Sunday, 19 October 2014

Three months!

How Old:   Three months!
Weight:  10 pounds
Likes:   Bright lights, baby swings, grandparents and being held so she can see everything!
Dislikes:  The car (she HATES getting in her car seat and melts down if she even sees it!), being held close (sweaty baby) and mum and dad "not doing it (being anything) right!"
Eating:  We are still going strong with breast feeding although formula is just not happening. She vomits everything - even the special hydrolyzed stuff from the doctor. I wish I could just give her breast milk forever, but I can't pump enough to sustain her - especially when I go back to work.  I think I detect a problem! 
Sleeping: I always feel like I'm getting somewhere with sleep and then we take a few steps backwards. Emma is getting much easier to put down for naps and can go anywhere from 20 minutes to two and a half hours. At night she is AMAZING!  She's gone stretches of five hours and usually only feeds once now. Of course we have massively screwed her up by giving her jet lag but she still managed to sleep for nearly eight hours the other night!  Victory!! 
Routine:  I've totally got this. Up by 7- feed for 35 min, play until 8:30, mini melt down, nap. Repeat!!   I read the book Secrets of the Baby Whisperer (and let me say - it's the best baby advice book I've read to date) and it described the different types of babies - Emma is a "spirited" baby to a T!   I really listened to the advice in the book and suddenly I started to understand her -- I would recommend that book over and over again!
Sizes:  WELL. Emma wears a three month Carters onesie but SIX month leggings as she is just all legs! She's still in one month Mothercare onesies. I keep saying her shape is more American.  That's my girl.
Milestones:  Oh, the smiles...they just melt my heart. She's even started to cough while smiling - we know it's the start of her laugh!  She's cooing away and will have a nice little conversation with you if you're lucky!
Mum's favourite moment:  Flying from Newark to London and sleeping.....the WHOLE TIME.  When people compliment you over and over for how awesome your baby was - you just can't help but beam with pride!
Dad's favourite moment:  My mom and sister bought Emma the little pink skeleton outfit (sold out, but similar here). We dressed her in it one morning at about 5am and then propped her up in bed with my sister (who had drawn the short end of the stick and was sleeping in the corridor on a blow up mattress. The glowing skeleton in bed with Erin was truly hilarious.

We had an AMAZING time in America and we are so grateful for having the opportunity to go.  B's parents are so generous and I cannot thank them enough for taking us to see my family!

Emma's first plane journey was a success!  

She enjoyed loads of cuddles and did really well on the first leg - it was on the way home that she really REALLY slept though!

We wanted to Baptise Emma, but thought it was really important to do so in Ohio.  My brother and sister are her Godparents and the dress was the same dress all three of us wore and originally was worn by my Aunt Rose.  We had so many family and friends come to celebrate with us!

She changed so much over the two weeks we were in Ohio - I thought she became far happier and much more settled.  It's probably due to all of the brilliant people she met!

Mom and Dad were obviously smitten, but so was the rest of the family!  Obviously!!


Cutest Owl ever?  I think so.

My brother, Brian, and his girlfriend, Deepika, joined us all the way from Texas.  Emma was only a little peanut compared to Uncle Brian.

Auntie Erin was particularly in love - fortunately she didn't cry too much in the night and wake her up (seeing as she was the only person who had to leave us and go to work during the week - poor Ron needed her sleep!)

Aunt Rosie also had Emma cuddles - I love this photo of them, although I wish Em would grow some hair already!

We took Emma to the nursing home to see my Grandpa and she started kicking off and crying - Grandpa immediately reached out to comfort her and she calmed down.  She whimpered and he started to stroke her feet.  I know he has dementia and doesn't recognise me, but he recognised a baby and knew what needed to be done to help her.  

B and I did manage to sneak away for an evening and had our first DATE since Emma was born.  We left the grandparents with a bottle of breastmilk (which took me FOUR DAYS to express) and headed to Tremont for drinks and dinner.  We started out at Press Wine Bar for a much needed glass of wine and then had an amazing meal at the ever so trendy Parallax.  They specialise in sushi and fish dishes and they did not disappoint.  

Finally, we headed to Patterson's fruit farm for some apple cider and pumpkin fun with B's mum and dad.   I LOVE autumn in Ohio as the leaves are just beautiful and apple cider is probably the best drink EVER.

Emma was loving her stroll in the moby wrap - and then we decided to take a photo of her in the pile of pumpkins...

Nope.  Not having it.  (Seriously though - how cute are those PJs?)

All in all, it was an amazing trip to see some amazing people. Emma is so lucky to have so many wonderful people in her lives.  B and I are so grateful for the love and support everyone has shown and we can't wait to see everyone again soon.


