Professional photos

One thing that I regretted with Monsieur was not getting professional photos taken when he was a newborn. It wasn’t something that I prioritised because I thought that it would be an unnecessary expense considering that I could take good photos of him. Also, most newborn photography seems formulaic and really does nothing for me. Babies in flowerpots, or sleeping peacefully on folded up towels – they make very cute photos but don’t really say anything to me about the family, how people might have been feeling or even anything about the baby, other than the fact that they are very poseable when asleep.

This time I wanted to find someone because I knew that having the skill to take good photos is completely irrelevant when stacked up against sleep deprivation. Apart from a few grainy iPhone photos (back when the iPhone camera wasn’t anything special), I just didn’t take any photos of Monsieur while he was a newborn. It took six weeks for me to get my camera out, and I had to ask a friend to come over and help me do a photo shoot of him. I still didn’t want the “pretty” newborn shots. I wanted someone who would look for the moments and capture them. Basically someone who would do what I wanted to do but knew I wouldn’t be capable of. It was also really important to me that a photographer be on hand when Monsieur met SnuggleBub for the first time at the hospital. I really wanted his expression captured.

Fortuitously, just before Christmas I got to talking to a friend of a friend who was setting up his photography business. When I looked at the galleries on his website, I was excited to see that most of the family photos were of moments instead of classic poses. I booked him to come to the hospital the day of SnuggleBub’s birth, as well as a week later once we were home. One of the benefits of having an elective c-section – I knew exactly what day and time our son would be coming in to meet his new sister and could book Robert in!

Robert took some gorgeous photos which I am thrilled to have. It worked really well too on the day. SnuggleBub had to be under a heater for several hours so she was out of reach from me. When everyone came in and crowded around her bassinet, I couldn’t see anything. I certainly couldn’t see Monsieur’s reaction to her; but I was relaxed about not being fully part of it because I knew that Robert was taking photos and I would get to see everything later on. I wasn’t worried that I was missing out on witnessing important moments that I would never get a chance to see again.

I also asked R to take his camera in to the hospital so we could have photos of SnuggleBub’s birth – only one support person is permitted in the OR so having a photographer present for the birth was not an option. R unexpectedly took photos of Monsieur’s birth last time and was a bit traumatised by the experience (the OB told him to peer over the curtain and take a photo; he was expecting to see a fully birthed bub, not bub coming out of my stomach) but I love love LOVE those photos so much. I look at them and get such a rush of love and awe and All The Feelings. I didn’t want to put R through that again, but I really wanted those photos this time as well. I said that we could ask a nurse or the anesthetist to take them (last time our anesthetist took R’s camera to take photos of all three of us), but R took them on the day. My hero <3

These are some of my favourite photos from SnuggleBub’s birth day. All but the first photo are by Robert Wagner, of Robert Wagner Photography.








Slipping away

So often when Monsieur was a baby I was told to treasure each moment, that I won’t know how quickly the moments pass by until they’re gone. Every mum has heard advice to that end. I used to think to myself, “I *am* treasuring this time. And it doesn’t feel like it is passing too quickly”. Because it didn’t. Each stage and age with Monsieur, I have felt pretty present for and that I have been appreciating them. The tough stages maybe not so much! But I’ve never felt like I missed out on a stage, or wished that I could go back in time to a particular age. I still don’t. Monsieur is growing up to be such a delightful (most of the time) boy and wishing to go back to an earlier age would feel like going back to a time which was harder and not quite as much fun.

I certainly have never understood how gooey people can get over a newborn baby. I’ve heard so many people express how you forget how little they are, to treasure every moment (of course – it is the mantra bestowed upon all new parents by older, supposedly wiser parents), that they wish they could go back to their children’s newborn days. I’ve heard all these sentiments and thought, “No way. I’m happy to be past that.”

Until now. There was a 2 day old baby at Monsieur’s swimming lesson yesterday – the third child already attending older siblings’ activities! (Off topic, but I am completely in awe of that mum! The day after having SnuggleBub I was still bed-bound and a bit loopy on morphine and here she was, bringing her children and new one to swimming lesson. Just, wow!)

The newborn baby was so small and cute and sleepy, still with vernix remnants on her head, and I completely melted inside. I desperately wanted to go back to SnuggleBub being so young and little. She didn’t seem little to me at the time, not the way Monsieur did. Seeing her now though, I know she was still so little and I just really want to go back to that for a day. I suddenly felt so sad and bereft that her newborn days are already gone. The emotions that parenthood unlock are truly brutal sometimes, not to mention extremely illogical and impractical.

I feel like the first three months have gone by in the blink of an eye and I missed it. I haven’t missed it, not really. I just didn’t expect it to go by so fast. It feels like just a couple of weeks ago that she was born, not three months. I feel like I should have spent more time watching her sleep, cuddling her, completely banned my phone from the feeding chair – except that then I wouldn’t have any photos to remind me of those days which are fading so fast in my memory. That makes me sound so old! But it’s all the new memories of SnuggleBub and Monsieur which are filling my brain, pushing out all but a few poignant details from their earlier days.

