My first Mother’s day

I spent my first Mother’s Day with Aviana in the UK at my parents house, but sadly no Chris. The big question is…which Mother’s Day do we celebrate? The US and UK Mother’s Days are almost always on a different date (unlike Father’s Day!!!). She’s an American-British daughter and I’m a British mother. If she goes to school in America it will probably be more likely we will celebrate the American one. 

But despite this confusion, Aviana surprised me with flowers, an abundance of chocolates, a balloon and some prosecco!! What a clever girl! OK so maybe she had a little help ☺️

Motherhood is wonderfully rewarding, despite the odd occasional trying times of despair. So on Mother’s Day I had a bit of a cry thinking that there are many women I know still without their babes in their arms. I know how tough that day can be. I wish they could have their hearts as full as mine is right now.

I am extremely grateful to have Aviana in my life, so for now I feel like celebrating her, my little Rocky 💕 Thank you Aviana for being our little fighter X

The third night back in the UK 

Aviana slept for almost the whole trip. She went pretty much right through from her usual bedtime (7pm) right to the morning 6am US time, 10am UK time when we landed. On the plane from Philly to London she slept in the bassinet that fits into the bulk head. The plane was pretty much empty so it was a relatively quiet flight. My Father in Law travelled with me so it was very handy to have help carrying things! I’ve learned what I can and can’t do in my own for my return trip back. Aviana was an angel and everybody adored her. She even managed to bag not just one set of wings, but two! One from Norfolk Airport staff, the other from American Airlines!!!

The first night in the new time zone I thought she would still be on American time. So when I put her down to sleep at 6.15pm I expected her to wake up again in her usual 40 minute nap. 3hrs later I was peeking in on her to make sure she was still alive! She was sleeping through for the night! It had been a strange and long day for her so it wasn’t too surprising. I gave her a dream feed when I went to bed at 10pm and she slept through to 4am, and again til 7am. It was as if she hadn’t left the US. How did she know? She had none of the normal bedtime cues like bath/change/feed etc.

Second night I bathed her and did the usual routine but it took a little longer to get her down, so by 8.15pm she was down and out for the night. She woke up at 2am, 3.45am and 7.45am. Not so bad, although the 3.45am feed wasn’t much welcome I almost fell asleep feeding her!

Tonight, the third night, I put her down at 6.30pm, thinking she would just nap and wake up, have her bath etc after 40 mins. but nope. She’s down and out for the night again!! What will the night bring me? 

How do babies adjust like that? How does their circadian rhythm work at this age? I really hope it works going back the other way! Because if she did this in the US at the same time we’d be screwed!!!!

I’m super impressed with how Aviana has coped with all this traveling and sleeping in different places. A month or so ago this holiday would not have been fun with Aviana. But it actually hasn’t been bad at all, she has been a star-I’m not bragging just merely commenting on my low expectations for sleep this week!!!

I’ll write another post later about my transatlantic flying lessons learned!!! Because I have a few 😝

What a difference a year makes

After the second explosion I remember turning around to see an old lady cowering behind her suitcase. The fear in her eyes was immense, she was terrified. OK we all were terrified, but it was her who I vividly remember the most. I asked her if she was OK, was she hurt, but she didn’t understand me – probably because I was speaking English when I was in Brussels airport. 
I remember that moment today one year later after the Brussels terror attacks, not because it was the one year anniversary(?) but because of the terror attacks in London yesterday. I heard today that another person died from his injuries – a 75 year old man. It made me think of the old lady in Brussels. It then made me reflect about how different my life is today one year on. 
One year ago I was also in the midst of down regulation for my upcoming 3rd IVF cycle. The one thing I thought of alongside figuring out how to get out of the airport alive was my medicine…I NEED MY MEDICINE! Looking back now it was daft to carry my bags with me, I should have left them behind. But all I could think of was needing to take my next injection. Not even a damned terrorist was going to stop me from this IVF cycle! And now here I am, one year later back in the UK with my beautiful 3 month old daughter, Aviana, the outcome of that cycle. 
One year ago if you told me my future I wouldn’t have believed you. On the edge of quitting, I somehow felt strength from adversity. I’m so glad I didn’t quit because I can’t imagine my life without Aviana in it.

Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life. I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilized by the gravity of my loss, or I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift I have – life itself.

-Walter Anderson
And so Life goes on. I will continue to fight terrorism and I will continue to fight the disease that is infertility with all of you. 

The wonder weeks: Leap 2 Patterns

At around eight weeks past due date Aviana was due her second mental leap. This leap enables her to understand patterns better. Not just visual patterns, but patterns across all the senses. Here is what she should be able to do after this leap:

  • hold her head up much better than before
  • turns her head towards sounds
  • Likes to shift her weight forward while sitting on my lap
  • Flaps her hands against a toy (forerunner of grasping)
  • Feels toys without trying to grasp them
  • Discovers and observes parts of her body
  • Looks at patterns (i.e. abstract paintings or a flickering candle)
  • Makes short, explosive sounds (effort grunts) with her voice with the help of glottal stops

All of this was evident after her leap. It was less obvious than the first leap to identify when she was going through it. This is what we experienced:

  • She wanted to be entertained a lot more often. 
  • The wonder weeks book says that she would want to be breastfed all day long but doesn’t really drink. But we didn’t really experience that – although her feeds did take longer on average
  • She craved more physical contact and she cried more easily. This was actually only evident and noticeable after her leap because at the time it just seemed normal. It was only after the leap she was a lot happier. It was a realization of Oh my baby doesn’t cry all the time after all! 

The period of time that this leap could last for was a lot longer than the first. Plus it got all mixed in with her 2 month vaccinations so it was hard to tell what was what.

The amazing thing is it is obvious afterwards now that she went through the leap. Of course babies change all the time, so it was only on looking back it was  clear what she was going through. The average time spent on a nursing session really jumped up…you can see below here, the stats say it all!

There is a two week ‘break’ between leap 2 and 3 l, Chris and grandad got to experience most of those good days last week when I was at work! I think she may have just now entered her 3rd leap a couple of days earlier, either that or it’s a growth spurt. She is doing some crazy sleeping. Yikes. More to come on leap 3 soon!

Average nursing session length went suddenly

Preparing to fly a baby transatlantic 

It’s time to fly! Aviana has received both her passports now -US and British- and she has conditional approval for global entry (just need to get her to an enrollment centrefir an ‘interview’, photo and fingerprints-ha, really???!!!). She is ready to travel the world!!!

But am I ready to travel the world with her? Ummmm not really! I consider myself an experienced frequent flier, but traveling with a 3 month old baby, I find myself a little nervous! Especially as my return flight to the US I will be alone.

Here are some things I’ve considered but don’t know much about and hoping it all works out…

Infants can fly on your lap. Infants under two years old can fly on your lap, this means you can save on buying a seat. BUT depending on the airline and where you are traveling there still may be a price to pay. I booked my ticket before Aviana was born using my air miles, so Last week I had to call American Airlines to add her to my reservation. Because I’m flying internationally I have to pay 20% fee. Which is not so simple because I paid for my ticket with air miles. It ended up being about $250. It gets a bit complicated in terms of baggage and hand luggage allowances. But for this flight I get a one bag allowance for Aviana, but not extra hand baggage. But I can take a diaper bag. Hmmmm. Confusing! I guess it simply means I can’t take two small air cabin sized suitcases. But that’s fine because I wouldn’t be able to carry that all by myself anyway. 

Get an infant friendly seat with bassinet. When I booked my ticket I chose the seat which allows me to use the airline’s bassinet (only available on long distance certain flights). I was able to do that though because I have platinum status. BUT if you don’t have status you do not need to pay extra to select this seat. When you add an infant to your reservation they will put you in the infant friendly seat….but only if it is available. So my advice is book early to avoid disappointment! OR prepare to negotiate with the people sat in those seats when you board the plane. Which they will probably be reluctant to do if they had to pay extra for that specific seat. I’ve seen that happen before. Bassinets can only be used in the air and if there is turbulence you have to take the baby out and put them on your lap. So must be prepared to have baby on me for long periods of time!

