11 weeks with a baby

So I thought I’d do a little update on life, and how the last 11 weeks have been with a baby.

Isla

I really can’t believe Isla is 11 weeks old already, it’s going too quickly! It really doesn’t seem that long ago that she was born, and she is growing so much. There are some days when I feel like I’m winning and we’ve mastered things. And then there are other days when I feel as though I’m having a good day if both Isla and I are dressed! We’ve been getting smiles from Isla since she was about 5 weeks old, and they really melt your heart, and can make you forgive her when she’s been screaming all day, or keeping you awake at night! She’s just starting to take more notice of her hands, which is so cute to watch. She just makes a fist and stares at it for ages, and then smiles or laughs as if it did something funny! Oh how I wish I knew what she was thinking at times like that (do babies think? I mean about things other than food, sleep and the fact they need a nappy change!?) She’s just started trying to sit up, if she’s lying on our legs and you hold her her hands, she pulls herself up. And then grins, as if to congratulate herself. Dare I mention sleeping? Well she can often sleep from 10/11pm until about 4/5am, wakes up for a quick feed, and then will go back to sleep again for another couple of hours, feeds again around 7ish, and then snoozes until 10am. Sounds wonderful? There’s one catch. She will only do this if she is sleeping on us! Chris isn’t confident enough to have her sleep in our bed (I know, I know, we shouldn’t do it!) so we take it in turns. I have her until 4/5am downstairs and she sleeps on me on the sofa, and then Chris comes downstairs and has her until he goes to work, so I can get some sleep in bed. She’ll then sleep or snooze in bed with me until we get up, usually around 10ish (on the odd occasion until much later!!) We’ve tried putting her down in her moses basket, but more often than not she wakes up either straight away, or will sleep for about 30 minutes before she wakes up. I know we need to get her in to the habit of sleeping down, but I’m often so tired, that I don’t have the energy to spend the whole night up and down with her. I guess for the sake of a week or so of little sleep it might be worth it, but I never quite manage it. Plus, I love snuggles with my baby!! She’s not always going to want to snuggle up with me like that, so I’m kinda making the most of it while I can.

Isla having cuddles with Grandpa, and meeting Great Grandad for the first time while at Mum and Dad's.

Isla having cuddles with Grandpa, and meeting Great Grandad for the first time while at Mum and Dad’s.

Garden and allotment

These have taken a bit of a back seat in recent weeks, we’ve kinda been busy with other things. Chris however, did really well when Isla was only a few weeks old, and when he was with her, and the odd occasions she would sleep down, he would pot on a lot of the things we were growing. This now means that we have flowers in our garden and court yard, as well as some up at the allotment. Our greenhouse is doing wonders, and means that things are growing well. We’re in the process of ‘improving’ both the garden and the courtyard. We’ve started digging up the lawn (when reading lawn, think moss and weeds with about 5 blades of grass) before Isla was born and were hoping we would get it finished one weekend, but then she decided to make an appearance that Sunday, so it still isn’t finished!! Yesterday we also started painting one of the walls in the courtyard, it’s about 3/4 done with the first coat, and then will need a second coat, but that hopefully shouldn’t take too long. It’s really brightened up the courtyard. Mum and Dad have really helped out at the allotment. When they come to visit we usually end up making a trip down there, Isla usually gets fussy so I end up feeding her while Mum and Dad dig lots of weeds etc! We’ve already dug up our garlic, which we’d planted over the winter. Our onions, unfortunately, have been eaten by who knows what. I think possibly a badger. We’ve got leeks, potatoes, cabbages and courgettes growing up there at the moment. I decided I wanted some flowers up there, so we have a row of lavender on the border, and then a selection of hardy perennials on the bed in front of it (we got plug plants through the post, but we never labelled them when potting on, so I know what plants we have, just not which are which!) We still have loads of weeds. Our apple tree doesn’t seem to have done much this year, not sure why….possibly over run by weeds! Our raspberries also haven’t done much, we’ve maybe had a handful of them, but again, probably over run by weeds! I do feel like we’re getting there with it though, one step at a time though.

