Saturday, 10 September 2011
Can you believe this little man is six months old already?! Madness isn't it. What did I do before he was born?? He has changed my entire life in ways I never imagined. He gets me challenging my views on issues that effect him directly or indirectly, he's got me putting someone before me in EVERY aspect of my life. He's made me question who I am and what I stand for, my values and my ideals. My world has been turned upside down by this little dude. He's brought me such incredible joy, he's brought me new friends and experiences, he's brought me more love than I ever thought was possible. He is everything.
Sunday, 21 August 2011
So, the Phd. That thing. That thing which constantly sits and niggles in the back of my mind every time I sit down to relax when Alfie has a nap or has gone to bed (after I've done whatever housework needs doing, fed the cats, fed myself etc). The thing which wakes me up in the night with cold sweats due to the nightmares I've just had about messing up the whole thing and having to pay back my stipend. The thing which is is the constant source of arguments between me and OH. The thing which I worked so bloody hard for and will complete no matter what...
I had to submit my annual review on august 12th - thank god I had the sense to write most of it before Alfie was born. I had a few bits to do on it, which normally I would have got done in a day, but because I have such little time now, it took me over a week to do, and that was before I had to do the final edits before submission. I did it, I had to, but it meant leaving Alfie to entertain himself by sticking him in the door bouncer or on his play mat with a load of toys. I don't like to do it, he's still so little and I feel so bad just dumping him while I do something else. The guilt is horrendous. It won't be so bad in a few months time when he's more capable of playing on his own, but that still makes me feel like a bad mother.
I'm at the point where the intense data collecting stage is about to begin. I'll be spending hours/days at a time in the hospital mainly observing but doing a few interviews, both here in Nottingham and in Lincoln. The logistics of it all is a nightmare. Alfie is 100% dependent on me for food so I can't leave him for more than 3 hours. We have to go to lincoln together, I have to get someone to take us and watch and him while I'm in the hosp. Its very frustrating and I've had to miss several meetings so far as I couldn't get anyone to watch him.
I'm terrified of the work load, not just the actual data collecting bit, but the work that goes with it, logging it, reflecting on it, all the paperwork, all the reading and analysing. I'm constantly getting emails from my supervisor and the team with thing to read, stuff to do, more meetings, more stuff and it just makes my brain hurt. I hate to say it, but right now, I don't want to do a PhD anymore. I want 6 months off completely so I can get Alfie on solids and less dependent on me, so I can get used to leaving him with other people. I don't trust anyone. I worry about Alfie constantly when he's not with me and it makes it very hard to concentrate on the meetings etc. I'm seriously doubting my ability to complete this Phd. At the moment my thinking is just get on with it, just do it and once it's done, don't worry about finding a job. Save lots of money so we've got a safety cushion and then I want to home educate Alfie, and probably have a second baby.
So many people said I was crazy for doing it, and that I should give up the Phd. Right now, I think they were right.
Wednesday, 10 August 2011
Gosh, 5 months already! Time has flown, and I've clearly been far too busy with Alfie/uni/housework/life to update regularly, says a lot about how things have changed now.
I can't get over how fast Alfie is growing up, everyone told me it would go quickly but I didn't believe them and now I wish I could get that time back. I look at pictures of him from the first couple of weeks after he was born and I don't remember what it was like, what he was like. I seemed to watch a lot of television, and spent a lot of time sitting on the sofa just holding him as he didn't really do much else. Well now, I only get cuddles when he has a feed! I feel like I gave birth to a toddler he's just so grown up.
He's just about crawling now, he can certainly move around quite a bit on his hands and knees, you can't really take you eye off him as he'll go quite far (including off the edge of the bed the other day, poor little man), and he can roll over from front to back too. He can very very nearly sit up on his own. He does it for a few seconds but hasn't quite got his balance, or lower back strength to do it for much longer. He's a very happy baby, always smiling and laughing. He recognises me and OH, and a few other people too and he loves 'that baby in the mirror'. He gets the best smiles :)
Alfie has his first tooth! It came through last week (21wks exactly). One day I noticed a littleblister type mark on his gum and the next day there was a sharp little tooth which seems to have had very little effect on him at all. His sleep was slightly more disruptive than usual, but other than that, he's been his usual lovely self. The one next to it is trying to come through too I think, but seems to be slower than the first.
