The Two-Year-Seven-Step Toilet Training Methodology

There’s a lot of advice out there on toilet training your child, from the “Three Day Potty Training Method” to “Elimination Communication” and everything in between. Personally I believe it is really up to each individual family how you choose to toilet train your child, and as such thought I would introduce you to the method I’ve devised while toilet training my two oldest children: The Two Year Seven Step Toilet Training Methodology. It’s not for everyone and is certainly more appropriate for sadists or borderline alcoholics but nonetheless some of you may find it helpful.

 

Let me take you through it.

 

Step One: Buy a potty for your 17 month old. Your child is definitely advanced and thus, is ready. Calmly explain the new object to your child: “This is a potty. This is where we go to make wee wee and poo poo now because we are big kids.” Encourage your child to use the potty and become familiar with it, but don’t force him – you are not that kind of parent. You are “new age” and your child is SUPER smart, she will totally get it in her own time.

 

Step Two: It’s probably not going to be working yet, so take interfering loving family members’ advice and start offering your child bribes. You know, a candy for a number one and two candies for a number two. If your child is especially cunning, he or she may comply with this a couple of times to a) get candy and b) lull you into a false sense of security. As you already know, your child is smart. Which means they actually don’t give a shit about your candy as they know they will get it at their sister’s birthday party on the weekend and it is totally not worth giving up the convenience of shitting in their pants.

 

Step Three: Get firm. Who do you think you are pretending to be new age? Please remember that YOU and YOUR BROTHER were reading Proust by this age and did not even leave skid marks on your undies. There is clearly something WRONG with your child. Start drumming this home to them: “You are a BIG BOY now. BIG BOYS use the potty. BABIES wear nappies. Are you a BABY?” Your child will likely respond by gleefully smiling and shouting “Goo goo gaga!” for the rest of the day. Stay firm – you can do this.

 

Step Four: Take your child out for the day without a nappy. The only way she is going to get this is if she learns by experience! She will need to piss and shit herself at least a few times to really “get” it and decide to use the potty. Be sure to take her to a café so she can wee all over the floor in front of dozens of unwitting patrons who definitely hate you. Ideally take her to a museum, so she can really learn a lesson by weeing on a special exhibit. If you really want to show your child who’s boss, let her take a poo in her undies while on a jumping castle – hopefully it will seep out of her underwear and all over the jumping castle.

 

Step Five: Buy wine. Lots of wine. Preferably red wine but white wine or rose will also do the trick. Open the bottle at 5pm and finish it by 9pm, so you get a full 8 hours sleep before starting new a day of poo filled undies and wet puddles all over the floor fresh as a daisy.

 

Step 6: Feigned indifference and reverse psychology. “I’m going to put the potty away in the bathroom now. I really don’t think you’re a big enough boy to use it. We can get it out again when you’re a big enough boy. Mummy doesn’t mind.” Your child definitely knows this is bullshit and will show you this by starting to rip their nappy off when there is poo in it and spread their feces about the house. Don’t worry! You’re almost there.

 

Step 7: Some time around their 3rd birthday, give up. Genuinely, completely stop trying. Scream at your husband “I don’t care if he’s shitting himself on his wedding day I am DONE!”. Throw out all undies and resign yourself to being one of those mothers who have to buy the XXXL 25kg+ nappies – who actually gives a #@!*? At this point, your child will calmly tell you that they don’t want to wear nappies anymore. They are a big kid now. And off they will take themselves to the toilet, while you sit twitching in the corner.

 

It’s not a conventional method but in my limited control group of two, it’s 100% effective. Feel free to share it with your friends.

Z x

Progress Report

It’s been such a long time between posts that I had a whole draft written with updates on the whole family, extended family and cousins half removed, but then I realised that none of it mattered that much or was relevant or made sense and decided to give an update on Ruby and her hip dysplasia because that might actually be helpful to someone! Phew, here goes.

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Basically Ruby is doing awesome! Her gross motor skills are coming along to the point that she is pretty irritable most of the time lately – she really just wants to be moving around like a normal bub but isn’t coordinated enough to work that out in the harness.

She is sitting up and swiveling about and can get from her tummy back to sitting with no problems. She is waving and talking and has two little teeth. I’m really enjoying her funny personality coming through, and realising she is actually quite a determined little soul in her own quiet way.

