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Gayesy's parenting after loss journal

Month 5 ~ July 26, 2002
~ The best things in life are free

KatelynThis month has been quite stressful. Andrew has been out of work and finances have played a big part in my worries. We have been super careful so that his small payout will last us as long as possible, but in the back of my mind I am aware that at some point quite soon we will run out of money altogether (apart from a small amount of social security). Not a comforting thought! In some ways though I have found it "fun" to try different ways of economising. I guess you could call living on such limited means a bit of a hobby for me! I have been doing a fair bit more cooking, both for meals and healthy snacks (eg. low fat banana muffins), shopping for food on special, searching out cheaper brands of things we need and so on. I have also switched Katelyn to cloth nappies, which is not as much work as I thought it would be, although I do seem to end up spending a lot of each day either changing nappies, washing them, or folding them! It is actually quite amazing how much less money we are going through each week now and the wonderful thing is that the things that really matter are still the same: we still all have each other, still all snuggle in bed together at the end of each day, and certainly as far as Missy Moo is concerned anyway, nothing important has really changed.

On top of the money worries, Andrew's father spent most of this month in hospital. (He has just returned home.) It looks like he will need to be on oxygen for the rest of his life due to damage to his lungs caused by blood clots a year or so ago. The damage is irreparable and we are not sure how much time he has left. My mother-in-law stayed with us on and off during the time he was in hospital and even though we got along very well, it was quite stressful to have a guest here so much. On top of that, she doesn't drive, so we were ferrying her around and Katelyn got to the point of screaming every time we put her in her car seat. I was almost at the point of screaming myself! One day I announced that there was no way I was getting back in the car with her so I tucked her into the Maya Wrap, walked to the train station and caught the train home with her - a lot less upsetting for both of us.

Thankfully at the end of this month we realised it was time to turn her around to forward facing. (Note: please don't email me telling me this is unsafe - the types of seats we have here in Australia are such that it is actually safer to turn baby around once she reaches a certain weight. I have read up on the tests done here and they found that even when comparing the same convertible seat in the two different positions, there is less head and neck movement in an impact when turned to forward-facing once the child reaches a certain weight, which usually occurs around six months but can happen sooner if you have a little "piggy" like I do.) Now that she can sit up and see where we are going, she is not anywhere near as unhappy, thank goodness! She likes sitting there with her little pink sunnies on and chewing on her favourite toy.

It is at times like these that I am especially aware of the many blessings we have. As the saying goes, the best things in life are those that are free. I have a husband who loves me, and two beautiful, healthy children here with me. They bring me such joy that words cannot describe! Thomas has been so great lately: his behaviour has been wonderful and he is an absolute pleasure to spend time with. He has accepted the financial restrictions remarkably well for such a little guy and I am very proud of him. Katelyn has continued to grow and develop, and has become quite a little cheeky one! I LOVE it!

Katelyn has been showing a real interest in daily activities, especially food and drink! One morning when I was eating my fruit toast with her sitting on my lap, she grabbed a piece (by the way, she now grabs with one hand rather than both like she used to do), shoved it in her mouth and started chewing. As I don't consider wheat products to be particularly good for first solids, I asked for my toast back! I have been trying to hold off as long as possible on introducing solids, mainly for allergy reasons. What I did one day was to express some milk, partially freeze it (breast milk slushy!) and then feed it to her on a spoon. She LOVED it, and was opening her mouth wanting more, grabbing the spoon and dragging it towards herself, as I obviously wasn't fast enough. I do get confused about the introduction of solids. I am SO scared of making a bad decision and yet I keep reading conflicting information: some experts say that as long as baby is at least four months old, go with readiness cues; others say that under no circumstances should you start earlier than six months or you are setting baby up for allergy and digestive problems. I ended up calling the LC I saw earlier on and she also gave me mixed ideas. Sigh . . . this parenting stuff is hard! For now I am sticking with exclusive breastfeeding, just to be on the safe side.

The breastfeeding has continued to go well. The only exception is that some days she is quite distracted and doesn't feed as much as usual and I end up VERY full and sore. This time I seem to have a propensity towards getting plugged ducts so I am glad to have my pump on hand. It is so lovely to see how much Missy Moo enjoys nursing. After the first frantic minute or so of each feed, she will stop briefly, pull off and give me a great big milky grin. Kind of like she's saying "Thanks Mummy: this is great!" She also has started sighing with pleasure and patting the breast she is feeding from with her little hand. Even when she isn't feeding, and I am holding her on my hip, she likes to keep a hand resting protectively over the closest breast. It is SO sweet! I am SO glad I am breastfeeding because even though the rest of us have had one cold after another this month, little Missy Moo has been as healthy as ever. Gotta love those antibodies!

