Sunday, December 23, 2018

Christmas traditions

As I've gotten older, the build up to Christmas has become more and more stressful.

All the pressure to come up with the perfect gifts. So many cards to send. Not to mention work being especially busy and keeping on top of the usual stuff- grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning. No matter how hard I try each year I am never fully organized and always end up trying to race around for a last minute present or I'm praying each day that something ordered online will be delivered in time!

Once all the busyness is over though and I'm spending the Christmas holidays with family the stress melts away and it's a really lovely time! Every family has there own little traditions I've noticed from chatting to people and there's something really nice about that.

In Ireland we celebrate on the 25th when we open presents in our pajamas in the morning then go to church. We have stockings with our names on them where Santa leaves little gifts. After we often drop in to visit family friends for tea and mince pies and then come home to prepare the big dinner and eat around 4pm; Turkey, stuffing, roast potatoes, cranberry sauce, gravy, roast ham. For dessert plum pudding which is lit first using brandy then enjoyed with custard or cream. This is traditionally what the majority of families eat in Ireland that day. We sit around and have good conversation for hours. Then in the evening we might play a board game such as Cluedo or Trivial Pursuit and then later watch a movie. We'll usually wear silly winter jumpers and take selfies by the tree.

I've always thought Germany does Christmas well. The decorations are really pretty and many towns have temporary markets and even ice skating rinks built from the end of November. When we spend the holidays with my husband's side here in Germany, Christmas is celebrated on the 24th. After a big lunch, a little bell is rung, we leave the room and the Christkind delivers the presents under the tree. After opening presents we might go out for a nice walk, also to digest our food before the next meal! We'll wear silly reindeer headbands or hats and take photos. The meal on the 24th is usually fish. Then on the 25th there is another big lunch this time duck or goose. What each family eats varies based on where they are from. For dessert there is always Christmas plätzchen (cookies).

what Christmas traditions do you have where you are from?

Monday, December 10, 2018

Michelle Obama's revelation #MicroblogMonday

A few weeks ago my husband told me that the Obama daughters, Malia and Sasha, were conceived through IVF and that Michelle had previously had a miscarriage beforehand. She has written all about it in her new book apparently. I was surprised by the news. At the same time I was also glad, not about Michelle's miscarriage which is very sad of course but about her opening up and bringing infertility and IVF into the open.

I suspect a lot of celebrities end up having to get help but most don't talk about it. Chrissy Teigen was open about her and John Ledgend's children being IVF babies but she is in the minority. Beyonce and Jayz are suspected to have gotten help but they never confirmed or spoke about it.

Of course if a celebrity is going to be open about it, it is more likely to be after they have come out the other side and have a healthy baby. It is even more rare for them to say they tried but were not successful in conceiving and have had to move forward in their lives going in another direction. My book club are thinking about reading Michell's memoir and I'm sure it will be an interesting read!

Wednesday, November 21, 2018


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'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


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.

  • Saturday, April 14, 2018

    Birth story - part two

    Part one can be found here. We first met with one midwife, who I'm going to nickname Heidi. She was young, full of energy and really friendly. That helped put me at ease. We were brought into the same room where we had been weeks earlier to register. She asked me about what had happened - what time my waters had broken at for instance and she looked over my files. The next step was to set me up with the CTG monitor to check the contractions and baby's heartbeat. That took about a half hour. Whenever I had a contraction, hubby and I could see numbers going up, usually to around 20. The midwife helped me breath through them. It was painful but I was managing ok.

    Heidi didn't check my cervix though to see how far I was dilated and I was surprised at that. She said that because my waters had broken, checking it could cause an infection. She implied that I was still at the early stage of the contractions which I found a bit disheartening as to me they felt strong already and the idea of it going on all day for ages wasn't so appealing! I asked about what other pain options they had, besides an epidural which I was hoping to avoid. She said they can give a painkiller like Buscopan and suggested I could have a bath. She told me that breakfast would be served at 7 and suggested we could go eat then and after come back to her around 8 or so. It was around 6am at that stage.

