Friday, 30 March 2012

10 Things I Tell Myself Everyday (meme)

I picked up this meme from Those24LittleHours and it got me thinking. I'm sure I'll think of another ten things I tell myself everyday before I've finished this list but these are the first ones that come to mind.

(image courtesy of Those24LittleHours - thanks!)

  1. Tomorrow will be a little easier than today 
  2. I need to Hoover/clean the bathroom/clean the oven but I'll just do this first 
  3. Someday I will run my own business. I want to do something creative but I'm not good enough at any one thing just yet. 
  4. I'll eat more fruit today 
  5. I need to arrange to visit all those friends I haven't seen for ages. How do you decide which friends first? I always get paralysed by indecision and end up doing nothing :( 
  6. I will tell my husband I love him today (I manage this most days :) ) 
  7. Save up for a rainy day 
  8. I am so lucky to live in a place I love with a husband I love and the most wonderful son. I have a job I enjoy and we live comfortably. For this I am constantly thankful and equally fearful we will lose it. 
  9. I will get an early night tonight 
  10. I need to listen more and talk less

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Sacking the Schedule

I know, I know. I really hesitate to bring this up because schedules (of the baby sleeping, eating, playing variety) are somewhat of a marmite subject for mums. But as usual I have to have my two pennyworth so here goes...

I like schedules, I do. I am all for (trying) to instil some good habits in my little monster before the point where it becomes really painful to break the bad ones. So it may be surprising that I've sacked mine off.

And the reason?

One of my best friends has had a great experience with establishing a routine and her son sleeps through 7pm-7am with set naptimes during the day. When I heard this, I wanted a piece of that...who wouldn't? So, I read up on the approach and I really thought I could make it work. Having a little instruction manual for how to deal with the (albeit cute) creature from outer space that had descended upon our household seemed really appealing. On top of that, the midwives and doctors seemed to support the approach too, by instructing me that my little one should be fed every 3 hours.

The thing is, what I -heard- was that he only needs to feed every 3 hours, when in fact they meant 'don't leave him any longer than 3 hours'. Five weeks down the line, I was tired and tearful and frustrated. Josh didn't seem to understand that he was supposed to be able to last 3 hours between feeds, he wanted feeding every 1-2 hours. He was telling us he was hungry - chewing his fists, rooting, turning his head - but the schedule and advice made us question everything. Perhaps he's just feeding for comfort? If he's only supposed to feed every 3 hours, perhaps all this feeding will make him overweight? We tried to stick to the schedule and distract him from his perceived hunger. We assumed his crying was overtiredness and tried to settle him.

Reading this back, it sounds obvious that he was hungry and I feel guilty now for even admitting that we didn't immediately feed him. But in trying so hard to do the right thing, we got it wrong.

So at 6 weeks I canned the schedule, at least for the time being, until Josh really can last longer between feeds. Yes, it's exhausting being a human milk machine and yes, I often feel like a prisoner on the sofa because going out just doesn't seem like an option. But Josh is happier and I am less stressed because I've accepted that right now, my son needs me. He needs to feed often and snuggle against me to sleep. I don't think I will spoil him by feeding on demand at this stage and the breastfeeding specialist assures me you can't overfeed a breastfed baby. For now, I will try to just take pleasure in this time to bond with him - there's plenty of time for making plans tomorrow.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Fussy Baby!

Oh baby, cry baby what do you need
Your nappy is clean and you've had a good feed
Perhaps you would like to play peekaboo
Or go for a drive and look at the view
I could hold you like this and soothe and rub
You could have a warm bath, play with ducks in the tub.
You used to be happy when I rocked you to sleep
And you laughed when I touched your nose and said beep
Now I walk and I sing and I sush and I pat
But today you would rather lie on your mat
Tomorrow your mat will be so passé
And I'll start again like yesterday

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Conquering the Great Outdoors

My husband and I are keen fell walkers. To save cash and avoid the summer crowds, we're often found wandering the Lake District fells in the depths of winter, venturing out of the cottage when the temperature is firmly the wrong side of zero and returning to warm our mitts in front of the fire. With such a dubious idea of what constitutes an enjoyable passtime, we're no strangers to making a military operation out of leaving the house, which you'd think would prepare us well for life with our newborn. Ha.

