Friday, July 30, 2010

Feeling a little blue

On Thursday night I was scared. Very scared. Scared to the point where at times I couldn't talk because I knew it would mean I would cry – and the way I cry you can't understand what I'm saying, my words come out sounding like a bear stuck in a lawnmower. But I had to keep calm and in stay in control.

Tricky had been a little grumpy for a few hours, more than likely because the day before he had received his first immunisations, so we decided to give him a bath because he really likes them. Every time he gets in the water he goes wide eyed and quiet, as if he is concentrating on the sensations. Instead of bathing him in his plastic bathtub, we put him in the big bath with me so he could get some nice cuddles at the same time as getting squeaky clean. Two birds, one stone, perfect.

This time though, instead of the usual look of awe, he did really long, slow blinks and then went to sleep on my chest. I tried waking him up a few times but he just wanted to go back to sleep. He had been sleepy earlier because of the shots, but not like this. I turned him around to face me, mainly because I thought he looked so scrumptious in his naked sleepiness and I wanted a better look at him. Then I noticed that all around his lips, the skin was tinged blue. I called in Hubby. Did he think it looked blue too, or was it just the lights? No. It wasn't the lights. He had a little five o'clock shadow about fifteen years too early.

We got out of the bath and he didn't cry. He normally has a little cry when he realises the lovely watery world of the tub has been taken away from him. But he was silent. I didn't like it one bit. He was still breathing fine, and there was no other discolouration on him anywhere else but the little alarm bells going off in my head would not be silenced.

The colour returned shortly after that but I couldn't shake one image from my mind – photos of my sister with her lips blue from lack of oxygen. Should we just watch for a while and see if he was alright? Or should we go by the old 'better safe than sorry' mantra and head to the emergency department? There was no way I would be able to sleep without knowing he was alright, so we went to Princess Margaret Hospital for Children. On the way there I sat in the back seat and watched him the entire time, I just couldn't look away. I had to see his chest moving up and down.

In triage his oxygen saturation was measured and found to be 99% so he was definitely not in any immediate danger. We were given a bed in emergency and found ourselves at the bottom of the list. Strangely I found this comforting. They would have rushed to us if they thought he was sick, wouldn't they? In the bed to our right was a boy with a broken arm and Hubby and I chatted about when he broke his arm as a kid, falling off his bike. I wanted to talk about anything and everything... to keep my mind occupied so that it didn't wander off with worst case scenarios. It did not help that the song stuck in my head was “Blue Lips” by Regina Spektor.

After a while we were seen by an amazing young doctor who made me feel immediately at ease. She didn't make me feel like an idiot for coming in, she listened to the history of my sister's heart defect and then examined him thoroughly – she listened to his heart, checked to see if his hands, feet and tongue were pink, and did other doctor-y things. He was fine. She explained that sometimes this happens, it's normal. Really? It's normal for my kid's mouth to go blue? Apparently, yes. Because it was the area around his lips and not the lips themselves. Bizarre. I was given a full medical explanation but in the emotion of it all I've forgotten what exactly it was.

We arrived home at 1.00am and I cried with a mix of relief and exhaustion. I thought I would feel silly for going to the hospital only to be turned around with a clean bill of health, possibly labelled a paranoid parent... but I didn't. Instead I felt secure in the knowledge that I'd done the right thing. My Tricky was safe and the saying is right because it's way better than being sorry. I slept soundly... until he woke me up for another feed anyway.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Good as gold

Prepare yourself to learn some very personal details about me. This post shall go down in history as the first (maybe of many) of the 'too much information' variety. It will come as no big shock to those of you with children, you may have already tread this path. I have a cracked nipple. There I said it. But that's not the best part...

I saw a lactation counsellor at the fortnightly Australian Breastfeeding Association meetings I go to because it was still hurting to feed him, but strangely only on the left side. The side with the crack. A crack that had been there from when Tricky was only a few days old. I got some great advice and it became less painful but the crack still wasn't healing.

I'd been using all the suggested methods of healing cracks – putting breastmilk on the nipple and letting it air dry on there (I was very tempted to answer the door like this one time, but figured the constant stream of door-to-door salesmen didn't need encouraging), using pure lanolin cream and expressing from that side and not feeding just in case it was a problem with attachment – but it still wasn't healing.

