On motherhood…

The holiest of subjects. There are so many preconceptions about it. And I think every person who’s ever thought about having a child has an idea or a thought on how they want it to be, or how they think it will be. And every person who’s since had a child will attest to it being a vastly different experience.

One thing most parents have in common is the overwhelming feeling of love they feel for their child. Something no one is ever prepared for, because it cannot be compare to anything one has ever experienced before. And I only have the one child but I believe that even if you have more than one, every single child you have you get that same overwhelming, never-before-experienced feeling of love.

But the hardships are many. Some are spared, and those lucky few are exceptions to the rule. Most of us have babies that have some sort of difficulty – be it sleeping or eating. Those are the two most common ones, my empirical studies show. Of course there are people who have children who are sick and they really struggle, and are the true heroes who tirelessly fight to make the best out of a situation nobody ever wants their children to be in. But us regular parents, we mostly struggle with sleep and food.

I lucked out in the food department, at least this far. Erik eats like a large, healthy horse. But his sleeping is bad, it’s very bad. He has had one night where he slept a full four hours, in nine months. He doesn’t sleep much during the day 2-3 naps circa 20 minutes each while being continuously rocked. At night he scrapes together about 1.5 hours then eats and falls back asleep only to wake up in an hour again, and so on. After 2 AM I have to keep rocking him otherwise he will be wide awake and angry. For hours and hours.

This is the situation now.

It is so much better than it was a few months ago but far from good. Some nights I don’t sleep at all since he needs to be rocked. Every time a tooth is coming he just stops sleeping all together, he is exhausted and clingy he whines and screams nonstop but he just can’t fall asleep.

So I have learned a few tricks while being at home with him. Mom hacks, if you will.

I do my nails when he’s in the shower. That way I can keep a close look at him and interact with him while also getting to look less like a hobo. I use a dip-in remover so it doesn’t stink up the place, then I file down the nails for a more clean look. After that I soak the hands in warm water and baby oil (that’s what I have on hand) and then file additionally if I see something I missed. I push back the cuticles, usually with a tool but these days it’s with my nails and then put some lotion on them to keep them moisturized.

I’ve tried the “Amazonian Saviour” from The Body Shop. And to be honest it is like a firmer version of Vaseline. I am really underwhelmed due to it drying out my hands. I later applied “Hand Repair” hand cream by Trind to actually moisturize my hands.

That process takes between 5 and 10 minutes. Usually by that point Erik is done splashing around, so it is perfectly synced. Painting the nails I can really ever do if someone is watching him. That I haven’t managed to hack yet.

However I am strongly considering getting a gel manicure set, just so that I can do a nail at a time and guarantee that it doesn’t smudge or smear. It is a bit pricy but I think it might be a good investment, because then I can do nail art without having it get ruined. Living alone with a baby that doesn’t sleep doesn’t leave any space for do-overs.

Nails and food have always been my two big hobbies. Two hobbies that eat up more time than you realize. And when you suddenly find yourself busy 24/7 you are forced to prioritize what’s important. As a parent you, and your wants, always take a back seat, so you have to learn to do what you can with what you have. New situations require new actions. So my nails are nude, for the most part. Some weeks I just can’t manage to squeeze in any upkeep, like filing, because Erik needs 150% of my time. Same goes for food.

On good days I can make simple dishes with Erik hanging onto me or climbing the stove or the dishwasher. Worry not, no area he can access is even remotely warm and I always have a splash guard so nothing splashes onto him. Dry brusselsprouts are not splash prone.

It is often said that one eats with the eye, so sometimes I try to plate my food nicely to make myself forget how simple the dish is.

This was a pepperoni sausage and wax bean casserole with some pasta and cheese.

Other days, when you’ve been up for 12 hours playing and only had two cups of coffee (how good is coffee tho) your eyes are not half as hungry as your stomach.

On those days you eat burger patties with cheese and butter fried beets with garlic. All drowned in Sriracha mayo. That was my breakfast, lunch and dinner today – all in one meal.

Erik has a fever, not a high one but a fever nevertheless so he hasn’t left my side all day and hasn’t slept for two nights straight.

And on days like these one just doesn’t prioritize eating, going to the bathroom or the fact that one has a herniated disc and sciatica. Pain is a French word for bread, which is the motto I live by. My pain is secondary, and any hobby I used to have is a thing of the past. Erik reigns supreme, in terms of getting my attention and time. And I can’t imagine a task more rewarding or fun. Because even though it’s quite painful and I’m exhausted, there are moments like these:

For a baby who is about as affectionate as his mother was when she was younger this is an unusual sight. But it is the biggest treat for the mom unit. Baby cuddles are quite amazing and I’m all but spoiled with them.

