I just don’t know what to say…

Living in a different country from where you grew up is without a doubt difficult at times. No matter how hard you try, you will miss birthdays, weddings, parties, summer bbq’s and afternoons of endless cups of tea with your sister or best friend. No matter how big or small the occasion, it’s hard.

It is most difficult though when something bad happens. When disaster strikes either your family, friends or your fellow countrymen it is extremely hard to not be around.

The airplane disaster from last Thursday is without a doubt the worst thing that happened to my home country since I left it. Flight MH17 was shot from the air and there were no survivors, 193 of the victims were Dutch. Reading about parents who waved bye bye to their children never to see them again makes me so sad it is hard to keep back my tears. The words: “The death count has risen by 3 because 3 babies didn’t have their own seats” saddens me to the core and make me cry every time I think about them.

The stories about how the site has not yet been secured, how the bodies have been man handled and how the victims possessions have been looted are infuriating. The thought of children’s and babies bodies being out there, being treated in this awful disrespectful way is leaving me speechless and tearful. Not being able to mourn with my fellow Dutchies has never been harder.

Please spare a thought for the victims and their families.

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Almost six months…..

In 11 days time Jacob will be six months old and even though it has been hard work and difficult at times there have been many wonderful moments. I wanted to write more often during the first few months but have not had the time or peace of mind to do it. So instead, here are some of the things I have really enjoyed.

* The bonding. After an insanely quick delivery, Jacob and I had to stay in hospital for a few days. It was extremely hard only seeing Elisabeth briefly during those days, especially as I knew she was struggling with me not being there, but it was nice to have that time with Jacob. It really gave me a chance to bond with him without having to worry about doing anything else.

* The love from sister to brother. From day one it was obvious that Elisabeth adored Jacob, she loves giving him cuddles and kisses and tickling his little feet.

* The sleep! To say that I was concerned about sleep is an understatement. It was hard enough looking after just Elisabeth with practically no sleep for about two years, having both a baby and a three year old to deal with on no sleep filled me with dread. You can imagine my surprise and delight when Jacob started sleeping through before he was even four months old! He goes to bed just before seven and most nights he sleeps until six. Of course there are nights when he wants his dummy plugged back in every five minutes, or he can’t get to sleep on his own and needs me to cuddle him until he drifts off, or when he thinks 4am is a perfectly acceptable time to wake up, but most of the time he sleeps amazingly well. It is very very nice indeed. Although saying all this, the last week sleep has not been good and I can feel the ever so familiar effects of my old “friend” sleep deprivation. All I can say is that I hope it will pass soon.

* The quiet moments. I love playing with Jacob and Elisabeth, singing silly songs, doing crazy dancing and trying to keep up with Elisabeth’s never ending imagination. Sometimes though I really enjoy the quiet moments. Times when Elisabeth is sitting at her little table drawing and Jacob happily watches her from his little bouncy chair, both completely content leaving me to get on with the endless amounts of washing and other chores. Those moments stop me in my tracks and make me take a moment to truly appreciate my two little superstars.

* The eating. Watching Jacob eat is an absolute delight, when Elisabeth was the same age she was just starting to have little bits of baby rice, Jacob is on three meals a day already. He is a real hungry monster and loves pretty much everything I give him, and he makes yummy noises with every bite :-)

* The differences. Elisabeth and Jacob are different in pretty much everything. It’s lovely to be surprised by things that Jacob does or likes that Elisabeth didn’t do or like. Certainly keeps things interesting.

* The love from brother to sister. The way Jacob watches Elisabeth is something I can watch all day. As soon as she walks (or often runs) into a room his eyes light up and he starts kicking his feet. If she comes near he tries to grab her and pull her close. If he struggles to nap when we’re out, all Elisabeth has to do is sing him ‘twinkle twinkle little star’ and he nod off. Last night we were all upstairs in our bedroom, I had bathed Jacob and was ready to go downstairs when Elisabeth jumped on our bed and started being silly. The next thing we hear is Jacob bursting out laughing every time Elisabeth makes a silly move. Proper belly laughs, the best ones yet. It was amazing, Elisabeth kept being silly and Jacob laughed and laughed. There is some proper brother- and sisterly love growing here. We are very lucky to have them both.

Conversations with Elisabeth 8

Me: “What would you like for lunch? A Marmite sandwich?”
Elisabeth: “Yes mummy, that’ll do.”
(Cheeky monkey!)

Elisabeth: “I am so lucky, I get chocolate twice. At Christmas and at Easter!”
(Whilst she eats the smallest piece of chocolate ever)

Elisabeth: “Mummy, can you tell me the story about when I was a baby and we lived in Africa?”
Me: “What? We never lived in Africa.”
Elisabeth: “Yes we did, that is where I was born. Africa is really far away you know.”
Me – speachless

Elisabeth: “Mummy, do you have a sore head?”
Me: “no, I don’t.”
Elisabeth: “Yes you do! It’s there!”
Me: “Oh, that is my forehead sweetheart.”

