Catching you up

Well that didn’t work, did it? It’s been nearly a year since my last post, and all I can say is kids keep you very, very busy!

Baby B is now Toddler B, all 16 months of her, and we have a walking, talking destruction machine! Our skills at baby proofing the house have had to step waaaay up as she manages to get into pretty much everything unless it’s locked tight!

She started sort of walking around 10-11 months – a couple of steps here and there, but it wasn’t until probably about 13 months that she really took off. Now there’s no stopping her, and we’re heading closer and closer to running. I think the biggest thing you learn about babies walking is that they suddenly injure themselves a hell of a lot more than they used to! Little miss bumps and bruises. 

In terms of talking, we had “boo” from about 10 months, but it’s only been in the last few weeks that any other real words have kicked in. Within the space of about a week we had “uh oh”, “ta” (pronounced da!) and bye bye. So looking forward to seeing her progression with speaking, it’s ridiculously cute at the moment!

The other big news of the past 12 months is we bought a house! No, we didn’t suddenly find a small fortune to be able to buy in Melbourne, so we left! Not far, we’ve made a bit of a lifestyle change and headed to Geelong, which is about an hour’s drive from Melbourne, right next to the Great Ocean Road. Hello seachange! 

With property prices being what they are at the moment, and our wish list for a house being quite a bit more substantial than the 2br unit we could afford in the outskirts of Melbourne, it was a bit of a no-brainer. We bought ourselves a 3br, 2 bath house on a decent block of land in Geelong, where we’re 10 minutes from the foreshore and 15 minutes from Torquay. It’s pretty ideal!

The house itself was in original condition apart from an added dishwasher – it’s an exceedingly ugly orange brick veneer house, but it’s generous with room sizes and had a good layout. We’re slowly but surely changing, refreshing and updating. 

So really, that’s been my main focus other than B. Chances are this blog might head off more into the reno territory rather than solely baby stuff, but it might mean I’m back on here more often!

Thanks for sticking around, and I hope you enjoy the upcoming home posts!

Jane xx

The ups and downs

I keep meaning to do big, regular updates on progress and development of Baby B, but the longer the gap from now and the last post, the more that I feel I need to cover, and so the more I delay writing. It’s obviously not working, so instead I thought I’d just write about what’s currently going on, and hopefully that gives you some insight on how B is going. 

At the moment we’re in the midst of the 4 month sleep regression, which I thought was over about 3 weeks ago. I was wrong. B went from very nearly sleeping through the night (we had two occasions where she slept from 9pm to 7:30am, and I cried with happiness), then suddenly she was back to waking, and waking, and waking. 4-5 times a night, wanting a lot more night feeds, and just generally doing her best to exhaust me. The day sleeps have never been good, but they turned nearly non existent for a while. That’s been going on for the last 4 weeks or so, and it’s finally starting to get better. Unfortunately B has also discovered how to screech when she doesn’t want to go to sleep, and screams like I’m attacking her whenever I try to rock her to sleep. Great fun!
All of this means that for the past few weeks she’s been on me all. The. Time. The only way we get day sleeps is if she sleeps on my chest, and the rest of the time she’s getting increasingly clingy. Again, this is a phase they go through about now, but it’s a hard one to deal with sometimes. I’ve always been someone who needs their own space, and having endless days with a baby literally attached at the hip can be draining. 

On the merrier side of things, B is such a happy baby, she’s a joy to be around. Every morning starts with the biggest smiles, and follows on to squealing giggles when she finds something (a funny face, noise or work) amusing. She seems to be growing by the day, and I’m already missing my lovely little newborn. 

