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

Low arousal approach

So I took the time to check out Bo Hejlskov Elvén’s speech at a conference here in Sweden. I watched it on YouTube while rocking Erik to sleep. I can full honestly say that it was a massive eye opener for me, because the way he explained it all it just made sense.

It is the approach most favored by psychologists and caretakers who deal with aggressive persons. But the way he put it is that the method works well with tough cases which also means that it works super well with a regular child. So reading up on this now makes a lot of sense.

Erik is still too young to understand consequence, he is also not quite there yet in terms of understanding words and sentences. But meeting him on his terms will make both his and my life so much easier, I believe. And threats and bribes often lead nowhere, I have noticed in life. So a low arousal approach is usually the way to go, or it has been for me. And this is also the method I will use when raising my boy.

It appeals to me on several levels and it is something that is proven to work, time and time again. But much like every other parent I will probably have to revise my strategy more often than not. The tiny humans usually have a pretty firm grasp of what they want and what they don’t want. They don’t always know how to go from point A to point B but they will not worry about that while improvising. They learn by making mistakes and I will do my best to try to guide my tiny whale through the jungle of experiences.

There is so much good in the world and I want him to get a taste of that. To really enjoy all the wonderful things out there, meet good people and eat good foods. I want him to take in the sights. But it needs to be on his terms, I’ve already experienced so much good. It will be a treat to pass on the joie de vivre to the tiniest of whales and to see what he does with it. I will share it with the boy who has my heart – my son 💙

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

Why oh why?

There were many questions when I moved from my fantastic one bedroom apartment in a fancy part of town. The town was Stockholm, the beautiful capital of this country. What I moved to was a bigger one bedroom apartment in a small town, adjacent to Stockholm, called Bålsta. Why would you move to that specific apartment, it’s old – it was said. And I agreed, it is old. And very run down. It hadn’t been cleaned in the five years the previous tenant had lived there.

When we moved in I was in the late stages of pregnancy and couldn’t do much about anything. After delivery Erik had colic, and for four whole months I was glued to him. In his fifth month his father lost his marbles and then followed an almost two month long nightmare that ended that faithful night when the police collected the monster that had terrorized this home. After that the clean-up slowly began. I started remodeling. Moving furniture to how I wanted it. Bought new stuff for Erik and suddenly our home was clean and neat.

It became a proper home for me and my son. A place we can use to its fullest potential. Something we could never do in my old apartment. It was a beautiful brand new apartment. All hardwood flooring, and a fluent floorplan. Barely any doors and none were needed because it was 38 sqm. A pocket sized apartment.

This place is 64,5 sqm. All linoleum floors, that are worn down. The wall paper is old and the kitchen is a 60’s standard issue. But you know what they say, all is not gold that glitters. So hear this.

My worn down floors give both me and Erik room to put scuffs in them without having to pay for any damage done when we move from here. Due to it being linoleum he can take baths in the bedroom where we have two big radiators keeping the room super warm and cozy. The apartment is located on top of a kindergarten which means that after 6 PM there is nobody under us. On the side of the bathroom there is no one making laundry possible late at night, same goes for the dishwasher. I can vacuum at midnight if I so choose without disturbing my neighbors. And speaking of neighbors, they are absolutely awesome. No problems with them what-so-ever. 4 months of colic, Erik has kept everyone up but not one person has complained. No one’s said a word.

So am I sad I made this move? Do I regret it? Not for a single second. It is by far the best decision I have made in terms of living arrangements. We’re about 20 minutes away from Stockholm city center. What is there to complain about? The landlord is great, the doctor’s office is close by, the town center is close too. We have everything we could possibly want or need, and it all comes with an amazing view.

But this is by far the best part of it:

Badpojke

A bath boy in his bathtub smack in the middle of the bedroom. Hard to beat!

Campbell of Sweden

The bitter truth…

I started something tonight that I know will benefit Erik and I greatly, him sleeping in his crib without my assistance – in the form of rocking him. It took 4 hours of nonstop screaming and crying but he fell asleep. I sat next to him on a kitchen chair that whole time, talking to him and rubbing his tiny back. And like the star pupil he is he fell asleep. And so did I, alone in my own bed. I hadn’t had that pleasure since thr beginning of May 2016, when I was impositioned.