I think what makes it so different this time is sleep, and the first child. This whole baby experience is so different without the profound sleep deprivation. It sounds gloomy now, but I had been viewing the pregnancy and first year as being things we just had to get through. Once we were past them, then hopefully we could start to enjoy having a second child. I honestly thought that there would be very little joy and a whole lot of “just surviving” happening in the first year.  I was certainly right about the pregnancy. Each day was simply a matter of surviving it. It is very lucky that my first pregnancy wasn’t as rough as this last one. We would have stopped at one child, had that been the case. I wasn’t right about the first year though. So far, I am loving it and truly enjoying the time with SnuggleBub. I am having fun! And there is so much joy, with this beautiful child, who was the subject of many a midwinter wish.

Days also go faster when juggling the needs of a bub with the commitments and needs of a five year old. It seems obvious now, that time would speed by in a continual round of kinder runs, swimming lessons, feeding the baby, sleeping the baby, playing with them both. Again though, I was assuming that I would be doing it all through the heavy fog of sleep deprivation, which would make the days stretch out endlessly, and make every step as difficult as if I had iron balls tied to my legs and I was walking through waist-high tar.

About a month ago was when I first realised that this time was speeding past. I started leaving the phone alone during feeding, not worrying about spending an entire day rocking her, letting myself get lost in her smiles without feeling guilty that the washing didn’t get done for yet another day.

That said, I still don’t watch her for hours while she sleeps. Quite apart from her no longer sleeping for hours during the day, that is the best chance for me to do some things which help keep my sanity; and I still pull out the phone to take photos during feedings. I simply  limit it to 1-2 feedings a day! Or try to anyway;  just don’t ask how many photos I take in a week! Second sibling syndrome is not happening here. There are WAY more photos of SnuggleBub than there were of Monsieur at the same age. Most of all, I am trying to see her for as small as she is, so that I don’t look back in three months time and say again, “I just didn’t see how little she was. She seemed so big to me, I can’t believe I missed her being so little”. I can also console myself that when the future comes and time travel is possible, I can jump back for just one day of her being a newborn again!


Just over a week old – so tiny!

 13.5 weeks old – so much bigger, but still small.












The search for relief

I am now onto my third medication trial in this search for relief from migraines. I’m also in my ninth month of daily migraines with inadequate pain relief.

The first medication to be trialed was an anti-depressant called Effexor. It had no effect at all.

Many of the migraine preventative medications are actually medications for other conditions which have a well documented side effect or reducing migraines. So far I’ve tried an anti-depressant, an anticonvulsant, and now a beta blocker. I was able to try the anti-depressant whilst pregnant, but then I had to wait until I was no longer pregnant or breastfeeding in order to try other medications. This meant there was a 6 month break between medication trials where it was purely about pain management with medications safe to use in pregnancy.

I weaned SnuggleBub to formula at 4 weeks, 2 days and started Topamax the same day (anticonvulsant). Topamax didn’t help the migraines, but it did give me dizzy spells. Bonus! Now I am trialing Propranolol (beta blocker). It’s been nearly three weeks and there has been no effect on the migraines. I have been extremely tired (because that’s what you need when you’ve got a new baby: medication-induced fatigue to go with the sleep deprivation!), and experiencing moments of I-can’t-stand-right-now light-headedness, and dizzyness. While all this fun is going on, one of my pain relief medications has decreased in effectiveness leaving me with just 2-3 days a week where I can take effective pain relief medication.

The next review is in July. If things don’t improve with the beta blocker, then I believe the next step is botox treatment. When it was first mentioned as a possibility, all I could think is that I don’t want my children growing up with an expressionless mummy. Over the past few months I’ve decided that they will be far better off with an mummy who can’t show expressions rather than a mummy who just can’t feel at times. Because that’s what it is like on a bad day for me; I can’t feel, empathise, sympathise or care much at all about anything. My whole self is occupied with getting through the pain and trying not to snap and bite at everyone when really it’s the migraine that I want to snap and bite and tear into 1000 smithereens. Did I mention that I get really cranky with the migraines too?!


Almost five

It is hard to believe but Monsieur will turn five next week. (Note: This post was started in early April…things got busy, new bub and all, so I am just getting back to it now, mid-June!)



Sleep: I don’t know that this even needs mentioning anymore! He did start wanting snuggles at night after stories, so we have a routine where some nights I snuggle with him after lights out, and some nights R snuggles with him. He started this around second term last year, so I think it started as a way to get some time with us at the end of the day. It is quite nice. Sometimes he’ll talk about things that take his fancy, or things that are on his mind. Sometimes we’ll meditate together and sometimes he just wants to be held until he falls asleep. It can br brutal for R and I though, on the occasions where we fall asleep too, as it is hard to do anything afterward with all the sleep chemicals running around in our brains. He also went through a stage of coming into our room in the morning and climbing into bed next to me for morning snuggles. That was nice, but reasonably short-lived. Now, if he wakes before we do, he will often creep into the hallway with Lucky and Snuggle Doon and his torch, and start reading books in the hallway!

