I don’t seem to be doing very well at thinking of scintillating post titles these days. As much as I love being able to use the word ‘children’, plural, to refer to my offspring (and so nonchalantly, as well), I do realise that it’s hardly eye-catching to anyone in search of a fascinating post to brighten their day. Then again, of course, it is fair to say that this probably isn’t that fascinating a post. Anyway, here’s what both of them are currently up to:
Jamie has developed an interest in playing with toy cars. After spending the last year or so watching him pass his time with such activities as memorising the entire list of Mr Men books in order, or counting to himself, or rewriting the CD list on his computer, I’m finding it a touch incongruous to watch him do something that’s normal to the point of cliché, but there it is – he currently loves pushing his cars back along the hallway. (Not back and forth – just back. He carries them down to the end of the hallway, pushes them back to his room, and lines them up carefully in the doorway.) Less conventionally, he has also developed an interest in hubcaps. Whenever anyone comes to visit he insists on being held up to the window (or climbing up, which he isn’t supposed to do) to a level where he can check out the hubcap status of their car and comment on it. This seems to have started when Barry was checking a tyre change of mine and took the opportunity to replace the old broken hubcap on that side with a shiny one that contrasts quite markedly with the shabby old one that’s still on the other wheel. This caught Jamie’s eye, and he has been intrigued by hubcaps ever since. Oh, yes, and (back to the more conventional) jigsaws. He has not quite been able to get the hang of jigsaws previously, but my mother brought him some simple ones when she came to visit the week before last, and they seem to have caught him at just the right developmental moment – he is now learning how to do quite a few simple ones, although a lot of it seems to be remembering how they go rather than working them out from scratch.
Our health visitor is organising another developmental assessment of him at some point in the next few weeks. When we went to the baby clinic a couple of weeks back, one of the other HVs chased after Jamie at some point when he escaped and I was held up in getting after him due to having a baby to take care of as well, and after a few moments of trying to persuade him to come back with her she noticed that his finger was caught in the door and realised that he had omitted to mention this somewhat salient fact to her to explain why he couldn’t move. I’d forgotten all about that incident in the general minor chaos of that visit and indeed motherhood in general, but the HV in question thought it was a bit odd and mentioned it to our HV, who remembered Jamie’s previous speech delay and also the fact that, apparently, when she visited our house after Katie was first born Jamie didn’t seem to be making eye contact with her. I think the last was actually just because she was a stranger to him, because he certainly has no problems making eye contact with us, but, anyway, when I turned up last Monday to get Katie weighed she asked after Jamie and mentioned these incidents to ask whether we had any concerns and/or thought a further developmental assessment would be in order, since she’d initially planned to do one after an interval anyway to check he was still getting along all right.
I explained to her that although we had no concerns as such about him, we had noticed a lot of minor things about him that, although not particularly problems, did add up enough to make us wonder whether perhaps he might be right over at the normal-ish end of autistic spectrum disorder. (Or, as Barry puts it, "Oh, you mean he’s a boy?") Sorry. I do realise that that probably a) makes me look like one of those ghastly neurotic clichéd mothers who insist on pinning a syndrome-du-jour label on their child and b) trivialises the concept of ASD to a point which I can see being potentially dreadfully hurtful to anyone who has a child with full-blown autism or florid ASD (the equivalent of the apocryphal woman who greets news of a friend’s fertility problems with "Oh, I totally understand how you feel! It took us almost three months to conceive our second and I thought I’d just die of frustration!") It’s not that we’re at all worried or upset or even feel that it’s anything we can draw any firm conclusions about at this stage – we’ve just speculated about it, in much the same way as we’ve speculated about whether we’re right in thinking that Katie will turn out to be a blue-eyed blonde. It certainly wouldn’t have been anything that I’d have felt the need to take him along to see anyone about at this point, but I’m not one to turn down a free developmental assessment when one is offered and, once Carol had dispelled my concern that in view of his lack of any actual current problems from his various quirks it would all be rather a waste of her time, I agreed enthusiastically and am looking forward to seeing how he does this time around. I shall update in due course.
Katie, meanwhile, turned eight weeks old yesterday. I went through the "Holy [insert expletive of choice]! stage when I realised she’d reached the age of seven weeks, but now have adjusted somewhat to the inexplicable speed with which time is hurtling forward and my daughter is growing. At this rate, it won’t be long before she starts doing really exciting stuff. Meanwhile, she continues to pass more minor milestones – for the past week or two, for example, she has been making little cooing gurgling noises like "Arrhghhoo". The other day at one of my various mothers-and-babies groups, I got into a speculative conversation with a couple of other mothers on the topic of what our babies’ various noises might possibly translate to – "Arrhghhoo", as far as I can tell, translates approximately as "Wasn’t it fun just then when I spat up everywhere, Mummy?! You really enjoyed having to change my clothes for the fifth time today, didn’t you?"
When Jamie’s nursery school teacher asked him how baby Katherine was doing, he assured her that she was in Size Two nappies now. ("Sounds like she’s growing well!" the teacher chirped, when I came to pick him up.) This has indeed been true for almost two weeks now (it would have been true even before that, but we had a massive stack of size 1s that we’d bought and I didn’t want to waste them) and is an important milestone not only for a number-obsessed three-year-old but for his mother, as it means I no longer feel the need to change her routinely at her night feed for fear she’ll leak before morning.