    We were given the keys to a private room where we could hang out basically for the next few hours. It had a double bed, small kitchen area, table and fitness ball. I remember texting my family but apart from my brother in Australia and his wife, everyone was still asleep as it was only 5am in Ireland! The contraction pain was starting to get really bad at that point. I remember second guessing my decision to not have an epidural and wondering whether I would be able to stand it! I decided I would try to keep going awhile longer and then decide. I tried lying down and the time between contractions it was nice to be lying but then when it hit I found that it was better if I was walking around. Trying to breath through the contractions helped. It was hard going! I remember thinking that all the positive thinking I'd read about was all well and good in theory but pain was pain! Trying to think of the contractions like a wave on the beach wasn't helping! I just walked around the room and leaned against a chair and breathed slowly through them. Once I went to the bathroom which was down the hall and I remember finding the walk there and back unpleasant and I had to walk really slowly!

    My hubby went to talk to the midwife and was told that if I couldn't manage the pain and wanted help sooner to just let them know. We had only been there around an hour and I wanted to be brave I guess and try to stick it out longer. Especially since I believed I was still only at the beginning stages of labour! At that stage the canteen was open but I had absolutely no desire to go there to try to eat something. Not so long after that I remember feeling really nauseous and then throwing up. There went the porridge I had eaten earlier! Hubby was asking again whether he should go get the midwife and I just said yes, I didn't think I could handle the pain anymore so needed whatever support they could give me!

    Heidi came and said they would do the CTG again to monitor the contractions and then they would fill me a bath. We went back to the first room with hubby carrying the backpack I had brought with me for the birth. I had a suitcase for the overnight stay and a backpack with things like snacks, CDs and some nightdresses to change into. Anyway I was set up to the CTG monitor and that was really unpleasant because you had to stay still for it and the contractions felt worse when I couldn't move around! We were left alone and hubby noticed that the contractions at that stage were reaching 100 on the screen. They certainly felt bad! Heidi came back and gave me a painkiller which didn't do much. Some of the contractions were really uncomfortable and I couldn't help but make noises. At the end of the CTG I remember feeling a strong need to use the bathroom for a number two! I said that to Heidi as we were about to go to the room with the bath that I needed to use the bathroom first. She called in another midwife. I'll call her Helga.

    Heidi says Helga is going to check my cervix. Finally, I'm thinking! By then I am groaning through the contractions! I get up on the bed and Helga checks my cervix and then says they have to get me to the birthing suite pronto! I guess I must have been fully dilated at that stage. I was happy that I wouldn't have to have hours and hours more of the pain. On the way to the birthing room we passed the bath that had been filled for me. We reached the birthing room and the midwives started quickly filling up the special tub for the water birth. I remember hoping that the water would be filled in time before the baby arrived! I remember looking at the clock and it was 8am. I took off my clothes and got into the tub.

    The warm water felt really good! It helped a lot. This time when the contractions came it felt different. Still painful but a different sort of pain and not so bad. The midwives were telling me to push. I was told to hold on to something and pull it during the contraction and push at the same time. Doing that certainly helped and they were telling me I was doing a great job. A contraction would come, I would pull on the handles of the bath tub while trying to push until the contraction passed. At one stage they said they could see hair on the baby's head! Helga suggested I touch the baby's head and I did but I felt weird about it to be honest! I was nervous about hurting the baby in some way so didn't want to keep touching it! The pain of the pushing got worse and several times I would try but I just couldn't seem to do it. Helga suggested different positions such as squatting down but I found me half lying /sitting with my feet against the sides the most comfortable. Heidi was very encouraging but I found Helga a bit too critical and bossy! She asked me what was holding me back. I said I was worried about the pain and she said there is plenty of room for the baby to get out and there is no going back now.

    Part of me did want to stop at that point but I also reminded myself that the baby needs to come out and I have to do this! I had been in the tub a long time at that stage and Helga said if I don't get the baby out soon I would have to get out of the tub. That worried me. I really wanted the water birth to work! Also I was scared if I couldn't get the head out that I would have to be cut. I tried even harder to push during the next contraction but I just still couldn't seem to push hard enough! The more I pushed the more painful it felt which made me not want to push physically even though mentally I knew I had to! Hubby kept telling me I could do it and being encouraging. He told me later that he could see the baby's head go out and in again! Anyway eventually I somehow was able to push hard for long enough and the head came out! Heidi said the baby had her eyes open in the water looking at her! The next push was enough to get the body out and then the midwives were handing me a slippery baby!! It was 9.13am.

    It just felt surreal to me! Like oh wow, I can't believe this is my baby!! She cried a little but then stopped. Hubby and I were both just looking at her in amazement and I think I was saying things like "welcome to the world! We love you so much!". She looked pretty wrinkly and I remember thinking she reminded me of my granny, haha! Eventually hubby cut the cord after it stopped pulsating and the midwife suggested he do skin to skin while they helped me out of the tub. I was taken to a bed and then I had to give birth to the placenta! That was fine though, just another push like earlier and it came out. The midwives examined me and said I would need some stitches so I had to wait for the doctor. I didn't care though, I was just so in amazement of our daughter.

