New official site address

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Thanks! xx

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Baby Bedtime Problems

Ok.

When I was pregnant I read quite a bit. Books like “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” and “The Happiest Baby On The Block”. I enjoyed reading about everything I was going through, what the baby inside me was going through and what I could expect for the first little while after we brought her home from the hospital. But I was so bombarded with all the pregnancy and delivery stuff (I was pretty scared about going into labour for the first time) that I kind of had no room for all the stuff that came AFTER the delivery. I figured I’d be able to do my reading about that when I had my baby beside me and could actually put into practice what I was learning.

Good joke! Who has time or free hands to read a book when they have a newborn?!

Anyway, one of the ideas I came across before I gave birth was the ‘4th Trimester’ in “The Happiest Baby on the Block” by Dr. Karp. I really loved this idea and knew that was something I’d want to follow from the beginning. Dr Karp believes that all human babies are born 3 months before they’re fully ready to be part of the outside world unlike any other animals who are born ready to survive. The reason behind this is because the human brain grows so rapidly in those final 3 months that if the baby stayed inside the mother the head would be far too large to be birthed naturally. He believes we should treat the first 3 months of a baby’s life essentially as the 4th trimester of pregnancy. This means responding to them when they call (or cry) for you.

I also knew that Baby G would sleep in our room – but in a co-sleeper. I was worried about the dangers of her being in the bed with us. We bought a crib and assembled it next to our bed, but honestly she was so tiny inside it and reaching in and out constantly in the middle of the night was just not working. So after losing my mind a couple of times (and hurting my back and knocking my head once or twice) Baby G began to end up in the actual bed with us which made me very nervous. So I did some research for actual co-sleepers and came across the SnuzPod. This seemed to be the perfect solution – it fit perfectly with our bed, was a better size for our tiny little baby and it easily transforms into a stand alone crib for when we want to start establishing some independence. So I bought the pod hoping it would be the answer to my prayers and well…it kind of was but it also really wasn’t. Feeding became so much easier but Baby G still wanted to sleep mostly beside us in the bed. It’s like she could tell the difference between her mattress and ours and she’d rarely want to go to sleep in it. It was becoming impossible to get her to go to bed on her own. She always wanted to be with us and sensed the second we wanted to put her down and would start crying. She was happier (and quiet) when she was with us.

I also have to say that it’s been this way since day one. I tried to get her to sleep in her own crib beside us from the very beginning but she always hated being on her own.

So then I went looking for ideas. Everyone was telling me over and over that we needed a proper BEDTIME ROUTINE. But how do you establish a bedtime routine with a baby who is different every single day? Some days she’s sleepy, other days she’s active. Some days she’s constantly hungry, other days she just snacks. Some days she’s fussy and other other days she’s so easy going and happy. But we were slacking on a proper routine – but that’s part of being new parents right? So we decided to come up with a real routine to follow.

Our current bedtime routine is this:

  • Bring Baby G into the bedroom and close the curtains. Turn on her night light which plays some lullabies to signal it’s bed time.
  • Feed her. (If she’s hungry at this point. Sometimes she’s not interested in anything other than a snack).
  • Change her nappy and put her into a bedtime onesie. Every other night we also give her a bath.
  • Read her a story.
  • Rock her a little and then place her gently down in her crib to sleep.

But here’s my problem. Once I get her into the bedroom, she may or may not start crying. And crying. And crying and crying. If she’s crying I can’t read her a story and we tried to soothe her with a bath once but it just made her worse. Sometimes her crying can last 30 minutes and other times it can take me 3 hours to settle her. She doesn’t have collic, and she isn’t a baby that usually cries unless something’s wrong or she wants something. She’s normally very placid.

But for whatever reason, the evenings seem to be our problem. Some evenings the bedtime routine works easily and really makes my day. But on those other evenings, pacing around the bedroom, putting her down and picking her back up to soothe her and trying to put her down again repeatedly for 3 hours is just not sustainable. My back and neck are in bits and it means we have no time together in the evenings. It’s also not fair on her because she spends her evenings before bed so upset. But there’s just no telling what way the routine will go. (You know, I think she might be starting to teethe but everyone’s telling me she’s too young at 10 weeks).

So I went looking for better ideas. Another blogger, Amie from Bump Baby & Me, suggested I check out Tracy Hogg’s “The Baby Whisperer”. Knowing I couldn’t really find time to read a full book I decided to buy the audio book. I listened to it the first night through and went through everything she suggested (pick up to soothe and then put back down once they stop crying). And you know what? That night was the first time she slept through for 6 hours. I thought I’d hit the jackpot!

Until I repeated the routine step by step and almost word for word the following night and all hell broke loose. Nothing I did would help her settle and it took 3 hours for her to just tire herself out and go to sleep. She was awake every 2 hours that night and she hasn’t slept for 6 hours solid since.