So, it’s hard, but so good sometimes. Some days I despair, feeling like I’ve achieved nothing, and haven’t done anywhere near what I could do as mum to baby B. Other days are so wonderful I want this time to go on forever. I guess that’s pretty common, this ongoing contrast of the highs and lows of motherhood. It does make for a bit of a Jekyll/Hyde version of me – hopefully I’ll get the hang of it all sooner rather than later!
Jane xx

Baby B: the second & third months

Here we are, almost at 3 months, and I’m still falling way behind with the blog posts. It’s amazing at just how hard it is to get things done when you have a baby! I mean, obviously I knew there would be tricky moments, but the oddest realisation in having Baby B has been that I can’t put her down! When she’s sleeping, no problem, she’s in her bed and out to the world. She hasn’t been much of a fan of daytime sleeps though, unless they’re on me, so again it gets difficult to do anything when you’re stuck on the couch with a sleeping baby sprawled over you.  

my current view as I’m typing this…

The last thing you want to do is move, as she might wake up. So you stay. And stay. And stay. And then suddenly it’s 5:00pm and you haven’t done anything you planned. That has basically been my life for the last 3 months!

Not saying it’s all bad – on the contrary, a lot of the time I don’t want to move because B is so peaceful, and I’m enjoying the moment. But sometimes I just want to sit on my own for a minute, or cook dinner, or clean up (who’d have thought it??). Making peace with my lack of mobility has been a big part of the second and third months of B’s life. 

In terms of her development, she’s now smiling!! Not just “about to poo” smiles either – full on grins, with the occasional giggle as well. B breaks into beaming grins pretty much after every nap, and these last until she starts to head toward tired-town again, usually about 30 minutes later. I live for those smiles, they melt me into puddles every time. 

We’ve also been experiencing some developmental growth spurts, which have been…interesting. There’s a book and app called Wonder Weeks, which I highly recommend. Basically some scientific types have looked into babies’ development of their understanding of the world around them, and have noticed that there seem to be certain weeks where this development occurs. For that week, they’re suddenly needy, cry easily, sleep badly, and are just cranky little beings. It couldn’t be more accurate for us: B is in the midst of her third growth week, and her 7-8 hour sleep stretch (I know!!) has just dropped to 4-5 hours, she’s screaming the house down from about 4pm, fighting naps like nobody’s business, and wants to be on us 24/7. I’m looking forward to the end of the week when she’ll return to her gorgeous, easygoing self. That said, it’s fascinating to read what she’s experiencing, and how she’s developing through each of these. 

In terms of B’s abilities, we’re having a lot more luck with tummy time – she hated it with a passion from the beginning, and would basically just scream face-down into the mat until we picked her up again. One of the women from my mothers’ group suggested doing tummy time on the change table (higher up, and easy to remember as it’s after every change), and within a week B was lifting her head up like a champion. She’s still behind some babies in the group (I’ve learnt there’ll always be a baby who seems weeks ahead of yours!), but she’s getting there. I’ve decided it must be because she has such a big brain – harder to hold up. Makes sense, right?

Otherwise, we seem to be settling into our days together, and each new trick makes for lovely moments and deeper connections – B now makes strong eye contact, reacts to us smiling at her, gurgles and “talks” to us, and has started grasping at toys. She’s also heading towards rolling – she can get herself onto her side, starting from lying on her back, but she can’t quite work out how to get her arm out of the way so she can roll to her tummy. I’m looking forward to seeing that moment!

In general, we’re doing really well. B is still a delight, and developing more personality by the day. That and more weight! She’s over 6kg now (13lb 7oz) – that was 2 weeks ago! Suffice to say my arm muscles are improving enormously!

Until I’m trapped by a sleeping baby again,

 Jane xx

Baby B: The first month 

Since I’ve been so ridiculously slack lately (something to do with having a baby, I think!), I thought I’d give an update of the last 2 months. I can’t believe Birdie is already 2 months old! It seems like no time has passed at all, and yet she’s already changed so much. 

