Monday, 21 July 2014

Hard work

It seems like Geli's sleeping issues for the past few months were a prelude to a generally difficult phase. I know it's pretty normal at 2 1/2, but some days have been a total grind recently - an endless string of conflicting demands, refusals, mini- and not-so-mini-tantrums and clinginess. She wants one of us to be there entertaining her ALL. THE. TIME. She'll occasional hold it together for an hour or two, but I feel like I spend most of my time grappling with this high-strung little creature who takes every happening as an excuse to burst into tears or shout at me. "I'm not going to play with you if you're going to scream at me" has just about become my catchphrase. When her mood is constantly so unpredictable, and often flat out terrible, it makes for an extremely long 'day at the office'.  

I have been holding onto the idea that this is all a result of lack of sleep, and perhaps it is. But I accept, finally, that I just don't think I can get her to actually sleep more: 9-10 hours a day is basically the cap at the moment, usually from about 8:30 til 6. She will sometimes fall asleep in the car but she'll rarely transfer to her bed without waking up completely incensed that you would dare to try and put her down for a nap. When we can get her to go to bed at her former time of around 7, she simply wakes up earlier in the morning. More often at bedtime she will sit in her room procrastinating as long as humanly possible. We are getting better with refusing extra requests after she's in her room and generally not engaging with her, but she can easily waste an hour talking to herself and rearranging her blankets/toys and trying to escape her pyjamas - and even with the lack of pay-off, she'll still endlessly call down the hallway for more potty trips, hugs, stories, lullabies and whatever else she can think of. Her latest trick is claiming that she's hurt herself and needs to go to the doctor, in the most melodramatic way possible... I'd laugh if it weren't so frustrating! We bought a Gro-clock to try and get her to sleep at least the full 10 hours, 8:30 til 6:30, and she was very excited about it at first. But unfortunately she just ignores it, because it doesn't say what she wants. We set it so the sun on the face appears at 6:30. She will wake up at 10 to six and call down the hall wanting to get out, and I'll ask her "is the sun up on your clock, Geli?" *Pause* Then a little voice calls back, "Yeees..."  So cheeky.


So, yeah, parenting has taken a turn for the difficult recently. It is so hard to keep your cool when someone is being completely unreasonable and screaming at you, and I will admit I have done a bit of shouting of my own, particularly when she first got into the real swing of this phase a couple of weeks ago. I am getting better at handling it as I get used to her antics; to start off with, it was just so confronting and out of character that I found it extremely hard to take. And her being so verbal adds another layer of challenge - I'll be trying to convince her to put her pants on and I get things like "I'm so sick of you Mummy!" and "Go away! Shoo! Shoo!" It also makes her a quite accomplished fibber - e.g. she will hide the pants after she takes them off (which happens about a dozen times a day right now - we are resolutely opposed to pants, despite the arctic temperatures outside) and when you ask her what happened to them you get "I don't know. They must be gone. They're gone forever!" Yes, Geli, I'm sure your pants EVAPORATED off your butt. Completely plausible.


She gets about an hour of TV in the morning, and other than that I have to do my best to distract her disgruntled little head as far as possible from about 6 am until she finally drifts off sometime after 8 pm. I've been trying to get her out of the house every day, go to the playground, meet up with her friends, go shopping, whatever I can think of, because boredom only exacerbates the issue further. I put in a concerted effort to sit down with her and play games for at least a couple of hours a day, read lots of books and make sure she is getting plenty of attention. But beyond that, I refuse to pander too much to all this; realistically, she can't have every little thing she wants (especially when so much of the time it's chocolate, or extra TV -_-), and she can't have my undivided attention all the time. She has to learn to deal with that. I know she's only two, and I know it's just a phase, and I'm trying to 'handle with care' as far as I can. But I also know I can't encourage this to go on any longer than it absolutely has to!

Hopefully, if we can just stay consistent and calm (even when she is entirely the opposite) it won't be too long...

(Famous last words, for sure. =_=)

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Yes, the post is AWOL... :(

Sorry, I've just been flat out and I'm running out of week to get the post done in! Lots of work, Geli being generally 2 1/2 and a couple of unexpected crises... there hasn't even been time for any baking this week :( And the sugar would be reeeally welcome, believe me! At least I have a lot to talk about, whenever I manage to get it down.
I will try for a double post next week. Blaah hopeless, I know.

