Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Happy Seven months, Emma!

How Old:   Seven months!  Where has the time gone?!
Weight:   No idea....How bad is that? I wouldn't even like to guess.
Likes:   Bouncing, chewing on anything and everything, melon, going for walks
Dislikes:  The fact that we move everything she *shouldn't* have out of the way
Eating:  We are still on formula five times a day.  She likes eating, it is just that food doesn't agree with her.  We tried baby porridge and had a severe vomiting incident a few hours later.  It's so weird as she likes eating and is fine for a few hours.  Then she vomits until she is limp.  It freaks me out when it happens
Sleeping:  We officially have our nights back.  This kid sleeps - and sleeps well. We put her down by 7:30 and she is up by 6:00.  She naps OK during the day - not great - but OK!  I'll take it!
Routine:  Feeds every three-four hours.  She's clockwork.  
Sizes:  Oh boy.  US - 9 month clothes - perhaps creeping into 12 month trousers.  UK sizes I think she is just now hitting 6 month clothes.  To be honest, we are decked out in Carters.  She's an American girl at heart!
Milestones:  She's hilarious.  She can sit up - even stand with help.  Will she roll over?  Nope.  Crawl?  Nope.  I think I'm ok with that though.  Her teeth are growing, she's so inquisitive and her babbling is coming along just perfectly!
Mum's favourite moment:   Every time I pick Emma up at nursery she starts kicking until they pass her over to me. She then holds my face in her hands and squeezes it, making one of her adorable little babbles to let me know she is happy to see me.  
Dad's favourite moment:   We moved the TV remote out of her reach so she decided to stand up next to the sofa and try and get at it.  Granted, I was holding her quite firmly, but that leg control was all her!  She looked at us as if to say - Go on. Move stuff.  I'll find a way to get it.

We had an adorable Valentines Day - complete with a sweet little love note exchange from our 
awesome BFF Big M!


It's been an interesting six weeks.  I have survived my first half term back to work - but this week off is the most needed thing ever.  I have desperately wanted to spend time with Emma again, plus I've needed a little break from all of the busy day to day nonsense.  With B on nights and away for two weeks, the past month left us with very little family time since the new year - that is something I am desperate to get more of.

The past few weeks have been hard for the following reasons:

1.  I don't want to leave this face every day.

2.  I don't want to spend my evenings working - I want to spend the evening with these two.

3.   I want to be there to figure out and perfect THIS:


4.  And THIS:

So a massive hats off to all working moms.  I think deep down everyone feels like they are going to miss out on the good stuff - that's what makes it so difficult.  

Being a working mom has proved to be hard work. I have serious respect for all of those working mamas out there because there is such a skill to balancing everything and feeling as though you haven't failed in one category of your life.  I genuinely believe that by leaving Emma at Nursery she is gaining valuable social and interpersonal skills.  She loves going and I love it when she is happy.

The difficulty comes in the evening when I realise that I get to spend about an hour with her.  Babies get grumpy in the evening - I get it - but it is just so unfortunate that when I am able to spend time with her, she is unhappy or sleeping.  

I refuse to work when she is awake.  I have gotten very good at time management and I find I am working more efficiently.  I use my time wisely when I'm at work and after Emma goes to sleep.  Of course, that time is also needed to clean, cook and prepare bottles!  I don't think I manage this very well.

There always seem to be 1001 things to do and I think I was trying to do them all perfectly.  I've decided perfection is doing the best you can.  Some days I feel that I've let work down.  Some days I feel I have let my family down. I need to work on snapping out of that because I know I'm not letting anyone down.
Mother's Guilt.  It's a real thing.  Seven months in and I am confident that THAT is true!

SO you can see why this week has been so important for me!  Unfortunately, Emma has been quite poorly so far this week; I've not had much rest or quality time with her yet.  Bless her, she still gives us a smile and plays her little heart out.

(Happy Pancake day!)


Saturday, 17 January 2015

Happy Half Birthday, Emma!