Courtyard wall

A work in progress

Out and about

We had our first weekend away from home when Isla was 4 weeks old. We went up to Mum and Dad’s for the weekend as it was Mum’s 60th and Dad was retiring, so they had a party. It went….OK. Some nights she was fine, other nights she was awful! We’ve also been to Chris’ Mum’s a couple of times, most recently to her new place in Broadstairs. Again, they’ve been fairly mixed, I think she gets a bit over tired with the long car journeys. We had a lovely trip to the beach when we were at Broadstairs, but she slept the whole time and didn’t see any of it! We’ve had lots of friends and family come over to visit, which has been lovely, and they’ve usually brought lunch or dinner with them (always welcome!) Chris has been away for a stag weekend and left me and Isla to fend for ourselves. As you can see, we both survived! Big respect to single parents by the way, I honestly don’t know how you manage it! I was exhausted come Sunday afternoon. It really made me appreciate how much Chris does for us. Isla has also been to her first birthday party, she slept for a lot of it, but so did the birthday girl (it was a 1 year old’s party!)

 

We’ve probably done loads more stuff, and I was going to say other bits, but I think this has turned into quite a long post already, and having said that a little lady doesn’t sleep in her moses basket, she has been asleep in it for the last 2 hours – I think it’s the heat – but is just starting to stir, so I need to sign off.

Moses basket

Sleeping in her moses basket

Breastfeeding Dilemma

So after 2 months of breastfeeding I feel as though I’ve finally cracked it, but now I’m posed with a breastfeeding dilemma.

Breastfeeding is going really well, both Isla and I seem really happy with it, and are getting on really well. She’s putting on weight and remains on the same percentile as when she was born.

As mentioned before, I suffer with Chronic Daily Headaches. I had to stop taking all my medication when I got pregnant, so as not to affect Isla’s development. My headaches got significantly worse – whether that was because I couldn’t take any abortive medication or not though I don’t know. After never having a single sick day due to my headaches in all my working life, during my pregnancy I have over 14 sick days. I was referred back to neurology, they gave me medication that I could take during pregnancy, but they didn’t do much. I saw my neurologist again a month after Isla was born and he put me on a new type of medication.

I started this medication (Topirimate 25mg) on the Tuesday, with the aim of increasing this to twice a day after 2 weeks, and doubling this again in 2 months if needed, with a follow up appointment with neurology in January.

On the Friday evening I then realised that the diarrhoea Isla has been experiencing since Wednesday morning was due to my new medication. I phoned my GP surgery on Monday morning for a telephone consult, but missed his call back as I was driving (get me!!!) so went back on the list for a call on Tuesday.

A GP from my surgery called me and we discussed what was going on. He gave me two options

  1. Stop taking the new medication, suffer with headaches and continue breastfeeding, or
  2. Continue with the new medication, hope they work and I don’t get (as many) headaches, and stop breastfeeding.

He believes all medications to address my headaches would have the same effect on Isla. This wasn’t the answer I was expecting. I was expecting him to suggest another type of medication.

Now, I don’t want headaches, but I also don’t want to stop breastfeeding. By the end of the phone call I was quite upset. By the time I’d thanked him for calling me back and hung up the phone I was in floods of tears at the prospect of having to stop breastfeeding. I’d just congratulated myself that morning on learning how to breastfeed while lying down, and now I may not be able to do it any more. I spent the rest of the day in tears on and off whenever I though about it all.

