My worst fears were confirmed Monday 3 May when the GP gave a diagnosis of eczema. We had noticed little rashes and red patches. Then it started to get worse. I changed the washing power and started to diligently remove all the tags from his clothes. I carefully moisturised his skin. Nothing really helped.
I went to the supermarket and bought everything I could find that was soothing without being irritating. I went to see the community nurse who gave me some tips but told me to see the GP straight away. The first appointment was several days away. We had been up every hour at night for about a week and a half. Robert and I were just exhausted and I was starting to lose confidence all together.
The worst day of motherhood so far was Sunday 2nd May. I was at a birthday party for a friends’ one year old. It was at their house in the country. Benedict’s cheeks were a red angry mess, he has an infected patch on his scalp and he was miserable and clingy. I was standing on the edge of what would have been called the ‘home paddock’ in the old days facing away from the party staring in the hills. Tears rolled uncontrollably down my own cheeks as I tried to comfort my poor baby. I couldn’t turn around and I couldn’t attract Robert’s attention. I just stood their hoping he would come and find me. We left soon after and I cried all the way home and all night.
It is completely heartbreaking to see your baby suffer and to not be able to help him.
After the GP visit I was laden with prescriptions and a list for the chemist. I handed it over and 10 minutes and $100 later I returned home with a raft of creams, lotions, and medicines. The first night after the treatment started was better and then things improved. We waited until we had caught up on some sleep before we started the slow process of re-training our baby to sleep and self-soothe again.
We have an appointment with a dermatologist in two weeks to attempt to identify the cause and perhaps receive some more targeted advice about how to manage the symptoms.
I was having a difficult week. Things were piling up. Sleep was rare and hard to come by. There were tensions everywhere, emotional and physical. Things were, just quietly, pretty shit. I was trying to rest when I got a text message from Karen. She invited me to meet her and Theresa at Tilleys for coffee at 8pm. Ooo going out! Without the baby!
I sent Robert a message who told me I HAD to go. I sent Karen a message saying yes I’d come and that by ‘coffee’ I hope she meant ‘wine’. Of course she replied. We sent a message to Liz too.
Lovely lovely wine
I carefully sorted out the afternoon. Bathed and feed Benedict and put him gently to bed. I was then dressed up and ready to go out before 7-30pm. It’s a ten minute trip. I stood around the living room cooling my heels. Robert and Ed eyed me suspiciously. I folded washing and pretended to watch the 7-30 report.
We all were exactly on time but trying not to be. We all dressed up. We all wore makeup. It was fabulous! We drank champagne and talked about our lives, our babies, our careers and for a little while we felt like our old selves again. It reminded us of the importance of looking after ourselves, so we could be better at looking after everyone else.
Somehow mothers’ group passed me by initially. I was told on my home visit by the community nurse how to join and that I should call straight away but I was reluctant. Why did I want to do that I thought? Bunch of mothers’ talking about poo! How very very wrong I was. I managed to survive for the first few months. Then at the urging of my friend Karen I asked Liz if I could gate crash hers. I knew at least two of the people and their babies were very close in age to Benedict. Luckily for me everyone else was ok with it and now I couldn’t live without it. I’ve met lovely people and there is nothing like being in the same boat to make you feel better and to reassure you it’s not you, it’s the babies!
It's not you; it's the baby
For quite a few weeks Benedict has been practising rolling. Kicking his legs in the air, waving his arms, and throwing his weight from side to side while lying on his back. He hasn’t yet been able to pull his arm out from underneath him. On 29 April at exactly four months he pulled his legs up underneath himself while face down. He was propelled onto his face by the momentum and the weight of his head!
Today on the kitchen floor he managed to roll from his front with his arms stretched out to his back. He surprised himself as well as me. He lay there on his back with a startled look on his face. Later in the morning he did it again. It is now the beginning of the end and the start of full babyhood complete with chewing on everything and learning to craw. He surprises me daily with his development and how quickly he changes.
