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shadows of echoes of memories of songs
37 weeks
37 weeks today. Baby is now officially not premature, so as far as I'm concerned she can come on out any time she likes (though I do have 5 more days of work and it would be useful to finish them -- it's going to be a scramble to get everything done as it is!). While her kicking and wriggling inside me is still kind of endearing (except when it's kind of painful), she's getting to be a bit of a heffalump and I'd welcome a chance to put her down for a few minutes. Everything aches a lot of the time; cycling is still possible but seems to make my bump very tense (apparently this is possibly Braxton Hicks contractions! Not sure how I'd tell for certain though). Bump is now so big it can actually be seen from space (true fact).

We went to the free NHS antenatal class yesterday; it wasn't bad, there was lots of info, but it was all a bit haphazardly presented & so I'm not sure how confusing I'd've found it if I hadn't known most of it before. The midwife who was giving the course was very positive about home birth, though, and also answered a question I'd wondered about: home births actually cost the NHS less than a hospital birth (I had wondered if they were more expensive for them because the midwives had to come out to the home).

Still ticking things off the shopping list: we've bought the reusable nappies (all the nappies we will ever need! That is, they adjust in size so you can use them from newborn to age 2-and-a-half-ish) -- we still have a handful of things left on the list but none of them are essential immediately; if baby arrived tomorrow I think we'd be able to manage. And friends/family have been wonderfully generous in lending/giving us things; I dread to think how we'd've afforded everything if we hadn't had so many lovely people around to help us out!

I'm feeling a lot less worried than I was about the actual birth (worrying will not help anything & will probably actually make things worse) but probably worrying slightly more than I was before about looking after the baby (yes, I know, worrying will make that worse too, stress hormones get passed to the baby, I am already a bad mother). Pretty much every book on the subject that I've read so far can be summarised as "the way I did things with my children is the one true way, doing anything else will make your baby grow up stressed and unhappy and stupid and obese (if they even survive)". I suspect in practice I will just muddle through like everybody else does, finding things that more or less work most of the time.

The plan to get the house in order (which should have been started about a year ago, but hey, better late than never) progresses too as we now have SHELVES in the front room! I wish I'd admitted to myself earlier that there was no way I was ever going to put shelves up myself; we finally got a carpenter in and so far he's doing an excellent job for a very reasonable price. One alcove done (and already filled with books), the other to follow next weekend.

Sadly chickened out of going to a schoolfriend's baby's christening this weekend (it would have involved a very early start and a long car journey each way, and I just couldn't face the early rising/sitting/travelling/standing-around) but had a lovely weekend here instead: jinty (and baby Aphra) called round with a gooseberry bush and a book on breastfeeding; timscience called round to give me a poem about BADGERS (thanks cleanskies!) and to borrow piano music; Duncan and Ruth (& baby Zoë) called round to borrow our Glee DVD (and reclaim a maternity top that Ruth had lent me but which I'm already too big for); and addedentry's oldest friend Pablo came up from London to visit (we took him to the Isis for lunch, & the weather was so nice we sat outside to eat ... and when we got slightly chilly we went in & sat by the fire). Times like this remind me how lucky we are to live so near so many friends, to be in such a nice area, to be able to stroll down to the river in the sunshine.

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juggzy From: juggzy Date: March 13th, 2011 10:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
Good luck! Not that you need luck.
j4 From: j4 Date: March 14th, 2011 11:39 am (UTC) (Link)
Thank you!
tla From: tla Date: March 13th, 2011 11:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
she's getting to be a bit of a heffalump and I'd welcome a chance to put her down for a few minutes.

Oh I vividly remember that stage. As weak as I was after the birth, it was really an immense relief to have taken the baby off, so to speak.

There is a book about baby care for the first year that is very good precisely because it *doesn't* advocate One True Way (apart from 'relax, what you're doing is almost certainly fine, but here are a few practical hints'.) It is called First-Time Parent, by Lucy Atkins, and apart from being great and reassuring it's also a good and amusing read. Evidently muddling through is exactly what you're supposed to do.
venta From: venta Date: March 14th, 2011 10:26 am (UTC) (Link)
A former colleague of mine talked a while ago about how he and his wife were getting terrible worried about Doing It All Wrong with their first baby. Apparently an NHS health visitor basically summed it up as "so long as you put food in one end, and keep the other end clean, it'll all be fine", which consoled them a lot.

