It's okay if your baby is four months old (and otherwise healthy) and isn't sitting up without the aid of a cushion or some other prop-up.
Except I didn't think it was at all "normal." Roman has a girl-cousin who is two months his senior and seemed to be doing a lot of the physical things quicker than he has; standing on her own at 8 months and walking at 9 months.
Not only this but when I would read about these apparent mile stones and freak myself out. All the while I over looked the fact that at 3 months he was sitting up and rolling himself over from front to back - yes, moments of panicking can cloud your judgement somewhat.
On top of panicking about things he wasn't (but was actually) doing, Roman was losing weight. Not a lot of weight, but enough that the Health Visitor demanded that I start setting an alarm for breast feeds in the early hours of the morning when he began to sleep through the night. This problem with weight is genetic; from my Gran, to my Mum and myself all dealing with the weight loss issue as babies - so much so that the doctor was convinced I had Cystic Fibrosis.
And lo and behold I didn't have CF and started piling on weight. Same went for Roman. The panic was for nothing - nothing save panicking me.
So now I have a nearly 13 month old that can climb, cruise, stand and hold his own weight on his bandy little legs (actually they're quite chubby little legs.)
He is just so determined to be his own mini man.
And I am determined that he will keep the essence of that inside him even when others try to take it out of him.
And trust me there will be plenty of professionals and parents (usually other mothers) dressed in sheep's clothing telling you that you're doing something wrong.
Just remember even if you were doing everything right there would still be those determined to offer their advice - unwanted or otherwise - and preach down at you from their high horses.
The "mother knows best" saying has never been more true now I really understand it. Mothers and fathers are on a steep learning curve and sometimes they make mistakes. And sometimes you will tell someone the same thing over and over until you're blue in the face and they won't accept that this is how you want to run the show.
My Health Visitor wouldn't accept I wasn't (ever) going to give Roman formula milk. That's fine. She had her opinions and I didn't agree. We didn't lock horns just accepted each other's views and moved on from that point.
And please. PLEASE! remember the most obvious piece of advice (wow the grammar mistakes are horrific back there but I'm sure you can all stomach it):
Milestones are just an average, they are not an exact science.
Don't beat yourself up if your child reaches four months and isn't sitting up by themselves. Some babies sit up like this by three months, some by six - maybe even by seven months. As long as your baby is happy, healthy, hydrated and well nurtured then you have nothing to worry about.
You already have enough on your plate.
...and if you feel comfortable waiting nearly 13 months giving your baby mashed potato that's fine, too.
People may think you're crazy but you probably have your reasons and that should be respected.
Don't let someone else push you around or disrespect your opinion.
You're Da Mama (or Papa.)
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When you comment I'll even give you some mashed potato!
(And I promise the smiles were very real. I just had a really sore jaw from smiling so much.)
When I consider that I've been married for two years I can't believe it.
It feels longer.
I don't know if that's good or bad but I consider it a good thing that I feel this way.
Perhaps I shouldn't share this, but I will.
I am actually writing this blog post 4 days ahead of schedule because I am one busy Mama.
Tonight Bryan and I said some rather unkind things to one another
(and I am horrified at some of things I heard, believe me, but what's worse is that I am horrified by the way I was feeling and some of the things I said.)
Why did we say these unkind things?
Because we let things slide on top of us.
Two years ago I couldn't have imagined we'd ever say unkind things to each other. I knew there would be disagreements, arguments but I always believed we'd resolve things. I always believed my future husband when he said; "We won't sleep on our problems."
Well that is not reality. People need sleep. And whoever said you shouldn't go to bed without resolving things I don't believe they've ever been married anyway. Or they're lying. Or on Prozac or something (and that is not a slight on people who take anti-depressants.)
Sometimes we disagree and say unkind things. And sometimes we never resolve that. Sometimes we say sorry and mean it and sometimes it sounds like; "I'm sorry, but..."
We fight like two sisters but we love like two sisters; no matter what the other does, the forgiveness is always there. Just waiting to appear. Just waiting for the calm after the storm.
