Monday, September 17, 2018

A few holiday photos


We are just back from a trip to Dublin. We had a really lovely time visiting family and friends and we loved introducing Mini to everyone. I hope this will be the first trip of many to her "second home"! Loads of people commented on what a happy baby she is and she seemed to enjoy being in a new place. The journey to and from Dublin was stressful though. On the way over we got distracted chatting to some friendly mormons on the train (as you do) and ended up forgetting one of our suitcases! Luckily it was found and we're getting it sent to us now we are back in Germany but when we realised at the time it was too late to go back for it or we would have risked missing our flight. At least it was a fun excuse to go shopping for some new outfits in Dublin!

However, our journey back to Germany was worse. First the flight was delayed almost an hour and a half and then we had to wait ages for the baby car seat to appear on the carousel causing us to then miss our train connection. Of course, Murphy's Law, the subsequent train connections were all delayed but the one we had been aiming for was perfectly punctual. We eventually ended up having to get a taxi home part of the way. By that stage poor Mini was overtired and was getting upset. It's awful when you are in a car and your baby is crying as there is little you can do, especially if you are not in a position to pull over. Distracting her with toys and songs didn't work long but in the end I showed her a cartoon on my phone and it calmed her down! We eventually made it in the door by 1am (we had left Dublin at 5pm) tired but glad to be back. We've decided to try to book flights earlier in the day in future and be more aware of how many bags we have with us!


No visit would be complete without enjoying some scones with butter, jam and cream with my afternoon tea! This was taken at a cute little cafe called The Cake Room in south Dublin.


I love seafood and Irish salmon is really delicious. In a restaurant called Taste in Dublin city centre they served it with sweet potatoes and asparagus.


The last picture is a Sunday roast with a pint of Guinness the GerMann enjoyed in one of the local pubs. I had the cottage pie.




We went to Airfield estate one day. This is a working farm in Dublin with a nice house and grounds with various farm animals. Here are some donkeys being fed. One of them clearly didn't know how to share and helped himself to his pal's food bucket too.






Another day we walked around Sea Point which is a beach in the south of Dublin. It's certainly not the prettiest of beaches. It's quite stoney. However I used to swim there as a child and it's still a really popular swimming area these days. Last time my brother was back in Dublin in December he swam there on Christmas morning which is a tradition for some Dublin people. I've never been brave enough myself as it is absolutely freezing that time of year in the Irish Sea!

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

A half a year old

And just like that my daughter turned six months old. It's a fun age! I love watching her discovering the world and learning new things each day. She's grown so much the past few months. People often comment on the difference.

  • Feeding
  • When she was 25 weeks, around a week before she turned 6 months we started with solids. I guess I was too impatient to wait one more week! We have started VERY slowly though. The first day we cooked and pureed some carrots and potato. My husband tried spoon feeding her but she grabbed the spoon off him to play with it instead! She made some funny faces but I think she liked it. There was such a mess afterwards, food all over her face, even in her hair. I'm not sure whether she actually ate any of it! Over the next few days we tried giving her carrots & potatoes again then a little pumpkin. She seems to enjoy trying new foods. At most she eats around 4-5 spoonfuls. Maybe after a month once she is eating well, we would probably try to introduce a second meal such as porridge with fruit.

    Mini enjoyed avocado mixed with banana the most I'd say. Apple was also a hit. I've bought some baby jars of meat to try this week. We are doing traditional weaning. I had considered Baby Led Weaning but my husband wasn't keen on the idea as he was too nervous of the choking risk and so we decided to stick with the standard format for now. In fact, being Germany, of course there are certain rules and structure to how to do it!

    First you start with "Brei" which is pureed vegetable. You are meant to introduce one vegetable at a time, usually carrot. Then the next step is to try that vegetable with potato. Once the baby is eating that well, then you can start giving pureed vegetable, potato and meat. You are allowed to exchange the potatoe with some other grain which is gluten free such as millet. They recommend meat is given five days a week although one of those days you may replace the meat with fish.