I guess it's a bit like real life... you can eat healthy food, and go to the gym, and meditate twice a day, and embark on complicated journeys of personal development. Or you can, like, not - and it'll all be OK anyway.
jinty From: jinty Date: March 14th, 2011 11:34 am (UTC) (Link)
this was one of the best comments I got in early baby-having: "So little to point to at the end of the day, except the awesome achievement of a baby who's no hungrier, dirtier or more miserable than at the beginning." Gives one the right attitude to aim for I thought.
j4 From: j4 Date: March 14th, 2011 12:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
I like that attitude. :)
j4 From: j4 Date: March 14th, 2011 12:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ah! I do actually have the Lucy Atkins book -- it's one of the few that hasn't annoyed me much. :) Reassuring to know that you're still recommending it even after dealing with a Real Actual Baby!
tla From: tla Date: March 14th, 2011 12:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
Really the only thing that wasn't sufficiently rammed into my head at the beginning was "If the baby is crying, SHE'S HUNGRY. No really, just feed her, burp her, and she'll be right back off to sleep." Even Lucy Atkins gives sixteen reasons your baby might be crying, but doesn't point out that for the first few weeks, the vast majority of them simply don't apply. (Not even the 'dirty/wet nappy' one - newborns don't care.)

(Of course in my case 'hungry' was hard to cope with because she also didn't want to breastfeed, and I was trying to get her to do it anyway...)
jvvw From: jvvw Date: March 14th, 2011 08:00 am (UTC) (Link)
I feel like an expert on baby books having read goodness knows how many trying to get Owen's sleep more manageable. I think with the baby books you have to take the attitude that if you get one or two useful things out of a book then appreciate those one or two useful things and ignore the rest even if it's unhelpful. All the stuff like changing nappies, giving baths etc. is pretty trivial after the first few weeks. The hard stuff for us at least has been sleep and decisions about feeding. I actually find all the attachment parenting stuff makes me feel way guiltier and more inadequate than the people who advocates routines, because I want to do the attachment parenting stuff but physically and mentally can't cope with that little sleep.
vinaigrettegirl From: vinaigrettegirl Date: March 14th, 2011 11:20 am (UTC) (Link)
If you don't take care of yourself you can't take care of your baby, and if you are both on a mutually-reinforcing difficult-sleep cycle that's not good for either of you. I loved what attachment parenting I was able to do but not all people attach in the same way or style; there is variation even in primate behaviour, and in human societies a baby isn't attached all the time to one person, but to individuals in a group of trusted persons. I'm just commenting not to chide you but to hope you can not beat yourself up about this. Sleep is what your small person needs for their brain and emotional development; and reassuring them into sleeping for longer and longer periods eventually can work really well. But you must have sleep yourself.

Routines can be helpful to babies who temperamentally find them reassuring rather than an irritation. Mine - I found by experimentation - definitely wanted his mealtimes to be on the minute, and his morning naps also, but his afternoon naps less so. If he ate dinner even 20 minutes late his bedtime would be affected by up to an hour and a half, but if we kept to his best time he would go to sleep earlier and stay asleep longer. (And by 'eating dinner' that was of course BF when he was teeny, but this pattern was fairly clear early on: his feeding times were sacrosanct, as far as he was concerned: so we ended up in a routine.)


jvvw From: jvvw Date: March 14th, 2011 02:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
I came to a similiar conclusion - that it was actually better for him if I got enough sleep and felt able to cope with the world. The bottle of formula we give him in the evenings now has certainly been an absolute godsend for me.

