Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Bath Incident

Tonight, whilst I was feeding Phoebe, Toby ran the big bath for us before heading outside to cover the trailer with a tarp. Once or twice a week we like to all get into our huge spa bath together rather than bath Phoebe in her little baby bath. We get just as wet with the little baby bath and it's nowhere near as much fun for us.

I am starting to reduce Phoebe's daytime feeds by trying to ensure that she empties one breast before I offer the other. I'm sure we were doing that anyway but I wasn't very mindful of it. Sometimes this can take a little while, especially as we are just settling down and getting back into the swing of things after Phoebe's mammoth growth spurt. So, after some time spent feeding and still being able to hear the bath water going and still being able to see Toby outside faffing with the tarp I attempted to call him to go and check on the bath. The trouble is I have laryngitis and he probably wouldn't have been able to hear me anyway but as I had no voice there was no hope really. So eventually, apologising profusely to Phoebe who looked at me rather stunned, I hauled myself up off the sofa and trotted off to the bathroom whilst trying to allow her to continue feeding.

I wish I'd taken a photograph, and if I hadn't have been breastfeeding I probably would have; I got there in the nick of time. Suddenly letting Phoebe continue to feed became the least of my worries... managing to hold onto her whilst I hurriedly leaned over the bath to turn off the taps was the new challenge. The weird little indent that looks like a seat at the side of the bath was completely flooded and the sides of the bath were covered in water and about 1cm off going over the edge. And it's a BIG bath!!! Good job our dams are 70% full at the moment. The news stations reported a predicted storm surge for last night... and we nearly got it in our bathroom tonight, I tell ya.

As I returned to the living room, Phoebe back on the breast now the excitement was over, Toby saw me through the window and said something, I forget what but he was obviously enquiring as to why I was breastfeeding whilst wandering around the house and did I need a hand with anything. "The bath," I croaked and his response was something like "oh s*@t!". Indeed.

In other news...

Phoebe is now settling back down and has slept through for the last two nights. Of course I now have to get up to express milk again but hopefully that will pass. I have given up trying to see a pattern in her routine but I think one will slowly form again over the coming weeks and I am trying some new things after reading a book a friend sent, such as trying to get her to take a long nap at lunch time and shorter naps in the morning and afternoon. That might prove more difficult once we're out and about during the week though. I often go out after her morning nap and don't get back until after lunch so unless I go for a walk with her in the pram and put off coming home until later then she will have a shorter nap. I might try getting out earlier or later in the day and see if that works out for us. Another thing I've started doing is giving her bedtime feed in the bedroom with some nice music playing. It doesn't seem to stop her from whinging when we try to put her to bed though but tonight it was more of a winey chat than a scream so maybe she'll settle down over time.

As I get my Australian citizenship this week, and I have decided to have a barbecue on Saturday afternoon to celebrate I would like to have a few beers so we're trying to get Phoebe to take a bottle, without much success. After she screamed at Toby during one feed yesterday I then let her play with the bottle for a while before her next feed when she wasn't very hungry. She was interested but not enough to actually drink from it. Today we just didn't really get much chance to introduce her to it again and I'm running out of time. Every day I express some milk and that gets put into the bottle for her to play with later on and gradually get used to the idea. But I also need to find time to express a bit more to freeze and feed her with on Saturday. Today I didn't get the chance. Maybe I'll have to stick to a light beer or two straight after a feed but that's not very Australian now is it?

And finally, something I got rather excited about... before Phoebe was born I spotted a rather cool looking play mat on my friend's photographs and enquired as to the brand: The Fisher Price Rainforest Gym. When I found it in the shops it was about $120 although at one stage I did see it on special for $90 or $100. But then Lucie told me someone she knew of was selling a Lottie Ladybird mat (worth about $200!) so I ended up getting that, a bouncer and a couple of bits and pieces for $70. 

Since then Phoebe has visited two houses with the Rainforest gym and she loves it. She already has two activity mats as her Nan bought her a different Fisher Price mat (see a photo of Phoebe on it) lately which she also loves. But the Rainforest gym is bigger, you can easily add other toys to it and she seems so much more mobile when lying on it. In fact she wiggled around 90 degrees on Thursday and I thought I'd picked her up and put her down without remembering (mums do that kind of thing) until a few minutes later she'd almost gone full circle. 