Right now I’m itching to implement a proper bedtime routine that works but we haven’t been able to find a consistency that works for us. I’ve even considered letting her cry it out – but I don’t want to do anything like that until she’s at least 3 months old. Even then, I’m not sure I’m strong enough for it. Maybe I have to be. But really how can you rely on a bedtime routine for someone so new to the world? She’s growing and changing so much – some days she’s more alert than others. I can’t really expect her to do anything she doesn’t want to do, right?

In the meantime, I’ve started keeping a baby sleep diary trying to track her routine (I’ll do another post on that soon). I have a few weeks before she is officially 3 months and out of the 4th trimester. Until then, I’m reading small bits when I can, I’m listening to podcasts and audiobooks and I’m watching the baby for any sleep patterns she might have.

Has anyone had similar experiences to me? I’d be interested to hear how you are all getting on with your own bedtime routines. Any and all suggestions welcome!

 

Coping with Mastitis

Breastfeeding for the first time is hard. At best you’ve got one hungry little newborn who just wants to feed, feed, feed and at worst you’ve got a battle on your hands of trying to get the baby to latch correctly and not hurt you or your nipples any more than is necessary.

I was incredibly fortunate that Baby G had a good latch straight from birth. It turned out that I had a fast let down and my milk came in within the first 48 hours. By all accounts, that was great! I recognise half the battle was won based purely on luck.

However, with a fast let down and full supply of milk and one hungry little baby very quickly came heavy engorgement followed by a dose of mastitis. If you don’t know what this is, you’re lucky. It’s an inflammation of the breast tissue and can be caused by a number of things (infection, milk not being drained properly etc.) You can read more about it here: http://www.babycenter.com/0_mastitis_251.bc

After giving birth, I went from being a humble 32B to a 36DD in the space of 3 days and I can tell you that the pain, not just from the raw nipples and constant feeding, was unreal. I had been SO excited towards the end of my pregnancy about being able to sleep on my stomach again…but no such luck. With those huge and solid boobs planted on top of my chest, I could barely roll over without hurting. They were solid as rocks. Lumps = not good.

Not only were they sore but they were HOT. And I don’t mean sexy. I mean seriously warm. I looked like a much less glamorous Pamela Anderson and couldn’t get comfortable or cool no matter what I did.

And then came the red patch on my lower left breast. This is the first proper warning sign of mastitis. Soon my temperature began to rise and I started to feel unwell. My midwife had warned me of the symptoms since I was a good candidate for mastitis (with my big milk supply) so I knew it was developing. I didn’t like the idea of taking drugs while I was breastfeeding, unsure of what it would mean for Baby G, so Mr G got a non-toxic pen and drew around the area on my breast to mark its size. We decided that I’d sleep on it and if it had gotten any bigger by the morning that I would get to the doctor and get some drugs. I hopped in the shower to hand express after she’d finished feeding to try empty out my milk and then went to bed and hoped for the best.

The next morning, I woke up sore and unwell and saw the redness had almost doubled in size so I knew I had to get to my doctor straight away. She prescribed me antibiotics that were safe for breastfeeding and told me to keep taking my painkillers to help with the pain. Luckily I was still taking the painkillers to help recover from birth, so the antibiotics were just another couple of pills to be popping.

I was surprised I had to take the drugs for 10 days though. It took about 3 days before the redness started to disappear but it wasn’t fully gone for about a week. I watched Baby G like a hawk, wondering if there was any change in her while I was taking the drugs, but she didn’t seem to be affected by it at all thankfully.

So the lesson here is: mastitis is a bitch. It’s sore and it’s exhausting and it can be really serious (sometimes leading to hospitalisation). If you think you’ve got it, get yourself to a doctor ASAP and get treated.

But, the good news is there are things you can do to help yourself. And it doesn’t last forever. It can take 3 weeks after delivery before your milk supply is regulated properly to match your newborn’s needs. Some days will be better than others. Some days will be emptier than others and a lot tougher to keep up. (Did you know newborns tend to feed more at night because that’s when the hormone prolactin is produced which helps your milk come in faster? Clever little babies!)

This is not an extensive list, just a list of the things that I found helpful. Hopefully it’ll be of some help for you to!