Between this and the growing efficiency of both Katie and myself at handling night feeds, they are now over with far faster than formerly. Although Katie has rarely woken more than once during the night, for her first several weeks that one waking would be a uber-waking of cluster feeding interspersed with frequent burps and poos which then made room for more milk, and would typically last for two hours or so before I could finally get her settled back into the Moses basket and fall back asleep myself. (One reason she rarely woke up more than once was because by the time we’d done all that both at the beginning of the night and then again when she woke up and then got her back to sleep for her second stretch of the night there just wasn’t time for her to wake up again before it was morning and I had to get up anyway.) It was never a case of her being wide awake in the wee small hours and wanting to play, just taking forever to get to the point where she had finally dealt with all bodily needs fully enough to be able to fall back to sleep properly.
I hasten to add, lest Fate thinks me ungrateful and strikes some ironic blow in response, that this is merely a recording of facts for posterity and not a complaint – Katie may have been a poor settler at first but she has made up for it in the sleeping when she does get to sleep. From the first week, she’s been able to do a couple of decent stretches either side of that uber-feed – at first it was around two and a half hours sleep before and then a couple of hours after, plus a similarly long nap in the afternoon if I was patient about swaddling and settling her in a darkened room, and the night-time stretches lengthened further as time went on. Between all of that (plus a husband willing to settle Jamie for his nap most days while I slept), I have been able to remain reasonably well-rested myself to a degree that I hadn’t dared to expect with a new baby, especially a new baby who’s younger sister to a child who was as poor a sleeper as Jamie was in his first year. So I am exceedingly happy with the overall sleep situation. But I am even happier now that the night feed has shrunk to a miraculous 10 – 20 minutes or less. I wake up at a fairly early stage of her starting-to-stir-and-get-hungry grunting, take a little while to surface myself, sit on the edge of the bed and pick her up swaddle and all before she has a chance to wake up completely and get irate, and get her onto the breast still not fully awake, and she nurses very peacefully and goes back to sleep without so much as needing a burp. And so, as a consequence, do I. Not only this, but she is showing exciting signs of extending her longest sleep period still further – for a good few weeks she was going for around three solid hours of sleep between first being settled and waking for her night feed, but over the past week this stretch has repeatedly been a good four-and-a-half to five hours. (Don’t hate me too much. I did, as I say, have a poor sleeper first time round.)
Incidentally, while the difference in their sleep patterns is probably just a luck-of-the-draw thing, I feel it only fair to record that while I was pregnant with Katie someone directed me to an article discussing newly emerging evidence on all the many benefits of fish oil supplements in pregnancy, one of which, apparently, is that babies whose mothers took fish oil supplements have been found to have more mature sleep patterns in early infancy. I was already taking one fish oil capsule a day just as I had been doing with Jamie, as former research has already shown this to be associated with a lower chance of premature birth, but after reading this I increased my consumption to three a day, and, well, who knows whether that was what made the difference but I mention it for your consideration anyway just in case there’s anyone reading this who wants to know what they can do to increase their chances of an as-yet-unborn child being a sleeper.
Last week, I noticed that she seems to hold her left foot in a pretty persistently inturned position. I can move it easily to the position it should be in, but can’t really turn it outwards and think it should have more flexibility than it does. If my scanty and outdated knowledge of paediatric orthopaedics is to be trusted (probably not) then this is not likely to need anything more than some stretching exercises to correct, but it did seem to be enough to warrant an opinion on optimum treatment from someone who actually does know about such things, so I have an appointment a little later this afternoon with the GP to request referral and will keep you posted. I am somewhat annoyed with myself for not spotting it earlier – not because it would have made a blind bit of difference from the clinical point of view, but because it would have increased the chances that her outpatient appointment would have happened before the end of my maternity leave, thus enabling me to attend. Oh, well. I do realise that this probably doesn’t sound like something that reflects very well on my clinical skills, but it isn’t really apparent when she has her Babygro on and this hasn’t exactly been the season for leaving babies scantily clad. I only noticed it when I left her to kick on her changing mat in the bathroom at an intermediate stage of a nappy change while I was using the loo and thus happened to be observing her feet for a few minutes (so I suppose it’s lucky I picked it up at this stage at all). Anyway, I shall keep you posted on this as on all else. More later. (How much later is not a topic on which I feel able to make any promises. Katie was still only seven weeks old when I started writing this.)
EDITED TO ADD: Back from the GP, who says she will arrange referral to the physiotherapist who deals with such matters. The physio comes to our community hospital, so this saves us a tiresome trek to the more distant bigger hospital to see anyone there. Physio will advise orthopaedic referral if she feels it warranted, but hopefully that won’t be needed.
Anyway, that appointment means that it’s now too late in the afternoon for it really to be worth me settling down for a nap at this point, so that gives me a most unaccustomed stretch of child-free time to myself. I feel quite dazed by this freedom and am still trying to work out how best to spend the time, which probably means I’ll end up squandering it on very pointless Internet surfing rather than actually doing anything with it.