But about mom hacks, the best one so far is discovering that the grocery stores do home deliveries. In a small town like this where there is only one pizza place that does deliveries, and that costs as much as two overpriced pizzas (I shit you not!) discovering that I can get fresh fruit and vegetables delivered to my doorstep has been a lifesaver for me. Also I don’t have to carry all those bags. They have Erik’s formula and all the food he likes.

My other lifesaver – 3 AM coffee.

Campbell of Sweden

Some ideas…

Having a baby suddenly made me look at things differently, much like it does for most people. But for me it was a matter of learning to accept that second hand things are not the enemy.

I was living by a quote from the mayor in Spin City, an episode where they were talking about buying antiques and he said “Why would I buy old things, I’m rich – I can afford new things”. And that was my life motto, I can afford new things. But life changed suddenly for me and my finances were depleted by somebody who was promising to pay me back but who in turn just vanished. But it is often said that one should never lend anyone anything they can’t afford to lose. So I was left with the realization that in order for me to be able to give Erik everything, that I thought he should have, I had to change the way I think and shop.

So I scoured the web for good buy and sell groups, I kept an eye on sales and had to reevaluate what was important. Clothes I didn’t want to buy second hand, and I still don’t. Anything that has to do with food (plates, utensils, bottles and such) is also a matter of not buying from others. But toys, and interior decorations – that was a free market.

Some of his favorite things were given away for free or for very little money. Something I am vastly grateful for. But it’s not just a matter of financial gain, it is also very good for the environment to not throw things out as soon as the kids stop playing with them.

In hindsight I’m happy I didn’t spend tons of money on Erik’s crib, he hates sleeping away from me. I think I actually got it for free. These days it acts like a couch in one of his play areas. I’ve bought a bunch of pillows that were on sale in different stores to create a bit of dynamics or life because it is way more fun for a baby to have different fabrics and prints that are more visually stimulating than a unison clean look, which of course is more aesthetically pleasing to the adult eye. But his area is an area full of life and color, textures and sounds. It is not adjusted to suit an adult, but a place where he can make any type of mess he wants and nobody can frown upon it.

I can’t wait to watch him grow up and really get to explore all the different things that he has.

A friend found a table and two chairs that somebody was giving away for free. Their kids had drawn all over the set and it looks really well used. So come spring and/or summer I will be sanding them down and giving them a fresh coat of paint. I will also draw some roads on the table top and maybe also on the seats of the chairs so that Erik can drive his cars all over that map.

And as I was writing that I realized that I wanted to do a specific thing, I wanted to put down a wax cloth on said table top depicting a roadmap, rather than to draw it on so I checked and found one I think will be perfect. I ended up ordering it even tho the delivery cost more than the cloth itself. But it is phthalate free and safe for kids so I figured why not.

This is what it looks like and I think it will be a fun addition to his play area. The chairs I was thinking of painting green to match the ones he already has.

But for all I know I might change my mind about their color too. They, too, could do with a fresh coat of paint.

I can’t wait for my herniated disc and sciatica to heal up so I can properly start doing things around the house. First up is Erik’s Stokke Trip Trap chair. Well, actually, first up is a castling. Livingroom and bedroom are going back to where they initially were.

Fun times ahead. No idea where this blog post went. But I guess you guys have gotten used to the lack of cohesion in my texts by now.

Campbell of Sweden

Beauty routine

I have one routine in terms of skincare: inconsistency. I have never washed and moisturized my face day and night, I just don’t have it in me. I usually only wash my face when I’m in the shower, and an occasional separate ordeal if I get something on my face. I am lucky to have good skin. I have no real breakouts and I got my first wrinkle at 30.

Lately I have, however, noticed a slight decline in its elasticity. That makes me a bit nervous, but not enough to actually do something proper about it – like implementing a consistent skincare routine. But! I am slowly realizing that I need an emergency kit, that will at least slow down the decay.

So today, while Erik was playing in his Jumparoo I washed my face and put on a mudmask.

Since my skin is grateful to see any type of product it’s content with most brands, which is why I recently stopped buying the top brands and moved down the scale a bit. Strangely enough my skin seems to prefer this treatment better than the one before it.

