Unanswered questions

There are so many things about babies I don’t understand and no one can tell you when you ask:

• why don’t babies come out understanding rational and logical thought?
• why can’t they tell the time? 2am is not a time for chatting
• why do they love playing with packets of wipes?
• why is your phone/the TV remote the best thing ever when there is a whole pile of age appropriate musical crap right in front of them?
• why do they want everything done 5 minutes ago? If you wanted to be picked up you only had to ask and not have a meltdown because I haven’t done it inside 2 seconds!
• why do they not like it when you wipe their faces without turning it into a game? Unless I say ‘beep beep’ in a funny voice MM screams and frantically turns his head away from me
• why do babies love labels?
• why do they sleep when you want them awake and are wide awake when you want them asleep?
• why do babies put everything in their mouths except for when you want them to eat something? (Because obviously then it goes on the floor!)
• how does the baby have a sixth sense for anytime you want a hot drink/something to eat/a quiet 5 minutes/a nap?
• how is it cute/great when a baby burps and poos but when an adult does it it’s just gross?
• why does the baby poo straight into a fresh nappy?

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A revelation

I will take you back to where it all began and MM was just 5 days old. My intentions had always been to breastfeed but only for 6 months for a number of reasons. One being I just didn’t want to after 6 months which I do think is a perfectly legitimate reason not to breastfeed (and one which I think a lot of women are frightened to admit due to the (unfair) pressure to breastfeed…. Yes ‘breast is best’ (how can it not be) but your body; your child; your choice! In my opinion!) so anyway; I digress… 5 days into motherhood I managed to express a whole 2oz of milk with my newfangled super duper (super expensive!!) breast pump and H gave MM his first bottle. MM couldn’t drink it fast enough – the bottle itself was practically as big as him. For the next 5.5 weeks he had a few bottles a week so H could bond/give me a lie-in/ensure MM was used to having a bottle. I started to get a bit smug as my baby would drink from a bottle and the breast and would even drink a bottle straight out the fridge (although he often looked surprised at first when he realised it was cold!)

Then the problems hit…. At 6/7 weeks old babies become more aware of the world and start to realise they have a choice in their feeding methods (ie if they don’t like the bottle they know they won’t be left to starve) and at this point it is apparently quite common for them to reject one feeding method (it would have been really helpful to have known this before!!!) so MM decided the bottle wasn’t for him. I am pleased he rejected the bottle and not the breast if he was going to reject one but I had hoped he would be happy to have both. Because I am stubborn I decided to persevere, not yet realising that the baby has a much greater will than you. There were lots of tears (mainly mine) and the sight of the bottle alone was enough to provoke screaming. Great! I don’t even want to think about how many hours I sat attached to that blasted pump and how many litres of breastmilk I had to throw away… So many litres (whoever said there’s no point in crying over spilt milk had clearly never expressed!)

I read every book/forum/website, asked friends, asked every medical professional I came across, bought every bottle and teat known to mankind, tried every Tom, Dick and Harry giving the bottle, tried different times of day, tried tricking the baby (put him on the boob and then when he was settled and sucking slowly swiftly shove the bottle in); nothing! Literally no success at all. It was then 3 months in of trying literally everything I could think of I learned that no matter how stubborn I am, MM is more stubborn! It was at this point I decided to give it a break for a few weeks as I couldn’t face any more expressing or screaming! What irritated me most was that I wasn’t trying to give him anything different; it was still breastmilk just in slightly different packaging.

When MM was 5 months old I decided to try again but on the advice of a health visitor we tried a sippy cup. This was somewhat more successful but there was no actual drinking just a few sips, then screaming when MM realised he was actually expected to drink it, then flinging it across the room when he realised we were serious. It was more akin to dealing with a moody teenager than a baby! By this point I was literally having visions of breastfeeding a school-age child and had that Little Britain ‘bitty’ sketch haunting me. I did think it served me right for being a parental-judgey-pants before I had a baby!