So I thought I'd have a look online and see whether anyone had it on special. And what do I find? A local woman selling one second-hand on eBay! I made sure I was home for the end of the auction this afternoon and got it for $61, $1 over my budget but what the hell? I know Toby thinks three activity mats is too many and he wants me to sell one, and I might sell Lottie Ladybird but then babies get bored so quickly and we do have a big house so I can put them in different rooms. Personally I think I got it for a good price and it was something I've wanted for a while so I'm happy. The Ladybird mat just isn't that engaging for her now that she can reach out and bat toys so I think the new one will be good for her development. I'm reluctant to sell it just yet though as perhaps it will be good for her later when she's at a different stage. I'll sell them all eventually. Here's a photo of her with her friends Julian and Hugo, the centre of attention as the only girl. Julian doesn't look too impressed that Phoebe is hogging his play mat though.

I know I said "finally" at the start of the last paragraph but that was before I knew what I'm about to tell you, which is not good news. My Picasa account has reached its limit which means I can't add any more photos to Phoebe's album. And just when she was getting interesting too. I'm going to see if I can persuade Toby to let me purchase a storage upgrade.

So, until that happens, here's one final cute-as photo of my beautiful babe just so that remaining megabyte of storage doesn't go to waste:

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Height of confusion

So the next night she slept right through until 5.30am! My boobs were so hard and painful that I got her up for a feed before she started with the hungry noises. She seemed pretty grateful.

So that was that. All back to normal again.

Or so we thought!

Last night she was a bit out of whack at bedtime. We did everything pretty much as we usually do: 

1700: walk, sleep in pram
1800: feed
1830: bath
1900: feed
1930: bed
1945: sleep

So far so good, until:

2010: wake up, apparently hungry, therefore feed.
2100: back in cot, sleep again.

And not only that but what would usually look somewhat like:

0600: wake, feed

actually ended up more like:

0100: wake, reswaddled
0230: wake again, hungry, got food this time.
0245: back in cot, happy
0630: wake, feed.

What the???

Then, tonight, exactly the same thing, only last night she was easy to settle after her random post-bedtime 8pm feed and tonight she was a little minx. I think she wanted to stay up and play but we were quite strict and insisted this was her bedtime. You have to instill good habits in them from an early age. And besides, House was on and it was the season finale!

So god knows what tonight will bring but if this pattern continues then we may have to change our tactics slightly although I'm not sure quite how just yet.

I've started using my MP3 player to record her various noises. My sister and I used to love recording our voices when we were young, back in the days of tape recorders; I remember how every now and then the tape would get mangled and either record too quickly or play back too slowly and our voices would be all distorted and we'd scare ourselves thinking we'd recorded a ghost in the room. I was actually disappointed when I figured out what was really going on. I used to love listening to old tapes recorded when we were really young. Clare's voice was so cute. I remember one in particular when we were singing Hickory Dickory Dock but Clare couldn't speak properly and she'd say "Hick dick dock mouse an cock". Another recording is of me reading The Three Little Pigs and getting annoyed with Clare interrupting me. I wonder if Dad still has those old tapes. No one has cassette players anymore; what would we listen to them on? 

Perhaps Phoebe will like to listen to her cute little baby noises when she's older. I also think it might help us interpret her cries, plus it'll be really interesting to hear how her noises change over time. I tried to record her with the camera but that was way too distracting for her. She'd stop talking and just stare at the camera.

Speaking of which, I thought you might like to see a cute little movie of Phoebe playing on her activity mat this morning although to be honest, it's probably only appealing to grandparents and aunties, and of course besotted parents. You'll see her hand-eye coordination is improving as she is actually able to delibrately hit her toy. You'll also hear Toby sliding the outside door open and shut and flip-flopping past between the bbq and the kitchen as he cooks up bacon and eggs for breakfast. Yum!

Monday, May 18, 2009

So what did Phoebe do last night?

In a nutshell, she woke around 1am, making "wah" noises and Toby reswaddled her and settled her back in her cot, which was a bit of an effort as she really wasn't keen. Eventually she dropped off but woke again around 2.45am and this time I fed her. She seemed to be taking a lot of milk and then she went all dozy and milk drunk and so I swaddled her and put her back down. She slept until 7am.