So I went and saw a fully fledged Lactation Consultant through the hospital Tricky was born at. She was happy with Tricky's latch so the next possibility of a non healing nipple is infection - in particular a staphylococci infection. Yep, I have golden staph of the nipple. Bond had Goldfinger, I have Goldnipple. Can't quite see Shirley Bassey singing about that.

Of course I immediately went to my trusted friend, Google, to ask more questions. Just a tip: never to do an image search of 'infected nipple' on a full stomach. After looking it up I realise I've gotten off pretty lightly – I don't have all the yucky bits in the pictures, in fact you can't tell there is anything wrong unless you look closely and see the crack.

I'm half way through a course of antibiotics and the crack appears to be healing – hooray! The only issue I have now is that the antibiotics need to be taken on an empty stomach... for a breastfeeding woman that can be classed as cruel and unusual punishment!

Did you suffer with cracked nipples? How did you manage? Leave a comment with your story.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A reason to smile

I didn't realise just how boring babies were until I had Tricky. I don't know if it makes me a bad mother to say it, because I'm sure some other mothers are thinking it. Up until now he's been as interactive as a Tamagotchi, but now that he is awake more and more during the day it has all started happening.

This past week Tricky has started smiling nice big proper smiles... not just the accidental bowel related ones! Hooray! Never when there is a camera around though. The other thing he's mastered is poking his tongue out – we've been poking our tongues out at him for a few weeks because babies will mirror you and it helps them learn where things are on their body (or so all the books say). Hubby and I would sit with Tricky, talking like idiots and poking out our tongues and eventually he would do it back, much to our delight. But now he just does it by himself if you go near him... think we may have started a bad habit there. Oops. Never mind, it's cute.

He's also figured out that he can control his voice and is oohing and aahing all over the place - he's quite a little chatter box! I of course answer back to him when he does it and we have a little chat, normally with me saying things like “Oh really?” and “No! She didn't did she?” because all our conversations revolve around magazine worthy scandals.

As his new 'skills' emerge I've wondered just what it was that he did before this. The answer, of course, is nothing. They eat, they sleep, they cry, they poo and they wee. End of story. There is no interaction. No response to your pathetic sing-song voice. Just a teeny weeny baby that lays there and stares. If you're lucky they stare at you. They take it all in and give nothing back in those first few weeks.

In the coming weeks Tricky's smiles will become more and more frequent and I can't wait... they'll soon be followed by gorgeous little baby giggles! Let the fun and games begin!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Modern mother

There are more breastfeeding aids on the market than you can poke a stick at (why you'd want to poke a stick at them though is beyond me). The most popular are special little pins that you can clip to your bra strap to remember what side you fed from last and rubber bracelets that let you record what side you fed from and at what time.

In the early days of breastfeeding when I was still getting the hang of it I realised I needed help remembering which side I'd fed from (I was such a milk factory that even after Tricky had a feed I could barely tell the difference by feel). Did I go out and buy a special pin or bracelet? No. I put on my birth stone ring and moved it from one hand to the other at the end of each feed. Then I'd look at the time,  round it up to the nearest quarter hour and remember it. My system worked great and now that I'm in the swing of things I don't need it and the ring stays permanently on my right hand.

Today I received one of the reminder bracelets (from a company wanting me to try their products) and decided to use it for the day to see how it would stack up against my turquoise ring. I didn't last more than a few hours it was so annoying! To remember which breast you fed from last you turn the bracelet inside out and the time is recorded with a slider that you line up to a number. Now it might be because it was a cheaply made version destined to be a freebie, but the band would twist and the slider would move itself – if I had been relying on it for accurate information I would have been screwed. I can imagine looking at the bracelet and seeing that Tricky last fed seven hours ago and in a sleep deprived state I might actually believe it.

So if a cheaply made bracelet or a fancy pin are not going to work for you, you can always go high tech. That's right, there's an iPhone app that will record it all for you, for up to six different bubs (sorry, Octomom, you'll have to find a different method). You'll be a super-duper high tech mum with that. What ever happened to a pen and paper? Please note the sarcasm is due to the fact that I don't own an iPhone and am therefore jealous of anyone who could have this app.

