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All clear

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Thursday, 1 May 2014; Thirteen Months Old.

Ayla was given the all clear for measles today.

I wasn’t surprised because Ayla’s hardly seemed sick at all, apart from the rash and it’s itchiness.

Ayla was diagnosed with, wait for it, a “virus” and my theory is that it is actually Hand Foot and Mouth, which is going around at her day care centre, but for some reason it’s presenting strangely on Ayla.

Gosh, all this sickness has been stressful; not just because I hate seeing Ayla sick, and not just because my grand plan of returning to work with gusto has been shattered, but all the not knowing and speculation about what could be wrong is really taking it out of me.

As an anxious person it takes every fibre in my body to stay calm and keep on top of the what if’s.

I try my best to stay away from google… but it’s hard. And it seems as though everyone I speak to has a new suggestion I hadn’t yet considered and I find myself returning to the drawing board again and again.

Ultimately, I have to just focus on Ayla’s level of sickness and fortunately in this case it’s low.

Sure the rash is itchy and unsightly but Ayla is still happy and playful, chatty and curious, so I guess on the scale of things we’re good.

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But still, I worry!

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Thursday, 10 April 2014: One Year, One Week and Two Days Old.

Today was so full of worry that I am going to bed exhausted and completely overwhelmed.

I got Ayla’s test results back today and while her bloods were ok, they still showed a low grade infection (due to “the virus”) and mild anaemia, which is apparently a lingering affect of Ayla’s gastro bug and her lack of appetite thanks to the lengthy fever.

But still, I worry!

Ayla’s weight is also about 800gm less than what it was two weeks ago, but the doctor assures me it’s probably just due to differing scales and that the difference isn’t significant enough to be concerned about.

But still, I worry!

Ayla’s urine screen also came back showing signs of a very dangerous bacteria called pseudomosa, but because the sample was ‘contaminated’, and because Ayla seems to be getting better by the day, the doctor doubts the results are accurate and has ordered new tests just to be on the safe side.

But still, I worry!

Ayla’s sleep routine is completely out of whack at the moment too, both during the day when she might not sleep at all, and at night when sometimes Ayla will be awake every few hours! Plenty of people have told me it’s just a normal part of adjusting to day care and getting into a rhythm so there’s no reason to stress.

But still, I worry!

On a more positive note however, the ladies at day care said Ayla has been eating much better lately. Personally I haven’t seen Ayla eat a proper meal for over a week now but they promised me the two biscuits and bowl of macaroni cheese Ayla ate today was great and that it’s a good sign she’s settling in.

But still… I worry!

I have never known worry like this before! There’s so much of it, all the time, and with no sign of it going away soon I wonder how I will cope!

It’s amazing how much worrying damages my self esteem and has me questioning my own decisions. After just one day of intense worrying I feel like my world has been turned upside down and I just want it to slow down and stop spinning!

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D-day disaster

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Tuesday, 4 March 2014: Three Hundred and Thirty Seven Days Old.

Today was D-day (“D” standing for Day Care”) and it ended in disaster.

The morning started off smoothly and to plan; Ayla had slept well, she had some breakfast, a bath, and I even got her day care bag all ready complete with labeled clothes and expressed milk.

At around 10.30am Ayla was looking tired, and although she was rubbing her eyes a little earlier than I expected I decided to put her down for a nap and planned to get stuck into my uni readings, preparing the dinner and doing some washing while she slept.

But by midday Ayla still hadn’t slept – apart from accidentally falling asleep for 10 minutes while I was feeding her – andI was completely frazzled.

The washing was beeping, the frying pan was burnt from being on without having anything in it, the flies were trying to get to my half chopped veggies, I hadn’t gone near my computer and Ayla was crying. It was overload to my stress levels.

Ayla was just really clingy, she would settle in my arms but as soon as I put her down she would start coughing then wake up and cry. This cycle went on, and on, and on, until Ayla’s eyes were red ringed and darkly shadowed and my nerves were completely shot.

I knew there was something wrong that was keeping Ayla from sleep, whether it was a virus, her teeth or something else, which made me feel bad for her and had me questioning my own judgement about leaving her at day care while I went off to uni.

In the end, I couldn’t bring myself to take Ayla to her first afternoon at day care when she was so tired, upset and irritable so I made the decision to give Week One at uni a miss in order to take care of my baby girl.

Although I was happy with my decision, I think all the stress and pressure of the last couple of weeks finally caught up with me and I found myself in tears anyway.

Thankfully, like a knight in shining armour, Hubby came to the rescue by taking the afternoon off work to come home and look after Ayla.

It was a gesture so small and simple but it meant I got a whole three hours to myself to de-mummify, engage with a world outside my four walls and do something purely for me.

We’ll just have to try day care again next week.

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Setting her own pace

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Saturday, 15 February 2014: Three Hundred and Twenty Days Old.

It amazing how over time Ayla is slowly setting her own routine that is much more “in line” with what I expected!

I was one of those pre-parents who raved on about the plans I had for my first child, saying things like “my kid will be in bed by 7:30 every night” and “my kid will have dinner when we have dinner” and “my kid will eat what we eat”.

But the reality is, it’s nothing like that (* insert collective “I told you so’s” from friends and family)

Since Ayla was born I’ve slowly learned to go of the silly, unsubstantiated “rules” I’d made up for what constituted good parenting, and instead have allowed Ayla to set her own pace for growing and learning… within a loose set of “guidelines” that keep her from completely ruling the roost!

