Unconditional love – currently under testing

It’s 1:40 am. The girl is sick, and she’s just woken up, crying for Daddy. He’s fast asleep so I leap out of bed to go and comfort her. Only… she doesn’t want me. She wants Daddy. She won’t let me cuddle her, she doesn’t want to hear anything I have to say until I offer to let her jump into our bed. She runs to our bed and snuggles in… next to Daddy. A minute or two later she’s out like a light.

Truth be told, when I ran in there I had to wipe the tears from my eyes first. I’d worked myself into a sad, sentimental state, first cuddling Jordan, then thinking back to when Milly was a baby – back before tantrums and back-chatting and telling me no, she doesn’t want a cuddle. Swiping through photos on Facebook, I tried to make sense of how much she’s changed in just two-and-a-half years. Sure, it wasn’t all roses – when she stopped sleeping during the day we had some very trying times. But it didn’t matter. Mummy cuddles always made it better.

I know that they don’t stay babies forever, and I know that every child declares at some point that they hate their parents – angry words said in the heat of the moment. But I guess I didn’t expect it at such a young age. It’s one thing to be throwing a tantrum and lash out – it’s quite another to coolly tell me to bugger off (I’m paraphrasing of course). I still see her as my little girl, barely past babyhood, and she thinks she’s all grown up, with an adult-sized attitude to match. After eighteen months or so of being closer than close, in sync with each other, suddenly I’m feeling on the outside, subject to her moods and whims. It’s a big adjustment and it’s caught me off kilter.

For the whole of Monday she cries through the pain of her illness (hand, foot and mouth disease may be ‘mild’ but it brings a very great degree of misery). She asks for Daddy. She rarely accepts a cuddle. I feel a little defeated, and even more sad: now I can’t even comfort my baby girl! Just as I’m about to resign myself to the fact that she’d rather have Daddy at home and pick up a full-time job so Sean can be the stay-at-home parent, the man himself walks in the door. He scoops up Milly and heads upstairs for some cuddles and quit time (with the hope of getting her to sleep and depositing her in her bed). A few minutes later I hear what is suddenly like music to my ears –

“Muuuuuummmmmmyyyyyy!!! I want my mummy!!”

Ahh, so she does need me, after all! I head upstairs to take over from Sean. As she snuggles in close, with her head against my chest and her little arms wrapping around my neck, my heart soars. My love for her is permanent, unchanging even with her snottiest moods, but it sure is gratifying to have the sentiment returned!


How Time Flies

It can feel like time is dragging on when you’re stuck on the couch feeding your baby for the millionth time that day, but then you blink and a whole day, year or decade has gone by. For example, I meant to sit and write a post yesterday; now there’s barely anything left of today, and I’m pumping out this post while I wait for Sean to come back from the bathroom.

Kids keep you busy. From the moment I woke up today, I was busy being Mum. Feed Jordan. Get Amelia’s breakfast. Change Jordan’s bum – and his outfit, because he’s leaked wee onto his clothes. Give Amelia a bath. Feed Jordan. Get Milly a snack. Wash and sterilise bottles. Get Milly a drink. Feed Jordan. Play with Amelia. Try to get Milly down for a nap (no cigar with this one, even after an earnest 1.5 hour attempt). Feed Jordan. Take the kids down to the park to burn off the last dregs of Milly’s energy so she’ll nap.

Regardless of all the things I might have on my to-do list – from housework to simply sitting and reading a book – my first and foremost responsibility and privilege is to look after the kids. That takes time. If I’m always thinking about the things I’m waiting to do “when they sleep” or “when I get a chance”, that’s when I find the end of the day sneaks up on me and I look back with a sense of disappointment on a day where I didn’t get to tick things off my list.

I guess the important thing, then, and something which I’ve been learning lately, is that looking after my children is not only a full-time job, it’s a valuable one, something I should cherish and take pride in – not wish away for want of more time to clean my house or reread A Series Of Unfortunate Events. I’ll never get back a blessed minute of these early childhood days with my kids, and I don’t want to end up an old person looking back with disappointment that I didn’t put my heart and soul into treasuring each day.

So this blog might end up a little irregular, but don’t worry – if you don’t hear from me for a few days, it’s probably because I’m busy cuddling my babies.


