Let’s Talk About Rex, Baby

Typical kids. No exclamation mark, no tut or eye roll; I’m talking about “normal” children (what I would have called them before learning comfortable language for those of us with “special” children), they just “get on”. They just “do”. It’s amazing and annoying at the same time.

Before 6 months Rex was commando crawling, at 6 months he had mastered proper crawling. At 7 months he could pull to stand. At around 8 months he was cruising the furniture. At 9 months he could easily walk with a walker or even the lightweight toy buggy. At 10 months he took his first independent steps, said “Da Da” at his daddy and signed “milk” before bedtime.

At 10 months Audrey could roll, sit with support and er, not sure if she had mastered anything else by then… She was still in 3-6 months clothing bless her. Ahh, but she was sleeping through! Take that Rex!

I’m proud of both my children. In many ways I’m more proud of Audrey because everything she learns she learns after a lot of hard work. And so it feels like Rex is privileged somehow, which I know is ridiculous. But wow, his walking. He takes a few steps, we celebrate and then he keeps taking those steps. He needs no encouragement and there’s no complaining, because he wants to walk, he is good at it, so he likes doing it.

So here we are at the 12 month mark – Happy Birthday Rexy!

You walk. You’ve already fed yourself with a spoon, signed:









Er, I think that’s it, but wow.

You’ve been a challenge (into EVERYTHING),  but you are a beautiful boy and I just know that once you stop pinching and hair pulling, you and Audrey will be best buds.

You can dance like a good ‘un.

You love tickles.

You’ve got 4 teeth on the top and 3 on the bottom.

Actually, you get a very sore bottom. I’m looking into creams… oh and you always play with your winky when I change your nappy… can you tell I’m embarrassing you on purpose now?

You have already hinted at tantrums (not something I’m used to), you don’t like giving up toys or sitting in a still buggy. You don’t like having your face wiped and you get frustrated by toys.

We love you Rex.

A belated hello to 2017!

2016; quite a year.

It started well, with a lovely bit of maternity leave when Audrey napped and on nursery days I could go to the cinema or sit and drink hot chocolate alone. Or nap. Or stare into space. Basically just “be” without a child around.

Then February came; Rex arrived! He turned our lives completely upside down and took me from tired mummy to completely-shattered-and-almost-broken-mummy.

Both my children took their first independent steps! Audrey in October, aged 3 and 3 months, Rex in December aged 10 months and 4 days. 

I’ve was so very low at times last year and sometimes too focussed on that. I am looking forward to feeling more positive, as Rex sleeps more and they both become more independent. 

I have been wishing away the baby days, but please be assured I have also taken time to appreciate Rex’s delicious baby head, his tiny toes, they way he looks at me whilst having his milk, they way he needs a cuddle after a fall… all of his good baby stuff I will remember, I know I’ll miss it, but I am so excited about this summer. Two walking children!

Rex has started saying “Dada” more often and even aimed it at Ted, so we are taking that as his first word. I’m probably more excited that he has signed “milk” and “more”. We love Makaton.

In the meantime, Audrey’s talking is coming along fantastically and she surprises every day with new words and clever phrases. “Audrey’s so happy”, “Rex, what’s wrong? D’you need a duddle?” … as I type this she is playing with a doll saying “You done a wee wee? Do a wee wee in the potty? Say goodbye to everyone”. She’s a star.

Scarily 2017 would be the year Audrey goes to school, but we have made the decision to defer her until next year, giving her extra time to be potty trained, be a strong walker and generally close the gap between her and her peers. We have picked a local mainstream school and fee very strongly that Audrey will thrive there. She loves learning through play, she is a goody-two-shoes and I think she will be popular at primary school.

Anyway, let’s get 2017 out of the way first. I need to find a job so that could lead me down a new path. And once Rex turns a corner and learns a bit about being gentle and sharing, he and Audrey will be great playmates.

My two crazies.

Stuff and things 11

As I am struggling to get time to blog, I’m just posting a quick update of what’s going on with us.