There’s a number of reasons why it upsets me so much:

  1. It sounds to stupid, but it feels as though I won’t be her mum any more. I could just be anyone to her if I stop breastfeeding. Only her mum can breastfeed her, anyone can give her a bottle
  2. I’ll miss that big smile she gives me when I get my boobs out to feed her! Her eyes light up and she gives me a big smile. If she’s upset beforehand, then breastfeeding really comforts her, and she’ll pause part way through to give me a smile, almost as if she’s saying “thank you for making me feel better mummy”
  3. I feel as though I’ll lose part of the closeness and bond with Isla that breastfeeding gives us
  4. I’ll feed as though I’ve failed her
  5. My headaches have ruined things again. I can manage holidays, friend’s weddings, weekends with friends, even parts of our honeymoon being ruined by my headaches, but the fact they are now ruining my relationship with my daughter too is too much to bare.

So many people have been so supportive since this bombshell was dropped, saying I’d done so well to feed her thing long, they will support whatever decision I make, bottle-feeding wont negatively affect Isla at all, etc. but it doesn’t make me feel any better to be honest. I just want someone to come up with a magic answer that means I can have no headaches and still breastfeed.

Someone suggested that I express milk and then freeze it as it will last a good few months in the freezer and then I can mix and match with formula milk. This made me consider becoming a cow for a month or so (after ensuring the medication was out of my system first) so that I can store up loads of milk for Isla, but I realised that it wasn’t the milk I wanted Isla to have. I wanted to breastfeed her, not bottle feed her with my milk, but couldn’t see a way around this.

My parents were on holiday at the time, but I emailed them anyway to let them know what was going on. They emailed back suggesting I contacted Breastfeeding Network to ask for advice. I emailed them in the middle of the night, and had a response from them when I woke up in the morning. They couldn’t advise on what medication I could take, but suggested I contact my neurologist again and ask for a phone consult, and if he did prescribe another medication, then she would look into it for me to find out how it could/would affect breastfeeding.

So now a week later and I’m still waiting for my neurologist to call me back as he was on holiday last week. I’m hoping something positive will come from it, because I’m really not sure what I’ll do if they say all the medication could/would affect Isla. Though I guess it’s worth trying them in case one of them doesn’t have an effect on her at all???

What are your thoughts? Have any of you ever had a similar problem? If so, what did you do? Am I being selfish in not wanting to stop?

Breastfeeding

Isla breastfeeding

Bottle-feeding

Nanny giving Isla a bottle

The secret to stopping a baby from crying

It’s true, I know the secret to stopping a baby from crying!

 

We seem to have the odd night, maybe once a week or so when Isla just isn’t happy at all. She will cry and scream for hours and nothing we do will comfort her. It breaks my heart. We’ve tried cuddling her, swaddling her, feeding her, changing her nappy, changing her clothes. We’ve been out driving, we’ve walked around the house, we’ve bounced on the birthing ball, we’ve even tried a dummy which is something we didn’t really want to do. Sometimes the dummy works if you swaddle her and bounce at the same time, but often she will only settle for a short while and then carry on screaming again.

I met up with a friend for coffee the other week and Isla started fussing while she was holding her, and she let me in on her secret that works with her daughter. I told her she was insane and that there was no reason why that would work. But she reassures me that it does work, and yes, it is insane and there is no reason why it would work. She has even told the nursery staff at the nursery where her daughter goes and they agree that it works.

So what is the secret?

Singing Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday

Picture taken from http://harperschoice.org

Huh!?

Yup! Sing Happy Birthday and it seems to settle Isla, and various other babies it seems. If it doesn’t work at first, try a bit more enthusiasm. It may just be the tune, as I’ve changed the lyrics when singing it to her when I’ve needed to get Chris to pass me the remote, or get me a drink or something – as long as you sing it all to the tune of Happy Birthday, then it still works!

Don’t believe me? Give it a try and let me know how you get on with it!

 

P.S. Isla is currently asleep in her moses basket – I know, it won’t last for long! But she is making the cutest noises in the world, totally sounds like she is singing to herself! I think I might try and record it so I can play it to Chris when he gets home from work!

Elderflower Cordial Recipe

I absolutely love anything to do with elderflower! Love it! So over the last week or so I’ve been picking elderflowers, and here is an elderflower cordial recipe I’ve used.