    Step two is you introduce a second meal of baby porridge with milk and fruit. Also a gradual process. Ideally by around 8-10 months the baby will be eating three meals a day. We had a talk at one of my German baby groups on traditional weaning by a nutritionist. I asked whether you could give avocado instead of carrots. The answer I got was that Germany already has such great vegetables such as carrots and turnips that there is no need for fancy exotic stuff like avocados! When I asked whether we could use olive oil instead of the recommended rapeseed oil the answer was also along the lines of "this is how we do it in Germany". So that's that!

    Apart from the solids, Mini is still being breastfed as usual on demand. It's going so well, I don't see any reason to stop. I am delighted to have made it this far despite a rocky start!
  • Playing
  • At this age babies have longer "wake times" and now want to be entertained! Sometimes I get the impression Mini gets bored of staying at home and enjoys herself more when I take her out with me to meet other babies or go for walks. People smile at her and she smiles back! It's nice to meet up with friends at the park, put some blankets down in the shade and let the babies roll around and play with their toys while we chat. Until the babies get overtired and need to nap that is!

    When she was around four months Mini rolled over twice from her back to her front but she hasn't done it since. She used to hate tummy time and would only tolerate it for a few minutes. I started to worry she wasn't keeping up with the other babies since others can roll and some can even crawl already at this age but I read that each baby focuses their attention on different skills at a time. Maybe she is concentrating on her vocal skills. She started off making a lot of vowel noises and now it sound like she has moved onto consonant sounds. She makes "mmm" noises almost as if she is trying to say "mama". I know that will be such an emotional moment for me once she actually says it. I have been trying to do a little baby sign language with her too.

    Mini rolls onto her side and back and tries to grab and eat anything in sight. She can even sit now for several seconds on her own, but I just have to be ready to catch her when she falls as she's a bit wobbly still. One of the sweetest things is her laugh. Occasionally one of us can make her chuckle! For instance one time when I pretended to sneeze or by playing peek a boo. She's generally good humoured and lots of people have commented on what a happy baby she is which makes me feel like we must be doing something right!

  • Sleeping
  • Sigh. The sleeping is still bad. Well the main problem is the very frequent night time wake ups. I've tried a whole bunch of tips I've read about and sometimes it seems like things are improving but really it's a mixture of good and bad nights no matter what I do. Currently we are going through Leap 5 which is notorious for bad sleep. Maybe things will get a bit better once that's over. On a good night she "only" wakes around three or four times. On a bad night up to ten! At some point I lose count.

    I've also been suffering from insomnia lately which has been hard. I'll finally get Mini to sleep or back to sleep and then I lie there unable to switch off myself. It can be really frustrating. I just hope the sleeping situation improves by the time I go back to work as I am worried about how I'll be able to function with so little sleep in the office. Having lots of chocolate and tea during the day has been helping me cope!

    We can still only get her to nap in our arms, or in the baby wearing carrier. We haven't tried in the buggy recently as it was hit and miss anyway and lately she doesn't like to be in it for that long. A few times I have tried putting her down into her cot once she falls asleep but she always seems to wake up and cry and then I feel guilty for even trying when she's not ready yet. One thing that I started doing since around four months though is for one of her naps, usually the morning one, I'll bring her back into the bedroom with the blinds down and white noise on. I then nurse her to sleep and I also rest beside her. In theory I could try to roll away at that stage and go do something else but I'm often tired myself so often use the time to nap aswell or just relax and look at my phone.

    Yesterday morning I was lying with her for her morning nap and thinking how lovely it was. I was on my side curled around her and she was lying facing me with her little hand on my arm. It was around 10am and it suddenly occurred to me that once I'm back at work in just two months time that at 10 am I would of course be in the office already and I would miss out on sweet moments like these. It made me feel a little sad then and it was a reminder to enjoy this time while my baby is so young and still needs me so much!

My husband had some time off recently and it's been lovely being able to spend time together as a family. We took Mini to baby swimming for the first time. She seemed to enjoy it! She loves bath time too. Maybe because it reminds her of her water birth! The weather has been nice and I've been to the park and zoo with her several times. She's not particularly interested in the animals yet but it's still a nice place to walk around and lots for her to see. A few weeks we attended our second wedding with Mini. We ended up leaving around the same time as my sister's one, 10.30pm, but up until then she was managing great! Soon we are going on a trip to Ireland and I am really excited to introduce her to my friends and to spend time with my family again.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Three passions #MicroblogMonday


Recently a friend was chatting to me about the importance of making time for the things in life that make you feel really alive. All too often it's easy to end up sleep walking through your week and just going through the motions day to day. She mentioned three things that energize her and it left me wondering what my three passions might be.

