Already bad parents?

Chris had been shoveling snow for much of the day, so later in the evening he exclaimed how sore his back was.  I suggested he take a bath to relax his muscles, and then I suggested how about we share a bath seeing as I was having a bath most nights (which were seriously helping with my postpartum recovery and slightly sore back & boobs from breastfeeding!).  What a great idea!  Now all we needed to do was figure out how to fit the time in so that we could both be in the bath together at the same time! Ha!  Not so easy with a new born- am I right??!

We have already discovered the ‘witching hour’, or ‘fussy time’ Aviana has in the evenings.  She is a perfect angel the rest of the day – and even at night she isn’t too bad at sticking to Eat, Activity, Sleep, You Time (E.A.S.Y. – more on this in another post!).  So trying to fit time in the evening to share a relaxing bath together was always going to be a challenge!  But!  We fed her, changed her, and after a bit of soothing help she went down to sleep at about 7.30PM. Or so we thought….

Quick!  Let’s run the bath, light the candles, grab a glass of wine and hop in whilst she sleeps!

We got to lighting the candles and filling up the tub before she started fussing.  Of course, I had just got in the bath, Chris had stripped down and was about to join me.  We knew that she wasn’t hungry (it wasn’t a hungry cry), she was comfortable, she was dry – she was fussing because she was too tired/overstimulated from being awake for the past 3.5 hours.  So Chris suggested just letting her soothe herself this time.  Chris got in the bath with me, and she cried.  Her crib was literally the other side of the wall, her cries made the bath a tortuous place to be! This wasn’t what it was meant to be like!

We timed her crying.  3 minutes is how long we agreed to wait to see if she would soothe herself. That’s what many books say is a reasonable time.

Low and behold at about 2 minutes 45 seconds later, she quietly stopped crying and babbled away to herself.

Ahhhhhh and breathe.

3 minutes later, the same thing happened.  We reset the clock and timed her crying, and again she stopped crying on her own.  It is amazing, Chris asked me how long did I think she had been crying for, and to me it fell like 3 or 4 minutes, when it had actually only been 1 minute.  It seemed like forever, what mind mess! 

The third time she started crying again, I said to Chris, I think she must be hungry still.  He urged me to just see if she will stop.  As she cried and as we watched the clock sat in our candle lit bath, drinking wine, he turned to me and said – ‘Are we bad parents for letting our baby cry as we sit next door to her drinking wine in a bath?’  I said, ‘probably….But I can’t take this anymore.’  So Chris got up out of the bath and said, you stay here, I will soothe her. And just as Chris got out, she stopped crying and fell asleep.  In fact she fell asleep and stayed asleep for her longest stretch so far – 4hrs of solid sleep!

We won’t be trying any cry it out methods.  But we learned that she can actually soothe herself – as long as we know that she is fed, clean, dry, safe, not ill and we have tried soothing her with the 5 Ss (Swaddle, Suck, Side, Sway and Shhhhh-ing),we discovered a bit of crying is OK when they are just too tired.

Advertisements

Mom – were you on drugs?

At our two week wellness visit to Aviana’s pediatrician, Chris asked the doctor about something strange he had noticed Aviana do a couple of times. He noticed a few times that she would have a shudder/tremor/shake in her arms for a very brief moment, almost looking like a mini seizure. 

The doctor looked at me and asked ‘mom, do you drink much caffeine?’ I said no. I have one or two cups of black tea a day (British tea of course!) and the occasional decaf coffee at Starbucks. I gave up coffee when we started trying to conceive a few years ago!. 

‘Hmmm- were you on any medications when you were pregnant? Because babies can get this reaction from withdrawal?’ I said no.

Then we could all guess what the next awkward question that the doctor was going to ask, but then she looked at me as if to say, well you don’t look like the kind of person who is a druggy or alcoholic, and she paused….so awkward.

But then the doctor quickly said it was probably just a benign infant tremor and that we should keep an eye on it if it keeps happening as an indicator of something to look into with her nervous system.

It can’t be easy being a pediatrician when it comes to working with parents!! They have a duty of care to the child and many problems with a child can be caused by the parents and they have to deal with that factor as well. We just watched an episode of greys anatomy where the intern thought munchausen by proxy was causing the child to be inexplicably ill.  It was very awkward when the intern brought the psychologist in to do an assessment on the parent…until the parent figured out what was going on. So awkward. When in fact what really was the problem was a very rare disease that was missed because of a false positive test result.