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Sure, she is still very cruisy and easy but we are seeing glimpses of the little toddler that she will become.

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ANYWAY the BIG news with Ruby is that we are 10 weeks in with the Pavlik Harness and have been told she will definitely have it removed at 12 weeks. So two weeks to go! Based purely on physical examination she is able to achieve full abduction (basically the starfish position), which a truly displaced hip wouldn’t be able to manage. We are still waiting on an ultrasound and an X-ray, but regardless of that will be getting the harness off and reassessing once she is walking.

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I know that this won’t be the “end” of the hip journey – it will need constant monitoring and we still have that “worst case scenario” that she will need further treatment but her surgeon thinks that is unlikely. We’re just crossing our fingers and doing as we are told. We’ve been really diligent with the harness and the OT and hopefully that will pay off. Ruby’s case was always classed as moderate, which gives me hope too.

Honestly, I just feel lucky. I’ve been in hospital and doctors waiting rooms non stop for the last few months and I’ve seen such a range of cases, so many worse than Ruby’s. I’ve seen a little boy covered head to toe in burns after playing with a flammable blanket near a heater. I’ve seen kids in wheelchairs who are unable to communicate. I’ve seen so many parents who have every excuse to be worn out and despondent but manage to keep a smile on their face. Being in the orthopaedic clinic we have also seen LOTS of cheeky little monkeys with broken bones, and am just waiting until the day I’m inevitably there with Walter the wild.

I’ve also met so many people who’ve shared their own hip dysplasia stories with me. The Mum from school who still walks with a limp as hers was never corrected. The (very, very fit) Mum at the bus stop who spent the first six months of her life in a double nappy. The visiting Grandfather who explained that the region he is from in France is very well known for producing babies with hip dysplasia and was all too familiar with Ruby’s harness. I’ve also met lots of people who have no idea about hip dysplasia (don’t worry, I was one of them too) and have grown only a little weary of explaining the condition. I do hope I would have had more tact than to assume someone’s baby had broken both her legs but you never know.

As far as Ruby’s concerned, she’s happy and doesn’t know any different. And I like to think she already has a pretty interesting life story, for someone so young. A huge shout out to the doctors, nurses and OT’s at The Duchess of Kent in Hong Kong, who have all been pretty fabulous.

We are all so excited to see what’s next for Ruby once the harness is removed. Wish us luck!

Eternal Expats?

I’m firmly in organisation mode at the moment, the kind that comes upon you after any substantial holiday. I love that feeling, when you’ve had a week or two or three of relaxing and sightseeing and sleeping in strange beds and just as you are about to leave for home you feel so READY and so overcome with ideas for what you will do when you arrive back – change furniture around, get stuck into filing, organise cupboards, wash windows. Write blog posts, even.

We were in Thailand over Easter where we caught up with extended family which was slightly overwhelming at times but more so very lovely. Grandparents, Aunts, cousins, lots of noise and laughter. Our kids have brown noses and sun bleached hair and we’re all feeling a little fatter than fit but utterly revived. J and I have a long love affair with Thailand, his started not long before he met me and he introduced me to its bustling cities and beautiful islands.

One other consequence of the holiday was that it got us started again on the “What are we doing with our lives?” train. J mentioned that he would love to move to Thailand, for a while, at some stage, and I raised my eyebrows and said that I wouldn’t mind. Who knows? We are fast approaching the two year anniversary of our arrival in Hong Kong, which was originally pitched as our return date but that ship is so not ready to sail. Thus brings the eternal question, how much longer will we stay? Are we ready to go home? What will we do next?

A good friend and more seasoned expat than I told me when I first moved to Hong Kong that leaving home ruins you. I know now what she means; once you’ve had a taste of something different, left “home”, the world opens up to you. The opportunities are endless – continuing the corporate life in another world city, leaving it all behind for a more remote Asian destination, taking off to travel for a while, or settling down for a couple of decades in suburbia.

It’s slightly more complicated for us as J works for a local company, which means when we do leave he needs to quit his job (there is some potential for him to continue the same position from Vietnam or Australia, but it’s fairly remote). There’s no set career trajectory – two year stints around the world as you work your way up that corporate ladder. It’s not something that interests him, either. He’s always looking for the next challenge or opportunity.