Reflux and Our Decision To Mixed-Feed

Today our girl is seven weeks old. She’s growing and learning and I swear she’s becoming even more beautiful with every passing day! But life hasn’t been all smiles and long nap-times these last few weeks. Around the four-and-a-half week mark we hit a growth spurt, and Little Miss became unsettled: she slept in short bursts, fed every hour or two, and grizzled constantly. Our placid baby had become impossible! A day or two later she settled, now noticeably bigger than before! Within a few days, however, she became unsettled again. Reading through Facebook posts from other mums, I started to wonder if it might be reflux. At our 6-week check-up, the doctor agreed that this was likely the case. We had noticed the symptoms gradually; on their own, they just seemed like normal baby things, but when we finally put them together, it became pretty clear that something was wrong.

Not happy Jan!

Not happy Jan!

Clues that Amelia has reflux:

  • Vomiting a lot. Little dribbles of reflux became chunky, projectile spew. She vomits after every feed (sometimes DURING a feed, ew!) and in between feeds.
  • “Wet” hiccups. She started to get the hiccups more and more, and we could hear the liquid plopping up and down in the back of her throat with each one.
  • Random fits of screaming, with no apparent cause.
  • Refusing to be put down – she’d seem to fall asleep in our arms, then cry and scream when we put her in her cot.
  • Feeding often, but not getting enough at each feed. She would pull away before reaching the “hind milk” (where the milk changes from thin and watery to creamy, fatty milk), which just left her hungry again.
  • Pulling away from the breast, screaming and arching her back. Feeding her was becoming a nightmare!

I decided to Google “reflux” and found these exact symptoms (Huggies.com has a helpful page on reflux). The doctor prescribed Losec, an antacid that comes in tablet form. These are supposed to be swallowed whole, but may be dissolved for those (such as babies) who can’t swallow them. You’re not meant to crush them, or even break them; they presumably taste nasty; they don’t dissolve so much as break down into little flakes. I tried mixing it with expressed breast milk and bottle-feeding it after she refused to take it from a syringe, and it just got caught in the teat. I went back to the doctor and got a new prescription which I took to a compounding pharmacy, where they made a banana-flavoured liquid version. Much easier!

I spoke to the paediatrician about mixed feeding as I was concerned that she wasn’t getting quite enough food, between her fussing at the breast and vomiting up half of what she got. According to her growth chart she needs to put on a little more weight, so I felt that my concerns were validated. The paediatrician agreed that formula top-ups could be helpful to fatten her up and help her settle. She recommended starting with plain NAN or S-26, but said that if that wasn’t working out we could try a thickened formula that’s specially made for reflux.

We went with NAN, which is what we had been using for top-ups at the hospital and in the days after coming home. She took to it immediately. She had spent the previous hour sleeping lightly and refusing to be put down (Sean had her while I was at an appointment) but after a bottle of formula she sunk into a deep sleep and has been happy since!

Sleeping Beauty - with a full belly, she is content and completely out to it :)

Sleeping Beauty – with a full belly, she is content and completely out to it 🙂


Breastfeeding With A Nipple Shield

My baby was hungry; she was rooting, and seemed to latch well when I put her to the breast – but she just wouldn’t suck! In the hospital, the midwives helped me to hand express, then set me up with an electric pump. Off to a slow start, I was told she would have to have her feeds topped up with formula. Our future as a breastfeeding pair was suddenly uncertain: would we be able to establish ourselves? Would she ever feed from the breast?

Then the lactation consultant came, managing to squeeze me into her overflowing schedule of appointments. I am very grateful that she did, as her advice was helped to start us off, finally. She came with a little silicone teat called a nipple shield or nipple guard. Clear and completely flexible, it sits over the nipple and the baby takes this into her mouth, with the nipple inside. It has holes in the end for the milk to flow through.

Avent nipple shield

Avent nipple shield

From the first moment, it was a raging success. She attached with a vengeance and got to guzzling milk like there was no tomorrow. Since then we’ve had no issues using the shield – well, not with feeding, anyhow. I’ve just had to learn to put a cloth underneath to catch the excess that collects in the shield for when she inevitably knocks it off! I’ve also found that she occasionally gets a bit too much and chokes a little, so that’s something else to watch out for, though it doesn’t happen very often.

I’ve seen the lactation consultant since then, and she gave me hope that we’ll be able to wean off the guard eventually. I have flat nipples, which means that Amelia misses the stimulation on her palate that tells her to suck; however, she should get the hang of it as she grows bigger. In the meantime, I’ve found that about once a day (usually the 11 am feed) my boobs will suddenly start cooperating, with nice pointy nipples, and she’s able to feed nicely without the guard for at least one side.

Even if we never get to the point of breastfeeding without the nipple shield, at least we will have been able to breastfeed, in spite of the challenge of flat boobies.

Happy breastfeeding bub

Happy breastfeeding bub