Would you… Use a Dummy?

One of Bea’s most/least endearing behaviours is her vast repertoire of noises, made mostly when asleep in her crib, leaving me wide awake at night. She doesn’t do it as much in the day as she is often either in my arms or in the sling and having listened to these noises extensively over the last 7 weeks, they seem to mainly be made when she is getting herself to sleep or in light sleep. It’s probably the only thing about having her that has been a challenge so far, as it’s so frustrating to listen to when I’m trying to get a couple of hours sleep before the next feed!

When I was little I had a dummy, so did my sister and like so many things pre-baby, I never really had a problem with them before. I still don’t on other children. The only time I register it really is when you see some kids with a dummy in 24/7, but really, each to their own. One long night listening to her I thought, I wonder if a dummy will keep her quiet? She’s not a particularly ‘sucky’ baby and doesn’t for example need to fall asleep on the breast, she will happily be rocked off cuddling or in the last week or two in her crib by herself at night. But, if you put a finger in her mouth she will also drift off sucking that too and even better, soundlessly!

There’s a lot of chatter about dummies – some people just don’t like them, there’s the ongoing debate over whether it can cause ‘nipple confusion‘ in breast feeding babies and also if it can reduce feeding demand because the suck reflex is overused. It’s often recommended that you don’t use them before a certain age (6 weeks minimum) too. On top of all that is the whole dummy versus thumb discussion and which is better for a developing mouth and teeth? (FYI – Bea has found her thumb and does suck it but not at any particular time or as a comforter particularly…) I actually bought some dummies before Bea arrived and now I kind of don’t want to use them. Pete is dead against it as he feels it is too early and we’ll never get her to give the dummy up. Typically Pete’s judgement isn’t coloured by lack of sleep as he has ear plugs in when he is working the next day! My thoughts were that it would simply be a night time thing to get her to keep quiet (if it worked at all!) and drift off quicker so I could get more sleep. But would it then become something she was dependent on to sleep and cause her to wake if it fell out etc? Would I be making a rod for my own back?

So readers, I thought this was a good topic for discussion today… would you or have you given your child a dummy? Are you happy with that decision? Why did you give it and did it work? I’d love to hear your experiences…

Love,
Rebecca
xo

The first month with Bea…

Yesterday my gorgeous precious tiny girl was 1 month old. 1 month! 31 days of her being in our lives. Just over 4 weeks since I couldn’t imagine having a baby and now I can’t imagine life without her.

So how has it been?I’m tempted to run off a list of cliches… magical, amazing, exhausting, but I don’t think my experience so far has fitted in with the usual comments as much as I expected. The first 2 weeks were in equal parts blissful and stressful. I was so happy to have this little thing in my arms and many an hour was lost just staring at her little face, marvelling at her perfect mouth or tiny fingernails. We spent a lot of time in those early days just being together, having skin to skin time and establishing feeding. I am breastfeeding, which is giving me an immense amount of pleasure. It was something I really wanted to do – for many reasons, but mainly non-emotional ones like the ease it would give me at night or when travelling and freedom to go anywhere with minimal baggage. We have been extremely lucky that it has just worked for us and I take no credit for that, Bea was born rooting and fed immediately in recovery after my c-section. She has basically shown me how it’s done and so far, touch wood, there have been no problems at all. Looking back now over the last month, thinking about her getting everything she needs from me is very special and I love the time we spend together feeding, the little faces she pulls and the cuddles we share.

The stressful part of those first 2 weeks was managing visitors – it was quite overwhelming having so many people and whilst on the one hand we wanted to show Bea off, I really wasn’t ready to share her yet, nor was I (with the benefit of hindsight) really that fit for visitors. Of course people brought help and food, but it really was hard for me. Possibly because we really didn’t have any control over it – I know some people limit visits from friends or even family in the early days or weeks while they get settled in as a new family but I didn’t have it in me to stop people seeing her as I didn’t feel it would be fair. Although he didn’t complain or seem to mind I think it was hardest on Pete as I had guaranteed cuddles when she fed, whereas it was him who missed out as she was passed around and he looked after me and visitors.

