Sunday, 31 August 2014

Dear Baby

Dear Emma,

You are one month old.  To be more specific, you are 45 days old.  Or 1,080 hours old.  Or 3,888,000 seconds old.

Becoming a mum has been a learning curve.  Sure, I say I'm getting the hang of it, but I really have no idea what I'm doing.

The other day, you were crying and nothing I did would calm you down. I tried bouncing you, singing to you and playing "Country Roads" (as that oddly makes you calm down and drift off).  The only thing I could think of to do was feed you - even though you had just been fed. You quieted down and then I just sat and cried.  That was just another reminder that I have no idea what I'm doing. I thought you hated me as I just couldn't make things right for you. 

I know my horomones are all over the place, but I honestly become so overwhelmed with emotion at some points in the day. They aren't necessarily sad emotions. Just strong, heart pumping feelings.  Sometimes it's when you start feeding. Other times it's when I can't soothe you to sleep. Sometimes it's even when you are having a play with daddy and your big, beautiful eyes are shining and a little smile is playing around your tiny face. 

They say you feel this overwhelming sense of love. I had no idea what that really meant. My friend Gina sent me this gorgeous little quote from Colette's La Maison de Claudine:

"They do say that children like you, who have been carried so high in the womb and have taken so long to come down into the daylight, are always the children that are the most loved, because they have lain so near to their mother's heart and have been so unwilling to leave her." 

 Your first few hours, days and weeks were difficult.  Not just getting used to being a mum but also learning how you worked and what you wanted.  If you were unsettled or crying, I felt like it was my fault.  Babies cry. I get it. But it's still heart wrenching.  

The countless weigh ins and those admissions into hospital? When you needed that ultrasound on your hip because the doctors thought it was clicking?  The feeling of sitting in the doctors office while they snipped your tongue tie?  Good grief. The guilt I felt was unbelievable. 

But you know what feels even worse than that?  I have a bag of clothes that I'm putting together of things you've outgrown. Imagine that. You have outgrown clothes!  Nothing seemed to fit for weeks and weeks because you were so teeny tiny!  Now I'm buying bigger leggings and bigger onesies. You've even grown into the too cute headbands, which is exciting - but also kind of sad. 

The biggest thing that has gotten me through the guilt and the crying and the doctors appointments is the realisation that I'll never have these moments again. You'll never be this young again. You'll never be this little. You'll never be this new. I'm awed by what you can do - smiling and lifting your head. These are all new tricks that you couldn't do not so long ago. So while I'm finding some things really difficult, I'm treasuring those smiles at 3 AM because I know these moments are limited. 

I love you, baby girl.  Keep growing, keep smiling.


Sunday, 17 August 2014

Happy One Month Birthday, Emma Rose!

How Old:   1 month!
Weight:  7 lb 15 oz

Likes:   Cuddles, the play gym, rides in the car (trees are AMAZING - not to mention the BUMPY roads in and out of our village), white noise - particularly the fan setting on our Sound Sleeper app, the Mamaroo and John Denver.

Dislikes:  The bassinet for the pram (although she DID manage a walk to the shop in it before having a mini meltdown) and baths (I think this is also turning around!), waiting to be fed and being changed.  What can I say. She knows what she likes and she lets us know. 

Eating:  Emma *loves* eating. We have breastfeeding down now - although I'd like to get through a session without covering myself in milk. We have had a few days of cluster feeding, a few days of projectile vomiting - I think it's all been a bit trying for both of us. The goal is to get her feeding without shields - she doesn't like that idea. 
Sleeping: We know the difference between night and day (I think) as she is sleeping for longer stretches at night. She still wakes herself up with the moro reflex - I think she's having nightmares about baths - but she is getting better at self soothing. She hates lying flat - we really need to get her happy in the cradle or else she'll never like the crib!
Routine:  We aren't fully in a routine at the moment, but we are getting there. We aim to be up at 7 or 8 and then feed every three hours. This doesn't always work as she is sleeping for longer stretches at night, plus cluster feeding. 
Sizes:  We are just growing out of newborn clothes and heading into size 0/1 Month!  Hooray!  Still in newborn Nappy sized 1 (the tinest available - Boots brand). 
Milestones:  Her neck control is incredible. She has always been inquisitive, but she has a real strength to her and will pull her head when on your shoulder or look towards bright lights. She definitely recognises my voice - I'm not sure if that means she knows me, but it feels like she does! 
Mum's favourite moment:  We had a few days of just the two of us as B was working night shifts.  On his first night back with us, he took over the soothing after a feed and was singing "Country Roads" to her.  She loved it - she smiled and fell straight to sleep. It was adorable and really showed what a great job B is doing at this Dad stuff.  

