Wednesday 26 August 2009


Whoa. There went another three weeks. Dude, where's my time? This is seriously getting scary.

So, since last time, Isla's given us her first smile (at four weeks), we've had lots of fun days and evenings with friends, and Isla's already outgrown a whole set of clothing. So long newborn, hello 0-3. At the last weigh in a week ago, she was 11 lbs...which is what Mia weighed at 3 months. Yup.

We had our six week appointment with a new lady doctor who was lovely, but slightly irritating. "You're VERY brave!" she gasped when reading my notes and seeing I had a home birth, followed by another wide-mouthed expression of shock when I informed her that I breastfed Mia for 19 months. Yes, I know that homebirths and extended breastfeeding are quite rare but she's a doctor, for goodness sake. She really shouldn't be so dumbstruck by these notions. What's interesting is that I've received the most understanding about my mad hippy ways from elderly women. None have been taken aback about Isla being born at home, almost all of them ask "Are you feeding her yourself?", and many have been complimentary about my sling, saying what a clever idea it is. A lot of what we now consider the norm is actually quite recent, in terms of modern history. Formula feeding and hospital births have only become common since the 2nd world war, so I think this is why many older women aren't fazed at all by what's now become unusual. All this to say, it's been nice to chat to people who don't think I'm a complete lunatic.

Life has been good. Hectic, but good. I'm in the midst of some strange postnatal nesting phase, scrubbing things down, clearing out cupboards, organising, and getting around to all those things that have been sadly neglected for months. I've hacked back the jungle that was our garden (and many thanks to Paul for digging up that hideous grass stuff around the pond and tidying up the border), cleaned out the pantry and kitchen cupboards (farewell bottle of tarragon that expired in 2005), gone through the kids' toys and books and donated unused things to charity, put the kids' toys in the lounge in large plastic boxes (I discovered that the kids would get out every toy and dump it two seconds later when they were out in open boxes), cleared out my wardrobe, and put together a stack of stuff ready for eBay. I've backed up my photos on to DVD - frighteningly, I hadn't done this since the end of last year. I bought decorating supplies to finish up the belly cast with the kids. I finally put a live plant in the pot by the front door (now taking bets to see how long it survives.) I planted more veg for the autumn season. I made a huge batch of roasted vegetable salsa from the lovely tomatoes I've harvested from the plant my father-in-law gave me. I might even get around to finishing that blanket I started to knit when I was pregnant with Mia. Whoop!

Good thing I just got a Bialetti coffee maker to keep myself powered by lattes.

Wednesday 5 August 2009

one month

Four weeks have gone by since Isla's birth, and I really have no clue where the time has gone. Paul returned to work today; it truly doesn't feel like he's been off for a month. On the plus side, if time keeps flying as it has, Christmas and our holiday to California next Easter will be here before we know it. Isla is brilliant and I swear her eyes are turning brown already. I seem to recall that Jack's had a hint of brown quite early on as well. My little milk guzzler is one ounce shy of 10lbs (although this was a week ago, so she's likely over 10lbs now) which means she put on 10oz since the week before. I might be crazy (no, really!) but I think she's been smiling at me. Not gas, I mean proper smiling. I'm sure I got some true smiles from her over the weekend. Whatever they are, they're adorable.

Her sleep is still unpredictable, although she tends to only wake once during the night on the most part. If I feed her at 11 or midnight, she usually wakes again at 2 or 3, then again at 6 or 7 which is when I get up for the day (along with the rest of the house.) So, I'm still not getting a huge amount of sleep but it's better than nothing - or the nights when she wakes every 1 or 2 hours, as she did on Monday night. Breastfeeding continues to go well, although I find it strange how awkward it was at first (and still is a bit). I forgot how difficult it can be to get a newborn latched on and stay latched on, and how it's a little trickier to get the baby into a good position because of their lack of head control. It's made feeding in public very fumbly at times, and oddly, I sometimes find myself feeling very self conscious about it. I was sitting right at the front window at Loch Fyne restaurant in Bluewater on Monday, breastfeeding away. Once Isla was latched on and I got my clothing arranged around her, I was fine. But at first, I felt very awkward and paranoid that people were staring aghast at this woman with her boob out (although it wasn't) in a restaurant. It's funny how I got to the point of not caring at all with Mia and have reverted to feeling shy about breastfeeding with Isla.

I finally realised that the painful latching I've experienced with all three children in the first two weeks has nothing to do with the latching itself - it's from "let down". I could never figure out why breastfeeding hurt so much when midwives were assuring me that my latch was absolutely fine. All the books claim that if it hurts, you're not doing it right. Well bully to the books, because I figured out that the initial, toe-curling pain I used to get with each latch was from the milk coming in. The tingly sensation you get when the milk starts to flow is usually painless (maybe a little uncomfy, but not enough to make you gasp) but for some reason, mine is very painful for the first two weeks. It feels like sharp pins and needles right behind my nipples that subsides after a moment, and after chatting to Jane about it, I found out that this isn't unusual and does tend to go away after two weeks or so. Who knew? So anyway, the pain is gone now and for those of you experiencing the same thing (or who may once they give birth), just try to get through those first couple of weeks and know that it will probably get a whole lot better soon after. And Lansinoh is your best friend.

I'm experimenting with various cloth nappies for Isla as I attempt to find something economical and effective. Mia's still in nappies although I'm hoping it won't be for much longer. In the meantime, Isla can't really Mia's nappies because I don't have enough for both, and I really don't want to spend much on new ones for only a few months' use. I think I'm going to use bamboo squares, as they seem to be absorbent enough and fairly inexpensive. Terry squares are another option I'm going to try, and they're even cheaper - around £1-2 per nappy. I love them...they make Isla look like the baby on the Fairy soap packaging.

My big girl had her very first haircut last week in Nanna's kitchen by a lovely lady called Angela who cuts my mother-in-law's hair. Although Mia wasn't too keen on the concept at first, she quickly went very quiet and sat still while Angela cut her hair. For the next few days, she couldn't stop talking about "my haircup!" I've got one of Mia's "curls" to stick in the baby book now. She looks so different with a fringe. At least she's looking a lot less mullety now that the back and front have been shortened a little. My little pixie!

We had a lovely break down at the in-laws' and did quite a bit while we were away. We went to Howlett's zoo (the gorilla enclosure is fantastic), met up with a friend and her adorable boy at the Museum of Kent Life (which is very much like Thurleigh Farm, the kids loved it), had a cream tea, ate lots of yummy BBQ food at my brother and sister-in-laws', took Jack to see "G-Force" and ate at Loch Fyne, and managed to catch a little bit of sunshine during our stay.

So, today it's just Isla and I as life returns to normal. Now we find a new routine and settle into life as a family of five. And maybe try to get a little sleep in between.