How Old:   Six Months!  Half a year old!
Weight:   15 pounds (I think!  I can't get her weighed anymore!)
Likes:   Bouncing in the door bouncer and jumperoo, walks in the pram, putting anything and everything into her mouth, sitting in the high chair and playing with an orange (I know...)
Dislikes:  Baths on her own, a lack of variety (this kid....)
Eating:   I've chickened out and am sticking with Nutramigen for now.  She has 5-6 bottles a day.
Sleeping:  Sleep has turned pretty consistent these days.  She has her final feed at 7:00 and by 7:30 she is often asleep for the night. She wakes up between 3:50 and 5:00 am for a feed and is ready to go to sleep pretty much right after.  She's gotten so much better at napping in the day and has two naps 1.5 hours long plus a small doze in the evening during our walk.  The other day she started waking up earlier and earlier in the night - I had to leave her to cry one night - only for about 30 minutes.  It was horrible, but she did go back to sleep and has been going until 5:00 most mornings!  Hooray!
Routine:  We are sticking to three -four hours between feeds due to the fact that I can't increase her volumes or give her solids thanks to her vomiting issues.  
Sizes:  She is certainly going to be tall, this kid.  We are finally in 9 month US leggings and 6 months tops.  In UK sizes she can wear 6-9 months as she is so LONG!  I can' keep it all straight.
Milestones:  We are still waiting for rolling over.  But although wobbly - she is pretty good at sitting up!  Sitting in the high chair seems to be her new favourite position so it makes sense for this to be her next step!  She is really not keen on being on her belly so I've stopped pushing her. She'll get on it when she's ready.  I DID however find her at the top end of her crib sucking on Brian Bear's ear.  How she got there I'm still trying to work out.
UPDATE:  I FORGOT!  She is also babbling (reduplicated monosyllables - yay! And how rubbish for her that mummy teaches Child Language Acquisition) AAAAAAAAND -- there's a TOOTH coming!  I can see it!!! 
Mum's favourite moment:   I can get Emma to laugh by doing something seemingly stupid.  The other day I sneezed and she laughed hysterically.  I tried to repeat the sneeze with a fake - she had none of it.
Dad's favourite moment:   Fighting with Emma over the TV remote.  He wanted to use it.  She wanted to eat it.

So what's been happening this month?  Well, Emma had her first Christmas and it was wonderful fun!  We had such a nice time with the Guyatt family on Christmas day and the Berry family on Boxing day!  Ems was in wrapping paper heaven (as I'm sure all babies are!).

What comes hand in hand with Christmas?  Mine and B's anniversary!  We celebrated our two year anniversary in London with a special trip to Harrods (Hello, Mulberry) and Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park.  The absolute highlight of our trip was the day we spent in Regent's Park.  The gardens are just gorgeous and there is a swish little cafe with a to die for menu.  What better way to spend the last weekend in December, eh?


And then came January and my return to work.



Emma has loved Nursery.  They have been wonderful.  She is so happy and aside from the first day hasn't cried at all.  She has napped well and is coming home every day in a good mood.  It's a massive change than when I've had her on my own.

And that's all I'm going to say about that.

Stay tuned.  We've got some potentially exciting news on the horizon.


Thursday, 18 December 2014

Five months!