So anyway I went to the North West baby show at the beginning of March and got a free Mam bottle (somehow this bottle never made it into my collection) and thought ‘may as well try’. MM was quite interested in it and was quite happy to chew on it and take a few sucks (by this point the breast pump had been confined to the loft and he was given formula) but we had no actual drinking (no screaming either though so definitely progress!)

So anyway a few attempts at the Mam bottle proved fruitless (although better than the others) and I was literally thinking he was never going to come off the boob. Then yesterday (Sunday) we went to an outside half-day event where there was literally no place to breastfeed, unless I did it by the side of the road, and quite frankly I wasn’t prepared to do that. So along with snacks, lunch and his water (that he’ll drink out of a sippy cup!) I packed a bottle of formula. I worked out that the Mam teats fit the Dr Browns bottles (which MM used when he drank from a bottle) and these were better than the Mam bottle as they were bigger and also had a little removable stopper to stop the bottle leaking. Sure enough, MM woke up from his nap as we were outside and walking by the road and demanded food. I thought I’d try the bottle and sat him upright in his pram. What happened next surprised, shocked and delighted me: HE DRAINED THE WHOLE 4oz BOTTLE IN UNDER 10 MINUTES!!! I was trying to act cool so as not to put him off but inside I was literally dancing and screaming with delight. I even took photos and videos to prove it happened (in case it didn’t happen again!) OMG….

So in order to prove this wasn’t a one-off today we went shopping and I figured I would take another bottle with (this time 6oz) and lo and behold he drank it…. With very little encouragement. MM started to fuss as we were queuing for a restaurant so without getting him out of the pram I whipped out the bottle and gave it to him and he drank 3oz in one go. I was amazed! Then when we sat down at our table he polished off the rest! I really hope this is the turning point for us but now I’ve blogged about it I have a sneaking suspicion he will decide he no longer likes the bottle anymore! For now at least he will drink out of a Dr Brown bottle with a Mam teat!!! HOORAY 🙂

My hopes for you

As I hold you in my arms, still so new and lovely and untouched by the world I think about the future; how I hope you’ll be, the boy you’ll become and the man you’ll grow into. You smile at me with your whole face; beaming grin, crinkled sparkly eyes, gorgeous little dimples, soft rounded cheeks and I know I am your whole world and I need to keep you safe. Unfortunately I can’t hold you in my arms forever or wrap you up in cotton wool so this is what I hope for you:

1. Always have good manners. They are so important and don’t cost anything…. ‘I want’ never gets
2. Be kind to others. No one likes a bully
3. Stand up for yourself. I don’t know how I’d cope if people weren’t nice to you and unfortunately I can’t sort out every battle (as much as I want to)
4. I hope your dad and I can give you a good example of a stable relationship and a happy home life so you have a template to work from
5. Happiness. I only ever want you to be happy
6. Know how loved you are
7. A good work ethic. I never want you to expect or think you’re entitled to something without putting in the effort
8. Never be afraid to be honest. The truth always wins
9. Speak your mind (but not in a rude way)
10. Never give up
11. Always give 110% and have purpose in everything you do
12. Don’t be afraid to fail
13. Enjoy life

Thoughts that run through my mind each night

As MM refuses to sleep I have lots of thoughts running through my mind during the small hours. Here they are in no particular order:

1. Will he EVER sleep?

2. His sleeping pattern is getting worse!

3. I must be a terrible mother. Other babies sleep!

4. Will I ever sleep again?

5. Will I ever wake up in my own bed?

6. Will MM EVER stop breastfeeding?

7. Bitty

8. Will I ever get my body back to myself between the baby’s needs and H’s needs I don’t feel I have control of my own body anymore