To describe the first month in a word, hands down I would say “sleep”. Or lack of it. Baby B slept like a champion for the first 2 days of her life, then obviously decided that was boring. So she tried no sleep. Which meant I tried no sleep. Here’s a tip: it sucks. Don’t do it. The biggest reason for this was that Baby B didn’t like her bassinet. Hated it, in fact. From the copious research I did at 3am, this is very normal. Newborn babies have just spent the last 9 months surrounded by everything Mum – smell, warmth, feel. So it’s not surprising that suddenly being dropped into a cold, hard bed is not going to be their first choice. So Baby B would very happily fall asleep on my chest, but would wake as soon as I transferred her to the bassinet. This meant that as it wasn’t safe for her to sleep on me, I would stay awake all night, and then pass her to Mr Nester for a few hours in the morning. I was surviving on about 3 hours sleep a night, plus a nap in the afternoon if I could manage it. Something had to give, and it turned out it was me. I started falling asleep with Baby B on my chest. Each time this happened, I would wake with a start a few hours later, panicking that I killed the baby. Every time, there she was, still fast asleep on my chest. Now, I’m certainly not recommending this, as all research shows babies should be on their back in their own bed, but it was my only option for a while, in order to stay sane. Baby B loves it, and while she’s now sleeping a lot more in the bassinet (just a matter of time – from about 7 weeks she suddenly didn’t hate it so much), occasionally we still have a nap together, and it feels ridiculously natural. 

Other than the sleep, just watching Baby B unfurl over the first 4 weeks was incredible. They start their lives so squished up – squashed face, eyes shut tight, hands in tight little fists, legs and arms all curled up in a ball. Then, slowly, they start “opening up”. Their eyes start focusing (although sometimes in different directions – freaky stuff!), their hands open up, and their body stretches out. They very quickly stop looking like a newborn, and start developing their own little characteristics. It’s mesmerising. 

Baby B was a great feeder from Day  1, even if she did butcher my nipples in the process. It took about 2 weeks for my nipples to heal to the point where I wasn’t wincing in pain when she latched on, and I put the recovery down solely to Lansinoh and Multi-Mums compresses. They’re awesome. After those 2 weeks of hell, breastfeeding was suddenly a lot easier, and I actually started enjoying it. Apparently, so did Baby B. In the first 2 weeks, she put on only a couple hundred grans, back up to her birth weight. Nothing more, and the midwives who checked on me were starting to express a little concern, asking me how often I was feeding (every 2-3 hours) and if she took both breasts in a feed (no, there was so much milk she was full just from one side). I felt like a failure, until her 4 week check up, where she had put on another kilo! I was still only feeding from one side at a time, which was obviously sufficient.

In terms of coping with it all, we’ve been very lucky that B is not much of a cryer, which really transforms sleepless nights and days. I think a lot of this is just sheer chance, although we have been very on top of her grizzles, attending to her as quickly as we can. She spent most of the first month on either me or Mr Nester, and I think that security went a long way to reducing her discomfort. Also, I used a wrap a lot. I mentioned in a previous post that I bought a Hug-a-Bub wrap to use, and bloody hell has that been a good investment!! B loves it, and once you get the hang of the wrapping technique, it becomes such an easy tool when we’re out and about, or even at home if I want to get a few things done. I’ve cooked dinner with B strapped to me, cleaned the house, walked the dog and gone shopping. By far the best use though is at meal times. It means I can actually sit at the table with Mr Nester and eat, instead of having to eat in shifts so someone can hold the baby. It’s been invaluable for being able to feel normal again. 

Mood wise, I certainly had my off days in the first month. The baby blues are real: day 4 had me sobbing over nothing, really, but still I needed that cry. I had other days throughout that first month when I broke down, usually due to lack of sleep which just makes everything harder. I yelled at Baby B once at about 4am, when she’d been unsettled and crying since 11pm. I had to put her down on the bed as I was so frustrated, for a second I didn’t trust myself. Almost instantly though you check yourself, your better instincts kick in, and all you want to do is help the poor, squawking, helpless human. They are so reliant on you, which can be incredibly frustrating, but also overwhelmingly beautiful – all they want is you, and for you to help them because they can’t do it themselves. It makes my heart melt every time. 

So that’s Baby B, month 1. She’s just hit the 2 month mark now, which I’ll recap in a separate post, and I’ve also got a cloth nappy post in the pipeline (here’s a preview: I’m still using them, and I love them!!). Apologies again for the delayed update, I’m hoping to return to more regular posts now life has calmed down a little!