She has been a good baby, no question and so these early weeks have been kind to us. Don’t get me wrong, we have had our moments – one midwife told me to expect one unsettled day or night per week (which I thought was pretty optimistic at the time,) and I’d say we have had about 36 hours worth a week of feeding more and waking more that ha been difficult but fortunately she doesn’t cry much at all. Like lots of babies Bea tends to feed more in the evening from about 5 or 6 until 10 or 11 and then only wakes once in the night and once early morning, after which we go back to sleep until late morning and the next feed. I’m not sure how that’s going to work out long term as I’m not usually up until 11 and I need to be getting out to baby groups but the biggest thing I have learned this last month is to go with the flow. Those couple of hours when she just won’t go back to sleep at 3 or 4 am? I now settle myself down to feed and read and it doesn’t seem so bad. The most annoying thing is that she grunts so loudly, just after she’s got to sleep and when she’s about to wake up, but it can be for an hour or more and it drives me mad keeping me awake too when she is often asleep herself! We went through phases thinking it was colic or wind but it just seems to be her as she’s not uncomfortable with it at all.

Week three was definitely the hardest. Tiredness caught up with me, I was still sore but doing more physically than before and didn’t really understand Bea’s cues yet – apart from when she was hungry I was clueless and it was that week that I accepted, 2 nights of the same feeding pattern did not make for a routine and I just had to go with it.

Now we’re at 4 weeks I’m definitely seeing more patterns emerge. Bea has a wake, feed, play/awake, sleep cycle at least twice a day (the rest is just eat/sleep!) and I know when she is fussy because she is tired and ready to sleep instead of just hungry. It has actually helped being alone with her more (Pete’s Paternity leave was messed up due to my early c-section so he was off for the first, third and fourth weeks after she arrived and only recently went back to work,) as I can’t do anything else but focus on her and learn what she needs, without anyone else who doesn’t know her as well misinterpreting her. (One night in the early weeks my mum was holding her and she was crying. Normally I would have assumed she was hungry but my Mum thought it was wind so we persevered trying to wind her, until eventually I took her upstairs to cuddle and try feeding her – she immediately quietened down and it was then I really believed Mum knows best.) In some ways though it’s getting way harder… she won’t stay asleep in her crib or pram unless she is put down at the perfect stage of deep sleep – often far from convenient and so it is taking me an age to get anything done – even getting dressed in the morning! I’ve just bought a sling to wear around the house for the same reason (I’ll be writing more about that next week) and have high hopes for regaining the use of both hands!

To be honest though, I’m happy not getting much done. It feels right to just give myself over to this time with her so as long as I stay sane we’ll be doing more of the same. I’ll be on the sofa cuddling my baby if you need me…

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Becoming a Mother…


Day 2

This post has been a difficult one to write, in fact I started drafting it as ‘2 weeks with Bea’ and got not much further until now. I haven’t yet written about our new arrival, other than to introduce her because it has taken me time to find the words. How to start? To put my words into context, I would never have described myself as maternal – I don’t get ‘broody’ and I would even extend that statement into my pregnancy. I had very real fears that I wouldn’t like being a mum, or that I might resent my baby for the inevitable changes that were about to take place in my life. That probably sounds like I wasn’t ready to have a baby at all, but I had come to realise (much earlier, before we tried to get pregnant) that I would probably never ‘want’ to give up complete freedom to do what I wanted, lazy beach holidays cocktail in hand swinging in a hammock, regular dinners out or last minute plans. But I knew I didn’t want to go through my life without being a parent and building a family with Pete.


First Bath time // Day 5

So it has taken me by surprise just how different I do feel, now that I have a daughter. I should have seen it coming I guess, as everyone always says they fell in love the minute they set eyes on their child, but equally, some of my more honest friends admitted that becoming a mother was a shock, not least due to the physical ordeal and that it took them days or weeks to fully bond with their baby – I suspected I may be the same. In fact the change in me when I first saw Bea was seismic. I finally found the words yesterday when I realised it was like The Big Bang, everything changed in an instant. A whole new universe began and Bea is my Sun.

Now I look back at times I have offered well meaning baby sitting duties to friends with new babies, just to give them time to sleep or shower and they have refused. Now I understand that maybe they didn’t want to be without their baby, even for a minute. I remember trying to reassure chronically fatigued friends that expressing or topping up with formula so their partner could give a bottle while they sleep wasn’t a bad option if it helped them function better. Now I know how they didn’t want anyone else to comfort their baby if they could, even at the expense of their sleep. It shocked me how primal the urge is to hold her sometimes, how much it upsets me when she cries. If I sound crazy, I feel like it at times! I fell hopelessly in love with this little person before I even saw her, the second I heard her cry.

Even now, having written what is here, words fail me. No statement is powerful enough to express how I feel about her or how content I feel with Bea in our lives. I wanted to share these thoughts not just to hear from all the other mothers what they felt in those first heady weeks of becoming a mother, but to reassure those of you who (like I did,) wonder if they will ever be ready or willing to take that unimaginable leap into motherhood.