I'm still no wiser as to why she's waking up but she definitely seemed hungry last night so perhaps it is a growth spurt. I am still trying to figure out what sort of mood she's in today but she seems quite tired. Toby has offered me the chance to go for a swim but, aside from the damp and dreary weather putting me off, I really don't think I can be bothered to think about Phoebe and what she might need to do when. It's quite exhausting and I feel like just going with the flow today. I really can't be bothered with getting her in and out of the car today and it seems like a good opportunity to do all the indoorsy things I've been meaning to do for days, such as soak some beans and a bit of online research.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

And yet more about sleep

Yes, sleep indeed is something that parents obsess over. Sleep and routine, which are inextricably linked. As is food. Do not expect that this will be the last post on the subject.

After almost three weeks of sleeping through the night for periods of eight to eleven hours, Phoebe has behaved somewhat differently over the last two nights. 

On Friday night as we were going to bed around 11pm she awoke and decided she was hungry. We thought maybe she was cold as the temperature had dropped since we put her to bed at 8pm. So we fed her and tucked her up in her sleeping bag and there she remained until 6.45am.

Last night we put her to bed at 7.15pm, around 30-45 minutes earlier than usual because for once she'd actually had a decent afternoon nap for a couple of hours in her cot around 3pm, rather than me having to take her out in the pram around 4 or 5pm to get her to sleep. In fact she'd been napping fairly regularly throughout the day: about an hour every two or three. She surprised us by waking up at 8pm apparently hungry. We fed her and cuddled her for a while and then put her back down at 9pm. She then woke up again at 3.30am. 

I didn't know what had hit me. I am no longer in that automatic zombie mode of getting up, feeding the baby, changing the baby, swaddling the baby, placing the baby back in the cot, going to the toilet and eagerly crawling back into bed. Now I lie in bed listening, trying to wake up, trying to engage my brain, thinking "Why is she awake? What could she possibly want? Is she really hungry? Should I feed her? Should I try to get her back to sleep? Should I ignore her? If I let her get up now will she do the same tomorrow night? How will this influence tomorrow? What happened to her GODDAMN ROUTINE for crying out loud???" Then Toby gently taps me on the shoulder and whispers "Lins, Phoebe's awake," and it's all I can do to stop myself from yelling out "Yes, I know and just what do you want me to do about it?"

Anyway, I fed her and got her back into her cot in about ten minutes, only for her to wake again within three hours. After another feed, Toby changed her, swaddled her and attempted to get her back to sleep in her cot but she was having none of it and so she ended up in bed with us. Well, didn't she look as smug as a bug in a rug gazing lovingly first at Toby then at me like the cat that got the cream. And there we all slept for the next hour and a half.

There are a few possible factors at play here:
  • She could be cold. We placed her in a sleeping bag to counteract this but...
  • It's difficult to swaddle her when she's in a sleeping bag and she definitely sleeps better when well swaddled.
  • It could be a growth spurt, but then she seems to be constantly having growth spurts as any time I can't explain her behaviour, be it excessive sleepiness, excessive wakefulness, frequent feeding, frequent crying etc. I attribute it to growth spurts. The current one has been going for about a week on and off, with different symptoms throughout.
  • She could be in the early stages of teething and there are other signs pointing to this, such as her red cheeks (which could also be a sign of good health), her constant dribbing and sucking her fists (which she's been doing for about a month), her transition from sucking my finger to chewing on it (which may be a normal developmental and explorative progression) and her recent afternoon grizzlies (which may or may not be colic or overtiredness - see below).
  • She could be hungry, due to not feeding well at bedtime feed, due to colic or overtiredness.
  • She could be thirsty. The air has been particularly dry these past few days due to south-westerly winds. I awoke frequently on Friday night with an uncomfortably dry throat and nose, needing a drink. It makes sense that she might feel this way too.
  • Perhaps the first awakening led to the next and so on, due to not changing her nappy between times. We don't usually change her nappy at night and didn't want to stimulate her but perhaps she was then woken due to having a wet nappy.
  • As mentioned, her nap times were different throughout the day, but her cumulative sleep time didn't seem much different.
Honestly, being a parent, or at least the primary caregiver of a young baby, requires the precision and planning of a military strategist, the investigative skills of a detective and the innate ability to analyse cause and effect, not to mention patience and flexibility. You have to constantly reassess your plans based upon what your baby has done, or how your baby is behaving. If baby doesn't behave as you expected or hoped then you have to do a quick analysis of all the possible causes, alternative courses of action and potential outcomes, and what cascading effect these may all have. 

