Phoebe has had a cold this week plus I'm now back into my mum's group and it's really hard not to compare her to the other babies who are all being fed pureed food; she doesn't seem to eat as much as they do. Two of them are now doing proper solid poo and they all polish off their little tubs of food quite neatly without much mess. Baby led weaning is actually quite difficult, not in itself but because it goes against conventional thinking. As such, it's actually quite difficult to get good advice or reassurance. My friend thinks I should try some puree along with finger foods; a child health nurse at a workshop the other day told us our babies should now be filling up on food during the day and not waking at night; the midwife from my health fund seemed to think it was great that I was still breastfeeding and Phoebe was able to feed herself and that I shouldn't worry about her not getting enough nutrients until she's 9 months old. So many different opinions.
She still loves her boobie and often doesn't eat a lot of food at all. I keep reminding myself that it's all about experimentation, fun and familiarisation with food but it's hard when everyone around you has gone down a different track, and of course one of the dominant hormones that you start to produce as soon as you're pregnant is the one that makes you worry. I worry that she isn't eating enough and I question my choice to try BLW. I worry that her poo isn't solid enough. I go from being uber-excited about finding chunks of carrot in her poo to being worried that the carrot isn't being digested and wonder if that's because she can't chew it and should I be spoon-feeding her puree instead. I worry that she is going to want breast milk (from the breast) forever and how that is going to work when I return to work. I worry that she's waking in the night when she shouldn't be. Deep down I know that BLW is the right way for us; I only wish I had more support and knowledge around me. It's no wonder that most mums go for the old Spoon-Puree method when there is so much more encouragement and help for it than BLW. The internet is my only BLW friend.
Later: Scratch that. I think I was just having a moment. We had a really nice lunch together and I fed her a few spoons of mush (steamed carrot and corgette minced together and a bit of my bolognese sauce also minced) then let her feed herself said mush with soldiers (that's toast fingers as if anyone doesn't know that). One of the best things about BLW is the fact that you can eat together. Once she got hold of the toast she chewed and sucked it to pieces and lost all interest in the spoon. I fed her similar mush tonight and she'd already been snacking on snow peas from the garden, which she loved. She would only take a couple of spoons of mush though. She indicated that she was done (she flaps her hands around then bangs them on her tray, splattering any food that might be there) but was then happy to continue munching on another snow pea when that was offered. I then placed the left-over mush in one of those food net things and she sucked the life out of it, and actually tried to bite through the net. I removed the dry mush remains from the bag and offered it to her. She played with it a bit then slapped the tray. She is slowly starting to eat more (getting over her cold I suspect) but still doesn't eat much. No matter; we'll get there.
I can't remember what I was going to say about daycare so I'll just make something up. I have seen another daycare facility which I'm reasonably happy with and will enrol Phoebe into (despite the fact there's a $50 enrollment fee). It came with a recommendation from someone who worked there, staff turnover is very low, it seems nice, has a nice vibe, children are away from babies so it's a lot quieter than some of the others, and it's on the way to work. However, I'm still not entirely happy with the idea and need to do a bit more reading on it. I have read that 30 hours or more in childcare can have negative effects on an infant and I really don't believe that babies under the age of 2 or 3 were meant to be in large social groups of other babies for long periods of time. I am also annoyed at the changes I feel I have to make just so I can return to work. Things like getting her to sleep through the night, worrying about how much food she's eating, getting her to drink milk from a cup (which I haven't even tried yet because I don't have enough milk to express because she still wakes up at midnight and 5am to feed because she doesn't eat enough during the day etc. etc.) If left to our own devices I know these issues would resolve themselves naturally over time with no anxiety required. Before I was pregnant 12 months maternity leave seemed really generous. Now it just seems ridiculous.
And finally, the trip.
How to condense five weeks and two mammoth journeys into one blog post. A brief summary would be to say that in general she was fine on both flights but on the way over I remember thinking that I was knackered, it seemed really hard, and I was glad I wasn't on my own yet wished Toby was with me.
I fed her on take-off and she fell asleep because by then it was way past her bedtime. Our flight was at 8.30pm and bedtime is usually around 7.45pm. She then slept for 6 hours in the bassinet until I had to remove her due to turbulence. This was more than she'd slept all week. She was pretty much in the sling on my lap after that and we dozed together a few times (it was surprisingly comfortable) but I really didn't sleep enough. On the second leg she was really grizzly and started crying inconsolably before we even took off. She slept a bit and was happy for a bit but in general she was quite unsettled the whole way.
We arrived in Newcastle around lunchtime and Phoebe settled in with my family really well. She was a bit overwhelmed in the airport but didn't cry. A few hours later she was playing happily with my sister and my niece, Lucy who both immediately doted on her. Lucy was so lovely with Phoebe and I get this feeling that they would be great friends if they lived near one another. Lucy was always hugging and kissing Phoebe and sharing her toys with her. We'll really miss her.
Phoebe hit a few milestones when we were over there. She mastered crawling and pulled herself up to standing for the first time. She has been getting very fast since we got home and now likes to crawl off into other rooms whilst I'm getting her dressed after her bath. She chases the cat around and tonight Zadie, rather amusingly, herded Phoebe back into the bedroom for me. Zadie, thankfully, is very tolerant with Phoebe and seems to know to just walk away when it all gets too much.
Phoebe also got her first tooth whilst we were away, which I found when we were staying with Nic and Ian in the Lake District a week. Since our return she has got a second and now has two bottom front teeth. She also seemed to grow very suddenly at the same time, about a week before she turned 6 months. She now weighs about 8.3kg.
By the end of the trip she was very comfortable with my mam and dad and definitely knew who they were. I think she misses them. They made a photo album for her which allows a message to be recorded for each picture. They filled it with photos of themselves, Clare, Alan and Lucy, and my grandparents. I show it to her every day. When she saw my mam, dad and Lucy on Skype the other day she seemed quite excited and kicked her legs about so I think she recognised them.
Phoebe slept most of the journey back. It was a less amenable time of flight for a young baby, leaving at lunchtime and arriving in the middle of the night. It was a much easier flight for me, partly because she slept so much but also because Toby was with me. She screamed most of the way home from the airport though, which took twice as long due to road works. Then when we got home we couldn't get her to sleep. We finally got to sleep around 4.30/5am. Ug! Needless to say we've all been a bit jet-lagged since.
And to end the post, some exciting news. A few days into my trip my sister announced to my parents and me that she was pregnant. I have kept it to myself for 7 weeks and finally she's had her 12 week scan, it's all looking good and the word is out. It's so exciting and it was lovely to spend her first weeks of pregnancy with her comparing notes. It was very special to be allowed to share that time with her when it was still top secret. It made me extremely sad that I will miss the rest of her pregnancy and the birth of another baby but I am uber excited by the whole thing. I don't know when I will see this little one as ideally we'll have another one in a few years (I feel like Clare and I are on some kind of baby conveyer belt, churning them out relay-style) so I don't think we'll fit another trip in before then. Who knows? Maybe the McCartneys will make it over to see us when the new one is a few months old. I can live in hope.