Monthly Archives: January 2008

9 1/2 Weeks

I realised that that is indeed Katie’s current age when Moira asked me this morning, which of course means that I have to write a blog post purely in order to use that title.  Katie rose to the occasion by actually drinking her daily couple of ounces of painstakingly pumped milk instead of merely toying with the bottle teat and insisting that I should stop messing around and give her milk via the correct route, as she has been doing for the past several weeks since I made the mistake of letting a crucial six days elapse between practice bottles.  Given my upcoming return to work, you can imagine what a relief this was.  I shall not be too hasty to consider us out of the woods on this one, since she did take a bottle or two prior to declaring the strike, but it’s an extremely hopeful sign.  I shall keep on assiduously pumping milk every morning for daily practice bottles (no more of this laid-back twice-a-week plan for me, not after that scare), and hope for the best.

The other recent milestone to report is that I have now started putting her in the front carrier facing outwards instead of inwards, thus enabling her to see a lot more of the world and enabling me to bump her on the head more often as I incautiously move too fast towards a gate or fail to catch a swinging door in time.  I did both of these on her first forward-facing outing, on Sunday, when we went out to a local stately home.  Despite those setbacks, Katie seemed to accept the forward-facing position, in a rather puzzled kind of way, and we all had a wonderful day out.  Not that we actually did anything apart from drive there, take a short walk round the grounds and the local village (the house itself was still closed for the winter), and drive home again, but it was one of those occasions when a) getting out for a change of scene suddenly makes you realise just how much you needed one and how good it feels to get one, and b) your heart fills up with pride and joy and delight at your good fortune.  As I walked down the hill with one of my beautiful children looking so smart in his new red-and-black coat and insisting on holding my hand as well as Daddy’s as he walked along and the other bobbing along on my front taking her first look out at the big wide world, I knew just how incredibly lucky a woman I was, and I revelled in that knowledge.

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Update on the children

I don’t seem to be doing very well at thinking of scintillating post titles these days.  As much as I love being able to use the word ‘children’, plural, to refer to my offspring (and so nonchalantly, as well), I do realise that it’s hardly eye-catching to anyone in search of a fascinating post to brighten their day.  Then again, of course, it is fair to say that this probably isn’t that fascinating a post.  Anyway, here’s what both of them are currently up to:

Jamie has developed an interest in playing with toy cars.  After spending the last year or so watching him pass his time with such activities as memorising the entire list of Mr Men books in order, or counting to himself, or rewriting the CD list on his computer, I’m finding it a touch incongruous to watch him do something that’s normal to the point of cliché, but there it is – he currently loves pushing his cars back along the hallway.  (Not back and forth – just back.  He carries them down to the end of the hallway, pushes them back to his room, and lines them up carefully in the doorway.)  Less conventionally, he has also developed an interest in hubcaps.  Whenever anyone comes to visit he insists on being held up to the window (or climbing up, which he isn’t supposed to do) to a level where he can check out the hubcap status of their car and comment on it.  This seems to have started when Barry was checking a tyre change of mine and took the opportunity to replace the old broken hubcap on that side with a shiny one that contrasts quite markedly with the shabby old one that’s still on the other wheel.  This caught Jamie’s eye, and he has been intrigued by hubcaps ever since.  Oh, yes, and (back to the more conventional) jigsaws.  He has not quite been able to get the hang of jigsaws previously, but my mother brought him some simple ones when she came to visit the week before last, and they seem to have caught him at just the right developmental moment – he is now learning how to do quite a few simple ones, although a lot of it seems to be remembering how they go rather than working them out from scratch.