Consider this: you go for a swim whilst hubby looks after baby during baby's sleep cycle. Baby doesn't sleep. Baby falls asleep in sling (on hubby) whilst you and hubby finish off a coffee post-swim. Hubby then has to go back to work. Do you:

a) take sling from hubby and put it on you and hang around the park until baby awakes, bearing in mind that baby doesn't sleep for long in the sling?

b) take baby from sling, put in car and head back home as per original plan, thus risking waking baby during transition from sling to car seat or on arrival back home resulting in an even shorter nap than had baby been left in sling?

c) gently lay sling in pram and push around the park for as long as baby will sleep, hopefully 40 minutes?

If c) then do you then feed baby and go home, or go home and then feed baby? And so on and so forth. It's like planning your next move in chess.

Anyway, tonight we've ditched the sleeping bag, swaddled her tightly and tucked her in with some very secure blankets (it's all about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) people, and the prevention thereof; there are so many rules). We'll see if that makes a difference. Of course, it could have just been a one-off anyway.

Phoebe's also been experiencing the afternoon grizzlies. Since she's been sleeping through the night the hours from 4pm onwards are something of a juggling act. Trying to time her naps so that she doesn't get too much or too little sleep before bedtime, so that she isn't overtired and doesn't go to bed too early and so that she enjoys bathtime but so that we still get time to ourselves to have dinner and tidy up, is quite a challenge. 

But these grizzlies are more than just managing the witching hour. Twice now she has been inconsolable at really inconvenient times during the early afternoon, such as when out for coffee with friends, or today at a baby shower. I'm beginning to wonder if she has colic as I read yesterday that it starts around three months (right on time, she's such a textbook baby) and on the advice of a friend I gave her some Brauer's Colic Relief, a homeopathic remedy which seemed to calm her. However, I'm sure it's just a case of having too short a nap (usually because we're going out) and that leading to a whole host of other problems. It makes going out in the afternoons really difficult, which is a bummer as I have my citizenship ceremony during the afternoon in a couple of weeks. Hopefully this is just a phase and it will have passed by then, although if it is colic then the same source tells me that it'll last three months.

Firstly, she'll get tired very quickly throughout her next cycle. I don't necessarily feed her straight away because it's less than two hours since her last feed. So if she doesn't get back to sleep, which she generally won't if we're out and about and she's stimulated, then she becomes hungry and tired and she gets confused. I try to get her to sleep. She can't sleep and she screams and screams. Eventually she becomes due for her feed anyway, manages to communicate that she's hungry and I feed her. But she doesn't feed well because she's tired. She pulls on and off the breast, gets easily distracted and gives herself a windy pain. This leads to her being tired, in pain and still a bit hungry, only she can't really eat because she has a pain. So then she gets frustrated too and screams louder, making the pain worse and making it even harder for her to sleep. 

The only way out of this really is to walk her around for a while, change her position frequently to remove the wind, persist with feeding her, and remove all stimulation so that she can get to sleep. Today I spent an hour and a half trying to calm her and get her to sleep at a baby shower (I'd like to say it was a good party but I don't really know as I didn't feel I was really there) and eventually she fell asleep in the sling she was so exhausted. Even taking her into the bedroom didn't help as she was too hot and could still hear all the noise from the lounge. After trying to settle her for some time with her screaming, whilst my friend was trying to breastfeed her baby, she eventually told me she was hungry and I offered her the breast. After a couple of minutes of sucking she stopped. She laid her head back and looked right at me. She looked positively content. And then, the little minx smiled! I couldn't help but laugh at her - how could she go from being inconsolably upset one minute to being happy and smiley the next? I had to look away from her so as not to encourage such cheeky behaviour.

