Sunday, February 19, 2017

February 2017 - Part 2 - Sleep

February 2017 – Part 2


After Ananda returned to work in October she continued with breast-feeding Francis  about three times a night. It was obviously very tiring for her to do this and go to work, where she was also pumping through the day. So we decided to try and reduce the number of night feeds. The plan was that I would go and settle him when he woke at all times except for one time about 2am for an actual feed.

His normal pattern before this plan was bed about 8:30pm, waking about 11:30pm, again at 2am and 5am and then getting up at 6:30am.  Francis and I took to this really well to start with. For example for his 11:30pm wake-up at first I would have to go into his room and pick him up, offer him some water – which he always refused - and then cuddle him back to sleep. This very quickly evolved into me going into his room, saying “lie down Francis”, placing my hand on his back for a few seconds and him going back to sleep. As I said we reached this point very quickly, but then it just plateaued.

I guess I was expecting that soon afterwards he would not even bother waking at this point. But some nights he is up multiple times between 11:30pm and 1:30am, just for a few minutes each time, but it still breaks his and mine sleep cycles.  It could be his teething – incisors are coming in, or are we just replacing one habit with another one?

At the same time we’ve made progress with the process of putting him to sleep. Oh my, I sound like a vet, but you know what I mean! I used to give him his milkies, cradle him in my arms, and sing and pat him to sleep, all in about 15 minutes.  (I really loved doing this!) 

Then, I withdrew the patting, then the singing and we’ve reached the point where I hold him for up to 5 minutes in my arms, then put him down in his cot when he is still awake. I then just sit in the chair in his room and wait until he falls asleep.   

At times getting to this stage seemed like a Pyrrhic victory as this process would sometimes take about 50 minutes, but we persevered and it's gotten really good. Next step I guess is putting him down and just walking out the room. Not quite brave enough to do that yet though.

We’ve also transitioned almost completely to one nap a day. A three hour nap from noon until about 3pm. Boy has this messed up my lunch schedule with him, but we’re getting better at having an early lunch.

So, coupling the progress in Francis settling himself to sleep from an awake state AND the cessation of all but one night time feed, why is he still not sleeping through the night? If you have any suggestions, please leave a comment below or email me or Ananda.

Sometimes I’m firmly in the camp of the “let him cry it out” side of the debate, whereas Ananda is never in that camp, and this has led to the odd sleepy argument at 2am or whatever time it is I feel frustrated. Maybe Ananda should just take the Trump line and say that the new sleep roll out “is going very smoothly and working like a fine-tuned machine. Bigly!” 

It can be a real struggle for me sometimes dealing with such little sleep especially since I cannot nap through the day time to catch up. And I used to be so good at little or no sleep as my years as a research scientist and on-call support person had seen me very practiced at staying awake for up to 36h at a time. I guess some of my argument for the crying it out solution is that is it more psychologically damaging to Francis to have a tired, cranky parent looking after him through the day, versus, a few nights of crying hell for Francis?  I guess we’ll never know.

I could of course be over-reacting and it could be teething……. Will we ever know?

Summer Time and the Living is Easy.

We’ve done quite a bit of camping in our motor home in the last month or so. Francis really loves it and exploring the world inside and outside the campervan. Here’s some pictures….

Sunset at Maketu reflected in the campervan windows.

At Cook's Beach we had our own private lagoon.

Trying to keep Francis sun safe!

He loves climbing in and out of the campervan...

... and playing in the sand.

He likes to try and escape too, when no-one is watching
We also had some of my Family visit and we stayed in the campervan at National Park whilst they stayed in the hotel. Here we are at the Taranaki Falls at Tongariro National Park. Had a great time when they were here - sorry about the bad weather!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

February 2017 - Part 1 Food

February 2017 - Part 1 - Food


As mentioned in the last blog,  Ananda and I recently went through a really sad and testing time. In the spirit of the openness and honesty that I try to write these blogs with, here’s what happened.

Sometime in October 2016 we became pregnant again. Not an IVF pregnancy but a natural one. We were both a bit astonished since Ananda had only just started her periods again. We were both also, VERY, VERY happy. In fact I was elated and so excited that we were going to have a sibling for Francis and that they would be pretty close in age too. Awesome! Ananda’s blood tests showed her hCG were more than doubling every couple of days and she was feeling tired and a bit nauseous. All good signs.

We went for the first dating scan and the dates on that scan did not quite add up to what Ananda thought they should be, and the heart beat was slower than expected at 94 bpm. However, I read that they increase 3 beats per day so that by the time we would go for our next scan a week later it would be much closer to the 120bpm that was expected.

On the third scan, in the second week in December, which should have been week 10, we took Francis with us, and I sat with him on my knee as the scanning started. I was so ready to see a healthy fast heartbeat.

However, after a minute or so it became obvious to me that the technician could not find a heart beat anymore and with that my hopes, dreams and excitement were scuttled. Francis started to act up so I left the room and didn’t hear the rest of the conversation between Ananda and the technician. I just sat on the chairs outside the room, tears running down my face, trying to keep Francis happy and amused, but not really having the heart, or the will to do it.

Ananda came out of the room a few minutes later, upset as I was, and we stood and wept for a while in each other’s arms before we went home. I’m not sure what Francis made of all of this.

I went and sat in the chair in his room and just broke down. I felt hollowed out, as if I was only just a shell.  The first two miscarriages were difficult enough, but this time I really knew what we were missing out on. All the joy and love that Francis had brought us and I was looking forward to doing it all over again with this new baby, was gone now. Later I even told Ananda that I really did not want to go on living anymore.