Our health visitor is organising another developmental assessment of him at some point in the next few weeks.  When we went to the baby clinic a couple of weeks back, one of the other HVs chased after Jamie at some point when he escaped and I was held up in getting after him due to having a baby to take care of as well, and after a few moments of trying to persuade him to come back with her she noticed that his finger was caught in the door and realised that he had omitted to mention this somewhat salient fact to her to explain why he couldn’t move.  I’d forgotten all about that incident in the general minor chaos of that visit and indeed motherhood in general, but the HV in question thought it was a bit odd and mentioned it to our HV, who remembered Jamie’s previous speech delay and also the fact that, apparently, when she visited our house after Katie was first born Jamie didn’t seem to be making eye contact with her.  I think the last was actually just because she was a stranger to him, because he certainly has no problems making eye contact with us, but, anyway, when I turned up last Monday to get Katie weighed she asked after Jamie and mentioned these incidents to ask whether we had any concerns and/or thought a further developmental assessment would be in order, since she’d initially planned to do one after an interval anyway to check he was still getting along all right.

I explained to her that although we had no concerns as such about him, we had noticed a lot of minor things about him that, although not particularly problems, did add up enough to make us wonder whether perhaps he might be right over at the normal-ish end of autistic spectrum disorder.  (Or, as Barry puts it, "Oh, you mean he’s a boy?")  Sorry.  I do realise that that probably a) makes me look like one of those ghastly neurotic clichéd mothers who insist on pinning a syndrome-du-jour label on their child and b) trivialises the concept of ASD to a point which I can see being potentially dreadfully hurtful to anyone who has a child with full-blown autism or florid ASD (the equivalent of the apocryphal woman who greets news of a friend’s fertility problems with "Oh, I totally understand how you feel!  It took us almost three months to conceive our second and I thought I’d just die of frustration!")  It’s not that we’re at all worried or upset or even feel that it’s anything we can draw any firm conclusions about at this stage – we’ve just speculated about it, in much the same way as we’ve speculated about whether we’re right in thinking that Katie will turn out to be a blue-eyed blonde.  It certainly wouldn’t have been anything that I’d have felt the need to take him along to see anyone about at this point, but I’m not one to turn down a free developmental assessment when one is offered and, once Carol had dispelled my concern that in view of his lack of any actual current problems from his various quirks it would all be rather a waste of her time, I agreed enthusiastically and am looking forward to seeing how he does this time around.  I shall update in due course.

Katie, meanwhile, turned eight weeks old yesterday.  I went through the "Holy [insert expletive of choice]! stage when I realised she’d reached the age of seven weeks, but now have adjusted somewhat to the inexplicable speed with which time is hurtling forward and my daughter is growing.  At this rate, it won’t be long before she starts doing really exciting stuff.  Meanwhile, she continues to pass more minor milestones – for the past week or two, for example, she has been making little cooing gurgling noises like "Arrhghhoo".  The other day at one of my various mothers-and-babies groups, I got into a speculative conversation with a couple of other mothers on the topic of what our babies’ various noises might possibly translate to – "Arrhghhoo", as far as I can tell, translates approximately as "Wasn’t it fun just then when I spat up everywhere, Mummy?!  You really enjoyed having to change my clothes for the fifth time today, didn’t you?"

When Jamie’s nursery school teacher asked him how baby Katherine was doing, he assured her that she was in Size Two nappies now.  ("Sounds like she’s growing well!" the teacher chirped, when I came to pick him up.)  This has indeed been true for almost two weeks now (it would have been true even before that, but we had a massive stack of size 1s that we’d bought and I didn’t want to waste them) and is an important milestone not only for a number-obsessed three-year-old but for his mother, as it means I no longer feel the need to change her routinely at her night feed for fear she’ll leak before morning. 

Between this and the growing efficiency of both Katie and myself at handling night feeds, they are now over with far faster than formerly.  Although Katie has rarely woken more than once during the night, for her first several weeks that one waking would be a uber-waking of cluster feeding interspersed with frequent burps and poos which then made room for more milk, and would typically last for two hours or so before I could finally get her settled back into the Moses basket and fall back asleep myself.  (One reason she rarely woke up more than once was because by the time we’d done all that both at the beginning of the night and then again when she woke up and then got her back to sleep for her second stretch of the night there just wasn’t time for her to wake up again before it was morning and I had to get up anyway.)  It was never a case of her being wide awake in the wee small hours and wanting to play, just taking forever to get to the point where she had finally dealt with all bodily needs fully enough to be able to fall back to sleep properly. 

