Hip Hip Hooray!

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A year has passed since that momentous day when Lucy was put into her luminous pink spica and I spent a long night in the hospital, sleep deprived and wondering how we were all going to cope with the challenges of the three months to follow.

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Having a cuddle on the couch

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My little purple frog legs in her second cast

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Feeding time! No small challenge keeping the cast clean while teaching a baby to eat solids…

There have been twists and turns and surprises (seldom pleasant) along this DDH journey but our most recent check up at Princess Margaret Hospital has given us some reassurance that the worst is behind us.

When the doctor pulled up her X-ray on the screen to review her progress he started out by saying that the projection is slightly different to the last one. My heart sank. Did this mean that the angle had widened, in other words, regressed again?

What he meant, though, was that the angle of the image was slightly different to the last one – PHEW! He measured the angle of the acetabula and confirmed that Lucy’s right hip was still absolutely fine (which has always been the case) and her left hip was now a perfectly healthy 21 degrees (20 +or-3 being normal for her age) – HOORAY!

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Beautiful hips! January 2015

Our check-up appointments will now be every six months rather than every three. This will probably continue until she’s about three years-old at which point they will be able to tell whether her hips have stabilised or need further intervention.

But for now – NO MORE PAVLIK HARNESS/RHINO BRACE/SPICA/SLEEPLESS NIGHTS/SKIN TRAUMA/ETC!

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Walking like a little champion!

I like to think that I have fully earned the right to a very cheesy title for this post 🙂

Guest Post: Lynette’s Story

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My story starts just like most others in the world of developmental hip dysplasia – I didn’t know it existed.  I had heard of clicky hips vaguely but that was about it.  Little did I know that “clicky hips” meant a whole new world – a new world of parenting, of loving , of learning.

Hi, my name is Lynette.  I have three gorgeous children – Elissa (Miss 6), Harrison (Mr 3) and Jackson (Mr 1.5).  My venture into the world of DDH began with Mr 1.5 – Jack.  My unexpected miracle baby.  After fertility issues and ICSI IVF procedures with my first two children, Jack was a little surprise that was granted to our lives.  My pregnancy was normal, his growth was normal and his birth was easy.  I was smiling!  Before we left the hospital our Doctor noticed that both of his hips were “clicky” and that he would require an ultrasound at 6 weeks of age, and we were told that “he would probably be OK by then”.  No other tips or information was given to us.  Off home we went, happy, and we didn’t change anything from how we had done it with our previous children – tight swaddles, disposable nappies, narrow based Baby Bjorn carrier for occasions.

Oh how I wish I could go back to me and three day old Jack and give us some advice!

At our 6 week ultra-sound it was discovered that Jack’s right hip had rectified itself, but his left hip was “borderline” and that he would require immediate bracing.  This needed to be done in Perth.  Did I mention that we are a 7 hour drive or $250 each plane flight from Perth?  We were admitted through Princess Margaret Children’s Hospital in Perth, Western Australia, and they were so lovely.  A country girl in the big city however is a complete other story – LOL!!

I don’t think I was really ready for my journey that was about to begin.  Jack was fitted with a Correctio brace that he had to wear 23 hours a day, 7 days a week, and he cried and cried and cried.  His clothes wouldn’t fit on over the top.  He didn’t fit in the car seat of the hire car and he cried and cried and cried.  I tried to breastfeed him and it was so awkward and he cried and cried and cried.  We got home to Kalgoorlie and I fed him and put him to bed.  He looked so awkward, laying on his back with his legs up and splayed out.  That night he didn’t sleep.  Not in his bed anyway.  I sat up in the arm chair and he slept on my chest.  I cried.  I was tired and my neck stiff.  My other two children didn’t understand why I was so tired and cranky and had such a short fuse.

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Fitted with the brace at PMH

It was winter.  The Orthotics specialist who had fitted the brace said that the brace needed to go on under his clothes.  I had nothing that would fit over the brace.  In an attempt to make pants I cut up a pair of Elissa’s tights.  He looked like such a sweet angel – dressed in rags.  I was sad because he wasn’t handsome anymore.  That morning a friend looked after Elissa and Harrison while Jack and I popped off to the shops for a new car seat that he would fit in and some new clothes.  Two hours later and I had a small measure of sanity!!  A new car seat meant we could go places, and some clothes that fit meant he was handsome again!  That small accomplishment – even though it sounds so vain – was enough to make me stand tall and accept to get on with this and make it work.  So what worked for us?  Long sleeved clip crotch onesies and BabyLegs legwarmers!

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Dressed in Elissa’s tights on day 1

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More user friendly attire!  BabyLegs and Snappy Crotches!

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How did we get sleeping and breastfeeding under control? Pillows!  My Mum was the one who said, “Of course he will cry on his back. Lay on your back and spread your legs up like that.  Can you feel your hip joints and how they over-extend with no support under your knees?” WOW.  YES. Yes I can.  So I popped a pillow along so that his little legs were supported and – YES! No crying!  We have sleep!