Tell me, do my words resonate with you or remind you of how you felt? Or do they make you feel more positive about a family in your future one day?

Love
Rebecca
xo

Note: This post is not meant to patronise those of you reading who have never wanted or do not want a family in future, merely to describe how I feel and speak to those who might feel as I did weeks, months and years ago about children in my future.

Getting ready for baby

*This post was written before I had my daughter Bea and I have since written a follow up post on what we did actually use. To read it please click here.

This week is my last at work and although I’m feeling ok from a tiredness point of view I am looking forward to having some time to devote purely to getting ready for baby. At present (36 weeks) I have the sum total of a pram, 1 blanket, 1 cardigan, 2 sleep suits, 1 baby bath and a rocking crib with 2 sheets. No nappies. No car seat. In fact there are plenty of essentials still missing.

I had no idea where to start with baby stuff and even had to ask my sister in law what you even put a baby to bed in (clothes-wose) after getting very confused about swaddling and blankets or no blankets advice. I found the John Lewis Nursery checklist very helpful and not at all excessive in terms of things to buy and so I edited it and created my own version here.

Do bear in mind that the different sections of the list may not apply to everyone. The feeding section for example is geared towards breast feeding as I intend to give it a good go, and I’m not sure a play mat or bouncer are essential for the first few weeks of a baby’s life. Although I’m lucky enough to live close to supermarkets and John Lewis, and there’s always Amazon, I don’t want to be unprepared so these are my basics to stock up on so I can concentrate on baby for the first few weeks.

You can download the list by clicking on the image above if you want to, or just click here.

I’d love to hear if you think any of it is unnecessary or if I have missed any essentials off that you found you couldn’t live without in the first few weeks?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

The Baby Name Game

I’m 29 weeks tomorrow and starting to suddenly feel the pressure of time ticking on and things that must be done. Truth be told, although I am loving being pregnant (apart from the back pain I had early this week and kept me up all night, which has fortunately now disappeared,) I don’t really feel like I am getting much time to think about it or the baby. I’m still working just as hard and long, then when I get home there are a million house decisions to be made. As I type I can hear banging and crashing as the builders knock out the exterior kitchen wall for our bifold doors and I am hiding in the bedroom.


image via

One of the many things that we need to think about are names. It’s like there is a sequence when people ask you about your pregnancy… ‘How far along are you,’ is always first, then ‘Do you know what you are having,’ and the third question is often, ‘Have you got any names picked out?’ Of course I don’t say – made easier by the fact that we still haven’t opened the envelope, and I wouldn’t anyway, I like babies to be announced with their name, as I think it adds to the excitement, but the bottom line is, I don’t really know what we are going to call him or her.

Of course there are contenders, I have a girls name I have loved for years, unfortunately Pete doesn’t feel the same. We also have a possible boys name, which again has been on the cards for a long time, but now I’m not so sure. Boys names I find much easier… I like strong traditional names like William or Thomas, but not too proper like George or Henry. There are still a few more hipster names on the list though and with girls I love traditional old fashioned names. I have less qualms about giving a baby girl a more ‘individual’ name than a boy for some reason. Pete leans much towards the softer side of names for girls, like Emily or Sophie, but I don’t feel they are strong enough, and several of the top 50 for boys.

So what are my criteria? I really don’t have any (I’ve heard people want to incorporate family names, use biblical names, floral names, royal/traditional names,) and it’s really about something I like. I think the problem will be Pete and I agreeing on something and I don’t know how we will ever solve that! There’s is always the will it suit an older person dilemma and what will it be shortened to (- one of my favourites is shortened to a name I don’t love at all.) I also read a NY Times article a while back saying that ‘The once-simple task of coming up with a monogram for the baby blanket has evolved into a high-stakes exercise in personal “branding.” ‘ and whilst I don’t want a name that every other child also has, I wouldn’t be put off a beautiful classic name for that reason. I know plenty of Rebecca‘s but feel no less of an individual as a result.

So today I need your suggestions readers! Please let me know what you or your friends called your babies, the names you have always loved and the secret favourites. I think it’s time to gather some inspiration that I can mull over through the third trimester! I just don’t want to end up jumping at something when he or she is born because we still haven’t decided!

Thanks guys!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS. Have you heard of Nameberry? It’s a US site where you can see how the popularity of a name fared over the years (amongst other things about it,) and see if you are choosing a name that is suddenly super popular or not.

