Stollen memories

I’ve always found it amazing how tastes and smells can bring so much back to you; how alert our senses are! Last night we went grocery shopping and when I saw they were giving away tasters of stollen, I pounced upon it immediately and declared triumphantly: ‘It’s back! Christmas is here!’

To explain, this time last year I was heavily pregnant and P and I discovered the wonders of stollen for the very first time. It’s fair to say that, as cravings go, this was one obsession that well and truly saw me through our last days as a family of three. I wanted stollen for breakfast, lunch and dinner. If it wasn’t covered in icing sugar, forget it. If there was no hidden layer of golden gorgeousness (marzipan, incase you were wondering), then I wasn’t interested. Stollen was where it was at.

So, stollen. I tasted it last night and I don’t think I can ever do that again. The taste was bittersweet this time as it transported me back to the person I used to be then. Then. When I didn’t know what was around the corner. When I was unaware of the pain I was about to face, the heartache and the realisation of the fragility of life. When I was so excited for Christmas and all the magic memories we were sure to create with a brand new baby and a new status as a mother of two.

I am a mother of two, but it took a long time to become a happy, sure and relaxed mother of two. The stollen I tasted last night was drenched in the agony of his birth, the misery of that Christmas and the desperation of my emotions as P and I struggled to understand what had happened to the dream. The stollen I tasted last night took me back to stark white operating theatres, expressionless eyes and hidden voices. The stollen I tasted last night took me back to that second I missed, that minute I missed, that hour I missed, that first cry I missed, that first breath I missed… The stollen I tasted last night took me back.

Who ever knew there could be such a thing as stollen memories? Just as I thought I was over it all, getting on with it all and dealing with it all so well! I feel almost indignant at the audacity of that doughy baked good. How dare it come back into my life and whisper reminders of a pain that should be soothed now? So I decided last night- no more stollen. I am going to make this Christmas as happy as can be. And no more stollen! Besides, it’s incredibly fattening, you know.

I’m linking this post up as part of The Boy and Me’s Show off Showase- the one that should’ve done better.

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Soft play places- love ’em or loathe ’em?

I took my son to our local soft play place this morning, after spending much of yesterday with him clinging tearfully to my leg, wanting to be picked up then immediately wanting to be put down and then ultimately not wanting either of those options. Once again, he slept terribly, waking at least once an hour and requiring a night-time dose of Ranitidine that he hasn’t needed for months. SO.

So I decided that the soft play place might just have enough distractions in it for both of us. There would be no laundry to sort and no tidying up to be done that might distract me from him; there would be more children to marvel at and other, possibly more interesting toys to play with for my son. Experience has shown that baby groups do wonders for both of our moods and so it seemed the best idea all round…

And it was! He played happily for two hours, practised walking, learned to give me a toy when I said ‘ta’ and even managed a small piece of toast! Hooray! Usually soft play places are quite stressful with the huge amounts of roaring children, parents who are ignoring them and staff who are just plain bored. Usually I am there for a party with my eldest and usually I sit with the other parents and complain about being there again. Usually my son is strapped to his pushchair and is too little to get out and play. But today was different.

Today was a mother and baby session and also free! So, no resentment at paying £5 to get my daughter’s face kicked and legs pushed in all the excitement of ‘having fun’. For a child like my son, all the climbing and throwing of yourself in places like these is perfect! Did I mention it was free?

So, all in all we had a lovely morning. So lovely, in fact, that my son then proceeded to eat some lunch that wasn’t porridge or biscuits! Double hooray!!! In conclusion- soft play places, I love ’em. Today, anyway.

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Here comes the reflux again…

My poor little boy has been suffering from reflux since the age of three weeks and no amount of medication, solid food or upright handling seems to make the slightest bit of difference. Oh, he is more comfortable these days, but the reflux is still there, lurking over our shoudlers and waiting to pounce again.

He has good days and bad days; thankfully the good days are usually more frequent than they used to be and mostly we are able to function with just a few vomiting incidences. As long as he is medicated, he is relatively mild mannered. A week or so ago it seemed like the doctor’s promises that he would grow out of it were finally coming true as we suddenly realised he hadn’t had ‘an episode’ for quite literally ages. We gleefully decided to reduce his dosage and for a couple of days we only gave him his medicine twice a day instead of the usual three. Within three days, however, he was writhing in pain, unable to sleep without waking every twenty minutes or so and vomiting like a newborn.

So, it’s back to the maximum dosage and back to square one for us. The lactose free formula that was prescribed doesn’t seem to be having any effect at all and meal times are quite frankly horrendous. My son now screams as soon as his bowl is taken from the cupboard. He refuses to taste his meals; instead he clamps his mouth shut tightly and works himself up so much that he is either sick or has tummy pains severe enough to cause the usual knees up and arching back position. We’re at the point where we truly believe he still has negative associations with food, believing that to eat is to feel pain. I secretly worry that he will develop a food phobia and we will spend the rest of our lives searching for the wonderous yet illusive food item that he will eat- and enjoy!

So at the moment, we’re on a downward turn in our battle against the reflux and we’re facing intolerance testing at the hospital soon. I’m to spend my 33rd birthday with the dietician this year. The best present she can give me is the confidence to believe that all this really will turn out alright. Who knows, maybe he will grow out of it?

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The toddler who came to tea

On Friday there was a knock at the door and there on the doorstep was one smiling, happy, walking baby, from now on known as a toddler…

On picking my son up from nursery on Friday, I was a more than a little dismayed to hear one of the girls casually ask, ‘He is walking now, isn’t he?’ Ummm, no, not exactly. To hear that he had been walking all day and not crawling at all induced slightly irrational feelings of resentment; I found myself marvelling at the way my son had chosen to start walking without me. What had they done at nursery that had driven him to his wobbly legs and sent him racing into toddler-hood?

My son actually took his first steps weeks ago, just after he turned the grand old age of nine months. Every now and then he would sporadically take a couple of steps, teasing us with his athletic agility, daring us to believe that he was some kind of super baby. But, I tell you- you should see him crawl! There ought to be little cartoon dust clouds behind him. He is fast. He can get away and half way up the stairs before you’ve even put your bag down. He’s been doing this for ages.

The walking has been a slower process. My daughter never bothered with crawling; she took her first steps just after she turned ten months and within two days she was walking properly. My son, however, has to be different. After thinking he would walk even earlier than her, he stoped. Crawling was obviously the mode of transport he preferred, after the sling of course. But then…

Then he spent an entire day, away from me and my camera and my camcorder and my phone at the ready to text all who cared. He spent that day WALKING!!! To be fair, he did perform for me at home, too. But it wasn’t quite the same. I felt a little cheated.

But, the question I asked myself that night (once I had finished texting everyone I knew who knew him and right after I updated my status on facebook) was this: if he is walking now, does that mean he is no longer a baby? He might be my last one. Who knows? Do I really want a toddler already? Is he different now? So I peeped in on him sleeping and I watched his tiny chest rise and fall and his fingers twitch slightly… and then I stepped on a creaking floorboard in his room. In all the excitement of the walking, I had misjudged where those damned floorboards were!

Of course, he woke up. Of course, he cried for about half an hour. Of course, he needed me to stroke his head over and over until he was calm enough to sleep again. So I suppose I had my answer. Baby or toddler, he’s just the same as he was yesterday.

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