  • Dance
  • Dancing was one activity that came to mind. When I was a teenager I took a few dance classes such as hip hop and modern. I used to go out clubbing with my friends most weekends in Ireland for a lot of my twenties and it was always really fun to let my hair down and just go for it on the dance floor! I enjoyed getting lost in the music.


  • Travel
  • I've always enjoyed travelling. Not the journey there so much as arriving in a new place! I generally wouldn't be as excited about doing some of the traditional touristy things such as going to museums though. To me it is often more enjoyable to just wander around and explore. In fact I also love finding new interesting parts of town where I live now, for instance a pretty park or cute cafe. It can be fun to even just let yourself get lost a little.

  • Writing/Reading
  • The third passion that occured to me is reading and writing. That's probably why I set up a book club in Germany several years ago. Ever since I was around twelve years old I've had a diary or journal. I've always loved getting lost in a really good book or just my own thoughts.


So maybe my three passions can be summed up in the phrase, "getting lost", which makes sense as my sense of direction is atrocious! What about you, what activities do you enjoy getting lost in?

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Why we won't be doing Cry It Out


There has been many a night where I've been googling advice for how to get your baby to sleep. Inevitably I would end up coming across some kind of advice involving Cry It Out (CIO). This is a form of sleep training which pretty much involves leaving your child to cry in their cot several nights in a row until they learn to "self-soothe". The most extreme version is called "extinction". There are slightly less extreme methods where you come back after fixed amounts of time or you pick the baby up to comfort them and then put them back down again, or where you just pat and shush them. They all involve letting the baby cry and say that it's normal for your child to "protest" any changes. "Controlled crying" is another term that is often used. Once the baby has been fed and has a clean nappy then the idea is that they are fine and you need to "help" them learn the skill of falling asleep by themselves. It doesn't matter if the baby is crying for other reasons such as being too hot/cold/tired/uncomfortable. You can probably already tell I'm not a fan! There are even articles written by baby sleep coaches which make you feel like a bad parent for not doing Cry It Out! Being able to fall asleep independently is a skill that children need to learn just like riding a bike you are told. One site went on to say that babies who sleep better are more successful in school when they are older. They imply you are damaging your baby by not sleep training! It's confusing as a parent because obviously you want the best for your child.

Could there even be some babies who don't respond that badly to CIO methods? One Irish blogger I came across wrote that her baby "only" cried for 15 minutes the first night and then slept great from then on. A friend of mine told me that one day she just put her baby down in her cot after which she "fussed" a little bit, not full on crying before falling asleep and from then on she slept fine in her cot! I remember thinking ok I'll try it if it's really that easy! I put Mini into her cosleeper in a dark room with white noise playing. We had the baby monitor on and my husband and I watched downstairs to see what would happen. At first she seemed happy enough playing by herself. Then she started to winge and make unhappy noises. I waited a moment longer but her whimpers started to escalate so then I quickly went and picked her up. She hadn't even been left for long, maybe two minutes and she already had tears in her eyes and looked really upset. I felt awful seeing her like that and decided I wouldn't be trying that again! My husband is on the same page as he also can't bear to see Mini upset.


The thing is of course I get it. Being sleep deprived myself, I understand why parents are tempted by CIO. Just a few nights of letting your baby cry and then they start sleeping 10-12 hours a night without waking up, allegedly! What's really happening though? We aren't just talking about leaving a baby to whinge a little, this can be full on hysterical crying being ignored. Research suggests leaving babies to cry for long periods like that is traumatic for them and can cause anxiety in later life. In order to form a secure attachment, their caregivers should be responsive to their needs. There was a study which showed that even after the babies stopped crying on the third night their stress hormone cortisol was still raised. It is also unrealistic to expect young infants to sleep for so long without needing to feed, especially breast fed ones. It is normal for babies to wake several times a night and sometimes society needs to adjust its expectations and not make parents feel like their baby is "bad" for not sleeping well.