(I can't believe I compared the love I have for my husband to the love I have for my sister but if you have a sister you'll understand that the love is so similar.)
Married life isn't about a "make do and mend" kind of relationship, it's a "live and learn" kind of relationship. It's a "wait, grow and see" relationship. It's a constant lesson relationship. It's a well maintained, well nurtured relationship. It's full of little intimacies and surprises. It's lived and loved. It's ignoring the cards that pigeon hole gender roles into simple little categories of "women are hopeless at driving/reading maps" and "men can't look after babies/cook without burning something." And anyway, my Mum and Gran were the DIY Queens in my lifetime so I've never known any man whose any good at stuff like that - aside my big brother. So in your face stereotyped gender roles!
The truth is that when given half a chance men make the most amazing fathers. And husbands. Just give them half that chance and you will have success.
It's like Sea Monkeys; nurture them and watch them grow!
Okay...marriage and Sea Monkeys? Yes. I went there.
Anyhow, I found an old diary entry of mine I wanted to share. It's from December 25th, 2008. This was approximately a month and a few weeks before I was married:
I have been playing around on Facebook for a bit and looking at pictures of my future husband when he was on his mission. He looks so happy and for me to see that happiness in him is amazing. He looks so handsome and smart, too.
I can't get more happy!
I can't stop smiling. And laughing. And daydreaming. It doesn't feel real still.
With him, nothing is impossible. When he got home from his mission - and people got annoyed in the months running up to it when I talked about his homecoming - that's when I realised he was for me. I just had no idea how to go about that. So I sunk into things that distanced me from him...it all just felt unreal.
I'm not unattractive or dumb. I just didn't think someone as amazing and spiritual as him would be for me. As in...maybe he would be paired with someone as equally spiritual.
I tried to take a back seat, but I couldn't help myself. I persisted with my feelings I had always pushed away, I changed because I wanted too and in five months time...it's for all time and eternity .
I didn't realise this was what love felt like. Proper love. Where two people aren't scared to admit their feelings and where it's so intense like this.
The best part is me admitting my Facebook stalking. Second to that is the amount of sickening happiness I was clearly oozing. But it was real. My life was at the start of this amazing new journey (and I feel like we're still there, it's weird.)
"With him nothing is impossible."
I want to have this engraved on my brain. Especially when we say unkind words to one another.
When I read this entry I can't believe we could be so short with each other. I honestly didn't understand love until I met Bryan. I knew the depths of which I could love someone; my parents, my family, my close friends. And I understood and accepted the love I felt for my beliefs; for the Lord, for Jesus and for every sacrifice ever made that made it possible for me to have beliefs.
But real, romantic falling in-love love I never grappled with until I met him. I'd had boyfriends before, but they all seemed really silly and insignificant when I realised the true depths of my feelings for my "friend" Bryan.
I remember when I met him in 2004. I thought he was tall and awkward. He was my brother's quiet friend. A year later he was my brother's loud friend. We used to joke about being married quite a lot but I never took it seriously. Cara Quinn? What a weird name!
He is so much more than I took him for. I am still learning.
I am still loving. Every single little day we have together.
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When you comment I'll even give you a piece of two-year old wedding cake!
For many years I fought with my conscience on the "feminist" title. A lot of people I met defined feminism in very small and pigeon holed terms; bra-burning lesbians who want to stick a stiletto into a man's crotch and this didn't do anything to satisfy my curiosity.
My high school career was short lived (by four years) and I didn't really learn anything new. I never learned about the suffragettes, that women were campaigning for the right to a vote and dying for the cause. I knew it had happened somewhere in history but the fully story was hazy at best. My basic understanding was that women had once not been allowed to vote and now they were and that we should be grateful they were and that was that.
Gradually over time I collected little bits of information on feminism and on women's history.