9. I’m sure I’ve seen every hour there is in the whole entire night!

10. Will MM be a needy child?

11. How am I going to be able to go back to work?

12. Is it possible to drive and work on this little sleep?

13. Ah coffee how wonderful you are!

14. How will MM cope at nursery? Will he drink formula ever?

15. Why do men have it so easy?

16. MM is so bloody cute

17. I love him so much

18. But why won’t he sleep?

19. He must just really love me to want to spend all day and night with me

20. Don’t fall asleep holding the baby

22. OMG he hasn’t woken up in over an hour is he still breathing?

23. It’s a shame I can’t cut my boobs off and leave them in the cot!

24. What do you mean you want my boob out right next to your face? It’s freezing!

25. Ouch I must cut your fingernails!

26. I do love Little Britain… I wonder if they’ll make any more episodes?

27. I love his little face

28. He smells so nice!

29. Has he poo’d!? Surely not… I hope not it’s 3am!

30. I wonder if he’ll let me have a lie in

31. I remember when a lie in was a time which started in double digits! Now I consider 8.30am to be a lie in!

32. I’m not actually tired anymore

33. Is 5.30 too early to start the day?

34. Why won’t you settle for H?

35. I can’t sleep you’re breathing too heavily

36. What makes people have more than 1 child?

37. Is my child normal?

38. You were fast asleep a second ago why have your eyes pinged open the second I put you down in your cot?

39. It’s only 11pm why have you already woken twice?

40. Fine come sleep with me!!!!

41. Will we still be co-sleeping when you start school? God I hope not!

42. If you’re tired go to sleep and stop rubbing your eyes!

43. It must be my fault you don’t know how to go to sleep

44. Why is sleep all I think about?

45. I never used to worry now I worry all the time… About everything!

46. Are you too cold?

47. Are you too warm?

48. Is it too bright in here?

49. F@&#, my toe!!! That stupid blackout blind was a waste of money – it hasn’t helped you sleep at all and now I’m bruised!

50. I’m going to miss this when you do sleep through (you will eventually right!?)

Parenting advice

why do people feel the need to comment on all aspects of your parenting skills?

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“You really shouldn’t let the baby sleep on you!”

“You shouldn’t feed to sleep”

“The baby should have his naps in the day in his cot”

“You shouldn’t wean before 6 months!”

“It’s fine to let the baby cry for a bit”

“You’re getting into really bad habits by doing that!”

“Why have you dressed the baby in that?”

“You should sleep when the baby sleeps!”

I thought it was bad during pregnancy when people told me what to do, what to eat, how to act, what to do when the baby arrives and generally be socially inappropriate (would you touch someone’s tummy normally or tell them how fat they are? No! So why upset a hormonal pregnant lady).

It’s worse when the baby arrives…. EVERYONE wants to give their input and tell you how to raise your child. I spend a lot of time gritting my teeth and smiling sweetly. He’s my baby and I’ll do what the hell I want thanks very much. He’s hardly going to be 18 and still sleeping in bed with us, he will eventually drink from a bottle or cup and no thanks I won’t be letting him cry because it’s only way of communicating to me that something is wrong. If you want to let your baby cry that’s totally your choice. In fact I don’t care what parenting choices you make because we’re all different and our children are all different!

So my baby doesn’t sleep. Apart from that he’s a lovely, happy, curious little boy. This video was doing the rounds on Facebook and I think it sums up my thoughts quite nicely: http://youtu.be/lMVISKDDQx8

The Liebster award!

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Wow so I’ve been blogging for just a few days and I was nominated for the Liebster award by the lovely GwenanCarter

I had no idea people would even read it or find it and started it more as a diary of thoughts so thank you!

The Liebster award is an award given out to bloggers by other bloggers as a way of supporting each other and promoting new blogs.

The Rules

1. Thank and acknowledge the person who nominated you.

2. Answer the questions the blogger gave you.

3. Give 11 facts about yourself.

4. Nominate 7-11 bloggers with less than 200 followers.

5. Notify the people you nominated.

6. Give approximately 7 to 11 questions for nominees to answer.

My answers:

1. Yes I have a tattoo. It’s on my hip and it’s my star sign symbol. I’ve always been interested in that sort of thing and I really liked the symbol so had it tattooed on. 8 years later I still love it

2. My favourite food is chips. Any kind: fat, thin, crinkly. As long as they’re hot, salty and squishy I love them. I could quite happily eat chips with every meal.