Owen was also unputdownable when he was born and as a result got used to naps in the sling. I'm working at the moment on moving naps to the cot - he's 4 months now, not napping well in the sling any longer and getting heavier. There is some crying involved which I don't enjoy but not as much as I feared and at least he is never crying without me holding him, and I really don't know what other option there is. I'm hoping that sorting his naps will sort his nighttime sleep but that might be overly optimistic :-)

One thing I have discovered is that he needs to nap exactly two hours after he previously woke up whether in the sling or cot, any earlier and he gets annoyed and any later and he's overtired. So I'm trying to start the day at the same time each day and am hoping a routine evolves naturally. Evenings are still a total mess at the moment though!
vinaigrettegirl From: vinaigrettegirl Date: March 14th, 2011 03:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
Evenings can be Grimsville - the grownups are frazzled too, after all. Bottling him down seems reasonable; is he all on liquid feeds at the moment? And does he have a preferred time for The Evening Meal? (Every child is different: mine was one of the "5:30 on the dot is best" ones; we could make him hold out until 6:00 but 6:20 and he was cooked and so were we, for the next 24 hours.)

Oh horror, anathema, Bad Parent Card Number 127 in a series of thousands, collect them all! - but if you want to and you're not on exclusive BF, it is possible he's hungry enough to warrant a spoonful or two of cooked and re-pureed oatmeal, or pureed and sieved millet or ditto quinoa, mixed with whatever liquid you're using (formula if that's what he's used to) in the evening. All non-allergenic, and complex carbs + calcium can be very settling.

I know you're inundated with well-meaning people proferring unasked-for advice.

And the truth is that some people just do have babies who sleep solidly for ten or twelve hours in the night, and some don't: for us, we reckoned six unbroken hours was "a night's sleep" and if he went for eight hours, we were ecstatic, and the son is still an instant and early riser, at age ten. he also still needs half an hour of settling-down-in-the-dark time. My SiL has one of each: two daughters, one was a good sleeper, the next one wasn't, and she reckons they'd have stopped at one if the first one had been like the second. :-)

The deal is that whatever you need to do to survive is what needs to happen. Your kiddo will not be off to the shrink at the first opportunity based on your need to sleep. I don't believe in controlled crying, because like you I don't think they should cry without being reassured, but it may be that if he's used to a pattern of behaviour that says "crying leads to extended cuddling" and he doesn't know that what he needs is to actually get to sleep, you might be accidentally not letting him find out that sleep is what he needs rather than an extended cuddle. does that make sense?

I feel for you, really, I do.
jvvw From: jvvw Date: March 14th, 2011 07:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for the suggestions. I'll experiment with time for that feed, hadn't thought of trying different times for that. That sounds worth doing.

Evenings are partly chaos because of the logistics of dinner, me wanting to go to bed as early as possible, my husband getting back from work around Owen's bedtime, and the fact that we currently keep him in the sling in the evening as not worth the risk of trying to transfer him elsewhere until his late evening feed. Added to this there's a good chance that one of Owen's naps during the day won't have gone to plan.

No solids yet, though he's four months in two days so could try some oatmeal and see if it helps. I don't think he's hungry when he wakes up - my husband can resettle him without feeding up until about 4-5am, but worth a shot. We haven't completely run out of things to try yet, but I'm trying not to change *too* many things at once.

I think if things haven't improved significantly in the next month, then I'll consider things like controlled crying but I know there's lots of physiological stuff happening to their sleep around now, so makes sense to wait until that is over. At the moment, it's only a couple of minutes crying for him to get to sleep but he is going to have to learn to sleep without the sling draped over his eyes and without me holding him. I also know from a couple of nightmare car journeys that he can scream from overtiredness for a jolly long time!

Very nice to speak to somebody else who understands! All the friends I've made here with babies the same age seem to have babies who sleep, though I figure that the other people with babies who don't sleep probably don't get out much!
vinaigrettegirl From: vinaigrettegirl Date: March 16th, 2011 09:56 am (UTC) (Link)

I am not NOT a pink-and-fwuffy woman, but am delighted by our evolutionarily close cousins; I defy anyone to say they can't recognise the expressions on this mum's face, particularly the one where her baby is asleep on her /head/.

