Saturday, 14 December 2013

The Rules

I am a natural rule follower. Breaking them, even other people breaking them, causes me anxiety. Like, sweaty, uncomfortable have-to-leave-the-room anxiety. In so many ways, it makes life much easier for me. I don't always agree with the rules, but I always know which course of action to take: the one that will not get me in trouble. The natural rebels amongst you are horrified right now, I can tell. My husband (not a natural rule follower) puts forward arguments about Nazi Germany and dictatorships and why it's important to break the rules, and I know I can if I HAVE to but I'd really rather not, thankyouverymuch.

This has given me an interesting parenting dilemma. I'm happy to follow many of the 'rules' about parenting. K will get all her vaccinations at exactly the time she is supposed to because I trust the science and I trust the people who make the rules (in this case the American Association of Pediatrics, which has remarkably similar guidelines to the Royal College of Paediatricians, who I DEFINITELY trust.) I put K down to sleep on her back* and I have not yet introduced a bottle that will disrupt her truly excellent breastfeeding skills.

But I am breaking one of the rules. I am not breastfeeding on demand. Now this is not to say that I am starving my baby, trust me, this baby is gaining weight like a champ (and in fact had gained over a pound at her 2 week check-up) but feeding on demand just does not work for her. When left to her own devices, K will feed every 2 hours-ish during the day. This is pretty normal, but she just cannot handle it. The occasions when she has done this have resulted in miserable evenings/nights of inconsolable crying thanks to stomach pains- knees at her ears- as she screams. She is sick, bringing up whole feeds and flooding herself and everything around her (ie. me, her dad, her grandad, the cat, ohmygodIhavetochangeourbedsheetsat2am) in milk. Not even partially digested milk, just straight up, not touched her stomach, milk. It is a deeply unpleasant situation all round. Now when she goes 3 hours between feeds during the day, magic happens. She sleeps longer stretches at night. She is content, happy and laid back. She isn't sick at all.

It took me ages (and a bit of input from my mum) to figure out that this was what was going on, but now I have, life is easier. She starts making hungry faces at around the 2 hour mark (usually 2 hours 20 minutes, actually) and we distract her. It helps that she doesn't really cry a whole lot. If playing and cuddles aren't cutting it, I bring in the big guns dummy/pacifier. This almost always works to get us to around 3 hours (maybe slightly less, maybe slightly more) where she has a massive feed and is then satisfied to the three hour mark at her next feed. I do this dance maybe once or twice a day, she's mostly happy to go the whole 3 hours.

It is not what the rules tell me to do, but it is better for K. I'm trying to learn to trust my instincts more. This is hard for a natural rule follower. I'm not reading any parenting books. I do get the Lucie's List emails (which really helped us make sleep feel less chaotic, even if it didn't actually change anything) but I'm not reading anything else. We know the basics, we can google any issues that come up, and we are just trusting ourselves. Big adjustment, I love to read. But this is what works for us. Mostly, what works for K. And ultimately that is what counts.

I'd love to know what rules you plan on breaking/break/broke- no judgement here (unless you are not vaccinating your kid, in which case I'm heaping the judgement on. Sorry.)The main thing is, you are almost certainly not alone. So confess- I want to know what else I should ignore...

*mostly. If she is really vomit-y or choke-y (which she has been a few time) I'll swaddle her and prop her on a 45 degree angle. Which is what we do in the hospital so I'm pretty confident about it. Husband hates it.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

2 hours

The baby has been asleep for an hour and a half. I'll probably wake her after 2 hours since it turns out she sleeps better over night if she doesn't sleep all day (go figure...)

In this hour and a half I have achieved the following:

  • Christmas presents ordered for immediate family (sorry everyone else, I have officially used all my gift-giving brain power up.)
  • Thank you card designed and ready for printing
  • Made lunch and ate it
  • Played with the cat
  • Tidied up my living room and my bedroom
  • Emptied the nappy/diaper bin/trashcan
  • Multiple cups of tea made and finished
  • Tracked down sender of beautiful yet mysterious baby gifts.
  • Messed around on the internet (a bit)
  • Written this (short, half-hearted) blog post

Old Lorna was seriously lazy. New Lorna is a machine. Caitlin Moran was right, the smartest thing a business can do is hire a new mum. They are frighteningly efficient...