I bought a Germaine Greer book when I was 17, nearly 18. From that book I learned a lot about myself, mostly things I already knew but that no one would listen too - or that people would roll their eyes at if they did hear me (because hearing is not listening.) There were also things in that book I didn't agree with; such as abandoning monogamous relationships.
And just because Germaine Greer said so, didn't make it so. She did not have the monopoly on feminism (and nor am I implying she ever had it or wanted to have it.) There were rules I could make up for myself.
I had worried for a long time that I couldn't be both feminist and LDS (or Mormon.) I worried that being a feminist went against everything I had ever known spiritually. I am not an ignorant spirit and I have always been hungry for knowledge so when I learned more and more about feminism it made me really angry. At who I'm not sure; was it at the people sitting behind desks deciding that it was okay to show a man stepping on a woman's head in an attempt to advertise rugs? The men in government all those years ago who decided it was okay that women shouldn't have a right to whose in power? Either way, something was wrong with this.
Sure, maybe it was "all in the past" but that didn't mean it didn't happen or it should be forgotten about. It also didn't rest easy with me that because of a sexual organ separating one sex from the other that we should be treated differently.
And by "differently" I don't mean that there aren't differences because it is perfectly obvious there are differences; physically, spiritually and even mentally.
But that isn't something I feel I can generalise. Some girls like tractors, some little boys like to play house and dolls. Some little girls love to hand craft things and some little boys like to play in the dirt.
As a child I was considered a "tom boy." At least that's how I classed myself because luckily my parents didn't have labels for us. We were James, Fiona, Cara and Fraser - and that was that. We were unique in our own ways, but not because we were male or female - because that is a given - and being a "girl" or a "boy" isn't a personality trait, it's a physical fact.
My Dad would talk to me about computers and computer games that were considered "boy games" by everyone else. I took a "boy blue" Thomas The Tank Engine lunch box with me on my first day to school. I also played with Barbies, baby dolls and had a play kitchen. I wanted to be married with children. But so did my younger brother, Fraser, who owned a small vacuum cleaner, loved doing dishes and would show the same interest in playing cars as he did with dolls.
I applaud my parents for not smothering us with gender ideals and for treating us as people.
Did my Mum dress us in frilly socks and flowery dresses? Yes. She did. But by the same token I didn't understand the frills or the flowers - they were just nice, not a sign or a constraint of who I was or wasn't. Not an aspiration of who I should be or what was to come.
I realise that yes you can be LDS and a feminist. In my faith we're entitled to an equal partnership in a marriage. We run our churches alongside our men and they alongside their women. We're in harmony with one another. We're constantly working together to make things right, to make things work. We can't have eternal salvation one without the other.
Maybe not everyone has experienced such a harmonious time as an LDS woman; maybe you've had a bishop, stake president or whoever whose said some shocking things to you. Maybe it happened in the home. Or in a Sunday School lesson. I don't know, but all I can say is: that's not how it's supposed to be.
Should we strive for equality?
Yes. But we shouldn't fight for it the way we are now. Yes, now. Even now after years of women endlessly proving they can do a job just as well as - or even better than - a man and deserve the same rights and privileges and not be judged for the anatomy they are born with.
I think in the current fight for equality we lose who we are as people. We become warriors against each other rather than fighting for that child who used to carry the blue lunch box to school, climb trees, defy norms and always arrive home with grubby hands after playing in the mud.
It's not a man's World. Nor is it a woman's World. It's OUR World.
The 7th of February, 2010 I started to feel the first real signs of labour.
Little gut-wrenching reminders that this round shape inside me was a real living, breathing person. A person that had been determined for months (not that I was counting) to make an appearance on their time schedule with no regards to immature lung development, premature birth and my anxieties towards Caesarean sections.
Luckily my prayers were a little more than answered as by the 7th of February there was still no baby (I was due on the 1st of February.)
When I woke up in the morning I had these intense cramps that made it difficult to talk - or think - but they weren't frequent enough for me to make much a deal out of, so I kept them to myself. Luckily they died down after I ate a huge pineapple to myself - odd as pineapple (but usually in a huge quantity) is an induction to labour.