Food: Fruit and yoghurt continue to be favourites. He has an ongoing thing with his grandad where he “steals” Grandad’s yoghurt whenever we stay with them! Usually he “steals” Grandad’s fruit as well! This year at kinder they are doing BBQ Fridays; every week one or two kinder parents goes in and cooks the BBQ lunch for the kinder kids. Often when I pick him up on a Friday, all the kids are outside and music is playing and there is a real Friday feel. Monsieur quickly decided that BBQ Friday days called for a special dinner too, usually chosen by him. We’d imagined at some point doing special meals, like tacos or pizza, on Fridays, so it fits in well.

Language: Monsieur is coming up with very long, involved stories now, often using aspects of movies or stories or things that he has heard. I love to listen to him playing in his room as he creates stories, often doing the different voices of characters, or telling his cars or toys things that they can and can’t do. He is really interested in reading too, and is constantly amazing me with the words that he can read or recognise already. I haven’t really been working with him on reading skills, so I was wondering where it was coming from. His kinder does some reading and writing but I don’t think it is strongly emphasised as it is a play-based learning kinder. Then the other day I was watching him on the iPad and realised that all the educational apps I’ve put on are paying off! He was using one of the apps that are designed to teach reading. It seems to be working! Well. It made me feel a lot more positive about the amount of iPad time he has been getting these past few months! I’ve also bought some ABC Reading Eggs activity books and started going through one with him today. He really enjoys activities like circling all the objects that start with a particular letter. On that note, I discovered the other day that he is a perfect age to start playing “I Spy”. He is pretty good at sounding out words and working out what the starting letter is. For our part, we stay away from words starting with consonant digraphs (sh, ch th, etc) or silent letters!

General Development:

Monsieur can get himself completely dressed and undressed now. He is becoming more and more independent, and talks about doing things “like you guys” – since his baby sister arrived he is definitely lining himself up with the grown-ups more. Although he has commented that he’s glad that he’s not a grown-up because he gets to eat his dinner hot and doesn’t have to change nappies! Astute!

Favourites: He has developed a love for Beanie Boos – a soft toy collection which are popular amongst his peers. They are pretty cute, I must admit. He still loves trains, although has not been playing with them this past month. R also commented that the train expo in March this year didn’t seem to captivate Monsieur in quite the same way it has in previous year. Maybe we are coming to the end of the train obsession.  Or maybe he has just been so occupied with all the new toys and activities given to him as various birthday presents, and we’re about to head back to the frequent train track building.

We borrowed some Magnatiles (magnetic building tiles) from the toy library which have been a huge hit with him. It is exciting to see him constructing and creating with them. He is also getting into Lego more, and starting to just pull out his Lego boxes and make things.

He enjoys listening to audio books and podcasts in the car, specifically one podcast made for children called “Sparkle Stories”. Until recently we have just had short audio books in the car, books by Julia Donaldson, “Hairy McClary” and “Grug”, but I borrowed “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” from the library and he has been listening to that for the past two weeks.

He loves to read. On the weekends he is usually the first one up and will happily settle himself in the hallway for some reading whilst he waits for us to wake up.

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He loves our cat, Shakti; he alternates between wishing she was his cat and just calling her his cat! He adores cats and often pretends to be a kitten. He had a kitten party for his birthday.


Other creatures he pretends to be include: Pinkachu the pokemon (we know that it is Pikachu, but he is convinced that it is Pinkachu!), Kikki the cat, Sparkles the kitten, Fantasia the unicorn. We have to remember which one he is and call him by the correct name. He has such a vivid imagination.

Six weeks, second time round

When Monsieur was six weeks old, I forced myself to get out my big camera, go to the park and take some photos. I had to make myself look at him. Stop the feed-pump-rock-walk-no sleep cycle and actually look at him and appreciate him and spend time with him. It was hard. It was forced. It didn’t come naturally. I was exhausted. I trudged to the park with the pram. I skipped the post-feed pump so we could go to the park – our usual routine did not allow enough time to be gone for that long; I may have even fed him at the park and skipped the next pump as well. It was like playing hookey so I could enjoy my son. I knew that I was supposed to be enjoying my son. Everyone told me so. Mostly I remember that day being really cold. I felt awkward being out with him, awkward with the camera. I had no idea how to take a photo of us together and I had absolutely no idea how I was meant to be enjoying this baby. I loved him so much, but I wasn’t really enjoying him. He seemed so fragile and tiny and I was so scared that I would break him.

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It is so different with SnuggleBub. My big camera is out. Photos are happening naturally. I lose time just being with her. There is much to be said for experience and sleep. Second time round truly is something special. I am enjoying this baby. I finally understand how people can enjoy this stage and I am so grateful to have this chance to experience it. It is so sweet and lovely and I am not afraid that I will accidentally break her!

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