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  • MAMA PLUS - How can I be sure my new born is growing at the expected rate?

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    Perhaps your six month old has not rolled over yet, but the child development chart shows that some babies start rolling over at five months. Or possibly your neighbor's eleven month old is walking, but your thirteen month old has not attempted to walk.

    Maybe you are worried that your baby's development is not where it should be and wonder what this means for his or her future. Comparing your baby's development to other infants or to norms on developmental charts should be avoided. Instead it is important to know that babies develop at different rates and should only be compared to their individual milestones from the previous week or month.

    Infant development is divided into four categories:

    · Social: How your baby interacts to the human face and voice. Examples include learning to smile and coo. A social delay may indicate a problem with vision or hearing or with emotional or intellectual development.

    · Language: Receptive language development (how well baby actually understands) is a better gauge of progress than expressive language development (how well baby actually speaks). Slow language development can indicate a vision or hearing problem and should be evaluated.

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  • MAMA PLUS - What are "Baby Blues" and how can I deal with them?

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    Having a baby can be both exhilarating and exhausting. It can bring much joy, but it can also challenge you in ways you never expected. Soon after giving birth, many women feel weepy and moody. You may be blessed with a beautiful baby and a loving partner, yet you find yourself crying over things that usually wouldn't bother you.

    Approximately 70-80% of all new mothers experience some negative feelings or mood swings after the birth of their child. Often the symptoms of "baby blues" will hit forcefully within four to five days after the birth of the baby, although depending on how the birth of the baby went, they may be noticeable earlier.

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  • Growing Pains

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    Every single day I worry about the future. At least twice a week before I fall asleep I drive myself crazy thinking about whether or not I'll get into university, whether or not I'll be successful, whether or not I'll be happy. And as a person with anxiety issues, all these what if's I keep asking myself are self-inflicted torture. But I can't stop myself. The rational, logical part of my brain understands that whatever is going to happen will happen, whether you worry or not, but the other part- the one with the emotions and feelings and stuff- worries anyway.

    A perfect world would be one where no one worries. No one spends even a fraction of a second thinking about what's going to happen, and everyone just lives in the moment, like we're all apparently supposed to. That would also, however, be a completely reckless world- a wild, thoughtless free-for-all devoid of restraint, like a party out of The Great Gatsby, fuelled by adrenaline and a lack of responsibilities. Too much worry is bad, but so is no worry at all.

    Unfortunately, I am yet to find a middle ground. I doubt there is one. It's probably incredibly difficult to unearth the self-control required to balance worry- at least it is for me. I'm prone to panic attacks, but I never know why I'm panicking. It's probably a combination of schoolwork, university applications and just general stressing about the future, but whatever it is, it needs to stop. I'm probably preaching to the congregation when I say that kids now have more pressure put on them at a younger age than ever before. This isn't just a biased opinion, it's a straight up fact. Schools are more competitive, extracurriculars are more demanding and I don't even want to talk about universities right now because the application process is slowly killing me. And with all this added pressure and all this heightened competition comes inevitable stress and anxiety.

    A lot of anxiety is affected by the people you surround yourself with- it's usually a product of people placing certain expectations on you or you comparing yourself to others. Both are equally crap, but you can control the latter more than you can the former. Always remember that the competition is with yourself and focus on outdoing yourself instead of others (although plus points if you can do both). As for the first one, different people are always going to expect different things from you, it's not something you can help. What you can do is not give a shit. It really is your life and it really is now or never. So do what you want and what you feel is right.

    And that actually brings me to my next point: trust your judgment. This cannot be said enough. Trust your gut because instinct always, always, always beats logical thinking. I'm a total hypocrite to tell you this when I myself constantly doubt my own judgement, but it's true and you'll be a less anxious person for knowing it. However, there is a fine line between trusting your gut and overconfidence- be wise, not stupid.

    Lastly, be selfish. This sounds terrible on paper, but it has to be said, Sometimes we give too much and we spread ourselves too thin. There is such a thing as being too nice- don't go there, it is unnecessary and will end badly. Everyone has a limit and sometimes you need to put yourself first. The first time you really do this you'll probably feel crippled with guilt (if you have a conscience that is) like I did, but there's really nothing to feel guilty about. As long as you've fulfilled your responsibilities and done what you have to do, you're sorted.

    Anxiety is a bitch. Fact. But it's also something we can control. I can't tell you not to worry because what's going to happen will happen- you're not an idiot, you already know that. Now just try really, really hard to believe it while I go off and attempt to take my own goddamn advice.

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  • Sibling Rivalry

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    Most of the time, sibling rivalry is harmless. It toughens both siblings up and encourages them to fight for what they want. Sometimes, however, sibling rivalry can cause deep-seated jealousy or resentment, which is when someone needs to do something ASAP before we have a Cain and Abel situation on our hands.

    We take siblings for granted, just like we do everything. But I think that siblings are one of those things that it's okay to take for granted- they know you so well that they're not even offended, they get it. They get that it's embarrassing to say you love them- I only tell my brother I love him once a year, on his birthday, and even then it's challenging. But siblings really don't need constant reassurance about how much you love them because they know you can't help but. My brother is probably the person closest to me- he knows me better than my parents and I tell him more than I tell even my closest friends- but I still feel the need to assert my dominance once in a while in the form of a really solid wedgie or a nicely-timed nipple cripple. We have minor spats all the time- not a day goes by when I don't yell at him for invading my privacy or he gets mad at me for taking his stuff without asking. But most of the time we'll storm off to our rooms and then when we emerge we'll probably just act like nothing even happened and we're best friends again.

    Jealousy wasn't really a dominant emotion when my brother was born, I was mostly just disgruntled- he didn't necessarily steal my thunder as such, he was just an inconvenience and I could do without him. I didn't really like him when he was born, though. For one thing I thought he was a girl and had to face crushing disappointment when I was told he wasn't, for another all he did was sleep, eat and shit for approximately two years until he learned to talk and then it just got worse. You don't really like your sibling immediately (maybe that's just me, though)- you love them, but you don't like them yet, because you don't know them. That changes really fast though. Like, really fast.

    Your relationship with your sibling may or may not change as you get older. My brother and I were always close, but as we both grew older, we became close in a different way. We're more like friends now, because the older we get, the less of a problem the four-year age gap becomes, and we become more and more capable of relating to each other and understanding each other in a way that we couldn't do when we were younger and the age gap was a bigger problem. In my experience, you only get closer to your sibling as you both grow older, which is always better than the alternative.

    Siblings can be jealous and mean and snarky, but at the end of the day we're each other's best friends, and that's the only thing I think of when I think of my brother and I. He loves me, and I think he's alright too.

    Just kidding, I love him, but there's no way I'm telling him anytime before his birthday.

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