The pre-toddler stage

Aviana is not a toddler just yet, but she is not a newborn baby either. She is just a baby…but she is on the very verge of becoming a toddler. I started to feel this more apparent recently as she has begun to learn how to communicate her needs to us in a variety of ways, including what seems to be the tantrum – crying because she can’t have something her way. This is something new to me!!! With a newborn baby crying can be stopped by feeding, sleeping, playing, soothing or distraction. This kind of tantrum is surely a sign of her getting closer to toddlerhood. Perhaps this is just the worst of the last leap she has been through and it will end tomorrow or not. Either way, I’ve felt like I’m out of my depth on what’s next for my 9mth old as she begins to enter toddler-dom.

So as any typical analyst would do, I went to the book store and selected a couple of books about parenting toddlers to start my research. How will we parent our toddler? Of course the bookshop houses many different publications claiming they have the best technique to raise a happy toddler. But with all the many publications about raising a newborn, this time we are a bit more aware of what our style might be and what might better suit Aviana. So I selected the baby whisperer for toddlers-it was helpful for when A was a newborn and seemed to work well. I haven’t read it all yet, but it started out explaining that if you already read the first book, you already have foundations for following his one. Which is kind of a relief! But the one thing that struck me is that the Baby whisperer explained that a toddler is like a teenager in the same respect as that they are going through a huge transition in their life moving a big step/leap towards independence. And that’s to be expected to be hard on both the child and the parents in many ways.

So here we are on the verge of this transition! I’m looking forward to it, but a bit nervous too! Isn’t this the stage where we make or break our children’s future??!! Hehe…OK a bit melodramatic, but I’d like to get a head start on learning a bit more about toddlers.

What have you found to be useful resources (books, websites, groups, people) in helping you understand your toddler better???!!

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Tips for camping with an infant

Based on our camping trip last weekend, here are some tips for camping with an infant…..

  1. Don’t do it. Haha, just kidding…DO DO IT!!! Just bite the bullet. We had so many comments from fellow campers saying they wish they had done it with their kids sooner like we were.
  2. Try it out at a local camp site. It will be less stressful knowing that you can just pack up and be home within an hour if it is that terrible!
  3. Buy a pop-up tent to reduce putting up, take down time. We bought this one from Walmart for $120. We had it up and ready in 2 minutes. No fighting about which pole goes in what bit! https://www.walmart.com/ip/Ozark-Trail-13-x-9-x-72-Instant-Cabin-Tent-Sleeps-8/55196307ip/Ozark-Trail-13-x-9-x-72-Instant-Cabin-Tent-Sleeps-8/55196307
  4. Take a pack n play. Now, I have heard ideas of taking an inflatable paddling pool, or a bassinet, but Aviana would have freaked if we lay her down to sleep in any of these!!
  5. Take your white noise machine to drown out the sounds of bugs and animals, as well as the drunken loud mouthed dad shouting at his son to behave otherwise he will get a beating (yeh he was LOUD).
  6. Practice taking your infant into a shower before you go on your trip because there won’t be any baths! Or take a crap load of baby wipes.
  7. Take a crap load of baby wipes!
  8. Pack clothes for baby for every season possible. The hardest thing was trying to figure out what to put her in at night time. She normally wears a wearable blanket with a sleep suit and onesie, but our house is warm. So it was a challenge to find the right number of layers for what would have been mid 60s. Turned out it was a lot warmer than that in the end so she was fine in a thin fleece wearable blanket! And don’t forget to pack long sleeves and trousers even if it is going to be hot because of those darned mosquitoes!!!
  9. Leave the pushchair/stroller at home, because you will look silly tying to push even the baby joggers through all that mud!! Baby wearing is a must!
  10. Get dirty, let them play with leaves and pine cones…it’s an amazing sensory experience! Of which be cautious not to over load their senses too much.

We had a great weekend at Kiptopeke state park, the mozzies attacked Chris a bit more than me, he’s like a mosquito magnet! We also got attacked by horse flies on the beach, that kind of ruined the beauty of its peace and serenity! But Aviana did dip her toes in the sea and didn’t completely freak out! She slept very well and even napped during the day. Bonus! We even had our first family holiday ice cream adventure (ok so she had a fruit ice Lilly – the outshine ones made with real fruit, but full of fruit sugars!!! ).

Will we do it again? Yes!! Next proper camping adventure will probably be when we go to the US west coast next year! Can’t wait! I know she will be older and there will be different challenges (crappy weather!) but hopefully we now have a bit of confidence that we can do it!

The wonder weeks: Leap 1 changing sensations

Apparently all babies go through the same changes in mental development at the same time – and it is based on dates from conception and not dates from birth. These mental developments are called ‘leaps’. According to the book – The wonder weeks, a leap is a sudden change that brings along a new type of perception.  In the first year of a baby’s life there are eight new types of perceptions and is due to a sudden change in the brain, giving a new learning opportunity.

A leap has two phases: the first is the difficult period which can be noticed by more crying, abnormally clingy and cranky.  The second phase is when the baby masters a new skill or uses old skills in different ways – they will have new interests and be more independent.

The first leap is in week 5.  This leap is all about Aviana’s change in sensations, i.e. what she hears, sees, feels, smells and tastes.  Some of the changes in these sensations she will like and some she won’t.  But we can’t read her mind and she can’t talk so we don’t really know what she thinks about these changes.