We took Alfie to the park at the weekend when we visited Grandad and Beth. He had a wonderful time on the swings and on one of those little tractor on a spring type things that rocks forwards & backwards. He also went down the slide with daddy but we weren't to sure about that. We'll definitely go again soon, he laughed his little head off, it was lovely :D
We're still going strong with breastfeeding. My supply has dropped quite a bit so I'm not donating anywhere near as much as I was but I'm still donating some which is good. I find it very rewarding, and its brought me into contact with lots of lovely people. The first lady I was donating to has now emigrated, and for various reasons, couldn't take her cats with her, so we have them. Minerva and Ginevra have made themselves very much at home, Ollivander isn't too sure about them but he's getting there, slowly. The girls are house cats and are very friendly and cuddly, although Ginny has been getting a bit adventurous and I caught her stalking round the garden this morning. I don't mind if they want to start going outside, as it means we don;t have to have litter in the house, but I'm worried they might get into a few fights with the other cats that are around, or that they might wander too far. I'm sure they'll be fine though :)
I met another lady through milk donation who had her second child when Alfie was 3 months old. She's really lovely, I've seen her a few times now and we're building a great friendship. She shares a lot of my parenting values, she babywears, uses cloth, responds to cries rather than letting baby cry it out, co-sleeps and we get on really really well. Through her, and another one of my lovely mummy friends (who I knew at school but lost touch with and then rediscovered through facebook) I've become part of a great parenting forum full of like minded mummys, and the odd daddy, which is great as I don't have many real life friends with children and it does get a bit lonely and confusing sometimes. Its great having a place that I can go to with my silly questions about parenting, and to seek information on things I might like to try or things I'm not sure about. OH isn't that keen on it as every now and again I read about something I'd not considered before, like extended rear facing with his carseat, that no doubt sparks a new bout of healthy debate between us. The forum is fabulous though and I feel like I'm making some great friends through it.
Alfie went on his first holiday in June with me and his granny (my mum). We went to Wales, our second home, and stayed in the same cottage we were in last year when I suspected (and my mum worked out) that I might be pregnant. It was really lovely being able to go back with Alfie and he had a lovely time. We went for lots of walks on the beach and on the cliff tops, and went to visit some of our friends there. He handled the change of routine very well although by the end of the week he was sick to death of being in the car.
He is a wonderful little boy and he makes me incredibly happy. I don't remember what my life was like before he was born and I wouldn't change that for anything :)
Friday, 6 May 2011
From my earlier blogs, you'll know that Alfie and I struggled to develop a successful breastfeeding relationship and since he was about 10days old I was expressing and bottle feeding him. It was a difficult decision to make but Alfie was loosing weight, we were both becoming frustrated and I was in quite a lot of pain so it seemed like the right thing to do. Finding out Alfie has a tongue tie eased the guilt I felt at not being able to feed him properly, and we quickly settled into a routine of expressing every time he had a nap, and as much as I could in the night or if someone was here & could hold him for 20 mins.
A couple of weeks ago, he'd had his night feed and wasn't settling so I decided to try him on my breast to see if that calmed him. To my surprise, he latched on straight away, fed happily for ten mins, pulled away and fell asleep. Perfect. The best thing, is that it wasn't a fluke. I started giving Alfie less in a bottle so that he would want breast afterwards. By giving him something to eat first, it meant that if it took a little while to latch, he wasn't getting frustrated and upset. I slowly reduced the amount of bottles he was having during the day, always making sure he had at least one at some point so he would still take a bottle if OH was doing a feed or someone else was watching him.
It's amazing that we've had such a turn around, but I love it. I'm really enjoying breastfeeding and feel so much closer to him. I lie him down on his side and as soon as he hears my bra snap, he gives me the most adorable gummy smile and gurgles. He rests his hand on me everytime, as if he's hugging my boob and usually drifts off for a little while. It makes me feel so relaxed that I usually drift off too, especially if we're having a feed lying side by side in bed. Night feeds are quick and easy ow without having to worry about a bottle - although I usually use on of the night feeds as a bottle feed coz he seems to take it more easily then. During the day he's a bit more fussy.
