Thursday, 24 February 2011

New Dads

Honestly, I have no idea why anyone would want to be a single Mum. Being a mum is exhausting enough as part of a team! At least we can take it in turns when things are tough, especially to start with. Believe me, there's nothing so good as being able to get a couple extra hours sleep becasue Andy could do one of the overnight feeds.
At the grand old age of 11 weeks, it's easier. Two nights in a row he hasn't woken up till 6am, a grand stretch of 11 hours sleep and an unbroken night for the both of us. Still, knowing there's someone there who's got your back when it gets tough is the best feeling.
It's not just the bad times. Having someone to share the good times with is truly fantastic. We've decided that the hour or so between Andy getting home from work and Josephs bed time is Daddy-baby time. I get to take a little break and Andy has an hours uninterrupted baby time, which often includes a bath. There's nothing so funny as listening to him bathe the baby. I think it's a new Dad thing, he seems to go off into some silly place where even changing a nappy becomes the funnest thing in the world! If I've had a rough day, it does cheer me up seeing them enoying themselves. Joseph is learning to splash the bath water with his feet and that makes it even more fun for Daddy!
It strikes me that in todays world, Dads can often get overlooked or written out completely. This seems so very wrong to me. If I was in the horrible position of having to bring Joseph up alone, I'd do my best but there's simply no substitute for a father in a childs life. We both bring different ideas and experiences and our child can learn from us both. Plus, there are all sorts of thing that a boy growing up will need to know that I simply don't have a clue about. No woman can understand fully what a boy goes through going up and the same is true for fathers and daughters. Also, mothers can give good insight to boys in dealing with the opposite sex and perhaps fathers can explain a little to girls just what goes on in a boys head.
So, if any new Mums are reading this - Dad needs to be involved as much as possible. If any new Dads are reading this - do as much as you can! I believe that every minute you spend with your baby is vitally important and Mum will appreciate it too!
Got to go, Joseph has decided that nap time is officially over for now.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

The unpleasantries

Ah, the nasty side.
I promised I wouldn't go on about nappies, so I wont. All I will say is that sometimes they're not that bad, sometimes they're horrible - especially the ones that leak. Enough of that!
Sick is pretty nasty.
Have you ever had a bottle of milk go off? You get it out of the fridge, open it and you're hit with that musty cheesy stench that tickles the back of the throat slightly. That's pretty much what baby sick smells like, with an added acrid note. It is, after all, nothing but milk and hydrochloric acid with a little mucus thrown in. The initial smell isn't so bad and you tend to be more concentrating on clearing up all the mess, it's the lingering odour that gets you.
Joseph threw up on me this morning. No warning, just a little cough and then wham! White curdled liquid all over him, me and the bathroom floor. I cleaned up, but I can still smell it. I've washed and changed and I can still smell it on me. At least with dirty nappies, once you've bagged and wiped the smell goes away! After a while the smell of sick really puts you off the idea of ever eating any sort of dairy produce ever again.
He's had a crying day today. Don't really know why, and that's usually the worst part. When you know why a baby is crying, you can do something about it. When you're at a loss, you're stymied.
Is he hungry? Well no, he's not long eaten.
Is his nappy messy? No, and it's not leaky or over full.
Try playing with him - no, just makes him worse.
Perhaps he wants a hug. No, he's just crying even louder and kicking me to boot.
Let's take him for a walk. He must be tired after all.
Andy took him and his report was that Joseph slept for all of two minutes and spent the rest of the time 'staring daggers at me'. Well, at least he stopped crying.
He's tired. He must be tired.
Put him down in the cot anyway. He cried and he cried and he cried!
It stopped, eventually. Anyway enough time had passed for him to finally be hungry.
Sometimes he's unhappy for no apparent reason at all and I think he often feeds off us when we're stressed which is why it sometimes works to simply put him down and back away.
There's one other guarantee in life. Over night, if the baby is having a bad one, the moment he decides to give up and sleep is the moment the cat will wake up and start meowing and Joseph has got nothing on her!

