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!

Three weeks – let the games begin

Today is baby N’s 3 week birthday.  In some ways the past three weeks have seemed to flash by but in other ways it has been the longest three weeks of my entire life. All of the stress and anxiety about the feeding has absolutely dogged these newborn days. The more people I speak to about this period, the more people tell me that it is a super-hard phase and everyone struggles so I am starting to feel a tiny bit better about how hard I have found it.

Chatting to my mum I also realised I have had absolutely no exposure to newborns before, beyond a 5 minute cuddle here and there.  So basically I have walked blindly into this massive life change without having half a clue of what it actually will mean to me.  I guess this happens to everyone to a certain extent, but I have really, really struggled.

I don’t know why I’m finding it so hard, but I think I have a decent case of the baby blues, if not something more.  I have found on several occasions that when I had the chance to nap or sleep that I couldn’t because of general anxiety.  This also manifests itself in lack of appetite which negatively impacts my milk supply, which makes me anxious and generates feelings of failure, and the cycle continues.

Some days I am better than others – like today – and I feel like I can almost face the day.  My milk supply seems ok today with less formula top-ups required.  However, yesterday I spent the entire day sobbing and had feelings of despair and had practically no milk supply.  I have also had a few episodes of sleep walking which I have not done since I was a teen so I think my head is in a funny place.

Despite all of this baby N seems perfectly fine.  He looks a bit more chubby than he was a few days ago.  He makes plenty of dirty and wet nappies and has a healthy appetite.  From what little I know this seems to mean he’s okay. Sometimes I think he might even like me.

Age:  3 weeks

Weight: No update on this since last week but I think he’s gained as his cheeks are a big more chubby.

Feeding: We are now doing a combination of breast feeding and formula feeding.  Today I even quit the pumping because ENOUGH.  I do have some breast milk which he can take and anything he doesn’t get from that he can be topped up with formula.  I’m seeing the paediatrician on Wednesday and maybe she’ll have something to say about our feeding regime.

The past couple of days has also seen a bit of reflux which is a pain.  This is pretty common in babies and is usually because of their under-developed digestive system. I have been trying to feed him less but more often (which is wonderful as you can imagine) in order to make sure it stays in.  There have been lots of outfit changes in the meantime.

Sleeping routine: Sleep has gone a bit whack the past few days.  So it turns out of the first couple of weeks that newborns are just really tired and sleep a lot without any real challenges.  And then they start getting fussy which is where we are at now.  He takes many naps during the day – maybe around 4 naps of 1-2 hours duration – and then I bathe him at around 7pm and put him down around 8pm of the evening.  Then there will be a feed at around 11pm and another about 1am-2am.  Then sometimes he goes through to about 4am or 5am. But the past few days he has not been settling at all well after his 1am/2am feed.  Which basically means that one or both of us is awake from then until when he crashes out at maybe 6am or 7am.  It is painful.  Last night at about 5am I had no idea what he wanted so I just held him and he liked that.  I was desperate for some sleep so I took him back to our bed and he slept in a cuddle with me until 8am.  Unfortunately my husband had vacated the bedroom long before that and slept on the floor of his study so it was overall not a good night!

Firsts: I took baby N to the pet shop and the pharmacy today – both of which are a 5 minute walk from our place.  I feel like I should get a trophy for my efforts in independently leaving the house!!

Achievements: Baby N’s belly button stump finally fell off on Saturday – yay!  It’s so much nicer not to have that hanging around anymore. Also, we took him to the supermarket on Saturday which was a huge deal for us.  We put him in a special shopping basket that has a baby seat and even in that he was tiny.  He slept through the whole experience and the second we walked in the front door he started screaming, which is probably the best result we could have hoped for.

Hair: He still has light-medium brown hair, with some tinges of auburn in there.  I can see his hair getting longer even.

Eye colour: Yep, dark blue still, but going to be brown.

Things to do: Hubby did register his birth FINALLY and had to pay a penalty because he was over the 15 days since the birth.  Ooops!  He brought the birth certificate home and I realised my first name was incorrectly spelt in the certificate so he had to go back and get it changed.  My first name is not remotely unusual or hard to spell so this was quite an acheivement. Nothing is simple around here. Otherwise, I think we have all of the new baby admin under control.  That is until we want to try and get a passport or ID for the little guy.  Ugh.

