Five weeks – no longer a newborn!

Last Thursday our small guy celebrated his one month birthday!  I look back at photos of him from the first couple of days of his life and he has actually changed quite a lot in this short time.  I guess all fresh newborns look a bit funny and it’s not until they start to put on some weight and become less fragile that their features take shape.

Today he is five weeks old and I am starting to see some progress in terms of his development and also the transition into our new family life. The small guy is now intently looking at us whenever he is awake and his eyes follow the squeaky toys when he is feeling particularly alert.  The baby room is decorated with a whale theme and so my mum sent a really cute, handmade mobile with blue whales that I’ve put above the change table.  So when we are changing dirty nappies he has something nice to look at.  The first time he saw them was really funny as his eyes could not have been wider.  Even now, when he catches sight of them he stares in wonderment.  Also, good to know he is not blind!

The past week has been overall a good one.  We have mainly got the poop situation under control which means everyone is happier.  I’ve also been making special efforts to get out of the house every day, even if only for an hour or so.  For me this is critical to my sanity! I have been struggling a bit with my husband.  He is overall very kind and supportive, but sometimes I think he just switches off and decides he’s too tired to parent or something.  So this leaves me – at times – parenting solo and not only is it exhausting, but it’s emotionally draining.  I’m not really sure what to do about this as if I bring it up it will only end in some kind of argument.

However, we did get away last week for a few days to the beach.  We took our guy around all sorts of places – the mall, shops, cafes, restaurants – and he was overall very good.  He is more fussy in the evening than during the day so it can be tough to have a nice dinner together, but we usually do well at lunch.

Age: 5 weeks

Weight: As of last Thursday, he weighed in at 4.4kg.  I think the paediatrician was subtly suggesting we are over-feeding him, but he is a tall baby (57cm as of last Thursday) and not looking chubby or anything so I don’t care. Also, how do you say no to a hungry baby, FFS?!!

Feeding: On average, he feeds about every three hours these days.  On fussy days he might feed a little more regularly and at night we can sometimes get him to sleep for around four hours.  The usual routine is that I give him about 15 minutes of boob time, and then we top him up with around 90ml of formula. For the late night feed (around 11pm – midnight) we give him 120ml formula to try and secure some more sleep time for me. Sometimes he doesn’t have any boob first – such as if we are in a very public place or if I’m asleep and hubby is doing the feeding – but we try and give him some boob both to keep the supply going and also because he finds it comforting.

 

Sleeping routine: I’m starting to try to make an actual routine these days but it’s a bit hit and miss.  In general I try and bathe him at around 7pm-8pm and he sometimes sleeps for a couple of hours after that.  Then he will have a feed around 11pm.  On a good night he will go for 4 hours on the first night sleep, but then on others he’s been on 1.5 hour cycles.  After the 11pm feed, I usually have two wake-ups during the night.  After about 8am I just get up and start the day, unless it’s been a particularly bad night and I cannot yet face the day! He does sleep a bit during the day but I am trying to take him out as much as possible during the day so that he does his good sleeping at night.

A friend of ours had a baby 10 days after us and our husbands caught up on the weekend at a party with the other husband apparently “going on for half an hour” about how their baby sleeps for 5-7 hours at a time.  I think this is the first time my husband has been exposed to competitive parenting and he might have wanted to slap the other guy.  I had to reassure him that our baby sleeps in regular amounts for his age so not to worry but I think he was a bit envious we don’t have a baby that sleeps for 8 hours at a time!

Firsts: We had many firsts this week…

  • First trip to the beach (he slept through it mainly)
  • First long walk out by the sea (he screamed through this a fair bit)
  • First trip away from home for three nights (mainly successful, but OMG so much stuff to pack to leave the house)
  • Mamma had her first alcoholic drink and it was AMAZING!  I gave up alcohol during the IVF process so for me it has been a VERY LONG time waiting for this moment.  I am soon going to be one of those slummy mummies that cracks open the wine at 3pm, I’m sure of it.  Hahahahaha!