There is a frightening moment experienced by many new mums at night, in the daytime, in bed, in a chair, it doesn’t seem to matter where you are; when you wake up searching for the baby. I woke up in the second night at home shouting ‘where’s the baby? where’s the baby?’ In your sleep deprived and overloaded mind you have forgotten that you have been out of bed, fed the baby, returned to your bed and gone back to sleep. In your mind you still have the baby with you and have lost it, rolled on it, dropped it over the side of the bed or worse. It is a truly horrifying experience.
It is amplified because you sometimes do have the baby in bed, and fall asleep for a second, or for an hour. Or you are lying there with the baby on your chest until your partner takes the baby away from you so you can continue to sleep. Or you fall asleep with the baby in your arms in a chair.
I had the ‘where’s the baby?’ moment about three times. I fell asleep with the cold packs that were making me feel a lot better resting on my chest. When I woke up I was convinced I had lost the baby only to discover that the cold packs were warm and had slid off. I frantically searched through the bed and bed-clothes for Benedict. I turned the sheets over, and the pillows and then got out and pulled the bed apart. No baby. By the time I had done all that I was wide awake. I realised I was in bed by myself. The baby was safely asleep in his hammock.
Sleeping Baby Lying
Driving into Civic one morning – 14 April – I heard an unusual noise coming from the backseat. Sounded like a very wet raspberry being blown. When we arrived I scooped Benedict up out of his seat and he blew a very wet bubbly buzzy noise. He seemed quite pleased with it. He’d been practising all the way into town and then proceeded to continue all through our shopping trip.
Benedict first experienced the wind on a particularly blustery cold Canberra day in early April. We went out to lunch at a friends. When we arrived there was a stiff southerly blowing. As I lifted Benedict from his baby capsule, the wind caught him full in the face. He gulped and blew bubbles and tried to swallow the air rushing towards his little face. He has such a bewildered expression on his face. The bubbles kept coming as he tried to fathom this new experience.
Early March. It has been almost 10 weeks since my baby was born.
My life has changed completely.
11 January 2010
The day Benedict was born it was raining. It rained and rained and rained. I could hear the rain on the roof while I lay exhausted on the bed with the tiny baby snuggled into me.
Our little baby took a long time to arrive. After an easy and happy pregnancy I finally went into labour on Boxing Day while having my breakfast. I had narrowly avoided a Christmas Day baby – but was quite ready to be NOT pregnant. Progress was slow and for the rest of the day not much happened. It seemed our son was contented and despite being 6 days overdue, he wasn’t really ready to be born. Following a visit from the midwife and a trip into the Birth Centre during that day; finally at 2:30am on the 27th my waters broke spectacularly all over the dining room floor.
After a lot of effort on my part over the next 20 hours or so, Benedict was born at 10:37pm on Sunday 27th December 2009. In my exhausted state apparently I asked if it was a baby. One too many jokes during pregnancy about my bump concealing a medicine ball! He was 3.96kg and 53cm. Pink and wriggly he was perfect.
It was pouring with rain. Robert was overjoyed and bounced around the place. Mum was bursting. Of course they had been awake and supporting me since the morning of Boxing Day and we were all completely exhausted too. All the pain and suffering was worth it. There was my little baby! Finally he was here.
10 December 2009 - 38 weeks
This is a transcription of a letter I wrote to my baby on 10-12-2009
I am sitting in Silo having some lunch. I just had my 38 week appointment with Philippa, the midwife. The baby’s head is now engaged which means it’s not long to go at all.
It gave me a very special feeling to know that you are really coming now. It wont be long and I will get to meet you for the first time. I am very excited now.
It is extremely hard to sleep and you are running out of room. In the night your wriggling keeps me awake, It reminds me that you’re there and getting ready to come into our lives. You have been present but hidden like a deep secret that is slowly slowly being revealed. I wonder what you might be like? What colour eyes you’ll have? How little you might be?
I saw a lot of new-born babies at the hospital today and they look tiny and pink with little twig like legs. You will be like them. Only better!
All the preparation is finally nearly finished. Everything is ready in your room. Christmas is fast approaching but it is not nearly as exciting as the thought of you being born. Soon I will be able to cuddle you and see you and smell your new-born baby smell.
With love, your mama x