Self settling.

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The hv rang this morning to chat and give advice about self settling as I had to call them last week in tears because we were getting so little sleep.

I guess in reality I knew a lot of it already but it’s hard to know where to start. Same old info. So today after meeting mummy friends and then going to see our potential childminder again, the afternoon has been dedicated to trying to get him to self settle in the cot. We have failed spectacularly. Firstly 45 mins of shouting at his blankets (with a couple of cuddles when he got very shouty). Then I fed him and tried again for 30 mins. He is now entirely over tired and must nap soon otherwise it will be too late. So I’m back at square one feeding him to sleep on the sofa.
 
It’s hard to describe how one ends up here. When you’re so tired you genuinely can’t see straight and your baby is waking every ninety minutes or less. .. You reach a point where you just want to get the baby back to sleep as quickly as possible and with the least amount of stress all round. You don’t want to be trying potentially stressful ‘techniques’ and certainly aren’t thinking about the long run. You just need sleep.
 
I’m so deeply envious of my friends that try to give me tips related to how they got their babies sleeping better because their babies slept well in the first place. Their babies take dummies, are all bottle fed so a) they digest it more slowly b) they can force a huge formula feed into their babies in the evening and c) their other halves can do a feed so the mummies are getting more sleep anyway.
 
Baby is now blissfully asleep on my tummy wrapped in my cardigan. Lovely but marking utter failure on day one. Feeling very uncharacteristically defeatist.

.Edit.
After 20 mins of napping on me, I tried to put him down again which ended in screaming. And now in feeding him again to stop him screaming. All out failure. 

20 weeks

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This week baby bear is a huge 20 weeks old!

Developmentally January had been really interesting. The hands are now a very much favorite thing-heavily sucked, fascinating to watch and getting very good at grabbing both toys and his parent’s hair/facial features.

Ping! Suddenly there’s a tooth! Silly me-I was looking in the wrong place (yes the mouth)! Usually bottom front come first followed by top front, but baby has decided to go for a canine. Why not eh?  Before the tooth came the dribbling. … lots of dribbling and chewing things. Mostly hands- his and anyone elses he can get near his face.

Alongside the fun of dribbly-grumpy-teething baby we entered the dreaded 4 month sleep regression. I wasnt too convinced of its existence but all my mumsnet mummy friends swear by the Wonder Weeks info and app which talks about baby progress and moods in terms of ‘leaps’-with the four month one being one of the worst.

In a way I feel worse for those parents with babies that previously slept brilliantly as this regression had hit them very hard. At least we’ve been there and we know we can get through it. In the interest of balance, it’s worth saying that despite one horrible day of screaming, he was wonderfully behaved over Christmas and was sleeping 5 plus hour stretches!

Our last good night’s sleep was 3rd Jan.  I know this as it was baby’s birthday pressie to me! But this week things have looked up. We have managed to slowly move bed time earlier to try to regain or evenings-we are now getting him down between 9 and ten, though or ‘evenings’ involve a quick read and bed at the moment.

On our worst night we basically got no sleep at all, and an average one he sleeps 9-12 1-3 4-5 5:30-7.

Other exciting developments include lots of attempts to roll over (mostly unsuccessful) and a huge improvement in his stomach and neck muscles as he lifts his head when lying down. We get lots of smiles and giggles but struggle to capture them on camera. He is superb at grabbing things-in particular facial features and hair. .. luckily not the cat yet.

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He is a tall lad (weight wise he is on 75th centile and height wise 99th ish) and wherever we go people want to talk about how gorgeous and big he is.  *proud mama*

I can’t believe I’ve fed him up to this weight all by myself!

Cold

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I’ve had a lot that I’ve wanted say recently but not had the energy to be very eloquent so there are lots of drafts sitting about.

So in less in depth news, baby has his first cold. Which he has kindly given to me. Today he has been in an hourly cycle of feeding, sleeping, smiling, playing then crying. This cycle usually takes more like three hours! I think I’d cope quite well if I wasn’t feeling so rotten. Turns out that mummies and daddies don’t get a break and it’s exhausting.

I felt I was officially a mummy when I realised at ten am that baby had had:
-2 naps
-one lot of calpol
-2 lots of Nasal nose spray
-2 feeds

I had had:
Er…. Nothing
Rectified quickly with a cuppa and a snickers!

May this be short lived! Worst of all I haven’t left the house today and I may go mad.

Relaxed mummy?

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I’m a relatively chilled out person on the whole though of course I do worry about some things. I just try to be rational and realistic about thing.