    Hubby took some photos and we told out families the good news and everyone was delighted! The doctor came and gave me some stitches (I'd torn a little) but I barely felt it. Then they took our baby to be weighed. She was 2.9 kilos and everything looked good. Ten fingers and ten toes! The midwife wheeled me in the bed holding our baby to the ward. I was just so delighted the birth was behind me, that it had gone so well and that our healthy daughter arrived safely.

    Saturday, April 7, 2018

    Birth story - part one

    Thanks so much to everyone for the lovely well wishes on the birth of our daughter! As most of you know, it was a long journey to get to this point and we are incredibly grateful that our little one arrived safely! There are so many things I would like to blog about but life with a newborn is pretty hectic! I actually used to think people were exaggerating when they said there were days where they never got a moment to shower or get changed out of their pyjamas even, but parenting a newborn has definitely been challenging and just finding the time to shower and eat is a real challenge! Rewarding and incredible but very hard. I miss sleep, haha!

    Anyway, today I would like to start sharing the birth story! It will help me to write it all down before I forget everything. This post is very personal and very TMI so if you know me in real life, you may want to give this one a miss!

    I mentioned that we had gone to the hospital I'd chosen to give birth at late into my pregnancy to register and discuss any questions with the midwives. This isn't a requirement but good to do. Basically I was hoping to ideally have a natural childbirth with minimal intervention, skin to skin bonding after birth and delayed cord clamping. I really wanted to avoid having a c-section but of course the health of our baby is the most important thing and I just wanted her to arrive safely. I specified that I would like a water birth.

    My Mum had had natural births without an epidural for all her three children and I was hoping I would be able to manage it also. Not to mention the fact that an epidural scared me! I hated the idea of a needle in my spine plus I'd heard stories of it not working and there are also risks to it. That said I had decided if I really needed one, I would get it and not feel bad. Let me just mention here that I don't think there is anything wrong at all with women who choose to get an epidural, I was just hoping to avoid one and experience the whole childbirth experience!

    A week and a day before my due date I had some signs that I might go into labour over the next few days. Spotting that morning and the doctor noticing that my cervix had already started to soften. That evening around 9pm I lost my mucus plug. At that stage it occured to me that I might go into labour that night and not in a few days. In the middle of the night I woke up feeling some mid cramps that would come and go. I also felt some dampness. After about a half hour I went to the bathroom and noticed my waters had broke! At this stage I knew things were getting serious! When I went back into the bedroom, hubby asked if I was ok and I said "my waters just broke". I was feeling slightly in shock, trying to get my head around everything and remember what I had been told at the birth course. Hubby jumped out of bed and said let's go to the hospital immediately! It was 3am at this stage.

    I reminded him that we had been told that labour is slow so to wait 2-3 hours at home where it's more comfortable and not rush to the hospital. On the other hand I knew that my Mum had always had very fast labours so I was aware that maybe I would take after her. Hubby was feeling anxious and didn't want to stay at home for long but I said the cramps weren't so bad yet and let's wait around an hour. I was half trying to time the contractions though not really as I was also getting ready, but it seemed like they were quite close together. It wasn't unbearable though. I had a shower and washed my hair and even painted my toenails! Then I told hubby that we should both eat as it would be a long night. He had some leftover pasta bolognese and I had some porridge with tea that was all I really felt like. Hubby ordered a taxi for 4.30am.

    The cramps had started to get a lot more uncomfortable by that stage. It felt a bit like really strong period cramps but the pain was all around my hips, back, stomach. I tried to breath through them like I'd been taught at the pre birth course. We had quite a lot of bags with us when we got the taxi. I had a small suitcase for my overnight stay plus a backpack for the labour. Hubby had a bag himself in case we got the family room and he could stay over and he also brought the baby car seat. The journey to the hospital was uncomfortable at times when I would get a contraction. We arrived at the hospital, checked in and went up to the birthing area.

    Actually I just remembered now but I was quite emotional at that stage for some reason! When hubby told the lady at the hospital reception that his wife was in labour and she wished me luck I felt a little teary. And then as we went into the birthing area and met the midwife I started crying slightly! Sort of a mixture of nerves and feeling a bit overwhelmed at what was ahead I think!

