hunger games

 Ah. I didn't mean to leave it so long. I've taken up worky reins again in a small way and while this is most helpful to the mental health and feeling a part of things again, it takes up the very few free hours I have available, so that taking time for something else (blogging, gardening, getting haircuts) feels uncomfortably like robbing Peter to pay Paul. Some juicy projects have landed on my desk, beautiful, perfect beasts of projects which I must fit into 3 or 4 hours a day; the rest of the time I'm thinking how much I relish getting back into them. 

I am actually not complaining, I must add. It's nothing new, is it, and my situation of being one of two mostly free adults to one easy baby is ideal, rare and wonderful. I have lots of energy and happiness to give to Jay when I come back from work, and I appreciate keenly all my extraordinary luck, I do. The universe is smiling on me, the sun is shining, it's been a golden time. I feel I am where I've been going to all these years. 

Jay is in fine fettle, too. He's enjoying his cot, kicking his way all over it, waking me with a surprised cry when he finds himself up against the bars. He's doing a lot of babbling; when he cries it is much more communicative of simple needs and less of existential angst (or colic as the less poetic of us call it). Aaaahoooo, aaddooo, aiya, he says. You know? Ayyyooh? His field of vision must have expanded; now he can take in his feet, leaves, the tiles in the bathroom. Everything is interesting.

The other day the JB pointed out black circles you could see through the end of the bottle he'd been feeding out of for at least 10 minutes. Mould, people. MOULD. It seems I, the person who has been sterilising All The Things with neurotic care, inadvertently grabbed a dirty one that had been in the bag since the previous week, growing black fur. Well. I felt awful. I watched Jay tensely for the next day or two as if he was a ticking bomb. But no. No explosion, rather, even finer fettle. Totally, totally fine. Finer than fine. I am still sterilising but, you know. Colour me skeptical. I am similarly Fed Up with Aptamil and their constantly changing, arbitrary guidelines for making up formula, written on the side of their packets in their tut-tutting, fear-mongering tone, which at the same time contradict themselves, and make not even pseudo-scientific sense. It all smacks loudly of ligitious arse-covering, instead of giving real information and explanations people can understand. Boil exactly one litre of water, they say. Leave for exactly one half hour. Then I dunno, dance backwards in a circle, reciting the Greek alphabet. Bah. Just tell us why, you twits. What temperature should it be when you are adding the powder, exactly. That's all we need to know. It's not a flipping magic spell. And are we to not mention the fact that on the previous packet you advised pouring the boiling water into the bottle and capping it and then waiting 30 mins? (No matter the amount of water, by the way, always the magic 30). (Grr.)

Ah. Deep breathing. What is it about babies that attracts all the finger-wagging? A woman in the park hissed at me the other day: Don't you feel those raindrops? Dangerous! I was 3 minutes from home, and his buggy closes up to keep him dry. If that's what she meant, I don't even know. Maybe people make themselves feel good by styling themselves self-righteous Baby Protectors? Is that it? Perhaps a cape and tights would complete the look. They could hold meetings and discuss the failings of local parents and how their child did x because they did y and he's an engineer/doctor now. Bah.

Meanwhile though, actual friend parents have been MARVELLOUS with their honest and hilarious stories. So helpful. SO helpful. My friend E, whose child had finally slept through the night after weeks of shrieking the house awake told me one. He must be dead, her exhausted brain reasoned when she woke. But he'll still be dead if I sleep another 2o minutes, it won't make any difference really she thought as she rolled over. LOVE. (That child is now nearly five). Making babies by Anne Enright, in which she says it will occur to any parent to leave at some point but this would be like leaving your own arm. HOW FANTASTIC is that? VERY fantastic. VERY VERY. A neighbour with young daughter I never met before emerged and told me she knows how it can be, and they're great, beautiful, magical and relentless, but it gets better. I mean, let me be in that club.

Oh my, I must go to sleep soon, or I'll be banjaxed tomorrow. He is not, unlike our afore-mentioned caped crusadors' babies, Sleeping Through The Night. He's just too hungry at the moment, and when your baby has been in hospital with a feeding tube, it makes you more indulgent, I suppose. I don't mind at all. He is all magic and beauty. 

Night all
T


 


to bed

Stand by, internet, an announcement:

He is sleeping in his cot, for the second night. Hooray! He looks rather little in there (the cot, inherited from his cousins, converts to a child's bed, so it's large), and there has been some flailing and railing against the dying of the day, as predicted, but I am optimistic. We live in northerly climes, as you know, and it's still bright enough to play tennis* at this time (quarter past nine) but when the sun goes down, I think we'll be off to the races.  So to speak. The pelmet I fashioned in desperation out of cardboard is only partly keeping out the rays of sun but the light is fading fast.

