It’s been way too long since I last wrote, primarily because the last 6 weeks have just been a whirlwind. I am back in work roughly 10 weeks (but who is counting) and in the time we have had 1 stomach bug, one vomiting bug, countless colds and coughs and one particularly bad virus.
At the same time I have faced a pre-busy season in work. I am an auditor by trade, so I work in a very male dominated industry. There are not many mommas at my level right now (actually I am the only one at my level but there are a few above and below). To put it into perspective, the department has 200 people, so it’s not a small department!
Finding the right work life balance is so hard! Before my little one arrived, I could easily do on average 12 hour days, ramping that up in busier periods and working my weekends. But I have had a major shift in priorities. I now not only have mothers guilt but guilt I let my team down in work too! I am in charge if pickups from Creche. So I go in early and leave early. If I miss a pick up as I have late meetings, the guilt I feel is just awful. And it’s not just that, it’s that I miss my little one.
I was hoping to hold off writing this post until I had all the answers, until I had achieved the perfect balance and I feel I could provide people with great advice. But the reality is, there is no perfect balance.
I have been stressing over trying to get this balance right, but in the last two weeks I have come to the conclusion that you can’t really have it all. But the important thing is to know what you need to prioritise at different times.
When I feel the guilt, I try and ask myself what will make me happy. Will attending this meeting make me happy, will getting to creche make me happy, will meeting my deadline make me happy? A happy momma is a happy family. A happy worker is a more productive worker. So what will really make me happy????
It changes and flexes every day. But that’s ok too. Achieving things in work is important, but so is being there when your baby needs you.
Some things I have done that help me:
1) Get a cleaner – you have enough to be doing working and looking after a family, so getting help with the big cleaning jobs is so important
2) be disciplined – I block off my calendar when I am due to go, to avoid meetings going into it.
3) when you feel the guilt, check in and see what makes you happy
4) when you see issues coming up, raise them early, you know when things will become unmanageable!
Finally remember, we are all human, and we are doing our best. That’s all we can do!
We started our little one in Creche about 4 weeks ago now. The first two weeks were his settling in period where we built up the time he was in Creche slowly by an hour a day. Before he started in Creche I heard about all the bugs he will pick up. We made it through the first 2 weeks and he didn’t even have a cold. I thought maybe his immune system is slightly stronger. Maybe he won’t get anything…..oh was I wrong! On Saturday his temperature started to spike a bit during the day and he woke up with the sniffles. I just thought here we go, a bad head cold. That’s to be expected! We watched his temperature all Saturday and Sunday, giving him calpol when it went up. On Sunday he was very grumpy. He didn’t really eat much of his food. Eating very little dinner, which is not like him at all. I stress about dinner the most as I am always afraid he will wake up in the middle of the night hungry. So it was bed early for our grumpy boy. He was very unsettled that evening so the hubby went up to check on him. And all of a sudden he vomited everywhere. Not baby vom, but proper vom. He had picked up the winter vomiting bug! 🤢 I was called up to do the clean up while my hubby cuddled a very happy little boy, he looked so relieved. Over the next few days we battled the runs, temperatures and an increasingly worse cold. He also managed to pass the bug on around the family. When I got it I realised how awful my little one felt, no wonder he was so grumpy! Thankfully he is so much better this week and we are pretty much over his cold too. I have a feeling that with all the bugs in Creche.. .. this is definitely not the last bug he will pick up. But better to build up his immunity now…. and ours along the way!
Ok so my little one was officially 10 months yesterday, so not really a baby anymore. But as every mother says, he is still my baby!
Last week we started our creche settling in period for our little man. The first day he spent an hour there with daddy. He had a great time playing with all the new toys.
The second day he spent an hour there by himself. I dropped him off. He was busy playing with toys when I left and seemed happy out. Only upon collecting him did we find out about 15 mins after leaving he cried on and off for the rest of his time there. The good thing is that he wasn’t crying by the time he was picked up by nana.
The third day mummy and daddy dropped him off. Today he spent 2 hours at creche. Again, he was happy out when we left as he was busy playing with toys. But the same thing happened 15 mins after we left. He cried on an off until he was picked up by daddy and nana, he was delighted to see them both.