So let’s see…

Rex is nine months old. He can walk around the coffee table at an incredible pace, he loves to stand (with support) and I suspect he will be taking his first independent steps in no time. He grabs  and pinches and pulls and bashes and bangs… He is active and strong! We are really getting a varied parenting experience. His nights are… Random. Best case, he sleeps 6.45pm-4.30am, has a bottle and then goes back to seep until 7am. Worst case, he wakes at 9.30pm, midnight, 2.30am, 4.30am and wakes for the day at 5.30am. The second scenario is breaking me.

Audrey is walking more and more. I’m a little frustrated she’s not just striding down the street, but she will get there. She asks to go walking when we are sat in cafes etc and does laps around the room. Her speech is evolving at pace – she amazes every day with new words and phrases.

Rex enjoys eating and is a blueberry fan like his sister. Audrey is getting fussier and fussier (just like me as a child), so we are going to have to work on her food variety. Vegetables have to be sneaky!

I love Christmas and so the build up has began. Audrey will definitely appreciate it a bit more this year. Rex… Well maybe he’ll get it next year. At the moment I think the wrapping paper will be more of interest than the pressies.

The Joy of Rex

Poor Rex came into this world with Audrey’s footsteps (or bum-shuffle tunnel) to follow in. 

We have been hard on him because he’s been hard on us. But at the end of the day (although the day never seems to end with him!), he’s just a baby. Granted, a more difficult one, but still…

People tell us he’s very cute. He’s a pretty boy. What a lovely baby. We say “Yeah he’s alright”.

It is hard to enjoy a baby that is unsettled and waking a lot a night. Sleep depravation has made me snappy and crazy at times. I want to adore him the way I adore Audrey, but I think that’s going to take some time.

Rex is almost 6 months old and we have come a lot way since the “sleeping on me” days, even if we haven’t quite reached the peak of happiness we are hoping for… Anyway, I can say lots of positive things about him, because in truth, he is a bonnie baby (as well as a mighty mighty sh*tbag).

1. He loves a laugh. When he has slept and fed, he is generally quite a happy soul and Rex thinks peekaboo, sneezes, bouncing balls and the door bouncer are lots of fun.

2. He adores his sister. He gazes at Audrey with love and finds her very entertaining, it’s such a lovely thing to see developing.

3. He is very curious about the world. He grabs everything and anything and he loves to explore. 

4. He has amazing hair. Like a Muppet.

5. He has excellent leg chunk.

6. He has soft milky white skin like marshmallow. 

7. He has my eyelashes (as does Audrey) – these will serve him well.

We love you Rex, you little monster! But you had better sleep better soon!

When it sucks to have two children…

It really sucks to have two children when you spend 25 mins patting a baby to sleep (because then you’ll be free to focus attention on your toddler) and 10 mins into the nap the toddler wakes the baby up. And then you snap at the toddler for doing this. And then you cry and your toddler says “Y’ok Mummy?”. And then you can’t get the baby back to sleep, so the baby is crying and the toddler wants to play ball, but you snap; “Well we can’t play ball now because YOU woke him up, now Mummy has to see to him and we can’t play together, well done”.

And then you cry some more, because this is just a stupid thing to say to your toddler and actually you’re just so damn tired and now have no idea what to do with the baby. He won’t sleep. But if you feed him he probably will fall asleep on you. Which means you definitely can’t do anything with the toddler and will spend at least 45 minutes telling the toddler to be quiet and play on their own and not wake the baby. But the toddler may go out into the hall and make banging noises and play with things they’re not supposed to and you’ll prioritise the baby’s sleep.

Annnnd breathe. 

Two non-walkers are bloody hard work. Especially when one wakes up a lot at night and naps best in a sling when out and about. It is exhausting and upsetting and at times I have questioned my mental health! And I feel pathetic for this. How many woman have had two kids with this age gap? Or even three kids to look after or more. It feels like… It can’t really be this hard, can it? 