We went to OH's dads wedding on sunday and although I took a supply of bottles with me as I wasn't sure how confident I felt to breastfeed in public quite yet - I ended up breastfeeding him almost all day. He had half a bottle during the meal as it wasn't long since i'd given him a feed so I knew he wouldn't be satisfied. I ended up feeding him in a cafe while we all ate breakfast, twice in church, a couple of times in the garden of the reception, once at the dinner table and twice sat in a rocking chair conveniently in the ladies toilets. I was so very proud of myself. The only pictures I have from the day have got OH in, so I can't post them, but I know the professional photographer took a few of me and Alfie so I'll post them up once we've got copies. He looked so smart in his little pinstripe trousers and waistcoat and his little blue shirt and shoes. OH looked very handsome in his morning suit. I was very proud of both of my boys :)
I've also started donating my breastmilk as I overproduce and have a constant supply in the freezer. A lady in Leeds collects it to supplement her own supply, and drops some off to another lady near her who has breast cancer and can't feed her child. Its such a good feeling to know that I'm helping other mums and babies continue with a breastfeeding relationship instead of giving their babies formula. Last time she came I gave her 130oz and I now have 250oz waiting in the freezer for her. I'm running out of space!!
All my hard work has been paying off though as Alfie is gaining weight wonderfully and at my post-partum check up this week (8weeks after Alfie was born) I was weighed and am now back to the same weight I was when I was 8 weeks pregnant. I'm obviously thrilled!! I think the combination of breastfeeding (and expressing) baby-wearing and walking as much as I can (wearing Reebok EasyTone shoes) has definitely helped because in all honesty, I really don't eat that healthily. I still snack on chocolate or cake as its a quick fix to keep me going. Usually OH cooks us a proper meal each evening but he's been working double shifts this week so I've been fending for myself. Quite often the food he cooks is full of butter anyway - tastes amazing but probably isn't all that healthy. I need to start eating better, for both of us, although I do take extra vitamins every day to make sure Alfie is getting everything he needs.
He seems to have settled himself into a nice routine. He wakes up about 8ish for a feed and then lies in bed with OH until he gets up for work. He usually has a nap about 10.30 for an hour, then a feed. Often a nap around lunch time, then a feed. I can normally get him to nap in the afternoon any time between 3 and 6 depending on what we've been doing in the day. I usually lie down with him and we'll nap and nurse together for a couple of hours. Bath time is at 7pm and hes usually asleep by 8.30. Most nights he sleeps 8 hours before waking up for a feed which is great :) I still get up once maybe twice in the night to express as its too uncomfortable for me to go that long. I know that if I just expressed a little bit and then went back to sleep, after a few days my body would regulate itself but I don't mind pumping the extra. It doesn't take long and its for a good cause - and its clearly helping me with my weight loss!!
OH sent me this picture the other day - I had no idea it had been taken, but it turns out THIS is the first ever picture taken of our son, moments after he had been born, just after OH had cut his cord. The next one after that was the picture of him in the weighing scales which I think I posted in an earlier blog, I thought that was the first picture but apparently not. The hands in this one belong to Maxine, our wonderful student midwife :)
I plan on taking some tentative steps back into academics this week. I proof read one of Michaelas essays earlier in the week and it made me realise just how much I miss doing my work. One of corse mates has sent me his annual review to proof read which I'm hoping to start this weekend. I had a supervision last month - more so more supervisor could meet Alfie than to discuss work - but we did talk about the ethics training that I need to do too. I'm going to look at that once I've read through my friends annual review and then in a couple of weeks I might start getting mum to watch Alfie for one afternoon a week so I can get some work done. I can also try and do bits when OH has the day off coz he can obviously do feeds and keep Alfie entertained while I work. It's going to be tough finding the time to do things while Alfie is still so young and needs almost constant contact when he's awake, but where theres a will theres a way, and we all know theres no way I'm not going back to uni. Its almost as important to me as my son!!