This month, Katelyn has done lots of new things. One was rolling from front to back. She hasn't repeated this little trick, but one day shy of 20 weeks of age she did start rolling from back to front repeatedly: I had her on her play mat in the bathroom while I took a shower to wash my hair. The next thing I knew she was on her tummy, so I called out to Andrew to roll her back. After I had washed the shampoo out of my hair I noticed she was on her tummy again. This just kept on happening (and yes, Andrew was moving her back!) so after my shower I went and got the video camera to capture the moment. One other new thing, which was so lovely, was that she reached for me! Andrew's mother was staying over and was holding her while I went to the toilet. When I returned, she gave me a big smile and then held her arms out to me. I was blown away! It is wonderful to feel so special to such a precious little baby.

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Missy Moo can also now sit fairly well unassisted. She has progressed from toppling straight away, then being a little wobbly tripod, to now being able to balance with an erect back and even her hands off the floor for probably ten or more seconds. Pretty good at this age I reckon, but then I am probably biased. LOL! I should mention that Thomas didn't roll or sit like this until he was seven months old so maybe that's why this seems so early to me. Even though he was later with these milestones though it obviously hasn't affected him at all of course: he's bright as a button!

Katelyn has also started developing object permanence. One evening I was sitting on the couch with her cuddling over my shoulder and Andrew and Thomas came into the room. She smiled at them as she always does. Then they decided to play a game with her and ducked down behind the couch where she couldn't see them. She actually looked around for them! I was amazed! We kept playing for some time and each time they disappeared from sight she looked. She also does this when I walk around the house holding her and playing "Where's Punky". If she is unsettled this game works very well at cheering her up. I carry her around asking "Where's the pussy cat?" and she looks around, turning her head this way and that, and then when she does catch sight of her she stops looking, fixes her gaze on Punky and gives a big grin. She is so clever!

Toofies!! The week she did all that rolling for the first time sure was a big week because she also cut not one but TWO toofies! (Another thing that didn't happen with Thomas until he was seven months). First came the bottom middle left and then two days later came the middle bottom right. No wonder she had been trying to chew on anything in sight, dribbling enough to wet several outfits per day and waking up crying all night. I am bracing myself for the next round.

I am discovering what a little chatterbox I have on my hands! (And I'm not talking about Thomas, although he certainly does make a good conversationalist!) Missy Moo LOVES making all kinds of sounds, both to join in conversations and I think also because she simply enjoys experimenting with various sounds. She likes moving her tongue, trying out sounds at varying pitches, putting different combinations together, all the while adding in a raspberry or two, lots of smiles, laughing fit to burst. One day she was having a little ride in her swing and she actually made a sound that sounded exactly like "Yee-ha". I am NOT joking: Andrew was there too, which is probably just as well because if he hadn't heard it himself he would have thought I was NUTS! LOL! She also says a lot of things like "Ah-bee, ah-boo, and ah-baa". Andrew thought about this and found that if you remove the "ah" parts, she is actually saying "Boobie bar", which is where she likes to go frequently for the all-you-can-eat smorgasboard! Hehe!

KatelynKatelyn is probably getting sick and tired of me trying to capture everything on still and video camera! I feel compelled to do so though for several reasons. Firstly, it bothers me a LOT that I "missed" a lot of this with Thomas because I was too depressed to really take as much notice as I would have liked. I can certainly remember some things but a lot of his early months are quite a blur. This is a kind of loss in itself and one that I deeply feel every day. Secondly, I feel that the loss of our precious Nicholas has made me even more determined to cherish and remember every moment. Thirdly, and this is possibly a little negative and those who haven't lost a child might not understand, I tell myself that if she were to die, I would want as many things about her as possible around me. Lastly, she is definitely our last child so all her "firsts" are really our "lasts" and I want to savour everything.

On the topic of Katelyn being our last child, I had an appointment yesterday with good old Dr. C to discuss getting that sterilisation procedure done (I was booked in for next week). I have chickened out! LOL! It's not that I'm not sure about not wanting any more children: on the contrary, I feel very strongly that our family is complete, plus the fact that I want to end my childbearing on a high note (this might make sense to those others who have suffered a pregnancy loss or loss of an infant). I was just feeling scared about the procedure itself (it's quite new, not even available in the U.S. yet!), and also felt somehow that doing something permanent to myself was somehow "wrong". I'm not even sure why, because I am perfectly happy that Andrew is getting his vasectomy soon. It just feels somehow better that he is the one being sterilised and not me (and not just because he is the one who will have the pain. LOL!) What I am going to do though is to probably start on some form of contraception soon (other than abstinence!) so that we are extra safe, given that vasectomies are not 100% reliable.

I find it hard to believe that my little baby is now five months old, with two teeth, sitting, rolling, laughing . . . This is even better than I imagined it would be and I am incredibly grateful to God for all my many blessings. The best things in life sure are free!

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