A Real Bundle of Joy

Little Birdie (LB) is only seven months old and already she’s been to two funerals but I’m so glad she was there.  That might seem a strange statement to make, but in amongst all the struggles we’ve had with bubby’s reflux, her unsettled nature and her sleep problems, some of her brightest moments have been at our saddest.

When my grandmother fell and broke her hip at 90 years old, LB was only a week old. Grandma’s last weeks were filled with pain, but a trip to visit her in the retirement home was one of the few trips out I could manage with a newborn. As a former nurse, Grandma didn’t mind at all if I sat in the corner and fed the baby while I was talking to her. Meanwhile, the incongruous sound of a crying newborn in the halls of the home brought curious stares and smiles from the other elderly residents. Grandma was in so much pain, yet she enjoyed seeing LB so much. It made me feel so good to be able to bring her a small joy in her last days.

Likewise, the death of my dear friend’s husband brought us all to our knees a month ago. My heart was breaking so much for her and after the funeral it was a struggle to know what to say. However, I knew I just wanted to give her the biggest possible hug and not let go. I waited for the moment and as I hugged my friend, I honestly didn’t know if I could let go, but I didn’t need to worry. As I wrapped my arms around her, my friend looked over my shoulder and saw LB and a smile spread across her face. Even in that terrible moment, LB was able to bring a few seconds of joy in the darkest of spaces.

We had another sad day today as we went to visit my uncle, who has terminal cancer. As we drove out to the country town where he lives, I told my husband I wasn’t going to dwell on what we were about to encounter but, again, I need not have worried. It was shocking to see my uncle’s gaunt figure as we arrived. However, it was a pleasant morning as we sat in the lounge room drinking tea and watching LB play on the mat in the middle. We even managed to get a few happy snaps before we left. I’m sure we will treasure those couple of photos in years to come. However, LB really came into her own as we were leaving. She really seemed to take to my aunt during the visit and my aunt picked her up for a little cuddle just as we were leaving. Uncharacteristically, LB was quite relaxed and decided to start kissing my aunty on the nose. For a woman who is having a really tough time at the moment caring for her ailing husband, it was a delightful moment and it was certainly a precious moment for me to watch.

As I’ve struggled through a difficult seven months as a new mother, there have been times when I’ve wondered (as much as I adore my daughter) whether things would ever improve. I’ve truly been pushed to the edge this year but days like today remind me that I’ve been blessed with a real bundle of joy.

Ferocious fireworks on date night

My husband and I reserve some little treats for Saturday night. We have some nice take out and an ice-cream. Since we’ve had LB (Little Birdie), our social life is not what it used to be, so we look forward to our “date night” all week.

Tonight, our date night coincided with a fireworks display run by the City Council, which also featured a flyover by some fighter jets. Although it was all in the centre of the city, we are only about 6 kilometres away. In years gone by, this has been an excuse for drinks on the back deck with friends. If you lean over the railing, you can see the fireworks from our house. However, it was a different story this year.

The jets flew over just before sunset. The noise was horrendous and poor LB was terrified, which in turn upset her father, who felt unsure how best to comfort her. I was in the shower and came bounding out with a blue towel wrapped around my head, ready to save the day. As it turns out, my Marj Simpson hair-do only terrified LB more and she ended up in tears. We calmed her down, I gave her a feed and she went off to bed as normal. We went downstairs and tucked into our curry, just as the fireworks started. The display lasted half an hour. I spent the whole time terrified LB was going to wake up. Luckily, she didn’t.

You know, date night is not what it used to be!

Small Mercies

Simple things seem impossible when you have a baby who struggles to sleep. However, I was pleasantly surprised when LB (Little Birdie) and I went on our first road trip together without Daddy, on Thursday.

One of my dearest friends recently lost her husband and I desperately wanted to go up and see her, but she lives an hour-and-a-half away, in my old hometown. When we drove up three weeks ago for the funeral, Hubby took the afternoon off work and we were relieved to find it wasn’t such a bad trip for LB. As it turns out, the trip is a good length for her to have a nap. So, I set off on Thursday, during LB’s morning nap time, not sure what the day would bring without Daddy there to help me troubleshoot. I had the port-a-cot and her sleeping bag, just in case a chance for a nap presented itself, but my back-up plan was to simply hop back in the car and drive home if I couldn’t get her to sleep. However, I really wanted to see my friends and I was hoping that wouldn’t be the case.