Things we have learned:

  • We need help.  I have now got someone coming to help out with housework at home a couple of times a week because I cannot handle a new baby, 3 cats and all of the associated housework on 2 hours sleep a night.
  • Sleep = better milk supply.  Sounds easier than it is, but interesting nonetheless.
  • So many people have also struggled during this phase.  Much like when I started discussing my miscarriages more openly, I have found over the past few days that if you ask people for advice or their experience they open up and it turns out everyone has really struggled at some point of parenthood.
  • This has also led to me having THE FEAR of baby N getting colic.  This sounds like a special kind of hell so can everyone please pray to whatever god you believe in (or don’t believe in) that he doesn’t get colic.  I will lose my mind if this happens.

Mummy update: I seem to have lost another kilogram in all of the stress of the past week.  I mean this is great, but not at the expense of my milk supply.  I am now 6kg off my pre-pregnancy weight which is nice.  My belly is still soft but now I pretty much just look a little overweight. I don’t think I could be secretly mistaken for being pregnant anymore and that’s 3 weeks after a c-section and I’m 38.  Imagine if I was 25 and had a natural birth.

My c-section scar is no longer as tender as it was and getting up from a seated position and from bed is a whole lot easier these days.  I still do have a slightly modified way of getting up but it looks awkward rather than anything more now. The actual incision line is still tender to touch but it’s not much of a big deal these days.  I think my surgeon did  a pretty awesome job all round.

Mentally I have been absolutely awful again this week.  I mean some days have been ok like Saturday and today, but others I have been rock bottom and thinking bad things.  Hubby has been incredible and so, so supportive.  My mum and sister have been checking in on me (from Australia) daily so I think I will get there.  I used to run marathons (although that seems like a different lifetime ago now) and I remember at some point during a marathon every part of your body aches to give up, but something in your mind keeps you moving forward. I have had to dig deep inside to get this part of me activated recently too.  I am literally taking each day as it comes.

And here you go for some three week old fingers.

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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. 

Notes from the frontline

We are now one week into parenthood and what a ride it has been so far! I’ve always thought of myself as a highly capable and practical person who is able to overcome life’s challenges. I don’t know why I thought this would make me a competent parent but I’m now convinced that this confidence was misplaced in ego. This parenting thing is HARD!!

But first let’s wind it all back. Our guy, let’s call him baby N, was born on Monday morning with all of Monday a fog of rapture, feelgood hormones and opiate painkillers. Baby N was doing great all round, he got perfect 10s on his Agpar score and he was a natural breast feeder immediately. The adrenaline that came with his arrival took me flying through to Tuesday. So much so that I didn’t sleep on Monday night. 

Tuesday rolled around and the nurses helped me to have my first post-delivery shower. This was both wonderful and absolutely disgusting as standing up allowed gravity to do its thing and let’s just say that it’s better not to look at what’s going down the drain during that shower!! That said, by Thursday I had absolutely no bleeding whatsoever which is brilliant!

By Tuesday I was able to be up and freely mobile which was also a relief. It meant I could use the bathroom independently, as well as pick up and change baby N. I had it all worked out!

Then Tuesday night happened. There was no sleeping on Tuesday night. I should have utilised the clinic’s nursery services more and let them takeover so I could have a sleep but I thought I’d be a super hero instead. The result: I was ridiculously tired and tearful on Wednesday. 

Not wanting to make that mistake again, baby N had a few hours in the nursery Wednesday night which was lovely. Uninterrupted sleep!! Whoever thought that would become my obsession?! He also took naps during the day so I would patch my sleep total together wherever possible. 

While in the clinic, the midwives there taught me the likes of how to bathe him and supported me with my breastfeeding. This clinic is like some kind of mothership of motherhood! I also made friends with another first-time mum whose son was born a few hours after baby N. She had her son naturally so we were comparing “war stories” although it wasn’t obvious which of us had it better/worse. Birth in all forms seems to be both beautiful and ugly in equal measures. 

By Thursday I was completely ready to go home to familiarity and a nice sleep in my own bed. We headed home as a family, full of optimism and delight at being able to return to the comfort of home and our peaceful lives as a proper family. 