There was one site I read and it talked about how sleep deprived parents are in danger of being in a car accident. The mothers are more likely to get depressed and depressed mothers are less responsive to their baby's needs which is bad for the babies. Cry It Out seems to be particularly popular in the States. It's no coincidence in my opinion that the parental leave there is also really short compared to other countries. Parents who are having to go back to work when their babies are still only a few months old and still sleeping badly naturally find it difficult! I know I am lucky that living in Germany we can take advantage of the long parental leave. On nights when Mini sleeps particularly badly I can go back to bed during her morning nap or just have a lazy day at home. I don't know how I would be able to function in the office after particularly bad nights.

I accidentally joined a facebook group that supported Cry It Out while I was searching for gentle methods to encourage longer stretches of sleep. Some women were writing things like how sleep training saved their marriage! Reading a lot of the posts on the group started to really upset me though. People weren't just leaving their babies to cry for 10-15 minutes but hours on end! Night after night. Some of the babies were getting so distraught they were even vomiting. And the sleep training wasn't only done once, whenever the sleeping got worse again the parents would have to redo the Cry It Out methods. I felt so sorry for the babies. Whenever a mother in the group would write how hard it was to ignore her baby's cry, the responses were to just "wear earphones", "drink wine" or telling them that they are doing their babies a "favour" helping them learn that skill. It just seemed so wrong and unnatural to me. There was one mother who wrote that her baby now hyperventilates and gets upset as soon as she brings him into the bedroom and isn't the happy smiley baby he once was anymore! There's something wrong with that picture.

Adjusting my expectations and not comparing our baby to others has helped me a lot. When I used to have the idea that Mini should be sleeping long 8-10 hour stretches without waking then I would feel like a bad parent because we are so very far from that. However, once I came across other resources which were more realistic about baby's sleeping patterns and what is normal especially for breastfed babies who tend to wake more often at night, then I felt much better about the situation. Sometimes just reading accounts from other mothers helped. For instance knowing how common it is for a baby to prefer to sleep in your arms than in their cot! The sites I found most helpful for adjusting my expectations were; Milk Meg, Kellymom and Sarah hockwell-smith. This also made me laugh; To the losers who haven't sleep trained their babies. These all made me realise how normal it is for a baby to wake up frequently at night for various reasons while they are so young. I read up on safe co sleeping and this is what has helped me alot! Also reminding myself that the sleep will improve and seeing how happy Mini is when she wakes up beside me.


Recently, I started reading Elizabeth Pantley's "The no cry sleep solution", a gentle parenting book. She writes that when you start searching for sleep training tips there tend to be only two trains of thought, one which advocates cry it out and the other which says basically do nothing, wait it out. Eventually babies will learn to self soothe even if it takes until they are aged two or three. It is a shame that isn't much in between the two camps and hence the book tries to bridge the gap by offering lots of gentle ideas which I am hoping to try. She points out that improvements using those suggestions won't happen overnight. It could be several weeks or even months before you see an improvement but her ideas don't involve leaving the children to cry which is great. There was a study I came across which showed no long term benefit of sleep training. Six months later babies who weren't sleep trained were sleeping just as well as the babies who were, implying that the "wait and see" approach might not be so bad.

That said, I'm going back to work in a few months and I really hope I'll be getting more unbroken sleep by then. In the meantime I have started trying some gentle suggestions from the book. One tip is when the baby wakes to wait for a moment and see if they settle by themselves before doing anything. I had gotten into the habit of picking Mini up immediately when she would stir and breastfeeding her back to sleep. Now I try (whenever I remember) to wait first and sometimes she falls right back to sleep without any help, or just after I stroke her head a little. When it looks like she is starting to wake up fully then I just feed her. The good thing is that after drinking she usually falls back asleep quickly which is great. It's just the frequency of her wake ups can be tough! I am hoping that once she starts solids that might help her sleep longer too. Also when my husband is on his parental leave he'll be available to help out.

