A Thursday in June with 9-month-old Joan
I had been pondering a day in the life post for a while, mainly because it's the kind of thing I like to read in magazines and blogs (have you read this series? I adore this one in particular). Whenever I'd remember the idea, however, we were already halfway through our day, or it was perhaps an 'out of the ordinary day', which made no sense to share because what I wanted to do was document the minutiae of our everyday. I wanted a real glimpse into our lives, of where we are at with our sweet, rough-and-tumble, adventurous 9-month-old baby girl. So here it is, last Thursday, moment by moment.
I wake to hear Ben leaving for work. Joan spends the next 40 minutes feeding then rolling around then feeding, leading me on to believe she may fall back asleep and we can snooze a little more, however eventually she makes it clear that is not going to happen and we get up. It's now 6:46am. I pop my finger in Joan's mouth and check her top left gum. Ahuh! Just as I expected. We had a rather wakeful night (the past two nights, actually), and at one point she woke screaming and crying, the poor thing. And sure enough, her top middle left tooth has cut through her gum. We open the curtains and she touches the window, tapping at the street lamp that is still shining bright. It's cold and dark outside. I check the temperature using an app on my phone - 6.5 degrees. Yikes!
We head out of the bedroom and I strap Joan into a bouncy chair with a toy, then race to use the bathroom and have a quick shower. By the time I get out she is attempting an escape from the chair - baby hates to be restrained (she found the Bumbo seat a form of cruel punishment. We head into our bedroom and she pulls herself up on our (small and stable) chest of drawers and bed, practising standing hands-free while I moisturise (with coconut oil) and get dressed. It's a home day today, we're laying low as Joan hasn't been 100%. This means I reach for yoga pants and a warm, slouchy sweater. Once I'm dressed we head into bubba's room where she crawls around playing while I change her nappy and get her into some warm clothes. Joan is firmly against nappy changes at the moment (in addition to getting dressed), so I find myself working my butt off to pretend I'm not doing anything offensive and "look nappy changes are fun OLD MACDONALD HAD A FARM OINK OINK OINK!" Ok, now I need food...
Joan and I are dressed so we head downstairs to the kitchen/living room. I pop her in the playpen with her toys and wait to see if it's one of those days when she will tolerate it for 10 minutes or if she screams immediately. Lucky for me her Twoodie Toys and phone are particularly interesting this morning, and I get about 10 minutes to make breakfast and pack away some dishes.
I blitz a smoothie, making sure to take down notes, as this is a recipe I am working on for my pregnant clients. This one is made with banana, almond butter, tart yoghurt and chia seeds (amongst other things), and it's goooooooood. Joan now informs me that she's had enough of the playpen and wishes to roam free. She plays on the floor for a while before deciding it'd be more fun to climb the stairs. I pop my smoothie in the fridge for later and follow her up, letting her explore while getting us ready to go on a walk. This means more clothes have to go on (sorry baby) and a hat, which is suddenly the worst thing ever. I distract her by opening the door and bargaining with the goodness that awaits us on this frosty morning. She obliges and crawls to pick up a leaf that has caught her eye while I finish getting ready.
Bubs is rugged up and strapped into the ergo, facing forward, and I've got a podcast playing. Off we go! We walk for around 30 minutes. First up I call Ben quickly to let him know that her tooth came through, before calling and waking (oops) my brother up to discuss some exciting news he mentioned overnight on our family whatsapp thread. Towards the end of our walk Joan lets me know she is over it, for whatever reason, so I stop and flip her to face me. She latches on and falls asleep. It's 8:15am which is unusually early for her. She's clearly not 100%.
We make our way home, I grab my smoothie from the fridge and settle in at our dining table, working on the computer while she naps. I've almost finished the update to my Dietitian website and am working on a blog post to introduce it properly. I also reply to emails and read this article. 50 minutes later, Joan wakes and seems refreshed. Time to head into the kitchen and grind some coffee!
Bubba is increasingly curious, and by letting her look and touch and try, everyday tasks take a lot longer. This is good, I like the slower pace, however I really want my coffee, so, can you hurry it up, baby?
I so look forward to my morning cup, it brings me a lot of joy and comfort. It's the smell, the flavour, the buzz, everything. I make sure to not have too much coffee, sticking to 1-2 cups a day, and as a breasteeding mum I entered into coffee consumption slowly, however Joan seems fine with what I drink and so I haven't found any reason to limit it besides not wanting to rely on caffeine too much to get me through the day.