Scarily, my family holiday made me realise that we don’t need to move home quite yet, or that I’m not quite ready. Chiefly because I realised that the children are still young enough for it not to matter, and they are gaining so much by being here. Soon, Heike will be old enough to have real memories of living overseas and having real connections with another country, another culture. What a great gift to give her, and a great shove in the direction of being a more accepting, culturally sensitive adult.

Still, I’m almost done with Hong Kong. There is so much of the life here that I love – the beauty of the natural landscape, the amazing city centre, the feeling that anything is possible, the food, the people. But there’s a lot, a lot of the day to day stuff, that doesn’t sit right with me – I’m not working, the kids don’t have enough space, the schooling is ridiculously priced, the help is nice but wears thin. I’ve loved it and continue to love it, but I can feel myself winding down and preparing for what’s next.

I know this is a silly attitude to have, as ultimately we have to stay where there is work and money, at least for as long as it’s sensible. And so I continue to move furniture and clean cupboards and update school uniforms and schedule playdates. But there’s a big question mark hanging over our heads, and I look forward to giving it an answer.

The Art of Letting Go

It’s funny that for someone who is very much all about “It wasn’t meant to be” and “Things happen for a reason” and who despite not being religious likes to think of herself as fairly spiritual, I have a real problem with letting go. I like to think that I have a handle on everything, and life has sometimes misled me to believe that I do. To a certain extent, I’ve always gotten what I wanted. I’m reasonably intelligent and come from a relatively privileged background, so opportunities have always come my way and I’ve been able to capitalise on them. I’ve always had a false sense of control.

Having kids makes you more realistic about this – you learn to expect the unexpected, because with kids things don’t always go to plan. But even so, the “unexpected” tends to fall within a certain realm of “expected surprises”; baby doesn’t nap, toddler wets their pants, school kid takes a fall and so on. “Oh that happened to my friend,” you think and laugh it off. It’s a little stressful, but only momentarily.

Recently with Ruby I’ve been tackling a slightly more unexpected surprise in the form of her setbacks with her hips and gross motor delays, and it hasn’t always been easy. I am constantly seeking answers, timelines, solutions, anecdotes, and they’re not always available. I just have to wait and trust, which I’m not so good at. I have had the occasional rebellious, spoilt brat reaction of “Hell to all of this, she doesn’t have to wear your stupid harness just because you say so,” and wanting to rip it off and practise crawling and rolling and bathing. But I have to let it go.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately in relation to Heike, who is growing up before my eyes, going to school every day and having her own life that is completely separate to mine. She has an extremely big, bossy personality and I constantly stress about how she interacts with her peers. With adults she is warm, friendly and engaging. With other children she can be the same, or she can be a terrifying Sergeant Major type prone to age inappropriate emotional outbursts.

A few weeks ago we had a confronting experience in the playground. A group of girls, who are all close friends and all in the same class (a different class to Heike) were playing an elaborate imaginary game. Heike wanted to play, and they grudgingly let her (a friend of hers from outside school was in the group) but of course she immediately began changing the parameters of the game. They came to tell me and I explained to Heike that it was their game, their rules and she could choose whether or not to play. She decided that she would play with some other friends.

She and these friends (who were mostly boys and thus content for her to be their supreme ruler) began playing extremely close to the other group, with Heike hanging upside down from the playground equipment and singing loudly. Deliberately irritating them, classic kid move. And so one of the other little girls grabbed her by the arm, pulled her off the playground equipment and dragged her about 2 metres away.

Heike was shocked and devastated, as was I – I didn’t know how to react (I feel like as a parent I never know the appropriate way to react). Another Mum, a friend of ours, moved in to comfort Heike and I ran to check she was okay. The thing is, I could understand this other girl’s reaction – Heike is relentless, she doesn’t give up and she is clever enough to know just the right buttons to push. If anyone is going to make you reach boiling point and do something you’re not proud of, it’s her. But also it was completely not okay, and if the shoe had been on the other foot I would have been horrified by that behaviour.

Anyway, no one moved in to reprimand this other little girl and I was absolutely livid. I made sure to remind Heike very loudly that that behaviour is NEVER okay, that it is dangerous, all those other things you say. But I couldn’t believe no one stepped in. On the contrary, people were turning away so as not to get involved. It gave the completely wrong message to those girls – that if someone annoys you enough, it’s okay to get physical and humiliate them.