The fourth day, Friday, he went there for 3 hours. He got upset as daddy was leaving. The good thing is that he did sleep. And overall cried less while he was there. So that’s positive. But the minute he saw Daddy he burst into tears until he got a big cuddle.
Today it is my turn to drop him off. I didn’t think much about it as I was running around getting things ready for creche. He was so good going in. I put him down on the floor to play and he was fine. And then all of a sudden he just burst into tears. The kind of wail that means I just want my mummy. I picked him up and he stopped immediately. I handed him over to one of the girls and the wailing started again with his arms outstretched for me to take him back.
My heart absolutely broke. I had to leave my crying baby with people I didn’t know! My eyes start to well with tears of my own. And I start to take big breaths to keep back the tears. I am one of those people who wears my emotions on my sleeve. It was heart breaking walking out of the place. I drove straight to the local shopping centre for a haircut. I feel I deserve a bit of pampering!
I sit here with dye in my hair counting down the hours until I get a big cuddle! This is so much worse than being in work!
I know he will start to enjoy creche, but this settling in phase is so much worse than I ever imagined!
Last week my husband went away for 3 nights with work. This was the first time I had to get both myself and our little one ready in the morning with no help. Usually I would make the bottle, grab a shower while my hubby gave our little one a bottle and then we would all go downstairs for breakfast. But when it was just me doing morning prep, things did not go so smoothly!
The first night I barely slept. Not only was I up when our little one woke, but I tossed and turned throughout the night stressed about how I would manage the next morning. It was the same poor quality sleep you get when you have an early morning flight to get the next day and you have the fear that you will sleep in!
The morning went better than expected. I managed to grab a shower before our little one got upset (he had woken but he was just cooing in bed) and because I was up before 6 I got everything I needed done before he woke (bottle prep, breakfast etc).
The following two mornings were not as successful as he woke earlier and was up more at night so I was more tired.
By the time my hubby was back, I was so exhausted! And so relieved to have our little team him back to normal!
However I have a much greater amount of respect for any single parent! It’s really hard to do things by yourself! You are all amazing!
When I originally thought of this blog post title, I didn’t think I would get my little one onto bottles, but thanks to the NUK closer to nature bottle, that’s not an issue (see my bottle review post here).
Mastitis – the devil!
Getting mastitis was what started me on the road to ending my breastfeeding journey. It is rare that someone will make it through their own breastfeeding journey without getting mastitis at least once. For others they can be riddled with it! I was lucky enough to avoid it up until my little one was 7 moths old. It hit me like a ton of bricks. It started with just feeling very uncomfortable one Sunday evening when I was lying down to go to sleep. One breast just felt really achy and sore to the touch. I thought nothing of it until I woke up the next day feeling extremely ill., I had a high temperature, aches and pains all over, a splitting headache, no energy and a very very sore breast. That’s the moment you realise there is no rest for us mommas! I couldn’t call in sick from my day job, and my little one needed as much attention as normal. I was lucky enough to have had a GP appointment that morning by chance. Had it not been booked, I probably would have gotten much worse before getting checked out. I was prescribed antibiotics which took a few days to clear up the infection. But the worse part was just how exhausted I was. It really surprised me how much of a toll a little infection can take on the body.
On the road to getting my boobs back!
Every piece of information I have read about breastfeeding is based on how to get breastfeeding established, how to get through the first few weeks. Nowhere at all does it tell you how to stop!
Once I got my little one to accept formula, I chose one feed every half a week or so to switch to a bottle feed. I started with day feeds, as I was going back to work, it was most important to get the little one onto a bottle when I wasn’t there. I tried to be rigid about the feed I chose and not offer him the boob for these feeds, despite him looking for it at times. There were days when he just needed boob comfort, for example when he got a terrible cold. But I just tried not to make it a habit.
All together it took about 8 weeks to get my little one off breastfeeding exclusively and onto formula during the day. Doing this slowly prevented the over-production of milk most of the time. I will admit, I am still feeding him in the middle of the night, but I will be dropping that soon. I never thought I would make it past 6 weeks feeding, then I said I would stop at 6 months. Now we are nine months in and I can’t believe it.
