Sunday, 29 April 2012

Your Sunday Best

Photo of the week...well done hubby :) Little Monster looks truly angelic here. I think he was even awake <shock horror>!

Linking up with A Rural Journal's weekly photo competition:

Saturday, 28 April 2012

My Love-Hate Relationship with Breastfeeding

Before you have your first child literally everyone has some pearls of wisdom for you. Mostly they are about how little sleep you're going to get, (sleep when the baby sleeps, snarf, snarf), and how your life is never going to be the same (8pm bedtimes for the win). What noone prepares you for is how hard breastfeeding is going to be.

I actually think I've had a pretty easy time of it compared to many women. I didn't have a really painful time feeding him. I didn't have cracked and bleeding nipples. My Little Monster didn't have tongue tie or problems with latching.

So why has it been so hard? Hmm.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Eyes - See It, Snap It, Love It

My debut participation in the weekly themed photos of DearBeautifulBoy! This week's theme is Eyes and, unoriginally, I've taken a snap of Little Monster's eyes. Is there any mother who isn't turned to mush by staring into their little one's little blues? It's also enabled me to look closer for a family resemblance. The jury's still out on that one. So here we are. One picture of cuteness.

Now try saying no. Mhmm, tough isn't it?

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Fighting Postnatal Insomnia

It's hard to write about insomnia, as if writing about it means it's really there and you really have to deal with it. The old bury-your-head-in-the-sand approach is so much easier. And yet...isn't the reason I started this blog to try to document my year with Little Monster and keep me sane? So maybe the writing will help.

Disappointingly, postnatal insomnia is not particularly well documented on the web (per my 5 minute Google search), but I did find a good blog post about it here. There are some useful links at the bottom so obviously that search was a little more thorough than mine...

One of the problems with postnatal insomnia is the reaction you get from people (sadly, for me, that also includes some healthcare professionals). The conversation predictably goes something like this - ME: "I'm not sleeping well at night". THEM: *sympathetic but slightly amused smile* "Well, that's newborns for you. It does get easier!". The thing is, it isn't Little Monster keeping me awake. He's actually starting to sleep better. I, on the other hand, get up to feed him and then lie awake for the rest of the night.

I think it started because Little Monster has a tendency to wake every hour after 4 or 5am. I would creep back to bed and by the time I'd drifted off he was awake again. Then it progressed to not going back to sleep between those feeds. And then, inevitably, the cycle has migrated to the other feeds which has left me with only 2-4hours sleep for the last couple of nights. Which equals a very tearful and depressed me, not to mention that I'm not much fun for Little Monster.

So today I've been doing my usual thing of Googling the problem to find a solution. The general advice seems to be:

  1. Adopt a consistent bedtime routine (same time every night, same activities before bed) 
  2. Get some exercise in the day 
  3. Try relaxation techniques like listening to relaxation tracks, breathing exercises and muscle exercises 
  4. Limit caffeine and alcohol 
  5. Work on reducing anxiety by thinking about happy thoughts/memories 
If, like me, the slightest noise on the baby monitor sets you on edge, see if you can get hubby to do at least one night feed. I found that one night when I knew hubby was getting up for the first feed, I didn't hear the monitor and likewise he is normally oblivious because I'm getting up. One option is that they take some weekend feeds so that you know there's a break waiting at the end of the week.

To be perfectly honest, I think anxiety is the route of the sleeplessness. Ever since Little Monster was born I seem unable to relax. I get really stressed out if he's crying (and babies...well they cry right?). I have been constantly worrying and feeling guilty about breast feeding (more about that on a later post I think). All in all, I'm a little bundle of wound up energy and nothing seems to help me relax, even though Little Monster seems to be pretty content most of the time.

I don't know what the fix is. At this point I'll try anything. I'll be updating here when there's any progress on my journey. If you're reading this because you're suffering postnatal/postpartum insomnia, I hope things improve for you soon. X

Sunday, 22 April 2012

My Dirty Little Secret

I have a dirty little secret. Or technically, I guess, a clean one.

Lurking at the back of Josh's chest of drawers are 5 beautiful, pristine, reusable nappies, the ones that I bought to try cloth nappies before splashing out on a full set. And no, they're not pristine because I am a super-mum, busy scrubbing and bleaching them back to perfection after every use. And strangely they're not pristine because I don't fancy washing them when they get dirty or because I don't have time to use them. They're pristine because I'm scared.

Signs and Sizes!

Well, just a quick update from me on some of our goals!

I was very excited yesterday morning because I got a big beaming smile from Josh when I did the sign for hungry. Clever boy! When I told my husband he said 'oh yeah, he stopped fussing the other day when I did it'. Why don't men tell us these important things?? He hasn't done it again but it's a step in the right direction.