Hair: I think he is starting to lose some of his newborn hair which is a concern as that will make him bald!  I was practically bald for the first year or so of my life so I guess this shouldn’t be a big surprise, but the local kids always have thick, dark mediterranean hair so I think everyone looks at our kid and is worried when they see he has almost none.

Eyes: Very big and round and blue.

Things we have learned: 

Getting out and about during the day makes for better evening snoozies.

Coming home too late can make baby overstimulated which is NOT good for evening snoozies!

We are now familiar with practically all air-conditioned cafes and restaurants in a 10km radius of our house.  We visit a different one almost every day now.

Wine is good… oh whoops, we already knew that!

Mummy update: I’ve not seen any weight loss this week but I think that’s because I’ve reached a plateau that requires dieting and exercise to drop some weight. I did get into the one piece swimsuit last week and I didn’t look that bad considering.  I wasn’t embarrassed to be in a swimsuit, albeit I am quite far off how I want to look.

I headed back to my acupuncture guy this week and he laughed at how bad my chi was (I think the phrase was that it was practically dead).  After 22 needles – yes TWENTY TWO – I did feel better, I had less anxiety and I slept better that night.  I think I need to go again as I have a cracking headache which has stayed with me for two days now.

Mentally I have been overall better, but I have days and moments where it all unravels again.  I am starting to feel more of a connection to the baby and have stopped saying 23 times a day that maybe someone else should take him as they’ll do a better job of parenting.  I can look back at the first few weeks of his life and now recognise that I was on my way to PND.  I think the change to our feeding regime has helped to reduce this risk, although I still find myself very vulnerable to feeling the blues.  This is not unique to  having a baby – I’ve had such sensitivities for a long time – but sleep deprivation and not eating properly are huge triggers.  If I can get a little sleep and see some of the outdoors during the day I find I am mentally better equipped. And you know, sometimes the baby even sleeps for long enough that I can watch a bit of my favourite TV programs which seems entirely decadent.

I’ve also noticed while out and about that the baby is a real attraction.  I’ve found myself connecting with people on a new level before. I’ve previously been kind of ignored (I’m a foreigner here after all) and now I find that strangers talk to me all the time and coo at him when they seem him, so that’s nice.  Also, we have some friends who I have found myself having a more deep relationship with, which has been unexpected and wonderful.  So the small guy is not so bad after all.

Here we are out and about a few days ago.  My husband chose the baby’s outfit. 🙂

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Four weeks – all we need is a good poo

Never has the need for a good poo become more of a priority than in the last week. Don’t worry everyone as I am entirely regular in the colon department, but poor baby N has been terribly constipated and this is a Very Bad Thing in babyland. 

A constipated baby suffers a lot. It’s clearly painful with lots of straining and red faces. And non-stop crying. OMG!! I nearly went INSANE!! There was at least one 24 hour period last week where I wanted out of parenthood whatever that took. I sent a few messages to hubby while he was at work saying I wanted to jump off a bridge (there are no bridges near us). 

Long story short, we ended up changing baby formula to one specialised for constipation and that seems to have somewhat got things moving. You’ve no idea how happy I was to be deep in stinky poo!! Happy baby = happy parents. I’m a bit worried that there’s been no poo today so far, so everyone think positive poo thoughts for us all here. 

This past week has been a rollercoaster of highs and lows. I’ve had a couple of days where I’ve thought I was actually getting the hang of all this and then they’ve been followed up with some absolutely hell days where I have just cried non-stop and fantasised about running away. I’ve also told my husband that if he leaves me (for another woman or otherwise) that he is keeping the baby. Haha!

The key to maintaining some degree of sanity has been about getting out of the house. Although sometimes the planning that goes into leaving the house is enough to send me into meltdown. I think things will be better once the weather cools down as currently I can’t take him out between about 8am-8pm as it’s way too hot. 

Anyway, our first big trip was to our local mall a couple of days ago and I loved it so much. The baby slept in his stroller so we could have lunch and wander the shops and then have a coffee. This sounds like nothing but it was HUGE!!

Right now we are at a beach town about an hour from home and we will stay here a couple of days. The difference in changing locations is very big. Apart from some drama in packing, now that I’m out and looking at different things other than the four walls at home I feel more like myself. 