At times I’ve seen a few raised eyebrows from people who’ve been shocked that Ayla’s bed time was anywhere between 8 and 9.30, or that Ayla might go a couple of days without eating hardly any solids but hey, at the end of the day I think being flexible and intuitive has contributed to the happy, healthy Ayla we all know and love.

But as my return to work looms in the near future I’ve been questioning some of my decisions and worrying about how a 9pm bed time is going to be sustainable.

I’ve also spent many a long night wondering about weaning; should I wean Ayla, how can I get her to take a bottle, will she go to sleep during the day if she can’t nurse?

I’ve been trying to catch myself in the act of over thinking, reminding myself that it will all sort itself out in due course and, well, turns out it is.

Around 6pm each night, Ayla starts getting hungry for her dinner. By 6.45 she’s usually finished and having a bath and by 7.30 Ayla’s starting to get tired and rub her eyes.

By 8pm, for the last few days anyway, Ayla’s read a story, been cocooned, and tucked into her bed, preferring to fall asleep on her own now instead of in my arms.

Ayla’s also sleeping much better through the night, and we’ve finally returned to the 7 or 8 hours stints she had when she was six months old.

While Ayla still refuses the bottle, and still relies on mummy cuddles for her day time naps, having a consistent, calm and natural bed time routine is making a huge difference to my confidence and I’m sure the other things will follow in due course.

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Back to normal

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Thursday, 13 February 2014: Three Hundred and Eighteen Days Old.

I think it’s safe to say that everything went back to normal today; Hubby returned to work after his week off which left Ayla and I on our own for the first time in weeks and we spent the day running errands and attending swimming lessons.

Strangely, I’d been a little anxious about being on my own with Ayla after all her recent developments and my inability to find a harmony with the changes but as usual I was being silly.

I thought I’d be out of my depth trying to keep track of her and get everything done without someone to help me, but it turned out that doing things at our own pace with no strict agenda was exactly what we needed.

It was great to be back at swimming lessons, Ayla totally loved it and has improved so much since her first class nearly six months ago!

And as for all the errands, we just took it easy and worked around Ayla’s naps. When she was awake we hung out like we always have, just two chicks doing our thing and it was great.

We even found time for a little photo shoot this afternoon and the result is just too cute for words, don’t you think?:

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New challenges

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Wednesday, 12 February 2014: Three Hundred and Seventeen Days Old.

I’m starting to understand what people meant when they said having a “mobile” baby would come with a whole bunch of new challenges.

I thought they just meant the mess and the broken trinkets – I had no idea that there was more to it than that – but now Ayla’s crawling, almost walking, she’s become my constant shadow.

On the one hand I love having Ayla follow me around the house, seeing her little face appear in a doorway or feeling her little hands grab hold of my legs is so precious it makes my heart want to burst.

But on the other hand it means simple tasks such as mopping the floor are now wrought with danger… I never would have thought bucket of hot water and a soapy mop head could become such a worrisome combination!

I think it’s because although Ayla’s always been interested in what’s going on, she’s now able to actually get involved in it.

If I’m cooking in the kitchen Ayla’s at my feet, or standing up holding onto my knees, or getting stuck in the fridge.

If I go outside to check the mail Ayla sits banging at the front door from the inside, unknowingly blocking my reentry.

If I’m folding a never ending pile washing Ayla is faithfully by my side systematically unfolding it, crushing it, and throwing it on the floor piece by piece.

I never thought I could be so conflicted!

The slightly anxious perfectionist in me wants to scream at the chaos while the mother in me just wants to smile and laugh.

I know which of my sides has the better argument – the mother, of course – but I still struggle with trying to find the right balance and I suppose it’ll be something I’ll never quite get the hang of.

For now though, I just keep reminding myself that there’s always tomorrow and hope for the best that Ayla’s two hour nap doesn’t suddenly become a 20 minute recharge that leaves me caught out between a hungry baby, a half-cooked batch of muffins and a storm threatening to drench my nearly-dry sheets.

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Logical reasoning

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Monday, 3 February 2014: Forty Four Weeks Old.

It’s been about six months since Ayla was last baby sat, but tonight we gave it another go.

Six months ago, Ayla would take a bottle.
Six months ago, Ayla would go to sleep when she was tired.
Six months ago, Ayla wouldn’t have realised I was gone.
Six months ago, Ayla didn’t crawl, or demand or need to be entertained.

So needless to say I was a little anxious!

The sitter was my mums friend and flat mate who’s raised two kids of her own and been a favourite Aunty to many, and although I wasn’t worried about her skill set I couldn’t help wondering if my baby would be different.

But reminding myself of logic and sensibility I said goodbye and drove just ten minutes up the road with my mum to watch a movie.

I’m happy to say I probably only thought about Ayla every 20 minutes or so, but considering it’s been six months since we were apart for longer than that it didn’t surprise me in the least.

After the move Mum and I returned to find Baby Ayla and her sitter playing quietly on the lounge room rug and as soon as Ayla saw me she crawled as fast as she could into my lap and covered my face in kisses slobber.

So I discovered that the coming home part is wonderful.

The experience was good practice I guess; it gave me a new insight into what it’s going to be like when I have to leave Ayla at day care and it’s shown me that the difficulty of being separated from her will be quickly forgotten at home time.

But let me tell you, it’s going to take every ounce of logical reasoning I have.