I hasten to add, lest Fate thinks me ungrateful and strikes some ironic blow in response, that this is merely a recording of facts for posterity and not a complaint – Katie may have been a poor settler at first but she has made up for it in the sleeping when she does get to sleep.  From the first week, she’s been able to do a couple of decent stretches either side of that uber-feed – at first it was around two and a half hours sleep before and then a couple of hours after, plus a similarly long nap in the afternoon if I was patient about swaddling and settling her in a darkened room, and the night-time stretches lengthened further as time went on.  Between all of that (plus a husband willing to settle Jamie for his nap most days while I slept), I have been able to remain reasonably well-rested myself to a degree that I hadn’t dared to expect with a new baby, especially a new baby who’s younger sister to a child who was as poor a sleeper as Jamie was in his first year.  So I am exceedingly happy with the overall sleep situation.  But I am even happier now that the night feed has shrunk to a miraculous 10 – 20 minutes or less.  I wake up at a fairly early stage of her starting-to-stir-and-get-hungry grunting, take a little while to surface myself, sit on the edge of the bed and pick her up swaddle and all before she has a chance to wake up completely and get irate, and get her onto the breast still not fully awake, and she nurses very peacefully and goes back to sleep without so much as needing a burp.  And so, as a consequence, do I.  Not only this, but she is showing exciting signs of extending her longest sleep period still further – for a good few weeks she was going for around three solid hours of sleep between first being settled and waking for her night feed, but over the past week this stretch has repeatedly been a good four-and-a-half to five hours.  (Don’t hate me too much.  I did, as I say, have a poor sleeper first time round.)

Incidentally, while the difference in their sleep patterns is probably just a luck-of-the-draw thing, I feel it only fair to record that while I was pregnant with Katie someone directed me to an article discussing newly emerging evidence on all the many benefits of fish oil supplements in pregnancy, one of which, apparently, is that babies whose mothers took fish oil supplements have been found to have more mature sleep patterns in early infancy.  I was already taking one fish oil capsule a day just as I had been doing with Jamie, as former research has already shown this to be associated with a lower chance of premature birth, but after reading this I increased my consumption to three a day, and, well, who knows whether that was what made the difference but I mention it for your consideration anyway just in case there’s anyone reading this who wants to know what they can do to increase their chances of an as-yet-unborn child being a sleeper.

Last week, I noticed that she seems to hold her left foot in a pretty persistently inturned position.  I can move it easily to the position it should be in, but can’t really turn it outwards and think it should have more flexibility than it does.  If my scanty and outdated knowledge of paediatric orthopaedics is to be trusted (probably not) then this is not likely to need anything more than some stretching exercises to correct, but it did seem to be enough to warrant an opinion on optimum treatment from someone who actually does know about such things, so I have an appointment a little later this afternoon with the GP to request referral and will keep you posted.  I am somewhat annoyed with myself for not spotting it earlier – not because it would have made a blind bit of difference from the clinical point of view, but because it would have increased the chances that her outpatient appointment would have happened before the end of my maternity leave, thus enabling me to attend.  Oh, well.  I do realise that this probably doesn’t sound like something that reflects very well on my clinical skills, but it isn’t really apparent when she has her Babygro on and this hasn’t exactly been the season for leaving babies scantily clad.  I only noticed it when I left her to kick on her changing mat in the bathroom at an intermediate stage of a nappy change while I was using the loo and thus happened to be observing her feet for a few minutes (so I suppose it’s lucky I picked it up at this stage at all).  Anyway, I shall keep you posted on this as on all else.  More later.  (How much later is not a topic on which I feel able to make any promises.  Katie was still only seven weeks old when I started writing this.)

