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

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

Modern Cloth Nappy Musings

Happy weekend! As you can see, I’ve had a day or two off. Apologies! I have no excuses, except for the fact that it’s the weekend, so I’ve been doing weekend things, like sleeping, eating, and googling crazily. My current obsession is modern cloth nappies. I’m sure I will look back on this post and laugh, and many of you are probably doing right now. I am coming from zero experience with nappy changing, and I’m still a little shell shocked at the idea of changing a newborn’s nappy up to 10 times a day. That’s a LOT of…stuff.

So anyway, modern cloth nappies (or MCNs). Aren’t there a LOT of them?? The choice is a little daunting. The types I have found so far are:

  • All in ones (AIO) – your typical disposable style MCN. One nappy, everything’s attached, you wash the whole thing in one go.
  • All in twos (AI2) – similar to AIO nappies, but with an inner liner that snaps into place. This gives you the ability to adjust which liner you use, based on your baby’s, erm, output. Can also be referred to as a pocket nappy (some have an opening to slide in the liner, instead of snapping in). These also have the benefit of only having to wash the liner, not the whole nappy.
  • Prefold – as far as I can see, these are old school cloth nappies sewn into the correct shape.
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The BumGenius AIO

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The Grovia Hybrid (an AI2)

Then you have additional options (as if all these acronyms weren’t enough!). There are snaps or velcro connections, organic or not, and a bunch of different materials suited to different types of absorbencies (wool, bamboo, cotton…). Lost yet? Me too!

Then of course there are the brands. I’m not going to name them all, because honestly there are far too many to keep track of. The two I’ve been looking at the most, mainly due to their general popularity and positive online reviews, are BumGenius and Grovia (both shown above).

My thought process for heading towards MCNs is mainly to do with environmental impact. Although many of the larger disposable nappy companies will tell you the energy consumption of washing MCNs creates a comparable eco footprint, their calculations are based on washing every day, and using a dryer for every load. Also, there is the little known point that even disposable nappies should be “scraped” of any waste prior to being binned. Which of course doesn’t happen. I like to think I’m a fairly eco-friendly person, and this route just makes sense. Even though I know there will be extra work, I think my peace of mind would be worth the effort. So, let’s have a look at the pros and cons:

Pros

  • Environmentally friendly
  • Cost savings (average investment in MCNs is around $300, disposables add up to around $3000-$5000 from newborn to toilet trained).
  • Sizing – more on this below, but the nappies are adjustable, so they should fit from about 8 weeks, all the way to toilet training. One investment = a lot of savings over the years.
  • Apparently improved resistance to nappy rash and the poetically named “blowouts”, due to better fit and natural materials
  • the colours! So cute – my inner stylist (often missing from my life) claps her hands together in delight with the range of solid colours and prints, like these:
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Just. Gorgeous! It almost makes me want to lose my own continence. Almost.

Now for the not so great elements:

Cons

  • Extra time/effort in washing. Obviously this is the big one, and what turns people off. I’m hoping I can get through the initial stretch and into a routine.
  • The ick factor – having to scrape or hose off the unmentionables into the toilet is not going to be my favourite part of the day, but that said I’ve been told to prepare myself for a much closer relationship with bodily functions, so I’m guessing I’ll be up to my elbows anyway
  • Sizing – most MCNs will be labelled “one size fits most”, meaning that they won’t fit newborns, unless you buy a specific newborn nappy. But you’re not going to want to pay all that money to then have to replace them with a larger size.

So that’s my (not at all exhaustive) list. In regards to the cons, with the first two I think they’re more a matter of getting into the right mindset, and establishing a routine. With the third point, my incessant googling has led me to a fantastic service called a Nappy Library. I’ve found these in Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane (here or here, here and here respectively), where for around $20-$25 a week you can hire newborn MCNs until your baby fits into the regular sized ones. They also have full size hire packs, to try out a range of brands to see what suits best. I think that’s a pretty fantastic service, and I’ll be getting into them just as soon as I actually fall pregnant!

On that rather long post, I will leave you on this fine Sunday afternoon. I hope I’ve given a decent description, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on these, or if anyone else has had experience of these. Special thanks to Young House Love and their excellent post here on their experience with MCNs.

Jane xx