It goes from left to right: Hydra Végétal Refreshing Radiation Scrub by Yves Rocher which I help along with some Scrub to mix, also by Yves Rocher. Once the face was properly scrubbed I washed the scrub off and dried my face. I applied the Facial Detox Purifying Recovery Mask by MUDMASKY which I left on a bit longer than one should due to there being a diaper change that took precedence over facemask removal.

After I washed the mask off I washed my face again with the Hydra Végétal Refreshing Cleansing Gel by Yves Rocher. Once my face was dry I got to the good stuff, and something I have been meaning to write about for a while.

From left to right: White Orchid Eye Gel by Cien, Truth Serum by Ole Henriksen, White Orchid Intensive Serum by Cien and finally White Orchid Day Cream by Cien.

Some of you will frown and others will wonder what brand Cien is. It’s Lidl’s own brand.

A few months ago I was talking to a girl about skincare and she swore by the regular one by said brand. I was sceptical but curious, so I went out and got myself the day cream.

How pleasantly surprised I was.

It left my skin feeling smooth and not oily nor dry. A fantastic moisturizer. So before Christmas they released this White Orchid line, and my curiosity got the better of me. I figured that if it isn’t any good I would just discard it, it was basically free. But here we are, some months later and the products are now some of my all time favorites.

The eye gel has a light shimmer to it and a really mild and pleasant scent. The consistency is like a loose gel and it’s very easily absorbed into the sensitive skin around the eye.

I use two different serums in the winter, the first is an oily one by Ole Henriksen and the second a more gel like by Cien. The serum by Cien is, again, mildly scented and very easily absorbed into the skin.

The day cream is unscented and a very good consistency, not too fatty but moisturizing as if it was. I’m yet to try the night cream due to lazy reasons.

But not only are the products very good the packaging is a thing of beauty. Never in a billion years would I have thought that I would buy off-brand skincare and even crazier yet that it would be from Lidl, but I was so very pleasantly surprised and am hoping for a return of the White Orchid line so I can stock up on it.

My skin has never taken to products this fast and I’m very happy that I gave it the old college try without dismissing it based only on the producer.

The masked face and the aftermath.

Couldn’t be more pleased with the results.

Review goes, five hatched chickens! 🐥🐥🐥🐥🐥

Campbell of Sweden

Teething, a hell of its own.

Some kids go through it without too much whining and pain whilst others go through hell. But as it’s often been said, if you’re going through hell – keep going. So we do.

Mr Pudgy the whale is having a shitty time teething, which translates to even worse days and nights for the mother unit. He’s whining nonstop and clinging onto me as if I’m somehow the cure. I’m not and he knows it but he keeps hoping that being on me while screaming might make things better. And who knows, maybe it does on some level. 

I’m sure you can tell, just by looking, that the pictures above are from his nap time. It’s obvious to see that he has no interest in sleeping, be it day or night. And most people will testify to less sleep during teething but for a child with a severe sleeping disorder this is devastating. Or rather it is that to his mother. His usually incrimental sleep has become even more incrimental and some nights even nonexistent which means no sleep for the mom either. And it’s one thing to not sleep a night and then catch up on your sleep later but after a series of some three nights where the boy has slept a grand total of an hour you are not human anymore.

So a few days ago I had a total breakdown. I spent all night crying along with Erik, wondering how I would pull through. But dawn came and I could see a bit clearer. So I packed up some stuff and took Erik into Stockholm. He slept for two consecutive hours, waking a bit here and there but fell back asleep when rocked.

I obvoiusly didn’t get any sleep but I had some retail therapy. Buying myself a dress, two sweaters and a ring. I also met up with my best friend and had both dinner and fika, while at it. Because if we had stayed at home I might have just spontaneously combusted.

Life as a single parent is hard, especially when your child has a sleeping disorder and there is no money coming in. It’s extra hard when his absetnee father doesn’t sign over custody on you so you’re locked into a place where you can’t even put the child in queue for a spot in a kindergarten. It’s a stressful situation knowing you have the full responsibility but absolutely no rights. But I’m hoping things will change in that arena, soon. I reached out to the boy’s father to sign over custody, today, in bopes that he might do the right thing for once. I have no hopes whatsoever that he will do what’s best for my child but one can always try.

In the meantime I do all I can and then some to ensure that my baby boy has all he could ever want or need. Even with a tremendous lack of sleep, a constant headache and enough stress to kill a normal human being I still trot on. Why? Because I love life. I love living, and each new day brings with it something positive. Something new and worthwhile. My boy is growing, sitting himself up like a pro and getting onto his stomach from a seated position. He’s full of energy and life, and if that doesn’t get you through the day then nothing will.