A couple of days later Ananda started to bleed, and as it was coming up to the time for us to fly to the USA for Christmas we were really unsure as to what to do about our flight. We were going for dinner at our friend’s house in Auckland before the late evening flight, and just as we were about to go to the airport from their house, our wee little embryo came out. It was such another sad moment, but I was glad it happened before we left, or were even on the plane.  We were able to say a little prayer before putting it in our friend’s freezer so that we could collect it and have a proper burial service once we got back to NZ.  The picture at the top of the blog is the hibiscus plant we bought to place in the pot where we buried our wee embryo.

The flight was very uncomfortable for Ananda with lots of heavy bleeding, and really sad for both of us too. As were the following days, weeks and months. I guess that’s why I worked on the lath house with such gusto.

It was also a real testing time for our relationship as well, as we both coped with our grief and trying to look after Francis and make the most of Christmas in the US. Definitely the hardest time of our ten year relationship. I was very depressed for about two months and was not pleasant to be around. I think Ananda was a bit more prepared for the possibility of a miscarriage than I was. As I’ve said before sometimes I’m a headstrong, hopeless optimist in the face of adversity, who refuses to give up. That makes for some hard falls.

Why is this section called “Hope?” ? Well, we did get pregnant naturally which is a real silver lining and this time we go to 10 weeks. I guess we have to hope for a successful pregnancy in the near future again.  In my mind I also named the embryo Hope too, because that's what they brought us. However,  I’m not sure I could make it through another miscarriage.

Food Delivery Systems

Getting food inside Francis at times is a real struggle. It’s quite easy to get food on him, or all around him, so getting him to fully ingest has meant we’ve had to use our imaginations, and patience. Often it’s not the food that needs changed, more the delivery vehicle. During most meals we use the following methods…

By Hand

Pretty obvious really. Pop the food on his tray and he pops it into his mouth with his hand.

Dumpster method

He likes to play with containers and lids, so I take advantage of that fact.  Place the food on the tray with the container. Francis places food in container and then tips it up into his gob. Doesn't work so well for sticky foods!
Lid method

A slight variation on the dumpster method. This lid is great as it has an indentation in the middle. A bit better for sticky food as he can get his tongue into the indentation.


He’s becoming quite good at spiking things with his fork and scooping things with his spoon as the video shows. Some foods he will only eat if he scoops them with something. The stand out peculiarity is eating scrambled eggs with a tortilla chip!!! He still tries to eat soup or drink water with his fork, but he really likes to be able to do as the adults do. Speaking of which….

The Ananda Method.

Not the most elegant and it is our means of last resort. Francis finds it super fun though!

 Food as an Accessory.

Francis like to place food, quite deliberately,  in his hair.....

A question mark of spaghetti as he ponders life.

Grated beets to feed his roots!

Random things said in our House.

“If Francis can’t pick rice out of your chest hair, then maybe it’s a bit too long”

I wonder if that phrase has ever been uttered before, anywhere in the world?

Weighs and Means:

10.0kg – Francis finally made it to this weight

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Dec 2016 – Jan 2017

Dec 2016 – Jan 2017

Christmas and New Year Hiatus

I’m sure you’ve not really missed my dulcet tones screeching at you from your handy lap-top or mobile device, or dare I say it from your desk-top, but from the middle of December to the beginning of January 2017 I was not really “SAHD” but more of Sharing the Parenting with  my dear wife Ananda. We travelled to San Diego to be with Ananda’s family for Christmas, and then when we got back two of my sisters and my brother-in-law came to visit us here in NZ. So it was only really last week that Francis and I struck out on our “solo” journey again.

So much has happened since my last blog – some happy, some very, very sad and certainly too much to try and get down in one little blog. So in no particular order…..

Like Father like Son

Quite often when I see other people with their babies I am struck about how much they look like their parents. Complete little mini-mes! However I don’t see any resemblance between Francis and I, but when asking other parents if they see themselves in their kids they almost always answer that they don’t.  So it must just be some parental opaqueness that we suffer from when it comes to our own kids.  Thus it is with great dismay that I must report that not just one, but TWO people have said the following……

“When Francis is crying he really looks like Graeme”.   Aw man, that’s kinda bitter sweet. But do they mean he looks like “normal” me or “crying” me? Hmmmmmmm

Like Mother like Son

I kept telling Ananda not to lick her plate in front of Francis…..

"Hmm something looks yummy"

"Don't tell Mam"


Actually, it turns out to be an effective way of getting food into him. Put tasty morsel in middle of plate (best if food is easily squishable to make it stick); hand plate to Francis; et voila!

Spoon Fed

Francis is fast on his way to adulthood judging by the things he wants to do, like driving the car or motorhome, or wanting to feed himself with adult cutlery (flatware for any 'Mericans reading). It’s also an effective way of getting him interested in food and developing new skills even if it can be a bit messy!

"You see, it's like this Dad. You just give me the yoghurt cup...."

"..and then I can happily feed myself without making any mess."

"I said without MAKING ANY MESS!"

"See, I told you so! What mess?"

The Lath House

Unbeknownst to me a rather large construction project awaited me when I got to San Diego. Ananda’s mother shade house in her back yard was termite infested and falling down.  Because of some “stuff” I had to work through due to earlier sad news, (we’ll come to that either later in this blog or in the next one), I took to the demolishing and rebuilding with gutso.

I really had to work with Mother Nature to set some of the uprights, but despite being about 8 days overdue (some due to bad weather)  I was under budget .

The building site was quite a tricky one....
.... where man and nature had to work together to set the posts.

Getting some help from my nephews...
... who seemed to enjoy it for the most part!

Ananda also lent a hand when Francis was napping.

Although the "scaffolding" left something to be desired.

Gay nailing in the final nail!
It looks really pretty with the sunshine coming through the laths.