Sleeping with one side propped on a pillow

Sleeping with one side propped on a pillow

Life plodded along for 6 weeks.  We were all happy.  And I was excited that Jack and I were headed back to Perth for our next Ultrasounds.  I was excited because I thought the brace might come off today.  Little did I know that no-one had explained to me that a DDH plan was NOT a short-term thing.  Our ultrasounds showed good news – his left hip had acceptable angles.  I was ecstatic. But the brace had to stay on for another 6 weeks in case of regression.  I am sure my face fell then and there.  Our Doctor then explained that the following 6 weeks wouldn’t see the end of bracing either.  If after this 6 weeks his hips were still fine, the brace would then only need to be worn at night time and naps for another few months.  All up our treatment plan would see Jack braced until he was 7 months old.

When I got home from that appointment I made some key life decisions:

  • I needed to see an infant physiotherapist – to aid with tummy time and the flat spot he was starting to get on his head.
  • I needed a different baby carrier as the Baby Bjorn was just not cutting it – it was so uncomfortable and its narrow base was hurting Jack.
  • I needed to carry Jack in a carrier more often to make it a) easier than trying to stuff him in the pram, b) stop people staring at the brace and asking about it, and c) stop his head getting flat.

Seeing the physiotherapist was GREAT!  I recommend this to ALL DDH families.  Simon came up with some really great and helpful exercises and plans to help Jack develop motor skills normally whilst being in the brace.  His core strength came along in leaps and bounds, as did his head and neck control.  Our infant health clinic kept Jack admitted right through until he was walking and without the brace.  They were simply amazing.

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Towels on the floor used for support during Tummy Time

Tummy time

Tummy time

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A session with Simon the physiotherapist

I researched Baby Carriers and was thoroughly BLOWN AWAY by a world of carriers I never knew existed.  I had only ever known of the Baby Bjorn as that is what is portrayed in media, and what our only baby store sold.  Little did I know how sub-optimal Baby Bjorn carriers are due to their narrow base that does not support the infant’s hips in a healthy position.

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(International Hip Dysplasia Institute)

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Optimal baby carrying positions – legs held in the M position for healthy hip and spine development

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Along with this realisation and research came the knowledge of swaddling and disposable nappies, and how babies’ hips work. “Improper swaddling may lead to hip dysplasia or developmental dysplasia of the hip. When in the womb the baby’s legs are in a foetal position with the legs bent up and across each other. Sudden straightening of the legs to a standing position can loosen the joints and damage the soft cartilage of the socket.” – International Hip Dysplasia Institute.

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(International Hip Dysplasia.org)

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Using our Ergo baby ergonomic carrier on holidays.

As I said – oh how I wish I could go back to me and three day old Jack and give us some advice!

I WISH that I had used cloth nappies to bulk out his crotch area, or even used a Modern Cloth Nappy over the top of his disposables.

I WISH that I had not swaddled him tightly in a wrap but had used hip friendly swaddles.

I WISH that I had a Babywearing wrap,  ring sling or soft structured carrier rather than the narrow based carrier.

I WISH I had discovered “babywearing” and had worn Jack LOTS to keep his legs up into the optimal M position.

Jack was only “borderline” and after 6 weeks of bracing his hips were fine.  If ONLY someone had told me to do the things above I am sure that we would have completely avoided bracing and he would have formed his own stable hips by 6 weeks of age.

There are a lot of “I wishes” and “if only’s” there, but you know, life is a journey and fate has its plan for all of us.  If I had never been led down the DDH path I would probably still have the Baby Bjorn carrier that is ridiculously uncomfortable and I definitely would not be a public infancy advocate educating new mothers about healthy hips; I would not have created Kalgoorlie-Boulder Babywearers (our local sling group) and certainly I would not be the proud owner of Gold Dust Baby, one of Australia’s Baby Wearing Retailers.

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Fast forward to beyond a year.  We have had our last lot of X-rays when Jack started walking at 1 year.  We have been given a full clearance with no more x-rays needed until he is 2.  He is a HAPPY baby who is in no way developmentally delayed – if anything he is making up for those 7 months and is a complete nut job on legs!  And I have discovered a way of life that would not have presented itself to me if life had taken me down the other path.

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Many people (including pre-DDH me) lump “Babywearing” in with attachment parenting, something seen as an all-or-nothing lifestyle, but that’s just not it.  Finding these great carriers outside of popular media has let me, Jack and my family lead an active and inclusive lifestyle.  Nothing holds us back!

Gold Dust Baby was born and this has become one of the things in my life that makes me so happy and fills me with a purpose.  I am now an educator, not only through Kalgoorlie-Boulder Babywearers, but through parenting groups and Obstetrician-held baby showers.  I wish I had been around to tell me to wear my baby in the crucial early months when stable hips are forming, to tell me to keep those legs in the optimal M position as much as possible.

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So to all of you out there who are beginning their DDH journey – yes, life gives you lemons – you just need to make some life decisions that will turn those lemons into lemonade, baked citrus tart and maybe a Corona or two!  In the end you have been led down this path for a reason.  Your job is to get yourself there and if you can take a couple of helpful hints from me to make that easier, then I am so happy that I have been able to share.

Love and BabyLegs and Babywearing!

Lyn

Gold Dust Baby

Kalgoorlie, Western Australia.

Sensory Learning Experiment #3: Jelly!

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So it seems that a one-and-a-bit-year-old is still too young to enjoy sitting for any length of time to create works of art:

I give Lucy colouring pens and paper and her dad arrives home from work perplexed as to how his baby girl managed to grow a green moustache in the few hours he was away.

A bucket of large chalk pieces and an even larger piece of paper stuck on the floor? All that remains at the end of the (short) session is a blank page and some very chalky leggings.