And Erik slept for 4 hours before waking for a bobo. I slept for an hour and a half and then I woke up missing the little guy who is safely sleeping some 2 meters away from me. I missed kissing his pudgy feet when I opened my eyes.

So here I am, almost 3 hours later, still awake. I fed him a bit of bobo and petted his feetsies ever so lightly before lying down in my bed again.

I thought the hard part was getting him down. It isn’t, it’s putting myself down for some sleep. The things one learns about themselves!

This is how he slept for 4 hours straight, my best boy. As for me, we’ll see if there’s any rest for the wary.
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 

Insomniac

Man, this night just turned from bad to worse with Erik cascade vomiting all over the bed. At 2 AM I raced up to get him sorted. He’s been cleaned and changed, threw the covers and the bedding in the washer and put down spare ones. 

It’s been a harsh couple of weeks with the sleep issues getting exponentially worse over the last week. He’s a lovely baby and I love him more than life itself but I’m down on my knees right now. The last 4 days I’ve gitten a total of 6 hours of sleep, according to the tracking. He’s slept way more but he doesn’t sleep at all if I don’t continuously rock him on my legs. So I do.

Which has led me to get incriments of sleep that add up to 6 whole hours over the last 96 hour period. In this time we’ve struggled with his cold and played, read, taken baths, been mischeivous and up and running. Along that I’ve been hand washing his bottles, preparing his food and feeding him. Preparing my food, doing laundry and the dishes. Paying bills, planning and all those everyday things.

I’m running low on energy, and in these moments it’s easy to get bitter about my son’s father abandoning him. Or about the fact that in his 7 months of living the father hasn’t so much as bought him a single diaper for his own money. Or anyone else’s.

But truth be told, I’m happy he’s not so much as asked how his youngest child is doing. After he was released from jail, while awaiting trial, for battering me in October he has only gotten in touch with one of my friends asking her to try and get my Xbox to him.

What a man, huh? So am I bitter? No. But I am tired and wish for nothing more than two consecutive hours of sleep. But when Pudgy is older I will hopefully get some sleep. According to the doctor it will get a little bit better when he turns three. So only 2,5 years more. It’s doable. Exhausting but very doable.

What a night! You really know you’re alive on nights like these. And it dawns on you just how spectacular and exhausting motherhood can be, but nothing bad without some good in it. The paracetamol kicked in and that has eased some of the headache which I’m vastly grateful for. 

Life is really something grand, if you look at it with open eyes. Yes, there are hardships. Some have more, some less, but no one escapes them. Same goes for joy and love and adventure. The night sky might be dark but it is always followed by a dawn. And even when the days are exceptionally gray and rainy one should remember that blue skies are hiding behind the clouds and they will appear if you just give it some time.

But now I need to turn the dryer off and hope to god that Pudgy stays asleep when I put him down on the bed.

B. Campbell
How can you not just want to eat him like a tiny cupcake? 

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

Mudmasky

First night of this shenanigans, a lightweight face mask to wear while sleeping.

Instructions are simple: wash and dry face, apply mask and let sit for a minimum of five hours (and a maximum of 10 hours). Easy enough.

It’s very gel like in its consistency and doesn’t smell like anything in particular. It has a mild and sort of fresh scent to it. When applied to the face it’s absorbed almost instantaneously which is good, because that means no traces of it on the pillow. The mild scent is also good because it won’t be overpowering, which can make it harder to sleep. Especially when you, like myself, share a bed with a baby.

It gave me a slight tingling sensation, around the nose, but nothing that causes discomfort. However it does make you aware of its existence. I am also aware of it due to the dryness of my, usually very moisturized, skin. But I have that same sensation whenever I wear a face mask, so there’s nothing new under the sun.

I’m looking forward to really giving this product a go, I’ll be trying it out for about two weeks so we’ll see if there’s any improvement to my skin.

But now the bed is calling to me, and a certain tiny gentleman needs to be slightly moved so that the mother unit also fits into that bed.

So smol.

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