Monday, 29 September 2014

Dear baby,

Dear Baby,

Friday was a really sad day. You wouldn't have known it because it seemed like every other day. 

And then we sent those balloons up to the sky. Do you know why we did that?  

A year ago we lost my Grandma - your Great Grandma. It's sad because she never got to see you - she never even got to know you were on your way. 

She had cancer but in the end it wasn't the cancer that won. She won. She was just tired of fighting and ready to rest. She had a kick ass life, and she was ready to join her little boy (my Uncle Jim and your second cousin James' granddad) in heaven. 

The other day you were looking at me and I was crying.  I saw this advert and it made me wonder if she would still be here had a cure been found and cancer had been made to pay. I hope to God that in your lifetime we finally win the war rather than these small victories we currently fight for. 

It makes me remember all of the wonderful people we have lost too soon. Grandma, your Great Auntie Jill,  Great Uncle Jim and Great Uncle Bill.  There are so many more, but they are the family I remember and miss.  You never got to meet Auntie Jill - but she so badly wanted to meet you. 

I'm sad because I wish Grandma could see me as a mom. I'm not sure she  would have ever imagined this for me. I'd like her to see it - she'd laugh at my panic and anxiety - but she'd admit that you're pretty darn fantastic. 

The thing I always loved about her was her blatant honesty. She told the truth and not many people tell the truth so readily nowadays. 

She was strong and stubborn and told it like it was. She was the first to give you her opinion and it was the only right opinion. She knew everyone and everything (how did she know everything?!) She loved her family unconditionally. She left such an imprint upon all of us. 

I wish you could have known her. Her name was Emma too - just like you. I know you're only little, but I already see her fierce personality in you.  Coincidence?  Probably not.

I miss her. 
I hope she gets our balloons. 


Wednesday, 17 September 2014

2 Months!

How Old:   2 Months!
Weight: 8 pounds
Likes:   The moby wrap, tickles on the nose, stretching, white noise, cuddles with grandparents, lights- especially the colour flashing cat on her play gym.
Dislikes:  Baths, sleep, being put down during naps (how dare I??), the car seat, injections!!
Eating:  Still breastfeeding every three hours, although we can often go longer at night. We tried formula a few times just to see if it settled her any more and Emma threw up ALL NIGHT LONG. Soy formula seems to be a bit more gentle on her stomach, but she's still quite pukey if she has it!  She's also a Tommy Tippee bottle fan (and how cute are her pink London bus bottles) and refuses anything else. 
Sleeping:  She's certainly better at night than she is during the day. At night we have to wake up two or three times for feeds. She *tends* to go back to sleep after a feed with the swaddle and white noise. I'll be honest, I thought feeding was our demon.  Nope.  Sleep is the nightmare we are struggling with at the minute.  Daytime naps?  She is not a fan unless held or in moby wrap.   Don't get me started..... I know breastfed babies wake more often, but Emma rarely seems settled enough to sleep at all - she wakes as soon as you set her down and she only tends to get 20-30 minutes before waking and needing comforting.  Any advice (or Baby Whisperers) would be appreciated.  
Routine:  Eat, play sleep- repeat - she's virtually clockwork. The toughest part of the routine is going to sleep. She tends to scream the house down when she is tired - she hasn't learnt how to drift off on her own yet. See above.
Sizes:  Hooray for 0-3 month clothes! We finally grew out of newborn, although size 2 nappies are still HUGE. She is SO long and narrow - it certainly makes clothing difficult. She seems to fit into American clothes much better than the English clothes (long and narrow). I can't wait to scope out the Carter's clothes when we get to America - I have my heart set on this spooky number.
Milestones:  Smiles!!! They are the cutest, sweetest things!!  She's also able to follow you, moving both of her eyes and her head. She's cooing - plenty of adorable sounds coming from her!
Mum's favourite moment:  We went to London to register Emma as an American citizen (how jammy is she with her two passports?) and had a family day in the big city. I feel like we hardly ever get days together but it was just perfect. Emma was with me in the moby wrap for most of the day and we walked up the Thames River Path to the Tower of London. It was just gorgeous outside - a really beautiful, family day. 
Dad's favourite moment:  The other night Emma woke up in her cradle and B got up to change her and pass her over to me for her night feed (bless him). He unswaddled her from her new swaddle (she outgrew the other ones as she's so long!) and she reached out her little arms and grabbed onto the bar of the cradle.  B tried to lift her out, but she wouldn't let go.  She was crying and clinging on for dear life!  We found it hilarious - she didn't think it was so funny.

At the Tower of London!