Hahahahahaha!

Thursday night. 

The first night home. 

Why does no one warn you that the first night home is so incredibly terrible?!!!

I’m clearly no expert, but in retrospect I think the change in environment for baby N was quite a shock. He didn’t want to sleep in his Moses basket – why would he when all he had slept in until this point was my uterus, my arms and the clinic cot (and he much preferred my arms to the clinic cot anyway)?

The Thursday night, first-night-home experience involved a TOTAL of less than 2 hours sleep, 6 changes of clothes for baby N, a fast lesson on making certain the baby boy’s willy is facing down in the nappy/diaper (the wee comes out the top of the waistband otherwise, I can personally confirm that to be true), and a sea of tears from me. 

My lovely paediatrician gave me a pep talk when she visited on Friday so now I know that everything I experienced is pretty normal and to be expected for the first night actually. 

She suggested to make things better I should make an earlier start on the evening so that I can get 1-2 hours sleep in before the witching hours (as I call them) of between 1am-6am. That 5 hour stretch of night can seem endless when your baby is crying and so are you. 

Her advice was good because that tiny bit of extra sleep earlier in the evening allowed me to cope with the rest of the night better. Friday night was a big improvement on Thursday and I found I had a bit more confidence going into Saturday night.

But I’m my own worst enemy and on Saturday night I failed to go to bed early enough and suffered accordingly. The first time I went to sleep on Saturday night was about 4am Sunday morning and even then the sleep was limited!!! 

Sunday I started worrying that I’m not feeding baby N properly because he seems to always want to be on the boob. You seriously cannot get anything done with a baby on your boob all day. 

While he has gained weight well this week, yesterday’s weigh in showed he had not gained anything since Friday. My paediatrician was not super worried but is keen to see him put on some more weight in the coming days. 

We spent a lot of time trying to practice getting him to latch strongly but it seems he is a lazy one and tends to fall asleep on my boob. We will be looking into possibly breast pumping and some bottle feeding in the coming days because of this. 

She also gave me a little telling off as I’ve not eaten a lot since his birth and this could be affecting my milk supply. When I’m stressed I tend to not eat or lack hunger, and boy have I been stressed these past few days!!! It manifests itself in a feeling of anxiety not dissimilar to how you might feel before an exam or running a marathon but it lasts for several days non-stop. Anyway, from last night I started eating more in the hopes that baby N will start packing on the pounds if I give him a good supply of booby milk and stay hydrated. 

Overall baby N is a good baby. He does sleep, albeit for shorter periods of time than I’d like, and he doesn’t cry for other reasons besides being hungry. Even so, I have found myself crying every single day. The feelings are so confusing. Over the past few days I’ve felt like I’m letting baby N down by not being a good enough and natural enough mother, I’ve felt like I’ve been a bad wife by not giving my husband any real attention and I’ve even felt guilty for not playing with my cats more. It’s really hard to know what is good enough as a new mother and as a wife. 

I’ve definitely been trying to do too much around home and I noticed some mild swelling around my incision scar last night. I saw the doctor earlier today as he removed my external stitches but he said everything is ok. He indicated it is probably nothing to worry about as it may just be a little bleeding due my use of Clexane blood thinners. 

I have been pleasantly surprised by how quickly my belly has been recovering. Day by day it seems a bit smaller. I’m genuinely shocked as a 38-year-old first time mum how resilient the body is!! Imagine how my recovery would have gone as a 25 year old?!!

Age: 1 week!!

Weight: 3.2kg (7 pounds) – birth weight 3.4kg

Feeding: Exclusive breastfeeding on demand. He takes around 45-60 mins to feed properly, sometimes longer if he’s fussing. 

Sleeping routine: I’m not sure he has a routine yet but he seems to sleep particularly soundly between 7am-10am and usually has a big afternoon nap. He likes to party between 2am-6am generally which is just great as you can imagine. 

He definitely sleeps better and longer when swaddles so I do this at night. During the day I let him sleep freely especially because it’s so hot here even with AC on. Swaddling makes babies hot being all wrapped up. 