I’m also amazed at how much guilt I feel when having a “moment” with one and not the other. It’s weird sharing love. Audrey was such a total focus for us and now she’s lost some of that focus because we’ve added a baby brother into the mix. I feel bad about it, even though in the long run everyone will be happier for it.

But in this heatwave it sucks to have a baby strapped to your front and another to push up one of Brighton’s many hills in the buggy. 

It sucks when one needs to be awake and the other needs to be asleep (and they often get this the wrong way around).

Or in the middle of the night when the baby has (finally) slept for a decent stretch but the toddler wakes up crying.

There are so many reasons that dealing with these two feels like a giant challenge at the moment, an uphill climb (with one kid attached to you and the other pushed in a buggy!!), but what will it be like once we reach the top? Only time will tell, but I am banking on this struggle having a happy ending. And I’m pretty sure it will. Hey, just look at the way Rex looks at his big sister…

National Breastfeeding Week

The first decent latch after the tongue snip. Note my messed up hand thanks to a dodgy canula.

Hello, a second post in one week? With two kids?!? I don’t know how I’ve managed it,  but I have!

It’s National Breastfeeding Week apparently. Although I do find all these “National Potato Day” and “Dog Walker Awareness Month” type things baffling (OK, I made that last one up), I thought I’d write a little something about breastfeeding since I’ve now done it twice with two very different experiences.

Baby number one (aka Audrey!):

No labour, emergency C-Section, surprise Down’s Syndrome diagnosis – a scary start to motherhood. Looking back I didn’t have time to consider that breastfeeding might not work out since I’d had a C-Section (which I understand can cause problems; your body needs to know it has given birth) and apparently babies with DS can struggle to breastfeed.Neither of these things were at the front of my mind when, around (20?) hours after she was born, I was taken up to try her on the boob. 

I love the way Ted remembers this moment. He sees it (rightfully so), through rose tinted spectacles – a memory of a mother falling in love with her baby at the instant she brought her to her breast. There was a lot going on that’s for sure,  but I do remember that nerve-wracking moment I was wheeled up to visit my poorly baby to try to feed her… And out came the boob, on went the baby… It worked! It was pretty exciting, although before that point we’d spent a day expressing collustrum in an embarrassing tricky manoeuvre involving my boob squeezing and Ted “hoovering” it up into a syringe. It was a bizarre experience.

And as breasfeeding progressed (in uncomfortable plastic chairs, surrounded by beeping machines, with my baby attached to various machines by wires and tubes), we were “lucky” enough to be thoroughly supervised by a lactation consultant. One who advised we use nipple shields intially to help with Audrey’s latch. This seemed to really help and within 8 weeks we were no longer using them and Audrey was breasfed until 8 months. 

I do remember the early stage being stressful and uncertain, but once we found our groove, I could leave the house confident I had a boob, so she would be fine for food. It helps packing light.

Our main issue with Audrey in those days was the reflux – the rivers of puke. They thought a floppy larynx probably caused it, but she couldn’t keep her feeds down and we were covered in milk sick all the time. She was changed (no exaggeration) at least 5 times a day. 

And when it came to saying goodbye to the boob, I was reluctant to let it go, it was sad, but then, Audrey was happy with a bottle and literally couldn’t care less at the change. We took away boob, put her in a cot and in her own room – all in the same week and got her sleeping through the night after one night of “training” (Ted going in for comfort when she woke instead of me feeding her). Job done. “Booby finished” as Audrey would say.

Baby number two (Rex):

My memory erased any issues I may have had with Audrey and when Rex popped out, I just hoped he wasn’t a puker and stuck him on. It seemed simple… But my nipples did hurt a bit… Then they hurt some more… Then they cracked and bled, oh joy. I think it was 7 days in that I cried out in pain so much that we decided something had to be done and that the NHS appointment several weeks away was not going to help. We paid for a private lactation consultant to come and snip the posterior tongue-tie and finally feeds were no longer so painful that I lived in fear of each one, flinching as I put my newborn to my breast *shudders at the memory*. 