I also decide to steam some pumpkin for Joan. I've been making her little pancakes with pumpkin, oats and egg, and before I put the recipe on the blog I want to make it one more time to see if I can up the flavour a little. I tried cinnamon, however this time I'll also add ginger. Completing this task, however, is proving difficult. Joan is having one of those days where she wants me to hold her, feed her or play with her non-stop. Eventually I get the pumpkin on and give in to the fact that it is "one of those days" where I probably won't get a lot done besides keeping bubba happy.
We have a snack of steamed Romanesco broccoli and avocado. Joan's favourite vegetable is clearly broccoli. Whenever we serve her a plate of mixed food, she will always always reach for the green trees first. She prefers it plain, steamed. Whenever I cook it differently, whether in a curry or soup with chicken broth, she tastes it then looks to me, scathingly, like I have tampered with her beloved food.
We head upstairs and I change clothes (after getting avocado all over me), then we play with whatever takes little miss' fancy. In the bedroom room she likes to touch all my clothes and kiss the baby in the mirror. We play "Where's Joan?!" with a silk scarf, which is always a winner - placing it over her head (or my head) and pulling it away in a theatric, grand reveal. I watch Joan dive into her ball pit (using a tub we bought at Big W) head first, and we throw balls back and forth for a while. She scrambles in and out with no fear, it's so funny to watch. Her favourite activity, however, is pulling herself up and practicing standing. She's even doing it in her sleep lately!
Joan starts to show unusual interest in the pram, so I pop her in and we head outside for our second walk of the day. I make sure to pack a carrier under the pram because, as I explained just now, her present interest in her pram is totally unusual and bubba is bound to get over it. We go to the park and get a dose of vitamin D. Joan sits in the baby swing while I hold onto the back to make sure she doesn't flip out, and my girl has a sweet little ride, sitting so cute and proud in the swing with a big, content smile on her face. It officially breaks my heart. After a game of playing with leaves and trying to eat them, we head home. Halfway through I pop her in the Ergo as she won't stop trying to wriggle out of the pram, and she has a feed while watching the birds fly overhead. The sky is bright and blue and it's lovely and cold outside.
Back home I pop my babe on the kitchen floor with bowls and measuring cups and let her make noise while I prep my lunch of leftovers. She'll surely be tired soon and I'll eat my quinoa, veg, chicken and avocado salad while she sleeps. Just after 12pm Joan rubs her eyes and cries for me to pick her up from our game of "Mr Fox, you have the softest ears ever!!!". I pop her in the carrier and she feeds to sleep. While eating my lunch I read this post, resolve to make waffles, and this article (Anne Lamott is the best), then start typing out this post. After 35 minutes Joan wakes up, finds the boob and has a quick feed and is out again for an additional hour. Good one, baby! Far out, my feet are cold. I get up to date on this blog post and start rambling about having cold feet... then Bubba wakes up, has a feed and we head to the kitchen to make a cup of ginger tea.
In the kitchen Joan is in a sweet mood where she doesn't want me to put her down but she's also not squirming out of my arms to face forward or grab everything out of my hands. I make the most this incredibly rare moment by prepping then cooking those pumpkin pancakes with my babe on my hip. I do everything with my left hand and get them made safely (I'm always super safe in the kitchen with Joan) and somehow we don't create a mammoth mess. I also prep a little snack for myself, blitzing together frozen banana + greek yoghurt + avocado + some of the pumpkin + raw cacao + maple syrup + chia seeds to make a chocolatey mousse, which I top with cacao nibs & some stale buckinis (oops).
Bubba and I play with some toys, read a few books (aka Joan taps on the pages and tries to eat them) and climb up and down the stairs for a while, then we eat our snack. Joan is SO happy. She rarely smiles at the dining table, at least not until she has finished her meal and stops being serious (eating is no time to smile or laugh, apparently), however during her snack of pumpkin pancakes spread with nut butter, Joan is chatting and smiling and laughing and giving me love-eyes the entire time. It completely warms my heart and gives me more of a buzz than the mousse. I tell myself it's because she's so happy we made pancakes together and now she gets to eat them.
After our snack, Joan and I play in her room. Basically this involves standing and pulling things out of a box and then putting them back in. When I say "we play" I kinda mean that she explores and investigates and I sit back and watch make sure she doesn't do/eat anything dangerous. There's also a nappy change, some new booties come out due to a spit up incident and Joan practices screaming with glee. We then head out for our third walk of the day, walking past kiddies coming home from school and others playing at the park. We see a few dogs, which always makes bubba kick her legs, and Joan greets an old lady with a smile (which is unusual, she doesn't give smiles to strangers easily). I'm listening to a podcast and at the twenty five minute mark Joan asks to turn inwards and latches while watching the world go by. Five minutes later we are home and she's ready for a nap, so I head down to the dining table and do some more work.
