Monday, October 27, 2008

The difficulties of raising a gentle soul

My little one is a very gentle soul. She is full of compassion and love. People are always telling me how happy and joyful she always seems and it is true, she is a relatively easy child. She has good sleep habits, is rather well behaved for an almost 3 year old, is sometimes very cheeky and loves to give kisses and hugs.

Now on the flip side, I have come to realise that there are some challenges with having a child so sweet and peace loving. And one of the BIG challenge manifested itself over the last couple of weeks.

About two weeks ago, when I sent her to the daycare, the strangest thing happened. She started to cry and say that she wanted to go home. Since the last year or more, she has always enjoyed going to daycare and sometimes ask about going on weekends so this was a big surprise for me. I stayed to calm her down, sitting with her through story-telling time and finally managed to get her to stop crying and agree to stay and play with her friends. Now, since that time and even slightly before that, I noticed that she is very uncomfortable around a little boy who seemed to be very agressive (pulling her hair and being rough with other kids during drop-off time). Slowly, this escalated to her constantly saying she does not want to go into the daycare center after we arrive. Now this would happen just as she is walking towards the toddlers room after entering the daycare happily. Once she sees a couple of the more "active/dynamic" kids (it's now no longer confined to just that little boy but also other kids who might seem pushy and loud), she turns and runs back to the stroller and says she wants to go home. I managed to get her to go in by carrying her inside and then having one of the caregivers take her in their arms. At that point, about a week ago, I decided to talk to the principal of the daycare about it.

We discussed how we could help Laetitia deal with handling her fears and her approach with these more "active/dynamic" kids. Now, I do not like to label children and during the conversation with the principal, I did not name names of which kids terrify Laetitia nor use negative labels on them. In fact, the exact words we used to described was "dynamic". For lack of a better word, I understand that some toddlers are more aggressive then others but the problem is, they are causing my darling stress. We agreed that on my part, we would speak to Laetitia about it at home and teach her to very loudly tell whoever is upsetting her (either by pulling her hair or disturbing her) to "STOP!", "Leave me alone!" or "I don't like you to do that!" and then tell an adult about it. And the daycare on their part will reassure her and tell her the same thing. This sounds like a good solution at the point we spoke. However, the problem seemed to have grown bigger for Laetitia.

Over the weekend, she had been sick. Since Friday evening, she has been vomiting. Initially I thought it might be a stomach flu. She vomited 6 times in 24 hrs from Friday night to Saturday night and then on Sunday, she seemed better until late evening. She was well throughout the day until about 5pm when she vomited about 5 times between 5-9pm. So, this morning I took her to the doctor. He could not find anything wrong with her. No stomach flu, no gastro etc. And yes, she did not have any diarrhea. He finally concluded that it could be just some stomach spasm. Probably something irritated her stomach and it is causing her to vomit or something psychological. So, instead of keeping her at home as I had intended, I sent her to the daycare and explained to one of the caregivers to give Laetitia small quantities of food for tea time. As we were talking, she mentioned how it might be due to Laetitia's anxiety with the situation in the daycare and it dawn on me how it could very well be it. She did mention that they can see she is visibly stressed and afraid when the boy is around. Right now, Laetitia refuses to be in the toddler section even when he is not around. Last Friday when we arrived at the daycare and she refused to go in (there was one of the louder kids around but seriously I think they are harmless), the assistant principal told me to bring her into the babies section first and then they will slowly integrate her during nap/play time. That worked fine. And today, Laetitia asked to go to the babies section even before we left the house!

So, my conclusion is that her vomiting spells over the weekend is stress related and it started with the little boy (whom I am told today is leaving the daycare after next week) being aggressive towards her and now has lead to her being generally afraid of the other kids who might seem to be more pushy. Now aside from this boy, the other kids are harmless, they are loud but just very excitable. How can I help her to get over her anxiety in dealing with these other children? It hurts me to see my little one crumbling this way. As the daycare personnel said, Laetitia is a child who is very much about love and compassion. She is always the first one to want to give another kid a hug or kiss to comfort them if they are crying. She is always running to help another kid who fell. She does not hit, push or act out in any aggressive manner. And in this case, she cannot understand why this other child is being so violent towards her and it scares her.

