Does He Love Me?

My beautiful boy is 7 weeks old now, the fastest, yet slowest 7 weeks of my life.

I’m sure time only moves in this way when you have a baby. The broken nights’ sleep and seemingly endless, lightless nights and the inconsolable cries during the day make time move at a snail’s pace. Yet the constant inability to get things done, basic things like getting yourself dressed before midday, preparing to go out for a simple walk and when you realise your tiny baby is growing out of his newborn clothes makes time seem like it’s racing by at warp speed and you have that overwhelming need to stop it and get off.

Here we are, in our 8th week as parents, Noah’s 8th week of life and I truly couldn’t be happier, despite the constant state of exhaustion I know it won’t last forever yet it still manages to affect the way you think.

Gone are the dreamy days of a milk drunk baby sleeping away the day only waking to be fed then collapsing into that stupor once more. We have welcomed a new phase. A phase of beautiful alertness, an alertness that sees him locking his eyes on our faces and gracing us with the most beautiful smile we’ve ever seen when he deems fit. Soaking in his surroundings and finding joy in certain things around him. He’s truly captivating, yet the last couple of weeks haven’t been easy to say the least.

N has been particularly fractious. With this new found alertness comes boredom. He rarely naps in the day now and after feeding and a little playtime the wails and screams begin. He’s been fed, changed, entertained, fed some more, nappy checked again. He’s apparently inconsolable for what seems like a large proportion of the day. Nothing seems to pacify him.

We’ve bought bouncers on the advice of other parents; “one that vibrates is a must”, they say; “They absolutely love it”, they say; “he’ll drop off in it in no time”, they say. He HATES it. He lasts five minutes at most til he’s crying once more. We’ve bought an activity mat, another recommendation, another total failure. We’ve tried dummies despite our hatred of the, he spits them out. We’ve tried colic drops despite not being totally convinced it is colic. He just wants to be held, then that becomes boring to him and so starts the squirming and wriggling and flailing head with the onset of more screams. I sing lullabies, read stories, read my twitter and Facebook timelines to him (ok, so that would make anyone cry). Carry out activities that I’ve googled are good for babies of this age. I’ve taken him for long walks that only result in me having to endure the looks on passers bys faces when they hear the screams, screams akin to that a victim in a slasher movie makes. Nothing, nothing seems to work. Now during the day I can cope, to an extent, with this tired as I am and usually I can take him to bed with me and nurse him to sleep and by 3 he’s managed to nod off.

Then the OH comes home and the whole thing starts once more only it’s doubly as fractious as we argue between ourselves over what could be wrong. We misunderstand what each other says in the heat of the situation, taking each remark as a criticism which then makes the whole situation 50 times more stressful. Then I give in and take him to bed at 8.30. I don’t care that I’m making a rod for my own back, it’s the only way of preserving my sanity. My relationship with D has changed beyond anything I could ever have imagined.

People say the first 6 weeks are the hardest after that they find their own routine, well those I would say, in our experience have been the easiest and those weeks have been and gone and no sooner do we seem a glimmer of a routine it all changes again, and now people say 12 weeks then some helpfully say 16-20 weeks. I think forcing a ‘routine’ will help, HA!! I’ve even resorted to buying Gina Ford’s book which I’m currently in the process of reading and have to admit some of her points are quite valid and wish I’d done some of the things she said from birth, but I didn’t. Anyway, the only routine we now follow is N’s apart from his bedtime routine I have decided to carry on being baby led. And as far as his bedtime routine goes it consists of a bath, feeding and hopefully settling. I am very lucky in the fact his nighttime routine is set and has been for a while now. He still wakes three times but feeds, winds and settles within half an hour and reading others’ stories I’m glad he has his unsettled time in the evening but it’s hard to see that when he’s been screaming for hours on end.

It’s frustrating that I can’t calm the one person I should be able to soothe. He’s part of me, how can I not soothe him? The only conclusion I come to in this tired, anxious, overwrought state is he hates me. The love I feel for him isn’t returned. Every time he sees my face he thinks he’s looking into the eyes of a monster, it’s the only answer. The only reason he’s behaving like this.