By 11pm that night on the 7th my mucus plug came loose. I knew labour had started by this point and began to shake - the same feelings I'd had seeing that my pregnancy test was positive. I was scared. It was all real, it was coming to a head at last - but that scared me.
By 10am on the 8th of February labour was established with no intention of stopping. I was coping very well with it so I decided to take a bath instead of waking anyone up. By 11.30am it got more and more intense; I can't describe it to you apart from saying it was intense.
It was the kind of intensity that grips your whole body and doesn't let go until it's done it's job. You have little reprieves here and there but the intensity of it all definitely hits you in waves.
With much comforting, listening to music and trying every birthing position I'd ever seen the thing that worked for me in the end was lying down in bed napping intermittently. I kept my bedroom door open and heard B and my mum chatting softly; about what I don't recall, but their voices and the direction of their conversation soothed me.
At one point I didn't want to be on my own any longer and called B through. I can't remember exactly why or when but I lost it. I lost my positive train of thought and sunk deep into believing it would never end; that I wanted the epidural/I was weak/couldn't go on any more.
Of course I had too; I had another eleven hours of this. I didn't know that at the time and my Mum kept reassuring me it would be all over quickly. "If you've come this far at home, you're not too far now." I believed her and let her words sink into the inner part of me that was being chewed up with negative feelings.
We called the hospital (you don't get assigned a midwife or doctor to phone in the UK, you just call the hospital and speak to whichever midwife is manning the phone and they'll tell you to make your way to the hospital) then phoned up B's parents. Neither B or my Mum drive or own a car so we were relying on them to take us to the hospital - they live a good 30 minutes drive away so it was around 6pm when we were leaving to go to hospital.
I was not looking forward to the drive there; but it was great. I felt nothing of the contractions and when a massive wave of intensity hit me I would squeeze down on B's hand; I turned into a cliché.
We got to hospital where they discovered a few complications, but I was definitely in labour. At this point I was 4cm dilated - which surprisingly comforted me despite not wanting to know how many cm's dilated I was.
My blood pressure was up very high; the midwife surmised this was because I was anxious about being in hospital but sent me down to the delivery suite to be monitored and set up there.
Very soon it was decided my blood pressure wasn't coming down and an epidural would have to be organised (with my consent.) I agreed to this and shortly after I was biting down into a pillow and crying in the arms of a stranger; being told you can't move when you're contracting is quite a feat.
My mum and B swapped over at some point (stupid hospital policy which allows for only one birth partner in the room at a time) and I napped on and off for the next few hours meanwhile the hormone drip worked through my body.
At about 4am I felt pins and needles in my legs then all of a sudden I felt that intensity again. My midwife told me to breathe through it all again - breathe through it despite an IV in my hand, a haematoma in my other hand, a needle in my spine and a trace monitor around my belly. When the midwife went out the room the student midwife asked me if I'd like to try some nitrous oxide to help me out - at first I wasn't sure because I had wanted an all singing all dancing natural labour with no drugs then I thought to myself; "I need to get through this last hurdle, at least I'll feel him passing through me if I have gas and air."
I sucked in deep and after the first two "puffs" I was laughing my head off. I kept saying to B; "Don't tell the midwives but I am soooo stoned!" they all laughed and I would echo their laughter. The gas and air made my throat very dry so I drank some cold water from a straw.
At 5.40am they told me I would need to come off the gas and air now as I was 10cm dilated - and I kept saying; "A human head is coming out of me!" and "I want to push now." - and it was "time." 30 minutes later we were greeted with Roman; slightly purple, cawing and warm. His weight and warmth amazed me. His size shocked me. I'd birthed a 10lb 1 and a half ounce baby boy.
Bryan announced the sex (what we'd asked for as the midwives have a habit of doing this) and cut the cord. Little memories float in now; the midwives saying; "He's so big, look he's rocking his own crib." and B saying; "He's crying real tears."
He was mine. He was crying. He was self soothing. He was Roman. He was every inch real.
