Baby love

My darling, my little one, just ten months have passed since I held you in my arms, and yet it seems like lightyears away, and at the same time like it was yesterday. It’s a cliché I know, but you are growing up so fast, learning new things everyday. I remember when I was packing boxes in our old flat and all what was left of your things unpacked was your playmat and sitter, and yoy were perfectly content with them. Then, a month later you rolled over, and then you sat up by five months. A month later you were pulling yourself forward and by eight you were crawling, and fast. And the speed picks up, since november you have learned how to take support and moving sideways along tables, you no longer fall down to sit, you squat dowb, balanced, controlled. As you reach for things to hold on to, there are a few seconds in between when you stand on your own. And when I let go of me and stand for a second two you give that cunning smile of yours, like you know what’s coming next.

It’s not only motoric skills like balancing, walking supported or the fact that you can pick up the tiniest of morsels, it’s so much more. Less than two weeks ago you started pointing at things, and listening carefully to what we say the objects are. You have a stronger will than before, like the yesterday as you tried opening a sliding cabinet door and it wouldn’t open. You are talking, we do not know what you say but you are practicing. I’ve heard you whisper “sassy”, “lampa”, “pappa” like you want to keep them secret until you are sure you manage the words. You also know the word no, and you know what it means, and you are allready testing mummys and daddys willpower. We know you know. As I’ve been working since january I come home and see you do yet another newly learned skill almost every day. It is honestly heartbraking for me to know I’m missing so much, and at the same time my heart swells with pride. You are such a good girl and I love you.

It is a rare moment to have you in my arms, you want to wriggle free and explore all that the world has to show you. If I try to hold you you get mad. The only times is if you need comfort or food, and I love those moments, and I know they too will fade away in time. But everynow and then in the middle of your adventures you come crawling, climb up on me and give me a kiss. Please never stop doing that. It means I matter, even though I’m not there every single day. And your smile when I come get you in the morning, as you jump up and down in excitement, there is no better way to start a morning, no matter how badly the night has been.

I love you ❤

Potty training

Apparently you can teach your baby how to go potty way before they can walk! My über trendy mother picked up this new or actually old but reinvented technique few months ago but due to sleep deprivation and our newly started baby led weaning we postponed it. But today we put her on the potty for five-ten minutes so she would get used to it. Nothing came out but it was a brief introduction. But from now on we will put her on the potty when she wakes up from naps, has eaten or whenever she needs to go. We have no clue on her cues yet. The idea is you follow your child closely and see when she relieves herself and then quickly put her on the potty. In the weekend I’m going to stay with her in the bathroom and follow closely. Anyhow, it starts now, we’ll see how it goes!

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The modern parent

I have officially returned to work for three days a week. It took two hours into my first day and the first project landed on my table, so I’m swept up again in my very weird but best ever position at my family business- jack of all trades, master of none.

But going back means leaving something behind, a 10 month long period of being at home with my baby. Thanks to the Finnish healthcare and social security system I was able to do so without having to do it with no income. We are extremely fortunate, (and honestly if you plan on breastfeeding for longer than six months like I did, it’s almost a must, at least it was for me)

But being a modern parent, or actually a modern mother, there is a lot expected of you. You are supposed to be main caregiver AND main or at least co-provider. If you decide to stay home you’ll have a hoard of feminists hoovering over you and lecturing you about traditional gender roles, and if you go back to work you are heartless and cold and even admired by some for some sick reason. And god forbid if you hire a nanny! I was once told that “people who have nannies shouldn’t have kids at all”. It’s a very cruel thing to say to someone like me who has commited herself and her life to her familybusiness and just because I happen to be a girl also would be the one giving birth and nursing my child to be. 

And the poor men, a few dare to go on fathers leave or let alone become a stay-at-home dad, only to face the scrutiny of other men and future employers. I am so proud of my husband who took the leap and is staying home for a while, because in the midst of work he kind of missed the first half of our daughters exsistence, well maybe I’m exaggerating, it wasn’t that bad, but still!

I sincerely believe that it takes a village to raise a child. The more people who are involved on a regular basis, the better, grandparents, nannies, kindergarden you name it. I also believe that women need a home-something else balance. For some this something else can mean the gym, going to work, a hobby or all of the above. Point being, getting away from the baby, the four walls of your home, frenetically googling and pinteresting baby stuff, reading baby books, shopping baby clothes, babybabybabybaby! 

