Baby G is…20 Weeks Old

Well, Baby G is 20 weeks old! Wow. Technically she was 20 weeks old yesterday, but teething is making it hard to sit down and write anything meaningful these past few days. Some people say 20 weeks is 5 months old, but I say not yet! She’ll be 5 months at the end of the month. Don’t age her before her time, people!

Here’s a little update on how she’s doing…Baby G sleeping

Weight: Baby G has officially doubled her birth weight and weighs a little over 14lbs. She’s getting too old to get weighed every week, so we’re slowing it down to every 2 weeks now. She’s not due for another weighing until next week. I can really feel the heaviness in her when I pick her up though, it’s crazy.

Sleeping: Ok. We’re not doing so well with sleep at the moment. I don’t know if it’s teething or if maybe it’s time for her to be transferred to her own room but all I know is for the past week (maybe even 10 days) she has not been sleeping well AT ALL. It’s incredibly frustrating because we did hit a good stretch of 6-7 hour stretches and now…we’re lucky if we get 2 hours. Seriously. A few nights ago she was awake every 45 minutes. I almost lost my mind. I’ve heard of the 4 months sleep regression, but that’s just crazy. I wonder if maybe she’s getting ready to start solids? I have no idea…I just hope she settles down again soon!

Feeding: Feeding is still going well. But she’s entered that new phase where she’s easily distracted – sometimes she doesn’t like when I talk. She especially doesn’t like when there’s something exciting happening because she doesn’t want to miss out. It’s making feeding in public a little…awkward to say the least! But generally, she’s feeding every 2-3 hours still. She’s always been a little and often feeder and I think she’ll stay that way (I’m very like that too).

Routine: Routines go out the window when the baby starts teething. BUT – she’s getting very good at putting herself to sleep, so long as she’s not sore at the time. Generally these days she’s awake for 2 hours (sometimes 2 and a half hours) before she needs another nap. If we’re out somewhere, she’ll generally only sleep 20-30 minutes at a time. I guess the noises and movements wake her. But if we’re home and it’s nap time, she’ll sleep for about 40-60 minutes, depending how tired she is. That means we get about 5 naps a day. Sometimes she’ll dose off in the car even if it’s not nap time and that can push sleep times off. Bed time is anytime around 7/7.30pm. But again, some nights she’ll stay down and I’ll dream feed her when I go to bed…and other nights she’ll wake after going down as if it was a nap. We’re still working on this!

Milestones:

  • Rolling over! Right before she turned 4 months old (so 4 weeks ago today actually) she rolled from her back to her tummy for the first time. It was amazing! She’d been trying for DAYS to get it right and couldn’t quite figure out the shoulder thing, but then one day it just happened! And then she napped for about 2 hours haha…it must have been exhausting. She’s still not able to roll from her tummy to her back, so she can get frustrated sometimes and I’m frequently having to get up and show her how to roll back. But I guess she’ll get there eventually!
  • Giggling!! She’s not giggling all the time yet, but she loves to be lifted up above our heads or have her daddy kiss her tummy with his beard. Her giggling starts off like a little old man grunt and then turns into a chuckle. It’s adorable. I can’t wait for her to start giggling more frequently…but the day she giggled for the first time, my heart melted. So precious.
  • Her neck control is getting much better as well. She’s really pushing herself up onto her elbows and looking around, which is wonderful. I’m looking forward to her being able to sit in a high chair soon – she loves being up and seeing what’s going on!
  • Also…We started swim classes!! It is so sweet. We sing songs and they get used to the water. The class only lasts 20 minutes and is once a week but she loves it. She’s not the biggest fan of being on her back and getting water in her ears, but otherwise she’s doing great. I think it’s helping the neck control as well because she’s learning to keep her head above water. We’ve also dunked under water a few times – she’s always surprised by that part! But she doesn’t cry, so I take that as a good sign.

Likes/Dislikes: Her thumb! She loves sucking her thumb and it’s kind of been a blessing because it really helps her put herself to sleep.

Baby G Thumb Sucking

She’s still loving white noise for nap time (hairdryer, vacuum cleaner, music, the car, white noise from my iPhone app).

She loves standing! She wants to be held and she stands up all the time, it’s really cute. But also tiring!! She really doesn’t like sitting on my lap. She’s either being cuddled or she’s standing.

She likes watching things – up until she was about 2 months old, she wanted to held facing me the whole time. But now, she’s taking in everything and, unless she’s sad or tired, she likes to be held facing out. Also, when we’re driving I love looking back at her (we have a little mirror facing her so I can see her while I’m driving) and see her watching everything go by the window. She makes the cutest face as she takes it all in. I can’t even imagine what it must be like to be that new to the world and try and make sense of everything.