The baby is a champion sleeper too. He snoozes in his stroller while we have lunch at loud restaurants (we now venture to the family friendly ones which don’t balk when you turn up with a massive stroller). Long may he continue to be the sweet boy that he is now. 

Later this evening we plan to venture to the beach and maybe even take my first post-baby swim (in a one piece swimsuit – no one needs to see my belly yet). All of this is subject to the small dude remaining happy and calm but so far so good. 

Age: 4 weeks old. Where did time go?!!

Weight: Last Wednesday at his weigh in he was 3.9kg. I think he’s heavier than that now as my arm aches carrying him. I have a baby carrier arriving soon thankfully!

Feeding: I’ve mentally checked out of breast feeding but I’m still giving him some boob before formula. Sometimes I have lots of milk so I give him a long boob session, usually in the morning, and other times it’s 5 mins on each boob. Nipple police can do one as I have enough guilt already. 

The baby formula is the most likely culprit of his constipation. We were using Nactalia (French brand) but then briefly changed to Holle (organic Swiss brand). Due to the poo issues we are now on Novalac IT which seems to be ok, albeit I’m still waiting for today’s poo to arrive. 

Interesting fact for US readers is thr European formula brands have to conform to higher standards than US companies. While I believe some European brands are not FDA approved, you can get the likes of Holle at some online health food retailers in case you’re interested, but I think they are more expensive. 

Sleeping routine: There is still no actual routine but we are trying so hard to only have two wake-ups between 12 midnight and 7am. Last night we had one feed at 11.30pm, another at 4.30am and the next at 8.00am. It was great. The night before it was 12.30, 2.00am, 4.00am, 7.30am so you never know what you’re going to get! I’m hoping that taking him out during the day makes him sleep more at night but this may be just my optimism!

Firsts: This week we had our first visit to the Mall, our first meals at restaurants, mummy’s first alcoholic drinks in like 11 months (YESSSSSSSSSS!!!), and mummy finally got to drive her new car which arrived a few days after the baby, even though she’s not meant to be driving until 6 weeks after the c-section (not at all sorry to break this rule as driving = FREEDOM). 

Achievements: Baby N is getting s stronger neck each day. I see him lifting it up briefly when he’s lying in my shoulder. He also looks at our faces more intently and seems to get comfort from our cuddles which is nice. I have a few toys for him and he turns his head to follow the sound now. Cute!

He’s also getting so long that he’s on the verge of no longer fitting in newborn clothes. My small dude is not so small anymore!

As for me, leaving the house has been a big achievement!!! But you know some (bad) days just getting out of my pjs has been worthy of recognition. I also did a DIY pedicure which made me feel nice. Today we bought some new clothes for me as I’ve felt like I had nothing to wear. I’m a size up from pre-baby currently but I am at peace with that for now which is also an achievement in itself. Hubby is on holiday for 2 weeks now and having him around makes me feel able to tackle new challenges. 

Hair: It’s growing!! His hair is very fine and sparse (not at all Mediterranean like his daddy) but definitely darker than mine was as a baby. 

Eyes: Still big and blue. 

Things we have learned: Constipation is a real struggle!! Also, I’ve been opening up to many of my mum friends about my struggles and you know they all had stories to tell me which made me feel better. Sharing your issues makes you realise that you’re not alone. This has been a revelation to me. 

Mummy update: Mummy has been all over the place mentally. I get so much anxiety at times that I almost can’t breathe. The things that help this are getting out of the house and not overthinking. Neither of these things are as simple as they seem. Also, I’ve been driving myself insane with Dr Google this week. In some ways I wonder what we did before Google but in others I think we would be mentally better off without it. 

I have lost another kilogram of weight this past week so now I’m about 5.5kg off my pre-baby weight. My body shape is very much not something I recognise as myself but I’m positive I can improve it once Operation MILF starts in September. Hubby is very supportive of O-MILF which is good as he needs to watch baby while I do my thing. 

And to sign off, here are some kangaroo footsies to cheer you up!