Well meaning midwives had said he latch looked OK and that I should persevere, that the nipples would heal soon, that perhaps he just needed to grow a bit. I’m glad we didn’t give up, but I’m also glad I didn’t just ride it out because a few more days of pain and I would have bulk-bought the Aptimil and sacked off the boob forever!

As it is, breastfeeding Rex is on the one hand fantastic, convenient, bonding, amazing… On the other hand a pain (we think he has a cow’s milk intolerance so I can’t eat dairy!). The funny thing is, I  vowed to combi-feed with Rex (as we were eventually made to “top” Audrey up with formula to give her more calories and the bottle turned out to give us some independence), but because we think he’s intolerant, we can only give him prescribed formula… But I can only get the prescription by testing his intolerance by introducing dairy… And I can’t face him being a shit, even if it is just for one night. He basically writhes around with wind and wakes a lot. Which he does anyway, but less so when I’m not touching dairy. It’s frustrating to watch, hideous to wake up to and just a really exhausting aspect of having a baby. This time around I am thinking about switching to formula at 6 months and I cannot wait for Rex to be eating solids. I need him to sit up, get his wind out and sleep more!! Please!!

Anyway, ranting aside, breastfeeding is amazing if you can do it. I look down at him drinking from my body and I can’t quite believe it, it’s pretty magical. However it is also really hard for some (lots of) people and no one should take it for granted. I could so easily be formula feeding right now if we hadn’t paid privately to get his tongue snipped, I didn’t have the strength to keep going in pain, on the promise of midwives that it would get easier with time. The funny thing about time is… yes, 6 weeks is a speck in the scheme of a lifetime, but it’s a bloody long time when you have to keep a human alive by doing something scream-out-loud-painful about 10 times a day. 

So let’s celebrate #nationalbreastfeedingweek but also not forget those who wanted to do it but couldn’t because it was bloody hard. 

Typical challenges

It’s early to acknowledge this (given we only have 3 months of experience with a “typical” child), but I’ve started thinking about how different this journey is going to be in comparison to our experience with Audrey.

We’ve joked our house is Audrey-proof, but not child-proof. Audrey picks up things and hands them to us… “Daddy’s” she says, passing me some headphones, “Mummy’s juice” she says proudly, pointing at my glass of drink (not touching it). She is gentle, she is careful and she can barely reach/climb/have the strength to pull things over. Rex will be very different and it’s scaring me already. 

So funny to feel like parenting a “typical” baby is a pain in the bum. “He’s so sturdy!” we exclaim, with worried looks. “He’ll be an early walker” people tell us, and we exchange terrified glances. We are used to slow-mo growth; example – Rex is nearly 4 months old, he is wearing age 3-6 months (stands to reason) and Audrey wore these clothes around 10 months! It really puts into perspective how small she was. How small she is.

And with that we have an almost 3 year old who can’t walk. She started bum-shuffling at 18 months, all that time we had a “baby”. Rex is going to seem like a fast-forward monster child! I already call him chunk and he’s just a reasonable size, poor kid.

I say “poor kid”, but he’s still a real challenge, so it’s “poor us” really. He wakes a lot, still only sleeps well in the sling for daytime naps and can be generally unhappy just hanging out on his play mat. I am really banking on solids and sitting up changing him, I think he would prefer an upright view and he would enjoy some food, but God help us if that makes no difference! Eek.

I still recognise that people must think it’s nuts that I talk about our experience with Audrey as easy (Down’s Syndrome, oxygen canisters, tests and appointments and worries about her future…), but that Rex is hard. But no one has a baby expecting that much of your time together is stressful and he can make things stressful just being so whiny and needy. 

That aside, he is beautiful and he loves a laugh – I can already see that his sister is going to be such a great friend to him- he looks at her with love already and she makes him smile. They are fabulous children and one day Rexy, one day we will look back and laugh about how difficult you were!