In the meantime, here is a picture of Geli in July two years ago:


Crazy! Also, necessary today when she's been um... let's be political about it and say "challenging" rather than "a complete pain in the butt"... all week :P Aww, she was once so tiny and sweet, whatever happened etc. Let's conveniently forget right now how 'challenging' she could also be at that age, ha ha...

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Five random thoughts

Kicking around the backyard.
1. My car had been on the fritz for a couple of weeks, but it's
finally back to its old self. It wasn't a mechanical issue - there was an after-market car alarm installed (which nobody who owned the car ever used so who knows) and it had gone a bit haywire - but it was a pest to find and fix. Every time you opened the door or tried to start the engine the alarm went off, and it was immobilising the car and making doing any work on it a very noisy pain until we managed to get the battery out. Dad finally found the alarm box inside the dashboard, clipped the wires, and installed a new car battery for good measure. Now the car is fully functional again, and actually seems to be starting and running smoother than before, so I don't know if the alarm had been meddling with things for a while or what. Either way: hooray for wheels! We were homebound quite a bit and did a lot of drawing, walking, reading, etc, but we had a lot of very welcome visitors and a few even volunteered to chaffeur us around over the course of the fortnight so we weren't completely stuck. Nett took us to playgroup and food shopping, and we even made it to the zoo with Marian which was lovely.

PANDAAAAA.

2. My WoW raid is in dire straits again. The roster is massive for a 10-man group, but attendance is woeful. I think as we all get older and have stricter work commitments, changing rosters, kids to deal with etc it gets harder to make the odd times the raid runs at all our varying time zones... and motivation/energy starts to wane earlier in the season. Tanks seem to be the big problem right now, as always... even though we have four of them, we rarely have more than two on and pretty regularly recently only one. But then, summer in the USA is always rocky for raiding and we're also nearing the end of the expansion. In a few months Warlords of Draenor will be out and that should shake some new enthusiasm into everyone.

3. I'm also squeezing in a fair bit of Diablo 3 again right now. I got a nice set hand crossbow to drop (Danetta's Spite) and I've been trying to find the second one. My weapon has been a weak spot for a long time so it would make a big difference. I'm also one piece away from the four-piece on the Marauder set, which looks really fun (all four companions at once!). I love how D3 is now set up similarly to D2, so basically the whole objective of the game is to farm for drops - it's much more fun. I played so much D2 as a teenager, it's all quite a nostalgia kick for me now logging into D3 to grind some greens.

Not complaining about all the baking.
4. I've been on a bit of a baking kick too in the last couple of weeks. I was 'formally inducted' into the Friday mothers group I've been getting the odd invite too, and baked cupcakes for the first one I hosted. Since then I've just been feeling the need for delicious homemade goodies in my life. Last week I made another batch of cupcakes and some scones, and so far this week I managed lime tarts and a surprisingly decent gluten- and dairy-free chocolate cake for Chris using almond milk, coconut oil and gluten free flour. It has a fairly dense consistency but it tastes basically like normal chocolate cake, which is always the ultimate aim making stuff with dietary restrictions. There's a rather sad-looking brown banana in my fruit bowl at the moment which might be made into muffins or some such tomorrow. The wild life I lead!

Too much time at home = backwards
scramblebug.
5. In other baking news, I've finally discovered the Great British Bake-Off and I've been devouring all the old seasons. There's something really relaxing and uplifting about it; I love when the contestants get a good critique and are so chuffed. This may be sort of blasphemous, but I'm not a huge fan of the hosts... I don't think I've found really anything they say funny so far. It's this brand of intellectualised, hyperbolic, self-deprecating and "ho-ho-ho wasn't that pun terrible?" humour that I find a little bit grating. They almost come across mean sometimes because they're making light of things that must have been really stressful for the contestants (like in season 2 when the guy's cake fell on the ground and smashed and I think Sue brought it up once an episode until he was eliminated just about). But I do love the judges - I think Mary is just charming and Paul is the tough-but-fair judge every other tough-but-fair judge has ever tried to be, except for that one episode in season 3 on puddings where he had an apparent bout of PMS and was hating on everyone. I need more episodes!