Baby G watching

She loves her playmat that plays music. If the music is off, she gives out. Actually, the music has started to sound funny the last few times – I think we’re burning ti out!

She doesn’t like farting (haha) and she doesn’t like teething. Poor baby.

All in all though, she’s such a happy lovely baby. I’m loving all the smiles she’s been giving me as well. She really smiles at everything!

Baby G Smiles

Almost 4 months old

It’s been a while since I’ve posted on here, sorry! Life has been very busy lately as I’m sure you can relate to. But things are good. Baby G is doing really well. We’ve had a couple of hiccups along the way, but she seems to be in a good phase at the moment.

Baby G sleeping

Tomorrow, Baby G will be 4 months old. I can’t believe it! The public health nurses are already giving me pamphlets on getting ready to introduce solids to her diet (advised around 5 months in Ireland). I can’t believe it’s time to start thinking about stuff like that already.

Highlights over the last month:

  • Baby G gave me her first giggle last week! She’s only done it a couple of times since but my goodness, it’s the best thing in the world to hear your baby laugh. She does silent laughs a lot, where she just opens her mouth in a big toothless grin, but to hear that little baby chuckle makes my heart pang!
  • She just rolled from her back to her tummy for the first time yesterday! I have a million videos on my phone of her trying so hard and not quite getting there, but yesterday she managed to overcome the shoulder and get on to her tummy. Now we have to work on her being able to roll back over because once she’s on her tummy she gets stuck there and after a few minutes she gets frustrated and starts crying.
  • She’s so much more alert! She’s watching everything and taking everything in. These days she’s generally napping for about 40 minutes at a time and tends to be awake for about 2-3 hours in between in each nap. There’s still no predicting it though, she’s very much a “I’ll do what I want when I want” kind of baby.
  • Baby clothes. Once you hit the 3 month stage a whole new section of clothes opens up. She’s not in onesies so much anymore (mostly because it’s warm and her feet are too big for them anyway!). It’s been so fun dressing her up in big people clothes.
  • Mum and dad lunch date! Last weekend, myself and Mr G were able to leave Baby G with my parents for 2 whole hours while we went for lunch ALONE! It was really lovely. Typically, I missed her the whole time (especially when we walked the pier after) but I didn’t know myself not having to think about where would suit to eat with a buggy and possibly having to stop eating to feed the baby during the meal. I’d like to try that again soon, maybe we could even manage a cinema date next time…
  • SWIM CLASSES! I’ve signed Baby G up for a Water Baby swim class not too far from our apartment. She loves it. We’ve done 3 sessions so far – the classes only last 20 minutes – and it’s about getting her comfortable with water. We’ve even managed to submerge under the water twice and she didn’t seem to mind. So that’s exciting! I want her to be confident around water.

Lowpoints over the last month:

I don’t want to dwell on these too much because mostly we’ve been having a really great time, but….

  • Trip to the emergency room. About 2 weeks ago, Baby G had real trouble with constipation. She didn’t poop for 9 days. I’d read that it can be normal for breastfed babies to not poop for up to 10 days, but I’d made an appointment to see the doctor just in case. Apart from not pooping, she seemed to be in great form so I wasn’t too worried. But then, as always happens, the night before we were due to see the doctor, things changed. It was about 7pm, so all pharmacies had just closed, and she started roaring crying and her stomach suddenly felt hard and swollen. We called an on-call doctor who advised we take her to the ER room so they could check her out. I wasn’t too worried, I knew it was mostly to get her comfortable, but still, being in an ER room with my baby was tough going. They gave her some laxatives and two suppositories and that seemed to help. I was just SO grateful to leave there with a healthy child. I can’t imagine there being anything seriously wrong her. We’ve had a couple other moments requiring suppositories to help her bowels along, but she seems to be doing much better now.
  • Sleep regression! I don’t know if it’s the so-called 4 month sleep regression starting or if it’s the July heat but we’ve gone form sleeping 5-6 hours at a time during the night to waking every 2-3 hours again. It’s so hard waking that often to feed after having a few good weeks of semi-decent rest. But I’m hoping it’s just another short phase and won’t last too long.

That’s about it for now! Hope you’re all doing well….

 

Baby G is…10 Weeks Old

I can’t believe Baby G was born 10 weeks ago. For me, this is a huge milestone because she’ll never be single digit weeks old again! It’s also crazy to me just how fast this time is going by…especially considering the lack of sleep involved.

Here’s a little glimpse of what life is like for our beautiful 10 week old.