  1. Dissolve 1.5kg of caster sugar in 1.5 litres of water over a heat. Once the sugar has all dissolved, take it off the heat and let it cool.
  2.  Finely slice 2 lemons, and put them, pips and all, in a 3.5 litre container (bowl, pot, whatever you have).
  3.  Add roughly 25 elderflower heads to the large container, as well as 50g citric acid (you can buy this from a pharmacy)
  4. Add the cooled sugar syrup, stir well and cover for 24 hours
  5. Sieve it all through a muslin and decant into sterilised bottles.

This elderflower cordial recipe will keep for approximately 1 month, if you want it to last longer however, try adding 2 Campden tablets to the mix. Campden tablets are generally used in wine and beer making and can make your elderflower cordial last for 2-3 months.

If you pick you elderflowers, but don’t have time to make your cordial straight away, then free them as soon as you can before they start going brown. You can then add them to your sugar syrup straight from the freezer.

Elderflower Cordial Recipe

Lots of lovely elderflower cordial

 

Tastes great with fizzy water, or if like me you love your cocktails try adding a bottle of prosecco to a large jug filled with ice, lemon slices and mint, and then add some elderflower cordial to taste. Yum!!

Happy Father’s Day

A bit late in the day, but Happy Father’s Day! This is just a quick post to say how wonderful Isla’s Daddy is!

With today being Chris’ first Father’s Day, I though I would say why we think he’s so great.

Feeding Mummy

Every day that Chris is at work, and I’m not out having lunch with the NCT girls, or has friends coming over and bringing lunch with them, then he still makes me lunch so that I can spend as much time cuddling Isla as possible without having to stress about finding food to eat. More often than not, he also ends up cooking dinner too, as I often have a baby attached to me wanting her dinner!

Early mornings

As Isla still isn’t sleeping through the night, not really a surprise as she’s only 7 weeks old, then we take it in shifts to look after her during the night. I tend to take the first shift, with Chris going to bed anywhere from 8:30pm, depending on how tired he is, and how settled Isla is. I try to stay with her downstairs as long as I can. She is such a noisy sleeper that we spend most nights with her downstairs so that the other one can get some peaceful sleep. I’ll usually fall asleep on the sofa for a few hours after she has gone down into her moses basket, but then it gets to anywhere between 2am and 6:30am (depending on whether it’s a week day or weekend) and I go up to Chris and ask him to take over so that I can get some sleep. Our hope is that Isla is a good girl, and stays asleep, or goes back to sleep quickly and easily if she’s woken up for a sleep, so that Chris can continue sleeping downstairs. This doesn’t always happen, but he never complains.

Gardening

If you know us, then you’ll know we love our allotment and our (tiny) garden. At the moment we’re growing lots of flowers and veg, many of which were sown before our little one was born, and all need potting up. Chris is wonderful, and if he can’t sleep, or Isla just wants to be cuddled when he is up with her in the early mornings then he will sit at the dining room table and pot them up (cue lots of soil all over our dining room table and floor, but hey ho!) He also pots up and waters all the millions of plants we have in the evenings and weekends, again usually while I’m sat on the sofa with a little girl attached to me! Before Isla was born, Chris also ended up doing a lot of the work up at the allotment, as it was a bit too much hard work for me while being 8 and 9 months pregnant. So while I was sat on my bum doing little bits of weeding, he would be digging loads of beds, and carrying water from the tap to water everything we had planted etc. He’s keeping out allotment and garden going, as he knows how annoyed we would be if all our plants ended up dying because we don’t have time to look after them as our little cherub takes up so much of our time these days

Chauffeur

Chris has played chauffeur for a long time, as I am not a confident driver in the slightest. But Chris ferries us around to buy more nappies, go to the allotment, the garden centre, visit family all over the country, and (most of the time) he doesn’t complain, even if he is tired, or would like to have a drink but can’t because he has to drive home

Daddy cuddles

Isla loves her daddy cuddles, and she thinks that Chris gives the best daddy cuddles ever. Sometimes Daddy has lots he wants to do, but will always drop it all to sit down and give his gorgeous girly a cuddle so that I can either sleep, or get the things done that I want to and haven’t managed to as I’ve been looking after her when she decides she doesn’t want to be put down at all!

