Year one

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One Year in Retrospect

(04/10/04)

My mother requested that perhaps I could sum up my experienced first year of having a child, which seemed like a good idea as I am bound to forget many things. I am unsure as to what to write. I may cover some points that I already mentioned in my birth essay, but that is unavoidable.

The year certainly feels like it has passed quickly. Over all I think the first 6 weeks are the hardest without a doubt. You have to get used to interrupted sleep patterns, not to mention you are constantly on your toes wondering if you are doing things right or not. Ironically, this _could have been_ the easiest time, but being a new parent that is not an option really. I suspect that if you had a second child, the first six weeks are quite different.

There was also a difficult patch around eight months or so. Not entirely sure why, and it was most probably a combination of things. Lokien changes his sleeping habits around then, and had not picked up on the crawling and yet felt frustrated to be in one spot for any amount of time. I think he crawled for about a week before it was "an old hat" and moved onto climbing instead.

Perhaps my memory is playing tricks on me, but over all it was plenty of good times, Lokien is a happy child and easy to get a long with. I suspect it is a common thing but the year appeared to naturally be divided into segment of "waiting for the ..." next thing to happen. He could lift his head from the day he was born, but other things like smiling, laughing, rolling, flipping, sitting, crawling, standing, cruising, eating and a long list of similar items.

Waiting for the next accomplishment, sometimes with encouragement, and sometimes it just happened naturally, and with surprise. Mind you, bad things as well, such as hurting himself (he's quite talented at that too), first "injury" drawing blood (not that he noticed), first spew (day two was it?), first sickness requiring visit to the Doctors who only speak "Medicine English". Followed by some Google-ing, which you have to do with one eye closed as you will always find the most terrifying diseases first! "Itchy toe? Your child may have skin eating necrotising fasciitis DISEASE!" Uh what?

Now there are definite differences between our child (and other foreign ones) to that of the Japanese. I am unsure why this is. It is not fully down to upbringing either. It was showing even in month one that they just behave differently. When put on the floor and Japanese baby will generally just sit there. Lokien and friends will be off in a heart beat and you have to be on your toes to keep up. Will generally move up to others and not really interact, sometimes totally ploughing over any other baby in the way. The Japanese babies can be taken a-back by having someone come up to them. The parents will encourage contact and playing together vigorously. Their children walk a lot sooner as well. Both boys and girls.

Mind you, at the first year birthday party, there were differences in behaviour as well. The Japanese will sit down on the floor, with their child and stay there the entire time as they chat and play. The babies do not appear to really want to go anywhere else, but content to play there. The Westerners, seem to let their child lose, then sit on chairs to talk to friends and occasionally check on the child.

Not criticising either, it is merely interesting. I do notice the Japanese babies are more clingy. Will not let their parent out of sight without getting upset. We've tried to go somewhere in the middle. We have times where we all sit around the table (eating time for example) and times where we are all on the floor, even if we might not all play together, but generally we are.

He sleeps in his own room, when in Japan the whole family sleep in the same tatami room, however, we bathe and shower together which is the common thing here (and to Swedes).

Now eating has been an ongoing discussion between Lokien and his parents. But taking a step back, he went onto formula quite early on, second day in Hospital as his blood sugar was low. But then he really love his bottles. We were quite well organised with his bottles, we always had one thermos with hot water, and one with cold boiled water. So making his milk was always easy and fast, just mix them together to make the temperature he liked and add in the pre-measured amount of formula.

However, quite early on he decided he no longer wanted his milk warmed, but rather liked it chilled but not fridge temperature! I think this was somewhere around month five. We have a filtered water tap, which he was perfectly happy about so the kitchen no longer needed to look like a chemistry lab. However, he was never really good at eating solids. It appeared to me like he did not quite see the point in that whole procedure. He does not like picking things up and putting them into his mouth, even when he knows what it is, and he is hungry.

There have been times where we have his food on a plate in reaching distance and he will lean forward with his mouth open, lean,.. lean.. until he can close his mouth of the piece of food. Never using his hands of fingers. Only recently, two weeks after his birthday does he find it amusing to pick up items around the place and put into his parents mouths. Just never his own. It is quite a challenge to appear happy about getting a saliva covered dummy be fed to you.

He has tried everything we can think of now. The Japanese do not have the same food restrictions for mothers and babies as the western world does. We were quite surprised that you can bring fresh peanuts to a child's 1 year birthday party. Not even a raise eyebrow anywhere, and yet nobody would even consider alcohol, bubbly or otherwise. (That seems to be a kiwi thing?) Similarly, mushrooms, fish, eggs and all those things. We have a Japanese charts that give suggested time-line for the consistency and so on. I think Lokien has tried most things we can think of, even peanut-butter (gasp!), seafood, milk, yoghurt, sweet things and so on. So far, he spits out anything sweet, be it cookie, marshmallow or fruits, it is not for eating it seems. He loves tuna, fish, seafood, rice, porridge, yoghurt. Tolerates chicken, noodles, some vegetables. He drinks water and formula. Juices are also out, and anything else sweet. But he will take fruit pieces if they are hidden in yoghurt.

Oh and recently, he can not get enough of cheese omelette. Or cheese melted on toast. Or just cheese.