I'm done... I lost most of this post just after having finished it and before managing to publish it. I don't know why it didn't auto-save but my battery ran flat. I'm now tired and past my bedtime so if the post seems a bit disjointed and ends abruptly, it's because it's a rewrite and I've forgotten what I wanted to say.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

More about sleep

Did I mention that Phoebe is definitely sleeping through these days?

For about two weeks now, since she was about 10 weeks old, she has slept around 9 or 10 hours a night, the minimum being 8 and the maximum being 11 ½!! It's bliss. The strange thing is I've been more tired since she started doing it. She feeds around 4.30pm then we go for a walk to give her a nap in the pram. When she wakes up around 6.30pm we have another feed, then it's bathtime and usually the three of us climb in the big bath together. It's the best time of day and is a chance for all of us to wind down. Toby loves coming home from work to have a bath with Phoebe. After her bath she'll have a top-up feed around 7.30pm and go to bed sometime between 8 and 8.30pm. Obviously, these are approximate times and they vary from day to day as we're not exactly a strict routine family. I still have to express before I go to bed around 10 or 11pm or, if I go to bed earlier, I often have to get up at 4am to express because my boobs are like watermelons. In firmness, not size, that is. God, imagine having boobs the size of watermelons. What a nightmare. Jordan nearly does, but not quite. That woman from EuroTrash who died of a heart attack... what was her name? Lola, or something? She had boobs not far off the size of watermelons and look what happened to her. They weren't natural of course.

Anyway, it appears I have veered from the subject of sleep to that of boobs - very easy to do when you're breastfeeding. It probably means I should skip the boob pumping and just head for an early bed tonight.

Whilst I am (back) on the subject of sleep though, I'll just finish off. Phoebe wakes up around 6am, feeds, plays the staring and laughing at me game for a while, has a nappy change and then goes back to bed for about 2 or 3 hours! This morning I had to actually get her out of her cot and take her to mums group in her pyjamas! She is the amazing sleeping baby. In the mornings that is. Afternoons are a different story but that's for another post. I'm off to bed before I lose the plot. Goodnight.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

First Road Trip

Phoebe is three months old tomorrow and today she was really unsettled. She spent a lot of time crying and it was difficult to settle her at times. I think she was overtired and that led to a lot of problems but I also swear that she grew, taking up more room on the change table this afternoon than she did this morning. She'd get hungry but be too tired to feed properly. I'd offer her food and she'd think she didn't want it but then a few minutes later she would, then she seemed to get a pain. She seemed happiest when lying without her nappy on (even though her nappy rash is cleared up*), lying across my arm and being jiggled or walked around, but nothing seemed to keep her happy for long.

She was a bit iffy this morning but things really got bad when I took her from her cot and put her in the car twenty minutes into her lunchtime nap. It had been a bit of a mish to get her to sleep anyway and I thought she'd sleep in the car but she didn't really and it all went down hill from there. Amazingly, she was fine at Gymbaroo. She got quite into the activities on the equipment and did really well with her tummy time and once again loved the dancing. She'd had enough by the time we did the parachute at the end though and missed it for the second week in a row. The parachute is a huge fabric parachute with all different colours on it. Babies lie on mats and mums stand and swirl the parachute above them. She loved it for the first couple of weeks but has been too tired since then. She then fell asleep on my arm whilst I was packing up so I took the long drive home via the beach. I somehow managed to turn a fifteen minute drive into ¾ hour. The things you have to do when you're a mother.

Once home she still wasn't quite herself and after another feed and change I somehow managed to get the pram out of the car and ready to go with one hand. Quite an achievement. I couldn't quite manage to get my shoe laces tied though and had to put my poor screaming mite down for a few minutes. Once off to sleep in the pram she slept for two hours!!! Unheard of. The closest we've got to that before in recent weeks has been 1 ½ hours and that was only once. Meanwhile I trundled off to the chemist to get some Brauer Colic Relief, a homeopathic remedy my friend recommended. At her next feed she pulled off and seemed to be in pain so we gave her some drops and she's been fine ever since, except for the usual crack-up whilst dressing her for bed.