Firsts: Everything seems like a first these days! He had his first car ride when we left the hospital (he slept through it), his first bath at home (assisted by his grandma), and his first nappy changed exclusively by daddy (yay daddy!!) 

Achievements: No big ones yet but he does lift his head up unassisted for a second when I have him on my shoulder. His Moro reflex is pretty funny too because when he does it he looks like a particularly animated orchestra conductor. 

Hair: He’s got a covering of light-medium brown hair around 1.5cm long. Its lightly wavy at the moment but who knows if it will stay like that. 

Eye colour: His eyes are dark blue now but both my husband and I have brown eyes and there’s no one in our families with blue eyes so it’s only a matter of time before they change. 

Things to do: This week we have to register his birth, take him for a hearing test and he has his baby photo shoot tomorrow. 

Things we have learned:

  • Always make sure the willy is facing down when putting on a new nappy/diaper 
  • Babies like to cluster their feeds together which can mean a series of a few hours with the baby on your boob practically non-stop. This is exhausting!!
  • Newborns don’t automatically like their bed at home and may take time to feel safe and familiar. In the meantime they’ll happily sleep on you which you will relent to doing if you’re so sleep deprived you’re in tears. 
  • Swaddling is great. Learn how to do it!!
  • Freshly washed baby smell is the best!!
  • A good chair and a nursing pillow are critical to breast feeding comfort.  I was silly and did not get a nursing chair in advance and so hubby went off yesterday to buy one. The difference it has made to me is huge!! I’m so much more comfortable and relaxed when feeding now. Well done hubby!

Mummy update: My total pregnancy weight gain was 16.5kg (36 pounds). One week post-partum and I’ve lost around 9kg (20 pounds). I’ve been hugely surprised by this but suspect the next losses will be harder to come by. 

My belly has gone down a lot. It’s still there but I now have a waist again which is nice. See below a comparison of my 38 week pregnant belly and my 1 week post-partum belly.




The kitties are generally fine with Baby N. As I expected, it is my littlest kitty who is the most affected. She is a bit jealous and so does naughty things like scratch the furniture to get my attention. None of the kitties have shown any sign of aggression, it’s more curiosity. See below for a pic of the kitty enjoying a cuddle alongside the baby. 

 

Week 38 – The final stats

This will be my last weekly check-in as baby will soon be here! I’ve got to say I have had a dream run with this pregnancy with minimal aggravations and symptoms.  I realise and appreciate I have been very fortunate in this sense, and I sometimes wonder if I got an easy run because of all the challenges with infertility and miscarriage that came before this.  Who knows, but it still blows my mind that there will be a baby in my arms in little more than 62 hours.

It’s also been a huge help to me having the support of blogland through out all of this. Being able to let it all out within the freedom of the community of infertility warriors has been immeasurably helpful. It’s also nice to look back at some of my older posts and see the progression of everything  – both physically and mentally.  This time last year I was at one of my lowest points ever and yet in 12 very short months here I am with a baby entering our lives in a couple of days.  I was always too afraid to believe this would be my story and yet here we are.  To those of you who are still fighting your own infertility battles and who have stuck with following me throughout my pregnancy (seriously, I know how hard that is it to do) I can only wish that my little story gives you a tiny bit of hope for your own.

Also, there has been a number of new pregnancies amongst those bloggers I follow recently and I am SO DELIGHTED by each of them. Even though I haven’t met you before, I feel connected to you and your stories and I find myself celebrating your joys alongside you.  For those of you who continue to fight, I wish you strength and fortitude in whatever path you choose to follow in the future.

So here goes with my last weekly summary.

Weight gain: I’ve not gained much this week – only around 300gm (0.6 pound) – which is miraculous.  This means that overall I’ve gained almost 17kg (37 pounds) from my pre-pregnancy weight.  I didn’t want to go over 15kg, but I’m okay with the bonus 2kg I put on as I have managed to mainly keep the weight gain to the bump and boobs region.  I have hope that my legs and butt will once again be sexy, albeit probably not until 2018!

Symptoms: LOADS of Braxton Hicks!  They come throughout the day and I mainly ignore them these days, but sometimes they get too painful to ignore and I have to rest until they pass.  They seem to be particularly painful in the early hours of the morning and they wake me up.  I sometimes find myself moaning in my semi-sleep with the pain, but they have not progressed to anything more like proper labour so that’s good I guess.