Taking our baby to the doctors is going to be a whole new skill for us to learn as parents. When we are ill, we at least can describe what we feel like to the doctor, how much it hurts and where. A baby can only communicate to us by crying (or not crying), and we can only observe and monitor changes in her physical appearance and her behaviour. The trouble is, determining what is and isn’t normal when we have never done this before!!!! Overly cautious is probably where we stand with our little one. Poor doctor is probably going to get lots of questions from us on the phone ūüėā

Daddy’s going back to work

Dani’s thoughts and feelings on Chris going back to work….

…it sucks.

The end.

That is all¬†I wanted to write….but perhaps I should explain myself a bit more. ¬†Although I reckon that many of you mums out there won’t need me to write an explanation because we probably feel the same way about our partners returning to work after parental leave.

Chris technically doesn’t get parental leave. ¬†In the US, you are lucky to get any parental leave. ¬†Chris saved up his annual leave to allow him to take 3 weeks off for both the birth and learning to become a dad. ¬†Fortunately some of the days include public holidays – Christmas, New Years and Martin Luther King Day. ¬†So that was lucky to get an extra few days without eating into his leave.

Chris’s company does give him a ‘transition week’, which when you add up the time off equals 2.5 days of parental leave. ¬†What is a transition week? Well, he gets to work half days from home…allowing him to support his new family but ease both him and us into working life again. ¬†Makes a lot of sense. ¬†I’ll let you know how that goes!

So Chris’s last day of leave was last Friday. ¬†It has been amazing to have him around. ¬†He has been amazing. ¬†I don’t know how mums do it when their partners go back to work within a few days…or worse, they are simply not around because they are deployed or for some other work related reason. ¬†Why has he been amazing?

  • He has given me confidence that I can do this.
  • He supports my breastfeeding, by making sure I have everything I need – water, food, pillows, blankets, burp cloths, entertainment, timing the feeds.
  • He changes Aviana’s diapers/nappies.
  • He gets up at night to wake up Aviana, give Aviana to me whilst I am in bed so I can nurse her, then put her back down to sleep.
  • We share the burden of dealing with Aviana fussing at night. ¬†But sometimes he takes on more of that share.
  • He has done the cleaning, washing, cooking, tidying, driving etc. ¬†All the things I haven’t been allowed to do for the two weeks of my post partum recovery.
  • He is an¬†expert in all things bath related for Aviana.
  • We take turns in dressing Aviana and trying to figure out what is and isn’t appropriate to wear!
  • He has dashed out to shops to get things we hadn’t thought of or ran out of sooner than expected.
  • He looks after Aviana, even when she is fussing, so that I can take a shower in the morning, and a bath at night (helps with my postpartum recovery).
  • Read the books, googled advice and hacks on looking after a newborn. ¬†Sharing his newfound knowledge with me.
  • Tells me he loves me and how he loves seeing me being a mum. ¬†He also makes me feel like I am more than just a mum to him, I am still his wife.
  • Encourages me to achieve one personal goal a day.
  • Cries with me when I randomly cry (which mostly has been at happy things or pure relief things have worked out well for us)

ūüė¶ Dani’s sad face.

Breastfeeding my IUGR newborn baby: The first two weeks

I had no expectations when it came to breastfeeding my newborn. Yes, it would be good to breastfeed, but if for some reason it didn’t work out, I wouldn’t be overly upset. Formula milk is perfectly fine for a baby. Well…that’s what I thought I would feel anyway!

Not long after Aviana came into our world, in the golden hour skin to skin, I¬†attempted to breast feed her. Chris and my Doula helped me with Aviana’s first latch. Wait – help from Chris?? Although Chris isn’t an expert in all things breastfeeding related, he did attend the Breastfeeding class with me, and he was able to recollect our learnings far better than I could at that moment of time. My head was a bit foggy after being awake for so long and laboring hard! He was my walking breastfeeding text book (well the fundamentals at the least). ¬†I am so glad we went to this class – one of the most beneficial films we watched was how to visually tell the difference between a good latch and a bad latch.

Fortunately, after a bit of fussing, Aviana latched quite quickly and easily, I was pleasantly surprised. Getting the position right as I held her was awkward. I had never held a baby so tiny in my life. I was afraid to break her!!! And here in her first waking hours I was planting her onto my bosom. It was so innate and natural for her to suckle.

This first feed was rather¬†magical. Yes, it was weird having something tug at my nipple constantly, but it made¬†me feel connected to her. She was mine, she was our responsibility to feed, nourish and love. ¬†It also felt onerous at the same time. ¬†I was worried before hand that I wouldn’t fall in love with her, but this experience banished that worry.