Monday, 30 June 2014

Out of the mouths of toddlers

The other afternoon Geli was eating a banana - and the next time she came up to me to ask for her 37th snack of the day, she was still holding the last quarter. "You don't want to finish your banana?" I ask.
"No." She hands it to me.
"Are you sure?" I offer it back to her.
"NO." She pushes my hand away firmly. "I don't want a banana!"
Duly, I fetch her another snack, and eat the last bit of banana myself.
Twenty minutes later, I hear crying; she's standing at the couch where the earlier banana rejection occurred, rummaging in the throw rug for something. I head over, kneel down, calm her down a bit. "Geli, what's the matter?"
"I lost my banana! I lost my banana in the couch!" she sobs.
"No Geli - remember? You said you didn't want it. You gave it to me."
Pause. She looks at me, suddenly dry-eyed. "Give it back, mummy."
"Sorry, Geli, I already ate it."
"Spit it out," she says.
"I can't, it's gone!"
She's not easily deterred. "Open your mouth - spit it out, please, mummy." She's trying to open my mouth herself.  "I need my banana."
I show her there's nothing in there. "See? It's all gone. Sorry, you said you didn't want it." She's attempting to reach into my mouth with her hand. "No, Geli, it's in my tummy now."
She considers this, then starts trying to rummage under my shirt. "Let me see. I will take it out."
By this point I'm laughing quite a bit. "No, that's not how it works, you can't get it out!"
"I can get it!"

A couple of days later, she's playing with the busy book her grandma made for her in the playroom. When she comes out to see me, she's carrying a bit of pink plastic. She walks up, smiling. "I'm a denchist," she informs me. "Open your mouth." She taps on my teeth with the bit of plastic for a minute and then pokes my tongue pretty hard. "Ouch, don't do that!"
"It's okay, mummy. I'm gonna get my banana."
I realise the piece of plastic is actually... the fishing rod, from the busy book.



P.S.
Best 'Let it Go' cover ever, yes?

ETA: Should probably provide a tiny bit of context, haha. She hasn't seen the movie: we've had a few trial lessons at a pre-dance class (which so far she's not very interested in, honestly), and they play this song for one of the activities. She really likes it, and she asks me to sing it in the car quite a bit, so that's how she picked it up.

Monday, 23 June 2014

*Yawn*

A few posts ago I was complaining about Geli's odd sleeping habits and hoping for my 13 hour a day sleeper back. Yeah, heh, well. That never happened. It has been up and down for some months, really, but the last few nights have been shocking again. Shortly after that last blog post, I decided to try just abandoning the nap entirely and seeing what happened - and for a short time, it seemed like all the issues had been solved (apart from my chronic lack of midday internet time, *sob*). With a nap, she would sleep around 8 or 9 hours overnight, plus a 1-2 hour nap. With the nap, she'd reliably get 11-12 hours straight, and occasionally even more. It did take a week or so of adjustment before she was comfortably getting through to the evening napless and without becoming a terror of overtiredness, but then she seemed fine. No more 4 am wake-ups or 10 pm bed times. No more dozen attempts at nap time and bed time. All was right with the world.

However! The last few nights, we are (soul-crushingly) back to square one. Despite being obviously tired and not having napped, she just does not want to go to bed. Bed time is supposed to be 7 pm, since she wakes up between 5 and 7 am. But she will try EVERY trick in the book to stay awake later than that. She asks for the potty, usually at least a dozen times. She wants a drink. She wants you to feed her the drink while she lies down. She doesn't like her jumpsuit. She needs a hug. She wants another story... and then a lullaby. And then a snack. And then to brush her teeth again.

And there are contributing factors, which aren't at all her fault. She has had a cold since last weekend, which has only started to lift in the past couple of days; so she's been really crabby, tired and clingy overall. Plus she hates having a runny nose and is more or less constantly crying that there are 'boogies' in her nose.