I’m well behind many of my friends in the parenthood game. Lots of their children are already in primary school and I’m sure they look at me and shake their heads as I struggle with parenthood for the first time! However, the up side was that I arrived in my hometown to find they had planned a family friendly day. We were to go on a picnic lunch in a nearby park, which just happens to play host to an annual flower festival that is on at the moment.


Whilst LB was shy at first, she warmed up by the time we made it to the park, where we were lucky to get a picnic table under a beautiful big old pine tree. She heartily tucked into her lunch and even let one of my friends feed her.

I was then blessed to see one of those gorgeous moments that only parenthood can afford you. LB is quite shy but very interested in the world. She finds it a bit much when everyone is paying her attention but she does enjoy social occasions quite a lot. My friend’s son was trying to get her attention in all the obnoxious ways that a seven-year-old boy can; making faces, doing silly dances etc. I told him that LB likes watching people’s hands, particularly when they perform the actions for “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”. He obligingly proceeded to sing her the lullaby. Very soon, two of the other children joined in. A semi-circle of three children singing nursery rhymes surrounded LB. She was delighted. It was a lovely sight to behold.


Soon, LB was showing tired signs, so I decided to lay her back in the pram and rock her in the hopes of getting her to sleep. It was a bit difficult, as there were lots of distractions in the park. However, by the time we were walking home, she was getting drowsy. With a little shooshing, she seemed to go to sleep and I could feel waves of relief washing over me! We lifted the pram into the house when we got home, but unfortunately LB woke up. I thought it was all over but with some more shooshing, LB had a little sleep in the pram for about half an hour. It was enough to buy me a little more time and a couple of cups of tea with my friends. It was a small mercy indeed and a big coup in the sleep stakes.

LB was too distracted and hot to feed properly when she woke up, so I thought it was going to be a hairy ride home but in another small mercy, we had a quiet trip. LB slept the whole way. We celebrated with a family dinner with Daddy when we got home, followed by a bath and off to bed. She was only a little late to bed and slept well the whole night.

The day went so well, I felt confident to promise we’d be back for a visit in a couple of weeks. I wonder what that journey will bring?

Hush-a-bye baby … please.

I’m not very original. The thing I miss most since becoming a mother is a good night’s sleep. In fact, for three months of this year, LB (Little Birdie) woke every hour and so did I. It was excruciating. As my doctor pointed out, they use sleep depravation as a form of torture and I know why. I was just about at my wit’s end when I was successful in gaining admission to a public hospital sleep school just over a month ago. LB was a star performer, but I was very nervous about returning home and particularly worried about making sure she kept having day sleeps.

So, you can imagine how fiercely I try to maintain our new sleeping regime. We’ve successfully negotiated our way through a family holiday and two new teeth, but in the last week or so, I’ve been increasingly struggling to get LB to sleep for longer than a sleep cycle.

The issue I have found is that I can only seem to get help with LB’s sleeping through the public health system and, while there are some baby sleep experts out there amongst the child health nurses, I can’t get access to them. Our four days in sleep school were such a relief, but I still feel lost and isolated now that I have returned home.

I decided to drop into the child health clinic last week to see if I could get some help. I was successful in getting an appointment last Monday, but what a waste of time! The health nurse fed me some platitudes and told me she thought I was a good mother and sent me off, none the wiser. She also told me I should ring the sleep school and I did. That was no help either. Once you are discharged, they don’t want to know you. I put the phone down and cried. They gave me a number to call, which led me to another child health clinic across town, which doesn’t service my area. By this stage, it was Wednesday and I was starting to feel dispirited. LB was still lying in her cot crying and not sleeping for three quarters of an hour and then sleeping for only half an hour or so.

However, there was some light on the horizon. I might have been given the wrong number but when I was finally able to speak an operator, they transferred me internally to a triage nurse who could help me. I left my number and was told to expect a call sometime in the next 48 hours. Today she called. And she had some ideas. Thank goodness!