My feet also decided to use this week to start to swell, but I’ve learned if I don’t spend too long with them pointed down (i.e. seated or standing up) then they are okay.  And if they do get a bit puffy this has been my remedy – strapping them with ice packs and elevating them.  I was watching Wimbledon when this photo was taken which is not necessarily part of the prescription but it’s helpful as it goes on for hours so you can rest for a long time.

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After all of the huge boob gain I have had throughout the pregnancy they have mainly stayed the same size for the past two months.  I kept hearing from everyone that they would get huge in the last trimester, but perhaps mine were early bloomers.  I am expecting them to get more huge when my milk comes in but for now they are happily at a D cup size.  This is remarkable as I used to be a small B cup.  The magic of hormones!

 

Eating: I have had a few sweet cravings this week but that might also be down to boredom.  I can’t say my diet has been amazing this week but it’s not been terrible either.  It’s so hot here that it’s hard to have an appetite for anything much.

Sleep: Thanks to the wonder of afternoon naps I have been doing pretty well this week.  My nighttime sleep is highly compromised by Braxton Hicks and visits to the loo for a wee, but being able to supplement the lousy nighttime sleep for afternoon naps means I am a much nicer person for it.

Here I am having a rest with my partner-in-naps. She was actually asleep like this!

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Movement: I keep reading on the pregnancy apps that the baby’s movements are due to slow down at this point but I have seen absolutely no evidence of this.  In fact, baby has been jumping around as I have been writing this.  It’s really uncomfortable these days as he plays some kind of juggling game with my organs when he moves.  Also some of his stronger movements trigger Braxton Hicks so that’s great too!

Emotions: This week I have been emotional, there is no doubt about that.  I am feeling stressed about the c-section, especially the epidural, but also how on earth I’m going to care for this mini-human while recovering from the major surgery.  Sometimes my thoughts get way out of hand and I get very upset.

I also seem to be having some hormonal rage surges such as today when I was visiting the supermarket.  I parked the car and was about to get out when someone pulled super-close into the space beside me on the driver’s side of the car.  I happened to be driving my husband’s fancy car which has doors that open more wide than some other cars and so it’s a bit annoying in a car park situation at the best of times.  Then if you combine my big belly to the equation…. well it was VERY difficult for me to get out of the car!  I somehow managed it but when I did I turned to the stupid guy who parked so closely and said various things about being 9 months pregnant and what a selfish jerk he was.  The guy literally just stood there and looked at me like he didn’t know what to do.  At that point I wanted to rip off his wing mirrors and stomp on them.  I resisted though.

Missing: At this point I don’t feel like I’m missing anything much as I know that the pregnancy bit is almost all over so anything that is annoying me now feels very temporary – no doubt to be replaced by something even more annoying in the next few weeks.  I am not missing being at work and am continuing to congratulate myself on making sure I got two full weeks of leave before baby arrives.  Yay me!

Purchases: I bought some Lansinoh breast pads online and then ended up randomly buying some small toys for the baby as part of the order. Ooops!  The new car looks like it will arrive either end of next week or the week after so I have decided to put the baby seat in my old car for now and will switch it over to the new car when it finally turns up. And the wallpaper for the baby room has still not arrived but I am trying my best not to feel rage towards the wallpaper shop.  I mean we seriously ordered it like two months ago, FFS!

Looking forward to: HAVING A BABY!!!!  OMG!!

Best moment: I got the early proofs through from our maternity photo shoot and they’re actually really cute.  I think we have some nice ones in there, but also I don’t look as gigantic as I expected I would so that’s nice.

Exercise: I have been cleaning and mopping and grocery shopping and all sorts again this week which is quite a big workout. I look forward to actually being able to start some kind of exercise regime again soon even if that is just walks with the baby in the stroller.

Bump update: And for the last time, here is the bump in all its glory.

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Bump is definitely travelling a bit lower these days…

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And just for reference, this is what I looked like BEFORE being pregnant.  This photo was taken 3 weeks before my embryo transfer. Those abs!!  Ohhhhh!

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