In other news, my quest to return to my pre pregnancy clothing is going pretty well. I have lost 5cm from my hips and about 4cm from my waist so far. Just need to keep up the exercise.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Teaching myself to walk again

Have you noticed that when you take the time to walk, you notice so many more things than when you drive? A tree that has just covered itself in blossom like someone sprinkled breadcrumbs on it in the night, the new coat of paint your neighbours have just given their fence or, like today, a pair of sleeping ducks nestled beside a pond where normally  there are none. And what you don't see, you can't appreciate.

My life has been a series of milestones. It's the same for most people I guess. It has always been the next exams, the next school, the next promotion. Buy a house, get married, have children. It wasn't about the process but the end result and the quicker you get there the better.

This year is the first year of my life where I can remember having no set goal. Well, that's not true. My goals are to give Josh the best and happiest start in life that's possible for me to give, and for me to enjoy it. But noone is dictating how we get there. Each day that I get up I can judge how today we will accomplish those two ideals. And Josh isn't looking a year ahead to decide what he will be able to do. Each day he is reaching out and exploring the world and seeing what he can do. The moments I enjoy most are the ones where I'm watching him and he shows me a new trick that he's learnt.

Maybe I will only have the luxury of this time for one year but this one year is teaching me to walk, to slow down and enjoy the journey. If I let it all rush by I will miss all those amazing small moments. The funny thing is, I know it's a privilege and yet there are many days where I long to be the one going to work, doing the next project, going for coffee with my friends. I think on days like this I need to keep walking and to try to see the world through the eyes of my 2 month old son. I could learn a lot from him.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

iPadding - The Sofa Solution

I have been a little quiet over the last week, so time to get back in the proverbial saddle with a post about my latest project.

The main reason for my absence was that I caught an evil lurgy bug which sent me into survival mode on the sofa for most of last week. In my wallowing, all I had the energy to do was put Mini Me in his sling and stalk Netflix for feel-good films on the iPad. Unfortunately I discovered that holding the iPad while baby wearing and nursing a cup of tea isn't particularly easy or safe. So I made some iPadding, a funky (if I do say so myself) lil iPad bean bag accessory which can hold the iPad at different angles whilst it rests on my lap.

Here is a pic of my iPadding in action. A cottage industry :)

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Sign to Dine

One of the things that's difficult for me about having a newborn baby is that, in a lot of ways, I am an annoyingly logical and scientific kind of person. Don't get me wrong, science was never my strongest subject. But when I have a problem I have to find a solution. I'm the girl who's constantly googling every baby issue, determined that I will find a solution, as if babies are computer programs - you just have to put in the right input to get the desired output. (In fact my husband says they are, it's just that the model is too complex...a debate for another day).

Anyway, I digress.

Like all parents, my main frustration (excluding sleep is the inability to understand what my little monster wants. He does have different cries but I don't always read them well and I end up putting a hungry baby in his cot. I could have sworn that he asked me to turn off Dear Husband's music when he was playing Michael Bolton the other day...

So you see, I really do need a better solution, which is why I will be attempting to teach Josh baby sign language. It's generally accepted that you can start teaching babies sign language at around 6 months and that they will (hopefully) start to use their first signs at around 8 months. Like all parents, though, I know my baby is a child genius, just waiting for his motor skills to pick up before he knocks out his first concerto. I read a lovely account by one mother who started using the signs for milk and tired with her baby at only 1 month of age. To her surprise, at around 12 weeks, when using the sign for milk, her daughter stopped crying and suddenly smiled. She continued to use basic signs to guess her daughter's needs until she was able to make them herself.

I've also decided that 'milk' and 'tired' are good starting points so, from now on, I will start making the sign for milk before I feed him and the sign for tired before bedtimes. (I already have a few social hangups about breast feeding in public for various reasons, not least the fact that Josh is a very noisy eater. When I start making signs like milking a cow in public, I may just seal my fate as one of 'those' parents. But it's all for a good cause right?)

I know progress will be slow but as soon as I have anything to report, it'll be here. Watch this space!

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

10 Things To Do With A Newborn On A Rainy Day

Since Josh arrived we've been doing a LOT of walking. I'll either put him in the sling and go for a wander in the woods or I'll get the pram out and we'll go into Oundle, even if I don't really need anything. So today when the rain set in for the first time in ages, I've been figuring out how to amuse myself when walking isn't really an option.