Traveling alone as a single parent? Get a notarized letter from your partner saying they give you permission to take your baby out of country and permission to give medical treatment as necessary. This might not be necessary and border staff may not ask for it, but in case they do I have it ready.  

Traveling with a car seat and stroller. This is my biggest worry. I have bought ‘gate check bags’ to put the stroller and car seat in when I get to the gate. These are non padded bags – you can get padded ones but they are bulky and I will be using the car seat to click into the stroller. I’m nervous about them getting damaged, especially the car seat. I’m also nervous about handling a baby and all these bags by myself. I will have a baby carrier with me so I can be hands free…but what if she is screaming blue murder? I hate it when people look at me as if I am torturing my baby!!!! And the faces of horror when they see a screaming baby get on the plane. I don’t care that much about what people think, it’s just that moment in time I would probably feel flustered and stressed.

Packing to prepare for delays. What if my flight is delayed or I miss my connection? will I have to have enough supplies to last me 24 hours? I usually do that for myself, but I now have to consider baby!! I’m glad I don’t have to worry about food because I’m breastfeeding. Although I will take some formula with me just in case something happens like my boobs dry up for some reason! 

How to carry everything through security, customs and to the gate. How the hell am I going to carry/push stroller, car seat, diaper bag, carry on hand luggage and when I come back to the US, pick up my checked bags and recheck after going through customs? I’ve figured my carry on bag should probably be a rucksack. Ideally my suitcase would be on four wheels, but I don’t have one of those, just a two wheeler. This means I can’t push it in any direction, only bi-directionally. Which is fine, it just could be easier! I’m hoping there might be a nice friendly person who might be able to help me out when I collect my bags. 

Arriving at the airport, tired, jet lagged and getting to my final destination by car. This will involve fitting the car seat base into a car I don’t know with a tired mummy and perhaps a grumpy baby in tow. And it will probably be cold knowing the UK weather!!!

Packing enough stuff for baby. Blankets, muslins, burp cloths, bibs, sleep suits, swaddles, hats, socks, clothes, coats, toys, pacifiers, sound machine, baby carrier wrap….what else have I forgotten? Diapers, wipes, baby toiletries, nappy rash cream, baby towel, bath sling…anything else??? If I have forgotten anything else I can always buy it when I get there or if I don’t have enough of something I can always wash it. Sometimes when I travel I can barely organize enough stuff for me let alone a baby!!!! Or I have the opposite problem – I take too much stuff!

OK so what else have I forgotten in my preparations? Do you have any travel tips flying with a 3 month old baby??

Back to work day 6 of 6

I made it!!!!!! I survived all 6 days of being back at work😬

My thoughts on going back to work for just 6 days….

  • Aviana has grown and changed a lot in 1 week. Well she’s always grown and changed a lot in 1 week I just never noticed it quite so much! 
  • I missed Aviana. I appreciated those night time feeds a lot more. I didn’t want to let her go. 
  • I didn’t miss Aviana. I didn’t miss trying to figure out what she wanted.
  • Aviana drank my scalded milk!!! Woohoo!! Problem solved! Chris also figured out how to give her a bottle without crying and fussing…by holding her with a pillow.
  • Pumping sucks. It takes some time and the room they offered me after the many interruptions was not ideal. But it was also only temporary. When I go back full time properly in May they told me they will find a new dedicated lactation/privacy room. I told the facilities manager what would ideally be needed. Chair, power outlet, refrigerator, table, nice to haves – sink, & microwave. 
  • I’m not sure what I’m going to do about exercising during the week in the future because rather than exercise at lunchtime I will be pumping! 
  • Chris makes a wonderful SAHD.
  • I enjoyed intellectual conversations this week!!!

Now time for some well deserved vino!!!!

Back to work day 2

Ughhhhh further to my ‘milk bar’ post, Aviana did not take my milk in a bottle today, so Chris ended up giving her formula which apparently she happily chugged down. She’s also quite happy to still take my boob because this evening I fed her before she went to bed. So it’s a bit frustrating to say the least.