EDITED TO ADD: Back from the GP, who says she will arrange referral to the physiotherapist who deals with such matters.  The physio comes to our community hospital, so this saves us a tiresome trek to the more distant bigger hospital to see anyone there.  Physio will advise orthopaedic referral if she feels it warranted, but hopefully that won’t be needed.

Anyway, that appointment means that it’s now too late in the afternoon for it really to be worth me settling down for a nap at this point, so that gives me a most unaccustomed stretch of child-free time to myself.  I feel quite dazed by this freedom and am still trying to work out how best to spend the time, which probably means I’ll end up squandering it on very pointless Internet surfing rather than actually doing anything with it.

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Mother of two

So far, juggling the two sets of needs for which I am now responsible has proved manageable.  Of course, a major factor in this is that I don’t have to do it for very much of each day; the parent-to-child ratio in our house on a daily basis is still 1:1.  This is one of many advantages of Barry being the at-home
parent while I work; while I’m on maternity leave, there are
two of us at home.  I have to say that this makes things embarrassingly
easy for me compared to many mothers of small children – although I
still take care of both children in the morning before Barry gets up,
in the evening while he cooks dinner, and sometimes in between when
there are things he needs to do that aren’t compatible with having a
three-year-old running around, there are large chunks of the day during
which Barry sees to Jamie and I only have the baby to take care of.  Trying to deal with two children, like anything else in life, is a lot easier when you know you only have to do it for a few hours at a time before someone comes along to give you a break.

The other factor that makes things noticeably easier than they are for many mothers is the spacing.  When Jamie was a baby, we discussed how long we wanted to leave things before having a second child, and decided three years seemed like the minimum that we wanted to deal with.  That way, by the time we had another baby to cope with Jamie would hopefully be at a more manageable stage – talking, able to wait a bit for things, probably potty trained (this was before I’d realised that a) children don’t train as early in real life as they do in the books and b) although everyone talks about ‘having two in nappies’ as though this was some sort of ghastly problem, having two in nappies is actually far easier than having one at the just-potty-trained stage of needing to get to the toilet NOW when they need to go and leaving numerous puddles around).  Ideally it might have been nice to leave an even longer gap and allow even more time for the first one to mature, but such things are a trade-off – the further apart we spaced our children the longer the whole early childhood stage would be, which would mean more time off work for Barry, not to mention that there was always the chance that my ovaries would run past their sell-by date and we’d find ourselves unable to have another, or at least find that it took longer than anticipated and a planned gap of X years actually turned into X + Y years.  So, aiming for three years seemed a fair compromise.  Later on, I was backed up on this by the depressing but informative Three Shoes, One Sock And No Hairbrush, which confirms that a spacing of three years or more gives the older child time to get out of the highly needy infancy stage and that most mothers find this quite a bit easier in the early years than having them close together. 

Anyway, I can now also back this up from my own experience.  Having two children with this age gap really is notably easier than it would have been if I’d had a new baby when Jamie was in that one-to-two-year-old into-everything stage.  (Obviously, I can’t comment on whether it would be even easier if we’d left it still another year or two – quite probably.)  Taking care of Jamie is a lot less hands-on than it used to be.  Most of his day-to-day care involves things like reading him stories or just sitting next to him chatting with him about what he’s doing and letting him know I’m there.  Most of Katie’s day-to-day care involves holding and nursing her, and the two sets of activities dovetail together pretty well.  I sit next to him nursing her and chatting away to him or reading to him when he wants it.  As one woman on an Internet forum recently phrased it beautifully: the baby has my body while the older child has my mind.  And I’ve usually still got an arm free for a cuddle

One trick I thought of has been to talk to Katie in an ongoing running commentary about all the things Jamie’s doing.  Since Katie is at a developmental stage where she benefits from having someone chat away to her regardless of what the subject matter is, so that she can get a basic feel for what talking sounds like, and Jamie is at a developmental stage where he benefits from hearing someone talking about what he’s doing, so that a) he learns the language for talking about the things that interest him and b) he knows that what he’s doing matters to someone, this struck me as a rather neat way of catching two birds with one net.  The drawback, of course, is that talking non-stop about Jamie is going to be a rather less good strategy once Katie gets old enough to understand what I’m saying, and I’m going to have to figure out a way to phase this out between now and then, but I’ll worry about that further down the line.