As previously mentioned, I understand the appeal of doing some sort of sleep training. Ever since the four month sleep regression started Mini has been waking every 1-3 hours all night long. When she sleeps for 2 or 3 hour stretches it's not as bad. The nights where she's waking hourly are really tough though as you can imagine! I feel like a zombie some days. However, a baby's only way of communication is through crying and I don't think that should be ignored. There are many reasons for them to cry that don't just involve hunger or needing a nappy change. Sometimes they just want comfort. The world can be a scary place for them! Lately Mini doesn't feed as well during the day because she can be too distracted by everything that's going on around her and then she needs to catch up overnight. This is quite common for 4-6 month old babies. If I were to leave her to cry, then she could end up underfed!

If you are thinking about using the Cry It Out method yourself, please wait until the baby is at least six months old. I don't judge other parents who have sleep trained. At the end of the day each family has to decide for themselves what is right. However, why not try out some more gentle methods first? For now we are mainly doing the "wait and see" approach knowing that Mini will eventually learn to sleep better in her own time. We are also going to try gradually getting her used to taking some of her day time naps in her cot if possible. At the moment she still only naps in our arms or very occasionally in the buggy. Not that I don't enjoy Mini napping on me, it's very sweet!

Do you know of any good baby sleeping tips that you have tried or heard of that worked? Was it just time that made the biggest difference?

Thursday, June 28, 2018

How we've ended up attachment parenting


There's this new Netflix comedy series called The Let Down. It centers around a new mother of a two month old living in Australia. She's not coping that well. Her husband is busy with work, she has little support, her old work friends don't want to hang out with her anymore and her baby won't sleep! She joins a parenting group and makes some friends that way and the show is about her and the other families. It was really funny and relatable!

The reason I'm mentioning it, is that there's this one scene where she goes to a bookstore to buy a book on sleep training. She talks to the guy working there and says she's looking for a recommendation. He then asks what her parenting style is. She doesn't know and he starts listing the different types. Attachment, French, gentle, helicopter etc etc...it's a long list and she is left more baffeld than ever!


My impression is that there are two main types of parenting styles. Parent or baby led. It's really about whatever works for each family.

Parent led is where the baby should ideally fit in somewhat with their lives. The mother may only have a short maternity leave for instance and decide to use formula over breastfeeding. The parents may choose to do some form of sleep training, for instance the 'Cry it Out' method at some stage. They attempt to get a routine going for their child. Perhaps a feed only every 3-4 hours. They go for walks with their baby in a buggy and keep putting the baby down for naps. They are training their baby to be more independent you could say, getting them used to the world we live in.

Baby led is the opposite. It is driven by the baby's needs and encompases styles such as attachment and gentle parenting. Most likely breastfeeding on demand. Lots of babywearing. The parent tries to make the fourth trimester as easy a transition as possible for their child. There wouldn't be any sleep training but just knowing the child will eventually get there. Co-sleeping is likely. This approach tends to be much harder on the parents as it's more demanding and they rarely get any time to themselves. However research has shown that responding to your babies needs now helps them become more secure and independent later.

Most parents are a combination of the two I would say. They might baby wear but formula feed. Breastfeeding might not have worked out for a multiple of reasons. Some babies are also "easier" than others which can affect which parenting style the parents end up using. One of the girls from my birth preparation course is able to fed her baby then simply put her down somewhere and she will keep napping and then the mum has time to cook or whatever! Mini would only sleep in someone's arms so naturally we embraced baby wearing. Initially we had been misguidedly trying to space out her feeds (following advice from my Hebamme and doctor) which probably affected my supply. Once I switched to breastfeeding on demand, it led to a happier baby.

I guess we have ended up following attachment style parenting! There were times when I was tempted to give up on breastfeeding as it has made things much more demanding on me but I am glad I have stuck it out as it has gotten a lot more manageable now. At this age babies are more efficient at feeding and don't need to eat as frequently or as long. That said, in general Mini feeds every 2-2.5 hours which is still pretty often! And because she refuses to take a bottle anymore I also can't leave her for long. I was able to go to the hairdresser a few weeks ago though and that was nice, I just had to really hurry!

