So this post is going to be mainly about Saskia, for two reasons:
Firstly I know many people will be wondering how she is getting on – there are family and friends from far and wide who haven’t seen her for a long time, or in some cases are yet to meet her. So this blog seems like the perfect opportunity to share some of her news and a few photos.
And secondly, I don’t really have much news myself. Since my last post any noticeable chemo side effects have gone, leaving only my back to worry about. Even that has improved since the weekend – although I still have to rest it and avoid standing for long periods. Walking is ok, and sitting can be ok, depending upon the position. The problem is mainly standing still – I had to do a little hopping-from-foot-to-foot dance while standing in the queue at the pharmacy the other day. I made sure I pulled lots of grimacing faces, so that people knew I was in some kind of pain, and not just mental. Maybe they just thought I was desperate for the toilet.
So, back to Saskia then – well, she seems to have come on so much in the last month or so, she is developing so quickly. Whether her development has accelerated, or if it just seems like that to me as I have been spending more time with her, I don’t know. Either way, I do know that it has been lovely to have the opportunity to spend this time and bond with her (despite the circumstances).
Probably her biggest and funnest news is that just over a month ago she started ‘baby led weaning’. For those unfamiliar with this concept it basically eschews the traditional idea of purees, liquidising food, and spoon feeding your baby. Instead you put normal food in front of them, and let them discover the food and feed themselves. She still has breast or formula milk in addition to the solid food, so if she doesn’t fill up on solids it’s not the end of the world – at this early stage it’s as much about exploring and learning about food as it is about eating.
Obviously the food has to be healthy (no cheeseburgers!), and if necessary cut or crushed to avoid choking (grapes are either squashed or cut into quarters for example). But usually we find she can have all or at least some of what we are having, even if we are eating out.
“What’s that Saskia? You want Daddy’s side salad – oh ok then, Daddy will just have to make do with just the burger and chips. But I hope you appreciate it – Daddy was looking forward to that side salad most of all”.
In just over a month she has racked up an impressive list of foods – at last count we think at least seventeen different types of vegetable; at least fifteen different types of fruit; chicken, roast beef, cod, bread and toast with various toppings, porridge, boiled and scrambled eggs, omelette, yoghurt, cheese, shepherds pie, risotto, pitta bread dipped in balsamic vinegar and olive oil, and probably much more that I have forgotten.
Watching her try all these foods has been a lot of fun (and very messy) – she seems game for anything. Sometimes the first taste of a new food brings the funniest faces (see the ‘Saskia vs Broccoli’ picture below), but she never gives up – she goes straight back for more, and is yet to reject anything we have given her. She seems to have inherited her Mummy’s diverse taste in food, combined with her Daddy’s ability to shovel in vast quantities (not sure the latter is a good thing!).
This baby led weaning has also had several positive side effects, both for Saskia and for us:
Firstly, because we are now sharing our meals with Saskia, we are eating a lot more healthily ourselves. Sally has always been quite a healthy cook anyway, but with Saskia now sharing in our meals it has added an extra incentive. Which all coincides neatly with my need for a healthy, balanced diet, given my current situation (which has led to what Sally has termed ‘Daddy led weaning’ – where she puts a pile of fruit in front of me, and watches as I discover the food and feed myself – no photos to show I’m afraid).
Secondly, it keeps Saskia occupied while we eat our meals. Last Sunday we managed a full three course Sunday lunch in a pub, while she sat in a high chair happily making her way through a pile of vegetables.
And finally, the act of feeding herself, having to pick up the food and move it to her mouth, seems to have enhanced her development of hand eye coordination and fine motor skills (although you might not believe that when you look at the picture below!).
Away from the dining table she has also been practising these skills – everything that comes within reach now needs to be grabbed, tasted, shaken violently, and then banged against anything and everything nearby. All as urgently as possible, before moving on to the next thing to come within range, and repeating the process.
Over the last month or two she has become far more responsive and proactive, observing and interacting with her surroundings. Changing her and getting her dressed is now more akin to wrestling, as she wriggles, rolls over, and attempts to launch herself off the changing table. Bath time is no longer a case of washing her as she passively lies there – it’s now a job just to keep her in the bath, as she tries her level best to escape, along with drinking the water, splashing around violently, playing with her bath toys (usually violently), etc.
She has also found her voice, and very much likes the sound of it – talking to herself, other people, her toys, etc. She has unfortunately inherited her Mum’s trait for occasional, inappropriate, excessive volume.