Weight: Baby G weighs a little over 11lbs which means she’s gained 3lbs since she was born. I think her weight gain is beginning to slow down a little now. Not sure if that’s normal or not?

Sleeping: This is still a bit up in the air. She loves falling asleep on me or on her dad’s chest and very rarely lets me put her down for a nap before she’s asleep. I’m letting this go until she’s about 12 weeks/3 months old and then I’m going to start being a little more strict with her. But she’s quite good at nighttime. It can take us 2-3 hours to get her to go to sleep but once she’s down for the night she wakes only to feed and then falls straight back to sleep which is brilliant. She’s typically going 3 hours between night feeds now. I’m hoping this will start to stretch out a bit more soon. She’s still in the co-sleeper to begin the night but usually ends up in the bed with us by the 3rd feed. Once the daylight starts coming through (around 5am) there’s also no putting her back in the co-sleeper.

Feeding: Feeding is still going well. She likes to eat little and often. Typically she feeds for 10 minutes after she wakes up from her naps and that gives us 2 hours or so before she wants her next feed. Though she does look for little snacks every so often. I tried to enforce feeding no sooner than two and a half hours before she gets to feed again (as suggested by a local midwife) but that led to a catastrophic meltdown in a public car park…so I’ve backed off trying to keep a feeding schedule and I’m letting her just feed when she wants. Again, when she hits the 3 month mark I might revisit this a bit more.

Routine: We don’t really have much of a routine down. She’s still very much keeping me on my toes. Some days she’s more awake than others (and usually this means I have to hold her/bounce her/walk with her) and some days she’s very easy and likes to dose in and out a lot. We’ve been trying a bedtime routine – bringing her in to the bedroom, changing her, reading a story and putting her down to sleep – but it’s not going so well. The first night it worked PERFECTLY and she slept for her first (and so far only) 6 hour stretch and I thought we hit the jackpot. It hasn’t happened since and some nights I can literally pace around the bedroom for 3 hours before she lets me put her down without her waking back up again. Did I mention I’m waiting for the 3 month mark to start enforcing more of a proper routine?

Milestones: Baby chats! I just love love love how she’s started trying to talk to us. She coos and gurgles with purpose, usually after a feed, and then breaks into all sorts of smiles when I talk back to her. It’s just the cutest thing in the whole world. You can see her working so hard to make all sorts of shapes with her mouth and then she watches my mouth when I start saying things too. I successfully managed to film one of our baby chats and I keep showing it to everyone. Melts my heart each time. Also, she’s been letting me leave her on her play mat for a few minutes on her own which she never did before. So I guess she’s starting to learn to entertain herself a little?

Likes/Dislikes: She’s still loving white noise (hairdryer, vacuum cleaner, music, the car, white noise from my iPhone app) and loves sleeping on us. She hates being put in her car seat (but then loves being in the car), doesn’t like being put down on her own and still seems to really dislike pooping (haha).

Birthday Dress for Baby Girl

Today is my birthday.

When I was pregnant, I was convinced for the first few months that I was having a boy. In Ireland, you only get one ultrasound scan unless you need more for medical reasons. I was 21 weeks pregnant when I had mine and we decided we wanted to know the sex of the baby. Personally I didn’t like referring to the baby as “it” and I also wanted to bond with the idea of what having this child would be like. I was surprised when we found out it was a girl – I don’t know why, but I’d been sure it was a boy. (So much for motherly instincts!)

Anyway, I was also wary about buying things before the baby arrived. I just didn’t want to tempt fate. We only really purchased the essentials when I hit 32 weeks. BUT – a few days after my scan I was shopping for Christmas presents and stumbled across the most adorable dress in Monsoon. They do gorgeous things for children but they’re quite expensive. This dress though was too amazing to pass up. Bonus: It was on sale! Knowing she was due the end of April (of course she arrived early at the end of March) and that my birthday was soon after, I decided if I bought size 0-3 months it would more than likely fit her. So I used the excuse of her needing something fabulous to wear as her party dress for my birthday and purchased my first piece of baby clothing. (Yay for having a girl to dress up!)

On Sunday, my parents put together a BBQ to celebrate the birthdays (it was my sister’s birthday yesterday). Baby G wore her dress and stole the show. It was a lovely moment for me – I’ve waited almost 6 months to put her in the dress and she looked even more adorable than I could have pictured when she was still growing inside me.

Here are some snaps of it. I’m going to frame the dress once she outgrows it. Any suggestions on the best way to frame an item of clothing?

BabyDress1

BabyDress3

BabyDress4

BabyDress3

BabyDress5

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?