Tuesday, 29 September 2009


Suddenly it seems like Maya is learning at a rapid pace and she is able to pick up new concepts very quickly. Then I realised that it's actually one very important skill that she has mastered - the skill of copying. I'm not exactly sure at what point she mastered this skill but she is able to watch someone do something and then repeat it (as long as it's not too complicated). This makes it feel like she's learning many new concepts at once, when in fact she is using one very important skill over and over again. Of course she is still learning by copying, but what a huge leap that particular skill gives her.

Over the last couple of weeks she has learnt to pick up things and look under them, to put things inside other things, to stand, to take steps, to empty things, to pass an object to someone and ask for it back, to dance to music, to place items on her head, to create her own shakers, to empty containers and my favourite to 'talk' on a toy telephone. Plus lots more.

With the toy phone she turns the dial, picks up the receiver, puts it near her ear and talks. How cute is that! And even funnier that a) she has no idea what a telephone actually is and b) her toy telephone is nothing like modern phones and she will never see a real phone that looks like her toy one.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Preparation for parenthood.

I have quite a few pregnant friends and friends with babies and I am extremely surprised by the lack of planning done by the majority of them before pregnancy and baby. I do think that no amount of preparation could have actually prepared me for the reality (and I did say something to that effect here). However, months before even trying for a baby I went to the doctor for a check up and chat. She gave me information and a full check up so that I knew my body was in peak condition for pregnancy. I then went and bought a book on pregnancy, birth and newborns and read it. I also talked to people with babies, read parenthood blogs and observed parents - friends and general public. I made sure our health care was up to date. I researched hospitals. I asked questions. I looked at my maternity leave scheme at work. And most of all Greg and I talked and talked about what it would be like and how we would organise things. And then we started trying for a baby.

I remember being heavily pregnant and doing the hospital course on how to take care of a newborn. We were given a worst case scenario (which is by all means possible) where baby is waking every two hours to feed and feeds for an hour. That would mean the baby is feeding for twelve hours a day, leaving twelve hours of 'free' time. We had to discuss with our partner how we would mange this situation. Greg and I immediately discussed how I would just try and sleep every single hour I had. I knew it would be exhausting and getting all that unbroken sleep would be hell. Then we had to discuss our plans with another couple. The other couple had come up with a daily plan - at this time the mother would do the grocery shopping, at this time she would do the washing and hang it at this time and here is where she would prepare and cook dinner. Seriously, WTF were they thinking? When was the mother supposed to sleep? Greg and I were both surprised that they seemed to have no concept ofwhat it would be actually like.

As I've said parenthood was actually much, much harder than I could have possibly imagined and nothing really could have prepared me for what it was like. Thinking about surviving on lack of sleep is different to actually trying to survive on not enough sleep.

However, my point is that we did try and prepare as much as we possibly could. We did try and put ourselves into the shoes of parents of newborns and imagine the hardships. We did plan for me to sleep any chance I got and for me to leave the housework. We planned for Greg to take over a lot of housework and discusssed what roles Greg would take with the baby - like he would change all nappies and settle baby to sleep when he was home and he would take the baby out for walks to give me a break. My point is we actually talked about these things BEFORE I was even pregnant.

Other things in life require preparation and planning before hand (going on a holiday, studying, starting a new career). So why is there a lack of planning before parenthood? Perhaps an attitude of so many people have done it before? Or maybe a fear? Or a belief that you cannot plan? It just surprises me that with something so important as bringing a whole new life into this world there isn't enough forethought and often very unrealistic expectations by the parents-to-be.

Maternity Leave.

In Australia workplaces must offer twelve months of maternity leave. However, there is no requirement to pay their employees during this time nor is there a paid maternity leave scheme set up by the government. I was extremely lucky to receive fourteen weeks of full pay from my employer when entering maternity leave. Most employers offer nothing.

The thing is, providing the fourteen weeks of paid leave (six weeks before birth and eight weeks after birth) sets women up for the expectation that they should (and should be able to) return to work within eight weeks after birth. Child care centres take babies from six weeks of age and according to a friend who works in a child care centre the number of six week olds in her centre is increasing each year. More and more young babies are being put into child care. I am unsure of the reasons. If it's a financial reason then I think the answer is to save before having a baby (these savings can then be a woman's salary) and giving up things that don't matter (like keeping up with the latest fashions and pay TV). If it's because the woman values her job and career over her child I really don't know why she would have a child.

Of course there are unplanned pregnancies and single mothers and I am not talking about those tough circumstances. I am talking about circumstances where there is a supportive partner, who has a stable steady job. Also it doesn't have to be the mother who stays home. There are many stay at home dads whose wives are the breadwinner.

In some countries it is a different story where employees are offered twelve months paid maternity leave. There are also some countries with more than twelve months paid leave. These countries obviously value having mothers stay home with their babies for at least the first year of their life.

I must admit before I left on my maternity leave I did worry about becoming financially dependent on Greg. After being financially self-sufficient for years it seemed like a vulnerable position to put myself in. I was lucky that I was eased into it with my fourteen weeks paid leave but Greg and I decided that we would live off his salary alone from the moment I started my leave and I managed to put the fourteen weeks pay away in savings. This helped twofold. Firstly I realised we could survive on his salary alone and secondly it got me used to being financially dependent on Greg.

Still I did spend the first couple of months feeling like I wasn't contributing to our household like Greg was. I guess what I was doing wasn't tangible enough. It took Greg pointing out (a few times) that I was doing a much more important job than he was - raising our child - for me to eventually see what I was doing as a valuable contribution.

I am so glad I am able to spend this precious time with my daughter. The first few months were very tough and there's no way I would have been able to combine work and being a mother anyway. Even now I still have so much work to do. Plus I wouldn't want to miss out on her first smile, first crawl, first steps... Her first year is a huge year in her life and I want to be there every step of the way. She will learn more and grow more in this year than any other year of her life. I also wanted to breast feed her and combining work and being a mother would have led to me giving up the breast feeding.

Being with my daughter, teaching her things, learning with her are much more important and valuable than money. Life is so short and time with Maya really is going so fast. I wouldn't want to look back and realise I missed out on this important, precious time with her because I valued money or work more highly.

Friday, 18 September 2009


And emptying out her toy box. One of her favourite things to do at the moment.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

First tooth and standing.

Maya finally has a TOOTH! Usually a first tooth arrives around 6 months, but her first tooth arrived at about 10 1/2 months. You can just see it in the picture below.

She has also started standing.

Monday, 14 September 2009

The end of my breast feeding journey.

Three weeks ago an old illness resurfaced in a very horrible way. I've had symptoms since the end of pregnancy but I could not take medication whilst breast feeding and breast feeding Maya was extremely important to me.

However, after the horrible experience that left me collapsed on the ground I had to make the necessary but difficult decision to cease breast feeding and commence the medication. Stopping breast feeding was a heart breaking decision for me, even though I think my health right now is more important.

People keep telling me that I have done so well to make it to 10 1/2 months. That most people stop feeding their babies by 6 months. And yes I do agree that I have done a very good job to make it to 10 1/2 months but reminding me of those things just dismisses the very real grief I have experienced.

I did not only feed my daughter breast milk because it is the best nutrition I could possibly give her. Breast feeding my daughter was a relationship. A close relationship. One which she could not have with anyone else. My body nourishing her. The closeness. The cuddles. It is the end of a type of relationship that I had with my daughter and for that I do mourn the loss.

On top of that I am still ill and hoping the medication will work. I have made life style changes (such as eating healthier, exercising, relaxation and giving up time on the computer) but I am still waiting for an improvement to my health.