Do these products help us be better parents? Or do they just drain our pockets? Leave a comment below with your thoughts

Monday, July 12, 2010

To serve and protect

Last night we had a prowler. Hubby and I were awoken (while Tricky slept soundly) by Sprocket madly barking followed by the sounds of someone running down the side of our house and jumping our almost six foot high gate. This is the third time (spread over five years and two houses) that someone has tried to break in to our home, but the first time as parents.

Hubby leapt in to action, double checking that the house was secure and called the police on their non-emergency number (we had heard the person leave, we were in no danger) who then patrolled the street a few times in case the perp (oooh I feel like I'm in Law & Order) moved a few houses down to try his luck there. The times this had happened previously, out of the two of us, Hubby was the more spooked – understandably so when you consider he did come face to face with the intruder on the second occasion! This time though, it was completely different. My easy going, laid back husband was gone and in his place was Super Dad, protector of the family!

So where was I? The one who normally isn't too freaked out knowing that I'm safe inside and the bad guy is outside? I was sitting up in bed too afraid to move – there might have been a boogey man under the bed waiting to grab my ankle after all. I felt vulnerable and exposed like never before even though the previous intruders left tool marks on the doors and this guy only left footprints in the sand. He hadn't gotten anywhere near as close as the others thanks to Sprocket the Wonder Dog giving him the fright of his life yet I was shaking like a leaf.

I'm sure that becoming a dad has switched that protective instinct on in Hubby's head, but I thought mine would have been in full force too. Or perhaps it was and it is showing itself by making me much more alert and aware of those “what ifs” that were running through my head. Pappa Bear is big and fierce while Mumma Bear nurtures? There is only one thing I know for sure, and that is that I'm reading way too much in to this!

Did you feel instantly protective over your little ones?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Hug my bub

When I was pregnant I read every blog and forum I could find to help me sort out which baby products I would need and which I could go without based on the reviews of women who had purchased them – I didn't want to fall in to the trap of reading the catalogues or the bounty magazines that all told me I MUST have this and that and then never use it, especially with the $1000 challenge I had set myself. On almost every list of “I couldn't live without” products was a baby sling, and one in particular featured more heavily than the others – the Hug-a-Bub.

After reading the reviews and checking out the website I decided I had to have one NOW even though I would have been barely four months gone. Trying to keep to budget I sourced one second hand for just $50 (the RRP is $120 for the version I got – I am a bargain hunter extraordinaire!) and watched the DVD instructions for tying it like I was studying for an exam. I wondered if I would ever get the hang of it and be able to tie it as quick as the woman in the video, who pointed out she was doing it slowly for instructional purposes.

Carrying your bub around in a sling is known as baby wearing and is actually quite controversial, with people either loving or hating the idea. Since I bought a sling you can tell which category I fall in to. Some believe that carrying your baby with you all the time will spoil them and you'll end up with a monster but research shows that “babies worn in slings are less clingy and tend to initiate separation much earlier than babies less frequently held. It allows them to be AT the centre of activity not THE centre of attention, which is a wonderful environment proven to stimulate brain development and cognitive learning.” What's not to like about that? I figure that women all over the world going to work in the rice fields carry their kids while they work, and I'm pretty sure in the early days women carried their children to avoid them becoming a tasty little snack for a Sabre Tooth Tiger – and they turned out just fine.

In the past few weeks I've been wearing Tricky in the Hug-a-Bub and I have nothing but glowing praise for it. In fact, I've got it on now because he was being ultra fussy – within a few minutes of being in it, snuggled in close to me, listening to my heartbeat, he was fast asleep. It even allowed Hubby and I to go out to dinner to a restaurant so tightly packed with tables and chairs there would have been zero chance of manoeuvring our pram around – it also meant Tricky slept the whole time and we enjoyed a lovely meal without worrying we were disturbing anyone else with a crying newborn. A lot of women I have spoken to have lamented that their old life disappeared as soon as they had a baby – no more dinners, no more outings. I realise that the old days of just jumping up and going white water rafting without notice might be gone (I've never done this anyway, so for me it's no great loss), but with a sling we're able to take Tricky around with us and he is content to just observe the world, safe in the arms of Hubby or myself.