Once again, I have to relearn that the things you worry about (sleepless nights training Jay to sleep in the cot, in this instance) are not the things you need to worry about. By this logic, I have decided to start worrying about everything, in order to insure a trouble-free life, starting with aardvark, and all possible disasters concerning them, and moving along the alphabet until I have covered the entire possible catalogue of disasters. 

I'll report on how this works out.

In the meantime, it's getting dark. I keep making typing mistakes. It's wonderfully peaceful, though, with the sound effects CD of rain drumming on a tin roof, and the soft dolphin baby noises Jay makes in his sleep. This is one of those times where my expectations of parenthood are perfectly met - there's something so deeply satisfying about a baby sleeping peacefully in his cot - it fills the heart. It's a sweet moment.

Have good weekends, everyone.
Talk soon
T

(*Why tennis, me? A game I never play. I mean, how about polo while I am at it? Boules? I can definitely think of disasters concerning Boules, by the way.)

 


14 weeks old

Unbelievable, yet true, somehow, Jay's fourteen weeks old. He's both much wiser and more complex; better at communicating his needs, at making a protest, like when you have the temerity to dress him. He has more expressions, and more decided preferences. He makes conversational noises, (Ai! Mmyah, Ooooh, etc) blows bubbles, feels fabrics (his blanket crocheted by one of the nurses' daughter in the hospital) meditatively with his fingers, tries to sit up. He enjoys his swing chair (until he doesn't anymore), and gives strangers (he loves them) big open mouth smiles and laughs. He's so much fun, now. And he's much bigger.

(Big to the point where he's nearly grown out of his crib, (although the weight limit of 25 pounds is not too close). This is something that is occupying my mind quite a bit. I am fearful. (Surprising, I know. Me! The Intrepid) How to transition to the cot? Thoughts would be most welcome. Do we just do it one night? He likes playing in there already and looking at his mobile.  And if he cries, we pick him up and try again or lean over and pat and reassure, or what? Also, we have started half-swaddling in an effort to get him used to being less compressed. Should I invest in a swaddling transition solution, like one of those suits that look like a Michelin Man? Or is that for nelly-ish parents, like we are?)

The transition to Irish formula from the US one has been not completely straightforward. "Digestive issues" (euphemism alert) have kept him up quite a few nights, the poor boy, but mostly (fingers are xxx'd) he has continued to be a good sleeper and eater. (THANK YOU, HEAVEN.) And he seems much better and in tremendously good form again this week. 

Ah, another significant event: his birth mother has been in touch with the agency, looking for photos and information about his routine and well-being. We're thrilled. I wrote her a letter with a lot of photos of Jay. It's odd, writing to someone who is both a complete stranger and a family member, someone who entrusted you with her baby, someone who chose you, took the huge painful leap with you, a stranger, on the strength of your profile book, nothing more, but I tried to take this possibly single opportunity to convey our respect for her decision: her bravery, and her clearmindedness. I don't know if I did an adequate job. I can only hope so. Although we'll be writing letters to her every 3 months, I have no way of knowing if she'll ever read them again or not, and I wanted somehow to pack in all that feeling. 

People on the street (a mixture of proper Salt of the Earth Ould Dubliners and young(er) blow-ins like us) have been most welcoming. Walking a baby, it transpires, is a conversation starter even better than a dog. Last week, for instance, coming back from the shop, a neighbour opposite us called me over to see the baby. Another elderly neighbour was talking to her on the doorstep. They cooed over Jay. Other neighbour: Is your husband very sallow? I'm there: Uh. I mean. Not really! Darker than me though. Jay's adopted, I point out. She mustn't have heard me, as she gave me a canny look: You're so pale. Just, isn't it funny, that? 
I mean, what was she driving at? I'm surprised she didn't ask about the complexion of the postman. The cheek! Then, she did some super-rapid sign of the cross over Jay and departed, sure she'd just made the world a better place.
!!!
You can only laugh. In the few minutes we stood there, she handed out every platitude known to man to Opposite Neighbour on a recent bereavement (her daughter): Children Are Only Lent To Us, Aren't You Lucky You Still Have The Other Seven, (because it's a well known fact that the more kids you have the less you love each individual. Ah, yeah. They're completely interchangeable units. Sure haven't you plenty of back-ups?) And You'll Be Grand Sure, Cheer Up There, Time Heals All.
So perhaps not a contender for the Most Tactful Person of the Year Award.