But after 6 weeks of struggling with every outing, I've learnt that taking out a newborn is not so different from a day in the hills. Here's my mantra:

  • Take a map - It is a godsend to know where you can feed and change your baby discretely. My health visitor furnished me with a leaflet of all the places in my local town that have facilities for parents. After discovering that my local John Lewis has a great little room where you can sit in a quiet corner and breastfeed, it immeasurably changed my perspective of trips into town. 
  • Pack the first aid kit - Take a bottle, just to be on the safe side. Josh is the hungriest baby I have ever met (ok, I know I only have one) and the one thing that will really make him yell is not having milk when it's due! If I know there's nowhere I can comfortably breastfeed, I either express milk or make up a small bottle of formula. Sometimes it's just a safety net, but it's nice to know it's there.
  • Don't walk alone - Join some Mum & Baby classes. Not only does this give you a reason to get out of the house, you also have an environment where it's socially acceptable to breastfeed, change your baby or have a screaming infant. I admit I did run home at the merest grizzle from Josh the first few times that I went but I found the classes a great way to ease myself into getting out of the house. 
  • Know your equipment - A friend commented to me that a particular low in her time as a new mum was not being able to collapse the pram when she went shopping. If you're comfortable with all the levers, springs, handles, pockets and other paraphernalia, you're half way there.
A couple of times (so far) Josh has had a meltdown but, contrary to what every bone in my body was telling me, people have seen it all before. He's not the loudest child they have ever laid eyes on and they won't think I'm a bad parent if my baby is crying. I'm not all the way there yet but practice makes perfect I guess!

Monday, 19 March 2012

Measurement Monday!

Ok so a quick check in on my return to my pre-pregnancy state. I tried to be accurate but it's hard so I guess it's about the trend.
Hips - 1cm loss down to 115cm
Waist - 2cm loss down to 88cm
Upper arm - 1cm gain (all that time holding Josh I suspect!
Thigh - no change
Bust - 2cm loss

So far so good! X

Saturday, 17 March 2012

My day in 1970: Being a 1970s mum

I wake like I have every morning for the past 4 weeks, to the sounds of my baby boy over our baby monitor winding up like an air raid siren to an all out cry for food. I turn my head to peer at the blinking red display of our digital alarm clock. It's 6:30, a blissful hour later than normal.

Today's task is to do the food shopping. The internet hasn't been invented yet so I make up a bottle for my son and make sure I'm sitting in front of the television to hear the weather report at 7am. While I'm feeding Josh I flick through the other 3 channels in the vain hope that something will keep me entertained. Where are Kirsty and Phil and epic re-runs of Location Location Location when you need them? Or Netflix come to that. 40 years in the future I suppose.

A few months ago our local corner shop closed so now I have to struggle to the supermarket every week. Leaving the house is a military operation. Even though our new pram has a great detachable carry cot so that it goes in the car, it's hardly a quick fold Quinny buggy. I strap the carrycot onto the backseat (car seat laws didn't exist back then) and finally win the battle with the wheels to get them in the boot. Urgh, it's enough to make me invent online shopping.

At the supermarket I put on a baby sling as there aren't any trolleys with baby seats yet. Josh is already screaming and there's no mother and baby area so I'm forced to fix his nappy on the backseat of the car.

In my rush to leave the house, I forgot my chequebook and I have to detour to the bank to withdraw cash before I can finally finish the shopping...

A persistent beeping interrupts my thoughts and I slowly wake up, a hand snaking out of the duvet to silence my iPhone. I smile. Thank goodness for 2012. It's easy to forget how lucky we are.

Friday, 16 March 2012

It's The Little Things That Count

I was reminded by comments on a post by Circus Queen that, all too often, parenting blogs, discussions and coffee mornings focus on the challenges of parenting (for good reason, right? We all need to share, offload and gather advice) and sometimes we forget the good bits.

When I was pregnant as a first time mum I was constantly looking for reassurance that I was doing the right thing but I was inundated with people telling me how hard it is, how little sleep I'd get and all those other joys of  parenthood. Few and far between were those wonderful people who told me 'this will be the best experience of your life - enjoy it'.

So, for all you first-time-mums-to-be out there, this post is for you. Because, honestly, this is already the hardest thing I've ever done but in a few short weeks I have had my share of heart melting moments and here they are:
  • When his little fingers find mine while he's feeding and hold them tight
  • Going to wake him for a feed to find him fast asleep with his arms extended above his head
  • The way the corners of his mouth turn down when he's upset which makes me want to cuddle him tight
  • The way he goes floppy in my arms when he falls asleep
  • The gorgeous little murmurs he makes when he's eating 
  • The way his brow furrows and he whimpers when he gets hiccups
  • How he lifts his head when I'm holding him to look me in the eyes and then his neck gets tired and his head slumps against my chest
  • And my favourite...when he fell asleep in the midst of a group of screaming children and sucked his thumb for the first time:

As much as we all wish to get through the first few weeks while everyone is assuring you that it will get better, don't forget to treasure the heart-melting moments. What were yours?