Are you for or against baby wearing? Leave a comment below with your experiences.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Sleepingless Beauty

Every night, approximately every three hours, Tricky starts to stir and ask in polite gurgles for some food - this lovely window of opportunity lasts about ten minutes until his manners fly out the window and he decides he has waited long enough, thank you. I try to take advantage of this inbuilt warning system but in my tiredness I sometimes fall back to sleep (often after taking the doona off, so it's a cold ten minutes) so instead of being slowly woken by gorgeous coos I am ripped from my slumber by a blood curdling scream (I might be slightly exaggerating).

At this point Hubby wakes up. He doesn't hear the little whimpers and I'm not sure yet if that is a blessing or a curse – perhaps a blessing for him and a curse for me? We'd decided that now he is back at work I will do the night time nappy changes so that he can get some sleep (I'm already awake for the feeding session, why not change a nappy too, right?). But for Hubby, it's not as simple as just going back to sleep... I keep the bedroom light on when I'm feeding and, I'm slightly embarrassed to say, check my email and Facebook on my phone, then read a book. Hey, it can get boring! If I don't do this then it's likely I'll fall asleep while feeding and I have visions of Tricky rolling off the bed and breaking his collar bone like his uncle did at about the same age. Am I overreacting? Probably. Will I turn the light off and get over it? Probably not.

So Hubby is trying to sleep through crying, the light being on, me getting up and down plus the afore mentioned munching of snacks, then has to get up, get ready, ride his bike to the train station in the freezing cold and go to work. I don't know how he manages to stay awake and be productive. I can't imagine having to go to work and be “on” after so little sleep. Oh and I nearly forgot, when he gets home he makes dinner while I have a soak in the bath – yes, I realise I'm a lucky gal!

The division of labour in a household can be a sore spot for many couples, but add to that a breastfeeding infant and it can get, well, tricky. Part of me thinks “If I have to be awake to feed him so often then you should do everything else” while another part realises that this just isn't possible and the poor guy will burn out very quickly if he has to do it all. But at the moment, while he's happy to do it, I'm more than happy to lay back (in the bath) and lap it up.

How did you manage to divide the tasks with your partner when you had a newborn? If you're single, how the hell did you manage to do it alone?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Hubby and I have had our first taste of that part of parenthood dreaded almost as much as the birds and bees talk... colic. As a result, the lack of sleep has been bumped up a notch so this is going to be a really short post!

Yesterday, my gorgeous, cooing, smiling little Tricky turned in to a monster! He became a total fuss pot and would not settle. Jiggle him up and down = cry. Pat his back = cry. Rub his tummy = cry. Cycle his legs = cry. Put him in his little vibrating seat = cry. Put him in the sling = cry ever so slightly less while he bobbed his head around looking for the good stuff. It lasted almost twelve hours and my back is now aching from holding 4.5kg of cute for so long! On the upside, since I wasn't going anywhere I watched half a season of House on DVD - even though I couldn't hear all of it over the crying it didn't really affect my viewing pleasure because who really knows what all those long hard to pronounce diseases are anyway?

The only time he would stop crying was when he was feeding – he's so polite not to talk with his mouth full. After his meal he'd fall asleep and I would feel myself physically relax a little bit. But alas, it only lasted for about half an hour or an hour at a time and he'd be awake again, screaming. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Grumpy, irritable and only satiated by food... I think I have colic, too!

Did colic get you down? What did you do to soothe your bub? Leave a comment below.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Letter to Tricky - one month old

Dear Tricky,

My, what an adventure we've had already and you're only one month old today!

Bringing you home was amazing. Like a lot of new mums I sat in the back seat of the car next to you - even though you have a baby capsule that exceeds Australian Standards, I had to sit there... just watching you, making sure you were safe. Your Daddy thought I'd sit there next to you for the first few years of your life but I proved him wrong on our first outing (to register you on our health insurance – how exciting!) by sitting in the front and only spending half the time turned around looking at you. I would have spent the whole time looking but it kinda hurt to crane my neck around for so long.

You really enjoy bath time and you always seem so calm afterwards. Daddy and I both love bathing you because you make the funniest faces – my favourite is the one where you look like you're trying to whistle! Sometimes we'll whistle to you when you do it, and you stop and stare at us.