Of course, there are moments when things clash.  Jamie needs changing while Katie wants feeding.  Jamie needs to be dragged away from something and I have to do it one-handed while holding/nursing the baby with the other hand.  I have to rush Jamie through his bath and teeth-cleaning because Katie’s screaming to be fed (Barry now does Jamie’s bedtime routine five nights a week, but I still do it on Fridays and Saturdays while Barry keeps an eye on Katie, and, since the evenings are one of Katie’s cluster-feeding times, it’s always a race against time to get Jamie’s bath finished before Katie needs feeding again).  But I figure out a way to get everything done, somehow or other.  Somebody waits for a bit, and I juggle things, and it works out. 

One important thing, I’ve found, is to stop caring about when everything gets done.  Fretting because it’s X o’clock already and I still haven’t done the laundry or emptied the dishwasher or pumped milk and I planned to try to move naptime earlier today is a sure route to driving myself crazy.  I’ve found that as long as I relax and go all Zen about it and just get things done when I can, they get done.  Eventually.  A bit at a time.  And then I concentrate on the things I have got done rather than the things I haven’t – the small goals I’ve achieved in the course of the day (dishwasher emptied, another laundry load put away, a few more pieces of paper from my to-do pile dealt with).  I remind myself to start each of those mental daily things-I-did-today lists with the important things – Fed baby.  Listened to Jamie.  Talked to both children.  Held both children.  Made both children feel I was there for them.  If I can finish each day knowing I’ve done those things, then I’ve achieved the things I need to achieve.  By that criterion, all of my days are a success.

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Big Brother Is Watching You (Or At Least Your Gums)

Jamie is currently in a stage of having screaming meltdowns every time things don’t happen in quite the way he thinks they should (as, for example, if we play the song he just asked us for rather than the one he decided ten seconds later he really wanted).  I mention this for the sake of completeness, because this post is about how he’s adapted to the arrival of a sister and would otherwise start out with "Jamie has taken the arrival of a sister entirely in his stride…" which I realised may not actually be true since, according to the parenting books, it’s quite possible that the hair-trigger tempers are some sort of indirect reaction to the stress of the changed situation.  Of course, it is also quite possible that they’re just a reaction to being three years old.  This behaviour did start before Katie was born, but I think it may be worse now.  But, then, it may have got worse regardless.  So, your guess is probably almost as good as mine as to whether or not there’s a connection.

Anyway, as I say, unless that is a reaction he does seem to have taken the new arrival in his stride.  I’d anticipated that he probably wouldn’t regard a new baby as either a potential rival or a potential playmate but simply as a fact of life, and that seems to be pretty much what’s happening.  He has, in fact, shown more interest in Katie than I would have expected him to show in anything that doesn’t have numbers, letters, buttons to press, or flashy lights, although still less than he shows in, say, his computer or garage.  He’ll often ask what Katie Kaff’win’s doing (a nice solution to the nickname-vs.-name conundrum, incidentally).  Sometimes, when he’s being put to bed, he’ll ask where Katie Kaff’win is and declare that he wants to see her (I think this has less to do with fraternal affection than with a desire to put off going to bed, but it’s still sweet).