And what about Mum?
Weight loss:  10 pounds to go!
Clothes: I wish my shoes would fit - I'm still rocking swollen feet and hands. Maternity skinny jeans and vest tops are also my uniform, but I'm in desperate need of some new clothes.  Sure.  I'll be the typical mom in tank tops and yoga pants.  I've actually given up caring.  Everything is fashionably dotted with baby puke and I just want to be comfortable. Yoga pants are tres chic.  They are.
Stretch Marks:  Still there but actually looking less violent! I've started to use the Nivea Q10 firming lotion and oil. It's still early days, but I detect a difference. 
Belly Button:  A bit wobbly. Hey. There's no way I'm going to have stellar abs any time soon. That's ok though - there's a Baby exercise class tomorrow - we are going.  
Sleep:   5 hours a night?  Maybe?? We have been adamant that she needs to sleep in her cradle instead of the Mamaroo so we are getting shorter sessions of sleep.  Like I said - sleep is our demon right now.  
Looking forward to:  I've got my sights set on Halloween!  Even though it's utter rubbish here in in the UK, I'm campaigning for a costume get together to watch Hocus Pocus and enjoy festive snacks. Besides - it's Emma's first Halloween - I'm not missing out my first chance to dress her up!

This is what our days look like:
Happy Emma................................................Grumpy Emma

She *loves* the Moby wrap, not to mention the play gym with the super fun cat light.

And although these moments are rare, I managed to catch my two favourite people catching some Zzzzzzzzzzs.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Dear Baby

Dear Emma,

You are one month old.  To be more specific, you are 45 days old.  Or 1,080 hours old.  Or 3,888,000 seconds old.

Becoming a mum has been a learning curve.  Sure, I say I'm getting the hang of it, but I really have no idea what I'm doing.

The other day, you were crying and nothing I did would calm you down. I tried bouncing you, singing to you and playing "Country Roads" (as that oddly makes you calm down and drift off).  The only thing I could think of to do was feed you - even though you had just been fed. You quieted down and then I just sat and cried.  That was just another reminder that I have no idea what I'm doing. I thought you hated me as I just couldn't make things right for you. 

I know my horomones are all over the place, but I honestly become so overwhelmed with emotion at some points in the day. They aren't necessarily sad emotions. Just strong, heart pumping feelings.  Sometimes it's when you start feeding. Other times it's when I can't soothe you to sleep. Sometimes it's even when you are having a play with daddy and your big, beautiful eyes are shining and a little smile is playing around your tiny face. 

They say you feel this overwhelming sense of love. I had no idea what that really meant. My friend Gina sent me this gorgeous little quote from Colette's La Maison de Claudine:

"They do say that children like you, who have been carried so high in the womb and have taken so long to come down into the daylight, are always the children that are the most loved, because they have lain so near to their mother's heart and have been so unwilling to leave her." 

 Your first few hours, days and weeks were difficult.  Not just getting used to being a mum but also learning how you worked and what you wanted.  If you were unsettled or crying, I felt like it was my fault.  Babies cry. I get it. But it's still heart wrenching.  

The countless weigh ins and those admissions into hospital? When you needed that ultrasound on your hip because the doctors thought it was clicking?  The feeling of sitting in the doctors office while they snipped your tongue tie?  Good grief. The guilt I felt was unbelievable. 

But you know what feels even worse than that?  I have a bag of clothes that I'm putting together of things you've outgrown. Imagine that. You have outgrown clothes!  Nothing seemed to fit for weeks and weeks because you were so teeny tiny!  Now I'm buying bigger leggings and bigger onesies. You've even grown into the too cute headbands, which is exciting - but also kind of sad. 

The biggest thing that has gotten me through the guilt and the crying and the doctors appointments is the realisation that I'll never have these moments again. You'll never be this young again. You'll never be this little. You'll never be this new. I'm awed by what you can do - smiling and lifting your head. These are all new tricks that you couldn't do not so long ago. So while I'm finding some things really difficult, I'm treasuring those smiles at 3 AM because I know these moments are limited. 

I love you, baby girl.  Keep growing, keep smiling.


Sunday, 17 August 2014

Happy One Month Birthday, Emma Rose!

How Old:   1 month!
Weight:  7 lb 15 oz

Likes:   Cuddles, the play gym, rides in the car (trees are AMAZING - not to mention the BUMPY roads in and out of our village), white noise - particularly the fan setting on our Sound Sleeper app, the Mamaroo and John Denver.

Dislikes:  The bassinet for the pram (although she DID manage a walk to the shop in it before having a mini meltdown) and baths (I think this is also turning around!), waiting to be fed and being changed.  What can I say. She knows what she likes and she lets us know. 