“Stickers!” I think, in a light bulb moment while browsing the aisles of the Reject Store for inspiration, only to find that stickers lead to tears when rationed out. My little one just doesn’t understand why mummy only lets her have a few instead of the whole sheet in one sitting.

Back to the sensory learning drawing board, then.

And this time I found a WINNER!

Now this activity takes a bit of prep, a bit of setting up, a bit of forethought, and a whole lot’ve cleaning up afterwards. But I do think it’s worth the effort and you and your bub can have a memorable (for all the right reasons) time together as you grab, squish, smell, taste, discuss, smear and spread jelly all over the floor/yourself/the dog etc

The concept is a simple one: make up some batches of jelly, each a different colour and scent, then allow your baby to play with it!

You can execute this in different ways but I’ll show you how I did it:

 

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I know my child’s capacity to eat large volumes of anything delicious so rather than use premixed box jelly which would be too enticing, I mixed gelatine and water, added food colouring and then mint leaves, apple juice, and vanilla essence respectively to give the three batches a pleasant scent rather than flavour. I made up the jelly in baking trays and a muffin tin the night before and set it overnight in the fridge.

 

 

 

 

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We have a lovely large space on the kitchen floor so I stuck down a cheap plastic tablecloth (also from the Reject Store), using masking tape. The floor surface is polished concrete so it’s super easy to clean up afterwards. You may prefer to do this outside on the grass or the deck, or even in the bath.

 

 

 

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I stripped Lucy down to just her nappy to avoid any stains. To start off, I gave her just one of the trays of jelly to gauge how she was going to respond to the activity. If her attention span was going to be short-lived, I would rather hold on to the other two batches and try again on another day.

 

 

 

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It turns out she was ENTHRALLED! As you can see, she wasn’t content to simply squish it in her hands – she wanted to bathe in the stuff!

 

 

 

 

 

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So I brought out the other two batches of jelly and let the fun continue. She had a go at tasting it but – as per the plan –  didn’t find it terribly appetizing and reverted to playing with it rather than eating it.

 

 

 

 

20141104_095149We managed to get in a good half an hour of  gleeful, gooey, gelatinous fun, which – if you are familiar with the attention span on one-year-old’s – is pretty darn good going! I then bundled Lucy up in a (dark-coloured) towel and took her straight to the bath to give her a good scrub down. She loves a soak in the tub so this segment of the activity was enjoyed as much as the former, especially since she got to splash about in purply-browny-tinted water! Once she was dressed I bundled up the plastic tablecloth from the kitchen and threw that into the bath and this again proved enjoyable as the water now really turned an interesting shade of something sinister.

 

 

The highlight of all this came some time later when I messaged my family with pics of the jelly experiment and my mum replied, “I’m sure Jackson Pollock must have had a mother like you, Jen!”

Once Wikipedia had solved the small problem of who on earth this man was (go on, get your Google on…) and that my mum was handing me high praise (if you’re into abstract expressionism), it struck me that maybe I do have a little artist on my hands, she just likes to get her whole body involved when creating her masterpieces.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And we’re brace free! Sort of…

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After a journey involving:

*two weeks in a Pavlik harness
*a scary but fortunately short-lived stint of femoral nerve palsy
*a month in a Rhino brace full-time
*three months in a Spica after a closed reduction (cut short by two weeks due to skin damage)
*a further three months of full-time Rhino bracing
*three months of nights-and -naps Rhino bracing
*plenty of visits to the hospital complete with ultrasounds and x-rays

my fifteen month-old Lucy has finally been given the thumbs up to stop bracing!

We took her for her check-up last week and the doctor is very happy with the improvement he can see in her left hip socket.  While the angle of the acetabulum is still a bit out of the normal range, it has curved nicely which means the femoral head will sit comfortably in the socket and not slip out. He feels confident that as she becomes more mobile on her feet the left socket will gradually catch up to the right socket and even out. He says there is little to no chance that she will need any further treatment when she is older but we will continue to have check-ups every few months to keep an eye on it.

We are absolutely delighted with this positive report but have decided to keep on bracing Lucy when she sleeps at least for a couple more months in the hope that it will prevent any regression from taking place. She isn’t at all bothered by the brace and sleeps through the night most nights.  Summer is on the way, though, so when it gets uncomfortably hot at night we’ll stop bracing her. We told the doctor our intentions and he said that was absolutely fine but from about eighteen months on the bracing will stop being effective so we shouldn’t bother to continue from that point.

Lucy is growing in confidence daily with her movement. She is standing and able to walk herself along if she’s got something to hold onto. It shouldn’t be long before she is able to walk unaided. Eighteen months is apparently the age by which babies should be walking so she’ so still within normal range and we have no cause for concern that the bracing has set her back.

Last summer we weren’t able to enjoy the beach and go swimming because she was braced and in a cast – we are certainly going to be making up for lost time this summer! Bring on the sand, sun cream and sandcastles!

Flying alone with a baby: survival tips and tricks

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The idea of flying solo with my busy fourteen-month-old from Perth, Australia to Durban, South Africa terrified me! I sought counsel from friends and family who’d ever traveled with a baby and filled in the gaps using blog posts and forums for any and every piece of advice that would increase my chances of a pleasant journey.