He is particularly fascinated by the fact that she has no teeth.  I explained to him that they were currently hiding in her gums, and he found this highly interesting as well and will now comment at completely random moments and with his usual great emphasis "She has no teeth!  They’re hiding in her gums."  The other point that fascinates him is the fact that she does poos and needs her nappy changed.  In fact, news of a nappy change in the offing will get him away from his computer more quickly than anything else I’ve ever found.  I’m sure Freud would have something to say about this, but I don’t want to know what it is.

Talking of which, it took longer than I would have expected for Jamie to notice that his sister is minus another body part apart from teeth, but the other day he did finally spot that the bits under the nappy are not quite what he’s used to seeing.  "What’s that?" he enquired, pointing.  "What’s what?" I asked – I wasn’t deliberately trying to stall, but it’s often not obvious what he’s pointing at and I didn’t want to make assumptions and become the equivalent of the apocryphal mother who came out with the complete sex talk in response to a "Where did I come from?" query only to find out that her daughter actually just wanted to know whether she came from Birmingham like her friend.  However, since he did indeed seem to be pointing at the part in question, I explained briefly about what Katie had instead of what, due to being a girl (excuse my coyness, which I can assure you is not a reflection of real life – I have always given Jamie the correct words, it’s just that I really don’t want to know what kind of Google hits I might get if I start mentioning them on here.  There are some weird people out there).  Anyway, he showed some passing interest in that, though not nearly as much as he’s shown in her lack of teeth.  It made me realise how much overemphasis adults end up putting on such issues compared to how much children actually care about them in practice.

Another thing which he seems to have taken entirely in his stride, despite my fears, was his inadvertent presence at the birth.  So far as I can tell, he seems to have been entirely unfazed by the sound of his mother screaming in pain (I’m not entirely sure whether to be pleased or concerned about this…).  I did worry in case he was suffering some secret trauma from the memory that he wasn’t making obvious – after all, Jamie hasn’t really as yet got the concept of discussing his feelings – and, accordingly, tried gently raising the issue for discussion the following night, when I got back from the birthing centre, to see whether there was anything he felt the need to talk about.

"Do you remember what happened yesterday?"

Jamie looked confused.

"The baby came out of Mummy’s tummy, didn’t she!  We went to the hospital and the baby came out!  Can you remember what happened when the baby came out?"

Jamie furrowed his brow in concentration, trying to figure it out; I waited patiently.  Suddenly, his face cleared – aha! the brightening of his expression seemed to say, now I realise what Mummy’s talking about!  "She has no teeth!" he announced triumphantly.

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Six week update

Katie turned six weeks old on Sunday just gone.  She briefly seemed to be marking this with the traditional growth spurt, waking more often that night and feeding non-stop on Monday morning, but by Monday afternoon she had calmed down again and slept a long stretch, letting me catch up on some sleep as well.

She has now had both her six-week checks (with the health visitor and with the GP).  I was rather surprised to get a call from the health visitor on Thursday asking me when I’d like her to visit to do the six-week check, as I had assumed home visits were a luxury reserved for the immediate post-partum days – five and a half weeks after a normal delivery, I was quite happy to trek around to wherever I needed to get to.  In fact, as it happened, I’d been within a few minutes of setting off to the baby clinic for her weekly weigh-in, so I suggested that if the six-week check could be done there then that would be the most convenient solution for all concerned.  The HV agreed to this, and I set off to the clinic with both children in tow (Jamie had no specific need to be there, but it gave him a walk and Barry a break). My one previous visit to this particular clinic had been the week before, the Thursday between Christmas and New Year, at which time the place had been quiet – when I arrived, there was only one other woman there with her baby and in fact I simply went ahead and weighed Katie myself on the spare scales without waiting for the health visitor.  What I hadn’t realised, of course, was that it was not going to be this quiet in non-holiday weeks.  In fact, I suspect it may well have been even busier than usual the week after the holidays as a result of so few people turning up in the holiday week.  The place was packed when we arrived.  Fortunately, the playhouse kept Jamie occupied for a fair proportion of the time and I did not have to make too many dives out the door to retrieve an escaping child from the corridor.  Katie, meanwhile, nursed quite happily in my arms and then pooed massively but fortunately was quite willing to await cleanup until it was our turn, as I didn’t particularly want to put her in a clean nappy that was only going to be whisked off again within minutes.  All in all, it could have been a lot worse – I was not too frazzled by the time we were seen.