For me being able to balance these two, home and work is a blessing. I came home filled with energy, having to be able to sit for a whole day (!) but letting my brain do the work. As I came in my daughters sparkling smile met me and as her nanny let her down she crawled to me as fast as she could and gave me the two biggest kisses she could with her minimouth and let out the happiest Geeeeh! (Her excited sound). Nothing beats that feeling, of being so loved and getting such a warm welcome. 

What…just…happened!?

You might have read my previous posts on sleeping and sleeptraining. Long story short, my baby girl says “I ain’t got time fo dat!” to sleeping.

Well.. I was desperate, on brink of madness. And then I stumbled upon a really nice blog by a Finnish mum living in south of France. Check it out here: https://minililli.blogspot.fr/?m=1

So I read about her daughters sleeping problems and that they went to sound healing. And I thought, well, we’ve tried almost everything else there is. So I get her contacts from the blogger mum and the next thing I know I find myself in a cozy room on the second floor above a restaurant in the centre of old Antibes with my daughter in my lap. The lady, Louise, was very friendly and has an array of knowledge up her sleeve and she gave me some good tips to try. 

Then the sound therapy started. I cannot really explain what happened but I could feel areas in my body, like deep in the chest and forehead vibrating from the sound, later I found out it was my third eye chakra and heart chakra. So weird. I’m open to everything but this was something very special and a little too weird. And trust me, I have been to healing, acupuncture, reiki, met shamans and seers and you name it. 

But I came home feeling at ease, like I had gained a new secret knowledge about something. My mother said she felt lighter at heart and Cleo was her happy self, she slept for two hours when we came home.

Then came the much anticipated bed time. I did as I usually do, and added the tricks she told me. I then put her to bed. She protested a bit but then settled down… And…. 

Slept for six hours straight!! 

A-m-a-z-i-n-g!

At 2 she woke, and started stirring and tossing. Her nose was runny and she was coughing from the cold she caught a few days ago, and I am positive she would have slept even longer if she hadn’t had had those problems. She tossed and turned and fell back a sleep, waking again and so on for an hour. Then I fed her and she continued sleeping until six. From 6-7 she did the same but finally settling and sleeping until 8. 

I am in awe. And I do hope this continues like this, fingers crossed and knock on wood! And thank you Louise for at least one well slept night!

Greetings from the bedroom

oh yeah, I know what you’re thinking.. You naughty you! And oh I wish that was the case too but oh no. I’m referring to my baby daughters bedroom, in which I spend hours of each day, or night actually, from 7pm to 7am. She is not sleeping. She sleeps for maybe two hours tops and then wakes. Then she takes good time to fall back asleep and at the same time drive me insane. 

This has gotten to the point if ridiculousness. We have spent the last week with my parents in France and even they are getting desperate for our sake. Friends and business associated too try to pitch in woth words of advice. Here are some of the things I hear my self and others saying:

(We have tried almost all of them)

– Give her solids during evenings

– Don’t give her solids

– Feed her during the night, she’s must be hungry

– Stop feeding her during the night, she isn’t hungry

– Give her water

– Give her tea

– Co-sleep

– Put her in her own bed

– Maybe her bed is uncomfortable

– Maybe the bed is too big/small

– Restrain her movements with a sleepingbag.

– Maybe she shouldn’t wear that sleeping bag

– Pick her up if she’s crying

– Do not pick her up, let her cry

– Put on some music for her

– Music will only wake her

– Maybe the room has wrong chi?

– Could there be a ghost?

– Is it too cold, too warm?

– Is it her pyamas, maybe it should have been softer?

– Maybe it’s her diaper?

– Maybe she’s teething?

– Is too light? Too dark?

– Maybe her toy smells wrong after washing?

– Is her pacifier dirty, clean, too small?

– Maybe she’s hungry again?

And so and so on 😂

Here’s a normal process of thought during the night:

“Okay, she’s fed, gently put her down in the bed, okay fast where is that pacifier! There okay, quickly, aim for the mouth! Pheww okay. Let’s get the sleeping bag zipper fastened.. Shuffle shuffle.. Okay done. Damn, she’s turning around, maybe I’ll try stop her gently. Damn, now she’s mad. Okay hush her. She’s settling, good. Maybe I’ll stroke her nose, no, that didn’t work. Maybe her back, okay, that seems to do it. Sush her again. Okay, I’ll sing her a lullaby. Yes! She turned on her side, where is Snutte (toy). …five minutes later…okay now she’s standing up, great, and waving at me. Now she want’s a kiss. Okay one. I’ll gently put her down. Oops! Shouldn’t have done that. God, stop screaming! Shhh! Sleeep! Comoooon. Sigh…” And start over 😂

The big B

The big one, breastfeeding, a delicate subject that is a much discussed subject between mothers and has recently also gotten some media time in Finland. 