It is my will to live, my love for life that has gotten me through all the bad stuff. And in the end there is but one thing that controls how you respond to whatever is going on in your life – you and your perception. Change your outlook on life and you’ll realize that you are in fact living in the best of times.

If all else fails get yourself a new dress and a ring. Or whatever makes you equally excited.

But all that shopping aside, waking up to a view like this. Or going for a drive, making Erik laugh, trying new foods, talking to a loved one. Those are the real motivators. All else is gravy.

This. This is what heaven looks like: a happy and healthy boy who has everything he needs. Content. That is absolute heaven to me. All worries just melt away, all tiredness goes out the window. He is my love, my life – my boy.
Campbell of Sweden

The first day of the year

 

Many people, I’d say most, love the last shower of the year. Me, I prefer the first one. The one that washes off all the dirt and the grime of the past year and allows you to really start fresh. And boy do I start fresh this year. Erik had one of those nights where he woke up a few times an hour, almost throughout the night. Ironically he fell asleep at 11:45 and didn’t wake again until 2 AM. So he slept through the fireworks, like a champ. He’s seven months and needs his sleep more than he needs to see the firework display, I feel like. The display was massive, however. It reminded me of the one at the turn of the century, that was a massive ordeal. And so was last night. We had the best view in town, removed from the action but a full view of it all. It was beautiful, but I was too tired so I wished my tiny man a happy new year and kissed his foot and fell back asleep.

It wasn’t the NYE that I thought I was going to have but it’s way better than any ones before it. And to be honest I can’t wait until Erik is old enough to actually enjoy the fireworks and can partake in the celebrations. But for a first NYE he did swimmingly.

The morning started off with a bang too. We got up at about 8, we’d been awake for about an hour before then but I usually let Erik play about in bed for a while to allow myself to fully wake before we get up. So we took his diaper off and I carried him into the living room to air his little butt out a bit before putting a new diaper on, to avoid diaper rash and such. I left him on his towel with his toys and went into the kitchen to make me some breakfast, a sandwich and three cups of coffee that I pour into a bowl-sized cup.

First breakfast in 2018

When I come back into the living room to check on him he has, true to his habit, pooped all over the towel then rolled around in it and was at the time in the process of crawling away from the scene of the crime. So I did what I always do, picked him up and ran into the shower. Showered off the worst, put him down on his little mat and drew him a bath. He splashed around in there while I washed him off and then it was off to dry and finish a bobo he had started before we had gotten up.

He’s a funny little man, completely unbothered by most occurrences. When he was semi-dressed we went back into the living room which I had cleaned up by now and he kept busy crawling about on the floor.

That is until he went for the heater – at which point I put him in his Jumperoo and went to take that wonderful first shower of the year.

The first picture is straight out of the shower, the second one after I’ve moisturized and brushed the hair. The reason for these is to show how a lack of an after shower glow looks like. I shower too hot and get these red blotches all over my face, plus the after sweats. Not very charming but this new face routine is actually doing wonders for my face. It’s a full series with an eye gel, a serum and a day- and night cream. I’ve just started using it so I won’t be reviewing it quite yet, but so far so good.

Now I’m off to make Pudgy (Erik) his porridge for breakfast. I hope you all have had an absolutely amazing NYE and that the new year starts off with a bang for you too. Maybe not in the same way as mine has, but a bang of sorts anyway!

Campbell of Sweden 

Heaven

I don’t believe in life after death, that idea has never appealed to me. But I lie here in the dark listening to him breathe and watch him move his pudgy little legs and even pudgier tiny feetsies and I wonder how anyone can think that there is a place better than that.

If there was a heaven that’s what it would look like for me: a quiet Friday night before Christmas with my tiny boy sleeping safely and soundly. His little body sprawled out in my bed, that he’s made his.

How can anyone think that there is a better place anywhere else? God is in the details, I’ve heard. Well then God, you’ve outdone yourself with this boy.

And I rest my weary soul knowing that I have seen heaven, and it’s absolutely fantastic.

Ms. Campbell

Leaving the apple part of life…

I’ve been a massive fan of all things iPhone since they came about. But the time has come to abandon ship.