However, that did change somewhat. Since close to eight months to around eleven it was the norm that Lokien fell asleep around 22:00 or 23:00 at night, sleep until 03:00 as he wanted a bottle then, carry on sleeping until 06:00 or so for another after which he never slept so well, but sometimes made 08:00. This was generally just the routine, whomever was the least a sleep got up to feed him, generally I preferred the 3am feed as I could get back to sleep more easily. Perfected the sleep-as-you-feed-technique during that period, and it helped that Lokien was really good at drinking fast. He would lift the side of his lip (like a dog's snarl) periodically to let in air to keep the juice flowing.

We knew about the "Controlled Crying Method" to wean the baby off the night feeds, but it felt like it would be a cruel thing to do, and we kept putting it off. The routine was not that big a deal. However, in the end, after a night of waking 3-4 times instead of the normal rota, it was decided to try it. In retrospect, it really was not a big deal and not that "cruel". Sat next to his cot, and offered water if he wanted to drink something, and just settled him down when he went to stand. He did not cry in earnest, just the complaining hiccups. First night had a 40 minute ordeal, with maybe two awakenings. The second about twenty minutes, and by the third he slept the whole night.

In retrospect it almost appears that drinking in the middle of the night and lying down again gave him indigestion and as a result of that slept poorly for the remainder. We should have done it sooner! :)

He moved into his own room after that, and generally he sleeps the entire night. Maybe a couple of times during a week do we need to go settle him during the night, but as a whole he sleeps well. If he wakes up after 7am, he tends to be allowed to come sleep in our bed. He sleeps better in our bed, but I am unsure if it is because it is softer than his, or other reasons. We do not sleep so well as he talented at usurping all the space! However, he is much better at eating solids after he no longer drinks bottles at night. He still have an average of four bottles during the day.

He still does not really like wearing clothes, to the point where the Japanese think we are neglecting him I am sure. Mind you they do put too much clothes on theirs, which is odd as their idiom is a school child should wear one less layer than grownups. He always wears at least the same amount as his parents, even if he cries when he has to be dressed. Does not like blankets when sleeping, kicks any off instantly and just sleeps on top of it. I can generally sneak blankets over his legs if he is deep a sleep, but then he always wakes up covered in sweat blanket or not, so he just appears to run hotter than us. I myself are never cold, never have been. We take him out "hooning" at night since he has so much energy and gleefully crawls around the corridors of our apartment block. It was raining at the time, so we both got a little wet. That was the first time I have seen Lokien shiver.

Which leads us to another of those "strange foreigners" situations. He _loves_ open spaces and crawling around. He does so loudly, laughing and yelling. Stops to slap his hands on the ground which is his way of "clapping". However, this is not something that the Japanese do. The child is always carried, or in the pushchairs when they are anywhere outside of the apartment. Once the child can walk they have freedom. That can earn us some looks, but generally in a good way, as it is apparent that he is enjoying to the extreme.

But perhaps that is why he does not appear to feel the urge to learn to walk. He does both kinds of crawling, knee and spider/feet. He has become very fast, and loves going up and down stairs.

Now his first birthday probably needs a little attention. Ushka was clearly the most into the whole event, since he appeared not to notice that there was anything unusual going on. We made him his cake which is the Swedish tradition. He had moved into our bed before then and somehow slept through whipping cream and everything, and was still asleep as we got ready. We planned to go in with the cake and sing him awake as you should, I almost expected him to phreak out somewhat and be unhappy about the method that we had opted to wake him by. But he opened his eyes by the smallest margin to check out the situation, then went back to sleep. Hmmm.

Eventually he got up and was not too happy about the situation, crawled past all his toys without glancing, we had to point them out for him to which he cheered up a little. There is a video of that on his gallery pages.

As it is sweet, he was not into the cake at all, we polished it off for him. He had his cheese omelette instead. He got himself a tricycle, but he just uses it to practise walking, he is not into riding it yet.

He has many playgroups that he goes to, as often as possible. He has also been to the Zoo, dog-world and cat-world. He appears to like dogs, but would rather play with the cat's toys than heed the cats any attention. Loves trains and to go on them, unless they stand still for too long. They are very good to stop crying when he hurts himself. Just go watch the trains go by.

He is happy on concrete and asphalt (this is Tokyo after all) but seems to hate grass, and dirt. Although this weekend he was crawling through both without complaining which is unusual.

He takes his modelling well. To him it must just appear like another place to play around in, but he has managed to earn some money already, and as long as he is enjoying doing that it is fine with me. (and his money is being saved separately)

He has the Baby Einstein DVDs which he absolutely adore to watch. I was not quite sure on that whole area, if it was just another money making scheme on gullible parents, but, at the end of the day, Lokien loves watching them. He has started ejecting any DVD in the player if it is playing something that is NOT his video. He likes the music channels as well, stands by the tv and bends his knees to his own beat. The lower half the screen is pretty much covered in hand-grease and that line is slowly going higher and higher.

As for speaking, we are now awaiting the first word, well, perhaps after the walking challenge is over. He loves to go "mumumumum". The Japanese take that sound to mean that they are hungry. Ushka takes it to mean her. But so far it just seems random. Before eating, after eating, to me, to her, to the tv. He does make hiss-and-raspberries when he is getting full though. Spraying everything, with mischief in his eyes.

He was quite a spewer our son, we always had towels around him, especially at feeding time. That has mostly gone away now.

I am running out things to write from the top of my head so I will sign off now. As a whole this has been a good experience. We have talked about a second child but we are not sure yet. The reasons "we do have all the clothes" and "we need to complete the set of four" do not seem right enough. :) But anyway, we have not decided, we will defer the decision until next year.