I am looking forward to getting my body back but I will really miss the closeness and connection you get from breastfeeding. But for now, I am just going to enjoy every last feed I have left.
While today is my official first day back to work, I have attended 2.5 training days in the last 3 weeks. The first training day I was very upset leaving. But as my amazing family were babysitting and I was getting updates, I didn’t feel too bad, surprisingly. The rest of my training days went fine. I wasn’t emotional leaving and just looked forward to the thought of getting home to my baby.
Seeing as today daddy is watching our little one, I thought I would be fine leaving. But actually I am a rollercoaster of emotions. From the moment our little one woke (at 5.45, waaay too early) he was reaching out for me. I brought him into our bed for a snuggle and bottle and all he wanted to do was snuggle into mummy and stroke my face. I went to get up for a shower and he got a little upset, despite daddy being right next to him. It just felt like he knew!
That was the moment my emotions got the better of me. As I ran out the door afraid I would miss the bus, I tried not to focus on the tears rolling down my face. Hopefully people on the bus will just mistake it for rain water!
As I sit on the bus typing this, I get a snap of our little one playing with his cars, as happy as ever. I just gotta take a deep breath, pop a smile on my face and hope that the day will fly by!
I was lucky enough to be chosen as a product tester for the NUK Closer to Nature bottle set which was arranged by a great magazine Easy Parenting (read the online magazine here). I was sent out the bottle set for 6-18 months, a lovely bottle brush and the NUK bottle cleanser.
My little one was exclusively breast fed (other than a handful of bottles to top him up during the first few weeks). So when I started thinking about going back to work and thus trying to get him onto some Formula during the day, he did not take kindly to it. He really tried hard not to succumb to drinking from a bottle. Originally I tried him on Tomee Tippee bottles (he has the same brand soother) with Formula and he completely refused it. After a few days of continuous bottle rejection, I tried him on expressed breast milk in the bottle, still no joy. Over the course of the next 2 weeks I tried a bottle every day with expressed breast milk, testing beakers (he loves drinking water from his beaker), the magic cup (again loves water from this) and some MAM bottles. No joy at all. Through persistence he started to drink a little from a MAM bottle, but not very much at all, he chewed the teat more than anything. He would reluctantly drink about 1 ounce from this bottle.
When I saw that Easy Parenting were looking for product testers for the NUK Closer to Nature bottle, which is really good for combination feeding mums, I thought why not give this one a try and boy am I happy I did! It is the only bottle we now use.
Our little one loves the bottles, there are multiple holes at the top of the bottle, similar to milk ducts. The bottle is nicely shaped and easy to hold for him. It is also very easy to clean, breaking down into 4 easy to wash parts.
The NUK bottle brush has a strong, good quality main brush and a small brush which gets right down into the bottom of the teat, so you know the bottle is well cleaned. That paired with the easy to use cleaning solution, has given me lots of reassurance that the bottles are properly clean before going into the steriliser.
**Other than getting the free products (and a wonderful coffee morning to discuss how we got on) I have not received anything for my review, I just thought it would be nice to tell people how I got on.
I have wanted to write a post about baby eczema but every time I think I have this cracked, a new flare up happens and I am back to square one! I now realise that I don’t think I will ever have it cracked, but I wanted to share our journey so far in the hope that it will help some other new mums wondering what to do!
Roughly 20% of the population have eczema (atopic dermatitis), with this stat increasing in likelihood if one parent also suffers from it. It usually starts as a baby with 65% of people with eczema developing symptoms while they are a baby and up to 90% developing symptoms before they are 5 years old. So if your child has made it to 5 with no symptoms, they are hopefully the lucky 80% of the population that avoid it. I was in that category. I was very lucky never to have really suffered with dry skin let alone eczema. But we knew that the chances were high of our little one getting it as sensitive skin does run in both sides of the family.
But the reality of managing baby eczema was a lot harder than I first thought. The first thing to bear in mind is that no two babies are the same. So something that works for one baby might not work for the other. The worst thing was that my baby was sore and itchy and at the start we were really struggling to get it under control despite trying a number of different things.