I left the playground almost in tears with anger and pity for Heike, who can not help the little person she is. I was so angry I was determined never to smile at those little girls or their mothers ever again, I was going to move home to Australia and to hell with all of them.

But that’s the thing- I can’t control who Heike is, or how others respond to her. I can’t control who likes her and who doesn’t, and I certainly can’t make her be less stubborn (god knows I’ve tried). She is going to need to learn all these lessons herself, and there are going to be some hard ones. But she needs to pave her own way, and I need to let go. Because holding on to that anger, and that worry, only gives it fuel.

SO with a lot going on in my head and in my life lately “letting go” is going to be my new focus. Is there an art to it? I don’t think so. It’s just deciding to do it, and not to hold on to all that stress and fear and worry, that is the hard part.

NAMASTE 😉

Hip Dysplasia: Ruby’s Journey Continues

Hello all! I have been meaning to update you for quite some time now, but have just been run ragged really. At the moment we are all recovering from a nasty virus that seems to be a sort of flu, but also involve a bit of a stomach flu (which I was up with throughout last night) and almost a week of broken sleep for all of us. We have managed to share the load with getting up to the kids and giving each other a rest but with that and a lot of travel and social commitments, it’s fair to say we’re all pretty exhausted. I can’t tell you how many times J and I have looked at one another and said “No rest for the wicked!”.

Now apologies in advance, this is a looooong post and has taken me a couple of days to finish so it might be a bit all over the place. But it was something I needed to write about.

So, something else that has been keeping us busy is a whole host of appointments for Miss Ruby. As you may have picked up in my previous post, I’ve wondered for some time what exactly is going on with little Rubes. She has been slowly meeting all of her milestones, but slow is the operative word. She is happy and content but extremely relaxed. And I was starting to really wonder why she wouldn’t weight bear on her legs, when I knew by six months both Heike and Walter loved to stand supported.

I worked myself up about it quite a bit and managed to convince myself she had hypotonia, or low muscle tone. I knew that if she did have it, it was probably very mild and could be corrected with some physio, as she had started rolling over and was actually quite average/advanced with her fine motor skills (e.g. using her hands) and cognitive skills (responding to her name, chatting etc.).

I enrolled Ruby in PeKIP classes, which are very similar to Baby Gym or Gymbaroo but more intensive. The instructor, Anne, is quite well known in Hong Kong for her expertise with young babies, so I was looking forward to getting her perspective.

During our first class, it was obvious to me that Ruby was slightly behind the other babies in terms of gross motor skills (all the same age) but not drastically so. Yes, she would not be crawling any time soon. Yes, her head control wasn’t great. But she could do a lot of what the other babies could do, and perhaps even more when it came to babbling.

The one thing that really stood out to me was that she could not weight bear on her legs, at all. The other babies could be pulled from laying to standing just by holding onto their hands – there was no way Ruby was anywhere near this. I asked if I could speak to the instructor after class, and listed my concerns.

Anne agreed that Ruby could be low tone, but could also be totally normal. What she was worried about was her legs. She pointed out that her torso wasn’t straight, and her left leg was a full 1.5cm shorter than her right. I was crying by this point, of course. Anne recommended we take Ruby as soon as possible to a paediatric physio, and recommended Liesbeth Krebbers.

We managed to get an appointment with Liesbeth the following day, and she is basically my new favourite person. She is just so experienced, with three kids of her own and 30 years as a paediatric physio, and extremely lovely and responsive to parents’ concerns. She has been emailing me weekly since I first met her!

Liesbeth did a whole host of “test” exercises with Ruby and essentially rolled her eyes at us and told us she is NOT low tone, and explained why, but is simply on the low end of the development scale. I’m coming to terms with this – there is a bell curve, and Ruby is at the far end. I still worry constantly! But she said this physical “slowness” can be very common with third children (why move when there is so much going on around them?!). She also pointed out that Ruby is extremely easygoing and hence will really need to be pushed to achieve her physical milestones.

Again, what Liesbeth was worried about was Ruby’s legs. “What is going on with this hip?!” she asked, looking at her left leg. She could not believe that a breech baby girl had not been scheduled for a hip ultrasound after birth. Apparently it is something they are not expert at dealing with in Hong Kong, as hip dysplasia is quite uncommon in Asian babies. She recommended we see our paediatrician immediately to schedule a hip ultrasound.