Related to both the cold and the sudden sleep crisis, I took away her dummy last Monday night; she was trying to put it in her mouth and just making herself more and more upset because she couldn't breathe with it in. She asked for it, but didn't worry too much about it being gone and went to sleep quite quickly. Then after she'd slept one night without it, we decided to take the chance and try to get rid of it for good. In fairness, she has only asked for it twice since then, and she hasn't got upset about it either time; she seemed a bit puzzled that they were gone, but that was basically that. Still, I have no doubt lack of dummy + blocked/runny nose is not helping on the sleep front. The mornings have also been really cold recently, and even though she didn't have a cough during the day she coughed herself awake a couple of times in the wee hours of the morning (before 5 am =_=... after an hour plus of bedtime avoidance the night before).

The net effect is that everyone is tired, which is making it much harder to deal with her bad mood all day, and both parents are desperately sick of the bedtime dance. So tonight we decided we weren't going to do it. We made sure her room was set up with her drink bottle, the bed side light on, some books to look at, all her bunnies and other bedtime accoutrements. She had a book and a lullaby, went to the potty, and Chris put her to bed. He explained the deal - it was bedtime, and she had to stay in her room and go to sleep. She could read a book quietly to herself (this worked the first few nights after the dummy went), but she needed to rest.

Well, thirty minutes later she was still awake and standing at the gate crying to be let out. Attempting 'sleep training' when she was a baby never felt as mean; it is 100 times worse when they can talk. We all have our limits, and that was mine. So she got a snack and an extra story, and then she finally went to sleep. I'm sure it's just making further work for us down the track and teaching her that we will cave in if she keeps it up long enough, and so on, and so forth. But I'm not willing to be too much of a hard ass right now, when the crash course in self-soothing sans dummy is still a work-in-progress, and she's getting over a cold. I'm just hoping she sleeps in past 5 am tomorrow. Precious, elusive, sleep. =__=

Monday, 16 June 2014

Keeping on

I'm still here, still doing okay. Things have been kind of up and down, as expected, but mostly I've been too busy to dwell on it all that much. In the interest of staving off the sads (because writing last week's post had me reeeally teary by the end despite all my claims to be feeling pretty even-keeled about the whole situation) today I'm going to stick with a totally frivolous and fluffy post.

I've had this one 'dressy' Shirley Temple skirt in Geli's wardrobe forever. I finally consigned it to the 'too small' pile last week, but she must have worn it 7 or 8 times over the past 18 months or so. And I realised it featured in enough pictures to make a pretty handy yardstick of just how MUCH she has grown (and in fact, just how much toddlers grow generally):


This is a really quick line up (e.g., done in MS paint in 10 minutes >_>), so the scale's not perfect, but it gives you a good idea. She is 15 months in the first one, 19 months in the middle one and 27 months in the last one: apparently enough time to go from little baby to big girl. What is possibly even more insane than her increase in overall size is that HAIR. It had just been cut in that middle photo; 8 months later and it's hanging out around shoulder-blade length. Hair for days!

(These pictures also demonstrate the issue with skirts on toddler girls: chronic lack of waist. In the middle picture I'd just hitched it up to sit where her 'natural waist' will one day be, but really her torso is mostly sausage-shaped and skirts end up way down under her belly. I love this thing, but egads it is a pest to get sitting decently.)

And the most insane thing is that, of course, she's still tiny, and this is going to keep happening every year until 2030-ish (which remains firmly, in my mind, a science fiction date despite being basically right around the corner). I can sort of picture what she might look like in another year... but in five years? Or as a teen, or an adult? I just have no idea, and it's still vaguely surreal to think that she will ever be tall enough to go on rollercoasters, or old enough to drive a car. Maybe in 2030 I'll drag that little skirt out of a box in an attic somewhere and get her to hold it up for a photo again, just to completely overwhelm myself with a nostalgia attack when I compare...

Friday, 6 June 2014

Over

It started exactly a week ago: Friday night, I was getting into the bath and noticed the faintest trace of blood. It looked like 'old' blood, and I didn't think anything of it - spotting is common, after all, in the first trimester, and you could hardly even call this 'spotting'.

