Week 10: Jetsetting

In case you haven’t noticed, my online nickname is Jetsetting Joyce. When I fell pregnant, one of my witty friends said that I should really be changing that to Grounded Joyce.

Well, one thing that will stay constant since NKOTB’s arrival is that the jetsetting will continue, as all of her relatives bar one live interstate. So while there won’t be any backpacking jaunts to Europe any time soon, NKOTB will still get lots of practice being on planes.

During Easter we went on our first Tour de Baby. Melbourne-Sydney-Brisbane-Toowoomba-Gold Coast-Brisbane-Melbourne. When I tell people that we were in three cities in one day they look at me as if I’m crazy. But I didn’t want to deal with portacots and transport and luggage by having an overnight stay in Sydney, so on the first day of the Tour we flew Melbourne-Sydney then Sydney-Brisbane.

I was thinking I would just fly to Sydney with NKOTB and meet my parents there (who would fly down from Brisbane) but luckily my parents insisted on coming down to Melbourne and accompanying me to Sydney.

Flying with a baby is a whole different ball-game to my previous hand-luggage-only-forward-aisle-seat-please existence. I still managed to fit my gear and her gear in a single roller bag, but I had to check it in because on board I had to juggle NKOTB carried on my front and a fat nappy bag. Once I sat down, I had to wrestle her out of her carrier and onto my lap so that I could put on her infant seatbelt and get her ready to start feeding as soon as we took off to help ease the pressure in her ears.

Fortunately, full marks to NKOTB for remaining calm and quiet for the majority of the flight. She squawked a few times but basically hung out on my nipple for the hour. Flight 1 success! In fact, on every flight we took NKOTB was pretty easygoing and barely made a noise. It was a bit harder going for me as I basically had to wear her for a couple of hours at a time.

So the flying wasn’t the hard part – the hard part was the rest of the constant travelling and adjusting to new places. For a week and a half she was thrown into environments with unfamiliar sights and smells, ferried from here to there and passed around to dozens of new people. It was exhausting and over-stimulating for me, so I can imagine what it must have been like for a little 10 week old baby.

All the travelling and newness meant that NKOTB’s routine was completely shot – which meant that our patience unravelled as well. She was really interested in all the new people and the things around her, but it also meant that she cat-napped and became over-tired instead of having her usual long sleeps. She slept in our room for the first time since her birth and reverted back to an exhausting 2 hourly feed cycle overnight. She cried much more than usual and was often inconsolable so I decided to let her comfort feed in between her usual feeds. I became really defensive about her, telling everyone that she wasn’t ‘normally like this’.

For the first time since NKOTB’s arrival I would describe parenting as ‘hard work’. While it was necessary for us to take her interstate to meet her relatives, especially her elderly great-grandparents who couldn’t travel, after this experience I don’t think I have it in me to do another interstate trip with her until Christmas. So maybe Grounded Joyce is right after all.

 

 

 

Week 9: I just want to do the right thing

Since I became a parent I’ve been obsessed with two topics – eating and sleeping.

In earlier weeks I was concerned that NKOTB wasn’t sleeping enough for a newborn baby…and now I’m concerned that NKOTB isn’t eating enough to keep growing.

Basically, other than the first 10 days when she put on enough weight to take her back to her birth weight (3.71kg), she’s been gradually declining in the amount of weight that she’s putting on every week. Not only is she not following the 50th percentile trajectory that the Maternal Child Health Nurse showed me on the graph, she’s declining to the point where now she’s being weighed every week, and last week, after only two days.

First we tried topping up her breastfeed with a bottle of expressed breastmilk. But that didn’t really achieve much – NKOTB would either just let the milk spill out of her mouth, or spit out the teat altogether. All it succeeded in doing was making her very cranky. I can imagine her crying translating to ‘I’m FULL. Why are you trying to force-feed me?’.

We then tried switch-feeding (basically, keeping on switching breasts until she’d had enough) in case it was something to do with my milk supply. I had my doubts about this because as far as I could tell I had enough milk to soak nursing pads and leak all over my clothing, so I didn’t think that increasing my supply was the answer. Nevertheless, I tried it for a few days and again all it did was make a previously calm feeding experience into a baby-wrestle. It made her frustrated and it made me frustrated. And it didn’t seem to make any difference in her weight gain either. In fact, on her last weigh, she’d LOST weight. The nurse then watched me switch-feed and she immediately put on 100g (ie 100mL of milk).

I’m not sure what the answer is. I’ve been to the paediatrician to check her out and she’s fine. When you observe her she seems like a reasonably happy and contented baby who’s active and alert, albeit not very chubby. When she’s hungry she says so and when she’s not she makes that very clear too. But she’s feeding effectively for long enough that she should be putting on heaps of weight, and she’s not.