I am trying to get a bit of a routine going for Mini these days; wake, feed, play, sleep and I try to make sure she naps during the day as we have learnt the hard way that she gets very cranky when overtired! Lately I have also been attempting to get Mini used to the buggy and encouraging her to take some of her day time naps in there and not always on me. It works occasionally! Just this morning I got her settled and napping in the bassinet. However then someone rang the doorbell and woke her up so then I had to wear her in the sling and bounce on the fitness ball for a full 20 minutes just to get her to sleep again!

Now that she is almost four months and getting heavier the babywearing can be a bit harder on my back. Also there is heatwave here so you can end up even more uncomfortable and sweaty. I am gradually hoping to get a little more of a balance going so that I can occasionally have a little "me" time. It can be tricky finding that balance as a parent! That said, I realize this phase where my baby needs me so much will pass and then I'll look back and miss these days. Even though I talk about how challenging it can all be, I still really hate the thought of being away from her for so long once I go back to work.

When there are nights with bad sleep I try to remind myself that this will not last and it will get better. There was actually a few weeks where Mini was doing 4-6 hour stretches and even one night of 7 hours which was amazing but then the 4 month sleep regression started early and now she is waking up every 2-3 hours. Sometimes wide awake ready to party at 5am! If the sleeping still isn't great by around six months then we might have to think about doing some very gentle sleep training. Definitely not cry it out though! That wouldn't be something we are comfortable with. I have been reading a book called The no cry sleep solution for tips. I am hoping that when she is six months and we start solids that I'll be gradually able to reduce how often I breastfeed too.


I am lucky that I have a few more months before I have to go back to work so I am generally able to cope with the lack of sleep. Actually we are now co-sleeping, another attachment style parenting thing! The first part of the night I try to get Mini to sleep in her cosleeper cot next to me but then after her first feed I would often find that she wouldn't want to go back into it. There were mornings where I would let her sleep on me, but then I was too scared to sleep myself as I was terrified of SIDS. As time went on I started reading up on safe cosleeping guidelines and I decided to try it last month. Now when Mini wakes I bring her to me then feed her lying down. I lie on my side curled around her and make sure the blanket only goes to our waist. It took me awhile to get used to it but now I find that we both sleep better so that's working out well. It's ideally just a temporary thing though! I realise it could make things more difficult when the time comes to transition her into her own room but we'll face that then. Maybe when she's around one.

It's funny how you have some ideas about how you might parent but when you become one that can all change! I remember a friend telling me how her daughter would comfort feed and I thought at the time I wouldn't let that happen, instead I would give our baby a pacifier/soother. Initially I didn't try giving her a soother though as I had various problems with breastfeeding and I read that could make it worse. After waiting about six weeks I tried to offer her a soother but Mini just wasn't into it! She would make a face and spit it out and cry. I bought lots of different brands but nothing worked. Initially I was a little disappointed but now I think that at least we won't have trouble weaning her off it later on. My Hebamme was against comfort feeding. Her suggestion was that whenever Mini finishes feeding properly and starts sucking for comfort to take her off and put her down immediately so she learns not to do that. I tried that once and she got really upset and then I just ended up feeling bad! I decided afterwards that I'm fine with her comfort feeding if she needs to. When she's upset we may try other ways such as rocking or cuddling but sometimes only offering the boob will do and when it works it's great, it really calms her down, almost like a sedative!

The Hebamme also thought we should keep giving Mini one bottle of formula at night to help us sleep better. I decided not to do that as once I got my supply up, I wanted to exclusively breastfeed if I could. She told me I am making things harder on myself and she's probably right. Mini is such a happy smiley baby now though that it makes me feel more confident in our parenting choices. She's a really fun age now too.She's a lot more interactive, smiling at us and grabbing for toys. I also feel like we know her personality much better so we are able to calm her when she is upset. She has a lot of happy phases now though! I have been considering trying out baby sign language to try to teach her a few words. I'm excited for what the next few months will bring!

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Transversary



Last week was our "Transversary", the anniversary of the successful IVF transfer. I remember the day well. Despite a promising egg retrieval we had yet again ended up with only a few viable embryos to transfer, this time just two. We decided naturally to transfer both, all or nothing. We had already decided that this would be our last shot.

We had to travel over an hour and be there early. The process was similar to my previous clinic. The main difference was this time my husband was able to be there for the transfer (he unfortunately missed the previous ones). I remember the doctor commenting that one of the embryos looked particularly good and had divided well. The two embryos were transferred, I rested a bit then we went on our way.