    Friday, March 23, 2018

    The world can wait

    It's Friday morning. The house is quiet. My husband's at work. The kitchen is a mess. There's a huge pile of laundry in the basket and I wonder if I'll even find a moment to shower today. Just getting a chance to eat and drink enough can be a challenge!

    You see, I have a one month old. I'm currently lying in bed with her snuggled beside me. Last night I only got at most a total of four hours sleep and it's more or less been like that since she's been born! I'm actually amazed how I'm still able to function on so little sleep.

    However, though it's been hard, and honestly parenting a newborn has been more challenging than I had expected, I look at her tiny cute little face beside me, her arm on my stomach and I just think how amazing it is that she is here. That she even exists! I am so grateful that we are now parents which I honestly had been thinking would never happen.

    It still feels surreal to me that I'm a mum now! That I have a daughter. I get emotional when I think about it all too much. The nights are long, I never have a moment to myself but babies grow up and one day she won't need me as much. So right now I'm going to relax, enjoy the baby cuddles and cherish this time together.

    Tuesday, February 27, 2018

    week 39 - Baby is here!

    So I actually went into labour the night after I wrote my last post! It all happened very fast. The doctor had told me that I would probably give birth within the next few days. At three am that night my waters broke and at a quarter past nine in the morning I gave birth to our daughter! A beautiful healthy girl - who arrived one week early. 2.95kilos.

    I plan to share my full birth story soon but things are pretty hectic here with a newborn as you can imagine! It was a positive experience overall, I didn't labour for that long and I had a water birth in the end. It was very tough going though!

    I don't think my husband would feel comfortable with my sharing pictures here on the blog but if you would like to see some then just email me directly at

    Saturday, February 24, 2018

    Week 38 - so close - pregnancy diary

    This last week I haven't been planing as much. I wanted to start winding down a little and taking it easy before things get hectic. It's sort of a strange time at the moment. On the edge of this gigantic life change which could happen at any moment! Yet on the other hand I still want to enjoy my last few weeks of this pregnancy. I have had a few times where I would get a bit of cramping and then think, could this be it? I've mainly been nervous and not felt ready yet to be honest! Though as time goes on I do think I'm starting to feel gradually more prepared. Or as ready as I'll ever be!

    I met up with the girls from my birth preparation course again. Well, there are eight of us in the group, two of which have never come to any of the meetups. Another two from the group had their babies already! Everything went well and they are happy. Of the four of us who came to the meet up, one is due for a planned c section next week, another is due next week and then me and the other girl have due dates in two weeks. One of the girls was talking about how surreal it is and that she can't imagine actually having a baby and that's exactly how I've been feeling so I guess many people have that surreal feeling!

    End of week 38

    *TMI alert* Today is the the last day of my 38th and week I noticed a little spotting this morning when I got up. I remembered at my birth preparation course being told that this can be a sign that labour is going to start over the next few days and to not go on any long trips! I had an appointment anyway at the doctor and I told him and he said it's a good sign. When he examined me he noticed my cervix has started to soften and he told me that he thinks it'll happen sometime over the next few days!!

    Oh boy. I've been feeling all jittery since I heard that! Hubby was with me at the appointment and he said to me after that he wants to get home quickly to also do some last minute "nesting"! Haha. By that he means sorting out some of the paperwork and bureaucracy. It's quite confusing here. We will be entitled to "Elterngeld" (parental leave pay) and "Kindergeld" (child benefit pay) but there will be a lot of forms to fill out, plus it's a little more complicated since I'm not German and our wedding was in Ireland.

    I'd already made quite a few plans over the next few days such as meeting friends for lunch, but I wrote and told them what the doctor has said and left it that I will confirm before meeting them if I can still make it, just in case! Of course it would still take longer like another week but it makes sense to "prepare" for the eventually that it could happen soon. I still have half of the childbirth book to finish reading which I'd like to do as I find reading it calms me.

    We got the cot now. We bought a co-sleeper from friends of ours. Hubby commented that it feels even more real seeing the cot! I think the baby room is ready now, I could just do some more laundry. But honestly overall we are pretty prepared... I just hadn't really thought that the baby might come early, I always had it in my head that she would be overdue.

    Feeling a mixture of excitement and nervousness!