We left the house 

This momentous occurance seemed to deserve its own post. I took baby N for his debut in the stroller for a quick walkabout the neighbourhood. 

It was amazing!!

OMG to be outside is so incredibly good and mind refreshing. It’s still hot here so I didn’t spend too long out but even 30 mins of slow walking was beautiful. 

Baby N is so teeny tiny though that I had to be careful he didn’t roll around the stroller too much as the pavements here are very poor quality. 

I think this is my new thing to do if I can fit it into my day. 

Two weeks – Learning to love the boob

Thank you for all of the helpful and genuine comments on my last blog post.  You’ve no idea how much they have helped to keep me going through some bleak days. I am pleased to report that I have seen some improvement in my milk supply since Friday so I am feeling a tiny bit more optimistic now about breast feeding.  I still have a long way to go to bring it up to scratch, but at least I’m now heading in the right direction.

That being said, I am so, so, exhausted from all of the pumping and the feeding and the worrying.  The paediatrician had me pumping 6-8 times a day over the past few days in addition to feeding at the breast at each meal… honestly it was impossible to do anything, even sleep with this regime and I was losing my mind so badly yesterday that I asked my husband to shoot me.  I meant it too.  My mental health has certainly come in for a beating the past few days with sleep deprivation taking its toll.  I have more than once pondered whether I am cut out for this whole motherhood malarkey.

I don’t know why but I never imagined that breast feeding or motherhood would be so hard.  Maybe this is what happens when you try for something for so long that when you get it there is a degree of an anticlimax.  My baby is lovely and gorgeous and very huggable, and goodness he was longed for,  but I will confess that sometimes I wish I could check out of motherhood and go back to my old life, even for a short while.  I wonder if I would feel more optimistic and happy if I had my family around me and/or a better support network.  I have really missed my mum this past week and I think she’s also felt pretty bad that she couldn’t be there to help me (not that I want her to feel bad).  Hubby was cuddling and stroking baby N today and I actually felt jealous and I wished someone would give me a cuddle and stroke my back to make me feel better.

My only way of coping is to just keep putting one foot in front of the other and so far I’m still here and the baby is doing well. This is of course the most important thing, although it would be good to feel well enough in myself that I can actually start enjoying being a mum sometime soon.

Age:  2 weeks and one day (forgive me for my lateness, I was very busy losing my mind yesterday)

Weight: 3.54kg – birth weight 3.4kg. Thank goodness he finally put some weight on as I was stressing out so hugely about this.  He’s also grown from being 53cm at birth to be 54cm now. Yay!

Feeding: Well I was meant to be exclusively breastfeeding but see my previous post for the details on how well that has gone (spoiler: not well). So now it is mainly breastfeeding, with some pumping and some formula as a supplement. The formula usually comes into play in the evenings when I have lost the will to live and would feed him a sandwich if that would work.  Hubby has stepped up big time in the past week (losing your mind has benefits) and generally handles feeds that occur between 11.30 pm and 1.00am which usually allows me around 4 straight hours of sleep WHICH IS AMAZING! I think I love him (both hubby and son) more during those 4 hours than at any other time during the day.

Sleeping routine: The routine is there is no routine.  The only thing that resembles a pattern is that I am trying to set a schedule whereby he has a bath around 7pm as part of his wind down to sleep, but I’ve not really noticed any other discernible pattern than that.  He usually wakes up about 5 minutes into my dinner so clearly he has skills that they don’t write about in the baby books.  Generally he sleeps for about 2-3 hours, but sometimes it’s shorter and sometimes it’s longer.  He’s a newborn so he does whatever  he wants to!

Firsts: Today was the first time he weighed in at or above his birth weight and that was pretty tremendous! He also seems to be more alert and aware this week with periods of a couple of hours each day where he is neither hungry or tired and so we hang out on our play mat and I make faces at him or make funny sounds with his toys.  This is the play mat that I use and it’s made by my very good friend in Australia with all organic cotton.  Yes, I am promoting her because a) she’s my friend and b) her products are great.  She also sent me this play mat as a gift so it’s the least I can do. She ships internationally too!