You've already done a wee on both your Dad and I while being changed, but that's OK because we figure it's a right of passage for a new parent... however now that we've both experienced it could you stop, please?

It's still a bit scary being in charge of looking after you. I keep expecting someone to come and pick you up and take you home with them... I can't believe you're actually ours. Some of the things you do that make us wonder what we've gotten ourselves in to all revolve around your strength. Your head seems to have a life of it's own - you throw it around every which way no matter how securely you're being held. After months of reading books and attending classes that tell us “support your baby's head” it certainly gave us a fright when from day one you could lift it up for so long.

Your “tummy time” is going great guns – you push up on your arms and hold your little head up high. Plus, for a week now, when you've had enough you roll yourself over to your back. The first time you did it we thought it was just a fluke and brushed it off... but you keep doing it now. I'm not even sure you're meant to be able to do that yet and it's freaking me out! Are you not aware you're only four weeks old? I know I forget sometimes, but you should really try to keep up, OK?

You only cry when you're hungry or need a change – and most of the time you sleep between three to four hours between feeds. The only time it seems shorter is when I sit down to eat or want to have a shower – you obviously are very gifted with a sixth sense for knowing when Mummy is trying to do something else. The other night Daddy and I went out to dinner to celebrate a friend's birthday – we were a little bit nervous that we'd order our food and not get to eat it because you were crying/fussy/spewing/pooing (or all of the above at the same time because you're so talented) but you slept the entire time, cuddled up to my chest in your sling. We only took you out of it at the very end so the people who hadn't met you yet could have some cuddle time.

Each day you grow so much (you've already grown out of some of your clothes!) and do something new – like yesterday when you started doing small smiles when we smiled at you (not to be confused with the really big smiles you do right before you fill your nappy). Getting to know you has been so much fun and if the rest of our journey together is going to be anywhere near as good as it's been so far, then it will be amazing!

Love Mummy xxx

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Every dog has his day

When you introduce your baby to your dog there are few things the experts tell you to do. Things you might not think of like taking a singlet with the baby's smell on it so the dog can get used to it the day before the meeting, and also the ones that are pretty obvious, like making sure the dog is restrained and hasn't been fed any baby-shaped snacks recently to avoid confusion.

Hubby and I have a beautiful Belgian Shepherd (Malinois) cross called Sprocket, named after the dog in the '80's Jim Henson TV show, Fraggle Rock. We rescued him from the animal shelter when he was about six months old. He'd been found wandering the streets weighing next to nothing with all his ribs sticking out and a few very suspicious scars on him that look like he might have been burnt.

So we took him home, fattened him up and still to this day marvel how a dog that was so badly treated in his early days has such a beautiful nature. Nothing upsets Sprocket (other than when you stop playing fetch and he looks at you like “Why are you stopping? We were having so much fun!”

Of course, being young he is still highly excitable and prone to jumping up on people, especially if he hasn't seen them in a while. So we were unsure how such a hyperactive dog would handle an infant being around.

When I was in hospital Sprocket was a little out of sorts because he wasn't getting his nightly cuddles – you see he has an old couch out the back that he lays on until he gets his cuddles, then we say “Off to bed” and he gets up and goes in to his kennel. But without his nightly cuddle... he just stayed on the couch. And it was freezing, the poor thing! Tricky wasn't even home yet and Sprocket was a bit put out.

On introducing them to each other Hubby held on tight to Sprocket's collar and I lowered Tricky slightly so that he wouldn't jump up on us. We were braced for a lunge of excitement and energy... but what we got was some sniffing, an attempted lick and then he tried to go get his ball. Anti climax. Completely disinterested! And it has continued this way since. On the few occasions he is allowed inside (Sprocket that is, Tricky is allowed inside quite a bit) the same thing has happened – a bit of sniff, a lick of the toes and then on to something else. Whilst I know it isn't a green light to leave the two alone together, or even let my guard down when they're near each other, it is a massive weight off my shoulders.

I think as Tricky gets older he and Sprocket will be best of friends - let's just hope that Sprocket's laid back attitude continues... does anyone know what the smallest size saddle you can buy is?

My other beautiful boy, Sprocket


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