Wednesday, 13 April 2011
Alfie baby was 1 month old last sunday, I can't believe how quickly time flies, or how (dare I say it) easy being a mum is. I feel bad for saying that because I know some mums really struggle what with lack of sleep, healing after birth and adjusting to motherhood, but honestly at the moment, its nowhere near as hard as I thought it would be. Granted there are times of the day when Alfie is a bit grumpy, or won't sleep which can get a little frustrating, especially if I need to do things, but generally, I'm managing to keep on top of housework, I get time to myself in the day when he's asleep, and he sleeps for 4-6 hour blocks during the night which is wonderful. I'm sure it'll change as he gets a bit bigger and spends more time awake during the day, but for the time being, I really can't complain.
My surgery wound is pretty much healed now. I tried my hardest to take it easy in the first 2 weeks, but after that, I felt normal so I started behaving normally. Obviously if it hurt me, I;d take it easy for a bit but its not really caused me any trouble. I've been wearing Alfie in a wrap, so he's strapped to me for the last couple of weeks. It great for settling him during the day, and much easier than taking a pushchair on the bus (plus its excellent for helping the weight loss!) It means I can do household chores easily and the best thing about it is that I have my hands free rather than having to hold him all day. Its great for him as it keeps his close to me, he's soothed by my heartbeat and the gentle rocking as I walk about - its like an external womb for him. I love it - and because we're not directly breastfeeding, I still feel close to him by having him in the wrap. I can even express while he's in it which helps with my let down reflex.
Bottle feeding him with my expressed milk makes things easier in some respects, as it means OH can do feeds and I can sleep, but also eats into my sleep as I have to express during the night. I do prefer it to directly breast feeding though, but we do still keep trying. The health visitor says that Alfie has a tongue tie which is probably causing problems with latching on. Hopefully as he grows and his tongue gets a bit bigger, it will fix itself. Its disappointing for me that directly feeding him hasn't worked out (so far) but I'm not giving up yet. During the day while we're at home and we don't have to go anywhere, I'll give him half a bottle so he's not starving and agitated, and then I'll try to latch him on to me for the rest of his feed. Sometimes it works and he feeds for 10 minutes and falls asleep, other times we can be there 15-20 mins trying to get him on properly before I give up and give him the rest of the bottle. It requires a bit of patience, but on the ocassions where it has worked, I've felt really good about it. We had a successful immediate latch and a 20 minute feed yesterday, and another little trickle feed this morning. I need to go to some breast feeding help groups and try to get some help so we can overcome our problems. I feel more mentally prepared to deal with it now than I did when he was first born, less uncomfortable about it, and I feel like I've got the right level of patience to keep at it, so hopefully that will help.
Tomorrow OH and I are going on stag and hen do's - his dad is getting married on May 1st, and its the first time we'll be leaving Alfie with anyone. Eeeek. I'm going early in the morning and leaving Alfie with OH and then his mum is having Alfie for the afternoon. He's technically only being 'babysat' for about 4 hours, but i'll be away from him all day which I'm a bit nervous about. I've been stocking up the freezer with milk so there's plenty for tomorrow incase he wants to eat every hour, which he sometimes does and I'll take the pump with me so I can express a few times during the day. I'm looking forward to having a nice relaxing day to myself though, and I definitely need a shoulder massage after the last few weeks of slumping over to feed/change him and carrying him around. It'll be very strange not having him with me all day though as I've not spent more than an hour without him and that was only once when I nipped into town and left him with OH. Fingers crossed theres no problems because we might be leaving him for much longer if we decide not to take him to the wedding.....
Thursday, 24 March 2011
Alfie is two weeks old today - time goes so fast. It seems like only minutes ago I was on all fours on my sofa trying to push him out!
Generally, having him here is wonderful. He's very content, sleeps a lot, loves cuddles with his mummy and only really cries if theres something majorly wrong. He hates having his nappy changed, thats inevitable crying, but the minute you start buttoning up his clothes again he stops wailing and makes this little bleating, wimpering noise which is just adorable. We gave him a bath last week & he was not impressed with that. The next time, I'm going to take him in the bath with me and get OH to help and hopefully that'll make it less traumatising for the little man. I think he just doesn't like to be naked which is a shame really coz I'd love to have more skin to skin contact with him when he's feeding or having cuddles.