The health visitor ran down the list of questions for the six-week check, which I answered rather distractedly while wiping Katie’s bottom, delving through the nappy bag in search of clean clothes for her, and trying to keep an eye on Jamie.  I confirmed that Katie was indeed reacting to sound, turning to look at lights, following objects, and smiling, and the HV weighed her – just over 10 lb 5 oz, a gain of eight ounces over the previous week – and then ran through some standard questions about child safety; did I ever carry hot drinks while holding her?  Leave her unattended on a bed?  Was the car seat properly fitted?  Once I had assured her of my full understanding of the dangers of getting any of these things wrong, she finished up by offering me a chance to fill in the Edinburgh Post-Natal Depression Score, which I’d probably have found interesting under other circumstances – however, since I felt both children were reaching their limits of tolerance for staying here and I knew I wasn’t depressed, I decided I probably couldn’t hang around to fill in a score saying I wasn’t, and declined the offer.  I collected up the children and various associated items and we headed back home by way of an extremely brief visit to the park.

Her check with the GP was yesterday, and was even briefer and more satisfactory.  The GP pronounced her heart, eyes, and hips in good order and her ability to lift her head from a prone position the best the GP had ever seen in a baby this age (I glowed with pride) and that now completes the check-ups for, well, ever as far as I can tell – traditional niceties such as the nine-month and three-year check-ups have gone the way of other similarly underfunded projects, in this area.  Oh, well – in future I shall just have to enjoy her progress without the added satisfaction of having an independent health professional confirm that it has taken place.

Meanwhile, my older child also continues to make progress through life, having moved up to the three-years-to-school-age Tumbletots class this Tuesday.  At this exalted age, children are deemed old enough to negotiate the class with the help of the teachers only, while parents move back to sit on the sidelines and watch with fond pride.  Obviously there is some leeway on this and if a child is clearly becoming distressed without his parents there they are encouraged to move in and provide the minimal level of attention needed to keep him going, but Jamie didn’t need this – he took part like the little trouper he is, staying with the group for the initial song and making his way from one station to another as directed.  On occasion he got distracted and needed the teachers to take him back to whatever he was supposed to be doing, but, overall, they assured us he’d done extremely well for his first time in that class.

(Quick update from 11 p.m. – Ah.  It seems the growth spurt had been merely temporarily put on hold.  Theoretically I’m sure she will have to stop feeding some time this evening, but as yet I am having to take this on trust.  Ah, well – at least I can feel confident all this milk is being put to good use.)

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Ramblings from five weeks

As you may or may not have noticed from a couple of posts back, my daughter has already had her name shortened for day-to-day use.  Prior to her birth we left the question open as to whether we would use Katherine or Katie (I vetoed Kathy), but within her first few days we’d pretty much fallen into using Katie – Katherine seemed a bit too long for such a little scrap of a thing.  Barry, who comes up with the nicknames in our family, has dubbed her Katie-frog for her habit of scrunching up into a frog-like shape when perched on someone’s chest.  Jamie was briefly confused by baby Kaff’win suddenly going by a different name, but he does know that his name is James although he’s called Jamie and that Mummy and Daddy also have names other than Mummy and Daddy, so it wasn’t too hard to explain that it was the same for the baby.