Achievements: Baby N did a MASSIVE poo in my hand the other night when I was taking him to the bath.  That was quite memorable.  I had poo all over the place and it was only sometime later that I wondered why my toes felt a bit sticky and I looked down to see I had poo in between them.  I had seriously been walking about the house for at least 30 minutes with poo in between my toes.  The old me would be horrified by this.

Hair: His light-medium brown hair seems to have grown a bit this week as it’s now a little spikey in places.  I can also see a hint of auburn in there.  We might have semi-ginger on our hands!  There is no red hair in my immediate family, but there is some in uncles and cousins.

Eye colour: They are still dark blue for now but definitely going to be brown.

Things to do: Hubby has still not managed to register his birth because every time he goes the queues are more than 2 hours long and he has a job to go to.  I’m not sure when you have to register births by but I think he better hurry up.

My mother-in-law’s birthday is this Friday and she’s booked a family dinner at a fancy restaurant and is INSISTING that I come and leave the baby with her cleaner. While her cleaner is more than capable of looking after him, I really, really don’t feel ready to go. If it was something more casual I might have attempted it, but actually I don’t have enough time in the day to even get myself ready for a fancy dinner, much less actually go to it.  And even if I did make some kind of supreme effort to go, I will hate every second of it.  Seriously, he’ll be 2.5 weeks old at this point.  Don’t I get a leave pass for at least the first three months of his life?

Things we have learned:

  • Sleep deprivation makes you crazy and depressed.
  • Baby no longer really likes being swaddled so that was a brief phase.  Maybe it’s because it’s so hot here but he seems to like to kick his legs and wave his arms about freely now.
  • Everyone has an opinion about how to feed your baby and in order to keep a tiny bit of sanity I have had to block out those who are not 100% supportive of my efforts to continue breast feeding.  I cannot thank those bloggers who reached out to me enough for their kindness over the past few days.  I read everything that everyone said and it gave me some strength to keep going.
  • Formula is not the evil alternative to breast feeding that everyone makes it out to be.  When we finally relented and gave baby N some formula he looked happy and settled for the first time in days.  For someone so pro-breast feeding I have had to shift my mindset quite a lot to accommodate formula in our feeding schedule, but they are right that if the baby is happy then everyone is happy.  As one of you lovely folks said, “Fed is best” and I couldn’t agree more.

Mummy update: I’ve not lost any more weight this week which is not a surprise because I’ve been eating everything in order to try and get my milk supply up.  That said, I think my belly has come down a fair bit which is good.  I have a long way to go but I can see there is progress. I can’t even contemplate the start of Operation MILF (i.e. the project to get my body back) until we can get the feeding all sorted and I get some actual sleep on a regular basis.

The pain from my c-section is much less now and I am not restricted a lot by it anymore. Some twists and movements to get up are still difficult but I have adapted accordingly.  The skin around the external scar is still a little sensitive so I continue to favour dresses over trousers or shorts for the simple reason that the lack of a waistband is more comfortable.

The boob dramas

It has taken me several days to muster the emotional energy to write this post. The past week has been one of the hardest and most draining I have experienced in some time. 

The short summary of all of this is that I’m faced with a low milk supply currently. Everything with feeding had been going swimmingly with Baby N a natural until I went home last Thursday. Hindsight suggests that I got too stressed, anxious and exhausted in the first two days home and this manifested itself in a drop in my supply. I’m quite angry at my husband about this – although have not directly discussed it – because I think he had some kind of adjustment meltdown during these days which manifested itself in him being difficult and not helpful at times. 

Throw into the works that I have no family here, being a first time mum is terrifying and I’m in recovery for the c-section and you’ll see the general picture of how it all fell apart. I also came home from the clinic to several loads of washing and various chores that needed doing. While he did pick up a lot of the slack, he quickly seemed resentful to my requests for things to be done. I’m sure I was demanding but HELLO, if this is not the time for him to be super-husband and suck it up I don’t know when is. 