Daddy Cuddles

Daddy Cuddles

Daddy Cuddles 2

Daddy Cuddles 2

Daddy Cuddles 3

Isla was so excited to give Daddy her Father’s Day presents that she fell asleep!

Even though he’s only had 7 weeks worth of practice, both Isla and I think that Chris is a fantastic Father, and appreciate what he does for us so much. There are so many other things that he does for us that make our lives easier and happier that I could spend all day listing them. So Happy Father’s day, Chris on your first Father’s Day. Here’s to many more.

We love you!

 

Breastfeeding is hard

I don’t care what anyone says, but breastfeeding is hard!

You can read all the books you want, watch as many clips as is possible, and attend classes in preparation, but I don’t think anything can prepare you for how hard it is.

You can be doing really well, and feel you’re getting everything right, baby can be putting on weight really well. And BAM! It hurts. Baby screams. Baby won’t feed. Baby won’t stop feeding.

It’s worse when this all happens in the middle of the night. You are exhausted. Those post-pregnancy hormones have well and truly kicked in. And you feel like you’ve failed. Like you can’t even do the most natural thing in the world – feeding your baby.

The baby is crying, and you’re crying. You just want the baby to sleep so that you can get some sleep, before the next feed. and if you’re anything like me, you don’t like crying in front of other people – and this includes your husband, so you try to hide it, which just makes things worse.

In the end, you give in, and wake your other half, asking them to please, just take the baby. You need sleep, evening if it’s only for 5 minutes. Please!

Breastfeeding is hard

“Oh dear, she’ll master this soon!”

We managed until day 12 before the above happened to me. Out darling Isla had been either feeding or screaming for over 6 hours. Nothing we did would settle her. And dear God did my nipples hurt!

In the end, Chris drove us up to the birth centre. We spent some time with a lovely student midwife, who calmed me down, gave me reassurance that I was doing nothing wrong, that my gorgeous girly (who had decided to fall asleep on the car journey over there) was not ill, but sometimes babies just cry. She observed me breastfeeding, and gave me a few pointers. We left there feeling so much better about things, and then got a vaguely good nights sleep. After this night, things seemed to improve a lot.

My mum texted me a few days afterwards. Her best friend is a midwife and they were both members of the NCT, and huge supporters of breastfeeding. In fact my mum was a breastfeeding counsellor for years. So mum’s text said

“Fiona says I have to give you huge congratulations in light of how well yo are doing with breastfeeding. I’m so pleased that it seems to be going so well. You must have felt under a bit of pressure”

I guess I never really thought about it before, but I think I did (and probably still do) feel a lot of pressure to do well at breastfeeding. There have been so many times where I’ve felt like giving up. sod it, she can just have formula milk, and then at least Chris can share the feeds, and I can get more sleep, rather than being woken up every 3 hours, sometimes more often, so that she can feed. But I feel like I can’t quit, because I would… I don’t know, let people down, disappoint people, feel like a total failure, that I didn’t try hard enough, and gave up too easily.

The girls from my NCT group all have a whatsapp group going, so we constantly provide each other with support if we’re struggling, ask each other for advise, and share stories of what silly antics our babies have been up to recently. I am so thankful for this group, as it can keep you (vaguely) sane during the late night/early hours of the morning when you’re really struggling.

I read somewhere that you should never give up breastfeeding on your worst day. I also read in a book I was given (Happy baby, happy family by Sarah Beeson MBE – a health visitor) that “every day you breastfeed is a massive achievement, so just take it one day at a time”

For now we seem to be doing OK though, so we will keep on going. I think it helps that Isla is now sleeping for longer…though this does sometimes pose problems for me – Chris’ comment this morning was “Hahahahaha, it looks like someone has taken a balloon pump to just your left boob!!! Hahahahaha” Thanks for the support there, love!