How Old:   Five Months!
Weight:   14 pounds, 1 ounce
Likes:   Bouncing in the door bouncer, singing and dancing with mummy and daddy (daddy sings the Time Warp...mommy likes to attempt to rap), walks in the evenings to look at Christmas lights, splashing in the bath and playing with/sucking her toes!
Dislikes:  Being held too close, having her arms pulled in and out of clothes (don't touch them!!!) ((having a baby doll did not prepare me for having a real baby)) , and being stuck in the same position for too long.
Eating:   We have settled nicely into the Nutramigen (prescription formula) and although it smells horrible, Emma doesn't seem to mind the taste.  We have also taken a break from weaning onto solids as we had a spell of vomiting and couldn't work out the cause.  She seems OK now, so I'll slowly introduce them in the next few weeks again.  She loved pretty much everything she tried except for Carrot and Baby Rice!
Sleeping:  What a rock star this child is.  She has started this new trick of getting fussy as she is tried, I put her down in the crib on top of her V Pillow (she has always done better when sleeping with her head propped up)- she turns her head and she is out.  We have worked out that she sleeps best when swaddled (although she is growing out of the largest Summer Infant swaddles - much to our dismay) and in the dark (hooray for blackout blinds).  This makes it difficult to get her to sleep when out and about, but I think in the long run this is a good thing!  She has gone through the night a few times, but mostly she is waking once for a feed and then goes straight back down until 6 am.
Routine:  Oh, who knows.  I've had to write her routine out for Nursery and I have no idea what schedule she is on anymore!  Thanks to formula, she is now going four hours between feeds and her naps are sometimes two hours, twenty minutes or missed all together.  I don't get it.  Her bedtime routine is the only consistent thing:  Nightly walk, bath, feed, bed.
Sizes:  She fits quite comfortably in 0-3 month UK sized clothes at the moment.  Her length is still the issue though - as she's about to grow out of 6 month Carters sleepers!  Hello, 9 month sizes!
Milestones:  She has rolled over ONCE!  Emma hates being on her tummy so decided she wasn't interested in that.  She loves the bouncer so I wouldn't be surprised if she's going to bypass crawling and go straight for walking.  She LAUGHS and it is the most adorable thing ever.  Plenty of cooing going on, plus responding to being spoken to!
Mum's favourite moment:  The first time we put her in the bouncer she didn't quite know what to do.  Her feet flailed about a bit - so I did the only appropriate thing -- I played an Irish jig.  Hilarious. 
Dad's favourite moment:  Emma's face when she was first bouncing in the bouncer!

In other news, we are SO EXCITED for Emma's first Christmas.  She got to meet Father Christmas (so cute), she enjoys the lights and the Christmas tree.

I can't wait to share our Christmas with you!  I'm not going to discuss my first week back to work....give me time.  I'll accept it eventually. 

Look at that face...

Yea...maybe not.


Saturday, 13 December 2014

Maternity Leave is ending....

It is with a very heavy heart that I write this post. Before you read on, please understand that I know how fortunate I am to live in a country which values maternity leave. We are so very lucky to be offered a year of leave - three of those months receiving some pay from work. Due to both finances and our potential move abroad, I had to return to work. While I find the return heartbreaking, I know that every other mother feels the same way upon their return to work.  What's more - I had far more time with Emma than most mothers get with their little ones. I am by no means unaware of how fortunate I have been.

I had chosen to return to work the week before the Christmas holidays as I believed it would be easier to get back into the swing of things right before the two week holiday. I would have to spend the Christmas holiday preparing, so I may as well get paid for it, right?  The return five days before the break also meant that I could ease myself in - leaving my precious baby for only five days before I would be with her again for two weeks.  

Let's get one thing straight. I never thought I would be maternal...I didn't think I had it in me. I have always been a relatively selfish individual - and before you say "no, you are being too hard on yourself" - yes - I have always been selfish. I wasn't convinced I wanted to change my physical appearance. I didn't want to lose sleep. I didn't want to give up things which I did or bought or ate or used.  I was happy with my life and the way we lived. 

And then along came Emma. 

I didn't realise my life was half empty. I didn't know my heart was missing something. I couldn't initially comprehend the love that I feel for her or the way she makes me feel.  She was part of me for nine months and then virtually attached to me for four. We've been inseparable. I've not even spent more than a few hours away from her (and I can count those occurrences on one hand) and she's nearly five months old. 

Now, I have to leave her for most of the day, five days a week - and it's honestly breaking my heart. She will love being with other kids and she will love the different activities they do at nursery.
I know it'll be fine.
That doesn't mean I am ready.

What makes things even harder is that I know my job. I know the time commitment it takes. I've always prided myself on my work ethic and I've always met deadlines and ensured the quality of my work is high. In the years I have worked there, I've spent hours every night commiting myself to my career, trying to be Perfect. For years I have allowed myself to become buried in work - wading my way through endless piles of paperwork and never quite being good enough. 

And now I've realised that that is not ok anymore. 

I don't know how to be both a successful teacher and a mom. I'm not sure I can do both. I'm not saying it can't be done, I'm just saying that I'm not sure that I can do both.  