Katie turned five weeks old on Sunday.  I marked the occasion by giving her her first bottle.  Not that this was a deliberate marking of anything, just a rare concatenation of appropriate circumstances (Katie fell asleep in the morning before Jamie was up for long enough to allow me to put her down in her car seat and get a quick pump done, then woke up fussing for food just as I’d finished, so I left a couple of ounces in the pumping bottle when I put the rest in the freezer, screwed a teat on top, and fed it to her).  I’d actually been meaning to give her first bottle before that after reading in one of the comments on my blog that, apparently, even four weeks may be too late to introduce a bottle as far as some babies are concerned – since bottle refusal is one thing we can do without and breastfeeding has been going swimmingly well from the start, I thought it would be worth introducing a bottle between three and four weeks to be on the safe side.  However, Barry thought we should get Christmas out of the way first, and putting off the extra hassle of bottles for a bit longer was fine by me (after all, it won’t be me who has a hard time of it if she refuses bottles), so I was happy to go along with that.  As it turned out, we had no problem – she was highly dubious when I first stuck the teat in her mouth, but I managed to keep it there for long enough for her to figure out that milk did come out of it even though it wasn’t what she was used to, and although she still looked rather puzzled by the whole experience she drank all the milk and then nursed perfectly well afterwards.  First hurdle cleared.  If we can make time to give her a bottle a couple of times a week from now on, and make sure Barry gives some of them so she gets used to him feeding her as well, we should hopefully be OK.

The breastfeeding continues to go splendidly.  I realise I keep repeating that, but, after all the problems with Jamie, it gives me so much pleasure to see everything going well this time – the enthusiastic feeding, the spaces between feeds (she sleeps!  This baby sleeps!  In her basket!), and, best of all, her weight tracking up the appropriate centile line at each successive visit just as it ought.  She’s put on more than two pounds in the first month since her birth.  She is also doing other age-appropriate things – smiling, holding her head up (she was having a fair stab at both of those accomplishments from a couple of weeks after her birth, although she’s still a relative novice at both of them), following objects with her eyes, showing signs of recognising my voice when someone else is holding her, and being more fussy over the past week.  According to what I’ve read (all this obsessive reading does occasionally come in handy), the normal pattern for infant crying is for babies to get increasingly fussy for the first six weeks, then decreasingly fussy for the next six until they’re a lot more settled by the age of three months.  This is useful knowledge, because it means that if we can just hang in there for a further week of worsening fussiness then things should start to improve thereafter.  Of course, there is no guarantee that she’ll follow the pattern, but the odds are in favour of it and maintaining the illusion of having at least some idea of what will happen next is pleasing to me, so I shall assume that things will be that way and then change my views if events warrant it.  Don’t get the wrong idea – I don’t think she’s particularly fussy as babies go.  She has, overall, been a delightfully straightforward baby and a joy to look after.

Oh, and she can breastfeed in the sling without me needing to hold her in position.  In other words, I can go hands-free.  I discovered this in the supermarket yesterday and couldn’t believe my luck – I never could get this to work with Jamie and always wondered what I was doing wrong, but it seems that it’s just one of those things that some babies can do and some babies can’t, and second time around I’ve been lucky enough to get one that can.

I am normally terrible at spotting family resemblances in babies – they generally just look like babies to me – but Katie’s resemblance to her brother is unmistakeable even to me.  I’ve spent so much time looking at his newborn photos, and she came out looking like a rerun of the same baby (though at least some of that was probably due to her being dressed in his cast-offs – I’d refused to get any pink stuff ready until we knew for certain what gender the baby was).  Some details are different – she doesn’t have the little hair whorl that was in Jamie’s hairline, or the near-pointy shape that he had in the curve of his upper ear, and I am delighted to be able to report that she also does not have the tongue tie or, as far as it’s possible to tell at this early stage, the squint.  But the resemblance is still strong, although it has become less so as the weeks have passed and she’s grown more into her own face.  What has been fascinating is seeing how different she is from him in other ways – it is not as though newborns do anything much other than eat, sleep, cry and poo, and yet from Day 1 I could see clear differences between the way she does all these things and the way Jamie did them.  I am so looking forward to watching her grow and seeing all the similarities and differences as she develops into whomever she’s going to be.

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