We always use Fairy non-bio washing liquid to wash all our clothes and if our little one gets a present of a new outfit, it is put straight into the wash before he wears it to avoid any chemicals from the manufacturing process getting on his skin.
I have found that water really exasperates our littles one’s eczema. And if you ask any dermatologist, our “clean society” of constantly washing the natural oils off our bodies could be a contributing factor to the increasing rates of eczema in general. So quite early on we decided that daily bathing was not an option and moved to weekly baths. There is really no need to bath them more frequently. In the bath we use Silcocks base as its most gentle on his sensitive skin.
Believe it or not, moisurising once a day is just not enough for a baby with eczema. We have 2 big creaming routines in the morning and night where I use steroid creams (Eumovate on the body, Hydrocortisone on the face) if he has a bad flare up and liberally apply either Silcocks base or Childs Farm cream all over his body and Silcocks base on his face. Child’s Farm is a new cream I picked up recently that is a lot lighter than the Silcock’s base and I find it soaks into his dry skin really well to leave it really nicely hydrated. During every nappy change I moisurise his torso, legs and arms (if he has a t-shirt on that day). Moisuriser will only last 2-3 hours on the skin, so I found that moisurising after each nappy change really made a difference.
Managing flare ups
The key to managing any flare up is trial and error. Its important to find a cream that works for your baby’s skin. I was very against using any steroid cream in the beginning as prolonged use thins the skin. However with each flare up I realized that the amount of scratching at already delicate skin was actually doing more damage. So while I now use these strong creams sparingly, I am not afraid to use them if the flare-up is bad and our little one is scratching a lot.
I have second guessed myself the whole way through our journey so far, but the key thing I try and remember is this flare-up too shall pass, and is usually does!
Teething! The worst nightmare for any parent. Just as you think things are going well with feeding and sleeping, teething will invariably strike, usually out of nowhere. It also often disappears as quickly as it arrives not always leaving you with the start of a tooth!
Over the first 2-3 years your baby will grow 20 teeth. Thinking about how difficult people find it when their wisdom teeth come up, (I can’t really comment as I never actually had any wisdom teeth) I can only imagine how painful this must be for the little babas.
We were getting into a good sleeping pattern recently when teething struck. Our little one is getting his first top teeth, I think. Mind you, a week later and they are still not through!
Teething can effect a baby in many ways but there are some key signs of it to look out for:
Weirdly enough a baby will get a red bum that can easily turn into nappy rash when they are teething. What the relationship between your bum and mouth are, I have no idea, but its usually the first tell tale sign to indicate you could be in for a few bad nights.
Drool – oh the drool:
When our little one is teething he drools like a St Bernard! Its unbelievable. Who knew a tiny mouth could produce SO MUCH DROOL! You need to ensure you are stocked up on lots of clean bibs as typically we could go through over 10 a day. It’s important to change them regularly as prolonged wetness under their chin can cause really bad dribble rash which is very itch and painful. To protect the skin I moisturise under his chin at least twice a day and cover it with Vaseline throughout the day to act as a barrier so his chin is protected.
To be fair, our little one eats everything anyways, so its not always a sign that they are teething, but I find that he eats his hand a lot more around times of teething. He is actually using his hand to apply pressure to his gums to ease the pain. I like to try and give him some of the teethers you can store in the fridge during these times, to help soothe this sore gums. I also find teething jewellery to be excellent during these times (see my previous post on teething jewellery here)
Our little one has a tendency to wake up a lot more when he is teething and just want to be close to mummy. For the past week I have been woken at between midnight and 1am to hysterical cries, nothing will sooth him unless you pick him up and cuddle him. He falls straight asleep in your arms but the minute he is back in his bed, the same thing starts again. This can last up to 2/3 hours. When you are in the middle of it, there is no end in sight, but if you are going through something similar, hold strong! It is just a phase, and this too shall pass!
Remember, getting teeth is very painful for our little ones, so be sure to give them lots of teething gels and a bit of Calpol or baby Nuerofen when they are particularly upset, they can’t tell us their gums are sore, but they can certainly cry about it! And don’t forget, extra cuddles makes everything better
I am pretty sure that the first thing that comes to mind when you think of breastfeeding is “I must breastfeed, everyone says so”. It is easy for outsiders to pass judgement about breastfeeding but you can’t really understand it until you have tried it yourself. Every breastfeeding journey is different and none are easy. This is a short account of how I got started on our breastfeeding journey and what I found really useful!