  • Cold cabbage leaves. The dark green kind. If you buy some cabbage and put them in the fridge (towards the very back) they will be nice and cool. After every feed, or any time your breasts start to feel warm and full, reach for a leaf and place it over your breast. If you place it inside your bra it’ll help keep it in place. The cool touch of the leaf will help relieve the warmth and soreness and the cold also encourages the ducts to close which slows down your milk supply. (It doesn’t stop it, it slows it, which is a godsend for those of us who produce waaaaay too much to begin with). FULL DISCLOSURE: you will smell like Christmas dinner as the leaves heat up from the warmth of your skin. It’s not particularly nice, but it works. My midwife also told me there was no need to wash your breast or nipples before feeding again, but do what makes you comfortable.
  • Learn how to make different positions work for you. This one is SO important. I never knew that certain positions helped drain certain areas of the breast* and I am so grateful to the midwife who taught me that (seriously, I must have seen 5 different midwives but only 1 told me about this!). If you position the baby’s lower lip/chin so it’s over the affected area (or even just your fullest area) then this will be the main part of the breast that the baby drinks from. This means the baby will get the most out of the feed but it also means the area will be drained and relieved quickly and you’ll feel so much better. Just look out for a really fast let down, when I get quite full, Baby G tends to splutter a lot because the milk just pours into her mouth.
  • Cold face cloth as a compress. This is the same idea as the cabbage leaves but less smelly.
  • Cool showers. The cool water running over your breast will be a relief, though the rest of your body may not thank you for it. Might help wake you up a bit though 😉
  • Hand express. This one you need to be careful with because you don’t want to overstimulate the breast and trick it into thinking it needs to provide MORE milk. You just want to relieve the pressure building up a little or after a feed, drain the breast. Sometimes the baby doesn’t get it all out and this can lead to mastitis. Gentle rubbing motions from the outside in towards the nipple will help break up those lumps and move the milk along towards the nipple ready to be drawn out. TOP TIP: Don’t squeeze your nipples! They’re already having a hard enough time adjusting to your newborn’s needs. Gently pinch the area around the outside of your areola and this will push the milk out.
  • HEAT! I know this contradicts the first few points but trust me, if you heat your breasts up with a hot water bottle (or warm face cloth) right before a feed it will open all your ducts and allow the baby to draw down the milk that bit easier and help them to properly drain them. (Finish the feed then with a cold compress to close the ducts down).

As a side note, I also found the Multi-Mam compresses a God send for helping heal my nipples during the whole establishing-breastfeeding routine. They’re pricey, but worth it. Keep them in the fridge too for added effect! http://www.multi-mam.com/multi-mam-compresses-more.html

*You can read more about breastfeeding positions here: http://www.babycenter.com/0_positions-and-tips-for-making-breastfeeding-work_8784.bc

Two Month Vaccination (I Wasn’t Prepared For That!)

Today Baby G had to get her two month vaccinations.

I’m not sure who was more traumatised by the experience – me or Baby G.

Sure, I knew there would be tears – two needle pricks in your legs when your that small is bound to hurt. But my god, I wasn’t expecting the wails that came out of her. She cried one of those long, silent, bunched up cries before gasping for as much air that could possibly fill her lungs so she could tell me just how terrible the whole thing was through her sobs.

I almost started crying. It was awful. The doctor had to keep reminding me that all babies cry like that and that I was, in fact, doing a good thing for her.

But I’ve never wanted to cuddle her as much as I did at that point in time and tell her that everything was going to be ok.

She’s pretty much been asleep ever since – waking only twice, once to feed and once for a nappy change. I don’t know if this means she’ll be wide eyed and bushy tailed for the night or if she’s going to sleep the whole experience off. But man am I glad that appointment is behind us.

I have infant calpol at the ready, just in case.

How Being Pregnant (and Having A Baby) Changed My Relationships

This is something that I keep coming back to in my head over and over again…and I’m sure one post won’t even do it justice. Everyone knows that as life goes on, relationships and friendships change. You grow apart, you grow closer. You meet new people, find new interests. We’re continually changing, so it’s only natural that our relations with the people around us change too.

But I can tell you that nothing has changed my relationships as much and as quickly as being pregnant and having a newborn. I’m the first of my close circle of friends and it’s been a real eye opener for me.

To begin with, let’s point out the obvious: hormones. Little things can suddenly become HUGE issues because you’re feeling sensitive or SO INCREDIBLY TIRED. This is something that comes with being pregnant AND with having a newborn. There is no escaping it. Some people are more affected by hormones and fatigue than others but we all must deal with it on some level.

But beyond the hormones and exhaustion are other critical factors. I’m sure anyone who has their first baby can agree that before they got pregnant and had to think about being responsible for another life (regardless of exposure to other babies – friends, family, whomever), it’s a whole other ball game when you realise you’re expecting. I have two sisters, each of whom have a baby and I can tell you despite being around them and babysitting and helping out and listening to their stories and happiness and complaints…I was still pretty oblivious to so many things before I had my own child.