Then comes my saving grace… In a particularly bad episode before I broke down into floods of tears knowing the OH is out on the road for the night, knowing I’m on my own until he returns the next evening, knowing I have to keep it together, I put him in his car seat and put him in the car. As soon as he was locked in, silence. And so I drove and drove and drove. A 50 mile round trip to North Devon and he was finally asleep… My partner and I have, over this weekend, found this time driving around great for all three of us, N gets to sleep, or atleast have a period of no screaming whilst D and I get to talk like adults. I have found our Holy Grail!

I am currently awaiting the arrival of a Boba Wrap so at least I can walk around the house when N just wants be held. Another purchase, another promise of hope, I’ll keep you updated as to it’s success.

No one tells you how hard it is looking after a baby. You expect the sleepless nights, you expect to be sleep deprived for a few months, you expect the loss of a social life and a change in your relationship and you welcome these. What you can’t comprehend or prepare for is how much it hurts when you can’t seem to calm your beautiful baby, it tears at your heart, at your very soul and when you see your beautiful child’s first tears rolling down his cheeks you want to sob and sob and berate yourself for being so totally and utterly useless. You feel like such a failure and this feeling you don’t expect.

Yet with these seemingly horrific moments have come the most precious ones. Ones like when you can pick him up when he’s grizzly and with that one action you can calm him and when you watch him rouse from sleep and in that moment he opens his eyes, sees your face and rewards your efforts with the most endearing smile that lights up his face it wipes the slate clean once more.

So in hindsight… does he love me? Yes, I think that maybe he might!

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Breastfeeding #2

So I thought today would be a good a day as any to update you on my breast feeding journey.

I have now struggled through the blanched nipple thing, perseverance and brute force to ensure Noah was latching properly and not giving into lazy feeding at night has won out… HOORAH! Although my nipples are still a little sore, especially at the end of the day and when they get cold, they are so much better and the relief is unreal. It’s taken some time but we’re getting there.

I’ve bought new bras from good old M&S to give them some much needed ‘leg room’ whilst still keeping Lansinoh in business with their amazing Lanolin nipple cream, I really can’t recommend it highly enough, Noah doesn’t bother about it and in fact it doubled up as a moisturiser for him when he was born with really dry, flaking skin as I didn’t want to use olive oil on his hands in case he ingested it.

It really is the most amazing feeling to breast feed. The connection you feel with your baby is beautiful and when you see the weight piling on and know that it’s all down to nature and your wonderful and clever breasts the sense of pride is rather overwhelming. I’m so SO pleased I struggled through that dark time, I could very easily have given up as there really was/is no quick fix for that problem.

So it pains me to say that in the early hours of this morning, after having an A* report from the doctor yesterday about our progress, I noticed that one of my breasts didn’t seem to be ‘letting down’ after he fed. By four this morning it was so engorged I could barely touch it. I let Noah feed from it again and massaged it to release any possible blocked ducts, no joy. He had a large and satisfying feed yet still it was swollen, hard and painful to the touch. Out came the cabbage leaves and hot water bottle once more and I sat waiting til 8.30 so I could ring the doctor.

The advice I’ve received from Twitter and Facebook has been amazing and I thank everyone for it, not only did you help me in short term pain relieving suggestions you also *virtually* wiped my tears and hugged me until I felt less upset. I didn’t think it was mastitis as I didn’t have a fever (though I have felt off colour these past few days) but a MW friend said it sounded possible and to visit doctor.

My OH was wonderful, despite having to get off to work he filled another hot water bottle and made me a cup of tea whilst I got dressed when I could. Offering to take time off to rush me up to the doctor as soon as I had a time.

For once I can honestly say the doctor’s receptionist was helpful and kind. As I burst into tears on the thought of a late afternoon appointment she got me in at 0910. Noah having a well timed feed and change, no waiting time on arrival to surgery and a lovely lady doctor just made my morning complete. She took one look and diagnosed mastitis. Great. Anyway, antibiotics should kick in within 48 hours so fingers crossed I’ll be back on form by the end of the week as I am braving baby massage class on Friday and really don’t want to cancel.

So here I am, having thought I’d cracked this breast feeding malarkey again I find myself struggling. However I am aware that in 48 hours I should be clear which is comforting.

What am I doing?