Joan wakes at 5pm after a 30 minute nap. Cat naps like this are pretty common. She's not really a baby to miss a nap, she doesn't do well with pushing through, and we find that a quick cat nap does the trick without impacting her sleep at night. Though on the days when she can stay awake for a big portion of the afternoon until bed, I find she conks out so much quicker. Ben won't be home until 6:30pm, so I try to do dinner prep in between distracting Joan into playing on her own in the living room where I can keep my eyes on her and make sure she doesn't race to climb up the steps. I cook a bit of pasta, lightly steam some broccoli and slice kale leaves. In a large dutch oven I cook extra virgin olive oil, butter and garlic then add the kale and broccoli. Once the kale has wilted I add the al dente pasta + some of the cooking water, as well as a leftover lentil/tomato dish my mum made. I throw in a bunch of parmesan cheese and parsley, season everything and drizzle a little more evoo over the top, then pop it in the oven. Bubba and I play some more until I notice a text from Ben saying his meeting ran over and he is only leaving now, at 6pm. I take dinner out of the oven and give Joan some broccoli for dinner, as we'll be cutting it too fine to have family dinner. Most nights Ben is home in time for us all to sit at the table and eat together, but a 7pm arrival + a sick bubba is risky business. Joan enjoys her broccoli and I eat some too, sitting at the table discussing what we need to buy at the shops tomorrow. The list goes: yoghurt, milk, eggs, beef mince (to practice meatballs!), salt and my favourite brand of corn chips (for a burrito bowl I want to make with the leftover mince). Joan thinks this sounds fine.
I pop our dinner back in the oven and Joan and I play some more, which tonight looks like me building towers and Joan knocking then down. Five minutes prior to Ben's arrival dinner is ready, so I take it out and let it sit before rugging bubba up and step outside.
Stepping outside for fresh air is so good for us, and though it's colder and darker these days, we still enjoy this ritual of waiting for Ben to get home. Joan and I look at the moon, touch some leaves and pace around until we see Ben's car... "Daddy's home!" Bubba seems to hold her breath, waiting to see who steps out of the car. And it IS her Dad! Cue the biggest grin ever (from each of them!). I hand over our baby and race inside to have a quick shower and eat my dinner. Relaxing on the couch with a big bowl of comfort, I tune out to half an episode of Girls, the sound of Adam and Jessa fighting over whether they can have a relationship punctuated with uproarious giggles from Joan, as she plays with her Dad in her room. Though I adore family meal time, this is pretty great too.
While Ben finishes getting bub ready for bed, I soak some of her clothes and attempt to clean the kitchen but only get through tidying up Joan's toys on the floor. I end up telling Ben "there's a shitload of dishes for you to do", but he's cool with it. Washing pots helps him come down after a long, intense day.
Soon after 7:30pm Joan calls out for mumma/boob/bed and I take my cherub, all cute in her pyjamas with comb-over hair (Ben can't help himself) and head into our bedroom, where the salt lamp is glowing and the "rain" white noise app is on. She settles to sleep (while rocking and feeding) quite quickly tonight, which is always a treat. This takes anywhere from 2-20 minutes, depending on her mood and whether she's overtired (it takes longer if she hasn't napped well throughout the day). Once she's asleep we climb into bed and snuggle while she continues feeding and I make my way, slowly but surely, through All The Light We Cannot See. Around 8:30 Ben comes in and takes my book, tells me he'll be in soon and turns the light off. We love our early nights, the three of us cozy in bed. I find if I stay up reading or watching shows then I am far less rested the following day, so most of the time I happily welcome my early bedtime.
A good night is one where Joan gives me a good block of maybe 4 hours before waking for a feed/cuddle, and then will wake only a couple more times after that. Usually she wakes between 3-6 times overnight, and most of the time settles back to sleep very quickly, almost instantly after a quick feed and snuggle. A rough night will involve her waking a lot more and not settling back quite as quickly. And a really rough night is when she wakes screaming and needs me to get out of bed and rock her back to sleep (which only tends to happen when those teeth are coming through). Most mornings we wake around 6:30am, and then we do it all again! Before having kids I thought I'd surely get bored at home, playing on the ground with a baby and doing slow exercises over and over and over again. But I've found that because it's my baby, I totally love it. Something biological must make you tolerate the repetitive stuff, I don't know... or it's something to do with their cuteness. Seriously, it's like a drug. Seeing them explore the world and figure things out by doing those repetitive tasks, it's an incredible thing. I'm a total sucker for it and wouldn't want to be anywhere else.