So, I now have a plan. I will remove the mobile from LB’s cot. I will increase the amount of solids she eats in the day and add in some bread. I will turn up the radio a little louder while she’s sleeping. She even suggested putting a tiny little board book in the cot for bubby. Apparently, it will take a couple of weeks to see an improvement. I feel better. Tomorrow, I will act on the plan and hopefully my baby will hush-a-bye … please…

Play, baby, play!

When life gives you lemons … play dodge ball with the lemons!

It turns out motherhood is a lot harder and more stressful than I could have imagined, so I’ve set myself a little challenge to lighten things up a bit. I recently came across a box set of fifty baby play ideas, so I thought I would try to work through the whole box by LB’s first birthday.

It was a strange feeling after I first brought LB home. I was barely surviving when it occurred to me that she was a little person and maybe I should play with her! Then, I realized, I had no idea how to play with my newborn. I ended up googling and found a video a couple had made which showed them playing with their baby boy. It was a long time since I was a child and I had forgotten everything – even the simplest nursery rhymes. Since then, I’ve made it my mission to learn as much as possible to keep LB amused and I’ve come a long way in seven months. On a recent long car trip, LB was less than impressed when the traffic slowed to a crawl due to road works on a major highway. I managed to continuously sing nursery rhymes for an hour without repeating a single rhyme to keep her amused (why is mummy’s voice acceptable, but a CD of nursery rhymes ineffective?).

There is an unfortunate subtext to my quest for games to play with LB. Poor little LB has trouble sleeping. She is a dreadful cat napper and for the first six months of her life, would only sleep during the day if she were on my shoulder or at the breast. We’ve recently been to sleep school, so things have improved with night sleep, but the flipside to a baby who never sleeps is that you have a lot of time to fill in a day with a very cranky little person. I will do anything to avoid the large tracts of crying that LB is capable of, so the mummy circus is in full swing. We have some pretty involved play sessions at times.

So, I am continuously casting about for ideas for playing with LB. I’ve found some good websites, visited our local library, swapped ideas at mother’s group and watched a few episodes of Playschool. Recently, I came across a little box of flash cards that offers fifty things to do with your baby. It contains ideas for simple games, songs, action rhymes and other fun things to do with your baby. It includes ideas for ball games, sand play and posting things, and using the picture cards as prompts for making animal noises. The suggestions are inexpensive and I hope LB will learn some new skills, find out about the world and, most importantly, have fun.


Now, my mission is to choose the first card. I have selected “ball games”. The card says I should roll the ball to the baby (I’ve done that before), stand baby up and use her legs to “kick” the ball (we’ve done that too… mummy enjoyed the lounge room soccer match, LB was a bit bemused) but the third suggestion is a new one – it suggests lining up paper cups, cardboard boxes or egg cartons to use as skittles. We will see how we go!

Why write the BrightBirdie blog?

The inspiration…

I was inspired to start writing this blog because this year I was lucky enough to become a mother for the first time. It’s been a rollercoaster ride, but I have learned so much. It’s actually been a battle to try and parent an initially very unsettled little bubba. It has amazed me to note that as I finally figure things out, it all seems to disappear into the ether. It seems a shame to waste such insight! I’d like a record to share my experiences with others. I’ve fought so hard to find the answers to all my mothering questions and maybe this blog will help someone else or maybe another mother will read it and think, “you’re reading my mind!”

The focus …

So, for the moment, my blog will focus on my experiences as a first time mother to a seven month old, Little Birdie (LB). I’ll write about what I’m doing, what I’m learning, what I realizing and what I’m feeling.

The author …

I used to be a high school teacher and before that I was a journalist. However, as stressful as those jobs can be, nothing prepared me for motherhood! It’s an experience that is nothing like you would ever expect it to be. No matter how much people try to warn you about parenthood, you cannot truly understand it until you experience it. I’ve been thrown into the deep end with a reflux baby who struggles to sleep but it still amazes me how gorgeous she is and the smallest things she does will fascinate me. I’ve gone from wondering about life’s big questions to being spellbound by watching my bubby sucking on pieces of fruit for the first time with delight spreading across her face.

The title…

I chose the title of this blog because it speaks to the future. I want the future to be bright and I love birds. The combination of the two speaks to soaring off into a bright future and I hope that this blog is the first step in doing just that.