Mobility-wise, her main mode of travel is rolling sideways, although she is very close to crawling. She can get up on all fours – sometimes on her knees, and other times just her hands and feet (as if she were doing press ups). Once up on her knees she rocks herself forwards and backwards, but is yet to grasp the idea of putting one knee in front of the other. We don’t think it will be long though before she gets it, and we find her across the room eating out of the cat bowl.
So there you go, that’s most of her news for now. All in all, she is a good natured and contented little thing. Sure, she has her moments like any baby – but generally she gives us very few problems, and brings us an awful lot of laughs, so we consider ourselves very lucky (although I prefer to put it down to awesome parenting!).
Right… well if you made it this far through all the ‘doting Daddy’ writings then well done, and thanks for reading! Just one last photo for you…
13 responses to “All about Saskia…”
Thought it would be worth the wait. As an unbiased Nana I can honestly say this is the best blog so far.
Wow! What awsome photos – I know first hand that she is super cute but these photos are really beautiful. Another brilliant post that has had us chuckling away. Keep ’em coming please! x x x
Thanks for this, Ben. Your writing style is fab and completely cracks me up. 🙂 Pics of Saskia were so apropos too. So appreciate being able to share her learning process through this blog and to rediscover the wonder of food through Saskia’s eyes, instead of just gobbling it like her Daddy! Ha ha.
It was wonderful to hear that you have also discovered the therapeutic value of comedy DVDs. Have you seen the movie “The Secret”? I will send you my copy if you want to watch it. It features my spiritual teacher in Los Angeles, Rev. Michael Beckwith, and a number of other heavy hitters in the non-denominational global healing tribe. The basic message is that ‘your mind creates your reality’. There is a clip in the movie about a woman who healed herself of cancer within three months of receiving her diagnosis by watching funny movies all day long and refusing to dwell on any negative thoughts or feelings. It is a rigorous mental discipline. I know you can do it. I know you are doing it now!
Thank you for all the inspiration and upliftment you are providing by sharing your process with all of us. It is such a privilege to be part of your journey. Big love to you, Sal and Saskia, Steph xxx
Sorry its taken me so long to write on here. Such a fab idea to do a blog and so well written.
So glad to hear the side effects have gone. Fingers crossed for the next round. Loving the Saskia update. The pictures are awesome!!
Hope we all catch up soon.
Sending lots of love from the Waring’s
Hi Ben, Sally and Saskia,
We are very happy to get your blogs, Ben.
It is a joy to hear about Saskia’s love of food and all her activities.
Glad to hear that things have somewhat settled since your last chemo, Ben.
Thank you for writing your blogs. Wish we were closer to be of some help but our positive thoughts are with you from across the pond.
Much love to all of you,
Ron and Nancy
Oh wow – this is brilliant – fabulous pics of a beautiful happy little girl! It was great to see you all yesterday – take care and hope to see you soon xxx
You and other followers may be interested to know that tonight’s episode of Horizon on BBC at 9pm is about advances in cancer treatment and comes from the Royal Marsden.
Perhaps it will help us to visualise your travels and trials.
Love from us both.
Dear Ben, Dave is here and has shown us your blogs. We have loved looking at the pictures and really enjoyed your wonderful and humerous words.
Your positivity really shines through in your words makes us feel so positive for you. Gwyn says…Strike a light, what a corker, to be that gorgeous there must be some Harding genes in there somewhere!!
Thankyou for keeping us in touch and we look forward to seeing you all in Briton Ferry as soon as you are up for it.
Lots of love
Milly & Gwyneth
For your info, a lot of this programme is going to be about the breakthrough drug, Vemurafenib. This unfortunately is the drug that Ben referred to in his first post – it was the Marsden’s first line of suggested treatment but unfortunately tests showed that Ben’s melanoma has a different type of gene mutation that Vemurafenib doesn’t work on. Obviously it was quite a blow to miss out on this.
I have really enjoyed the blog, this last one was your best so far, i think writing could be a new calling for you. Let me know when your up for taking out the long boards, I can do most evenings after 6ish.
She’s just like her Dad! She looks absolutely hammered in every photo!!!! Loving this blog, great idea! x
Wow, amazing pictures. What a beautiful family! I’m loving these blogs Ben, thoroughly enjoyable. Well done xxx lots of love the Dormedys x
Beautiful pictures Ben. You’ve really captured her! Love the blog too. I agree, ditch the accountancy, and keep snapping. Looking forward to the next blog…
PS Lovely to see you all today x