Dad's favourite moment:  Direct quote "I know it sounds soppy but I get a little mushy when she holds my finger and smiles."  

I'm in LOVE with top knot headbands.  Emma will be rocking these OFTEN if I have my way! She doesn't seem to like hats, but the headbands are going down a treat!

And what about Mum?
Weight loss:  Gained 36 and lost 22!!! 14 to go!
Clothes: I fit into *most* of my pre pregnancy clothes but nursing means I can wear very few of them. I'm living in vest tops at the moment for easy access. My section wound makes bottoms (and knickers!!) difficult to wear - so maternity jeans and PJ bottoms are most comfortable.
Stretch Marks:  They aren't that bad...visible - but not bad. I found a new one on the inside of my thigh - I missed it due to the bump!  I'm still applying stretch mark oil in hopes it may lighten them. 
Belly Button: I'm an innie again!  Don't get me wrong, it's still a vast belly button....but it's returning to a somewhat "me" shape!
Sleep:  B and I are getting a good stretches over night (she slept SEVEN hours last night!).  I'm not great at napping in the day, but some days I've really REALLY needed it. Fortunately, between B, his parents and my mom, I've been able to go to bed between feeds. Thank God for grandparents!!! 
Looking forward to:  October and introducing Emma to my American family! 

I can't wait to see what the next month has in store for us!  It's hard to believe she is already one month old!


Saturday, 2 August 2014

Two weeks with Emma and our Hospital/Breastfeeding fiasco!

How Old:   15 Days
Weight:  7 lbs 8.5 oz (3.4 kg)
Likes:  Being swaddled, bouncing, the Kangaroo setting on the Mamaroo, Eating 
Dislikes:  BATHS, hats, being changed/moved/bothered in any way, shape or form when sleeping.
Eating:  We have both found our stride with breastfeeding (more on that below).  Emma tends to have a good feed every three hours, although she has a tendency to fall asleep when she should be eating! I've just bought a Mamamoosh Milkscarf for feeding out and about!
Sleeping:  The milk coma allows for a nice three hour nap!  She is an awesome sleeper, especially at night!  She doesn't get fussy at all - I can feed her and then put her right back in her cradle and she'll wake three hours later for her next feed.  Sometimes I use a white noise app on my phone if she whimpers, but more often than not, she is out like a light!  She has been AMAZING in the car - passes out for entire journeys!
Routine:  We wake up around 7am and our routine basically goes Eat, Play, Sleep - over and over again!  We operate in three hourly blocks (with plenty of dirty nappies in there).  It's amazing how quickly the day flies when you realise the next feed is right around the corner.
Sizes: Newborn clothing, Size 1 Nappy, but still too small for shoes!
Milestones:  I'm going to count weight gain as a milestone.  She lost and she gained (see below for the full, dramatic story)!
Mum's favourite moment:  The other night we woke up to a bat flying around our bedroom.  Being half asleep, I somehow thought I was holding Emma and had dozed during a feed. I covered us up in the duvet and woke B to get the bat out of the room. He quickly opened the windows wide and then hid behind the door.  It took me a moment to realise that I didn't have Emma, but rather had the duvet in my arms - Emma was fast asleep in her cradle next to me.  Once the bat flew out, we just laughed.  3 am laughter really is the best medicine.
Dad's favourite moment:  Leaving the hospital after the third admission.  We found it slightly ridiculous that we were in and out of hospital so many times within Emma's first week.  In fact, one of the nurses nearly cried on our third admission when we told her she was seven days old and hadn't even been out of the house in her pram yet.