Does any of this sound familiar to you? Anyone else find that breastfeeding is hard? Has anyone else had any problems? Any wonderful tips and tricks you have?

Five things I’ve learnt since Isla was born

So here is a list of just five things I’ve learnt since Isla was born.

 

Babies have a lot of poo!

In our NCT classes we were told that when a baby is first born their stomach is the size of a marble. So how can a baby with such a small stomach first of all take so long to fill it up! And secondly create so much poo!? Seriously, there were times when we were changing her nappy and there was still more of it…and more…and more…and more! Sorry if that’s too much information, but it’s true. There is just so much poo in a small baby!!

 

Cutting a baby’s nails is the most difficult thing in the world

Supposedly a baby’s nails need cutting approximately twice a week when they are this age. I would possibly agree with this, as Isla seems to love scratching her face, but hates having scratch mitts on as it means she can’t suck her thumb! I can’t really comment on how often Isla’s nails really need cutting though, as it is so bloody difficult to do!! Sometimes I just go for biting them off (lovely I know) when I’m able. Other times I try to actually cut them with nail clippers, but she likes to grip her hands so much that it’s difficult to get to them, plus they’re so short still that it’s hard to do without fear of cutting her fingers! My next attempt will be when she is next asleep and see if it’s any easier then. Does anyone have any suggestions on how is best/easiest to cut their nails?

 

Isla is making me strongly consider taking out shares in Pampers!

Following on from my first point about babies having lots of poo…. this also means we go through a LOT of nappies. Often we will change Isla’s nappy, sit down (sometimes we don’t even get this far) and she will need another nappy change! We have taken to undoing her nappy and leaving it a little bit to see if anything further happens, and then changing her into a clean nappy, but sometimes this doesn’t even solve the problem. We have dubbed this ‘doing an Isla’.

 

Random noises made by babies can scare the crap out of you!

I’ve not progresses to the obsessive parent who constantly checks to see if their baby is still breathing or not, mostly because I think if I did I would start to get a bit obsessive about it, and every slightest thing would send me into a blind panic, and I don’t want to get to that stage. However there are times when Isla’s asleep that she will make random noises and it can make my heart stop for a second. She does make really cute noises as well though, little squeaks, snoring (please note Chris, this is only cute when Isla does it! It is never cute when you do it!), even her breathing at times sounds really cute.

I would like to say at this point yes, I’ve changed. I’ve gone soppy. I find breathing cute. I mean really!? Does anyone that knows me think I would ever find breathing cute? Usually hearing people breathe annoys the hell out of me!

 

My husband is wonderful! *

*warning – I’m going to be soppy again!

I honestly don’t know how I would’ve managed without Chris. He has been absolutely wonderful. I’ve been limited in what I’ve been able to do since Isla was born, as my stitches split, and so I’ve had to take it easy, and haven’t been able to walk around much without being in pain. Chris has effectively been waiting on me hand and foot. He has been cleaning the house, cooking dinner, doing the shopping, still continuing with the gardening etc. He has been so accommodating with trying various sleeping schedules to see what works best for both me and Isla, depending on how much sleep we had the previous night. He’s been back at work the last week, and even though he previously has required at least 8 hours sleep to function, he has been managing very well on 5 hours of broken sleep max. He even makes me a plate of lunch each day with a wide variety of healthy and not so healthy (chocolate and crisps, else he knows I would complain!!) foods so that I can just grab it out the fridge and not have to sort it myself, ensuring that I eat enough, especially while breastfeeding. There are so many other little things he does, including the majority of the nappies, that I am so thankful for. I definitely got a good one here.

Sleeping Isla

Isla is so lovely when she’s sleeping!

The Durrans Family

First family photo

Are there any weird and wonderful things you’ve learnt since having a baby? Do you have any tips or advise on how to make life any easier?