Things like – you can’t easily keep plans. Back too sore to walk? Feeling too sick to get out of bed? Didn’t sleep and feel like every little thing is annoying you? And once baby comes along – baby is too fussy? Not well? Not sleeping? (Or FINALLY SLEEPING?). Plans are for people who know exactly where they’re going to be and how they’re going to be feeling in a few days time. I was surprised how some friends gave me a hard time about not wanting to commit to big plans or worse…needing to back out last minute. I am so grateful for those people in my life who understand that I need flexible arrangements and who go out of their way to make my life easier to keep plans…like coming over for tea instead of arranging to meet in a coffee shop or inviting me over for dinner instead of wanting to go out to eat.

And then there are the plans that you can actually keep but are suddenly faced with so many logistics…are there elevators so you can get up and down with a buggy? Is there a space for you to breastfeed or is it ok for you to breastfeed in public there? Are there baby changing stations? Is there parking? I swear – I made a huge effort to attend a friends’ hen party 4 weeks post partum and when I arrived there was no elevator and I had to climb 3 flights of stairs on my own with the buggy, baby, flowers and presents. I arrived with water from the flowers spilled all over me, a dead arm from carrying everything over it and completely sweaty and out of breath. No-one thought ahead to warn me that there was no elevator – and I didn’t think to ask. Lesson learned!

I was also surprised at how isolated I felt when I was about 5/6 months pregnant. This was around Christmas time and everyone was making plans to go out and party or go shopping and do things and I felt really alone. I felt fat and tired and sore and I was unable to walk long distances or stand for too long. I couldn’t even go to the cinema without worrying about needing to pee 20 times. Sitting in a restaurant with a large group of people was exhausting. Only Mr G knew how I was really feeling…but he’s a man! Sometimes you just need your girlfriends and I didn’t feel I could relate to them anymore.

Some people disappeared from my life and others really surprised me. Thoughtful gifts, lovely emails and phone calls checking in on me, sharing in my excitement. Just a simple text message asking how I was feeling made the world of difference.

Since having Baby G, my relationships have changed again. Some people are so willing to call over, hold her, bring us food, check in on me or whatever – and it’s amazing. They bring things I don’t even know I need (like cabbage leaves to help with engorgement) and I’m so thankful. But that’s not to say these other friendships won’t get back on track, we’re just at different stages and one day when they have a baby, I”ll be able to be there for them in a way that some of their other friends won’t…and they’ll get it. It’s a pay it forward kind of deal.

On the flip side, I have so much respect and admiration now for my sisters and my mother and other women I know with babies. I’m suddenly on the inside of this little club and I get it.

A simple, knowing smile to another mum in the supermarket reassures you that you’re both doing a good job. It’s tough, but we’re here and we’re doing it.

And now I’m meeting other new mums in the area and I have a new group of women who are excited to talk about nappies and breastfeeding and not sleeping and baby burps and all the glorious and disgusting things that come along with being a mother. And I don’t have to share so much of that with my other friends who don’t have babies and would get bored very quickly hearing about it.

Have any of you had similar experiences? Did you go through big changes with the people in your life?

 

Weekend Round Up

Saturday was a day spent indoors…the weather here has been nothing short of miserable. I was really hoping for a lovely summer – I’d pictured going for walks in the park, having picnics just sitting in the sun, reading a book and playing with my baby…but it seems it just wants to rain the whole time. Typical! There’s still time for it to pick up though…

So a friend from work called over for coffee and brought cupcakes with her (nom)…we spent an hour or so catching up, which was great. Mr G then went for a cycle up Howth Head (the rain stopped just long enough for him to make it there and back) and Baby G and I stayed behind and bounced around the apartment because she still does NOT want to be put down.

I then decided to do something I’d be waiting my whole pregnancy to do….make carbonara for dinner!! It’s one of my favourite meals but I had it when I was about 8 weeks pregnant (didn’t make the slightly raw-egg connection) and threw up EVERYWHERE after. Safe to say I learned my lesson and spent the next 9 months (actually 10 if you think about it) craving carbonara. I also made some cheesy garlic bread…and it was all SO GOOD. I went into a major food coma after.

I should probably start taking pictures.

Yesterday we went over to Nana and Gilbert’s house for lunch. They always serve really healthy food…so I felt good after. We had a big salad with smoked salmon and freshly baked brown bread. When we got home, we attempted to make our own 3D moulds of Baby G’s hands and feet. Mr G had ordered a whole kit from amazon and it finally arrived…

Except it’s not as easy as the instructions made it sound. The idea is so simple…getting a newborn to keep her hands and feet still while gel moulds around her limbs? Disaster. It tooks us about 4 attempts before we managed to get something resembling her feet.

Here are the results..

photo 2

photo 3

We just need to tidy them up a little and add a splash of paint, but I think they look pretty good.

We were too tired to attempt her hands. That can be for another evening this week!

Once we’d done the casts, we gave her a bath and tried to get her settled for bed. It was another difficult night, she was waking every 90 minutes again. But I think she might be coming down with something because her left eye is looking a little gloopy.

Will need to keep an eye on that.