Me: “Can you eat some of your mashed potato please?”
Elisabeth: “I don’t like mashed potato.”
Me: “Ok, do you like mash?”
Elisabeth: “Yes, I like mash.”
Me: “Right, so you don’t like mashed potato.”
Elisabeth: “No.”
Me: “But you like mash?”
Elisabeth: “Yes.”

The beginning of the end

I am really passionate about breastfeeding, I truly believe it is the very best thing you can do for your baby, but it is not easy, far from it. Feeding Elisabeth was incredibly painful for 4 months because she couldn’t latch on properly, but I managed to feed her for 8 and a half months and I am glad I did. It was incredibly difficult but I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. I didn’t really enjoy it though, I enjoyed doing the best I could for her, but the actual feeding, not so much. With Jacob things started off a lot better, he latched on fine. But I still don’t do it for the joy of it. I do it because it is best for baby (and me) and how can I justify not doing the best for my beautiful baby, but I also do it because I don’t do failure. Or should I say I don’t do it well.

In my head failure is only acceptable when you are physically or mentally not able to complete a task, in all other circumstances failure is not an option. I know this is quite ridiculous, but hey, try telling my stubborn head that!

During our 4 days in hospital after Jacob was born I had to supplement his feeds with formula because his bloodsugar was too low. He was such a big boy and because my milk hadn’t come in yet he just wasn’t getting enough. This was obviously the right thing to do, although I hated putting a bottle in that tiny little mouth, but it was that or risking him having to go to special care so I didn’t feel guilty about it.

I even didn’t feel too bad for introducing a bottle at bedtime because he just wouldn’t stop feeding in the evening and I was just not able to keep feeding every hour til gone midnight because he just wasn’t satisfied. It wasn’t what I wanted but it felt like the right thing to do. I would feed him during the day, either me or my husband would give him a bottle in the evening and I would feed him again at night.

At 12 weeks Jacob decided that it was about time he slept through the night which is so amazing I hadn’t even hoped for it. I know this will probably change when he has a growth spurt or starts teething, but at the moment he sleeps on average 10 hours straight. This does mean however that during the morning he feeds like crazy, every hour at least, and by the time the extra milk from not feeding at night has gone he is very unsatisfied and hard to settle after every feed. Not only is it hard to see him so unsatisfied, it has made it almost impossible to spend any time with Elisabeth in the morning, by the time I got her dressed and made her some toast Jacob is hungry again. Last Friday he was awake at 6.15 and had had 5 feeds by midday at 20 minutes to half an hour each and still he was hungry. This was too much for me and I decided to give him one bottle during the day as well as before he goes to bed. It was very upsetting giving him this bottle. Over the weekend it was obvious how much more settled he was, but it is difficult to accept that this might be best for him and for Elisabeth as well.

So far I have not noticed a decrease in milk production and I really hope this decision will not be the beginning of the end of nursing, because even though I don’t thoroughly enjoy it, I want him to benefit from it for at least another 3 months. Fingers crossed!

Time flies when you don’t have time

Jacob is now nearly three months old and I have been seriously neglecting this blog. There are two times I often write, either in the evening or on the bus on the way to or from work, but I’m not back to work yet and I go to bed pretty much as soon as both kiddos are asleep (to catch every possible minute of sleep I can). And writing during the day…..ha ha, you must be joking….in between feeding, changing, washing, feeding, changing, spending a few precious moments with Elisabeth whilst Jacob sleeps, feeding, changing, cooking, feeding, changing, eating, bathing etc there is not much time left. So, unfortunately, blogging will have to wait until I have a few minutes in the morning, like today.

Things are going well though. Jacob is sleeping really well, I feed him during the day and we give him a bottle of formula before he goes to bed. I struggled with the endless feeding in the evening and we quickly decided that it was better to give him one bottle a day so I’d have the energy to feed him during the day than giving up altogether. I would like to continue breastfeeding until he is 6 months old, but I am finding it quite hard.

Elisabeth is doing great, she has only told me once that she wanted Jacob to go and that was when she was really poorly. The poor little lamb had a couple of weeks of temperatures, being sick and a really nasty cough. But most of the time she loves having her little brother around. The other morning I was downstairs making a cup of tea and I heard Jacob cry. I was about to go upstairs and see what was wrong when the crying stopped. When I got back upstairs, Elisabeth was sitting next to Jacob and was gently rocking him in his bouncy chair to stop him crying. Very cute.

I find it really hard not having enough time to play with Elisabeth, I try to give her one on one attention whenever Jacob sleeps, but it is hard. She still goes to her lovely childminder on Tuesday which she really enjoys and it gives me some time to spend with Jacob and catch up on some chores. We were hoping that she would get a pre-school place at the local school this month, but unfortunately she will have to wait until September.

Anyway, I think Elisabeth has just woken up and Jacob is starting to get hungry, so must go.

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Baby Newman no.2 – five weeks old

Our “little” Jacob is now just over five weeks old, and so far he has:

Had a cold already (@ two and a half weeks, poor little man)

Slept for six hours straight! (Only once, but still, go Jacob!)

Delighted us with a smile (@ five weeks)

Grown out of half of his 0-3 months suits already

Pooped more than I ever thought possible

And charmed the three of us into loving him more and more each day!