I wonder if the way I brought her up is making her less resilient. I always taught her to share, tell her not to hit etc. The normal things that we teach our children. We practice what we teach at home, Etienne and I treat each other with love and respect and we do the same towards our little one. Now the only thing I feel I can do is to talk to her about it, to tell her to stand up for herself, and at the same time tell her that we (her parents, God, the adults etc) are here to protect her and she does not need to be afraid but what else can I do?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A big baby?

I had my 22 weeks ultrasound today (at 22w 1 day) and it seems junior (as Etienne likes to call this little one) is a rather big baby. It was a very detailed scan checking out all the measurements, the vital organs etc and the doctor said it all looks good. Baby is active with a regular heartbeat rate of 149 per minute.

Junior measures 70/87 percentile in terms of overall size and is estimated to weigh about 575.6g. It is amazing the amount of things that get measure and checked. The doctor even records the length of the nose bone (7.7mm - normal for term), the length of the foot vs the femur, all the cavities of the heart, the valves etc.

It all good aside from the fact that my obstetrician thinks that my belly is big for my term (even though officially I only gained about 2-3kgs). I was sent for early gestation diabetes test due to that and thankfully the results came back okay, no GD at the moment.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Christmas is coming soon.

Well, Christmas is coming soon and from experience, I now know that I should get Lae's present EARLY so, yes, some of her presents are bought and I'm just wanting till it's time to get the tree up and put them under it.

So far, her presents consist of the following:-

1) Doll clothes for the new doll, Lola, that she got recently from Etienne's sister.

2) A high chair for her dolls

3) A moses basket for her dolls.

4) A digital camera from my friend Jaimie.

I also got her a dress for Christmas from Gap. I just love it, especially the part where there is some tutu under the skirt to give it a little pouff.

I need to get just a few more items and I believe that should complete my Christmas shopping for the little one. Well, I don't want her to be too spoiled with gifts during Christmas but yet... I mean, it's so easy to want to indulge in this little cutie pie yah?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Little ballerina girl.

Laetitia still at my in laws and yesterday I received a couple of photos from my mother in law on what went on during the day for them. She went to the library, played on the beach, danced in the house etc. Anyways, one of the photos is this!

Isn't she cute? My very own little ballerina girl. My mum in law let Laetitia tried on Etienne's sister ballerina costume. I am always amazed at how she has kept most of the stuff from when Etienne and his sister were little. I mean, this ballerina costume is like 35 years old. It is a little big on her but I'm sure she will soon grow into it. And then, it'll be time to send her for some ballet class. Can't wait!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Is there a baby in there Mummy?

First belly pictures for this little one. Here big sister Laetitia is touching the belly wondering if there really is a little brother in there. :-)

Here is one more just for fun.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Happy 40th Birthday Papa!

It is her papa's birthday in two days time and as part of the celebrations, we went to my in laws in the south to spend some time with them. We had a little celebration at home with Laetitia and my in laws yesterday. Here's a little video of the two of them together blowing out the candles.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Our parenting style.

I am involved in a couple of forums and over the course of time, there has been many discussions about parenting style and how we deal with issues like punishment/discipline, CIO (crying-it-out)/sleep training etc. Sometimes I am left shaking my head at some comments and sometimes I can totally see myself doing the same thing. I do not particularly subscribe to *one* style of parenting but like most parents, combine what works for my child and my family. I thought that since we'll soon be facing the challenge of parenting another child, this is a good time to write down what has worked for us so far. Of course I am also bearing in mind that every child is different and every child need something different from the other to grow and flourish.

What worked so far for us as parents (I will try to note down what we did from birth wise)?

1) Lots of contact/affections.
We are a very affectionate family. From the birth of Laetitia, I love love love to carry her and keep her close to me. I wear her very often and give her kisses and hugs ALL THE TIME.
Now that she is older, we do "family hug" time when the three of us do a group hug and we sing a little song that goes something along the line of "I love you, you love me, we are one big family. With a great big hug and a kiss from me to you (at this point we will kiss each other), won't you say you love me too." We say I love you to each other all the time too.