After the transfer as we were leaving the clinic my husband and I ended up having a stupid row. He commented that he found the transfer anti climatic and that upset me. I guess he had thought it would be more impressive on the screen seeing the embryos going into my womb whereas it was hard to see anything! And then we also had a silly argument about where to eat. He can get a big hangry - irritable when hungry - and I was avoiding gluten and dairy at the time so finding someplace we were both happy with was a challenge! Everything just got to me and I started feeling emotional. I remember being really anxious then that me being upset would stop the embryos from implanting. I thought I'd ruined my chances already by not being relaxed and zen enough!

Anyway, after we ate we both felt better and the rest of the day was really nice. What a difference a year can make! Somehow that little promising embryo did implant and grow and now my daughter is here. In Germany at the fertility clinics they don't give you pictures of your embryos to take home so I can't do a photograph of Mini holding a picture of herself as an embryo, something I've seen other people doing for the transversary. I'll just give her an extra long hug and we'll remind ourselves how lucky we are to have her in our lives!

I'm sorry for all the couples still stuck in the trenches, hoping and praying to have a family. I haven't had time to keep up with all the blogs unfortunately but I think of you all often and I'm wishing everyone good things whatever the future brings!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

You don't have to love every second


This past week I've struggled a bit. Things had started to really improve. I'd say from around the time our little girl, who I'll nickname Mini for this blog, was around eight weeks, I felt like I had finally gotten into a nice rhythm and had been able to really enjoy being a mum. I started going out to meetups with other mothers to get out of the house. Of course it still feels a little strange at times to be part of this world now. I'm finally a member of the exclusive parent club which I'd struggled for years to join.

The girls from my birth preparation course meet up once every week or two and it's been nice to make new friends. So far we have just been meeting in each other's houses or apartments but hopefully we'll start going out to cafes soon as well. Some of the women feel uncomfortable about the idea of breastfeeding in public. I've already fed Mini several times while out and about now! It has gotten easier with practice. There are ways to be discreet about it, but Germany is very open about breastfeeding which is great.

There's a group of english speaking mothers in the German town where I live who regularly meet for brunches at kid friendly cafes. Anyway I got chatting to one of them and she mentioned that her and her husband had a very difficult time trying to conceive their daughter. We didn't go into details about how long it had taken or what treatment she had undertaken but I also shared that it wasn't easy for us. Her child would have really bad crying spells and she was telling me about how difficult it was. Also the fact that her daughter was such a miracle, she would feel a lot of pressure to enjoy every moment even the hard ones. She said she had to allow herself to accept that sometimes being a parent is really hard with bad days and not feel bad about not appreciating each second.

That resonated with me and helped me when we were having a really bad week. There's this app and book called the Wonder Weeks. Babies go through developmental leaps during certain times and it affects their behaviour. Some children don't change that much but for other ones who are more sensitive, they are really affected. Mini is one of them!

During leap 3 she would cry really easily but also much louder than before! A loud screaming cry. It was awful, I hated seeing her like that! Most of the usual "tricks" to calm her down wouldn't work. There was also a sleep regression. Two nights in particular were awful. She had been sleeping one long stretch of around 4-5 hours before then. One night the previous week she even slept for 6 hours which was amazing. On these two bad nights during leap 3 she only slept three hours. The rest of the night she wouldn't settle and only napped for really short amounts like 20-50 minutes.

Since I am exclusively breastfeeding, it can feel like I never get a break. My husband has been extra busy in work lately and hasn't been able to offer me much support. One of the downsides of living so far from home is that I don't have my family around. My sister and Dad were over visiting a few weeks ago which was great but obviously I can't spend time with them as often as if I lived at home.

My husband's mother has been a good help. She comes to visit once every week or two and usually cooks something. Usually I can hand Mini over and she'll happily nap on my mother in law and I get a little break. This time, probably due to leap 3 she was especially clingy to me. I would get her to sleep and gently hand her over but then she would wake and cry for me again! Mini also wanted to breastfeed a lot. There's a three month growth spurt and I just felt like I was stuck on the couch for hours on end. I remember one day where I had to skip dinner because I just couldn't find a moment to eat.