Today was my first full day back at work and it was tough. I was only able to take a 25min break at 1030AM, of which half of it I spent finding the ‘privacy room’. Then later I pumped at 1300, for only 10 mins at 1500 and 1730 before I went home. This privacy room doesn’t have a chair in it. It has a huge fridge, a sink, dishwasher and some cupboards. The plug socket to plug my pump into was unhelpfully right next to the sink. Also people are using the fridge for their lunch (they shouldn’t be) so I got a knock at the door despite me putting the ‘privacy room-do not disturb’ sign on the door. 

Glad I wore a shirt today so I could easily pump hands free!

I managed to pump 4oz, 3oz, 0.5oz and 3oz in each pump session. The 0.5oz was when I only had a 15minute break-I felt stressed and rushed so didn’t get much out. But overall, it was not too bad and seems to be a sufficient amount to cover the next day-assuming Aviana decides to drink it!

When I got home and Chris told me she wouldn’t take my milk – even the freshly pumped stuff – I was a bit upset. I felt like a failure even though I know that’s ridiculous because it’s out of my control. All my milk still tasted soapy even the stuff I had pumped after 2hrs. Ughhhh. But the puzzle is she took my fresh milk on Sunday, albeit with some fuss…so what gives Miss Aviana? I then tasted all my milk pumped freshly from today and yes they all had some degree of soapiness, but maybe she is used to a little soapiness? Nevertheless, I went through the process of scalding today’s fresh milk to inactivate the lipase and prevent my milk from getting any more sour in preparation for tomorrow’s feeds. Hopefully that will work.

It was hard enough fitting in all the pumping today around a schedule that is set out and not in my control. When I go back to work properly I will have more time to choose when I pump, so this is doubly hard this week! I haven’t been eased in gently to all this!!!!! 

Despite all this, I did manage to actually nail my presentation on behalf of my project team today. I also stayed awake for most of the day. Phew! I survived! But it’s only Monday……ask me again on Wednesday how going back to work has been!!!!!!

The milk bar

Our code word for nursing is ‘the milk bar’. Chris will ask me when he is about to give me Aviana for a feed “Is the milk bar open??” . Well this milk bar has had a fun weekend.

Saturday Aviana and I went to our local La Leche League breastfeeding meeting. I thought I’d see what it’s all about. I didn’t have any specific worries or troubles, the only thing that was bothering me was going back to work making me a bit nervous. 

The meeting was led by a La Leche League volunteer. She basically introduced what the point of the meetings were (women help each other out with breastfeeding), how the meetings worked, facilitated the discussion and provided guidance where necessary. Some meetings have particular education themes with time saved for questions anyone may have. This particular meeting we spent the whole time answering and discussing everybody’s questions. 

The first question one mum had was about tongue and lip ties which I knew nothing about so I sort of started to get a bit lost with the discussion at first. Having said that, I did learn some new things about the subtleties of tongue ties at the back of the mouth and what symptoms it causes. 

Next there were was a question about nursing a toddler and how to deal with biting…OK so not my problem now but it was interesting to hear how women were coping with it, lots of tips and tricks for the future. Little things that I would never have thought of, for example, some of the teething necklaces you can find in target might be useful but the rubbery parts can catch on long hair making them painful – and useless, so we talked about alternative necklaces etc.

The third question was about over feeding at day care. One lady had been asked by her daycare to increase her bottles to 5oz because baby was eating all 4oz. The lady was worried how to keep production up. Actually this was too much milk and ideally a breastfed baby should only need about 3oz in 3 hours, therefore rather than trying to pump more, what the mother really needed to do was talk to the daycare and educate them – her baby was the only breastfed baby there. Whilst formula babies take more milk, breastfed babies don’t need as much volume as formula fed babies and shouldn’t be compared for volume requirements. Some ladies had dealt with daycares by getting a doctor’s note to say their babies should not be fed more than 3oz per 3hrs in order to ensure the daycare would listen. It’s a shame that this is necessary at some daycares, but, a useful tip nevertheless to prevent over feeding.

Another question was about tandem nursing with newborn baby and toddler. Wow, that was fascinating to hear how some mothers had coped with doing that!!! Kudos! 

There were several other questions and discussions that in the end, the whole meeting was dedicated to answering everybody’s questions rather than the initial planned education session. That was nice to know that you could come to a meeting and have your questions addressed if need be.