Emma is the piece of my heart that I didn't even know was missing.  I know I have to return to work, but that only means for eight hours a day I will be missing a very important piece of myself. I will be half present.  My commitment is at the bottom of the school field - playing her day away in a brightly coloured nursery where someone else will change her and feed her and hold her. 

Half may not be good enough - half committed to my work or half committed to my daughter. 

She wins - every time. 

The only consolation to returning is that I know it won't be forever. I know that something is coming. Never the less - the next few weeks are going to be difficult. 

I've watched her sleep over the past few days, loving her gentle breathing and relaxed, comfortable form. I am going to savour every second spent with my beautiful little girl - she is, after all, the piece I never knew I was missing. 


Thursday, 27 November 2014

Dear Baby -- Happy Thanksgiving!

Dear Emma,

Happy FIRST Thanksgiving!  This holiday is all about family and food and sharing what you are grateful for with those you love. I am so incredibly in love with my beautiful, little family and thankful every day for our blessing, you.  Our time so far has been nothing short of amazing and I cannot wait to spend even more time with you as you grow up.

I find it hard sometimes to comprehend the phenomena of time.  Our time - It's quite arbitrary.  Some days I feel as though time moves at a glacial pace, whilst other days I am shocked when I look at the clock and the day is nearly done.  

Your life - albeit short - has been punctuated with a flurry of highs and lows - celebrations and firsts and sorrows.  Every day there is something new which you discover: your toes, your reflection in the mirror, carrot or the fact that you can screech a sound only dogs can hear.

You are learning - and so am I.  Time is a wonderful teacher.

I have already written about the end of our breastfeeding journey, and although I'm sure you don't want to hear about it, the day came when I had nothing to give you but a bottle. As sad as I was, I was looking forward to all of our new adventures together - but I will forever cherish those feeds when it was just me and you (just like we always said - remember?).  

When I think about time I look at where I was a year ago.  You were here too - although not technically HERE.  You were alive and you were making your presence known.

One year ago I was hospitalised for hyperemesis gravidarum.  My morning sickness was an absolute dilapidating experience.  I remember the nausea first setting in and being relieved - yes - relieved that I felt something and I knew I really and truly was pregnant.  But then it didn't go away.  Not by that afternoon.  Not by that evening.  Not by the middle of the night.

I was in a musical - The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas - and it was the week of the show. I was performing and then running off stage to vomit every few minutes.  How I made it through it, I have no idea.  

I remember being too unwell to go to work.  I remember being unable to use the loo.  I remember driving to the doctor and being told I had to go to the hospital.  I don't think anyone can really appreciate how ill I really was.  Unless you have suffered with morning sickness as severe as I had - you don't get it. 

When we were in hospital we met you for the first time.  

You were real. You were you. You were and are still perfect. 

That being said - hyperemesis is real and it is one of those reasons why I genuinely disliked my pregnancy.  Everyone always told me it would be worth it - YOU would be worth it - and I agree. You are worth it. I would do it all again for you.

The weeks of suffering are not a distant memory - I remember nearly every agonising minute of lying on the floor in our house on a bed made from cushions from our sofa.  Daddy would run out to buy me anything I fancied to eat - anything to get me to eat.  Some days I was obsessed with orange juice, others it was ice pops.  Iced tea slushies really helped. 

That was a time in my life I will not too soon forget.  But if I had known then just how wonderful you would be, I would have treasured those minutes, hours, days and weeks just a little bit more.  As horrible as the sickness was, it was the start of our journey.  Nothing has been easy since that day one year ago, but Im starting to think I am cut out for it all - the challenges, the struggles, the good times and bad.  At some point down the road you're going to say I'm too mean or too harsh.  Yep - you're right.  I'm your mom....and after this year I've learnt that if I'm going to be a mom - I need to be tough.

Thanksgiving will always be special to me, as it was over Thanksgiving where I first met you.  I am thankful for you, Emma Berry.  Today, tomorrow and forever.

I love you,

Monday, 17 November 2014

Happy four month birthday, Emma!