We are now back from our fantastic three weeks visiting my family and the flights went as well as they possibly could have. Below are the tips and tricks that helped me and I hope they can be useful to others about to embark on long-haul flights alone with a baby!

WHAT TO PACK IN YOUR CARRY-ON LUGGAGE:

  • Try keep your carry-on luggage to just one bag. A back-pack is the most practical rather than a handbag or nappy bag. This way you can sling it over both shoulders and carry it comfortably, leaving both hands free to carry baby, sort out passports etc. It also has useful compartments for storing the various bits and pieces you’ll have with you.
  • Place nappies, wipes & nappy disposal bags in a smaller bag within the backpack. When you need to change your baby’s nappy on the plane, you can just take this along with you to the tiny toilet cubicle rather than lugging a bulky bag and having to rummage through it to find your supplies. (For nappy disposal, the air hostess I spoke to said I should just place dirty nappies in the normal waste disposal bin in the toilet cubicle)
  • The same principal applies to the snacks you’re planning on taking with you: gather them up in a snack bag to make them easy to locate when your bub is tired and grumpy and you need a distraction fast! (I bought a Nude Food Movers coolskin from Woolworths, Australia and it was the perfect size with flexible material for fitting into a backpack)
  • Dummies are very useful for take-off and landing so that your baby’s ears don’t get sore. If your baby doesn’t usually have a dummy, you can either breastfeed him during these times or give him a bottle to suck. It’s a good idea to use a dummy strap to prevent it falling down and getting dirty or lost on the plane.
  • Take books to read to your baby for long waits at the airport terminal or in-flight. Don’t take too many as your baby will probably be more taken with the in-flight magazine anyway!
  • A small torch is handy for locating lost items under aeroplane seats.
  • If you have a phone with the flight mode function, you will be able to use it for entertainment for your baby while in the air. There are loads of baby-specific apps that you can download ahead of time.
  • If you are planning on using your phone as entertainment, there is the risk of running your battery down and not being able to use it when you arrive at your destination. You can solve this problem with a portable power bank, such as the ones from Juice Up. I bought mine from Dick Smith for $25.
  • Buy one or two small and inexpensive gifts to wrap up for your baby and give them to her on the trip. My baby loves necklaces and accessories so I bought bead necklaces from a kids’ accessory shop. They were an absolute hit! She wore and played with them not just on the plane but every day of the holiday too! Best three bucks I’ve ever spent…
  • A lightweight blanket is handy to have with you, not so much for on the plane – the air-hostesses will provide you with blankets – but it can be used to shield a sleeping baby from glaring lights or keep them snug while you’re walking about airports.
  • Pack a change of clothes for your baby in case of a spill or leaky nappy or a messy meal.
  • Antibacterial wipes can be used for cleaning your baby’s hands or wiping down trays before a meal. Airports and aeroplanes harbour germs from around the world and the last thing you want is your baby picking up some nasty virus to spoil your holiday.
  • Pack some snacks for you, too. You will find it very difficult to enjoy a proper meal on the plane so take snacks along for yourself to avoid running low on energy in transit.
  • To help your baby sleep comfortably while on your lap, you could purchase a travel mattress from SkyBaby. You may find, though, that trying to assemble it and get your baby into it all on your own may be too much of a challenge. They can be quite fiddly with only one set of hands. I went without one and my baby was able to sleep just fine.
  • You’re unlikely to get a chance to brush your teeth so pack some good quality gum to chew on when you need to freshen up.
  • Have a pen with you for filling in the arrival and departure cards.
  • Place all passports and travel documents in one folder or plastic sleeve for easy access. It is advisable to get your partner to write a letter giving permission for you to travel alone with your baby, and take along copies of your baby’s full, unabridged birth certificate and your marriage certificate if applicable.
  • Pack pain medication for both you and your baby in case of a pesky headache or fever en route. Dymadon for babies is a good option as it is pleasant tasting so shouldn’t be met with much resistance.
  • If you are worried that your baby will become anxious and inconsolable, take along some Rescue Remedy for kids to help soothe them naturally rather than use harsher drugs.

OTHER TIPS AND TRICKS:

  • Night flights will be easiest for you as there’s a better chance that your baby will sleep for much of the journey. Trying to keep your baby entertained for hours during a day flight will be exhausting for you and your fellow passengers.
  • If you can afford to buy a seat for your baby, there is the option of taking your car seat along and strapping your baby into it on the plane. This could help settle your baby and get them to sleep comfortably for longer. Confirm with your airline that they allow this.
  • An overtired baby is never a good thing: make sure your baby has kept to his usual nap times before you fly and is as well rested as possible. For my midnight flight, I put Lucy down to sleep at her usual bedtime then woke her up after two hours to head to the airport. This meant she was rested enough to stay reasonably cheerful during the check in and boarding process.
  • When you book your flight, be sure to request a meal for your baby. Don’t assume the airline will provide one unless you’ve asked for it.
  • Eating your own meal on the flight may prove impossible as your baby will probably want to make a grab at everything on the tray. It might be less stressful for you to just decline the meals and eat at the airport before you fly and survive on snacks during the flight.
  • Consider checking yourself in to one of the airport lounges while you wait for your flight. They are quieter, more comfortable spaces to try settle your baby and get them to nap if needed before the trip. They have nicer baby changing facilities and should have snacks available for you. You’ll have to do your research beforehand to see if the airports you’ll be in have such a service available. At Perth airport, the lounges are only available to members or passengers of certain airlines but at Johannesburg airport they allow any passengers to use the lounges for a fee.
  • Once you have finally boarded the plane, you will probably have at least two more hours of bright lights, noise and activity before your baby can drift off to sleep in a dark cabin. Even on midnight flights you will be served supper and drinks. This is another good reason to make sure your baby isn’t over-tired before you fly.
  • The chances of you getting any sleep while in the air are slim to none. Try to have a nap yourself before you leave for the airport.
  • When you check in, ask if it’s possible to book a seat with a spare seat next to it. At least this will allow you some extra space either to have your bag right next to you or for your wriggly baby to crawl and stand a bit on the flight.
  • If you have requested a bassinet, there is no guarantee that you will get one. They are assigned to the youngest babies plus there are weight and height restrictions and your baby may prove too big for it.
  • When you board, ask one of the hostesses to show you which toilet cubicle is equipped with a change table as not all of them are.
  • Some airlines do not allow breastfeeding on takeoff and landing. If you’re willing to risk it, you can probably still sneak it in once the cabin staff are seated and no longer walking around checking. (If you look at the brace position they advise you to adopt when holding a baby, it’s actually very similar to the breastfeeding cradle hold.
  • If you are planning on breastfeeding during the flight, you may want to request a bigger pillow from business class to help you support your baby comfortably. Be aware that the seats are very narrow, which make breastfeeding a challenge unless you’ve got a spare seat next to you.
  • Anticipate that you will be very uncomfortable on the flight. When you baby falls asleep on your lap, you won’t want to move in case you wake her.
  • The hours of discomfort while your baby sleeps on you can be made more bearable by watching movies or listening to music. Plan ahead for this by getting the headsets plugged in and ready for use so that you can get them on without moving around too much and waking up your baby.
  • Going to the toilet is going to be a challenge for you at all stages of the journey! At airports, look for the disabled toilets as they are bigger and can accommodate a pram. If there is no sweet person who offers to hold your baby so you can go to the loo during the flight, I can confirm that it is possible to seat your baby on your knee while in the toilet cubicle!! It’s not ideal but if you are desperate, it can be done!
  • Some airports will have loan prams available for use but you may prefer to take along your own pram rather than risk having to carry your baby around for long periods of time. It also means that you will have it with you to use on your holiday. You should be able to take the pram right up to the door of the plane but check with the airline you’re using whether this is the case.
  • If you’d rather not take a pram, consider taking a sling for carrying your baby around the airport, if your baby is not too heavy.
  • If you are going through passport control, there may be quite a long wait before you can collect your pram and other luggage. Try to find a loan pram to use in the interim so you’re not having to carry your baby all this time.
  • When you collect your luggage off the carousel, you may find that your pram is not with it. Have a look at the collection point for unusual or outsize items which will be located in the vicinity of the baggage carousels and you should find it there.
  • You won’t be able to push a pram and a trolley. Neither will you be able to put your baby in the trolley – they’re not equipped for babies like the shopping trolleys you’re used to. I used a suitcase with wheels for my luggage then a duffle bag for Lucy. At the airport, I placed the duffle bag on top of the suitcase and secured it by putting the straps over the suitcase handle so I could wheel it around with one hand while pushing the pram with the other hand. It’s not easy going but I have proved it is possible! If this sounds too difficult, there are probably ways of getting assistance or a porter at the airport.
  • If you have crossed time zones, both you and your baby are likely to suffer from jet lag and the resulting disrupted sleep. The rough guideline is one night of disrupted sleep per time zone crossed. There is a six hour time difference between Perth and South Africa and Lucy had exactly six nights of poor sleep on arrival and return!

Husbands – want to know the nicest thing you can do for your wife?

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No groom stands before the glowing vision that is his bride walking down the aisle and eagerly plots all the ways he can disappoint her in the years to come. He has every intention, rather, of loving and caring for her and making her happy. Happy wife – happy life.

And no bride sets out to be a miserable nag. She wants to remain alluring, inviting and feminine to her husband. She wants him to boast about how lucky he is to his friends. And though she understands it may look different in the changing seasons, she wants the romance between them to stay alive.

But the relentless busyness of modern adult life can take its toll on our marriages. Where once we were motivated by a beautiful selflessness towards our spouse, we can become de-sensitised to their needs. If we get home at the end of a long day exhausted and spent, we have so little left to give that it’s hard to put our own needs aside to see to someone else’s. The result is that we can settle for independent, self-sufficient living and lose touch with each other.

Husbands, if you want to make sure your wife continues to adore and respect you like she did the day you said your vows, there is one key thing you can do:

Any gesture – big or small –  that says ‘I see you’, ‘I understand how you feel right now’ and ‘I care about you enough to do something about it’.

And the critical success factor?

You need to do this without being asked!

Does this put you into a cold sweat because you fear your inability to read your wife’s mind and respond accordingly? Help is at hand.

I asked 67 married friends to answer the question, “What is the nicest thing your husband could do for you?”. (Take a look here if you’d like to read all their responses. I have to say, there are some really considerate, helpful, loving husbands out there – good job!)

Their replies could pretty much be categorised into six main areas. If you want some practical ideas on nice things you can do, read on:

1. Pampering

Do something to indulge your wife: send her to a spa; run her a bubble bath accompanied by a glass of wine; bring her tea in bed; give her a massage or foot rub – spoil her! It doesn’t have to break the budget and will go a long way towards making her feel appreciated.