2) Sleep training
Yes, I do sleep train my child. I agree with most of what the book "Healthy sleep habits, happy baby" states. Children need their sleep and some of them need to be taught to sleep well. We did controlled crying and shushing but not outright CIO. We also had Laetitia sleeping by herself in her room from about two or three months old. Even now, at 2 and a half, we sometimes have to let her cry a little before sleeping (she would protest about going to bed even though we can see she is tired) and if she wakes up in the middle of the night, we try to let her settle by herself (of course we listen to see if the cry is just a cry for attention or something else like if she fell off the bed or had a nightmare!)

3) Objectivity - Lots of praise and also reminders of what is not encouraged.
I believe in praising the child to build his/her confidence. I tell Laetitia she did a good job, that I am proud of her (like if she shares), I am pleased that she was well-behaved, it was nice that she did something etc whenever I catch with good behaviour. I encourages her to do things by praising her and telling her how pleased I will be if she could do this or that. On the other side of the coin, I do not hesitate to tell her that something she did is "not nice", that what she did made me unhappy etc if she misbehaves. That sometimes would stop her but if that does not, then I do not hesitate to either let her face the natural or imposed consequences.

4) Discipline - firm but no spanking.
I believe in disciplining a child. I believe that a child has to be taught what is right and wrong. And I believe that a child should learn respect and his/her limits. Oh, but let me say that I do not believe that a child under one year old really understands the concept of control so this did not apply until Laetitia was about one year old.
I started imposing time out but putting her in the carseat she had outgrown and locking her in so that she cannot get out when she is being punished. At that point (one year old), it was for one minute. Right after she was punished, I would explain to her why I did that and what she did that was not desired (maybe biting me repeated or something along those lines). Now, she is usually told that she did something mean and if she didn't stop, she would be sent to her room. And when she throws little tantrums, I would usually first tell her I do not like that behaviour, and then ignore her by walking away.

5) Giving autonomy/teaching independence while maintaining control.
We allow Laetitia a certain degree of autonomy and encourages independence. For about a year now she has been feeding herself during mealtimes. She is also able to spend half an hour by herself playing in her room several times a day. We let her decide what she wants to wear, which plate she wants to use, what desserts she wants after the meal (from a choice of two) etc.
And of course there are certain things she has to listen to us, for example, when is bedtime, what type of activities are forbidden (climbing unto the table, playing in the kitchen etc).

I'm sure there are more to what we do but for now, this will suffice.

Paris in June

As mentioned in an earlier post in June, we had some photos taken by a friend who is a photographer. After some delay, I got hold of the photos about a week back and some of them are really very nicely taken.

These are some of my favourite family pics.

Lae and her papa.

By herself
I love love love this photo as it shows so much of her character. Very cheeky and always up to some silliness/fun. And she makes me laugh so much all the time.

At this moment, we're in the south of France at my in laws. We're celebrating Etienne's 40th with the family before going back to Paris (without Laetitia) to have a romantic night by ourselves and a little party with friends later in the week. My mother in law will bring Laetitia back to Paris a week later. We've really been blessed with very helpful and kind in laws who are not only willing to watch Lae but go through the trouble of taking the train for more then 8 hours (slightly more then 4hrs one way) to send Lae back to us. Merci Mamou.

Friday, October 3, 2008

He felt the baby!

I started feeling the baby about a month back or more (thought the doctor said it's more likely air then the baby since it was only about 14 weeks but *I* disagree). Anyways, I have been trying to get Etienne to feel my belly when baby moves and finally late last night, as we are laying in bed, I asked him to put his hand on the tummy since the little one is jumping around and low and behold, he felt a very slight movement! Yes, baby is saying "hi papa, I'm here!". It's so sweet.

On a good note, the nausea is gone and the tiredness is slowly disappearing. I could go through some days without needing a nap now. I am starting to gain some weight and it's all going well. We're almost half way there!