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Baby Stuff

What is it about baby stuff?
You need so much of it! I really do have to wonder how people managed back in the days before somebody invented mothercare. I don't think anybody knew what they were trying to do before then! Certainly civilisation as we know it did not exist before Toys R Us, that's for sure.
It starts with the simple stuff. Baby needs a place to sleep so you get a moses basket. Thankfully ours has come from Hope via Sean and is becoming something of a family heirloom. Couldn't believe the cost of basket sized blankets and sheets so I bought some cheap cotton sheeting and fleece to make my own.
Baby needs bottles. Wasn't expecting to have to give up on the breastfeeding as soon as I did, but having some back up for Andy to do the odd feed seemed like a good idea. Bought own brand bottles as they were cheap. Also need a steriliser. My goodness! You can actually buy things that seem to have come directly from the Russian space programme as they bear far more relationship to Sputnik than something baby related. You've got your electrical steam jobs, your microwave jobs and your good old fashioned milton bucket. We're a little short on space so we took the bucket. It does the job.
The own brand bottles were a failure, didn't let the air back in properly so baby ended up sucking on a flattened teat. Switched to Avent. Even more bottles. You also need a proper bottle brush with teat cleaning end.
Baby needs a contrivance.
He he! Well, we looked at a lot of buggies. BTW, don't read Internet reviews, they're all wrong. We settled for a "travel system" which means that you clip the various bits on and off as you need them. Much more lightweight and practical. Folds down pretty small too!
Baby also needs a bath. We found a folding one. Honestly, why do the manufacturers all assume everyone has acres of space in their bathrooms? You can't swing a cat in ours and believe me, I've tried. (Cat needed a bath after a bad vet visit. Cat doesn't like baths, cat climbing the walls.... you get the picture.) The cheap ordinary baby baths are huge - considering the size of what you have to bathe - and the only place I could think to store something that size was on a hook outside the back door, Victorian style.
Babies need special towels with special bits on one corner to put over their heads. He's got more towels than we have, but then we don't tend to wee all over them after a bath.
Thankfully my sister in law gave us a lot of clothes, but he's getting into bigger sizes now and we've had to buy more. Ah, teeny tiny clothes! Nothing so sweet as baby socks!
Ended up getting a free nappy bag from the boots baby club. The only nappy bags I saw that didn't look like something only a drag queen would use were hideously expensive. The free one is nice though. Problem is, a lot of women have gone for this option and confusion might ensue.
Then you need special baby furniture to store all of this...
Does it stop? Please someone tell me it stops at some point! I feel like I'm drowning in baby stuff! He has a special bouncy chair with vibrate function  (?!) and a special unfolding play mat with a toy arch and we even tried eco reusable nappies which were a total failure, being too big round the waist, but to short lengthwise. Much leaking followed and we switched back to pampers. Doubt we'll bother trying him on the next size up, don't know when I'll get the time to wash them anyway.
We bought a cot yesterday. He's getting big for the moses basket. We put him in the cot and he suddenly looks tiny again. Cot has one drawback. You're still supposed to do the feet at the foot of the bed thing, it's a health thing, not sure why.
Joseph woke up wanting a bottle and some attention. He starts kicking his feet and when he gets going, he sure gets some force behind them. Instead of the faint noise of creaking basket, we get Bang! Bang! Bang! as his little heels impact on the wood. I'm moving him up the cot. Just a little.
Got to go now. Joseph managed to break his Dad in the night so I've let him have some more sleep and am going to apply some Dad "glue" in the shape of bacon and scrambled eggs on toast. Then I will be attempting to extract myself from my house full of baby gizmos.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Five Days Later