Jane xx

The Birth – Part 2

Well that took me a while! Who’d have thought that having a baby was time consuming? My humble apologies at my delay in blogging of late, things have been a little crazy. My little lovebug is now almost 6 weeks old, and I have no idea where the time went. I’ll post a 1 month update soon, but for now, let’s get through the rest of the birth.

So, when I left you last, I was 5cm dilated and fast tracking my way to delivering my baby. After the doctor had realised how fast my labour was progressing, the midwives very quickly arranged for me to be transferred to the labour ward. It was maybe a 30 metre walk from the room I was in. I had two contractions on the way, both as strong as hell, both causing me to bellow like a cow to get through them. What made this even more elegant was the fact that I was naked from the waist down (they’d wrapped me in a blanket to get to the labour room), and that with each contraction along the way I had nothing to brace myself on. Those two were hard. On the funny side, I had the second contraction right outside the open door of another labour room, with the father-to-be watching me in horror. Poor bastard, I bet he didn’t think it would be that bad!

After what felt like a thousand miles, we were in the labour suite. From that point on, my contractions were back to back. No break. I was not a happy camper. I was “vocalising” through every peak, and when the midwife asked if I wanted any pain relief, I think the next country over heard me scream yes! She set me up with some gas and air, which basically you stick in your mouth and breathe through – in and out, in and out – until the sensation kicks in. My problem was I was using noise to deal with the pain of the contractions, and with the gas nozzle in my mouth I couldn’t get the yelling up like I wanted. After one breath through it, I basically threw it across the room with a “this isn’t working!!!”. Good thing my midwife was the no bullshit type, as she explained to me that it would take a good 10 minutes, and I needed to keep it in my mouth. Turns out she was right. It started to take the edge off the peak of the contractions (still bloody painful though!), but it also made me extremely dizzy, and nauseous. I had to lie down to cope with it, which I really didn’t want to do, as I’d been told that it was the worst way to give birth. Too bad. There wasn’t a chance in hell of getting me off of that bed from that point – the combination of back to back contractions and the dizziness meant that the bed was the only place for me.

After about an hour of this, I suddenly had an urge to push. I’d read multiple stories of how this sensation can feel like a need to go to the toilet, and this must have been in the back of my mind, because at that point I felt the best way to let the midwife know was to yell “I feel like I need to poooooooo!!!”. Lovely. She tried to pull me back a little, saying that I wasn’t ready yet and I needed to keep calm, then decided to check to see if I had progressed any further. At that point, she looked extremely shocked, let us know that “the head is right there!”, and raced around the room getting everything ready for the baby I was about to have!

The midwife, might I mention, was amazing. She cut through all of my fear and brought me back plenty of times when the gas had sort of removed me from the situation – I was quite high on it, not in a happy, “duuuuuude” kind of way, but just not really with it, not really present in what was going on. She now tasked me with panting through the contractions rather than vocalising, and suddenly I realised how close I was to meeting my baby girl. I pulled the gas out of my mouth (can’t pant and suck through that thing), and focused with everything I had. Something about the midwife telling me to pant switched me back on, as I realised I was at the final stage, I was nearly there, and I could do this!

With each contraction the urge to push became stronger. It’s such a hard feeling to describe, as it sort of overtakes your body. I would be panting my way through a contraction, and then this force would take over, completely without me pushing, and drive the head closer and closer. I had to fight each of these to stop myself tearing, but eventually they were just too strong to be able to hold back. I pushed with everything I had (and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t just the baby that I pushed out, although Mr Nester swears he didn’t see any, um, waste…), and all of a sudden her head was out. Again, the midwife urged me to pant and not push, but that following contraction felt even stronger, and there was no holding me back. The rest of her slid out of me, feeling as if I was birthing a squid (just as slippery and slimy as it sounds). Then, incomprehensibly, she was there, screaming, and lying on my stomach. My baby girl had rocketed into the world, wide eyed and vocal! I really thought at this moment that I’d be overcome, I’d be emotional and weepy, but I was so shocked that all I could do was stare. As stupid as it sounds, it felt unbelievable that this baby had just been inside of me, and was now in the world.