2. Emotional support

Spend some time listening to your wife. Show an interest in what she’s interested in. Try to understand how she feels (and I don’t need to tell you not to try fix her, right? You know this) Give her recognition for what she achieves in any given day. Be empathetic when there’s a lot of change happening in her life and she’s feeling needy or unsettled.

3. Chores

Chores are dreadfully dull. 365 days a year, they keep on coming. They are endless. They are soul destroying. And any help you can give your wife on this front will score you plenty of points. Do the grocery shopping; cook dinner; play with the kids; get them ready for school in the morning; fold laundry etc

4. Fix things

Yes, times have changed but there are still some ‘manly’ things that most of us wives need your help with: wheel alignments; shelving; clearing out the garage; washing cars; mowing the lawn… You’re our heroes of d.i.y and home maintenance!

5. ‘Me time’

For those couples who have children, this is a biggie. The best thing you could do here is offer to take the kids off your wife’s hands for a good few hours (minimum of 4 as a guideline) so that your wife can get some things done. Sometimes she may just need that time to get some chores done at home (have you ever tried to vacuum the house with a toddler holding onto your ankles? I have) Or she may want to lie on the couch and read a book. Whatever she chooses to do with the time, she will be so grateful for a decent chunk of time all to herself. This is a rare treat that does a lot to restore a weary soul.

6. Time together

This may come as a surprise to you, but your wife chose to spend the rest of her life with you because she enjoys spending time with you. She really enjoys spending time with you! Think back to all those hundreds of hours the two of you spent exclusively together during your dating days. She misses that. Put the phone down. Pack the iPad away. Give her your full, undivided attention. Cuddle her (if that’s what she likes) without expecting sex. Simply hang out together and savour the intimacy it brings.

Did you notice that not once did I mention, ‘Buy her flowers?’

There is nothing wrong with receiving flowers. I personally love getting them unexpectedly. But choose your timing wisely. They have the potential to be viewed as a second-rate, generic gesture if there are many other pressing needs your wife feels you could be addressing.

My challenge to husbands is to pay a bit of extra attention to your wife this week. Do something nice that meets a need she has. If it doesn’t seem to get the response you were hoping for, keep working your way through the six categories I’ve given you and see which gestures get the best reaction from her. If all else fails, go ahead and ask her what nice thing you can do for her. I think that in itself will get a great response!

Now, I am fully aware that we wives need some guidance in this area too. Is there perhaps a male blogger out there who could help us out with a (mature and tasteful) list of suggestions as to how we can be nice to our husbands?

By Jen Groom

photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/clickflashphotos/3440590766/”>ClickFlashPhotos / Nicki Varkevisser</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a&gt; photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/clickflashphotos/3440590766/”>ClickFlashPhotos / Nicki Varkevisser</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