It's Sunday. Time to go and see the folks.
Till soon, all. Hope you're well. 
T

ps Hard to get a chance to draw the child when you are mostly holding him, I discovered. Must keep trying to catch him mid-nap, though.


the rearview mirror

It's been a little busy, but we're settled into Irish time. I have been meaning to update but you know how it is, happiness writes white, isn't that what they say? And I am truly happy. I still have moments of overwhelm, of course, but mostly, it, the whelm, is at a good, manageable level. I'm amazed how quickly the hotel hostage situation has receded since we've been back. Maybe necessarily? Maybe we're programmed to forget when we have to, so we can be preoccupied by new things? Maybe information that is no longer relevant for your survival is fogged over. And yet, when I hear a certain Mozart piece we used to play in the morning for Jay, I'm right back there. In Room, as we facetiously refer to it.
Now, things like transitioning off American formula onto European fill my head, and how in the US the finest paediatricians (the Mayo Clinic indeed) recommend just soap and water, cold water and refrigeration, while in Europe, you must sterilise and boil and make fresh, or you can Make Your Baby Ill, also you are a bad parent. (Total mystery. EU legislation?)
Just like everyone said, Jay's decidedly easier to look after; you can bring him to restaurants and sit outside to awkwardly eat your lunch with one hand, meet friends in the park for walks, go places in the car. He smiles at people like a politician. We're enjoying the parks around here, the garden, where the JB and he go and stare up at the sky, kicking their legs and talking. The weather has been kind. 

More later, everyone, it's time to get sorted for tonight. Thanks for checking on me.
Have good weeks, all.
xx

T


IMAG1913

 


Home

AT LAST
Totally banjaxed and a bit at sea of course, (because there was no baby in this house before and now there is a baby, and where does the baby go now?) but oh, everyone! I am so happy!

Thanks for seeing me home, folks. More soon, of course. There's always more.

:D
T


Quick update as I wait for Jay to wake up so we can pack his cradle: Our passport date was moved to this morning by The Powers That Be, This involved a moving our flights to later tonight, prolonged gnashing of teeth/ listening to hold music to so do, because The Things They Are Never Simple. So! That's where we are: hoping all goes smoothly with the passport and we get our cab to the airport in useful time.

Fingers crossed, still. Of course! Always always crossed. Permanently, really.

More later, if I can get connected.
T


hurray!

We have our date. That is, we have a barring things going wrong type date which is as good as it'll get, I reckon. Our court order is to come on Friday or Monday and our passport appointment on Tuesday, which means we can travel next Wednesday 25th.

!!!

So, so thrilled. 

Thank you again, lovely people, for sticking with me during this painful/wonderful time of transition. Of course, this story is only beginning, so don't go away! Unless you absolutely have to, for a brief comfort break, or for sustenance. I'm not clingy, or anything. I can let go of your trouser leg anytime! Anytime at all!

----

Brief parenting type question: Jay has not been much of a napper until this week, but now he drops off into a deep sleep in the morning, like now, from which you can hardly rouse him. He's jolly when he's awake, mostly, apart from the odd gas-related/constipation meltdown. Last night, after his mega 3 hour nap of yesterday, (remaining quite sleepy through walks and cuddles and everything), he woke up at 6 and was all bright-eyed and lively, and wanted to play! play! play! at his designated sleep-time of 8. So I let him lie on his front (because that is tiring for him), and swat at his toys in the semi-dark, and then, finally, at about 9, after me doing the time-honoured "And Jay, all the bus-drivers are going to sleep, and all the squirrels are going to sleep, and all the shop-keepers are going to sleep, and all the babies are going to sleep, because it's time to go to sleep" for quite a bit, he did drift off and sleep well all night. So what to do? I reckon we'll keep him moving, even if he's sleepy, during the day, to avoid the deep deep sleep? If thoughts occur, they are welcome. Not to worry if not. Not a real problem, just curious if others have noticed changes in sleep patterns like this. 

Yours, in great excitement
T

 


watched pot

The Bionic Family came to visit us! This was wonderful. They were Ambassadors of Cheer and Normality in this strange time, visitors from a reasonable, well-adjusted, calm place. Harbingers of hope.

Also: look at the pile of clothes they brought for Jay. I am very enamoured of ears on clothes - I'd like to see them at Paris Fashion Week. Also this elephant pattern, so attractive:

IMAG1848That was a sweet interlude. I have been feeling much better, until this morning where I find myself on insufficient sleep (Jay wanted to get up at 5 to play, which is sweet but, sigh. He's playing more and more every day. Eat for a half hour, cuddle for half hour, play for half hour, meltdown for a half hour, walk for a hour, repeat) and full of yearning for home. I keep checking my email for news of our court order, which feasibly could come today, since a week has passed and it should be a week to ten days . Oh please come court order.. But as perhaps you'll have noticed, a watched pot never boils. Never, never

I have to occupy myself, in the manner of someone lighting a cigarette so the bus will come. So, I dunno, we'll go to town and look at some books or something. 

I hope all is well with you lovely people. Update your blogs - I'd love to know. 
xx
T


nearly 9 weeks old

IMAG1832
[The 8th is the week of patterns, according to Wonder Weeks, so I improvised.]