On Tuesday, I think she went through this leap (1 day earlier than the book predicts).  She was yelling, crying, screaming – not like the pain cries from her reflux.  The cries were different.  Nothing would console her, she just wanted to be held close, but not too close, she wouldn’t even go in the sling/wrap!  She did this for almost 12 hours straight, I was exhausted mentally and physically, so much so I had to call Chris to come home early from work to help me out.  I didn’t know it in that moment that this was the leap, even though I knew it was coming .  I felt everything that the book told me I would feel…

Insecure and not confident in my parenting abilities.  Nothing I could do would stop her from crying.  I’m an intelligent, sensible and relatively knowledgeable woman.  Why could I not figure this out?

Concern.  I took Aviana’s temperature several times because I worried she might be ill and I was ignoring the signs.  I worried I wasn’t providing her with enough breast milk because she would scream at my breast and she wanted to feed almost every hour.

As soon as she finally slept solidly after all that fuss, I realised where she had been – in that leap.  The book was right.  The book tells me I should look out for how my baby has changed as a result of this leap.  This is what I have noticed in her – she will look at things longer and more often, she actually seems like she listens to me especially, my terrible singing, she is more aware of being touched, smiles more than she did before, gurgles (she has only done this just a couple of times), stays awake longer and is more alert.  Other things that the book says I can expect to see differently after this leap is her expressing her likes or dislikes more often (although we have noticed she does not like a wet diaper anymore), expresses anticipation more often, is more aware of different smells.  Apparently we will also see some physical changes in that she will vomit less, burp less, cry real tears (she was doing this already), startle and tremble less often and choke less!

Interestingly, when I saw the pediatrician today to discuss her reflux and change in medication she said that Aviana is already doing things she wouldn’t expect to see until 3 months old, such as coo-ing.  She said that Aviana will probably “want to go to the zoo very soon”, i.e. want and need more intellectual stimulation so she doesn’t get bored!

Mental leaps – I believe in them!  The next leap is  is due in week 8-9 (post due date, not birth date) This leap will allow her to experience and recognise patterns.  The signals for this leap are slightly different to the first leap, although crying and crankiness seems to be common amongst all leaps.

So mums and dads, if you find your baby crying unusually around week 5 post due date, the chances are your baby is going through a mental leap and it is not a reflection of your parenting abilities!  Knowing this helped me psychologically get over her almost inconsolable cries!!!  If you want to know more, I suggest downloading the wonder weeks app or buy the book.  Fascinating stuff.

Smile and the whole world smiles with you

I swear Aviana smiled BACK at me a couple of days ago.  Yes, yes, I know all the books say  that it doesn’t happen until 6-8 weeks old, but my 3.5 week old baby surely smiled back at me.  It’s still possible, right??  It was different to all the other smiles we have seen since she was born – the so-called reflex smile.  This smile lingered and she was looking at me and slightly turned away coyly, it just felt different, it felt like a genuine interaction.

But when I told Chris, we put it down to her gassy nature…our baby girl does have a lot of gas (the poor lass sometimes sounds in pain when passing wind). And so I thought nothing more of it…..

….Until yesterday afternoon.  We were visiting a friends house when they were cooing over Aviana with Chris.  Chris was talking about Aviana being a strong contender for the gurning competition (she has some wonderful expressions).  And all of a sudden they exclaimed – look she smiled! Come see Dani! And so she did another two times.  Chris was tickling her and getting a smile in response.  But doesn’t this still count as a reflex smile?  After all Chris was generating a response by tickling her, that’s the definition of a reflex?  Or may be I wasn’t so daft in the end thinking that she actually smiled at me?  But again, it was still dubious.  Later that evening Chris managed to replicate the smile by tickling her. OK….so perhaps she is interacting with us??!

And then this afternoon she was wide awake, I was talking away to her, and after changing her I kissed her belly, told her how much I loved her and smiled at her – she smiled right back at me with a kind of immature half giggle to say she liked the tummy kisses.  Or may be I just tickled her again??!

I don’t care what the books say when she should smile…whatever it was, it was freaking adorable and it was a wonderful reward.  I can’t wait for more!!!!

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The Inconceivable Adventures of Parenthood

Welcome to the Inconceivable Adventures of Parenthood!

Please let us introduce ourselves! We are Dani and Chris… We moved to Virginia, USA from the rolling hills of the Cotswolds, UK in 2013. Although we speak the same language, life in the US is a little different to living in the UK. Our amazing daughter Aviana  was born in the US in December 2016 just 5lbs 1oz as she suffered from Intra Uterine Growth Restriction (IUGR).

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Our new family of three – Dani, Aviana and Chris

Becoming parents wasn’t easy for us as we battled infertility.  The moment Aviana arrived into our world we were instantly smitten with her.  We had hoped and dreamed of becoming mummy and daddy for so long, you would have thought we were well prepared!  But no amount of classes, reading, family story telling or googling can prepare you for the whirlwind of becoming a parent.

This blog is a place for us to share our adventures in parenting.  It’s a place to vent, it’s a place for us to communicate with other parents, it’s a place to reflect openly on the things we have learned – the good, the bad and the ugly.  We may also talk about the observed differences between the UK and US as we navigate our way through the maze of advice, hints and tips on being awesome parents.

Sometimes we may talk about infertility, just because we have a daughter now it doesn’t mean our infertility has been cured.  We are still infertile.  Our perspectives on family may differ as our lenses have been coloured by the disease, both in the past and in the future.

Please join in the discussions by leaving us your thoughts in the comments section in each blog post!  We would love to hear what you think 🙂

If you want to know more about our infertility journey, I have a separate blog where you can find out more about how our family grew from 2 to 3…and may be in the future it will grow again!  I will still be blogging here on IF related posts.  Visit her at www.thegreatpuddingclubhunt.com

Dani X

Ps.  We are just getting this site up and running so forgive the cosmetics as we construct our blog home!