Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Momsomnia


The first few days after Mini was born I barely slept. It wasn't that she wasn't sleeping, I just had too much adrenaline from the birth and could not switch off! Also I kept checking on her while she slept to make sure she was ok. The next month or so after we got home from the hospital, I was so tired I would literally just pass out from exhaustion once we finally got Mini to sleep at night. There were a few times I fell asleep accidentally which is something that could potentially be dangerous. Never on the couch though. Once in the early morning for instance I had Mini lying on my chest as she slept better that way but in those days I was paranoid about bedsharing so I was just planning to let her sleep and rest myself. Next thing I woke up and realised I had been dreaming. But neither Mini or I had moved and she was perfectly fine.

Sometimes I would pass out at night only to wake a few hours later with a start to hear Mini crying in her cot beside me. It used to take me a second or two to remember I was and what I needed to do! A few times over the first few weeks my husband and I had awful nightmares about something happening to Mini which was scary. I think we were just so paranoid about SIDS. My sleeping gradually because lighter. Especially as we stopped needing to supplement with formula and I exclusively breastfed. I found myself waking up and I would look over at Mini and she would be awake but not crying and I would wonder what woke me. She must have made some tiny noise which I picked up on as we were so in tune with each other.

I was probably overly responsive at this stage. Instead of giving her a moment to see if she might resettle herself, I would think, "oh it's been several hours, she's probably hungry" and then feed her! Anyway her sleep naturally improved gradually until 3.5 months when the four month sleep regression started early. This is totally normal if you look at graphs of infant sleep but it was hard to deal with initially when I could no longer encourage her to sleep any of the night in her cosleeper cot. This is around the time I read up on safe cosleeping and started bedsharing. It helped so much and once I got the hang of the safe positions. We both got better sleep despite the numerous wake ups and I felt more rested!

I'm not sure what happened around 6 months though. Mini's nights were mixed at that stage. Some good some bad. Typically around 3-4 wakeups or more. Suddenly I found myself dealing with insomnia. It was like I had forgotten how to sleep! I would often think to myself, well is there any point falling asleep now since she will probably wake up in an hour anyway, which wasn't very condusive. Some nights I fell asleep alright but then after the first wake up I wasn't able to go back asleep. I remember one night lying awake for several hours while Mini slept peacefully beside me. So frustrating! Apparently this insomnia is very comment for parents, particularly mothers that it even has a name, Momsomnia. It can happen once your baby is finally sleeping through the night that you have forgotten how to sleep yourself. Or like me that you have become such a light sleeper and are so used to waking constantly that it is hard to stay asleep.


Some things helped luckily. I downloaded a blue light filter for my phone and use that in the evenings. Also I stopped keeping track of Mini's wake ups and would put my phone somewhere else overnight. I also removed any white light from the bedroom and now we use a red night light. Before going to bed my husband usually minds Mini to give me a chance to wind down a little as I find when I am on the go non stop all day and then suddenly it's bedtime, I just can't switch off that easily! Sometimes I even write down all my anxieties and thoughts on a pace of paper to deal with another time, which help clear my mind. Or having a relaxing shower helps too.

Unfortunately I still get the insomnia occasionally. Mini's sleep recently got worse during the eight month sleep regression. I am certainly looking forward to the time when she sleeps longer and better at night. That said, I love our nightly snuggles and know I'll miss them once she does sleep through (eventually!).

Monday, October 29, 2018

Health update


There's been a reason for my radio silence lately. It has been an eventual few weeks. I had to get surgery and I was in hospital for over a week!

Back during my pregnancy you might remember I wrote about a health scare when I was having strong cramps on my right hand side and my gyno, worried it could be my appendix, refered me to a specialist. The pain ended up going away by itself though it happened a second time during the pregnancy and afterwards so I ended up going back and forth to the doctor several times.

Two weeks ago the cramps returned again even worse and the doctor sent me directly to the hospital. I'm not going to share all the medical details right now on the blog but I ended up needing major abdominal surgery due to a suspected abscess from an inflamed appendix. Afterwards they kept me several days in intensive care for monitoring. Thankfully my recovery went well and I was able to leave the hospital after I had been there over a week and continue my recovery at home.

As you can imagine it was a scary time! My mother and brother in law came over to look after Mini when my husband and I went to the hospital. I couldn't help feeling a little sad for a moment that our first "date" since she was born was to the emergency ward! I was seen by several doctors and given ultrasounds and even a CAT scan. The whole thing took ages. We ended up being apart from Mini for over six hours which I found really hard.

After all the tests I thought I would be allowed to finally go home and return the next day but I was advised to stay since there was the risk my condition might worsen overnight. At that stage I didn't know what to do! I explained that my baby is only 7 months and exclusively breastfed. We had never slept apart. One of the doctors very kindly was able to organize a private room for me to stay in and said I could get cot so my daughter could stay with me which was a big relief!


Mini ended up staying with me at the hospital for two nights which was lovely. Part of the night she slept in the cot which I had put beside my bed and the early morning hours when I was too anxious to sleep anyway she lay cuddled beside me. However before the surgery and the subsequent nights she stayed at home with my husband. My mother in law was with with them to help out. I remember being really worried about how Mini would get on without me but she managed well. My husband was able to rock her back to sleep whenever she woke up. In the hospital I was given access to a breast pump and I made sure I was only given medications that would be ok for the milk. My husband visited me each day with Mini and I would feed and cuddle her and give him some expressed milk to bring home. Seeing them was the highlight of my day!

Emotionally and physically it was a hard time, I'm not going to lie. When I found out I would need the surgery (this is the third I've had in my life), I was strong at first but after the doctor left and a nurse brought me the surgical gown, I just lost it and burst into tears... I didn't feel brave at all in that moment. The thing was though, I knew that I had no choice and I would just have to face it. Later that evening I felt like I had reached a phase of acceptance. I was still really anxious beforehand but I got through it and the surgery was deemed a success thankfully!

Having to deal with everything in my non native language also made things more difficult. My German is very good but not my medical German and there were times when I just couldn't follow everything the doctors were saying! I also felt homesick for my family in Ireland. The first few days of the recovery in the ICU were hard going but I tried to focus on my progress. By the fourth day I was able to shower and wash my hair which felt so great and I celebrated the little victories! Initially I had zero appetite and I had also lost loads of weight. Luckily over time my appetite came back and I was able to start eating and getting stronger. My family and friends were sending me messages on whatsapp and it also really helped getting their support. Each day I focussed on getting better and I particularly wanted to get well as quickly as possible so I could get home to Mini again.

This whole incident has reminded my husband and I what a little miracle she is. I'm so grateful I didn't need to have the surgery while I was pregnant with her as that would have been even scarier and would have put her at risk! I am making a good recovery now, feeling stronger each day and these are all things to be grateful for.

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!