Saturday, May 30, 2009

Sleeping Arrangements (part 1)

After spending 35 snuggly weeks together inside M’s belly, the trio had their first separation, thanks to the surgeon’s hand and the C-section delivery, as they were placed into individual humidicribs.

Their first several days were spent inside a Perspex box – the humidicrib (aka incubator) rugged up tightly with nasal tubes to assist their feeding. They later migrated to open Perspex cots – still small in size and still in the NICU (neo-natal intensive care unit).

Strange that these open Perspex cot cum-beds remind me of a kitty-litter tray as there is nothing inviting about them. Sure they’re practical for the attending nurses who do an amazing job looking after all the pre-natal bubs, but the ‘cots’ hardly scream out “comfort”! The bubs will just have to wait until they get home before experiencing a nice invitingly comfy cot.

Somewhere around the 37-38 weeks mark, the trio was released and we could bring them home.

The initial sleeping arrangement in our small 3 bedroom house was for the trio to be placed together in the one cot, positioned across the mattress wrapped in their blankets, with the cot sharing our bedroom on M’s side of the bed.

During the day, we had a similar set-up in the lounge with their day-bed (or should that be day-cot) where they would nap between feeds in the muted daylight surrounded by the noises of the house – the conversations, the phone calls, the stereo, the TV, the snoring of a sleep deprived mum who seemed to be constantly breast-feeding the trio and the curious ramblings of Saffiya, their big sister developing her vocabulary at the worldly age of 16 months.

We thought of setting up the trio like sardines and arranging them head-to-foot, so that when the two to either side looked towards their sister or brother in between them, they would be greeted with blanketed feet – though decided this would not be good for sibling eye-contact or for relationship building.

Mind you, when they were in the womb, it wasn’t as if they were laid in some neat arrangement – from what we saw of the many ultrasounds, the two boys were side by side (vertically as possible as the womb would allow) while their sister lay across the top, so perhaps it would matter little how they lay in the cot they shared. But we stuck with all three lying in the same direction; it was easier this way anyway.

As they grew and started to move about in their sleep occasionally wriggling out of their snug blanket wrapping, we moved them into individual cots and for convenience, the only room to accommodate all three cots was our main bedroom.

This meant some changes:

  1. It would be the end of their day-cot in the lounge as it was needed in the bedroom;
  2. Daytimes would now be spent on floor play mats and bouncy-chairs;
  3. Daytime naps would now be in their bedrooms – we were slowly reclaiming the lounge room as they began to have longer sleeps; and
  4. We had to move to the spare room (formerly the study), which was a tight squeeze for a queen-size bed, plus the bookshelves that had no other place to go.
We then knew that the house was no longer big enough for all six of us, but, we stuck with this sleeping arrangement for several months while we looked for a new home.

Eight months after the birth of the trio, we moved to our new house.

Despite still being only a 3 bedroom home, the rooms were much larger and we didn’t have to share our room with bookshelves – handy as it was for late night reading. Also, it meant we had our own room and the tribe was evenly distributed in the other two bedrooms – the boys in one and girls in the other – a much better sleeping arrangement for all.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Gender Identity

A typical question family, friends and strangers will ask when you and your partner is expecting is whether you know the gender of the expectant bub - or simply, "do you know if it's a boy or girl?

For many, the surprise on the birth day is the best thing. For others, knowing the gender can help, in their minds, decide what they do with the nursery, and preparing clothes and toys. It's fine if you are a firm believer of the "boys should be blue and girls should be pink" school of thought. Also, if you are inclined in sending your child to a prestigious private school, then you would be able to register your (expectant) bub on the waiting list before birth - handy huh?

We wanted a surprise for our first born and while I, as future dad quietly wished for a boy (and don't the majority of first-time dads?), a beautiful and gorgeous healthy daughter was the new member of our family.

That was four years ago. Three years ago, last March, we had an ultrasound to confrim the prospective birth of not one, not two, but three bubs - at the same time. Over the ensuing weeks, we had verification that the likely combination would be two boys and one girl. While I don't entirely recall whether we asked to find out at the time, it certainly assisted us in identifying each in the womb at every ultrasound appointment.

However, what I'd like to discuss is the subject of gender identity as a toddler - the stage at which our trio are currently experiencing. It's a time when they are developing their expressions and language skills, beginning to understand each other and others through communication in play.

Dressing up is a very popular past-time with our tribe; Saffiya, the elder, has a handful of princess and fairy costumes, and both she and Soraya will quite often don these costumes, to be copied by Zak wanting to do likewise. Zak has also gone through a phase where he would insist on wearing one of sister's skirts (over his shorts).

Initially, as a dad, this was peculiar and I would attempt to discourage Zak and his dressing up ways - after all, how soon would it be before he got into borrowing his mum's make-up?.

In the end, I appreciated that this was all good in the growth and development of self-expression. Perhaps he is so metro-sexual or that he is in touch with his feminine side or he dreams of becoming a footy player and decided to prepare for Mad Monday celebrations.

But one thing I have to add is as a toddler, Zak has a wonderful sense of logic. Somewhere along the way, someone had told him that boys don't dress in princess or fairy costumes, only girls do. So now, he replies, "I'm a girl, I can dress up".

You think Zak is mixed up - not really. Ask him how different boys are to girls and he will simply explain the anatomical difference - he knows he is a boy.