Whoa! Black.. and.. white! Black and white! Whoa, whoa. Trippy. I! See!

Yikes, big face! Big Face! Two Big Face! Ag, falling! Falling! No. Flying! Flying! Oh, hi! Hi. Hi, Big Face. Food? Oh, good. 

[Holds out hands in the air while drinking, as if embracing a tree.]

Agg! No, no. [Wails piteously]. How could you, Big Face? You starve me! [Burps]. Okay food. Big Face, yes.

[Makes very realistic dolphin noises]. 

I close my eyes for a minute. Just a minute. Okay. [...] Guh. I'm sad! I'm confused. Oh hello! Swipe toys! Swipe! Swipe!
There they go, got them. Ah, sounds. Let me hear.. let me see now. I see sounds. Ooh, black and white! Black! And! White!

[Whinnys like a pony].
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I've always had strong feelings of tenderness for Jay but now, at last, I'm enjoying him more and more; just like you think you will when you long for a baby. He comes up to my chest now when I feed him on my lap, so I don't have to hunch over him anymore; he's bigger, a proper baby baby (as they called them in the hospital. Technical term.) and a bit easier to understand. Sometimes I can see what he might be thinking. I can actually soothe him before sleep with my rambling accounts of the activities of the day; I (mostly) know how to hold him to calm him, he smiles at odd moments when he hears my voice, and he looks up at me, trustingly. He's interested in things, even the inevitable soft-focus orchid photo, (Guaranteed not to Cause Offence to Anyone), on the bedroom wall, or that tree on a hill one, which is actually a stock photo you can buy on the web. It's more fun, it's not so stressful. Now we're getting to the long-imagined somewhere.

Thank goodness.
~~~~~~~

The petition for the court order has been submitted. Another week or so for that - funny enough, I am almost beginning to settle here, maybe because the end is in sight. This always happens; I resist and then I give in, and then I'm sad to leave. Pfft, self. You are ridiculous. Anyway, still. It hasn't been an easy transition, (and is on-going of course), but when was anything worthwhile? It has been a useful time for bonding, the three of us. A time of getting to know you, as hotel hostages. [I had to come back to add that I still have anxiety about our final bit of paperwork, even though the hard part is done. Were it not for this, I would be able to appreciate more fully the many good things about this place. Excellent thrift store for one. Excellent vegetarian restaurants. Excellent US netflix. (Yeah, well. At least I'm honest.) Big king size fluffy bed. Nice chambermaids. Lovely walks in the parks and leafy burbs around here. Many, many good things.]

Thanks for your comments on the colic. So encouraging. Having read more about it, I think what he has is only mild colic a couple of times a day - there's none of the hours of crying that you read about. Poor, poor parents and babies of colic. You know, this experience is helping me appreciate the human race more. Our babies are so much more vulnerable than most mammals. They take so much care. What those parents routinely go through for their offspring is amazing; it's true evidence of unconditional love. Parents of colicky babies, I salute you.

Have nice weekends, everyone. 
xx
T


The Authority has spoken

And It has said YES. We have received the document from home that confirms the match, and permits Jay to enter Ireland. So now we must wait another (up to) 10 days for our court order, which we will then bring to our passport office appointment, up to 10 days after that. SO THRILLED, we (the adults of the Pearl family) both cried. The end is in sight! There is light at the end of the tunnel! Also, to be frank, after quite so many years of the Authority's shenanigans, I have more faith in the USA system. It is less nannyish, less half-arsed, more efficient, has more the courage of its convictions. 

In the meantime, poor Jay has been having some discomfort-style fussing during some of his day feeds (not at night). So while we were up in the clinic today getting his remaining vaccine (Prevnar, for my records) we asked the nurse about it, and she weighed him (still gaining a little under a pound a week. Kid is catching up. [So proud]), and the doctor came in and saw him and advised us and oh my word, it was good to hear that there are things we can do, and there's a reason for it, and we can help it, and it is temporary. (It's easy, I've found, to plunge down the putrid sinkhole of self-blame, and it's my fault and why did I ever think, etc etc. This was a powerful antidote to that.) If the witching hour crying he does qualifies him as colicky (which they define as crying a lot, rather than belly pain. Not like horses twisting their guts rolling, then.)  he will also grow out of that. HURRAY. [Stories of colicky babies who Turned Out Lovely are most welcome.]

So. A large phew on those counts.  
(I might as well have italicised this entire post.)
Must go and email people with the good tidings. 


More later, companions. Thanks for being there. 
T
IMAG1796_1

I was able to have a go at drawing him again. (This is a good sign; the depresso Twangy couldn't find the energy.) Babies are hard to draw - he looks like a zoned out Elvis in his racing car. Still, got to try.