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.


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?


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.


Having a social life

We went out last night. We went out without children and we had a meal in a restaurant that didn’t have colouring books to keep us occupied whilst we waited for our food. There were no balloons on the way out and there was no room to even fit a pram between the tables. It was great! I think.

Since our son was born we can easily count the number of times we’ve been out socialising and to do that we only need one finger. Well, actually now we need two. But were we really missing out? Did we really need to spend time away from the children in order to feel like ‘ourselves’ again? Surely ‘ourselves’ are now parent-selves and don’t those people stay in every weekend, or take the children with them if they go out (ensuring they can easily leave at 7pm so that bath time is only half an hour late and everyone can get to bed on time), but only to places that have balloons, colouring books, wide-aisles and highchairs. Isn’t that who we are now?

Well, yes and no. We are parents first, but we were other people before that. We used to go out to pubs with sticky floors that were thick with smoke and vibrating with loud music, laughter and chatter. We used to drink cider and lager and we used to stagger to the taxi rank at the end of it all. The next day we used to lie in, luxuriously making the most of a lazy day where nothing was required of us, accept to decide whether or not to do it all again.

Last night was a different, more orderly kind of night. We met friends who also have a baby and we felt reassured that our ‘We ought to get home for the babysitter’ would not be met with ‘ Oh, come on! Stay out, we dare you!’ because the people we were with were likely to feel that they too ought to get home before too late. So we ate, we drank wine and we even frequented a sticky-floored pub. It was lovely.

I must add that we all found it incredibly difficult to resist checking our phones every twenty minutes or so (just incase!) and we all subconciousy decided at eleven-thirty that enough was enough- time to go home. No pressure.

At home, the children slept soundly, the youngest not even aware that we had left the safe, warm house to venture upon a life without him. This morning the eldest is full of tales about the games she played with Nanna and the fact that she had three stories, not just one and Nanna let her read all the bits in speech bubbles and Nanna let her have an extra ten minutes downstairs after brushing her teeth because she had been so good. In fact, the eldest wants to know when, exactly, are we going out again?

So now the question is, when will we be ready to abandon this life again for a few hours? I’m not sure that sticky-floored pubs are quite the same anymore. These days I like mine covered in mechanical hamsters, crayons and toy cars. These days, I actually prefer having cheerios stick to my feet instead of cigarette ends and I quite like getting a balloon on the way home.

I do have to add, though, I had a lovely time last night!


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