67 Wives Answer the Question: What is the nicest thing your husband could do for you?

Standard
  1. Send me to the spa for a day!
  2. The nicest thing my husband could do for me would be to support and be there for me through hard times.
  3. Just recently my husband took over my role as mom and carer by organising and looking after our three young kids while I was in hospital for an emergency procedure and during recovery. I felt totally loved and adored by his total care and concern.
  4. I work full time and he works a much less demanding job from home. The nicest thing he does for me is keeping our house together – he washes the dishes and the clothes, he vacuums and cleans and shops and cooks – so that at the end of the day I don’t have to think about those things. And sometimes he drives to the beach with my running gear and our dog (because I take the bus) and waits patiently for me while I run. That’s pretty nice too.
  5. To clean up the kitchen after he messed it up, when he was sweet enough to cook supper when I was sick.
  6. I think surprising me with a day drive somewhere. A spontaneous day of quality time…simply because he wants to have me all to himself. I’m studying at the moment and haven’t had a proper break in so long… a simple “surprise outing” that somehow included a picnic would be wonderful!
  7. A massage and taking my car to have the wheel alignment checked.
  8. He could take a day (or half day) off work so I can get some dental work done. If it was a general need at this stage of my life I’d go with, ‘being home on time every day to put the kids to bed and to just talk to me about the day, our kids and his work.’ It gets lonely when he works long hours. After thought, just a simple thing to do… Rub my back.
  9. The nicest thing my husband can do for me right now is what he is doing and just being there for me and giving me the love, support, help and understanding I need to help me cope as some days can be hard and at least he knows that raising kiddies is demanding and exhausting (more so since my baby became ill) so when he comes home and nothing is done he helps me with whatever needs doing.
  10. 1)Look after the kids (by that I mean feed them and entertain them) for a decent chunk of time so I can get on with some thorough cleaning, tidying out a cupboard, filing, sorting through clothes etc…yes really ! 2)Don’t ask me what I’ve done or who I’ve spoken to today when you know full well it is the summer holidays and I’m only just managing to keep my head above water! 3)Notice all the cleaning, tidying etc that I constantly do!
  11. To sit with me for half an hour a day. Just holding my hand, looking deep into my eyes and telling me that he still thinks I am the best thing in his life….
  12. Run me a nice hot bubble bath to soak in as soon as our baby is asleep in the evening… And then organise dinner while I soak in the bath!
  13. Be on time!
  14. The nicest thing he could do for me is surprise me by doing a few of my ‘to-do’ items off my list, especially house errands. My best is coming home to clean dishes and a clean kitchen.
  15. The one thing my husband could do is take an interest in things that interest me or at least support me in my hobbies.
  16. I would love to arrive home from a long day at work to find a meal planned for, shopped for and cooked by my husband. (Unasked)
  17. The nicest thing my hubby could do would be to acknowledge how I am struggling being the best mother, see that I am failing miserably, and support me more than just providing bread for the table.
  18. Clear out our cluttered garage so I can use it to park my car in!
  19. Cuddle me before going to sleep and not expect/demand/guilt me into sex!! Take the kids downstairs one morning and keep them quiet while I sleep and not feel bad about it!
  20. I can think of a few things my husband could do for me but the answer is a fairly simple one…let me rest! With a lively 2 year old son and at 36 weeks pregnant I value my rest very much.
  21. Coffee in bed while he takes care of the kids in the morning!
  22. The best thing today would be for him to get our daughter ready for play school this morning.
  23. He can start to fill the role of daddy as I’ve just found out I’m pregnant! So I need him to be my knight in shining armour to protect and love me and our little bean inside me.
  24. First thing I thought of is to buy me flowers! Absolutely love it when he does this!
  25. I think any small gesture which says ‘I see you’ really makes me feel loved. Things have been quite busy for us with my husband having a new job with a long commute, our baby and moving into a new house – so there hasn’t been an abundance of time. Two nights ago, he came home and said he wanted to make us pancakes – this small gesture meant so much, cause he put some time in for us, even though we had to book flights while eating the pancakes! I am hoping a massage is the next inspiration somewhere in the near future!
  26. He could offer (unprompted) to give me a break from the kids to have some “me” time without me having to ask for it…Basically to take the initiative with the kids and take control of a situation that gives me some time off…
  27. Wash the dishes!
  28. It would be absolutely wonderful if he could help me set up a homeschool classroom with loads of shelving/ cupboard space….as that is my daily job and it would help me as I love being organized and neat. That’s my season and my need. Or else it is always nice if I could have “me” time. So dad could take kids etc
  29. The nicest thing he could do would be to prep a nice supper (even a simple easy one) wash up after and sort our baby out for the night. Basically the evening routine I normally do on my own. And then we can just sit and chat or watch something nice.
  30. The best thing my husband could do today is support me with the day to day chores…like the washing up!
  31. Some of the nicest things my husband could do for me… give me a lie-in, take the kids out for an afternoon so I can be alone at home for a few hours in my own, uninterrupted company, carry in the food shopping bags and pack them away in the kitchen, get take-aways. Another way he really blesses my heart is by being kind to the kids and being a very fun daddy.
  32. He could take a day (or half day) off work so I can get some dental work done. If it was a general need at this stage of my life I’d go with, ‘being home on time every day to put the kids to bed and to just talk to me about the day, our kids and his work. Another simple thing to do: rub my back.
  33. I really enjoy it when my husband gives me attention – as in will put something he is busy with down, look at me and engage. I HATE it when he will prioritise a sports match so strongly that he won’t help me with anything until it’s over (incl post match breakdown……..) Sport is a huge dread for me.
  34. I think the best thing my husband can do for me is surprise me by doing the things that are usually my responsibility to lessen my load.
  35. I would love him to take me to a lovely park or woodland area, where we could walk and talk, hand in hand, away from life’s distractions. We have so little time together.
  36. The nicest thing my husband can do for me is understand my need for my family and country now we have our own little family.
  37. Take the kids off my hands for about 4hrs. ..it gives me space and time to get my jobs done around the house without interruptions! Probably the second thing is help me fold clothes, do dishes etc without being asked!
  38. Send the girls to granny and take me out so we can re-connect preferably over some yummy sushi followed by a walk on the beach! Oh and not at night because then I’m just exhausted. Some days I miss my handsome husband even though he is right next to me!
  39. Helping me with making supper and playing with my children after a long day.Sounds trite, but it really is such a nice help. I got home last week after not sleeping well etc, to find that he had made supper, even though he was writing a huge exam the next day. Little gestures like that make all the difference in the world.