So when baby D developed his first rash at 17 wks old, I didn’t panic. It started around his mouth and bottom so I assumed it was related to teething (which is a whole other story) but kept an eye on it. He was healthy and happy otherwise so I wasn’t too worried. The next day the rash spread until it was all over his body. We took his temperature which was fine and eventually rang the nhs 111 help line. They were helpful and reassuring-no temp and an otherwise healthy baby suggests a small allergic reaction to *something* or maybe a viral rash. Not to worry unless he developed a temperature or it got worse, and with an absence of high temp thru would be fine to go ahead with his planned 16wk jabs the next day.

At the dr surgery, the nurse was a bit concerned and didn’t want to do his jabs in case any reaction was masked by the rash. She called the doctor in to examine baby and he decided it “probably wasn’t measles” but wanted to call the paediatric doctor to check.  They decided he was ok but didn’t do his jabs so they are now booked in for tomorrow.

That was a teeny roller coaster right there. But the weird thing was- I think I did the right thing in the circumstances but I did get comments from other people who seemed to think I should have done more …. or more specifically that I should have worried more! With an absence of a high temperature, I’m not sure what else I could have done! Good news is that is all gone now and we survived!

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Black and white

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I’m still astonished at the ‘them and us’ attitude surrounding so many aspects of parenting. Every issue seems contentious with most available information-whether books, websites or online discussion- being polar opposites.

From what I can tell, most real life parents, like us,  sit firmly on the fence about most things. I am a habitual fence sitter in life- I often feel that if I don’t have good specialist knowledge to back up my feelings over certain issues, then my conviction is questionable.

Co- sleeping, breast feeding, reusable nappies, baby led weaning, ‘baby wearing’ and so on-these are all parenting issues that you seen expected to be in one camp or another on.

I’m going to see if I can explore how I feel.

Co-sleeping
I’d prefer on the whole not to share my bed with my baby. I chose to share it with my husband and sometimes the cat, and despite being a king size bed, it’s a little crowded all ready. When we have Co slept, I tend to feel very uncomfortable and poor husband gets a tiny slither of bed!

Our baby may well be our only child and I don’t want him to be clingy or have any of the typical imagined traits of an only child. I will willingly admit that I have no evidence to suggest that Co-sleeping or any other aspect of ‘Attachment Parenting’ can lead to clingy children (in fact I’m certain that the Attachment Parenting groups will suggest otherwise) but that’s how I feel. If we regularly Co-sleep now, how and when do we tell our child that it’s not ok any more?

But most of all, I just don’t really want to! This is not to say we don’t or haven’t Co-slept.  In fact there have been many times where it was the only  way to guarantee any sleep at all, especially when baby was little.

Feeding
I am very pro breast feeding. And very pro breat feeding in public (No fence on this one! ). It is normal, natural, beautiful, the right thing to do and obviously there are tonnes of health and emotional benefits to both mummy and baby.
However I am not anti-formula feeding. Formula is a valuable resource and a valid easy of feeding your  baby. I’m always sad when people decide not to breast feed their baby or don’t persevere with it but I respect their choice.

Beat feeding is both hard and easy. It took us a couple of weeks to get the hang of it and it was painful and exhausting. A couple of weeks doesn’t sound long but you feel every minute and every second fighting to get your baby to feed. You Go to clinics, search the Internet, read everything you can find, desperate to be able to do this ‘natural’ thing you presumed at least easier than this, if not actually easy. I can’t leave my baby for more than about 90 mins as he won’t take a bottle. This means only feeding from me. Four months so far of never having more than a rare hour or so to myself except when asleep.

But. …. breast feeding is easy. Baby is hungry? I unclip my bra, lift my top and latch him on. Formula feed baby is hungry? This involves steralisers, bottle warmers, different kinds of bottles and teats, comfort milk/hungry baby milk/standard milk/which brand, how many ounces, how long will it stay ok for before I have to throw it away. …? Lots to think about.

I am very grateful to have a baby that eventuality took to the breast but it was no easy mission to get there. I give myself a little pat on the back too because I can’t tell you how much I had to persevere. Waking every 90 mins to feed the baby with mr bumpy not being able to help by taking a shift or two. ….

Nappies
I haaate nappies. They are so ridiculously wasteful. They don’t biodegrade and the numbers produced over the first few years of a babies life is astronomical. However they are extents easy to use and very convenient. We use reusable nappies sometimes but I’d like to use them more.

Essentially we use then during the day when we are in the house. This is because they are bulky and must be carried around all day rathert than thrown in a bin.  But  I’d like to use them more as I now have a larger changing bag and I’m frustrated abut how many nappies we go through.

I understand why people don’t like the idea of reusable nappies and I’m not sure how one copes when their babies are weaned onto solids but we’ll cross that bridge another time.

Weaning
Speaking of weaning. … (By which I mean the British version of the word, meaning to introduce solid food into the babies diet).