I really enjoyed listening to nuggets of tips and that some of the stresses of breastfeeding were felt similarly by others. It was nice to know it was ‘normal’. I felt it was a good meeting and liked how there was no judgement and that it was about women helping each other out to keep on breastfeeding. Because let’s face it, it’s not always a walk in the park. At the end the leader gave me some reading material about going back to work for the breastfeeding mother….which brings me to the next milk bar topic of the weekend!!!

– Preparing to go back to work! Let’s rewind to Thursday. On Thursday the nanny came a few hours earlier than usual because I had to go have dental implant surgery (ouchie!!). Usually Aviana will muddle through the afternoon by snacking on milk here and there, but this day she decided she didn’t want to take the bottle – at all. She didn’t eat for 6 hours. The only reason she ate anything was because he nanny had tried to give her a different bottle, which Aviana finally took. By the time I came home, I saw the undrunk bottle on the side and it looked really weird, very fatty. I sniffed it and it smelt really soapy. I’d read about soapy smelling milk before – it indicated a high lipase issue. Some babies are sensitive to it and won’t drink it. 

So I researched high lipase and experimented with some of my fresh milk. I left my milk in the fridge for two days and got Chris to taste and compare it with freshly pumped milk. He said that the not so fresh milk was different, tasting soapy and flowery. This confirmed my suspicions that my milk has high lipase and is probably why Aviana doesn’t talk all the bottles in the past, especially my frozen milk. 

Ughhhh. This meant that all my frozen milk was affected (I had worked up about 24oz of frozen milk over the past few months). It also meant that for going back to work on Sunday (the next day!!) I didn’t have enough milk. Panic. 

I posted my dilemma on my local Facebook breastfeeding support group and learned a bit more from other mothers who had high lipase issues. Firstly, there is a way to prevent the soapiness- scalding the milk before freezing it (more here- Secondly, my frozen stash might not be completely wasted if I try to mix in frozen with fresh to make it less soapy tasting and see if Aviana will take that. Basically experiment. And if all else fails I could use my frozen stash for a milk bath. 

Very frustrating to discover this all so close to going back to work (and typical after I had been to the La Leche League meeting – I could have asked the question about high lipase there!!). 

Let’s see how this milk bar works out this week….. 

The Babywearing meet

Aviana has started to like being carried facing forward so she can see what is going on…and I find carrying her that way quite exhausting, which is crazy considering she still doesn’t weigh much more than an average newborn baby!  So I asked my Doula if she was familiar with the many multitude of baby carriers available out there.  Yes she was, but she told me about a real good nugget of useful knowledge – Baby Wearing International.  She had been to a meet with one of her clients before and recommended it as a good place to try out carriers before buying.  A great idea considering how expensive some carriers are, how picky babies can be, and how different our bodies are.

The very next weekend Chris and I took Aviana to our first meeting of our local Baby Wearing International group.  Here is what happened…

First we signed in at the welcome desk.  The meeting is free and open to the public!  We were given a name tag and a slip of paper telling us how to get the best out of their two hour meetings.  Of course Aviana had to be hungry just as we arrived, so Chris fed her (we are trying to get her more accustomed to the bottle).  There were all sorts of people there with their newborn babies and other toddlers running around playing with each other.  It was very noisy! Probably about 50 or so people. But this didn’t seem to bother Aviana.  In fact she seemed to like watching all the other babies.

About 5 minutes after we arrived a lady announced what was going to happen and what we could do.  There were ‘stands’ with qualified baby wearing educators depending on what type of carrier and carry you needed help with.  So for example if you had a moby wrap you could go to the wrap stand and be shown how to use it, or if you had a soft shell carrier such as a Tula then you can be shown how to use that properly.  There was also a ‘lending library’ for members to use.  You pay $30 a year for membership and that allows you to borrow one carrier from the lending library for one month 11 times in a year.  This sounded ideal because then you can take it home and if it doesn’t work out you haven’t wasted lots of money!

