Sunday, October 2, 2011

Oh My Ears and Whiskers!

I feel like the White Rabbit at the moment - always rushing about and in a state of permanent lateness. I thought I knew what we were in for, being parents - I'd seen others do it before me and I'd certainly had long enough to think about it. And actually, I DID know - intellectually. The reality is something TOTALLY different. I've asked my sister and best friend why they didn't tell me how hard it was, but they laughed and told me I'd never have believed them - and they were right! Thankfully the rewards are as good as I'd hoped, in compensation.

I am back at work - four days a week, sharing one class of 37 children on a Monday and Tuesday and sharing another class of 36 children on a Thursday and Friday. On Wednesday, I'm at home with the boy. He goes to nursery on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday and his dad has him on a Friday. We like the nursery and he still has more days with us than them, and that's as good as we can make it just now. CM is still on reduced hours and I've taken a cut to drop a day, plus we're are now in our new home which is lovely but expensive. We would end up with the same amount of money if I only worked 2 days and the boy didn't go to nursery, but then if CM's job were to be reduced further or - please no - go altogether, and I was on a 2 day contract, we would be stuffed. It's not ideal, but it's realistic.

Like I said, we're in a new home - it's already amazing and it will be fantastic one day but at the moment it's very unfinished. On top of that, my parent's flat (which is downstairs) is still unfinished and they HAVE to be in by Christmas, so CM is working flat out when he's not at his job or wrangling the boy.

Between school-work, CM's work, housework and taking care of the wee one, there is no time left. And the wee one is in a full-on sleep regression - it's like we're back in the days of colic. We take turns to eat dinner, watch TV at 3am with him on our laps, I take him in to bed with me in desperation - he sleeps and I don't, much. He has also done the traditional thing and caught every nursery bug going - in fact he's been off nursery as much as he's been there. My mum has been amazing and taken him a lot, CM's boss is a star and has allowed him to be flexible with his days a bit. I have take a day and a half of family leave and this means I only have another 2 and a half left until next August! After that, it's unpaid leave - and we can't afford that.

Unfortunately, my boss is rather less of a star than CM's and I ended up in tears on my first day back when I was told I couldn't have the following day off to look after my sick child - even though it was an in-service day and there were no children in and therefore no cover required. I was allowed to take half a day, in the end, but it left a very sour taste. For the record - I know that they can't actually stop me taking a day, but when you're just back after maternity leave, you really don't want to rock the boat. On top of the polite disagreement over when I was to come back (again, they're not allowed to dictate that, and I pointed that out) and which day I was to have off (business manager suggested a Monday, so that's what I said to the nursery, signed a contract with them and then, 2 months later was told I'd be getting a Wednesday and there was no negotiation allowed) I am unimpressed at my treatment by fellow working mothers. I was told that I was lucky to have mat leave at all - it wasn't around in their day - and, when I told them I stood to lose my nursery place altogether over the change in days, that "these are the perils of being a working mum".

Despite all this, I am happy - not all of the time, I get sad, angry, frustrated often - but the baseline is happy. I laugh more than I did and I love more than I did. My wee boy is a continual source of joy and amazement - and surprise, as I still sometimes see a toy or a bottle and think "I've got a baby!!!! How did that happen?!". He has just started crawling and is into everything. He is very investigative - fascinated by how things move and fit together. My mum reckons he'll be an engineer - as long as he's happy, he can be what he wants (remind me of that in a few years!). He still vomits fairly often, to varying degrees, and we've been referred to the paediatricians to get that checked out, but the GP says she isn't worried - it happens and it is lessening, he is putting on weight ok and appears unbothered by it. It'd just be nice not to have to change both of our clothes so often, keep spot cleaner next to the sofa and have to feed him dinner twice on occasions. We tried infant Gav.i.scon but all it did was make him constipated, poor soul.

We had a nasty scare two weeks ago when he managed to cut open the bridge of his nose! We were celebrating my mum's 70th birthday at a hotel about an hour out of town. My nephew had the wee boy on his lap, sitting calmly on a sofa, when the wee one lunged to grab a flower from a vase on the floor (he's such a nature - lover!). The vase got knocked over and broke and our poor wee boy's momentum was too much for my nephew (it's sometimes too much for us too) and he fell forward a bit, cutting his nose on a bit of broken glass. Our experience of this was hearing a crash and turning to see my nephew, looking white, holding our screaming baby, whose face was totally obscured with blood, at arms length. My heart stopped.

Luckily, my brother-in-law is a doctor, with a previous specialism in paediatrics, and my sister is an ex-midwife so they swung into action, cleaning off his face to make sure his eyes weren't affected and applying pressure to stop the bleeding - it took 40 minutes. It took the same amount of time for an ambulance to arrive. All that time, I was holding my baby while he screamed and my sister and brother-in-law took turns to press on his nose. It was horrible. When the paramedics arrived, the pressure was taken off, he stopped screaming and smiled up at the lady treating him - bless him. On the ambulance ride, he drank a full bottle of milk (to help with possible dehydration from shock and blood-loss), burbled away to himself and played with some paper towels - the paramedic was clearly more worried about me than him. We had a long evening at A&E getting him checked out and steri-stripped (they didn't want to use glue so near his eyes and he wouldn't lie still enough for stitches). We had to go back the next day, having fasted him (not fun!) in case he needed a general anaesthetic to be stitched if the steri-strips weren't holding things. Luckily, they were so we got home. We were back that evening as he spiked a fever of 39 degrees, but they gave him a thorough check-up and decided it was an unrelated virus.

All in all, a very unfunny weekend. Two weeks later it's almost completely healed. He will have a scar, but it could have been so much worse. Oh the guilt though - my poor nephew was devastated but luckily both CM and I were able to comfort him at the time and reassure him that we did NOT blame him and it was something that could have happened to any of us - and we meant it. That's not to say we don't blame ourselves - we should have been closer, we shouldn't have let anyone else hold him, we shouldn't have taken him etc etc. I have discovered that there is a serious amount of guilt that comes with parenthood. It was also an un-needed reminder of how easily things can go wrong - we know this already - the fact that he was pregnancy number 7 and yet our only child was enough proof for us. I'd just really like a quiet life with some reassurance in it now, please.

Finally, this might well come across as the infertile's idea of the ultimate nightmare post - a combination of whining and gloating about parenthood. If so, I am truly sorry. I have not forgotten where I came from. Tomorrow I am going to take down the photos on the staff bulletin board of my baby and my 2 closest work friends' babies, all born within 4 months of each other, because I discovered that a new colleague is going through IF and her latest cycle of IVF has failed. It's a tiny, tiny thing, but I remember what it meant when others took care of me in small ways. I know how I would have felt, seeing baby photos at work every day, so down they come - and my friends will understand.

1 comment:

Nico said...

came to visit from Rebecca's site... I think it is so sweet and thoughtful that you took down those pics. I hope your coworker is successful soon.