Friday, July 28, 2006

I feel very conflicted. I got a bit mad with Ellie because she wouldn't let me soothe her, so I thought, fine, let her cry. Put her into bed and walked away. I don't want her to need to be held to get to sleep, and I don't want her to think that she can just cry and we'll always pick her up. I want her to feel safe, loved and confident in her parents. I don't want her to feel abandoned, and sad. So it's a bit of a conflict.

It took about 15 minutes for her to get to sleep. Which isn't bad. But I still feel guilty-- was it necessary? Or would she have cuddled into me and slept if I wasn't so tense (my shoulder is hurting). I don't know.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

By the end of the year, she'll probably be walking, sitting in her little chair, feeding herself lunch (albeit messily) and chatting a bit. We can go for walks in the park together, and she'll let me know when she's tired. We can draw things that we've seen, and practise letters.


Thursday, July 13, 2006

Stay at home fathers don't wear black.

I've been thinking about mental retardation. What does it mean? How does it work? I can't make any sense of it. Slower to learn things; slower to change, to adapt, to grow. But what does it mean?

She woke up last night in a very funny mood. She was just up for a drink, but she kept looking at me and giggling. Amazing smiles. She was sort of delighted, joyful, gleeful? Baby glee.

Almost dinner time. Lentils and sweet potato. Yum?

Just focussing on her works best-- if I focus on what i need to be doing, I get frustrated, she senses it and gets upset. If I just enjoy being with her, everything flows nicely. More than nicely-- it's just lovely time.

I've been calling her baby more and Ellie less. Because she's my baby? Because I'm taking more care of her, and just hanging out with her less?

Even splitting my attention to being with my partner is confusing for me right now.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

[Context: I've quit my job to look after my (as of yesterday), 1 year old daughter Ellie.
Ellie has Down Syndrome, which came as a surprise; yes, we were very upset, but we've mostly gotten over it (for now at least). She's magical, so that helps.
My partner Jo has gone to a conference for a few days, so I'm alone with her for the first time...]

I was worried that other people would think I hadn't dressed her well enough. It was a coldish Melbourne day (not really that cold from a Canadian point of view); everyone was bundled up, hats, jackets-- I was in a T-shirt. Ellie had tights and overalls, undershirt and over shirt and a hat. Not really very much for a 1 year old. I did have a fuzzy blanket on her as well. I had the plastic cover over the pram, which kept the wind off-- and it was the wind which made it so cold. But I was worried about not seeming a competent parent. Seems to me the competent parent would be more worried about whether Ellie was warm or not, regardless of what other people thought.

She wasn't really warm, but she wasn't cold. I took the laughing and giggling as a sign that she felt fine. Her hands were cold, but they're often cold-- she doesn't like them covered up. Even as a baby, she'd pull her hands free of the blankets.

I felt stupid-- I'd brought a jumper (trans:sweater) for her, a nice frizzy pink thing. Stuffed it under the pram (trans:stroller) thinking, I'd better make sure that doesn't fall out. I was running late. When I realized how cold it was, I looked, and what do you know, the jumper had fallen out. Rush back to look for it, thinking, late for the maternal health nurse, cold baby, hopeless father-- of course I couldn't find it. She was still happy so off I went. No baby police stopped me. She was still happy when I got to the health centre. Her rosy cheeks were because teeth are coming in-- she's had them for days now. They weren't because of the cold. Really.

Appointment was fine, and I went off shopping. Sitting at the bus stop, chatting with ellie, bundled back in the pram. Bus goes right by. I was incensed. Had to wait another 15 minutes for the next one, and so I kept on being worried about ellie getting cold. She didn't-- she was sheltered from the wind by the bus shelter and by her pram. She was happily playing with her rattle.

I get on the bus-- of course, it's a hopeless bus, an old school bus, rather than a proper bus. They alternate along this route in a schedule I've never bothered to figure out. I struggle on to the front. The driver helpfully says "You should get on the back, that's what you do with a pram". Thanks. Fine, whatever.

Shopping. Is ok. Ellie falls asleep after charming people on the bus. I even had a coffee and a muffin before catching the bus back home. Starting to feel competent again.

We play, read, I try to fit the exercises she's supposed to be doing in. She's happy, I'm happy, everything's fine. She especially likes the rocking horse. I rock her for a while she holds on tightly, I stop and sign "more" to her, and try to get her to sign it, but she resists taking her hand off the reins. She bounces up and down and looks at me, so i rock her some more.

A very lovely day, really; Ellie had a nap, I took the opportunity to sort out her dresser, to put clothes where I can find them. I'm always in a bit of a panic dressing her-- not putting the clothes on, but finding a combination that is suitable for what she's doing and looks nice. I've never paid that much attention to her clothes, I just put them on. So I'm half finished sorting them out; I'll ask Jo about some that I'm not sure still fit her.

She woke up, we played some more. But then she was upset. Tried a few things, eventually figured out she was hungry. But wait-- that wasn't supposed to happen for another hour and a half. Arggh! I'd started to cook the sweet potato, and had also started a sort of lentil soup. So I popped her into the high chair, gave her a bread stick, grated some carrot and tried to get something more together. Hmmm, throw the sweet potato (almost done) into the start of the soup, add some water, stir it around. Oh dear, crying baby. Scoop some of this soupy mix out, pour out the water, pour in some cold, drain it; and see what she thinks. I don't think she thought it was up to standard, but she played with it and ate some. Then I gave her some yoghurt, which she loved. Happy baby again. A bit covered in yoghurt, and wet from drinking, but happy. Changed her, read "Oops" three times, with Ellie turning the pages, and then sung her to sleep with an a improvisation to the tune of "On top of old smokey". 7:30pm, and I'm beat. Coffey first, then pop in some laundry, make some dinner, and now to try and pick up the house a bit.

The nice thing is that if I don't get something done, there's always tomorrow. Relative priorities can be shifted, I have no one to answer to, but Ellie, really. At least for a while...