Parenting can be really hard and it helps to not feel guilty when you have moments where you struggle!

Friday, April 27, 2018

Thoughts on parenting


I've written countless posts in my head but never seem to get the time to get to my computer and write them down! Everyone keeps commenting on how fast time goes when you have kids and though it can feel slow in the moment, especially when you are up all night, overall it has been going quickly. Our little one is two months already. And things are finally now starting to get more manageable! Some of the highlights or things that stick out in my memory...

The good

  • I could stare at our little girl all day. She has such a cute little face and is really sweet. I can't stand to see her cry or when she is upset. I am so proud to be her mother. She is quite a mummy's girl at the moment and I hope that we will have a close mother daughter relationship as she gets older. I'm looking forward to all of the fun things we can do together.

  • Seeing my husband with her melts my heart. After she was born I would catch him telling the baby how much he loves her, it was the sweetest thing. We both take loads of pictures and videos and love talking about her!

  • I've had a lot of challenges with breastfeeding but it is finally going well now and I am proud of myself for sticking with it. It can be very effective for stopping crying and it's sweet how much our baby enjoys it. It was something I really wanted to do so I am glad that it is finally working out.

  • Seeing how much love other people have for our child has also been lovely. My Dad and sister visited twice and it's been heart warming seeing the relationship developing. My husband's family have been over many times and I'm delighted our little one has so many people in her life who care about her.

  • The cuddles are great! It's so sweet when our baby is snuggled up sleeping on me. Even if it means I can't move for hours!

  • When she smiles. I live for those little smiles! And I heard that in the next few weeks babies that age start laughing, I can't wait for that stage. The more she can interact with us the more fun it gets.

  • The bad

  • Yeah, the breastfeeding like I mentioned has not been easy. It was extremely painful at the start. I had a problem with low milk supply and had to supplement with formula. It was a struggle getting our baby to latch at times. There were moments where she was screaming crying but couldn't seem to latch and I was in tears myself feeling like a bad mother. I had to use nipple shields the first month because of the pain and latch issues but then I was able to gradually wean off them. In order to increase my supply I started to breastfeed more often, I pumped (several times a day, even in the middle of the night), took some herbs and made an effort to drink a lot more fluids.

    It took a few hard weeks and I almost gave up several times but we were able to gradually reduce the formula bottles and for the past 3-4 weeks I have been breastfeeding exclusively. It can be very demanding. I had no idea for instance, before I had a baby that there is this thing called cluster feeding where the baby, particularly during a growth spurt, will want to feed for hours on end! That can be exhausting.

  • The sleep deprivation has been the number one hardest aspect. Our little girl isn't a great sleeper unfortunately. I had a month of only getting about 3-4 hours sleep on average per night. At times I thought I would pass out from the exhaustion. I am amazed at how I am still able to function somehow on so little sleep.

    Things have improved but still aren't great. These days she will sleep for around 3-5 hours in one go. That's her longest stretch at the beginning of the night and then after that she might do another 1.5 or 2 hours or maybe not! Sometimes she only catnaps for 30-45 min cycles until morning! I've started doing co-sleeping in the early morning as it's the only way I can get some sleep! It can also take hours some nights just to get her to sleep in the first place.



  • The funny

  • The fact that it takes us hours to be ready to leave the house. You have to laugh. First the baby gets fed, then we get ourselves ready, then baby needs a nappy change, then maybe we realise we need to eat or drink something, by then the baby will be hungry again..and so it continues..

  • Poop explosions are another thing that you just have to laugh about! I need to pack outfit changes in the nappy bag as sometimes the poop just gets everywhere. Baby farts are pretty funny too.

  • Babies make funny noises and do such cute movements. When our little one wakes up from a nap she spends the first few seconds doing all these little stretches.

  • We have to take turns eating a lot of the time. There have even been a few times where my husband had to even spoon feed me as I was stuck breastfeeding and hadn't eaten in hours. I remember one time cutting up his dinner so he would be able to eat it while the baby napped on him. These days I have mastered the art of eating with one hand! Or if the baby is in a good mood we can her in the bouncer during our mealtimes.