Aviana is a ‘IUGR’ (Intra Uterine Growth Restricted)¬†baby, born 5lbs 1oz, weighing in the less than 1 percentile, but very long at 19.5″ in the 50th percentile! Because she was so teeny we had to stuff her up and feed her every 2 hrs round the clock. Whilst in the hospital, just before each feed she had to have her blood sugar levels checked. She wasn’t keen on this – I mean who would want their heel pricked and a cold thermometer shoved between your armpits every single time you were about to eat some food?? ¬†It was a tough first 24 hours, recovering from labour, the first several hours I was surviving on adrenaline, but later I don’t know how I was staying awake as I fed her. ¬†Each feed was lasting at least 30 minutes as she kept falling asleep. ¬†After changing her she slept for an hour or so and then it was time to feed again!

She was 4lbs 15oz 36hrs later when she left the hospital and 4lbs 8oz 60hrs later when we visited our pediatrician. When I heard this weight I was shocked!  She  had lost just over 10% of her birth weight. For most other babies losing this amount of weight was on the edge of normal and to be expected- for her low weight it was a concern. My milk had yet to come in yet, so we were told we should try supplementing the breast with 1 oz of formula with every feed.

Now, I said before Aviana had arrived that I had no expectations for breastfeeding and I would be totally cool with formula.  But in that moment when the pediatrician recommended supplementing, my tear bucket was almost full and I felt a huge level of guilt wash over me.  My brain blamed my body for not providing the sufficient nutrients for her.  What if after the ease of the first few days and my baby latching so well she decided to pack it all in and replace me with the bottle?  I had fallen in love with the idea of breastfeeding, and now it all suddenly felt to be at risk.

DANI-don’t be ridiculous. ¬†Your baby needs the nutrients, supplementing is critical to her thriving. ¬†Buck up – I told myself.

Then the pediatrician asked me how I felt about the supplementing? ¬†I responded – “she needs to thrive and that’s the most important thing. ¬†We can supplement, no problem”. ¬†I don’t know if I had hid my initial reaction of disappointment well. ¬†We didn’t have any formula at home, and with it being Christmas eve and getting late, the pediatrician gave us a tub of formula for newborns to go home with.

The idea of the supplementing was to give her all the time she needed at the breast, then when she was done, to offer her the formula. ¬†Aviana wasn’t keen on the bottle at first, and I was secretly pleased she preferred my boob. ¬†I wasn’t happy with the nipple we had, although it was a Dr Brown’s slow flow, I thought the shape of it was too different to my nipple. ¬†So I sent Chris out to the shops to buy some new nipples. ¬†We went with Nuk Perfect Fit Slow Flow. ¬†This seemed to work better for Aviana and we lucked out at the second try. ¬†We do have other nipples in the cupboard just in case. ¬†Even with a better nipple, we were practically force feeding her the formula. ¬†It broke my heart every time we tried to ¬†give her the bottle. ¬†But it was for her own good – she needed it. ¬†Still on the two hour feeds the feeding sessions now lasted even longer with adding in the formula. ¬†Chris and I worked as a team…he prepared the bottle whilst I breast fed her. ¬†We took it in turns to burp her, then give her the bottle, then burp her. ¬†It was exhausting at night because it required leaving the bedroom.

At night time, Chris and I took shifts to deal with Aviana’s fussing, change her diaper and burp her. ¬†Chris took 9PM -2AM and I took 2AM to 7AM. ¬†This suits us well because I’m a morning person, Chris is a night owl. Of course, I still had to be awake every 2 hours for every single feed.

Three days later we were back at the pediatricians for a weigh in.  Miraculously she had gone from 4lbs 8oz to 4lbs 15oz in 72 hours.  My milk was now in, so the doctor said we could reduce the supplementing if we wanted to but still stick with 2 hr feeds.

Another three days later we were back for a weigh in. ¬†Incredibly, she had gone from 4lbs 15oz to 5lbs 6oz!!!!! ¬†Chris and I high fived each other when the nurse called out her weight! ¬†Aviana was gaining an incredible amount of weight just on my breast milk! ¬†I was over the moon that my body had responded so well to Aviana’s needs. ¬†The doctor said we could now extend to three hour feeds at night as long as we kept up the two hour feeds during the day. Woohoo – another high five!!!!