Except by Saturday afternoon there was blood every time I checked. Still a dark colour, but enough that I was starting to worry. That evening I called Health Direct and was put through to a doctor who advised that, if I could, I should go to the emergency department for a scan. I called Womens and Childrens and they echoed what the doctor had said - and added something about needing a shot of Anti-D. Somehow, despite the multiple handouts I had been given during my first pregnancy, I had never absorbed the fact that Anti-D is also given to women who appear to be miscarrying. I left Chris to handle the bath and bed routine for Geli and raced into the hospital, thinking they could help the baby.

But as soon as the ultrasound came up on the screen, it was immediately clear that there was nothing to be done. The doctor skirted the issue: "it looks a little small for this far along... measures nearly 7 weeks," he said. I asked about the heartbeat, and he confirmed what was already obvious. There wasn't one. I would have to come in on Monday for a more detailed scan, to make sure. It didn't look good. He was very sorry. He handed me a box of tissues and a tentative diagnosis of missed miscarriage.

I had another ultrasound on Monday, which showed that the embryo was actually even smaller than originally thought - barely 3 mm long, the size it would have been at 6 weeks. As embryos usually shrink at the same rate they would have continued to grow, it meant that something had gone wrong at least a fortnight earlier, probably more. For some reason, my body had taken this long to work out what had happened - although, retrospectively, I think of every moment I was asked how I felt and jokingly said 'suspiciously' well. That if I hadn't seen the positive test, I wouldn't believe I was pregnant. Perhaps, actually, my system knew all along.

I was sent back to Womens Assessment for a consultation with another doctor, which was possibly the worst part of the whole long ordeal. Because I was measuring 'nearly' 6 weeks, having no heart beat wasn't, objectively, evidence enough to confirm a missed miscarriage - there is often no visible heart beat at that gestation. Was I completely sure of my dates? My doctor hadn't done a recorded urine test, so they had no way of knowing if I really conceived when I said I did. I showed them the picture on my phone of my positive test, taken in late April, but of course, "we can't know if that was really yours". Protocol said I had to come back in another week for a further scan, to see what had happened by then.  I couldn't stand the idea of this all being drawn out another week knowing how long it had already been, and worrying the whole time about leaving the house in case the bleeding chose that moment to start in earnest. But she was reluctant, emphasising their concern about not interfering with a viable pregnancy. "I know this probably all sounds so weird," she said, "but we do get some cray-crays in here." The implication that I might be deliberately trying to get rid of a healthy baby, while grappling with the fact I was carrying one that had already died, was extremely hard to take. I think bursting into tears was finally convincing enough; she booked me in for a D&C in two days' time.

Yesterday was Thursday and thankfully, I was first on the surgical roster. For the 24 hours before I had moderately heavy bleeding and bad cramping as my system tried to get into gear to expel the tissue on its own. I was about 95% convinced it would all happen on Wednesday night. But there was only more and more steady bleeding; by the time I was being checked in for the procedure, my blood pressure had dropped from Monday's 130/80 to 100/60. But the D&C went as planned and, after a few hours of severe cramps (possibly caused by the misoprostol I had to take beforehand), I immediately felt 300% better. This morning was the first day in several weeks I didn't wake up completely exhausted - instead of leaving Geli with her plate of toast and collapsing on the couch, we ate together and then read books, played with her dolls and ran around outside. Despite all that has happened, it was at least some consolation to have so much more energy for Geli.

But emotionally, I feel pretty tapped out. After two months of planning and adjustment and preparation, it is an extreme shock to realise that baby you've been imagining will never exist. It all ramped up over the course of the weekend as the news begun to fully sink in, and on Monday night particularly I was just inconsolable for most of the evening. But as I started to feel physically worse, I began to move past the sadness and accept that this was an inevitability - there was clearly something wrong from very early on, and the tiny embryo that I lost this time could never have been the baby I had pictured. By Wednesday I felt so ill and uncomfortable that I was just anxious for it all to be over. I can't guarantee that I'm completely done with tears, but for now I think I'm coming to terms with it. It is very sad, and I know that this Christmas will be hard as my due date rolls around - but there was nothing that could be done, and at least I am healthy and healing, with my family and friends there for me every step of the way.

So, goodbye baby, even though you were no bigger than a grain of rice. I will miss you, the way I pictured you, especially come the end of this year. Thank you for teaching us that we're ready to do this; we will try again, a little down the line. But I'm sorry that it wasn't you. I'm sorry it's over.