The midwife rubbed her down, Mr Nester cut the cord, and then there she was, on my chest and already latching on to feed. She stayed on me for quite some time, and then had all her measurements done, and she was wrapped up and put in the crib next to me. Mr Nester went home to get some sleep, the midwife left me alone, and though I knew I needed to sleep, all I could do was stare at my perfect little girl.

So there you have it. My birth story. There are a few more details about the hospital, her first day, etc etc, but this was the most memorable. In all of 3.5 hours, my Birdie arrived into the world.

As for my advice for those nearing labour – certainly prepare yourself: read books, do exercises, think about what your ideal experience would be. But also, let it happen. I didn’t get a chance to do really anything of what I had planned – no birthing ball, no exercises, no visualisations. All I managed was vocalising and a bit of early movement before the labour took over. Also, trust your midwife. If I had fought her, it would have been a much harder experience – being able to trust her instructions meant I could focus much better, and could work my way through whatever was being thrown at me. In all, it was certainly the most pain I have experienced, and at time was the scariest thing I’ve been through. But it was also the most incredible experience – I realised both during and after labour how strong my body was, how strong I was, and what I was capable of. Don’t fear it, embrace it. You’ll get through it just as I did.

Jane xx

The Birth – Part 1

So, I promised you I would give you a full rundown of the birth, all 3 and a half hours of it. It’s funny, whenever I tell people the length of the labour, I get a resounding “you’re so lucky!”, and then when I try to explain that speed doesn’t necessarily improve the experience, I get a “yeah, but better than a 20 hour labour!”. I feel like I’m being ungrateful for feeling like 3.5 hours was far too much, too fast. It was certainly better than enduring the pain for some horrifically long stretch, but when I mention that I wouldn’t have minded another hour or so, just so I could come to terms with what I was going through at the time, I get scoffs and faces full of disbelief. The only people who have given me sympathetic responses are those that have also been through a similar experience.

Now, don’t get me wrong – everything went according to plan in terms of a normal labour, and my beautiful Birdie was born wide eyed and healthy. I am enormously thankful for that. But I do want to take the shine off the short labour a little, because I was in a panic for much of that time. I didn’t know how far progressed I was, couldn’t tell what stage of labour I was in, and everything was moving so fast my contractions were back to back for most of the labour. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me start from the beginning.

On Friday night, at around 10pm, I was hanging some pictures in the nursery when I felt a trickle. Mr Nester had a friend over, and they were happily playing video games in the lounge room. I had a moment where I thought “Ooh. I wonder if that’s anything?”. I headed to the toilet to check, and it was a decent amount of liquid, and had a bit of a funky smell (if you’ve read the books, you’ll know that amniotic fluid apparently smells like semen. I can confirm this. Ick.). I thought I’d wait it out, it could be nothing, and I hadn’t been having any contractions yet. About half an hour later, I had another trickle, this time with a pink tinge. By this point, Mr Nester’s friend had gone home, and he wandered over to see what was happening with me. Our actual conversation was:

Mr Nester: “How are you getting on?”

Me: “Good, I think my water just broke…”

Mr Nester: “nfewghwb uono3iqnojq!!!!!”

And so, he suggested I call the hospital. I explained the situation, and they advised to come in to get checked out, at which point they would likely send me home until I was in active labour.

We already had everything packed, so it was just a case of driving the 15 minutes to the hospital. On the way, I had 2 contractions, about 12 minutes apart. We were told to go to Emergency for our check up, and waited about 15 minutes before we were admitted. I had another 3 contractions in this time, now about 8 minutes apart. They weren’t actually all that bad, just a building pressure and a bit of pain at the peak. My main issue was discomfort – I couldn’t stay sitting down, and so I paced around the waiting area.

Once we were in, I had a check up (blood pressure, pulse etc) and they took a sample to check if it was amniotic fluid I was leaking. While we waited for the results, they put us into a room by ourselves, and said they would check on us soon. By now, my contractions were 5 minutes apart, and by the time we’d been at the hospital for 45 minutes, they were 3 minutes apart. By this stage, I was having a lot of difficulty focusing on anything but the contractions, and the nurses were monitoring me with a band across my stomach. I was watching the feed on the monitor, and seeing the contractions spiking higher and higher, sharper and sharper. I was starting to moan through each contraction, and we were still left to ourselves in the room. I think the nurses had assumed that I would be quite some time before anything kicked off, and had actually told us that they wouldn’t take us across to the labour ward until I’d been in active labour for 4 hours.