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

It'll Only Take a Minute

It'll only take a minute
Just while baby has a sleep
I can iron it with one hand
While he nestles to my cheek

It'll only take a minute
Just to wipe this surface clean
While I'm making up his bottle
And I'm listening to him scream

It'll only take a minute
While he's playing on his mat
...But he's spit up his dinner
Before I've fed the cat

It'll only take a minute
To hang the washing out
It must get done today
No matter how he shouts

It'll only take a minute
Even I have to be fed
But when I get that minute?
I'll just go back to bed

Sunday, 11 March 2012

My Gassy Little Monster

In the last few days my poor 3 week old baby has started getting really gassy, to the extent that he struggles to go down to sleep and will lie there grizzling for hours at a time. I'm sure I don't need to tell you that this is really distressing, particularly during the witching hour when the grizzles turn into all-out wails.

I'm not ruling out taking him to the doctor if it continues but I've got a feeling they will tell me it's colic. I know I'm not an expert on these things but I don't really believe in the concept of colic. I'm a big believer in everything-happens-for-a-reason and I genuinely think that if my baby is crying inconsolably, there has to be a reason other than 'well 3 week old babies just do that'. And hopefully there is a solution too.

I know that other people have trodden this path before me and there is evidence that, with persistance, you can find out the cause of your baby's unhappiness. I think the problem is that pinning it down is extremely difficult.

In Josh's case, I'll bet my bottom dollar that his screams are due to gas up until the point where this has caused him to be overtired and then there is just no fixing it! But what is causing the gas? Some theories that I want to explore:

  1. Overactive letdown - It wasn't until I had scoured the web for a little bit that I discovered some good information on overactive letdown (when the letdown of your breast milk is too forceful/quick, causing gulping, spluttering etc as baby is unable to drink fast enough). Oversupply is a very similar problem and there is an excellent article about it on the La Leche website which really helped me. For me, this was the most likely issue as my poor baby often has to drop on and off during the letdown, causing him to gulp air and splutter. 
  2. Reflux - I'm not too clear on the clinical difference between 'colic' and reflux so I won't attempt to comment on this. As far as I know, diagnosis of this condition is only based on the description of symptoms which can also occur from other things so I really wanted to eliminate everything else first.
  3. Intolerance to something in my diet. Common offenders seem to be:
    • Cow's milk - If necessary, I'll try cutting this out of my diet but it will be the last thing I try, not least because the calcium is so important.
    • Caffeine - This is a definite possibility as I am a guilty consumer of coffee, tea and chocolate. There is an interesting article on this here
    • Gas-producing foods including beans, brocolli etc - Again, very possible but difficult to pin down as there are so many potentially gassy foods.
  4. A bad latch - When I saw a breastfeeding specialist earlier in the week, she pointed out a couple of possible improvements to the way that I help my baby latch on and that the way I have been doing it may have caused him to take more air in.
As of completing this post, Josh has had 2 days of significant improvement. The three things I've changed most significantly have been:

  • When Josh unlatches during the letdown, I mop up the excess/spurting milk before letting him back on which seems to reduce the amount of gulping of air
  • I'm more focussed on not just a comfortable latch but the right latch to ensure baby can drink without gulping. I'm pretty sure this is helping as there is a better seal around his mouth now.
  • I've cut almost all caffeine from my diet for the last few days. If the improvement is sustained, I'll try reintroducing some caffeine because the above things may have done the trick.
So many parents pull their hair out over issues of gas or colic that I really wanted to collect some of the most common causes in one place. I hope this post helps you and all the best for getting through these first few months! X

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Losing the Pregnancy Pounds

Righty ho. I figure if I record this on my blog for everyone to see, it might give me a bit of a kick towards making sure I reach my goals. So, what are my goals? I've decided not to weigh myself. I have a fundamental dislike of scales. An old boyfriend of mine used to say to me 'don't ask questions you don't want the answers to' which is very good advice when it comes to the subject of weight. I'm not adverse to tracking my progress, but since I intend to exercise which will build muscle, my weight will probably go up before it goes down which is a sure fire way to failure (for me, at any rate).

My goals are:

  1. Fit back into my pre-pregnancy clothes (roughly a UK size 8 on top and a size 12 on the bottom)
  2. Get back to my previous level of fitness (I'll assume this is being able to run 5km comfortably in under 30 minutes without feeling the effects the following day)
  3. Be happy with what I see in the mirror (tricky to measure...but I'll know when I get there!)

To track my progress, I'm going to measure my hips, waist, thigh and upper arm every 2 weeks. Since I'm breast feeding, I'm not going to use my bust

My starting measurements (for all to see...eep!)
Hips: 116cm
Waist: 90cm
Thigh: 68cm
Upper arm: 28cm

So how am I planning to lose the weight? Well, I am breast feeding which they say means you need to consume 500 extra calories per day so I think this will help me to lose weight. I also want to return to a good level of exercise - walking initially, but progressing to running once I've increased in fitness and recovered from my childbirth woes.

Wish me luck. I'll be tracking my exercise and measurements on and posting my 2 week results here...