Eating:  Emma *loves* eating. We have breastfeeding down now - although I'd like to get through a session without covering myself in milk. We have had a few days of cluster feeding, a few days of projectile vomiting - I think it's all been a bit trying for both of us. The goal is to get her feeding without shields - she doesn't like that idea. 
Sleeping: We know the difference between night and day (I think) as she is sleeping for longer stretches at night. She still wakes herself up with the moro reflex - I think she's having nightmares about baths - but she is getting better at self soothing. She hates lying flat - we really need to get her happy in the cradle or else she'll never like the crib!
Routine:  We aren't fully in a routine at the moment, but we are getting there. We aim to be up at 7 or 8 and then feed every three hours. This doesn't always work as she is sleeping for longer stretches at night, plus cluster feeding. 
Sizes:  We are just growing out of newborn clothes and heading into size 0/1 Month!  Hooray!  Still in newborn Nappy sized 1 (the tinest available - Boots brand). 
Milestones:  Her neck control is incredible. She has always been inquisitive, but she has a real strength to her and will pull her head when on your shoulder or look towards bright lights. She definitely recognises my voice - I'm not sure if that means she knows me, but it feels like she does! 
Mum's favourite moment:  We had a few days of just the two of us as B was working night shifts.  On his first night back with us, he took over the soothing after a feed and was singing "Country Roads" to her.  She loved it - she smiled and fell straight to sleep. It was adorable and really showed what a great job B is doing at this Dad stuff.  

Dad's favourite moment:  Direct quote "I know it sounds soppy but I get a little mushy when she holds my finger and smiles."  

I'm in LOVE with top knot headbands.  Emma will be rocking these OFTEN if I have my way! She doesn't seem to like hats, but the headbands are going down a treat!

And what about Mum?
Weight loss:  Gained 36 and lost 22!!! 14 to go!
Clothes: I fit into *most* of my pre pregnancy clothes but nursing means I can wear very few of them. I'm living in vest tops at the moment for easy access. My section wound makes bottoms (and knickers!!) difficult to wear - so maternity jeans and PJ bottoms are most comfortable.
Stretch Marks:  They aren't that bad...visible - but not bad. I found a new one on the inside of my thigh - I missed it due to the bump!  I'm still applying stretch mark oil in hopes it may lighten them. 
Belly Button: I'm an innie again!  Don't get me wrong, it's still a vast belly button....but it's returning to a somewhat "me" shape!
Sleep:  B and I are getting a good stretches over night (she slept SEVEN hours last night!).  I'm not great at napping in the day, but some days I've really REALLY needed it. Fortunately, between B, his parents and my mom, I've been able to go to bed between feeds. Thank God for grandparents!!! 
Looking forward to:  October and introducing Emma to my American family! 

I can't wait to see what the next month has in store for us!  It's hard to believe she is already one month old!


Saturday, 2 August 2014

Two weeks with Emma and our Hospital/Breastfeeding fiasco!

How Old:   15 Days
Weight:  7 lbs 8.5 oz (3.4 kg)
Likes:  Being swaddled, bouncing, the Kangaroo setting on the Mamaroo, Eating 
Dislikes:  BATHS, hats, being changed/moved/bothered in any way, shape or form when sleeping.
Eating:  We have both found our stride with breastfeeding (more on that below).  Emma tends to have a good feed every three hours, although she has a tendency to fall asleep when she should be eating! I've just bought a Mamamoosh Milkscarf for feeding out and about!
Sleeping:  The milk coma allows for a nice three hour nap!  She is an awesome sleeper, especially at night!  She doesn't get fussy at all - I can feed her and then put her right back in her cradle and she'll wake three hours later for her next feed.  Sometimes I use a white noise app on my phone if she whimpers, but more often than not, she is out like a light!  She has been AMAZING in the car - passes out for entire journeys!
Routine:  We wake up around 7am and our routine basically goes Eat, Play, Sleep - over and over again!  We operate in three hourly blocks (with plenty of dirty nappies in there).  It's amazing how quickly the day flies when you realise the next feed is right around the corner.
Sizes: Newborn clothing, Size 1 Nappy, but still too small for shoes!
Milestones:  I'm going to count weight gain as a milestone.  She lost and she gained (see below for the full, dramatic story)!
Mum's favourite moment:  The other night we woke up to a bat flying around our bedroom.  Being half asleep, I somehow thought I was holding Emma and had dozed during a feed. I covered us up in the duvet and woke B to get the bat out of the room. He quickly opened the windows wide and then hid behind the door.  It took me a moment to realise that I didn't have Emma, but rather had the duvet in my arms - Emma was fast asleep in her cradle next to me.  Once the bat flew out, we just laughed.  3 am laughter really is the best medicine.
Dad's favourite moment:  Leaving the hospital after the third admission.  We found it slightly ridiculous that we were in and out of hospital so many times within Emma's first week.  In fact, one of the nurses nearly cried on our third admission when we told her she was seven days old and hadn't even been out of the house in her pram yet.