The preparation before due date
I wasn’t able to go to the breastfeeding classes at the hospital before my little one arrived. And with the benefit of hindsight, I definitely wish I had gone. I think that the information you get at these classes is really important to help get comfortable with breastfeeding.
I didn’t buy a breast pump before and I am really happy I didn’t. As much as you want to breastfeed, it might not always go to plan. If it doesn’t, you don’t want to have incurred the expense of a pump needlessly (and they are not cheep). If you need to pump in hospital or shortly after it, the hospital does rent pumps that you can use, so there is no need for a mad dash to the shops if you need one.
I did however purchase a Haakka pump. This is a really convenient non-mechanical pump, with no moving parts just one piece. It will only set you back €20 and is perfect for expressing while feeding on the other side. I found the pump really handy, especially in the early days while your milk is still coming in. You can buy it online here.
The first latch
Skin to skin is the most important thing to do to get breastfeeding started. It not only calms your baby after their long birthing journey but it helps to get mum and baby comfortable together to help with their first latch. I remember sitting on the post labour ward trying to get breastfeeding started, with the nurse stuffing my nipple into my little ones mouth. It was such a nerve wrecking and stressful time. But when the suckling started for the first time, it was such a relief…. until you had to feed him again and you were back to square one.
The first few days
I was discharged from the hospital early into the community care. All I was ever told was that breast is best. I did not know that sometimes (especially with new mums) your milk does not come very quickly and you might not actually have enough to sustain your little one. Your milk can take up to 5 days to come in for first time mums and while you have colostrum, that is not always enough. Less than 36 hours after arriving home, we were back in the hospital, our little one was less than 50 hours old and he was starving! He had lost over 9% of his birth weight, his blood sugar levels were low and he was quite jittery because of it. We had no idea that we should have given him a formula bottle top up during those early days. Luckily it was an easy fix, a night of bottle feeds in the hospital and our little bundle of joy was back at home with mummy and daddy having put on weight over night!
So when preparing for your little arrival, it is always useful to have a bit of formula just in case. I would recommend buying the pre-made formula so you don’t need to worry about making formula in the early days, just for convenience.
The first 6 weeks
Breastfeeding is painful! It is amazing how sensitive your nipples can become and you dread the next feed! Nothing gives relief. And not only that, but as your milk is regulating I found I could wake up at night with way too much milk and desperately needing to feed to relieve the pressure (the Haakkaa will also help with this). There are however some things which can help and are good to have to hand.
Lanolin nipple cream – this is great to use at night time. The books all say wear maternity bras always but I found that made me worse. All you need is a nice loose T-shirt to let the air get at your nipples.
Multimam pads are little pads of cooling gel which are great to have on during the day. I stored the new ones in the fridge to make them extra cool and soothing. Though I have also heard that cabbage leaves left in the fridge have the same cooling effect.
The turning point
During the first 6 weeks when you are so uncomfortable you feel like the pictures of babies looking up at mums lovingly while latched on are all just a lie. I remember being in a lot of pain, trying to feed and wondering how I would ever get past that day of feeds, let alone make it to six months. And then the magic 6 week point is hit, and for some reason it all just stops hurting. It is fabulous. That was the moment at which I could relax into feeding. I also think surrounding yourself with other breastfeeding mums is so important. In the early days I was super shy, I was trying to cover up with blankets etc. if I was feeding out and making my little one over heat. But once I started going to breastfeeding support groups and meeting other mums, it normalised the whole process. It was probably the best thing that I did. You can find breastfeeding support groups for free in your local health centre (they have a public health nurse at every meeting in case you have questions) or you can attend other meetings with groups such as Cuidiu.
If you are trying to get breastfeeding established and you are in the first six weeks, my biggest piece of advice would be if you can hold on in there, there is light at the end of the tunnel! But if you can’t, don’t stress, babies thrive on formula just as well!