As your Owen gets older, remember, all mammal parents get cross with their offspring now and again: mama lions roar and bip their cubs, sheep butt their lambs, bears snarl, orangutans ... look rueful, at least :-)

hope a 5:30 feed and settling down by 6:00-ish works out better. Also, a developmental transition time can be a *perfect* time to introduce new sleep habits because there's nothing entrenched in place to fight against. Perhaps swaddling him with an eyeshade will give him new tools to employ over the transition phase and those conditions will become his New Normal.

jvvw From: jvvw Date: March 26th, 2011 04:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
Interesting point about making changes during a developmental transition. As the world is presumably going crazy for him at the moment, one more thing may not make so much different. I'm so looking forward to this growth spurt being over nonetheless as he's been so randomly cranky - think we're almost there. He has been extra ravenous this last week, and he's 19 weeks Tuesday and has been fairly punctual with growth spurts so far.

I'm pretty sure he's started sometimes crying/grizzling with frustration recently when e.g. he tries to roll but can't remember exactly how or can't reach things he wants to reach. Feel like I should let him experience a little bit of frustration and finally succeeding though.

Making slow progress with the sleep I think. We have had two naps without a blindfold now and I now think of a 3 hour longest stretch at night as bad rather than great!
julietk From: julietk Date: March 14th, 2011 09:03 am (UTC) (Link)
Glad to hear that you've hit 37 weeks! A said yesterday (she is 41 weeks tomorrow by NHS dates, 41+2 by her dates) that if she did this again, she'd try to be a lot less fixated on 37 weeks as a goal (she was REALLY keen to get to that point because of the homebirth issue as well as "officially full term") & think more towards 42 weeks, as it's getting a bit frustrating now with still no baby... I have made a note of this for future reference :)

The "tense bump" thing sounds like what she's been describing as Braxton Hicks (I've felt her bump whilst they're going on, and it does get really hard), although hers are getting a little more painful/uncomfortable now. (Which might be prodomal labour, but it does all seem to be a bit "who knows?", sigh.)

j4 From: j4 Date: March 14th, 2011 02:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
I hope things move soon for A! If nothing's happened here by 41 weeks I will be chewing my arms off with frustration. And doing all the things people suggest for bringing on labour. :-}
atommickbrane From: atommickbrane Date: March 14th, 2011 10:12 am (UTC) (Link)
Aha, so it was YOUR BUMP that I saw on the Brian Cox programme last night! :)
vinaigrettegirl From: vinaigrettegirl Date: March 14th, 2011 11:29 am (UTC) (Link)
All good practice for having a third actual person to account for at all times...

I think that with some books there's a shedload of power-tripping going on, but also a shedload of Being Reassuring By Being Absolutely Positive as well. Me, I'm a bit of an observe-and-analyse-data girl, given that the spanner in the works is that change is the main constant and everything they do from the minute they're Out is a learning experience for them. Including crying, which they Just Do.

It took me forever to work out when Child was crying as an obvious experiment versus crying because he was too hot/too cold, unswaddled, hungry, bored, frightened by dressing gowns hanging on the door or reflections from the doorknobs on the wardrobe, or just having a yell because the sound was fascinating.

You'll be a bloody brilliant mother and O will be a brilliant dad. Lucky Offspring!
jvvw From: jvvw Date: March 14th, 2011 02:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
We're going through a phase where it's sometimes hard to tell the difference between our baby 'experimenting with his vocal range' and crying in fact!
k425 From: k425 Date: March 14th, 2011 12:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
I rather liked Penelope Leach's "Your baby and child: from birth to 5 years" or similar title. Lots of "you may do X. You might do Y. There are reasons for either. It is up to you." I also found her quite reassuring on the "hey, babies/children do this stuff. Some do it at this age, some at that age. It's almost all normal".

In fact, that book lived in the bathroom for 4 years, for those brief reading opportunities when one could fit in a couple of paras on napping, or weaning, or going back to work.
jvvw From: jvvw Date: March 14th, 2011 02:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
I found Penelope Leach good on mindset to adopt but pretty much devoid of useful practical advice on the hard topics such as sleep (but if you have a good sleeper you may not need that of course!)

Actually it shocks me how few baby books mention that you cannot put some new babies down without them crying, even when sound asleep, when I'd guess that maybe 10% of babies are like that. Likewise not many books talk about what to do when your baby has been waking every 1-2 hours during the night for long enough that you're sure it's not just a growth spurt...
vinaigrettegirl From: vinaigrettegirl Date: March 14th, 2011 04:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
The shelves are Teh s3xay!
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