We've got into a good routine now of feeds every 3-4 hours. He has his nappy changed first while the bottle is warming up and then he goes to sleep after hes been 'burped'. Its great as it means I'm getting regular sleep, if we need to go anywhere we can time it so he's back home for the next feed and OH can help out when he's back from work. Alfie seems to have a restless period from about 4-8 each evening when he wont settle after his feed and just seems to want more very hour or so. OH usually comes back from work to find Alfie having a bit of a cry & being difficult but is very good at settling him, even though he doesn't have the patience and wants the baby to be asleep within 10 minutes.
The big challenge has been breastfeeding. I've had numerous nurses and midwifes and specialists help me with positioning and getting him latched on etc but it only seems to work for 1 or 2 feeds then he goes back to his default behaviour. This involves spending 10-15 minutes trying to latch on, a lot of the time he does (which hurts a little bit but thats normal) and then spits my nipple out and has another go so after about 10 mins I'm feeling pretty uncomfortable and a bit frustrated that he's not doing it properly. He's of course getting more agitated because he's hungry. When he does eventually latch on, he'll take 10-20 big mouthfuls, where you can hear him swallowing the milk, and then drift off to sleep, sucking occasionally, especially if I try to pull away from him. The specialist said that you should always wait for him to take himself off the breast because then you know baby is finished. Well, Alfie might take himself off after 20 minutes, or after 4 hours. or he might come off so I can burp him and then want to go back on again immediately or maybe half an hour later if I'm lucky. It's very annoying because I obviously can't do anything - eat, have a drink, go to the loo, do any chores, I'm just sat stuck holding this limpet that won't feed properly and won't let me go.
OH came home from work on sunday to find Alfie crying and me in absolute bits. He'd been feeding on and off since 9am and by this point it was nearly 7pm. The only break I got was when OH's mum drove us back home as we'd been staying with her - and he cried the whole way. I was exhausted as I'd been up in the night with him and he'd been playing around for ages too, I was starving hungry as I'd not had chance to go to the shop let alone make any food. With us being away for the week we had nothing in the house. I was desperate for a wee and was generally feeling very miserable.
I told Him that I felt like a failure because I wasn't able to give birth to him properly and now I was struggling to feed him properly and it made me feel like a useless mother. He of course tried to say nice things to make me feel better but as he rarely displays any kind of emotion or sentimentality it made me cry even more. He told me I did an amazing job when I was in labour and he was incredibly proud of me and that if he could feed Alfie himself then he would. He took the baby for long enough to allow me to express, so we could feed him and finally get him to sleep. I decided at that moment that I was going to express every 3-4 hours and Alfie would be bottle fed. He's obviously happy having the bottle as we've had no problems with it so far, and it means he's getting a proper feed, regularly, and proper sleep and I'm not getting myself all worked up. I've been feeding him and then expressing after each feed since sunday night and we're both so much happier. I know its not ideal, because it is a bit time consuming having to express and then waiting for the milk to warm up, but it's working for us. I'm so much more relaxed, I' enjoying spending time with him, OH can feed him too so we can share the responsibility and I'm not spending all my time trying to feed a baby that's clearly just paying around.
I think that because I've found breast feeding so difficult, I've got a bit of a negative attitude towards it which obviously won't help the situation, especially since Alfie can pick up on my discomfort which upsets him too. I was talking with my mum about it and I came to the conclusion that I just don't like it. It makes me feel uncomfortable - even on the few feeds that have gone well, I've felt awkward and wanted it to be over. The idea of doing it for half an hour several times a day makes me feel a bit weird - not sick or anything that drastic, but I found myself willing him to sleep longer between feeds so I wouldn't have to do it quite so often.
I do feel like I'm letting him down, especially since when he was born it was quite a while before I got to hold him, so I feel like the bond between us is already tainted somehow and my not feeding him is bound to make that worse because we don't have the closeness you get when you're breastfeeding. The most important thing though, is that he is happy, he's getting fed regularly and he's gaining weight. The midwife is on her way round now so fingers crossed he's back up to his birth weight which will prove that I've been doing the right thing. The fact that both the 'breakdowns' I've had since he was born have been breastfeeding related says something really - and as he gets older, we'll have plenty of time to bond, he does stay at home all day with me after all, and likes cuddles with mummy better than cuddles with daddy!!