3. My go to outfit is jeans and a t-shirt. I’m a casual sort!

4. Coffee over tea any day, especially since having a baby (who doesn’t sleep!)

5. I don’t really wear nail polish (I always chip it) but you can’t go wrong with red! Nice and Classic.

6. Eye liner would be the one item of makeup I’d wear out the house. It’s pretty much the only makeup I wear anyway.

7. My guilty pleasures consist of trash TV and chocolate!

8. I love cats and dogs. I’m more of a dog person but if I had any pets I’d get a cat as I’m too lazy to walk a dog!

9. If I could live anywhere in the world (other than where I am now) it would be New York. I love the place!

10. My favourite store is GAP. Since having a baby I’ve spent all my money in there on baby and kids clothing!

11. I’ve met loads of sports stars, mainly at sporting events. I probably wouldn’t recognise any ‘famous’ people as I don’t really watch TV!

11 Facts about myself:

1. I’m actually quite boring. I like going for walks, getting a takeaway and watching a film. Even in my ‘party animal’ days I’d be tired and/or hungry by midnight!

2. I respect authority but will challenge it if I disagree with it!

3. My favourite colour is red

4. I have a tattoo but my mother didn’t know about it for 4 years and only found out because she got drunk and asked me. Despite me being an adult now she still doesn’t approve

5. I’m from the South of England but now live up North

6. I have 2 degrees and a professional qualification but I’m actually quite ‘blonde’

7. I still haven’t found my special talent

8. I tend not to stick at something if I’m not good at it straight away

9. I’m a total foodie and will try anything once (the worst thing I’ve tried was chicken feet in Malaysia!)

10. I love travelling and would happily spend the rest of my life seeing the world

11. My career meant everything to me before I had a baby. Now if I could afford it I wouldn’t go back to work (only 3 months to win the lottery!!!)

Questions for my nominees:

1. Coffee or tea?
2. Dogs or cats?
3. What are your hobbies?
4. What are you most proud of?
5. What place would you love to visit most?
6. Favourite food?
7. Favourite film?
8. Favourite song?
9. Favourite colour?
10. Who do you most admire and why?
11. What did you want to be when you grew up?

I Nominate:

1. WearingL

Sorry I only have the one…. I’m too new to this to have found many people to follow and bizarrely she has less than 200 followers (I think?!) Her blog is ace and she seems like a really nice person. Sorry that’s not really following the rules!

Apparently I have a high needs baby!

While frantically trawling the Internet trying to determine why MM won’t sleep (and then stay asleep when he eventually does fall asleep) I came across the following characteristics courtesy of Dr Sears (can’t work out how to credit the link!) I think everyone to some extent has a high needs baby (after all they can’t do things for themselves yet), but my little munch displays most of the 12 characteristics described below:

1. Intense: The cry of a high need baby is not a mere request, it’s an urgent demand. These babies put more energy into everything they do. They cry loudly, feed voraciously, laugh with gusto, and protest more forcefully if their needs are not met to their satisfaction. Because they feel so deeply, they react more powerfully if their feelings are disturbed. “If I don’t feed him as soon as he fusses, he falls apart” is a common statement from the mother of such a baby

Tick… This is MM; he screams if you don’t get it right first time around and/or you don’t do it fast enough!

2. Hyperactive: “There’s no such thing as a still shot” said one photographer-father of a high need baby. “His motor seems stuck in fast idle,” another father commented. These motor traits are part of the baby’s personality. They may be hard to live with at times, but this restlessness is not necessarily a negative trait. Some highly creative, world-changing people were at one time or another labeled hyperactive as a child

Tick… MM gets bored easily. Once he’s had enough we hear about it, although there does seem to be a never-ending fascination with our phones and the TV remote!

3. Draining: Babies take the fuel they need from you without considering whether they leave anything behind in mother’s gas tank. The seemingly constant holding, nursing, and comforting leave little energy left over for your needs.

Tick… He knows just when I want a hot drink, lunch or 5 minutes to sit in quiet!

4. Feeds frequently: “Schedule” is not in the high need baby’s vocabulary. Early on these smart infants learn that the breast or bottle is not only a source of nutrition, but also a source of comfort. In fact, research has shown that non-nutritive sucking (sucking for comfort more than food) is one of the earliest ways babies learn to settle. (Of course, a baby can’t have non-nutritive sucking from a bottle, so pacifiers get added to the repertoire for bottle feeders.