I’m tired of the constant lack of space (I have 128 GB and keep running out) and the absolutely atrocious battery life. Lately my phone has been running out of both space and battery very quickly. So I removed 22 000 pictures and film clips. Yes, you read that correctly – twenty two thousand pictures and film clips. Why did I have that many, you may wonder… well, because I could. But the phone was running really slow and I thought that if I upload all of it into the cloud I could have a phone that’s semi decent. I was wrong. It kept being slow and dull, but it also added the unloading of the battery.

A fully charged battery lasts me about 20-60 minutes. No joke! So unless I’m constantly attached to a power source my phone is pretty useless. God forbid I use it outdoors, then the battery runs out in less than 10 minutes.

So, I decided that I was indeed done with Apple and their shitty but very expensive products. And I went over to the dark side, three stars (Samsung means three stars in Korean). I’ll be getting my Galaxy S8 next week, right after Christmas and with it a new era begins. The end of the apple season and time for some new stars to shine bright.

Plus it’s waterproof!

Ms. Campbell

A thought crosses my mind…

As I sit in bed, in this dark room, with the rain falling onto the window ledges I can’t help but feel a bit blessed. My boy is asleep again after having a snack, just a moment ago. But this thought just keeps gnawing at me.

How can you leave a child? Regardless of circumstances, regardless of feelings towards the other parent – how can you live with yourself knowing you’ve abandoned a child? Or several, as it were.

It makes no sense to me how a person can just leave something so innocent and pristine as a baby. In my world that cannot be done by a human. A human has feelings and values. They have dignity. Abandoning a child requires something else. Something no decent man or woman ever could or would do or be.

But you know what they say, if you go slumming you’re only going to get what they scrape off of the bottom of the barrel. And so it is.

But my boy sleeps soundly to the sound of the pouring rain, and I sit here in the darkness just listening to him breathing. If that’s not a slice of heaven, then I don’t know what is.

Ms. Campbell

Sleep when the baby sleeps, and other stories…

My boy doesn’t sleep. I mean he does but for about 15-20 minutes at a time, and then he’s up for hours. He’s been this way for as long as he’s been alive. If he’s to sleep any longer than 15-20 minutes I have to keep him on my legs, in his baby nest, and continuously rock him. If I stop rocking him he wakes up in a rage.

He’s fallen asleep on his own once, it took 2,5 hours of screaming and playing and everything one can think of, but he fell asleep without me having to rock him. It was something I celebrated. That was a short lived victory, because he kept waking up and not going down and since that night he doesn’t sleep past 2 AM.

Yesterday he was tired after having thrown up a lot and slept for two hours straight. I was so proud and I did two loads of laundry and all the dishes, I tidied up and painted my nails. I also did something I never thought I’d get to do again: I sat down at the kitchen table and had toast and coffee without having to rush or worry about Erik losing his little mind. It was magnificent, and for the first time since before his arrival I had a hot cup of coffee.

It’s hard to grasp if you’ve never been in that situation. Most parents have to deal with certain situations at times but my boy is a high needs baby (HNB). A HNB is a baby that neither can nor will entertain itself, it needs all your attention at all times or it will throw fits of rage. Erik is a demanding, strong and angry little man. He has more personality than most grown ups I’ve met but he’s damn near impossible sometimes.

The worst part is the sleep, still. I can manage having him on me at all times, not leaving his side for more than a minute at a time. I can take the rage fits, the kicking and screaming. I can live with him refusing to go in the car and the stroller, that’s all manageable- but the sleep deprivation. It’s kicking my butt up and down the street.

Some nights I only get an hour. Some nights I get less. He wakes up at least once an hour, wanting to be rocked back to sleep. Wanting a bit of bobo (bottle). And if the rocking stops – so does the sleeping. So, in order for him to get some sleep I need give up mine. That would be fine if it wasn’t going on for so long, or if I had any help. But alas we are alone. And it’s slowly, but surely breaking me down.

So what’s the point I’m trying to make? When someone says sleep when the baby sleeps I just want to strangle them slowly with the sound of Erik screaming as if he’s being tortured because that’s the soundtrack of my life currently. Whenever I try to put him down for a nap he screams bloody murder. It’s awful and I wish only to get 2 consecutive hours of sleep so I can deal with the commentary from mothers “who know how it is to have a baby”.

Oy vey!

Ms. Campbell

Vlog

I haven’t been vlogging for so long now, so I figured I’d do a quick one now to get back into the routine.

Thank you guys for following a blog that’s been scattered and not very well looked after. But better days are coming. And more active ones!

Ms. Campbell