Her first road trip to Toowoomba to visit family went well. We left at her bedtime on Friday and she was all ready for bed, bathed, fed etc so she slept the whole way. Our attempt to seamlessly transfer her from car to cot didn't go so well though. As soon as the front wheels hit the In-Laws' driveway she woke up and started screaming and kept going until I fed her. I then showed her around the house and let her sit on Grandpa's lap for a while before attempting to put her to bed. She was fine and slept through until morning then. In hindsight it was a bit unfair to expect her to just go to sleep in someone else's cot in a house she'd never visited before. We took her cot sheet, wrap and blanket, and her cot book for familiarity and she adapted really well after the initial shock.

The drive home was less successful but we expected that as we were on the road during the witching hour around 5pm. We learnt that the art of successful travelling with baby involves lots of patience and some tolerance for screaming. We fed her twice on the way as she generally feeds a lot around that time. The second time we probably didn't give her enough activity time and when we got back in the car it was dark so she couldn't see any of the interesting things we'd provided for her to look at (mirror, dangly toys etc.). I think she screamed for about forty minutes, midway through which I insisted that Toby pull over so I could give her a cuddle. She calmed down until we put her back in the car but it made me feel better that I'd at least told her I was there.

Two funny things happened today. The first was this morning after her feed we were sitting in the bed staring at each other (we do that a lot) and I started making funny noises, which she seemed to find amusing. I was so tired that I yawned and did one of my audible yawns (I get that from my Dad). Poor Phoebe got such a fright that she burst into tears. I suppose it is a bit scary and it was probably a sign of the day we were about to have.

The second thing was that I found Zadie lying on Phoebe's activity mat (Monty did that the other day too, the little *&%$*s!). I couldn't really yell as I had Phoebe but I gave her enough of a wallop for her to understand that was not somewhere she should be and she scooted off. Well, when we got home today she was on the mat again. She thought she'd got off before I saw her but she kind of made it obvious that's where she was so I chased her around the house, trying to kick her out. Phoebe was due a feed and was in her weird mood anyway so she was screaming in my arms. Zadie ran to the laundry, me and screaming Phoebe following her at a somewhat slower pace (you try running after a cat with a screaming and hungry baby in your arms), only to find that the back door was shut and she couldn't get to her cat-flap. So she ran back out again, scooted past us as fast as she could and into the lounge via the kitchen. So I went into the lounge via the hallway and met her coming the other way. Ears flat and tail low she heard us before she saw us, panicked and turned back to the laundry only to remember on arrival that she couldn't get to the cat-flap and so ran back to the lounge. She seemed absolutely terrified of this howling two-headed monster following her around the house, tormenting her with its screams as punishment for daring to sit on its mat. The whole act was repeated a few times until I found it so funny that I stopped being angry and decided to settle on locking her in the laundry instead.

And to end I'd like to say that I had a wonderful first (Australian) Mother's Day on Sunday. I shared it with Toby's mum and we went to the Chocolate Cottage near where she lives for coffee and cake. Toby and I then chilled on the picnic rug with Phoebe before ordering tea and scones. It was such a lovely day and the next morning Phoebe surprised me with a home-made card, flowers and grown-up bath toys (i.e. a loofah and scrunchy thing). She's very advanced.

* Phoebe got nappy rash after we went out all day on the May Day holiday and forgot to change her nappy. Bad parents!

Friday, May 8, 2009

First laugh

I've been writing another post for days and as we're taking Phoebe away for the first time today (to visit her Australian family) I probably won't get it finished today either. But I just had to log on and say that two nights ago Phoebe laughed for the first time. It wasn't really a giggle or a chuckle but it was an extremely wide-mouthed smile accompanied by noise during bathtime in response to seeing Mammy tipping water over her head (how hilarious that adults start referring to themselves in the third person when they have a baby; and they also start calling their partners by the incredibly unsexy names of Mummy and Daddy).

I think she had also laughed at Gymbaroo earlier that day during the Hokey Cokey (referred to here as the Hokey Pokey, which I just can't get used to; it sounds a bit rude to me). She really wasn't in much of a mood for Gymbaroo and protested at all the tummy time exercises (which was most of them) but she absolutely loved the Hokey Cokey, particularly the bit where everyone walks into the centre of the ring. I could hear her shouting and making noises and judging by my friend's reaction she was clearly enjoying it so I'm assuming she was smiling. Smile + noise = laugh in my opinion.

So, just for the record: First laugh on 6th May aged 11½ weeks.

Can't wait for the giggles to commence now.