I have been given a week’s course of clarithromycin which should kick in within 48 hours.
I am currently harbouring a small cabbage patch in my bra…. Sexy!
Will submerge swollen bosom in hot water later and have a hot water bottle on 24 hour call.
I’m rocking the rugby ball baby feeding position to try and drain that quadrant of breast. Having just mastered one feeding position Noah is staring up at me with a look of utter confusion, though I’m sure he’s grateful he doesn’t have to stare at my unkempt armpit for a bit.
Feeding as usual, alternating breasts, but I’m massaging breast throughout his feeds.
Paracetamol.
Rest… Sod the washing, we’re going to snuggle all day.

I’m hoping this is it now. I’m hoping it’ll ease up and give me a break.

I’m not going to be beaten!

6 Weeks Old

Time is going too fast.

My pregnancy dragged, like REALLY dragged. Every week seemed to last a month and it literally felt like FOREVER for Noah to finally be handed over to us safe and sound way back in November. Now he’s here time has suddenly sped up. It’s now a whole new year, we’ve seen two new months in, it’s like labour presses the fast forward button and there’s no way of turning it off and I want to cherish every second like it was an hour.

He continues to amaze us everyday. He’s such an inquisitive soul, always intrigued by his surroundings with great big doe eyes. The downside of this however is he rarely sleeps during the day which then leaves him a little grumpy and stressed in the evenings and we have to concede and take him to bed to settle, this isn’t such a bad idea as I get to shut my eyes too ;).

He’s holding his head up so strongly now and looks around surveying his surroundings, although he still let’s it flop quite suddenly when we’re least expecting it resulting in a few injuries to our faces.

He’s discovered his hands properly now and takes great delight in grabbing at everything, mainly my hair, necklace, glasses, lip and nose and has given his father a nice bindi on a couple of occasions. He also loves to eat them though he still fails to have found his thumb. He loves to mimic our hand and face movements which helps to entertain him on the changing mat and in the bath.

He continues to make the most incredible noises when asleep. The pops, whistles and squeaks constantly have us in fits of laughter when they wake us in the middle of the night in utter confusion or interrupt a conversation we’re having whilst he’s dosing in his basket.

We recently bought a Mamas and Papas Capella bouncer to try and entertain him as he is getting a little bored with our stupid faces and silly noises. He hated it. After much perseverance we’re slowly cracking it and he seems to be enjoying it more now, though I think the reason he doesn’t like it is because he’s strapped in. He likes to be free to wriggle.

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Of course we have the bouncer to thank for his first smile, that moment where your heart melts once more and I managed to catch the moment on video, I couldn’t believe my luck. Of course he doesn’t give them away freely and is yet to smile at every given moment but we’re getting there and it just means we treasure them even more when he does feel the need to treat his old mum and dad.

Today saw the arrival of his Mamas and Papas Tummy Time Octopus which I am waiting to use (he’s currently sound asleep) but looks incredible. I decided to purchase this (with the help of a voucher from his Uncle) as he is getting to the stage where I am in no doubt that he’ll soon be rolling over, he’s making all the right motions and he’s so bloomin’ determined and he tries his hardest twisting away from us on his changing table (unless he’s particularly messy he doesn’t relish his nappy changes).

We had baby clinic yesterday and in preparation for our 6 week GP check up on Monday Noah had a full set of measurements taken:

Weight: 9Ibs 3.5oz (despite him being a particularly sicky baby that’s a massive 1Ib 11.5oz increase that I mainly feel in my arms)
Length: 53.5cm (3cm growth)
Head Circumference: 39cm (5cm growth – that’ll be his Dad’s fault then)

I am in no doubt that’ll he soon outgrow his newborn clothing, I give him a couple more weeks if that. Not bad for a baby that I’d given up buying newborn stuff for after a couple of sleep suits and vests as all the professionals said how he was going to be a 9Iber+. It’s going to be a sad day and I’ve been deciding what to do with them. Do I sell them, donate them to charity, bag them up for baby no. 2 (if we’re granted such luck a second time round) or get creative? I saw a lovely article on making things out of baby’s favourite clothes; patchwork blankets, bunting, etc. so you, and baby, have a constant reminder of those first few precious weeks of life. I totally love this idea, it’s like a keepsake in visual form, just need to get the sewing machine up and running.