I thought I’d share my story.

 I remember when I was pregant and my friend dug out her boob for her hungry baby, and I felt awkward. We have n-e-v-e-r discussed breastfeeding at home so don’t ask me where that feeling came from but it’s the closest I can get to describe how I felt. 

As Cléo crawled up to my breast the first time the feeling was overwhelming, this little one had been born a minute earlier and here she was, eating to gain strength, grow, the beginning of her story.

But having said that I had felt awkward before, that feeling didn’t wash off quickly as I became a mother. I was suddenly supposed to be fine with digging out my boob wherever and wherever my baby wanted some. 

In the beginning I wasn’t comfortable breastfeeding in public, “lactivists” on all kinds of forums urge women to breastfeed in public, and for me it felt like it wasn’t even okay to say that you felt uncomfortable with it, let alone feel uncomfortable. Not all mothers feel comfortable, and that should be okay too, a ship isn’t turned around in one go and neither is peoples attitudes. It takes time and some valuable lessons to change one opinions.

The feeling of being uncomfortable and breastfeeding uncomfortably in a public toilet quickly put things into perspective. There was never a chair anywhere, the restrooms are dirty and stale, I mean would you eat your dinner there? I would go in with a screaming hungry baby and sometimes I ended up sitting on the bathroom floor as it was the only position that worked, yummy huh!

Another thing that made me change my views was the fact that she wanted milk every two hours. It would have made it literally impossible for me to leave the house if I wouldn’t have loosened up a bit with my attitudes. Before I got pregant I had absolutely no idea that a newborn is hungry, all-the-time!

My baby was at some point like an owl, turning her head at anything or anyone she saw while nursing, which would result in her letting go and me sending a jet of milk over everything within 20cm. Caffe Latte anyone? So a shawl or scarf came in handy. It also let me be a little less uncomfortable and still being able to breastfeeding in public. 

Then came the day when my baby started ripping the shawl off and exposing me to the world, but by then I was way over my idiotic ideas. I wear nursing friendly bras and tops and I still always carry a shawl in case I end up feeling like people are staring or see them flinch. Because the truth is I kind of get them, because there is no denying that I used to be one of them. 

Breastfeeding is a very delicate subject because it involves so many feelings, love, success, failure, worry, stress, grief and everything inbetween. It’s a very brief moment in time, a bond and moment between a mother and a child that no one else has, and it only last for a little while and it should be treasured. Now that my baby is a little bigger it is the only time of the day when she settled down in my lap, for the 3-5 minutes I get to hold her, whereafter she squirms herself free again to explore the world she’s been born into. Now at 9 months breastfeeding has become something of a farce, her squeezing my boob and as the milk shoots out she lets out a delighted scream, the she latches on and tries digging my nose or puts her whole hand in my mouth or tickles me. I try not to laugh but it isn’t easy. So now I relax and just let her do her thing, and the looks I thought I saw in the beginning, I’m starting to think they were all in my head, because no-one has ever given me a negative comment! So Teri Niitti and all other haters, talk to mums and the reality of being a breastfeeding mum, and then reconsider, like I had to. 

Observations from sleeptraining

Oh boy where to start. I had to sleeptrain my daughter when she was six months old, now nine months. I was exhausted, she wanted milk every 45min, or comfort actually. So we tried the paw-school (tassu unikoulu). We managed to stop the night feedings with it but C kept waking up and it took me sometimes 1 1/2 hours to get her to sleep in the evening. I was exhausted and developed a very bad back problem from standing over her crib hushing and pawing. So then I decided to try another method and since I’m not a fan of the cry it out methods I decided to try the Sleep Shuffle by The Sleep Lady. The basic idea is that you are present in the room but not an active aid to fall asleep. You encourage and make your baby know you are there but let them teach themselves how to fall asleep. 

A few observations: 

– the paw school was bs. It takes as long as and with the same amount of protest to put her to bed with the sleep shuffle, minus breaking my back.

– To sit in a quiet dark room is very soothing, but go to the toilet, grab a glass of water and a good book, you might be in there for a long time!