One of the educators helped us out with our requirements – we wanted something that would be suitable for Aviana’s small size, forward facing, and easy for both Chris and I to wear.  Chris tried three different carriers, the third one he tried was the most comfortable.  All this time Aviana was quite obliging being put in and out of a carrier!  Which was surprising to me.  I tried the third one on too and found it easy to use and tie. off.  It was the Baby Hawk Meh Dai – it doesn’t have buckles, just ties.  It is soft but gives Aviana some support with the front panel head piece.  It was also adjustable in different ways of tying it so it suited both Chris and I without faffing with any buckles.  We decided we would borrow this one from the library and see how we all get on with it.

We met a couple of new people which was nice, it was very welcoming.  The whole meet lasts for two hours and at the end a photo of the group is taken.  We had to go before the photo because Aviana (and me) was hungry!  So not only did we achieve something practical, we also met some other parents which was nice.  I also joined their local facebook group and everybody helps each other out with how to wear their babies and toddlers.

Since taking the Baby Hawk Carrier home, Chris has used it once carrying Aviana forwards, I have used it once at home where she slept for two hours in it facing inwards on my front, I have also used it in the ‘witching hour’ to calm her down facing forwards.  Finally, I had some partial success using it when I went out shopping to Petsmart which required me to use the trolley (shopping cart!) for items that required me to be handsfree!  She lasted about 5 minutes before getting pissed off at the world.  I started to queue and of course everyone was staring at me as if I am torturing my baby! It was at that point that I felt absolutely helpless because I had to pay for my items and I didn’t want to give up!!!  So I stuck it out and tried to keep her from wriggling out through her screams!  The only downside to this carrier is that the ends of the wrap are long and so can easily drag on the ground, so not good if it is wet outside.  Perhaps it will just take a bit more practice.

2017-03-05 12.20.48.jpg

Snoozy time for Aviana

2017-03-10 11.20.03.png

I plan to take this carrier back to the UK with me, I anticipate needing it when I get on and off the plane and for when I go through customs and need to pick up my bags as I go through immigration.

I return the carrier in one month when I go to the next meeting.  So if you borrow one you need to go to the next meet which you drop off in the first 30 minutes of the meeting or arrange to give it back earlier if necessary.  I think this system works nicely and I’m looking forward to going back again to try some of the other carriers!

Find out more about your local meet here


When daddy leaves mummy

Chris went on a work trip to Atlanta on Sunday…it’s not that bad, he is coming back late tonight (Monday) so he was only away for 36 hours!  However, this meant that I had to put Aviana to bed on my own for the first time – twice!

Here is what went down when daddy left mummy alone with Aviana….

Well I am going to spoil the ending – I am still alive to tell the tale!

First of all, she struggled to fall asleep and had a big fight with her wubbanub (pacifier or dummy with a small stuffed giraffe attached to it). She didn’t really know what she wanted, but it wasn’t a nice deep sleep that was for sure.  When she did fall asleep she was fidgeting, grunting, coughing, snorting, kicking and punching.  Clearly this was not going to be a good night!  And it wasn’t….and of course, after I wrote about Aviana’s new glorious sleep habits, that very night she decided she was going to fall back to her old way of two night feeds.  Seriously girl??! 1AM, 5AM and 6.45AM was when I fed her.  That doesn’t sounds so bad, except she was refluxy, fidgety and very vocal the whole night – she didn’t cry though which is a good thing – but enough to keep me awake every ten/fifteen minutes.  She finally got into a peaceful sleep at about 6.20AM, just as I was ready to get up!!! So I dozed back to sleep myself, until 5 minutes later the cats jumped on the bed and meowed in my face – FEED ME MEEEEOOOOWWW! No peace for the wicked.

This evening, she was like a different baby to the night before.  She was pleasant, smiley, intrigued, anti-witch (where did she go?!), loved her bath, let me massage her for the first time ever, fed calmly and efficiently then fell asleep into a deep sleep quickly on time.  I had a lovely evening with her.2017-03-06 14.29.58.jpg

I am guessing she just missed daddy the first night….then forgot about him this evening.  Haha….just kidding Chris ;-p  I actual
ly think that this experience nicely sums up the essence of parenting – just go with the flow, there will be highs, there will be lows and remember:

Don’t fall into the ‘forever trap’!!!!

The more I remind myself of this, the easier those challenging times are to face head on.