripy mittens are endlessly amusing, especially as they move around in response to his will.

The baby merchandising world has worked this out as well, and Alex currently has three books consisting of nothing but contrasting patterns.  (Stars and Hearts, Spots and Dots and Snowflakes.)  They're from the local library, which turns out to have a chewable books section specifically for babies.  Alex loves them, although he finds it frustrating that he can't grab hold of the patterns.  (He doesn't seem to have grasped the concept of 2D yet.)  From a parental perspective though, they're marginally less stimulating than watching paint dry.  At least with the paint there's always the chance of a drip.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Christmas Time, Mistletoe and Whine

Merry Christmas, and a happy New Year!  It's been a long, busy couple of weeks, so it's something of a bumper post today.  (And if you're wondering, we shortened the crown with sticky tape.)


Do you remember Christmas as a kid?  Wild with excitement and happiness, rushing downstairs to marvel at the visitation of Santa?  Never quite the same as an adult, is it?  I gather that once your own kids are old enough to enjoy it, Christmas becomes magical again.  Four months isn't old enough for that though.  For Alex, Christmas was just prolonged road trip with more people than normal.

Travelling with a baby is at once both wonderful and highly stressful.  It's great getting out and about and seeing friends and relatives.  It's also nice having other people cook for you, or be available to take Alex for a few minutes so you can have a cheeky nap.  But it's also a touch disturbing.  You're living out of suitcases a lot of the time and packing the car requires a degree in non-Euclidean geometry, especially at Christmas when presents are in evidence.  Plus Alex ends up pretty much always on show.  This isn't really a problem, but it gets tiring.  Sometimes you all just need to sit down quietly as a family and do nothing.  That's hard to do while visiting relatives.  Eventually, someone throws a wobbly.

This time around, it was Alex who Got His Rage On(tm).  He saved it until we were up with my Dad at Mar Lodge on the 30th.  We left him with his Grandads/Great Uncles/2nd Cousins while we aimed for a nap.  Ten minutes later, he was howling, totally inconsolable.  When Alex Gets His Rage On(tm), there are a few obvious things to check.  Hungry?  Wet nappy?  Too hot?  Too cold?  Tired?  Bored?  This was none of the above.  As far as we can tell, he had simply had enough of all these other people.  He just wanted a quiet time with his parents.  In the end, the only thing that calmed him down was skin to skin contact with Nic.  (Strip baby, strip mum, clamp baby to breast, for those yet to experience the joys of the NCT.)  We spent a couple of hours quiet time with him after that.  Gave him a bath, cuddles etc.  Hardly the restful afternoon Nic and I had planned, but at least he calmed down.

My Baby and Other Animals

It's always interesting watching other people with Alex and the large numbers of relatives visited throughout the festive period provided some fascinating opportunities.  It's particularly noticeable that some people are just good with babies, plain and simple.  For some it's probably experience (my Uncle Tim, father of five).  For others, it just seems to come naturally, lucky buggers.  (My cousin Matthew, youngest of Tim's five and utterly inexperienced in matters baby, is more confident than some new fathers I've met.  He's good with four year olds too.)

I also realised just how much Nic and I have improved in our confidence in dealing with Alex.  He's that bit bigger and stronger, which actually makes life easier as he's more able to support his own limbs and head.  But we're also much more confident it carting him about, propping him up, chucking him about and so on.  Two months ago, I doubt we'd have considered taking him into the bath with us.  Now, it's a special treat for everyone.  Alex loves splashing about in the grown up bath, and watching him lark about is a joy, pure and simple.

We're also a much better team than we once were.  Much of tasks of dealing with Alex don't need to be articulated any more.  If we're doing a joint changing session, we know which of us is on what duty.  Bath times are a well oiled machine.  We can get him fully dressed in seconds flat, without getting in each other's way.  You don't realise how competent you've become until you try and do it with someone else as your wingman.  Suddenly socks aren't being put on at the right time, or they've not got the nappy ready.  It's nice that they help, but you can't avoid thinking that it might have been quicker if they'd just left you alone.

Suck It

One week is a long time in politics.  Two weeks is an age in infant development.  When we left, Alex was just about showing some interest his toy bar on his bouncy seat.  Over the next two weeks, he started sucking his thumb, rolling over (front to back only so far), has worked out how to make his toy bar play tunes and developed an affection for a specific toy (Monsieur Le Toucan, a.k.a. Timmy).  It's slightly strange to watch.  I kind of feel it should take longer somehow.  It was only four months ago that he was just about able to cry, sleep and excrete.  How can he have a favourite toy already?

He's also had his first illness.  A foul cold, initially contracted by Nic, then me and Alex.  (Poor Nic was ill for the last three days of holiday and recovered, sort of, just in time to have to look after me and Alex!)  He was pretty good with it, to be honest.  (Better than me, anyway.)  It's still hard though.  There's just a tiny loss of innocence that seems to be associated with it.  I swear he would look at me, snuffling, with an expression on his face that said "why aren't you fixing this?"  (In reality, I'm sure it was probably "hmm, I might have a poo later", but that doesn't stop me from thinking it.)  In the grand scheme of things, however, a cold isn't bad.  Heck, he's recovered from it far quicker than me, and is happily gurgling away again.

Happy 2010.