Tick… I have never previously understood how friends’ babies only need to feed every 3-4 hours. Now it’s clearer!!!

5. Demanding: Mothers of high need babies often say, “I just can’t get to him fast enough.” These babies convey a sense of urgency in their signals; they do not like waiting, and they do not readily accept alternatives. Woe to the parent who offers baby the rattle when he is expecting a breast. He will let you know quickly and loudly that you’ve misread his cues. The concept of “delayed gratification” is totally foreign to infants, it must be sensitively and gradually taught when the child is developmentally ready to learn it

Tick… Especially when MM wakes at night and H goes in to soothe him and he’s expecting me!

6. Awakens frequently: “Why do high need babies need more of everything but sleep?” groaned a tired mother. You would think that high need babies would need more sleep; certainly their tired parents do.

Tick… Nothing else to add

7. Unsatisfied: There will be days when you nurse, rock, walk, drive, wear, and try every comforting technique known to man or woman, and nothing will work.

Semi tick… MM is actually the happiest baby I know (unless you do the wrong thing) and everyone comments on how smiley and joyful he is, however, there are days he gets bored of me and the only thing that works is when his dad comes home from work. Then he’s lovely again!

8. Unpredictable: It’s frustrating to realize that what worked yesterday doesn’t work today. “Just as I think I have the game won, he ups the ante,” a baffled mother confided. High need babies are inconsistently appeased. You will need lots of variety in your bag of comforting tricks

Tick… Just as you think you’ve got something cracked he changes his mind!

9. Super sensitive: High need babies are keenly aware of the goings-on in their environment. [they] prefer a secure and known environment, and they are quick to protest when their equilibrium is upset.

Tick… MM is interested in everything around him and each time we’ve gone to a new group or activity he has protested but then next time around has been fine!

10. Can’t put baby down: High need babies crave touch: skin-to-skin contact in your arms, at your breasts, in your bed. They extract whatever physical contact they can from their caregivers. They also crave motion. Holding is not enough; the holder must keep moving. If the holder wants to sit down, it had better be on something that rocks, glides, or swings.

Tick… We have days where he will not go down and would rather chat and play with me so literally nothing gets done!

11. Not a self soother: Another unrealistic expectation new parents often have is that babies will soothe themselves to sleep with the help of a pacifier, a music box, or some baby-calming gadget. High need babies are smarter than that. They want to interact with people, not things. Parents will often report, “He just can’t relax by himself.” High need babies need help to fall asleep. They must learn to trust their parents to help them. This will help them learn to relax on their own, a skill that has value for a lifetime. Crying oneself off to sleep is not a good way to learn to relax. The best way for a baby to learn to relax and fall asleep is to have his behavior shaped for him by a parent. Once a child learns to relax on his own, he’ll have no trouble falling asleep, when he’s tired, on his own

Tick… This explains why none of the 50 million* sleep books I bought work!

*slight exaggeration

12. Separation sensitive: The song “Only You,” could be the theme of most high need babies. These infants do not readily accept substitute care and are notoriously slow to warm up to strangers. As a mother of a clingy baby described it, “Amanda didn’t like new people or new places and seemed to be in a continual phase of separation anxiety.

Semi tick… MM loves people and has always been happy to go to others but recently he has started to look for H and I and looks at us for approval if he goes to someone new but I suspect that’s just normal development rather than being ‘separation sensitive’

Discovering this has helped me a lot to understand MM and as a result has made me less anxious about why he won’t sleep and why he’s so much more vocal than his little friends. It’s helped me realise that it’s not me that’s the problem! I’m pleased he is like this as I’ve always liked a challenge, never wanted a boring child and I never want him to be afraid to speak his mind or tell people how he feels. I want him to be sensitive and caring to others (ie not a bully) and I always want him to feel like his opinion is valued! As exhausted as H and I are we are so blessed to have this amazing little boy with a big personality!