First Time Mum: The Early Days

Today, Becky is back with another update on her journey as a new Mum. When Becky first sent me this post she told me she had left a few paragraphs out as she didn’t want to scare any mums-to-be with the changes inevitably ahead. I asked her to send me them and we eventually agreed to include them here. Thankfully, these days the challenges of motherhood are more openly discussed along with the inherent joys and so I dont think some of the feelings Becky experienced will come as a shock to many, but if you are expecting and feel like today is not the day for a dose of reality, then feel free to skip down to her tips for getting thorough the first few weeks – about halfway down the page.

During the first few hazy days of motherhood, most people tell you that the first 2 weeks are the hardest but to enjoy every minute of it. I found it difficult to understand at the time but now, on the other side of the first three months, I totally get it. I think Mother Nature’s memory loss trick has a lot to answer for, but as I fought back the tears whilst packing Connie’s newborn clothes away recently, I realised that they are tiny for the shortest snippet of time. Blink and you’ve missed it.

Being a new mum is amazing in so many ways, but it’s also a time when you feel an enormous pressure to feel completely over the moon with life. I know that not everyone feels like that as not only is it really tough physically and emotionally, I think many new mums, me included, can feel completely overwhelmed by the responsibility of getting it right. No matter how many times you tell yourself that your life is going to change forever while you’re pregnant, the actual reality of it in the early days is mind blowing. All of a sudden you realise you are never going to be the person you were ever again. There were moments when I felt as if I was mourning the loss of my previous self but also feeling guilty for thinking it at the same time as Connie was everything I’d asked for. This was a post that I read, on Renegade Mothering, that I really identified with.

Most importantly, you must trust your instinct. Even in the first few days of motherhood when you think you haven’t a clue about the best way to care for your baby, just believe in yourself. You will know your baby better than any midwife or health visitor. You will be given ‘helpful’ advice from everyone you speak to. Most of it will be conflicting and everyone will suddenly have an opinion. I’d suggest quietly taking on board what they say and then doing things the way that you feel suits you and your baby. I was given some terrible advice by a health visitor and breastfeeding counsellor when I sought support in the early days. I knew deep down that it wasn’t the right advice for Connie and I but I didn’t have the confidence to believe that I knew better. As a result, I followed their advice and fell to pieces for a week. Thankfully my Mum was able to come to my rescue and we got back on track doing things the way we’d been doing them from the start. It was a tough lesson in self belief.

For today’s post, I wanted to share some of the things that helped us through those tough early days and hopefully, they might make it all seem a little more manageable.

EATING
During the later stages of pregnancy, start cooking in batches to stock your freezer with home cooked meals that are easy to re-heat. This is the most useful thing I did on my maternity leave.

SLEEPING
Sleep when your baby sleeps – even if you have a house full of visitors. Newborns don’t know night from day and need to feed every couple of hours.

It’s common for babies to go on feeding frenzies at night time (called cluster feeding). Connie regularly fed until 4.30am. After the first few nights, I was starting to struggle as I’d been staying up with her watching TV, reading or online. On day 6, a midwife suggested I try to keep night as restful as possible even if I wasn’t sleeping and she showed me how to safely feed in bed. This was the best piece of advice I was given. It saved me from becoming nocturnal and eventually, your baby will start to recognise the difference between the bright, noisy day, and dark hushed night.

For settling your baby, I cannot recommend this advice enough. We also used a hot water bottle to warm the moses basket before placing Connie into it. White noise is also your best friend. There are white noise apps available which we used regularly, along with the hairdryer!

Make sure you’re clued up on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). You’ll find everything you need to know on The Lullaby Trust website

The long nights can get very lonely and overwhelming. Remember that everything seems better in the daylight.

SUPPORT
If you’ve attended any ante natal groups and classes and have met new mums to be, try and suggest setting up a Facebook group so you can all keep in touch. It’s invaluable to have an instant support network of people who are going through almost exactly the same thing. I regularly posted questions in the middle of the night and got a response within minutes.

Ask your visitors to run errands, help with housework, bring meals etc. Play to their strengths and you should have all bases covered.

And finally, a few things I was grateful for…
Comfy loungewear – treat yourself to some nice pyjamas and a dressing gown for home rather than the hospital – something you don’t mind visitors seeing you in.

A baby swing/ bouncy chair to give you 5 minutes in the shower when your partner has returned to work.

A minimal make up bag and speedy way to style your hair.

A repertoire of songs you can sing to your baby – 10 green bottles is always a good starting point.

So readers, do you have any advice to share that got you through those newborn days?

Love,
Becky
x

PS Some of Becky’s previous posts:

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