After Emma was born, we spent three nights in hospital whilst I recovered from the C section and tried to get the hang of breast feeding (considering it took morphine to get me out of bed for the first time, three days is pretty impressive).  

Nights were pretty horrific as B was home and it was just the two of us.  As much as I tried, I couldn't get Emma to latch on during feeds.  She would become upset causing me to become upset - needless to say, the feeding just wasn't working.  She wouldn't settle and we spent most of every night awake.  I couldn't decide if she was just nocturnal or just hungry.  

The midwives were helpful, but I still didn't feel like Emma was feeding properly.  I wasn't hellbent on breastfeeding, nor did I have any strong feelings towards formula.  I wanted to breastfeed due to the health benefits, but if we couldn't get the hang of it, we would do whatever got her to feed.  

We finally managed to make it home on Sunday night and the three of us took on another very unsettled night.  We knew the midwives would be checking on us the next two days, so we made up a list of questions - mostly to do with feeding.

I finally decided I was sick of her being unsettled and opted to use nipple shields. I had been given them to try in hospital but then had some midwives telling me not to use them.  There was so much conflicting advice I decided I was going to do what I wanted to do - forget what everyone else said.  Emma took to it immediately.  She was virtually a different baby - finally able to feed.  We had our first good night since she was born.  

As good as this was, when the midwives came to weigh her, we found she lost 13.5% of her birth weight.  This led to a referral to the hospital where we had to be readmitted and checked by the paediatrician.  I was utterly devastated - of course it was my fault as I had been the one feeding her - or rather not feeding her.

At the hospital, the midwives and paediatricians were more than happy with our progress with the nipple shield and thought we had turned a corner with the feeding. They were happy for us to go home and continue as we were, with another weigh in two days later.  B and I felt like we were getting into the swing of things.  Emma was settled, happy and feeding so well.  

Her next weigh in showed some progress (after the midwife told me she had lost MORE weight, there were loads of tears (from me) and then we found there was a discrepancy due to a different set of scales being used).  It was then decided her weight would be checked again the following day.  We didn't think much of this at the time, but one thing led to another and Emma weighed in low AGAIN and we were readmitted to the hospital for observation.  

I was utterly devastated as I had gained my confidence back and thought we were making real progress with the breastfeeding and weight gain.  To find out she wasn't gaining weight and we had to return to hospital left me virtually inconsolable.  I felt like I was starving my daughter - the one thing I was supposed to provide for her was food, and I couldn't even get that right.

Once again, the hospital staff looked us over and decided we were doing everything right - it just takes time for babies to gain that weight back.  Naturally, weight fluctuates on a daily basis - Emma had been weighed before a feed whereas she was weighed after feeds the previous times.  Of COURSE there would be a dip in her weight.  

The staff at the hospital were amazing and took Emma for cuddles in the night so that B and I could get some sleep (they even let B stay the night as well).  In the morning they were happy for us to go, but we left feeling discouraged and like utter failures.  Good thing we have a friend who is a midwife - she gave us the encouragement we needed.

All in all, the feeding nightmare seems to be resolved. Emma has put on double the amount of weight expected of her - and you can totally tell as she is heavier and much stronger.  It was not the best first two weeks of existence, but we have survived and finally have a happy baby!

In other news:
We also went for newborn photos at Penneycress Photography in Norwich. I don't have the full set yet, but our sneak peek was so darn gorgeous I couldn't resist sharing!

Cuteness overload?  Yep.

It was also my 30th Birthday this past week and B treated me like absolute royalty!  From the cake to the Birthday/Push Present - I am one spoilt girl!

B baked the cake himself and decorated it - not to mention making Olaf!

For as long as I can remember, I've wanted a Mulberry Handbag.  B decided after the past 9.5 months I may have earnt it (Hyperemesis, 36 hour labour, Emergency C section, Feeding problems/stays in hospital, 30th Birthday....yea....well deserved!)!  We headed to Bicester Village and I had my choice of bags from the Mulberry shop!  Both B and I loved this one!

Spoilt, spoilt, spoilt!  It's a 30th birthday I'll never forget!

Now if you would excuse me, I've got a gorgeous little girl to play with!