The prospect of an extra hours sleep in between feeds was worth celebrating!!! Except….Aviana hit her 7-10 day growth spurt and I was feeding her almost every hour. ¬†I was on the verge of breaking down from tiredness. ¬†I started to think that maybe my milk wasn’t sufficient for her. ¬†But I educated myself on this kind of cluster feeding and took the advice not to give up and return to supplementing because my body would respond to the increased demand, I just had to keep up the breastfeeding. ¬†Cluster feeding is normal. ¬†As long as Aviana was pooping and peeing regularly she was getting enough milk. ¬† It was a really tough few days. ¬†But we came out of it and she returned to being an angel baby.

Another six days later (today) and we were back at the pediatricians for Aviana’s two week wellness check up. Aviana had grown from 5lbs 6oz to 6lbs 1oz! ¬†She had moved up from the 1 percentile to the 2 percentile! ¬†The pediatrician was impressed with her progress and said we could move to on demand breast feeding if we wanted to. ¬†She told us that typically she would expect Aviana to be at least 5lbs 1oz (her original birth weight) – and we had exceeded that goal.

Admittedly, I have had it relatively easy with my breastfeeding experience so far.  My nipples have survived, yes they have gotten a bit sore, but the Lanolin the lactation consultant gave me to put on my nipples when I left the hospital has worked wonders.  Aviana latches well most of the time, we struggle a bit with my left boob for some unknown reason (I will go to the breastfeeding group the hospital runs with a lactation consultant every month next week to see if I can figure out why).

The only other thing I will mention is my experience of breastfeeding in public so far. ¬†I bought a nursing cover a while ago because I thought that is how I would breastfeed in public. ¬†My first necessity to breastfeed in semi-public was in the car after we had been shopping at the mall the day after Christmas. ¬†That didn’t feel too public. ¬†The next time was at the children’s health centre where my pediatrician is. ¬†This was quite a benign environment to feed in, I felt comfortable whipping the boob out there. ¬†This gave me a bit of confidence for my next public outing – the grocery store. ¬†There was a starbucks in the store, so I sat with my back facing away from the public and fed Aviana there. ¬†Again I didn’t use the nursing cover. ¬†This all gave me the confidence for me to feed openly in Starbucks in Target and even at a restaurant when we had some lunch with a friend and his daughter. ¬†I will still take the nursing cover with me just in case one day I don’t feel comfortable feeding so publicly, but I am surprised at my own confidence!

va-breastfeeding-law-card-front

Before Aviana arrived I mostly read about women’s stories of failure or problems with breastfeeding, which is why I didn’t have high expectations. ¬†So that is why I’m sharing my breastfeeding story of success! ¬†Here’s hoping it continues, because it is rather economical.

Dani

X

 

It’s so nice to see the man doing his part…and other thoughts from strangers

It didn’t take long before strangers offered their thoughts on our newborn baby as we started to venture out of our cave and into the big wide world. So far, all of them have been positive ….

‘Ohhhhh she’s so tiny!!’ Or ‘she’s so precious!!’

One woman waiting at the pediatrician’s office even asked if she could take a photo of me and Aviana together because Aviana is so small she couldn’t believe it! Ok. So that was a bit weird!

The cashier lady said to us she would have told her daughter off for going outside with such a young-un so soon. So this comment was a bit judgemental, but I don’t care, because we believe some fresh air is good for a baby! It’s not like we were passing our baby round lots of people!m. Yes, the pediatrician said we have to be careful because she is so tiny and we are on the brink of a flu epidemic in the local area as the kids go back to school. It seems the vaccine this year might not be effective for this type of flu. So we are being very careful where we go, who we hang out with and who gets to cuddle her.

Finally, Chris carried Aviana around the shop on his chest as she was fussing a bit.  A lady came up to me and gave her compliments on our cute daughter, then said (to me) ‘it’s so nice to see the man doing his part!’ She looked like she was about to tear up at the prospect of a man being an actual parent. I was a little surprised and later asked Chris how he felt about what the lady had said. He said that this was in no way offensive to us, but just reminded us that not every family has a father who plays the role of carer equal to the mother. 

Chris – parenting (a purple blob)!!!!

In my other blog I wrote about the ‘Dad’s don’t babysit’ movement because I have strong feelings about this so I won’t repeat it here. But Chris is definitely a dad who doesn’t babysit- he parents. ‚̧ԳŹ

I know this is just the beginning of random strangers commenting on our daughter or our parenting skills…but what else will I fill this blog up with if not with opinions of people we don’t know ??!!!! 
Dani

X