Everyone has told me not to worry and to an extent I’ve tried not to. But as someone from my mother’s group said about challenges of mothering ‘I just want to do the right thing’. And when your baby doesn’t do what’s expected, it can be very easy to second-guess every decision you make.

HOT: Reverse Psychology

Whoever thought that arguing with children could be fun:

Week 8: Feed Play Sleep

During the second session of my mothers group we watched a video on sleep settling techniques, a topic close to any parent’s heart.

NKOTB was quite unsettled during the hour and I’m finding these days that unless I take notes I really have trouble remembering details. But the one thing I do remember from the video is to try to establish a routine of ‘Feed, Play, Sleep’ in order to settle a baby.

So this week I’ve been much more conscious of following that order of events. This means feeding for approximately 30 minutes (the paediatrician said that I should be teaching her to feed efficiently from now on, which means 15-20 minutes on the first breast, 5-10 minutes on the second breast), playing for about another 30 minutes and taking notice of NKOTB’s tired signs.

Fortunately NKOTB has been pretty textbook. After feeding I either put her down on a playmat or sit her in a rocker and dangle some toys in front of her (or on her). After about 30 minutes of being quite contented she starts yawning, hiccupping, getting a glazed look in her eyes and her movements become jerky and agitated.

At that point I put her down to sleep in her cot, which inevitably always results in NKOTB giving me a guilt-inducing ‘what are you DOING to me?’ look or starting a distressed cry.

This is where the tough love happens. I close the door and let her cry. While it’s an awful feeling to leave her in such an agitated state, we’ve found that after no more than 15 minutes she will settle down to sleep. Sometimes she wakes up after a sleep cycle to cry again and we don’t go to her.

While I know this approach isn’t for everyone, it has worked for our sanity and it seems to be ok for NKOTB too. Week 8 has been a happy week!

 

HOT: Ode to the (un)born one

Just a quick note to recommend a very nice little note from Australian economist and gadfly commentator, no rx Chris Joye on the occasion of the birth of his first child:

You will learn the hard way that few people are deserving of your own unfettered faith. Having said that, remedy you do need to have faith in others in order to sustain yourself. The human condition is an inherently social one. We are not built to be alone. In fact, medicine it is precisely the fission, fusion, and fun that we experience when interacting daily with others that defines our lives. It is a condition precedent to our humanity. You were literally brought into this world inside another person, which is remarkable when you think about it. I metaphorically live inside my head as much as anyone, but such isolation is not a tenable life model in the long-run.

Congratulations Chris, and welcome to the Aussie Dad Blogger Community :)

HOT: Mums and Bubs movie sessions, Palace Westgarth, 89 High Street, Northcote

I love going to the movies. Before NKOTB, I would go to the movies on average every 2-3 weeks and during the Melbourne International Film Festival, sometimes twice a day.

While one mother of my acquaintance has successfully smuggled her newborn baby into a cinema, I am too scared to do that – so Mums and Bubs movie sessions are a great innovation. It allows me to see go to the cinema regularly without feeling too self-conscious about nursing or having a baby wail throughout the film. It’s a nice outing for NKOTB as well, as she tends to sleep contentedly in my arms in the darkened cinema.

Many cinemas offer one Mums and Bubs movie each week – generally the first session on a Wednesday (Palace cinemas and Village) or Thursday morning (Hoyts).

I’ve been to sessions at Kino Cinemas in the city and Palace Westgarth in Northcote and my vote goes to Palace Westgarth. When I went to Kino my friend and I were the only mothers in the cinema and the other people didn’t have babies. I hope they were told when they bought their ticket that it was a Babes session! The seats at Kino were also a little narrow which made manoeuvring with slings, babies and nipples somewhat cumbersome.

In contrast, the Palace Westgarth session probably had about 30 mothers and babies and the aisles were wide enough to bring in prams or for mothers to stand up to jiggle unsettled babies. The plush seats were super comfortable, with wide arm rests so that you could rest your elbows while feeding and little drinks tables where you could put baby paraphernalia like bottles. The disabled toilets, complete with change table, were close by the exits for any necessary nappy changes.

The only downside is that you have to pay full price ($18.50) for the Mums and Bubs sessions, unlike Village where it is only $10. However, at least you get to see good quality new releases rather than insipid lowest-common-denominator rom-coms.

I’m considering joining the Palace Movie Club for an annual fee of $19 which will take the ticket price down to $12.50. In fact, I reckon the membership, or movie vouchers, would make an excellent baby shower/new mum gift.

 

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