  40. My husband is just amazing. He does the nicest things for me all the time. When I am on a hectic work schedule – he cooks, cleans, washes the clothes and makes me endless cups of coffee…sometimes for months and months on end! He tickles my back. He buys me chocolate. He tells me I look 10 years younger than I am. He doesn’t try to change me. He always encourages me. He makes me laugh and he always listens to me! He believes in me! The nicest thing my husband could ever do for me is just be himself! How blessed am I?!!!
  41. The nicest thing he could give me is his TIME, and his time he needs to be 100% committed to listening and understanding. Just him and me (no kids). Absolutely love TIME with just him.
  42. The nicest thing he could do for me is surprise me with a night (or 2) away at a hotel or spa. Doesn’t have to be far away, but just to have a night or 2 of uninterrupted sleep would be heaven right now.
  43. Wait up for me and help me with the evening feed to burp our baby. AND wash my car on a Sunday afternoon when he’d rather be watching sport.
  44. The nicest thing is probably a foot or back rub (pregnancy has a downside) The nicest thing he does is just listen to me moan and lately cry about everything (even his family) without getting upset or annoyed.
  45. My husband is usually so sweet and thoughtful so there is not much I could think of. Maybe a surprise holiday overseas — I have never travelled abroad (don’t even own a passport)
  46. Stand up for me when family or friends misunderstand me.
  47. Tea in bed!
  48. I think the nicest thing my husband could do for me is to organise a babysitter and take me out for dinner. Just time together – that’s all I want! He is very good about it, but that’s probably my best! Amidst work, baby and life, time is precious and I just want that 1-on-1 time to connect with him.
  49. Wash the dishes or hang the washing for me.
  50. Organise a very reliable babysitter/s and book us into a hotel for 2 nights in summer to laze by the pool and eat at all the good restaurants!
  51. I think quality time,one on one, is the most important thing he can do for me. Touch without leading to sex is also important.
  52. At the moment in my pregnancy, my husband comes home early makes me dinner, cleans up and rubs my back with lots of sympathy and affection. I honestly cannot think of anything else I need from him at the moment.
  53. Send me away for a night or two to a spa retreat far away in the countryside.
  54. Offer some practical help in an area of life he knows I am stressed/anxious/overwhelmed with. For me this demonstrates a sense of care and thoughtfulness, that he’s thought about how I’m doing and what is currently going on in my life, and is demonstrating his love by offering his help in that area. Here’s a real example that would bless me right now… if he came home and said something like, ‘I don’t want you to have to worry about anything else for the rest of the day, I’ve done some grocery shopping and have planned something for dinner. Let me sort it out and you just take some time off. AND I’ll clean up afterwards!’
  55. When he takes our baby out on Saturday mornings to give me a couple hours break. That is probably the nicest thing as I really need that time!
  56. Offer to take our daughter to school more often so I can lie in! He did this morning so I was very grateful.
  57. Offer to take care of our girls and give me a morning or afternoon to myself.
  58. At the moment the nicest thing my husband could do for me is to do something helpful around the house or with our son … especially without me asking him to. I have reflected on this before, and realised that since we have become parents my love languages/primary needs have changed a little … I would probably have said something like a surprise dinner or flowers or quality time if I’d been asked this question a few years ago, but since having our baby acts of service are definitely top of my list! I’m sure it will change again too as we move through different seasons.
  59. The kindest thing my husband could do for me, right now, within our budget, is to take the boys in the early morning and let me sleep. With an unlimited budget, I might say the kindest thing he could do for me would be to send me to a spa for a day and a good night’s sleep. But really the kindest thing he has ever done (and repeatedly does) is forgive me when I’m grumpy and tired and haven’t been an excellent mom; I’ve shouted and huffed and wanted to murder these precious boys… a little while ago, after such an episode of excelling at being the worst version of myself, he responded to my apology with: “it’s OK, this is a safe space for you, too”. It was the kindest thing anyone has ever done for me – to let me know that I belong, even when I feel I shouldn’t, even when I am at my worst. I am loved.
  60. That my husband loves the Lord our God with all that he has, and that he encourages me to do the same, by example and what he says.
  61. I would like him to make dinner more often. Sounds silly but we both have busy jobs and I would love to come home to dinner made maybe just once a week. It would be bliss!
  62. My answer applies to today specifically: look after the kids and give me some me-time. I’m working full days and when I get home it’s super busy. He lets me wind down: I can have a shower while he cooks and when I’m done we all sit together and have dinner. He’s amazing!
  63. The nicest thing my husband could do for me is love our son.
  64. The nicest thing my husband could do for me is make time to talk only about us! This sounds weird because we are married and of course we talk all the time and even when we are not with each other we chat on the phone and text. However with having two little ones, being in ministry and a lot of people commitments, we often end up being consumed with sharing our hearts for others. When we have just us time and I get a just me moment with him, it goes a long long way. The nicest thing my husband could do is check in with and ask how I am doing and what I am thinking about. Because it’s not always kids kids kids house cleaning, cooking etc. up here in my head and also in my heart.
  65. The nicest thing my hubby could do for me is offer to give me a night off, wash the dishes and clean the kitchen after dinner. Well, that would be a small nice thing. A big nice thing would be if he could plan a romantic weekend away for us, something where I would enjoy all the details and activities, but didn’t have to tell him or do any of the planning myself. I wouldn’t mind if he held open the door for me too every now and then (my guy is very egalitarian!)
  66. At the moment there are two things that my husband does that I just think are so sweet and lovely and that if he didn’t do them I’d wish that he did: in the morning he gets up and makes us bacon and eggs for breakfast and brings me breakfast in bed, complete with orange juice and then a bit later a cup of tea. I’m terrible in the mornings and need about 30 minutes to remember what day it is, so I really appreciate this. At the end of the work day he gets back home about 30 mins before me, and always makes a point of waiting for me before he gets stuck into doing whatever he has planned for his evening… he meets me at the door and takes my bags from me and puts them where they need to be, gets me a juice while I flop onto the bed and then we catch up about our day. I just love it, and the more babies I see enter the world the more I know that this special gesture may not last much longer. So I’m appreciating it all the more!
  67. I would love for him to organise a surprise day out for us as a family, where he has taken care of all the details, and I can just relax and enjoy the quality time together.

 

photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/clickflashphotos/3440590766/”>ClickFlashPhotos / Nicki Varkevisser</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a&gt; photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/clickflashphotos/3440590766/”>ClickFlashPhotos / Nicki Varkevisser</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;