    Wednesday, February 14, 2018

    weeks 36 - 37 baby shower & family visit #pregnancyDiary

    Week 36

    This week we had an appointment at the hospital where I'd like to give birth. You don't have to register, they would accept you if you were to just show up but it's nice if you can go there beforehand. We met one of the midwives who filled out a form with medical history, information about the pregnancy and my birth plan wishes. I said I'd like low intervention, hopefully even a water birth, delayed cord clamping and skin to skin bonding. They seemed really open to my ideas. Whether I'll be able to have a water birth will depend on if the room with the birthing pool is available at the time. We also requested a family room to stay in after (it costs 75€ extra per night) and that would also depend on availability.

    The midwife answered my questions, was really friendly and left us both with a good impression of the place. Afterwards we were able to get a tour of the birthing suites, apart from one room which was in use. We could hear a newborn baby crying as we went past and it made me feel quite emotional! And a little overwhelmed, like oh my gosh, do we know what we are in for?! I hope we can handle everything. Seeing the birthing rooms also made it all feel very real and I did feel a bit nervous to be honest!

    This week I met up with the girls from my birth preparation course for lunch and there were six of this there this time. It was really nice. I felt a little shy at times about speaking German, I still get that way with new people sometimes even though I've lived here over seven years now however at one stage they commented that my German is really good and they love my accent which made me feel more confident.

    It's been a busy week between one thing and another! I met up with several friends, organized the things in the baby room, did some housework and relaxed when I had time. Next week my Dad is visiting which is great. Once I get to 38 weeks I intend to not plan as many social things as pretty much anytime between week 38 and week 42 I could go into labour and I'd like to start winding down a little and resting before the baby comes!

    I also had my baby shower this week. It was great! I definitely felt loved and spoilt. Two american friends of mine here threw it for me and did a lovely job. There were about ten of us there altogether and everyone got on really well. There were some onesies, bibs and nappies that people could decorate and write messages on. It was such a lovely afternoon. I was also overwhelmed by all the lovely presents we got and so many people wrote us lovely messages in their cards about how happy they are for us and how they can't wait to meet our little one.

    Week 37

    Early this week I went to Schwangerschaftsgymnastik "pregnancy gymnastics". That was run by the centre where my "Hebamme" (midwife/doula) works. I would probably describe it as a mixture between gentle aerobics and yoga. At the beginning we had to introduce ourselves and say where we lived and which month our babies are due. It still feels a little strange for me at times to be part of the mum "club" now after it always seemed so elusive for years. Everyone was friendly. We practiced some breathing exercises in the class to help for birth.

    They also offer a meditation class at the centre which I might try out next week. They have acupuncture too but don't think I'll do that as I didn't like it in the past! Once the babies are born they also offer various classes. There's a thing called Rückbildung which is an exercise class to help your body recover. You are meant to start it around 6-8 weeks after birth and the German health insurance covers it. They also offer classes with babies/kids such as music and dance and babywearing. There's a nursing group too who go to cafes together once a week. So lots of options for getting out of the house with the baby during parental leave.

    This week my Dad came to visit for a few days which was lovely! I was feeling pretty good and we went out for long walks two of the days and also to some nice restaurants while hubby was at work. I really enjoyed spending some quality time together before it'll all be about the baby. In around a month he will be back with my sister to visit us and please God, the baby will have arrived safely. It was a bit emotional saying our goodbyes. It still feels surreal to me a lot of the time that I might actually get a real baby soon! Not sure when that will actually sink in.

    I had another doctor's appointment and this time I paid extra for an ultrasound. I wanted one for peace of mind mainly! Everything looks good thankfully. The baby is still positioned head down. I'll go back to the doctor at the end of week 38 and then I've an appointment on my actual due date. The doctor's assistant said if I don't show up they'll assume I've given birth. It's really mad how little time there is left. I would like another week or two to feel more ready ideally but otherwise I guess I'm as ready as I'll ever be!

    My Dad told me that my Mum had very short labours for all three kids. Like only around 4-5 hours!! For my birth she woke him up around 5am after timing the contractions for awhile to be sure it was real and then they went to the hospital and I was there by around 9am. So a lot faster than I realised! It's a good thing if I take after her in that way and don't have long labours but it's something to be aware of. At the birth preparation course we had been told first time mothers labour an average of 12 hours and to spend the first 2-3 hours at home but in my case it sounds like I shouldn't hang around too much if things are moving quickly! It's something to be aware of. Of course I would time the contractions too. One of the evenings while my Dad was here I did have some cramps for awhile. They probably lasted around half an hour or so. They were uncomfortable but not so bad. Practice contractions I think! Apart from that no other indications of when the birth might be.

    Happy Valentine's Day by the way!