How Old:   Four Months!
Weight:  11 pounds, 5 ounces
Likes:   Super Baby!, stuffed Bunny, Kicking on the Floor, Walks outside in the Moby Wrap, baby massage and BATHS!!!!
Dislikes:  Being changed (anything pulled over her head or over her arms....geeze!!), being held too close or not the right way, extended periods in the car, rolling over (PANIC!) and not being put to sleep right when she wants it!
Eating:  Well, my last post sums it all up. Since our formula transition, Emma seems quite happy - she is so used to short feeds it is taking some adjusting to our schedule.  She has tried Baby Rice and Carrot so far - I think she finds the whole process strange, but she seems quite intrigued by the flavours!  We are using the Gina Ford Weaning method - I like it because it takes the thinking out of it!  Wish us luck!
Sleeping:  Emma looooves her sleep...when she gets it her way.  Unfortunately, she needs to be in her crib, swaddled and in the pitch black in order to sleep.  She is fabulous at night - only wakes up once between 1 and 3 AM - she slept all the way through once!!!  She needs 3 naps during the day and they are really inconsistent. Some days she will sleep for 30 minutes - other days it's two hours!
Routine:  Our routine is all over the place with the introduction of formula and longer feeds.  We usually still wake up at 6 (isn) and then an hour and a half after a feed, we have a nap.  That routine continues until 6 pm when we give Emma a bath and she has her final feed at 7.  From there - she's usually out until 2am!  
Sizes:  WELL.  She's an American girl at heart.  In US clothes she is wearing 3 month tops and 6 month bottoms (those arms and legs!!!).  In the UK she is wearing 0-3 month and has only just grown out of new baby - mind you - it's just her arms that have grown out!
Milestones:  Smiles, smiles, smiles!  She is also trying to roll over. She tends to get one leg over the other and then gets stuck and cries.  That - or she rolls over which such force she bounces back and cries. Bless her.  Teeth are making some movements as she is drooling everywhere and chewing on everything.  Solids are our massive milestone this month!
Mum's favourite moment:  Emma's face when we gave her carrot for the first time.  I just melted.  She isn't sure but then she has an adorable smile when she realises she likes it!
Dad's favourite moment:  When out for our nightly stroll around Bonfire night, some early fireworks were set off. Her face was an absolute picture - she was mesmerised!  

We had a few great moments this month - quite a few teary ones (from both of us) - but mostly adorable, lovely, gorgeous moments with Baby Emma!

Emma's first Halloween!  We opted for a Day of the Dead inspired skeleton.  

Lunch at Middleton Steakhouse. She's loving hats at the minute!  Dribble bibs are also a KEY element of her wardrobe at the minute - teeth are on their way!  I LOVE these Ted Baker bibs!

Sophie the Giraffe is our new favourite toy.

Tummy time is NOT Emma's favourite.

But she loves walks with mummy and daddy in the evening.
How cool is her hat?

Every day there is something new and exciting!  Sparklers for Bonfire night were particularly new and exciting!

Another month older - where on earth does the time go?


Saturday, 15 November 2014

Our feeding journey...the good, the bad and the ugly

I had never been one of those women who was "gung ho" breastfeeding. I wasn't actually sure I wanted to (in spite of health benefits) because I couldn't imagine whipping my breasts out in public. I couldn't imagine a little person gumming me to death.  I don't really know what changed my mind in the end, but I found myself repeatedly telling midwives that "Yes, I am breastfeeding" during my 36 hour labour. 

From day one it was ridiculously hard. Emma couldn't latch, I had no milk due to the C section, she was screaming, I was stressing- it just wasn't a pretty picture. By the time I was released from hospital four days later, we STILL hadn't cracked breastfeeding. That first night was nothing short of a nightmare as Emma just screamed and screamed. Of course she was screaming - she was hungry!  The combination of the two of us just wasn't going to make feeding work. 

Enter: Nipple Shields. I had heard of them from a midwife in the hospital and decided to try them as a Hail Mary attempt. Of course they worked - but they didn't work in time. Emma had lost far too much weight and we were readmitted into hospital. 

I persevered with those shields, carrying my little jam jar of sterile water with me everywhere. After two hospital admissions where midwives, doctors and nurses just shook their heads, unable to offer any better ideas or suggestions - I was doing everything right - Emma's weight started to creep back up. Slowly. But it was creeping. 

