It was clear what I was gonna write for this post. I was going to tell how Maria had changed since I wrote my last baby update two weeks ago. How she was only waking up once at night for a feed. How exciting this whole weaning thing was. How we had given her new foods to try, including pumpkin, kumara (sweet potato) and kiwi. I was going to write how the past six months had flown by – and more specifically, how the second three months seemed to have passed by even faster than the first three. And how convinced I was the next six months would go even faster, and how the years would fly by until I would find myself wiping away a tear on her graduation day.
The day I was planning to write this all down, went a little different. Maria had been experiencing some difficulty moving her bowels since we started giving her solids. On Thursday night, she was clearly suffering and we decided it was probably best to give her system a break. However, things did not improve on Friday, and it was heartbreaking to see my little one suffering so much and not being able to help her. The information on Internet was also a bit confusing, so – for the first time since becoming one – I called a parent helpline. The nurse on the phone gave me some useful tips, advising me to stop giving her solids over the weekend and, once we reintroduced them, only give them as a top up right after a breastfeed. I had given Maria solids in between feeds, and this might have prompted her to take less breastmilk, with dehydration as the result. The friendly nurse added it was best not to give her too many new foods at once but stick to a few and slowly add some variety. And, when I told her that apart from several fruits and vegetables I had given her baby rice, she cautioned that baby rice often result in constipation.
While dealing with an unwell baby, I was also trying to finally get all documents for Maria’s passport application – something I have been trying to do for months. I spent the morning calling back and forth from the embassy to the New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs, but it seemed everything was working against us.
If that was not enough, I had actually accepted an assignment that had to be finalized by today. All in all, my mood reached a bottom low. When I went out for a run that afternoon with Maria in the stroller I couldn’t help but keep wondering what we had done wrong to have everything against us.
Drowning in self-pity I returned home and opened the mailbox. In it I found a letter and gift for Maria, a belated birthday card and another gift for Maria. Soon after, I was offered a free massage… My self-pity melted away and the world suddenly looked a lot sunnier.
Today, on Maria’s actual half-birthday, some of the problems we have remain, but others have been solved or dealt with. Fortunately, Maria is being her old happy self again; the assignment is done; the massage was magnificent. The past six months have been a period of highs and lows, and becoming a parent has brought along unprecedented amounts of love, self-doubt, happiness, despair, responsibility, laughter, joy and fear. While things generally became easier after the first three months or so, I do not question the number of challenges that surely are awaiting us.
I also know that things need to be done to get closer to the kind of life we are aiming to have, and many difficulties we have experienced since we decided to move to New Zealand remain there. But I know that the three of us are resilient, and together we will find a way to reach where we want to be.
For today, I congratulate Maria with her “sixth month-day”, as we say in Dutch, and tell her how she has enriched and brightened our lives, while showering her with kisses and hugs. She truly is our everything.