Sunday, 8 December 2013


It has been two weeks since I went into labour. Sitting in the same seat I am now, just having finished a roast chicken sandwich (that God himself orchestrated- I was protein-ed up for this delivery) the contractions started. They started at 4 minutes apart. No pre-amble, no work up to it. Just BANG- full blown labour. I was at the hospital 2 hours later, having sat in the bath for 45 minutes. My mum was getting antsy for us to leave. If we'd waited any longer we'd have needed an ambulance. 

Two hours after they started, I was at 5cm, waiting on the anaesthetist to give me my epidural. This was the single best decision I have ever made. If you are on the fence at all, I could not recommend the epidural more. It did slow my labour down a little, but given the breakneck speed it was at, this was no bad thing. I spent the last three hours of labour chatting with my mum, husband and nurse, and watching a cracking game of Sunday Night Football (Patriots-Broncos- was brilliant.) It was exactly what I had envisaged for labour. The hard work of the start meaning I got to really experience it, but relief when I was fed up. It was my ideal.

Pushing wasn't great. Basically, for reasons of anatomy (mine, not hers) the baby was never going to come without help. After 4 hours, they got the vacuum out and she was born in two pushes. There had been meconium much, much earlier but I wasn't worried (being a nurse served me well on so many occassions, I was always calm) and I was right not to be. Her apgar score was 9 when she came out. As good as any baby ever is. My husband went over to be with her whilst the NICU team checked her over, and she held his finger tight the whole time. He said half the team left straight away, the others had 'Christmas faces on' as they cleaned up a healthy, content baby.

Pushing out the placenta was the most satisfying part of the whole process. I never expected that. My doctor said 'Congratulations, you are no longer pregnant' as I pushed it out and I felt amazing. I needed quite a lot of stitches, but the epidural and the extra drugs they gave me made the whole thing quite good fun, chatting away to my doctor (who happened to be on call that weekend) and the camper-than-christmas nurse assisting her. I was relaxed and happy. I held her half an hour after she was born, when they'd finished with me. I could have pushed to have held her sooner, but I wanted my repair to be the best possible, and a squirmy baby wouldn't have helped.

Once I had her, the nurses left us all alone for 2 hours skin-to-skin. We let her feed (she managed 50 minutes. Seriously. 50 minutes.) We moved to the post-partum ward and we all slept.

Two weeks. She was officially born on a Monday, at 2.04am. A ridiculous time, I wish they'd just rounded it up to five past. To me though, she will always have been born on the Sunday night. Late, after a long walk on the beach and a leisurely lunch and a blurry afternoon of pain and a brilliant game of American Football and a late night of hard work.

I am no longer wearing maternity clothes or taking pain killers. Pregnancy is starting to feel distant. She can see us and the cat and her favourite toys- a Snowman rattle and a Zebra that makes farting noises. She is quiet and content- she rarely cries, but is constantly on the move. Her arms and legs are in constant motion, even when asleep. She feeds so well- figuring out the latch long before I did. She was back at her birth weight a mere 5 days after being born. She seems to be efficient in everything she does. No nonsense or time wasted. Her cheeks are pudgy and kissable and she is happiest when cuddled up with her daddy. Or Granny. Or Grandad.

She has constant gas, and spends most of her days upright as we try and help her shift it. She never gets distressed though, even when covering herself (and us) in vomit. Despite this, she sleeps amazingly well, waking me every 3-4 hours for a feed then dropping herself back off to sleep with gurgles and happy little noises.

I can't really explain motherhood after just a fortnight's experience. I know that if I think about her too much, about her mere existence in our lives, about the way my husband looks at her, about the fact that we were this lucky when it is completely undeserved, I want to cry. There is a constant undercurrent in the back of my mind, it goes 'luckyluckyluckyluckylucky' and I just let myself soak it in. 

The scary bits are still to come. Another paediatrician visit to check her weight tomorrow, where I'll find out if I'm doing enough to feed her and keep her growing. The responsibility feels overwhelming at time. It makes me want to grab a bottle so it will be someone else's fault if she's not where she needs to be. My husband goes back to work tomorrow, so I'll be on my own at night. My parents leave on Friday, something I can't really begin to contemplate yet. My mum has been incredible. She is my number one breastfeeding cheerleader, telling me I can do it, that it'll be easy and pushing me so that at just 12 days I managed my first feed in public. She's given me the tools though, and that's the best I can ask for. We'll be heading back to Scotland in the spring, taking a bouncing, chubby cheeked baby with us. Until then Skype will have to suffice.

So that is the story of Katherine Eileen Thomas, born November 25th weighing 6lb11oz, 19" long. Two weeks old (tomorrow).