We attempted topping her up with formula a number of times. Projectile vomit doesn't even cover it. Her entire stomach would empty and I would be covered. It was a vicious cycle which made me declare that I would make breastfeeding work - formula clearly wouldn't cut it. 

It wasn't always easy - but we made it work with the shields. Every time our health visitor came we would try and take the shields away. Emma would get frustrated and scream, I would panic, nothing would flow - I eventually gave up trying.  If she was feeding, she was feeding.  End of discussion. 

We were referred to a specialit who cut tongue tie, making feeding easier. Emma had a slight posterior tie so in a snap decision I agreed to the cut. I fed her immediately after and would she latch? Of course not. Did she after?  Nope. Was it worth it?  Probably not. 

We carried on for three months - and that's when I started to notice problems. Emma's hunger increased; my supply stayed the same. She even rejected the shields as she could get more milk without them. But it still wasn't enough to satisfy her. 

In spite of EVERYTHING - and I mean EVERYTHING - I felt Emma wasn't getting enough and I couldn't express more than 30 ml a time to create a stock pile. I drank nearly 8 pints of water a day (nearly wetting myself daily), I pumped 3-4 times a day, I loaded up on carbs, I even rented a hospital grade dual pump from the NCT. It just wasn't happening.  We started topping her up after nearly every feed with Nutramigen - a broken down prescription formula from our GP. She was taking 90 ml - that was like half a feed, not a top up!

We had her weighed on Wednesday and at 17 weeks she weighs 11 lbs 5 oz. 10th percentile. Which, to be fair, is consistent - just low. B said "Somebody has to be 10th..."  (She's probably 85th percentile for height).   Our Health Visitor suggests we try normal formula as B tends to give Emma tastes of whatever he is eating - yogurt, ice cream, rice pudding, olives, melon.... (don't even get me started on this....) - she never had a reaction so we may as well give the formula a go. 

So we did.

And that's where the nightmare started.  

After having a top up of Cow and Gate at 4pm, Emma was fine and dandy until 7. I laid her down to undress her for her bath and the projectile vomiting started.  She was soaked - our duvet was soaked - she was horrified - I was horrified.  We managed to calm her down and I got into the bath with her.  She projectile vomited again.  

We held her in our arms and she just lay - floppy and staring blankly - almost unresponsive. B tried to give her water to rehydrate her, but she refused.  When she started crying an hour or so later, I offered her a breast milk feed - she vomited on me.  This time - she stopped breathing.

Apparently it's part of the design of a baby to stop breathing when they vomit to prevent choking.  I didn't know this.  B acted quickly and picked her up and tilted her sideways to help clear her airway.  I just sat and sobbed.

B ended up getting some Dioralyte - a rehydration fluid suggested by a friend in Paediatrics - but Emma still refused.  She just lay in my arms falling asleep.  We let her sleep and then kept offering her the fluids when she woke at 3 am.  She had the fluid, plus some breast milk.  She was the same at 7am.  

The only reason we didn't end up in A and E last night was because B knows what he is doing.  He consulted his colleagues immediately and people were all too keen to help and offer advice.  Sure, parents worry and babies spit up.  This was not spit up, nor was it vomit.  

After a trip to the GP, many conversations with the Health Visitor and an appointment with the dietician, we now have a permanent prescription for special formula, we have to wean Emma onto solids and we are keeping her dairy free until she is one.  

There is absolutely NOTHING more horrifying than looking at your baby's terrified face when they can't breathe.  I'm exhausted.  I'm emotional.  I'm thankful for B's knowledge.  I read an article the other day about things your mom never told you about being a mom and it really hit home.  

The weaning process has made me really look at our breastfeeding journey and it actually breaks my heart that I have to end it.  I know I'm going back to work and I physically won't be able to feed her myself or pump enough to give her feeds - but I will miss it terribly.  We worked so hard and I feel as though I have failed her.  I know not many people get this far with it and I should be proud of what I have managed - and I am - but I'm also pretty sad.  I wish I could do more, but I can't.