He was everything I'd imagined he'd be and at the same time I had never realised how brilliant he would be until that moment we were side by side; me in my delivery bed high on adrenaline and him swaddled in his cot; staring at me, looking, searching and exploring my features and there I was doing the same.
We were reunited.
Twenty four years of being apart and finally I could see him again.
Why had I waited so long? Why hadn't I married sooner? Had him sooner? I know me and B didn't wait around to have children - we just didn't see the point of delaying it - but I couldn't stop thinking; I should have had you sooner than this.
And I began to think to myself; "Thank you Heavenly Father, thank you for letting this precious spirit go so he can be my responsibility. Thank you for this opportunity."
I passed out at some point; I was exhausted and I was given gas and air. I was stitched up without anaesthetic and that was traumatising as I felt every pull on my skin and every stab of the needle. It took them three hours. I thought of my Mum who had been opened up without anaesthetic and sucked down on the gas and air until I passed out.
Another midwife prodded me and said; "does that hurt? You've got a pile!" I screamed and told her if she did that again I'd kick her. Ha. (But she made up for it later when she was lovely helping me getting Roman positioned for a first feed.)
My Mum came through and I felt too tired to deal with people's excitement but I wanted to remember and soak up the moments like that at the same time. She called up my Dad. Again I wanted to hang up but never wanted him to stop talking to me at the same time. I wanted him to be there but I was glad he was in Thurso; I pictured him standing in the living room, with the sun on his skin and him peeking through the blinds at the weather, Shadow weaving through his legs and her tail beating off his ankles.
B and my Mum left, I slept and when I woke I walked to the toilet with the student midwife (who wanted me to use a wheelchair) and I remember that pain of peeing for the first time after a baby has come out of your body. I got back into bed and told them I wanted to feed Roman, we fed and napped again and when we woke we went up to the ward.
A day later we were home and visitors came.
Life was somehow never the same again but it was something wonderful from that point onwards.
Image: L-R: My sister, Roman, his cake and B's hand.
Today you were one.
You had cake, you had presents and you even had balloons. You were happy and cheeky all day long. Delightful and full of love all day long.
Impressing your guests with the many things you've mastered over the months they've missed.
The best feeling in the World is waking up every day; realising I am breathing, I am alive to see another day through. This is an every day gift, better than Christmas. This is the gift of life. And I have given it to another being.
A little person that I love so much.
Don't miss out!
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When you comment I'll even give you a shot of my air guitar!
For me the list is too many to mention - but I'm not going to feel bad about any single regret I've made.
I've made mistakes for whatever reason (thinking I knew better than everyone else/thinking it was right at the time and KNOWING what I was doing was 100% wrong, wrong, wrong but doing it anyway.)
And now Facebook has become a new platform to air your dirty (or virtual) laundry in public.
A new place where long lost friends can meet up and realise why they drifted apart in the first place through a couple of status updates.
A venue for friends to meet up, discuss politics and fall out with each other.
A new kind of talking behind each other's backs with the messaging system on there.
And where you can catch the latest drama on so and so's relationship - don't you just love to hate those status updates? I find them better than an episode of The Hills.
And today I KNOW I'm going to have Facebook hangover. Especially when my parents see my status. I told people to KMA. And how fed up I am. I'm really feeling fed up of doing everything around here and could use some help that never comes.
I know several other Working Mama's (in the home or out of the home) will know what I mean - and you Working Dad's. But less is expected from men (at least in my culture and in Scotland in general.) Women are to be everything but be behind the scenes at the same time. We're supposed to have dreams but then have very little time and energies we can give to our dreams because there's always something else to do in our every day lives.
I wouldn't swap being a Mama for anything because that is not what eats at my time - and when I spend time with him I am happier and calmer. Looking at him makes me smile and see that this is really what it's all about for me.
And what people may say or do doesn't really matter.
Don't miss out!
Leave me a great comment.
When you comment I'll even give you a shot of my air guitar!