We saw a new paed as I was disappointed my previous one had not picked up any hip issues prior to this. This is something that could have been full rectified by now, had we picked it up at birth. But I’m not going to dwell on it! Anyway, the new paed informed us that being over 6 months Ruby would need an x-ray, and we were scheduled for one just an hour later.

That evening, we got the call from the paediatrician. “Yes, there is a problem in the left hip. You will need to see an orthopaedic surgeon.”

Many people would be shocked and saddened by this news but honestly, I just felt relief. It explained so much for me. I had known for so long that something was going on, but couldn’t put my finger on it. Still, I was anxious about what kind of treatment she would need, given she had passed that six month mark.

We went to see the Orthopaedic Surgeon our paed. recommended on the following Saturday, which was essentially useless except for the fact that he wrote us the referral that enabled us to get in to the public system. He basically confirmed she had dysplasia of the left hip, but didn’t really say how he would treat it – he thought a harness should work, but that we should go through the public hospital as we would need weekly fittings and bi-weekly ultrasounds. This made sense but the visit was ultimately weird.

So marked the start of a whole other journey for me. I wasn’t sure I wanted to use the public hospital as I wondered how often they really dealt with this issue, as opposed to in my home country of Australia where hip dysplasia is quite common. I reached out to both Anne and Liesbeth, whose opinions I trusted, and they thought the public system would be okay but asked if travelling home for treatment would be an option. Anne put me in touch with Andrea, a Mum she knew who had been through something similar.

Andrea also took her daughter to PeKIP class and was constantly worried about her development. Months passed and she eventually walked, but with a limp. Anne referred her to an osteopath, who was sure she had hip dysplasia. Andrea took her daughter to her paediatrician (who, interestingly, is the same paediatrician we used for our second opinion!) who said no, she’s fine, it will correct itself. More time passed and Andrea became more and more concerned – she eventually returned to her paediatrician and demanded an X-ray for peace of mind. Lo and behold, her daughter had not only dysplasia of the hip, but an active dislocation. Poor little thing! This paed. referred her to the same Ortho Surgeon that he referred us to, who was just as hopeless as we experienced, which led Andrea to seek out treatment in her home country of Australia.

Andrea used Dr Michael Bellemore from Westmead Hospital for her daughter’s surgery, which at 18 months old was quite invasive, and she couldn’t recommend him highly enough. She put me in touch with him via email, and he was kind enough to look at Ruby’s X-rays and radiology reports and provide me with his recommended course of treatment – a hip abduction brace.

Meanwhile I was still trying to get an appointment at the public hospital, which was proving difficult. The lady I was getting on the phone spoke minimal English, and I needed to fax in all Ruby’s relevant documents and wait for their phone call. J got his assistant on the case, and after a lot of calling and hassling in Cantonese she managed to get an appointment four weeks later. This was not going to work for me – I was way too anxious about getting it sorted – so J asked her to just keep calling and hassling. The beauty of Hong Kong is that this approach actually works – we got an appointment the following Tuesday.

Now that I had Dr Bellemore’s opinion, I felt I could bounce that off of whatever opinion the public doctor had and see how I felt. So I showed up at the hospital feeling nervous. The hospital is a tiny, dilapidated building in Sandy Bay, attached in some way to the Hong Kong University. Driving in there is absolutely no indication of where you should go or park, so I sort of parked on the side of a driveway and hoped for the best. I made my way in and approached the counter to register – you need to bring the passport and birth certificate every time you visit, and can pay the very affordable $100HK fee by Octopus! So Hong Kong. The lady in the shroff office doesn’t speak much English, and it was only after a few trips back and forth between different desks that I got all the various slips of paper I apparently needed and was directed to the waiting room.

The room was full of children in casts, which I expect is the main function of the orthopaedic clinic. There were a few smiling babies around, and one other “gweilo” girl in a school uniform with a broken arm. I felt distinctly out of place and prepared for a ridiculous wait, but after about five minutes I heard Ruby’s name – “Elizabeth Wilde to Room 3”. Hey, they almost got it right!

Entering the room I immediately felt the doctor’s vibrant energy. She was probably late 30s, Cantonese but with a perfect American accent, and introduced herself to Ruby and I as Dr Evelyn. She had so much energy and right away jumped into questions – she looked at the X-rays, at Ruby’s legs (for quite some time), but also at her head (which is still a little mishapen), her body, chatting to her, asking me about her siblings. I immediately got the vibe that she was not only onto it, but that she cared. Pretty much then and there I knew we would continue seeing her.