We’re still having issues with sleeping arrangements at night. He’s used the bednest a handful of times. He still needs to be settled with me and this means I fall asleep with him so fail to slide him across into the bednest. When he wakes for a feed I tend to get up with him and we stay in the lounge for the rest of the night as I don’t wish to wake the other half up as he’s back at work at the moment and he needs the sleep. I’m hoping when he starts working away again I’ll be able to feed in bed and put him straight into the bednest afterwards as he settles so quickly after his feeds at night and it won’t matter if he grizzles a bit. That and the introduction of a grobag when he’s a little bigger may just solve the issues of a cold bed. We’ll see, watch this space.

We’ve had a few evenings (all over Christmas) of constant crying; colic, reflux, over tiredness, cluster feeding? The reason remains unknown but my nipples were suffering and my OH bit the bullet and purchased some dummies. We both hate dummies so this was a huge step and not one we took lightly. Noah hates them! Constantly spitting them out as he’s gaping wide as if he was on the breast. This breaks my heart every time because we took a long time getting him to latch on so well and now I was confusing the little mite. Needless to say I don’t persevere with the dummy thing I give up as soon as he spits it out. OH, thankfully is the one with the perseverance and continues to hold the dummy in his mouth in a bid that he will, soon, self soothe and not need me nor my sore nipples to lull him to sleep. We’ve now tried 2 different types and I’ve been recommended another which I shall try but I still live in hope he’ll find his thumb.

In a nut shell we’re making progress. He continues to fill our hearts with the deepest love, I don’t think I could love him any more deeply and then he does something new which just strengthens and deepens the feelings I have for him even more. I never knew our hearts were so deep. We are still totally besotted. A little tired I admit but I wouldn’t change it for the world. He is my life and I leave you with this, his first smile.

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4 Weeks Old Today

I know it sounds clichéd but I seriously can’t believe it’s been 4 weeks since we welcomed our little boy into this world. On one hand it seems like just yesterday, on the other it seems like years since I was poking his feet to get them to retract from my ribcage or relishing in those early morning hiccups.

Everyday he brings us such joy, along with a truck load of worry and paranoia about his health of which we have no actual concerns… Does this ever end?

He’s starting to change quickly now. He’s becoming much more alert which means entertaining him has notched up a level. We had naïvely thought we wouldn’t need all the detritus you so often find in houses where children are present. It has now become apparent to us that we do, this detritus is a necessary evil, one that saves your sanity. Speaking to a fellow new parent who shared this philosophy and is a couple of weeks down the track to us has now owned up to his living quarters resembling the back page of an Argos catalogue. We are constantly sharing opinions and ‘tricks of the trade’ and for this we are eternally grateful, they appear to have some of the same ‘issues’ as us and it’s nice to know we’re not alone and what to expect a couple of weeks down the track.

Personality
Chilled! What more can I say?
I’m not saying he never cries for when he does he can stop wild animals in their tracks but generally he’s just the most chilled out soul, I think he’s got this from me!

Sleep
We have rented a bednest, as have our fellow new parents mentioned above, they appear to be having more success than we are. I’m hoping this is due to the age of the baby. However since introducing a blanket and sliding him across whilst asleep he has successfully slept in it 3 nights running but it would be nice to be able to settle him IN the bednest.

He still uses me as a pacifier to aid him into sleep and this has, in part, contributed to my very painful nipple ‘issue’. We have seriously considered the virtues of a dummy. We don’t like dummies. Never have. We’re fast becoming swayed. However I will not introduce one until he’s atleast 6 weeks and hope, by then, he may have changed his bedtime needs or atleast found his thumb.

He seems to be sleeping from 10/11 until 2 then have a quick feed and sleep through until 5/6 then sleeps again allowing me time to either snooze with him or have breakfast at a reasonable hour.

He sleeps so soundly we still find ourselves nudging him to check he’s ok, seriously… Will this paranoia ever end? He’s still happier sleeping on his side which causes issues whilst settling him at night. We now allow him to fall asleep on his side and when we transfer him to the nest we roll him onto his back and pray! He’s usually twisted sideways again by the time he’s awake.