  1. Get some exercise inside - Sling em up and toddle around the house getting some boring jobs done, take a walk on a treadmill or just stick some tunes on and amuse bub by doing some mummy dancing! 
  2. Embrace the sofa. And Netflix. And gallons of tea (ok, and cake since you asked so nicely) 
  3. Phone a friend and meet up for a good ol' chinwag 
  4. Take up residence in a cafe with bub and a newspaper 
  5. Take a class. There's normally something on every day so get out there! 
  6. Go swimming - if you can't beat em, join em. 
  7. Make a baby carrier. While bub has a kick about on the playmat, get out those scraps of fabric and look up a design you like online. Most are simple to do and you can save a fortune on a shop-bought one 
  8. Take up card making - stock up for all the birthdays and anniversaries and save some pennies while you're at it 
  9. Read a good book. When bub is a bit bigger and awake more you may not have time! 
  10. Keep your baby record up to date - update the record book, take some photos of bub and do one of those cool hand/feet imprint kits

Monday, 2 April 2012

Trusting Your Instincts

I haven't spoken to many people about the first few days after Josh was born. In some ways I guess I view them as a period that I'd rather forget but this post by pinkoddy inspired me to share. In the spirit of keeping a record of the first year of Josh's life, I guess this should be included.

As far as births can be straightforward, I guess Josh's was. The whole labour lasted about 22 hours and I got through most of it on gas and air. The midwives were surprised how quickly things progressed and, when I asked for pethidine, it was actually nearly time to push. Maybe having pethidine this late contributed to our issues later but we'll probably never know.

Josh entered the world at 5.31am on Monday 13th February 2012. We spent the rest of the day on one of the maternity wards but we were desperate to get home and, once we'd demonstrated that Josh was feeding well, we were discharged that evening. The first night was a blur. Josh woke every hour crying but didn't seem hungry when I offered to feed him.

In the morning, we had an appointment to go back and see the registrar for something else so we took him in. We were greeted by a midwife who started asking lots of questions in a disapproving tone including 'are you telling me your baby hasn't eaten since 1am?' and 'don't you have any experience with children?'. I hope, for her sake, that she was just having a bad day because some day she'll get worse than tears if she addresses stressed, over tired new parents like that. Needless to say it immediately made us feel like we had already failed our son, after less than 24 hours.

Since Josh was so lethargic she did a blood sugar test to find that he was hypoglycaemic and the two of us were immediately readmitted. He was given some kind of glucose gel and formula which got his blood sugar back to within normal limits. The consultant then told us that they would do 3 pre-feed blood sugar tests over the course of the day to make sure he was able to maintain a healthy level. They wanted to start the process by giving him 40ml of formula, only about 45mins after the last 40ml of formula they had given him. Understandably Josh wouldn't take it - he only had a tiny stomach! They then told me they were going to put a tube down his nose into his stomach to feed it to him. I was on my own at this point - Rob had gone to pick up an overnight bag for us. Everything about the situation felt wrong. My poor boy was full up and they wanted to force feed him which was just going to make him throw it back up. I should have listened to my instincts and told them no but I stupidly believed they must know what they're doing.

The nurse (who, to be fair, was just following orders) said she would take Josh to the nursery to do this and left me on my own in our room where I basically cried my eyes out for 10 minutes from tiredness and the thought of what we were putting Josh through. I felt like all of this was my fault. I should have realised he needed to feed earlier and brought him back during the night before things got that bad but I stupidly thought he would cry and wake to be fed. I shouldn't have pushed to go home the same day as the problem might not even have happened if we had stayed in the hospital.

I will be forever grateful to the breastfeeding specialist who happened to be at the main desk when the nurse was taking Josh to the nursery. I had spent a lot of time with her earlier in the day and, when the nurse explained the situation, the breastfeeding specialist went and confronted the consultant. I don't know what was said but Josh was returned without having been fed, thank goodness.

In total, Josh and I spent about 36 hours in hospital and things started to improve pretty quickly. He was more alert and feeding better and I was able to speak to a lot of the midwives and specialists about breastfeeding which was a huge help.

What I really learnt from the whole experience was that I should trust my instincts when it comes to Josh. We are his parents and we know him better than anyone...and sadly doctors don't always get it right.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

The Next Olympian

Alright, I supposed it's indulging in a motherhood fantasy just a teensy bit to imagine Josh winning a gold medal in the 400m freestyle at the 2032 Olympics. It was only his first swimming lesson after all. But maybe that's the prerogative of a new mum? :)

(image from

We are very fortunate to live fairly near to Calm A Baby, a fantastic facility which includes a lovely warm pool where they do swimming sessions for young children, including newborns. Their instructors show you how to help your baby float in different positions to get them used to moving through the water. They also teach you to read your baby's body language and understand their natural reflexes in the water.

Yesterday, my husband and I took Josh to his first class and I have literally been smiling ever since. Throughout the 30 minute class, Josh was as calm as I've ever seen him and then even through changing and driving home we barely had a whimper, he was like a different baby. Even the fussiness we've been having in the evenings with him was improved yesterday.

Along with working towards teaching them to swim a bit later on, the swimming helps relax and massage the babies, it tires them out and improves muscle tone - it's supposed to be an effective remedy for colic too. For us, it was the first time we've really been able to engage in an activity with our son and it felt great to see him enjoying himself as well as locking eyes with us for reassurance. Can't wait for next week!