Dr Evelyn came to the conclusion that yes, Ruby has hip dysplasia, and she would like to undergo a process whereby she would put her under a general anaesthetic and insert a dye into the hip to get a better idea of exactly what is going on (the position of the hip in relation to the socket, whether something is blocking the joint, etc) and then decide whether she would need a small surgery. Either way Ruby would end up in a spica cast, which is essentially a half body cast that keeps the legs separated and, by virtue of time, repositions the hip.

This scared me a little and given Dr Bellemore’s recommendation I questioned why she could not first try a brace or a harness. Dr Evelyn replied that she absolutely could, but given what we know now (i.e. not much) and her age, there is no guarantee it would work. She suggested a plan of attack: Ruby would be fitted for a Pavlik harness with an appointment for an ultrasound after two weeks. If there was no improvement, or the ultrasound suggested there was an indication for surgery, we would book Ruby in for the procedure and Spica cast a week later.

So, that’s where we’re at now. Ruby was fitted for the Pavlik harness last week. Oh the stories I could tell about being a six foot tall white woman walking into an Occupational Therapy ward which is for some reason full of 80 year old Cantonese men on exercise bikes. Certainly I will not get to the end of my life and feel I haven’t lived! It is all a learning experience, it is all growth, but it’s been a tough couple of weeks. Next week is our ultrasound and then the following week we will make the call on the Spica cast.

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I’m slowly becoming okay with it. One thing that’s been hard for me to admit as a Mum, but that J pointed out, is that Ruby just looks more comfortable in the harness! She always looked a little off kilter before, not quite straight through the torso and her left leg at an awkward angle. But she really seems happy and cosy in the harness, and is so alert and smiley, it seems like the right thing. Sure, it is a little annoying to deal with and not fun having to answer questions from every single person we see (No, she didn’t hurt her leg…) but it is helping her and that’s the best thing.

I’m still in a land of limbo – I don’t know where Ruby will be at in two weeks, I don’t know how much physio she will need to catch up when all this is over, I don’t know how long it will take her to walk or crawl or even sit up. But I am feeling okay about that. I know there is a lesson for me in all of this, and I know that Ruby is happy, and that’s all that matters.

So, sorry for the essay! It was helpful for me to get all this down, and I have a feeling I will be posting a lot more over the coming months. Thank you, for listening.

Z

P.S. A lot of pregnant Mums with breech babies seem to get directed to my blog – if you are one, please DEMAND your baby get a hip ultrasound at birth. You might thank me for it! xx

Infant Torticollis: Ruby’s Journey

I’ve wanted to post about Ruby’s torticollis for a long time, but have been a bit nervous to write it down for fear it wouldn’t get better, and because there hasn’t been a clear resolution. We’d wondered if she would need to wear a helmet or even have surgery down the track, so I haven’t wanted to really vocalise it until I know myself what is going to happen. That said, Ruby has progressed so much lately that we can finally see improvement and a light at the end of the tunnel – she is now holding her head up and freely looking left and right, and both J and I excitedly come out of her room at night to tell the other she is sleeping facing the left side!

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So, what exactly am I talking about when I say “torticollis”? Well, many of you with babies will know that they often prefer to lay with their head on one side or the other, which can lead to what is known as “flat head syndrome”. Heike had this same preference and still has a slightly uneven head despite lots of physio. In the weeks after Ruby’s birth, it was obvious she turned her head to the right almost always, however the difference with her was that it was very difficult for us to physically turn her head back to the left. There was also some resistance from her spine; it, too, curved slightly to the right. This is what is known as torticollis, a muscular condition that causes deformation to the neck or head. It’s something you will notice in adults too, particularly the disabled or elderly, but is common in some infants who have had birth trauma or abnormal positioning in the womb.

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The paediatrician picked up on this at the 6 week check and referred us to an Osteopath rather than a physio purely due to our location, but I believe this was so lucky for us. The Osteopath we saw (and see) was so expert in this field, and so caring and kind, and I’ve since heard of many parents who have seen physio’s for the same issue only to end up seeing an Osteo once the issue has not resolved. We went to The Round Clinic in Wong Chuk Hang and can not recommend the practitioners there highly enough.