There appear to be two main camps. One is the concept of baby led weaning (blw) which involves giving the baby whole pieces of food and letting them be in control of spoons etc. The Other is the more traditional method of spooning mush into the babies mouth. I can see the benefits of both- is great for the baby to explore food in their own time but they do need some help to get the food in.  I plan to mix the two approaches when we get to that fun and messy stage!

Babywearing
This is kind of a new one on me. I kmew that there were lots of different types of slings but not the them-and-us attitude of many “baby wearers”. I joined some Facebook groups as I have a ring sling that I needed some help with and at I was considering buying some kind of woven wrap too.  I was taken aback at the comments there- there was a feeling that people who push their babies in buggies are watching women with slings in envy because their babies are always happy and relaxed.

This leads to the “natural parenting” camp as many of the above ideas seen to make up the core values of the supposed natural parenting method.

And so in lies my issue. There seems to be no scope for reading about and grabbing the useful ideas that tie into your own values and muddling them together. And mummies and daddies are being brainwashed into feeling they have to choose a side.
Are you “doing Gina?”
No we use the No Cry Sleep Solution
Ah we are doing the 90 minute plan

Dear parents,
Most of you are doing an awesome job. Do not beat yourself up about trying to stick to one camp!

I’m sure everyone reading this will have a different opinion (kind of the idea of opinions), but I hope that you parents  and patentsto be can relax a little and see what happens. You might surprise yourself!

What a difference. …

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A day and night can make!

At the start of December I bravery stopped logging every feed obsessivly.

I like logging things. I run 3 public blogs, a private blog, Facebook, tweet, log my exercise on Endomondo, my food on MyFitnessPal and my photography on both a website and Flickr.

I’ve now started logging sleep as we have only the vaguest of patterns.  Sunday night he slept badly with wakes every 2 hrs. Monday day time he barely napped- maybe 3x 20 minute snoozes. Monday night he slept great (10pm ti 6am) and then during the day had 2 decent 2hr naps. Now at past midnight he is still awake and upset!

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Of sleep and development and stuff

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Baby D is changing every day, and it’s exhausting for us all!

After a relatively successful 8 week injections, the 12 week ones did not go down so well. I don’t know if it’s the addition of the meningitis jab, or a different reaction to the rotavirus- or even the combination of the injections and another growth and developmental leap…. but it was pretty awful.

Baby is learning about his hands at the moment, which is great fun to watch. He likes to suck his left fist enthusiastically (sometimes when he is hungry, and I have to move it out the way so he can feed!), and can hold things now too (though he’s not always aware he is doing it).

Sleep is an ongoing issue. He has proved out of the blue that he is entirely capable of sleeping, but it’s quite hit and miss, and so we’ve had some terrible weeks. Week 12 has been pretty un-fun, but he finally rewarded our patience with a lovely night last night sleeping from 11pm until 6am!

His head and neck control is very impressive, as are his legs which kick like mad, especially if there’s a chance they might make the toys on his play mat jangle.

We’ve been attending baby massage with him which is a bit hit or miss- sometimes he likes it and sometimes he doesn’t- but this is his last week this week. We try to do it at home after bath time, in front of the electric fire so he stays nice and warm and relaxed.

3 months feels like a huge milestone and I’m so pleased that we’ve made it this far as a family without too much stress and shouting!

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Coming up to three months

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The last few weeks have been a blur. It’s amazing how much baby has changed and developed.

He has become much more independent in terms of how he spends his waking hours- enjoying spending time on the play mat, able to be left on the bed to coo at the light patterns on the ceiling  or even better some nappy- free kickabout time lying on the changing mat.

His feeding and nappies have also changed-much less regular feeding and less cluster feeding. Also the feeds are more efficient and so he spends less time at the breast. Despite our best efforts, numerous teats and tears he will not take a bottle. Not interested, refuses to latch or suck…. the best he will manage is chewing in the teat whilst crying, ensuring a drip feed which enables us to get a maximum of an ounce into him over twenty minutes or so before he gets too angry. More successful has been cup-feeding, which is messy but he hates it less. None of this helped by the fact that I appear have an issue with the lipase in my refrigerated breast milk which means it tastes bad really quickly.  As his gut matures we are also getting less dirty nappies (although they tend to be explosive when they happen).

Sleep has been interesting. He really wasn’t a good sleeper at all, often not going more than 90 min without waking for a feed. Around week ten he suddenly slept from midnight until seven am one night. Since then his sleep patterns have been much improved on the whole.  We know there’s a good chance it will regress again so we are not getting to excited but we also don’t believe in “jinxing” it by mentioning it! We want to celebrate the positive as well as complaining when things aren’t so good. 