At this point, I was panicking. I’d only been in labour for 45 minutes, and already I was feeling like I could barely get through the contractions. They were coming thick and fast, and man I was in pain. I was leaning on the bed through each contraction, while Mr Nester timed them, and let me tell you, 3 minutes apart is not much. I barely had time to catch my breath before the next one hit. At the peak of one contraction, my water properly broke. It gushed down my leg, soaking my clothes. I waddled to the toilet to clean up, and what was pouring out of me was bright red. I thought I might be haemorrhaging, and called Mr Nester to find a nurse. He went running down the hall, practically dragging a nurse back with him. The nurse seemed extremely surprised to see the state I was in, and sent for a doctor to check my progress. Unfortunately, this involves a hand right up, well, you know where, and it happened to occur right between my contractions, in my 2-3 minutes of peace. I was not happy, and still fighting the panic that perhaps I couldn’t do this. The doctor had a good feel around, and told me I was 5 centimetres dilated. Shit! OK, maybe I could do this! It was such a relief to hear that the extreme pain I was feeling was due to a quick dilation, and it wasn’t just me not being able to handle it.

To be honest, that was the hardest part of the labour – not knowing how far along I was, not knowing how long I had left to go, not knowing how much more I could handle (most of the time it felt like I was at my limit).

SO that was the first 5 centimetres. I’ll save the second half of the labour (the other hour and a bit) for the next post.

Jane xx

Breastfeeding 101

I thought I’d give you all a rundown of the easy, straightforward, foolproof advice I’ve received about breastfeeding, so that you too can feed your newborn with ease. I promise if you follow these easy steps, you’ll be a master at breastfeeding in no time.

Here we go – follow these to the letter, make sure you don’t skip any steps:

  • It shouldn’t hurt. If it does, you’re doing it wrong.
  • It will hurt at first. It’s natural, don’t think that it means you’re doing it wrong.
  • Lean over the baby and let the breast fall into their mouth.
  • Don’t lean over the baby, let them find the breast.
  • Sit up straight
  • Lean forward
  • Lean back against a pillow
  • Don’t use a pillow
  • Let them feed for as long as they need.
  • Don’t let them feed for more than 15 minutes.
  • If you’re experiencing cracked or grazed nipples, pump on that breast for a day to let it heal
  • Don’t pump and bottle feed, it can cause nipple confusion
  • Keep pumping to continue the level of milk production
  • Be careful of pumping as it can over-stimulate milk production.
  • Pumping has no effect on milk production.
  • Have a hot shower prior to feeding to soften your breasts
  • Don’t use a shower or heat packs – they stimulate more milk production.
  • Always offer both breasts when feeding
  • Offer the same breast twice to make sure your baby gets the hind milk
  • Don’t wake a baby for feeds – they’ll wake if they’re hungry
  • Make sure you feed every 6 hours. Wake the baby if you need to.
  • Feed every 4 hours
  • Feed every 3 hours
  • It’s easy once you get the hang of it…

Let me just say, every one of these pieces of advice came from the midwives at the hospital, or well researched books. These are not just well meaning opinions from the general public.

I want to be truthful here for a minute – breastfeeding is hard. It may be a natural thing, but that doesn’t mean it comes naturally. There is a beautiful connection between you and your child when breastfeeding, and I love being able to provide for Birdie in that way. However, you have to fight your way through the advice, the pain, the doubt, and the 3am desperation to get there. It’s certainly worth it, but give yourself a break if you’re not the instant earth mother that so many people think you’ll be. You’ll get there – with Birdie at 11 days old, I’m only just starting to heal enough to not wince in pain every time she latches on, which is every 3-4 hours. It’s tough. Get someone to give you a big hug, often, just for giving it a go.

Jane xx