Friday, 16 April 2010

Your Nose!

(A link to the song behind the title. And this is the album and book it's from.)

Alex was splashing around in the bath last night (his new favourite game is to try and burst all the bubbles from his bubble bath), grinning away from himself.  Then, just for a moment, he looked up at me.  His smile widened, his eyes crinkled and his nose wrinkled up in an expression of shared joy.  Then he went back to splashing around.  This happens every now and again.  Alex is having fun, and he wants to share it with you.  It's only for a moment, but that ephemeralness is what makes it such a beautiful moment.

If there is anything better in the world, I have yet to experience it.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

In Which the Author Witters at Length on a Variety of Subjects in Such a Fashion That it Cannot be Pithily Summerised in a Pop Culture Reference

OK, so apart from two silly posts about ducks and slang, it's been quiet around here of late.  There's a good reason for that.  It's called sleep deprivation.  (Having a child makes you understand how keeping someone awake can be a form of torture.  Child rearing should be governed by the Geneva Convention!)

You might remember me talking about this before.  Around Christmas time Alex's sleep patterns got very disturbed.  Nic and I tried a few things, some of which were more successful than others.  (Solids helped, the mobile helped, my getting up and trying to get him to sleep didn't help so much.)  Each thing that helped bought us a brief respite.  We'd go from three wake ups to two (or sometimes even one).  But Alex would gradually creep back into the habit of waking and demanding fed more and more often.  By two weeks ago he was waking five times a night.  (That's as much as when he was first born!)

Obviously this was incredibly tiring.  It was bad enough for me, (the loss of restfulness from just being awoken is remarkable), but was unbearable for Nic.  She was lucky to get six hours sleep in four broken blocks.  We were quickly approaching the living dead.  (Hell, the living dead were probably a lot more perky than us.)  Something had to be done, and it had to work.

The something we went for was controlled crying.  For those who don't know, this is leaving your child to cry at night, while checking in on them at regular intervals.  You don't pick them up.  You don't feed them.  You basically don't do anything that can be construed as rewarding crying.  You just sit there and listen to them suffer.  (I use "suffer" quite intentionally.  That's what it feels like you're doing.)

So on the 4th of April we moved Alex's cot out of our room and into the nursery.  In and of itself that was a big step.  We've always been able to hear him snuffling and huffing as he sleeps before.  Now all we would hear would be what the baby monitor transmitted to us.  (Any noise above a whisper, it transpires, including, but not limited to: dog's barking outside, Ringo meowing in the hall and whatever upstairs are watching on TV. ("Bring on the wall!"))  Still, it was going to be easier this way than trying to listen to him cry in our room.

I took the first shift.  We were following the Supernanny approach, which is: visit once when they cry, leave them for a minute.  Visit again, leave for two minutes.  Visit again, leave for five minutes.  Visit again, leave for ten minutes etc, until they stop crying of their own accord.  At ten PM Alex woke up.  I went and shushed him and then went back to the sitting room.  I was playing the Xbox in an effort to distract myself from the crying coming over the monitor.  (It worked pretty well.  The monitor distorts the sound sufficiently that it doesn't quite sound like Alex, avoiding the emotional gut punch you normally get with your baby crying.)  After about 45 minutes of crying, Alex went back to sleep.

The next wake up was at midnight.  This time it took him only 20 minutes to get back to sleep.  The 1:30AM wake up was only for five minutes.  The two Nicola dealt with in the remainder of the night were less than five minutes of crying.

The next night we put Alex down and crossed our fingers.  (Or rather Nicola did.  I was out at friends.)

He didn't wake up once.

In fact, so soundly asleep was he we had to go and check he wasn't dead!  (He wasn't, obviously.  But he had managed to turn 90 degrees in the cot and was now sleeping crushed up against the headboard totally uncovered.)  The next night, and the night after were the same.  Bliss!

We've now got to the stage where we expect a full night's sleep.  The last couple of nights he's woken up at 5:15AM or so.  This might be due to our timing of bed on Sunday (it was very early).  We're trying to break this habit before it gets started.  (He doesn't get picked up at 5:15AM, just like he didn't get picked up at 10PM.)

Nic and I are gradually catching up on lost sleep.  I wouldn't say we're quite there yet, but we're at least back in the land of the living.  Long may it continue!

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Ducks in a Row

Alex has been slowly collecting a veritable flotilla of rubber ducks for bath time fun.  They're a varied breed, the rubber duck.  So far we have (from big to small):

  • Big Duck
  • Mr Duck
  • O2 Duck
  • RNLI Duck
Big Duck

Largest of all the ducks, Big Duck was a present from Grannie and Grandad Sinclair.  Big Duck is a plain yellow duck, with a tuft of hair and a squeaker.  The squeaker is something of  a design flaw though, as he inevitably gets squeaked under water, resulting in him filling up with water.  As a consequence  Big Duck tends to float on his side.

Alex has recently got very into Big Duck, to the extent of ignoring whatever duck is in the bath and staring at Big Duck until he is brought into play.

Mr Duck

Original, and dare I say, best.  Mr Duck is the most simplistic of all the ducks, having no tuft of hair or other extraneous features. Mr Duck is the only duck not to be moulded in mid-quack.  Perhaps as a result he is the only duck without a squeaker.  This means he's also the only duck that doesn't have a hole in him and thus the only duck to float reliably upright.  If he has a weakness it is his tendency to grow mould on his arse.  (Mr Duck is the duck in the picture.)

O2 Duck

A gift from Grandpa Grant, O2 duck was not technically for sale from the O2 shop.   As a result he was not technically bought.  Thankfully Alex is below the age of legal responsibility and so is unlikely to be charged with handling stolen goods.  O2 duck has a touch of red blush to his colouring, a tuft of hair and a squeaker.  He floats on his side too.


Another gift from the Sinclairs, RNLI Duck is the smallest duck, but is also the most elaborate. As well as a squeaker, tuft of hair and red blush, RNLI Duck sports a life jacket.  (Despite the legendary floatation qualities of rubber ducks.)  Ironically, RNLI Duck tends to float face down in the drink.