– Your baby might not like the same things as you do! Don’t assume just because you like it dark in the room they would too! I have to have zip black and super quiet, while she doesn’t mind some light and sound. 

– If you do decide to keep a few sleep-aids like a toy and a pacifier, wait until your baby learns how to put the pacifier back in before you try this method, otherwise you’ll be running anyway. 

– Do not leave the room until you are a hundred percent sure they are in deep sleep! I had to redo the whole process three times at four A.M. Not nice! 

– BE PATIENT!!! It takes time. 

– Hate to spoil it but sleep training does bot guarantee that your baby will sleep through the night, but you mught lengthen the intervals, in just the first three night she’s slept 6 hours straight, then two times four, and last night I have no idea since I didn’t look at the watch but my guess is six hours, so very good comparing to where we were at three months ago!

My top ten interior tips

1) Match the rooms inside to outside

If you have a house with a garden, try and get the different areas of living also outside, like a kitchen/grill, a place to eat and a place to chill out. 

2) Always have enough storage and never fill them to the brim.

Keep your stuff to the minimum and have a designated place for everything. In our previous apartment that wasn’t the case and that made me feel uncomfortable, it made it seem messy all the time

3) Have a large enough room for your kids

If your kids room is too small with no floor space for play you’ll end up having all the toys everywhere else (which you probably will anyway, so have a basket or two to collect the toys in the other rooms)

4) Privacy

If you have the opportunity to design a house or buy an apartment with several rooms, consider your privacy. You might not want to have your bedroom next to your kids’ bedroom or share a bathroom with your partner. 

5) Everyday luxury

I bought some plates with a gold trim. As they need to be hand washed and feel like they are obly meant for parties I just love having a sandwhich using those plates. A little luxury. Same goes with lighting some candles for dinner or scented candles in the bathroom, a nice boquet of flowers etc. Tip! Flowershops in Finland usually have their stock days on mondays or tuesdays which means the flowers are wilting by friday. I always by flowers on a discount on friday, they last over the weekend! Pirkka also has boquet that cost around 15€, 1/3 of flowershop prices!

6) Laminate

Laminate floor is a cheap way to get a gorgeous looking floor for much less than parquet. It is also more forgiving and durable than parquet!

7) Mix styles

I love mixing styles, old and new, different centuries. In our current apartment the “canvas” ie the floor and walls are late 1800’s Parisian style, the furniture is 50’s inspired mixed with modern lamps and details. In our country house I’ve mixed driftwood and distressed wood with statement black floors and modern inserts and some antiques here and there.

8) Designed by me

If you can’t find what you are looking for, just design it yourself! There are extremely good carpenters and other handy people who can make them for you, and surprisingly cheap too! I’ve designed two tables, one set of chairs, two ceiling lamps, a bed, and a hidden cabinet. 

  
9) Keep it boring

If you’re like me, someone that gets tired of a color in a few months, keep to basic earthy tones or go graphic black and white, then get the accent color you are keen on from cheap stores like Tiger, Hemtex, Ikea & Etola. That way you won’t feel guilty of selling them and changing color. At the house I have grey, shades of blue, sand and beige etc and then bring in pops of green from the garden in the summer and I have a set of red textiles like pillow covers and throws for christmas. 

10) Don’t get attached

They are just things and a home is meant to live in. Get extra covers for your sofas if you’re worried and relax!

Prayer

I haven’t prayed in a long time. To be honest, I don’t even know what divinity I prayed to, since I do not consider myself christian. I don’t even know what I exactly prayed for. I think what I wanted was hope. Because this world does not make sense anymore. It has become too cold and too divided. I know that hope is not a strategy, but I need faith. I need to believe that good will prevail, that after dark comes light. So I prayed. Because I cannot place the future of the world in the hands of mankind alone. We need help or divine intervention. So whoever or whatever you are, please exsist and please tell me your working on it.

Fathers day

Tomorrow is fathers day. My husbands first. I can allready tell that Cléo is going to be a daddys girl. The way she lights up when he comes home from work. How she reaches for his face when he is still sleeping and she’s just woken up. Sometimes she gets annoyed with me and wants daddy only. Allthough she’s only seven months I can allready tell she has some of his traits, like a willpower, she’s super social and brave. Tomorrow we celebrate all fathers, being a father is as amazing as being a mum. 

Thank you for giving me a daughter. And being an awesome dad!