By Sunday the paediatrician was telling me to get a breast pump to support my feeding as baby N was not gaining weight. Hubby again procrastinated with this, so we were delayed in getting one. By Tuesday the Dr was getting worried. This came after The Worst Night Ever where the baby cried and fussed all night and could not be soothed. Now we know that’s because he was starving hungry but then I just thought I was the most awful mother ever as the night turned into day and I had not slept a wink. 

Tuesday was also the date of our baby photo shoot and unfortunately the photos just show to me a hungry, exhausted baby. It’s something that makes me sad to my core. I think I’m going to hate those photos forever now. 

By Tuesday night we had sourced a breast pump from a friend but then so many small dramas one after the other led to us not having the right parts and I wasn’t able to pump until Wednesday – a full THREE DAYS since the doctor told us to start pumping. This is bad because my milk supply had depleted even further during these (wasted) days. I have cursed myself multiple times for not having bought one before baby arrived. Same goes for a steriliser, bottles etc and also the sunshade for the car window,

By Tuesday night I was worried sick about the baby, my parents-in-law had also involved themselves in the situation and between them and my husband they all insisted I give the baby some formula. I was so exhausted and confused and worried that I relented, even though I didn’t want to. I’ve always believed strongly in breast feeding and the overwhelming sensation for me was abject failure. 

Failure as a woman. Failure as a mother. Also, if you look at my whole journey I’ve failed to do things the natural way. I’ve failed to conceive naturally, I had to take many medications to continue the pregnancy, I had to deliver via c-section and now I can’t breast feed effectively. Total failure. I cried rivers on Tuesday. It was exhausting. I was so devasted I couldn’t even bring myself to tell my mum what was going on. Not that she can do much from the other side of the world, but still. 

Of course the thing to focus on is that the baby needs feeding and he was immediately better with formula. He slept better and longer (as did I) and he looked better on Wednesday (also as did I). 

Once I got my pump going Wednesday I was able to supplement his breast feeds with a top up of booby milk via a bottle. We also started a new regime whereby hubby feeds him formula at about 1am which means I can sleep from about 11pm to around 3am when he wakes up for his next feeds. I’ll confess this works remarkably well and I almost feel human with this schedule. I’m grateful to my husband for this. 

I did however feel embarrassed telling the paediatrician that I used some formula as she’s super pro-breast feeding but I eventually did. She wasn’t so cross at me but she was furious at my inlaws for pressuring me to use formula. Meanwhile the inlaws keep mentioning other paediatricians that they know are excellent in a not-so-subtle dig that I should change doctors. 

So much of this is (unwelcome) cultural politics. I chose the paediatrician without consulting them and also she’s a foreigner (like me). So regardless of how super qualified she is (she studied at Oxford, FFS) they are never going to like her. Ugh. 

We did another weigh in on Friday and unfortunately baby has only gained a little weight so I have to be more focused on quality feeds. My life now is a cycle of direct breast feeding, followed by giving him a top up of previously expressed booby milk, followed by more pumping. It’s exhausting and means I can do very little else. 

I can get about 40-50ml per pumping session now which is a big improvement on 10-20ml on Wednesday. I’m also taking some herbal supplements including Fenugreek to support my supply. 

Hubby is not super supportive of my efforts to continue breast feeding and seems to think formula is a better and easier option. It’s hard to stay focused without a supportive network around and I’ll confess I’m really down about the whole thing. 

Hubby is delighted to be going back to work on Monday and is not hiding it. He’s certainly making big efforts to help with many things especially as I cannot drive for another few weeks. He’s tired too and I appreciate that. However, I’m now worried about how I will be on my own. I’ve already gotten some cabin fever!! It would be better  if I could drive but also if it was cooler weather. I can’t even take the baby for a walk in the stroller as it’s over 30 degrees by 9am. I could take him in the evening after about 8pm but I’m so exhausted that I have not managed this either. Maybe that’s my goal for next week.  

To finish on a positive, baby N is overall a lovely baby. He only cries when he’s hungry (see above), if he has some gas or if you strip him naked. I appreciate I have a lovely baby who even looks like me (yay) so it’s not all bad. It was a bad week and the pumping is not fun but if we can get his weight up then everything will be ok.