Monday, 5 March 2012

The Great Fundal Height Mystery

So, I understand that the medical profession need some cost effective weights and measures to indicate the health of pregnancies. I'm not sure about anywhere else but in the UK, the fundal height is measured at each of your midwife appointments. Essentially, the number of centimetres from the top of the pubic bone to the top of the uterus is used as an indicator that the baby is growing at the expected rate. The measurement should be (give or take) be the same as the week of pregnancy you are in (i.e. 25 weeks pregnant should give a fundal height of 25 centimetres).

The only thing is, fundal height can be grossly inaccurate. If you measure too large or too small, there may be no issue with your pregnancy at all. And even more worryingly, there are circumstances where the fundal height measurement would be 'correct' for the stage of your pregnancy when actually there is a serious issue (for example, the amount of amniotic fluid could be too high, hiding the fact that there is an issue with growth). Before you start worrying; statistics vary but higher than expected levels of amniotic fluid only incur in around 1% of pregnancies (Source: and incidences of this causing any kind of issue are even less.

In my case, I measured very small for dates all the way through my pregnancy (fundal height at full term was only 33cm) and I went on to deliver a very healthy (indeed, small but perfectly formed :) ) baby boy. Although I got used to the fact that I was always going to measure small, it did cause some amount of worry as we were constantly sent to the hospital to see consultants and have extra scans. Each scan we were told our boy was growing perfectly well. Don't get me wrong - I'm glad they erred on the side of caution. But the question is, is fundal height the best way to monitor the health of the baby?

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Must haves for surviving the newborn period

So your baby has arrived...congratulations! There is nothing quite like the rush of love and protectiveness you feel when you first meet your little one. The thing is, after the initial high from the birth and the postnatal hormones wear off, reality has a nasty habit of catching up with you. As a new mum, you probably feel like a milk machine if you're breast feeding and, even if you're not, your days are filled with the constant cycle of feeds, sleeps and nappy changes. Your nights are desperate snatches of sleep between feeds. And let's face it, the lack of sleep is going to make the best of us teary.

Firstly, breathe, grab a tissue and acknowledge what a great job you're really doing. Secondly, find ways to survive the early days. I'm still IN the early days and still trying to survive but here are the things that are getting me through:UWPX6VC9MESQ
  1. My iPhone. I know, I'm part of -that- generation. I constantly have my phone at my fingertips. But let me tell you, when you're breast feeding at 3am, a mindless game or easy access to facebook is a life saver.
  2. A social life. A social life? I can see the raised eyebrows. Your days are filled with keeping your head above water, how on earth can you have a social life? I am lucky enough to have a dear friend who is able to bring me lunch and come for a gentle stroll when I need company but I am also gradually building myself up to going to one or two mum and baby groups. It's taking a while to get over the fear of trying to fit those things in with the hectic schedule of feeds and sleeps, and equally the fear of baby having a meltdown in public but I'm starting small, with places where I know I can breast feed or change baby. The only way is up!
  3. A good book. For those stolen moments to yourself when baby is sleeping and you're not.
  4. This blog. Truly. Writing about my experiences is really helping.
  5. My breast pump. Having hubby do the late feed is like a little piece of freedom. Love it.
  6. Online grocery shopping. The idea of trying to take baby to a supermarket is truly terrifying on many levels. I know I'll get there eventually but right now, I'm raising a glass to online shopping!
  7. Parenting forums. It's so good to have some other people to discuss issues with, I wouldn't part with them!
I'm pretty sure I'll think of more but these are the first things that spring to mind. Whether you're a closet technology geek like me or not, I hope you find some things to get you through. Pretty soon we'll all be wondering what the fuss was all about. X

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Hiccups: Just the beginning

I'm not sure when in my pregnancy I first became aware that my baby had hiccups but it was probably around 25 weeks. And once I realised what they were, there was no mistaking it. At first I thought it was kicking but I soon started to distinguish between the random kicks and the rhythmic pulse of hiccups. It was funny to start with and then, by the time they're full term, the hiccups are enough to make your tummy jump visibly and keep you awake!

It turns out that those fetal hiccups taught me a valuable first lesson of parenthood. Once baby Josh was born and the hiccups were just as frequent (about once a day, poor baby), I realised that the hiccups were no less distressing to me now than when he was in the womb. Everyone told me that being a parent means you never stop worrying about them. You get over one worry only to be presented with the next challenge. For me, the hiccups brought home the very real and primal need to protect my son. With my heart and soul I wanted to keep him safe and warm and happy. That feeling, above all else, gets me through the night wakings and the crying and the continuous feeding. Every day that I feel like crying, I think about the hiccups and remember why I'm doing all this. And once the hiccups stage has passed? Well, I'm sure I'll find plenty of other things to worry about.