Basically we were told that Ruby’s neck muscles had developed differently due to her breech position in the womb. Her head had been trapped under my ribs tilted to the right, causing a shortening of the neck muscles on one side. Her issue was more on the severe side, so initially we had to see the Osteo twice per week (at great cost, however it has been worth it).

After every appointment Ruby would seem happier and have some more freedom in her movement, however it really did take a long time for us to see proper progress. Due to the constant positioning of her head she does have some obvious misshapen parts on her skull – one side of her forehead juts out a little more and she has more rounding on the left side of the skull, which of course makes the right side more comfortable. Added to this, she has been an incredibly placid baby, thus prone to lying contentedly on the side we don’t want her to be on, and not overly susceptible to lots of stimulation on the other side. We would find she would briefly turn to us and whatever toys we were dangling, smile, and roll back to the other side to stare at the wall!

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The only thing that has really helped is persistence and time. I can’t thank her osteopath enough for all her advice and care, but it has also really come down to Ruby getting stronger and more alert and “playing” more. Another factor that helped was changing her formula and making a concerted effort to bump up her weight, which seems to have helped with her strength (she has been tragically long and skinny!).

Today, at 5.5 months, Ruby is doing really well. She is a lot more alert and hence more willing to play with her head on either side, and her strength has come leaps and bounds. Finally, she can lift her head up during tummy time and turn it both ways – she can even roll over here and there! This is amazing given that a few months ago we were constantly worried about whether she would improve.

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Her head still isn’t completely round but luckily she is a girl and will always have plenty of hair to cover it, so I figure. Other than that she is a happy, smiley, quiet little baby who we are finally getting to enjoy without too much worry.

I must say, everything about having a third child is a learning curve for me, even though she is such an easy baby. What would I do without her?

 

 

2017

Hello from Hong Kong circa 2017, where we are fresh off a plane from Australia and battling mild jet lag with 4am starts. I say mild in case my friend Liz reads this, as she is just off a plane from Boston where there is a 12 hour time difference and so is officially my hero.

Travelling with three kids is a whole other business I must say, lots of fun but very exhausting. When people with three kids joke and say they’re outnumbered, there’s truth to their words – suddenly you seem to have one child more than you can manage at any given time. But oh it was worth it to take miss Ruby Elizabeth back to the homeland. Look at that face.

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We had a wonderful trip despite battling sickness much of the time. It is always amazing to catch up with family, relax at my parents’ place and laugh with old friends. Not to mention the ever present drone of cicadas, the clean air that smells of soil and freshly mowed grass, the sun that stings you and the clear blue water. How I miss Australia. Here is a quote from the book I’m reading that made me think of home:

“Love for an island is the sternest passion: pulsing beyond blood, through roots and loam” – Phyllis Allfrey

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I’ve realised that Australia will always be home for me, and despite having the constant sense of not quite belonging anywhere that I think happens as soon as one tries expat life, I’ll always want to be back there, not least to enjoy my family while I can. That said, there is another island I also love and we are quite happy to be back here.

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Our front yard, Stanley Beach, yesterday morning

One thing I love about leaving Hong Kong is how happy I always feel to be back. It’s a place that can wear you down after a while so you do need to leave frequently just to get a fresh perspective. How lucky are we to live here? Our children have an amazing life and I’m so happy to be able to give them this experience. I’m so privileged to get to spend so much time with them, but also get so much time for myself.

Which brings me to 2017. Happily I am not pregnant entering this new year (*rejoice*) and I am just so excited to have this year to really focus on my children and on myself. To be the best mother I can be for each of my kids, who are all very different, while also working on my own things and of course my marriage.

Each of the kids has a few things they need help with at the moment, with Heike some concentration issues at school and working more on reading, with Walter some cheeky 2-year-old behaviour and finally getting rid of the dummies and getting him potty trained (he may be the middle child but let’s face it, he’s my baby!) and with Ruby starting solids and helping her to keep her weight gain up so she can get a little stronger. I feel like I am in a really good place mentally now to focus on this and not be so hard on myself, feeling like I should be doing more or wanting more. This is where I need and want to be right now. And hopefully there will be plenty to blog about along the way too.

So, I don’t have any resolutions, just to start fresh, ease up on myself and of course, enjoy life! I hope you are set to enjoy 2017 too.