Tonight hasn’t been a great one, hence writing a blog post at half six in the morning! First stretch was good-from when until three, but I’ve been up ever since. Lucky I know how little sleep I can function on from previous experience a few weeks ago!

Off now for my fourth attempt to put him down since three. …

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One day old to eleven weeks!

Busy

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Before having a baby I found it hard to work out why my mummy friends were so busy. Sometimes I’d give them three days in a week I was free around work abs they’d be busy! I could never believe they couldn’t move things around for a quick cuppa.

My diary is now all in a tangle. My only fixed dates used to be:
-buggy fit 10.00 Tues
-bumps and babies 13.00 Tues
-weigh in baby clinic 1 Thursday a month 9-11
I’ve also had a few dr appts which tend to fall on a Tuesday too.

Around that I’ve been trying to meet friends and get to other groups to try them out. JP bumps and babies on Wed morning, Bounce and rhyme at GH library on Friday morning etc.

But now bumps and babies group is moving to tue mornings. So I’ll have to go to thur buggy fit. I’ve also finally got on baby massage course but turns out it is tues morning too.  And I’ve been complaining about my local Children’s Centre being a bit rubbish so I really should go to baby massage. But I’m hoping I can rush over to bumps and babies after as I hate missing out on seeing my new friends.

Things seem to keep going topsy turvy as soon as I feel like I’ve gut things organised!

There’s lots more I’d like to try-eventually swimming, special baby cinema showings of films, baby yoga. I want to do more craft at home-making things and being creative Setting up a home studio for baby photography…. 

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The superlative

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Advice about parenting is not hard to come by in the modern age. There is no shortage of theories, anecdotes and scientific study (or very unscientific chatter) whether solicited or not.  What is most frustrating is people wilfully misunderstanding your intentions or questions.

Before we had baby D, we often said that we were waiting to be financially ready for children. The only response we ever got was a wry laugh and ‘you’re never financially ready for children’. I actually disagree with that. We could have chosen to have children at any point over the last 9 years and struggled to make ends meet. Our mortgage payments are now about 60% of what they were 5 years ago, my pre tax salary alone has increased almost 40% and we are financially in a much better position.  And it isn’t just about having money. There is a distinct mentality required to understand your new financial priorities which we were certainly not ready for before now.

The other thing that people will perpetuate is the concept that either having children is expensive or that conversely that it is cheap or free. In reality neither have to be true. Yes you can spend £1000 on a travel system and redecorate a whole room in the house to be the nursery. You can kit that room out with brand new outfits, matching furniture and the full Lamaze range of educational toys. Or alternatively you can ask around and find out what is out there. We are blessed that many of our friends have children and were more than happy to pass on or sell on second hand baby kit. But this is not all about luck-we were not too proud to ask friends and  family if we could borrow/take off their hands/buy the bits and bobs we needed. I also scoured the local second hand pages on Facebook and freecycle and we have put together a whole nursery of things.

However the costs of having a baby are not really found in material goods. I am lucky to be born into a Country like England with a social health care and taxation system which supports mothers. So at no point in my pregnancy did I have to worry about what was covered by my health insurance or what I would need to pay in trendy of hospital costs. It also means I am entitled to take up to a full year off work, 33 weeks of that paid at statutory maternity rate. Whilst statutory maternity pay (smp) is hardly an exciting windfall, and when I did the maths it was quite scary to see how little income I’d have over the next year, it does allow me to be able to take the time off to spend with baby D. Loss of earnings is the real financial cost of having a baby. And really it doesn’t improve once I return to work as childcare is expensive.

In terms of other advice -I’ve been starting to look at improving baby D’s sleep patterns. I’m always cautious about how I phrase that as he is currently not a very good sleeper and it makes him tired and cranky. I’ve been looking at theories around using his natural periods of sleepiness to encourage him to sleep better-to fall asleep naturally and to stay asleep. What I’m not looking to do is force an unnatural routine into him which I don’t personally age with. However, it is almost impossible to talk about this with anyone who isn’t a new mum as they will almost instantly jump to the superlative and lecture me on how I shouldn’t expect my baby to sleep through the night yet.  Well. … of course not! He is 8 weeks old!  Why would anyone jump to the conclusion I’m naive enough to assume he will go down for 7 plus his at a time? I’m happy with three hour stretches at best!

Very strange attitudes.

In more superlative news, people seem very surprised that I don’t gush about baby . I of course think he is brilliant, but I’m not the kind of person to bore everyone with tales of how clever and handsome he is all the time. In fact when I have visitors in decorate sometimes to talk about anything that isn’t the baby just for a little normality. I am not going to be talking about how advanced my gorgeous little prince is, but I may say adoringly “he’s alright), my boy. That’ll do.

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