After Emma was born, we spent three nights in hospital whilst I recovered from the C section and tried to get the hang of breast feeding (considering it took morphine to get me out of bed for the first time, three days is pretty impressive).  

Nights were pretty horrific as B was home and it was just the two of us.  As much as I tried, I couldn't get Emma to latch on during feeds.  She would become upset causing me to become upset - needless to say, the feeding just wasn't working.  She wouldn't settle and we spent most of every night awake.  I couldn't decide if she was just nocturnal or just hungry.  

The midwives were helpful, but I still didn't feel like Emma was feeding properly.  I wasn't hellbent on breastfeeding, nor did I have any strong feelings towards formula.  I wanted to breastfeed due to the health benefits, but if we couldn't get the hang of it, we would do whatever got her to feed.  

We finally managed to make it home on Sunday night and the three of us took on another very unsettled night.  We knew the midwives would be checking on us the next two days, so we made up a list of questions - mostly to do with feeding.

I finally decided I was sick of her being unsettled and opted to use nipple shields. I had been given them to try in hospital but then had some midwives telling me not to use them.  There was so much conflicting advice I decided I was going to do what I wanted to do - forget what everyone else said.  Emma took to it immediately.  She was virtually a different baby - finally able to feed.  We had our first good night since she was born.  

As good as this was, when the midwives came to weigh her, we found she lost 13.5% of her birth weight.  This led to a referral to the hospital where we had to be readmitted and checked by the paediatrician.  I was utterly devastated - of course it was my fault as I had been the one feeding her - or rather not feeding her.

At the hospital, the midwives and paediatricians were more than happy with our progress with the nipple shield and thought we had turned a corner with the feeding. They were happy for us to go home and continue as we were, with another weigh in two days later.  B and I felt like we were getting into the swing of things.  Emma was settled, happy and feeding so well.  

Her next weigh in showed some progress (after the midwife told me she had lost MORE weight, there were loads of tears (from me) and then we found there was a discrepancy due to a different set of scales being used).  It was then decided her weight would be checked again the following day.  We didn't think much of this at the time, but one thing led to another and Emma weighed in low AGAIN and we were readmitted to the hospital for observation.  

I was utterly devastated as I had gained my confidence back and thought we were making real progress with the breastfeeding and weight gain.  To find out she wasn't gaining weight and we had to return to hospital left me virtually inconsolable.  I felt like I was starving my daughter - the one thing I was supposed to provide for her was food, and I couldn't even get that right.

Once again, the hospital staff looked us over and decided we were doing everything right - it just takes time for babies to gain that weight back.  Naturally, weight fluctuates on a daily basis - Emma had been weighed before a feed whereas she was weighed after feeds the previous times.  Of COURSE there would be a dip in her weight.  

The staff at the hospital were amazing and took Emma for cuddles in the night so that B and I could get some sleep (they even let B stay the night as well).  In the morning they were happy for us to go, but we left feeling discouraged and like utter failures.  Good thing we have a friend who is a midwife - she gave us the encouragement we needed.

All in all, the feeding nightmare seems to be resolved. Emma has put on double the amount of weight expected of her - and you can totally tell as she is heavier and much stronger.  It was not the best first two weeks of existence, but we have survived and finally have a happy baby!

In other news:
We also went for newborn photos at Penneycress Photography in Norwich. I don't have the full set yet, but our sneak peek was so darn gorgeous I couldn't resist sharing!

Cuteness overload?  Yep.

It was also my 30th Birthday this past week and B treated me like absolute royalty!  From the cake to the Birthday/Push Present - I am one spoilt girl!

B baked the cake himself and decorated it - not to mention making Olaf!

For as long as I can remember, I've wanted a Mulberry Handbag.  B decided after the past 9.5 months I may have earnt it (Hyperemesis, 36 hour labour, Emergency C section, Feeding problems/stays in hospital, 30th Birthday....yea....well deserved!)!  We headed to Bicester Village and I had my choice of bags from the Mulberry shop!  Both B and I loved this one!

Spoilt, spoilt, spoilt!  It's a 30th birthday I'll never forget!

Now if you would excuse me, I've got a gorgeous little girl to play with!