There are a lot of potential side effects after vaccinations. I was expecting grumpiness, drowsiness and fever. He had a couple of grumpy patches but that was it, nothing else at all. You can't even see where the needles went in now. Filling in the diary card was an exercise in writing "0" in every box. Still had to take his temperature, which he wasn't too keen on, but it was fine.
It's 6.30am and I've nothing better to do than sit and write my blog. Went to bed at my usual 9pm and slept pretty well. Joseph has been lasting longer into the night now so the night feed is now something of a mystery as to when it will actually happen. The previous night it was 3.30am, last night 4am. Yesterday he did then continue on to sleep till nearly 7am. Today that's also now looking likely, but I will not be. He simply cannot sleep quietly. When he's deeply asleep he's pretty quiet, but when he's in lighter sleep it's very noisy. Babies can come very close to waking up as their sleep cycles, and this results in movement and noise. Sometimes it's just little snuffly noises, sometimes it's little baby words, sometimes it's dribbly noises (he just did one) and sometimes he actually cries out in his sleep. I have to watch him very carefully when this happens - is he sleepily crying or crying in his sleep? If it is the latter it's best to leave him. He often has quieted back down again, so picking him up would be silly. Sometimes it's a prelude to a hungry awakening, but there's no way of telling.
What it means is I can't get any more sleep. Have brought him downstairs again so Andy can rest, but there's no point me even trying to sleep. I'll be waking him up 7ish as per the routine anyway.
Over the last week, the last couple of days especially, the routine has actually been going well! He's started being sleepy at nap times and wakeful at play times! At last!
Actually, looking back it's been four weeks. I hope this is a real trend for the future and not a blip. I've even been able to put the moses basket upstairs and take him up awake and settle him without too much fuss. He'll have to go in a proper cot soon enough and that's not something that can be carted up and down stairs. Not sure what we'll do if he gets noisy in the cot. I guess whoever needs their sleep most will have to come down and kip on the sofa bed.  How soon do little babies go through the night? I'm starting to wonder if Joseph will manage it soon.
In other news, my car is fixed. It turned out it wasn't really broken in the end, the heat sensor was faulty. I could have driven it as much as I liked! Sigh. Had a dentist appointment which was ok in that I didn't get told off, but had a lot of tartar manually scraped off which was HORRIBLE!

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Clinics and Vaccinations

Went to the baby clinic on Tuesday to find out if Joseph is putting on weight at the correct rate. It's a funny place, I had expected it to be a bit more... clinical to tell the truth. Actually what happens is you turn up whenever you like and weigh your baby. Then you go home. It's that simple.
They have about five sets of scales and changing mats and you undress your child, pop them on and record the result. You can then check the result against the growth charts they put in the back of the little red book. Every child has a little red book, to record health information, vaccinations, examinations and so on. Cue the usual Chairman Mao jokes, but I don't think he had a drawing of a teddy bear on the front of his.
Joseph has been almost exclusively formula fed for the last two weeks and I wanted to make sure he wasn't getting too fat too fast. He's certainly filled out quite a bit recently, so I didn't want to leave it too long before checking. They recommend going about once a month, which I will stick to, and it will be the first week in every month so hopefully I will remember. The upshot, by the way, is that he's just between the 50th and the 75th percentile for a boy of his age. He was born at the 75th, but during the period I was mostly breastfeeding he dropped to the 50th and seemed to be following that curve. Now he's gained a little more, but going by his birth weight, I suspect he'll be healthier on the 75th.
His vaccinations are due at 2pm this afternoon. I have decided to join the Oxford study group for this, and take part in a clinical trial. For those who think I am having my son punctured in the name of science, I shall explain.
They're not trying out any new vaccines, that would rather put me off the idea. It's simply to find out if all babies need as many vaccine boosters for Meningitis C as are currently given. Babies currently get 3 in the UK, but elsewhere in the world they are given less. If less are needed, the country can save a little money and children can be traumatised by the whole injection business a little less often.
It has one massive advantage, they are coming to my house to administer the injections. This is great news as my car is still suffering from its mysterious overheating problem and I don't have to bother my mum for a lift. The major downside is that he will have to have some blood tests when he's a little older, to check his immunity levels. Still, I think it is a good thing to be doing and I did discuss it with my GP as well. Roll on 2pm for the whole business to begin. Now, if I could only persuade him to sleep! He's woken up again, so I will sign off for now and finish this post later after the procedure.

Well, that was fun.
Not for Joseph. Actually, not a whole lot of fun for me either, having to listen to him scream! Baby vaccinations are what they call "intramuscular", which basically means they have to jab the needle deep into the leg. Ouch. Cue the screams.
He's ok now, having a little play on his mat but I have to keep stopping as he doesn't like me being out of sight for long. He seems fine, and I think he's forgiven me.
We are in the control group it seems, he has to have all the normal injections. The other part of the study is seeing if it makes a difference if the injections happen all in the same leg or not and Joseph has to have all of his in the right leg. I also have to keep a diary over the next few days, I have to measure if there's any redness or swelling and I have to take his temperature daily with a little under-arm thermometer. This is quite hard to do if your baby is a little grumpy and squirly.
Well, just have to see how it all goes.