Feeding
This has been a struggle in recent times as you may have read in my post My Breastfeeding Journey. However, I’m pleased to say over the last two days things appear to be improving. I called our Maternity Support Worker for some advice and she popped over to see us. I may have a plethora of negative comments about the community postnatal support in our area but I have to say this woman is magic! She told me that this is a new position, she works in conjunction with the HVs and I have to say how invaluable I’ve found her. She is quite simply the best!

She agrees his latch is good and that my issues have more than likely been caused by poor latching and suckling at night, as previously thought (my bad for being a lazy trollop). She tweaked my hold and told me to pull him in more firmly (violently in my opinion, I’ve obviously been too soft in my feeding approach) as she thinks he may have been hanging off my nipple. She then reassured me the pain would ebb. He shows no signs of thrush, I don’t have mastitis (never thought this) it’s just one of those things that will pass in time. She has rung me every day since and I can say that the pain is indeed ebbing… Thank god! Thank you Kerry!! I’m still piling on the Lansinoh and am still a little sore in the evenings after his mammoth feeds and eternal pacifying but it’s nowhere near as painful as it has been. I feel I’m turning a corner, either that or my nipples are now turning into the ‘Range Rover Wheel Nuts’ as a Twitter friend kindly warned me about.

I have to say I’m rather proud of myself, I could so easily have given up and it is the one thing I really didn’t want to have to compromise on. I know things could still change as I don’t know what lies in the future and short of mastitis and Noah chewing a breast off I feel I have got through one critical barrier and hope I’m on the home straight.

Size
Due to Noah being quite sicky this week the maternity support worker told me to get him weighed again. I went to a different session closer to home this time, although the slot is an hour earlier I thought it would be easier… Cue a repeat of last week’s weigh in events as detailed in Week Three blog. This time I drove. Our first adventure in the car with just the two of us!
He has put on a further 5oz in 6 days. He now weighs 8Ib 1oz. So pleased these sicky episodes aren’t affecting him in any way. May start a food diary and see if what I’m eating is affecting him.

He continues to get remarks on how long he is, I may well measure him later today and see how much he has actually grown as it’s hard to tell when you see them on a daily basis. In fact a friend came round last night with her 11 week old daughter and side by side their bodies are the same length! Height is definitely something he hasn’t inherited from me (Hobbits).

He’s still nowhere near growing out of his newborn clothes, thank god I bought more!

Nappies
We trialed the real nappies this week for a day. They’re lovely on his skin and he doesn’t fight quite so hard when changing him. It must be like being wrapped up in a fleece blanket. However, they’re still too big for him, bless his heart. I put them on and lie him down and his body is nearly at a 45 degree angle so we’re sticking with the Naty’s for a while longer, annoying but necessary I think.

Milestones
Noah is doing fabulously.
All the tummy time I’ve been giving him (fashioning expensive TT cushions from elbow cushions, fleece blankets and a menagerie of cuddly toys) is paying off, he is holding himself away from me so upright and strong now whilst he looks around it really is quite amazing.
He’s starting to show signs of rolling over and I don’t think it’ll be long until he does. He’s whipping his legs round so violently that I’m beginning to think he’s going to be an amazing breakdancer. He can quite happily spin 90 degrees when left on his back.
His alert time is increasing everyday which is fabulous until he kicks off.
He’s mimicking some of my more ridiculous facial features and has increased his vocal repertoire considerably although we’re yet to hear a definite goo or gaa.

Washing
Never EVER would I have guessed at how much laundry such a little human being can create. You can’t half go through some clothes Noah, that you must get from your Dad!!

Lessons Learned
Despite the best of intentions I’ve realised, and refuse to beat myself up about it, that you can’t always parent how you would have ideally liked. I’ve decided to view parenthood like I did my birth plan; it’s nice to have an ideal plan that would be adhered to, by the letter, in an ideal world. However, in reality it’s most likely going to end up as scrap paper and you can’t dwell on why it’s totally changed from your original view else you will drive yourself into despair. Life doesn’t have set rules so why do we think we can enforce them at one of the most stressful times of our lives. Winging it and being baby led isn’t such a bad way to learn until some sort routine can be established and I’m not too proud to admit it (that’ll make my brother and sister-in-law giggle 😜) as long as we’re all happy and healthy I don’t see a problem with it.

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Happy 4 week birthday my beautiful, beautiful boy.