Monthly Archives: August 2013

Wherever I rest my head

With Elphie’s first trip abroad imminent, my anxiety is increasing about how she will cope with the change of scene. Will she scream the villa down, putting our friends off kids for life? Will she refuse to sleep? Will we want to leave the villa or will we just spend a week passed out by the pool (in the shade of course!)?

One of the first quandaries is where she should sleep. We can’t exactly pack up the moses basket and stand for easy air transportation – the basket is hardly collapsible! So following extensive internet research, here are my top contenders for Elphie’s first bed abroad.

The Favourite – the LittleLife Arc 2

Drawn to this by the positive reviews on Mumsnet, this little tent with top and side access had me from hello.
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I like the fact it can be used as a normal cot (accessed from the top) and as a wind breaker with access from the side that could be popped by the pool or on the beach and used till she outgrew it in a few years’ time. You can get a sunshade as an added extra so it keeps the sun off the top of it when using it outside. Little Wool Maus has even used it as a playpen! And at 2.25kg, even I should manage to keep her within her baggage allowance (well this is a lie as I never manage to pack within the limit first time – I see many attempts to juggle clothing between bags in my future – I have even resorted to wearing clothes in the past to lessen my baggage weight!).

All in all, it looks cool and is multi-purpose so I am hoping it will do the trick. We went and had a look at one at GO Outdoors – someone told us it was erected within a tent, so I felt pretty stupid when I asked where it was and the guy pointed right behind me to where it was standing outside a tent! Sigh.

Anyway, we popped her in it and waited for an explosion of horror. None came, she just wriggled around contentedly on her back inside it. Compared to the moses basket, she looked lost at sea in the mass of space around her, but I guess I should get used to that as the cotbed will be arriving soon!

The main gripe from the internetz about this is that the mattress is too thin, but that can be rectified with some towels under it and is probably necessary to maintain the low weight, so have given it the benefit of the doubt on this one.

RRP £100 and an additional £15 for the sunshade.

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An ode to tea

Back in the days when I frequented Facebook I was a member of a group called “A Cup of Tea Solves Everything”. While I don’t take this literally (pause to imagine how it would be though..) I do believe in the uplifting, healing and general delicious properties of tea.

When I say “tea”, note that I mean the English Breakfast/Earl Grey variety. I love a spot of herbal tea, but it is less interesting to me at the moment because it is not restricted when you are pregnant or breastfeeding!

I have already mentioned how tea was one of my main lifesavers during the first few days at home with Pip – coming third in the list behind only Mr Cath and my Mum. I would say it definitely solved the overwhelming tiredness – not bad for a bag of dried leaves, some hot water and a bit of milk.

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The effect of tea on my life is in fact so fantastically positive that like all good addicts, I want more! However, according to breastfeeding guidelines as given to us at the NCT breastfeeding class, we’re supposed to consume only 200mg of caffeine a day, I assume because a gram more might cause the baby to never sleep again…or something like that. That’s equivalent to about two or three cups of tea along with chocolate (an average bar is 50mg!) I have always just vaguely accepted this as the way of the world without really thinking much about it. It’s easy to remember as these match the recommended intake while pregnant: when you’ve already been doing something for nine months it’s pretty easy to carry on!

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How to: have tummy time

When Elphie was four weeks I thought I had failed her. Before that point I thought I was supposed to keep her on her back all the time to reduce the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome – more commonly known as cot death). But it seemed I was supposed to be giving her “tummy time” lying her on her tummy while awake to play and strengthen her neck, back and leg muscles to eventually help her to crawl. Doing this also apparently helps reduce the risk of SIDS as she can then move her head away from anything smothering her or roll away from it. Although back then the rolling just seemed to put her in danger as if laid on a slight incline she was determined to roll off the sofa onto the floor (I caught her before this happened luckily!).

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And we’re back

Not satisfied with our telephone line dying, the universe decided to smite our server in a completely unrelated attack. Or so it would seem – I for one think Rupert Murdoch is getting worried that our little blog is going to be so popular that it will scupper News International. Well Ruppie, we rise again, and next time it won’t be so easy…

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The little read

Being a bookworm myself, I’d always assumed that I would in turn do my best to instill a love of books into any offspring. Having managed to hang on to two big boxes of my childhood favourites (I think one box is pretty much all Enid Blyton, which may not be considered PC these days…ah well) I anticipate the time when we can introduce Pip to reading, firstly by reading out loud to him and then letting him explore books for himself. I expected it to start happening in perhaps a few months to a year, when some sort of bedtime routine would be established: bath, story and off to sleep.

What has surprised me is the discovery that a lot of people seem to start reading to their babies from practically the moment they’re born!

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According to an email I recently received from Babycentre:

“Ready, set, read! It’s never too early to start reading picture books with your baby. Even if your baby doesn’t spend too much time looking at the pages, he’ll love having you close and listening to your voice. Go for a lively rhyme to engage him, or bright pictures to catch his eye.”

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But then again too few to mention

I have been thinking vaguely about what I would have done differently.

An obvious starting point to this would be to have had a birth plan (that would help!) and to have researched the various different approaches to birth before going in. I was a bit downhearted about the whole birth plan thing because everything I wanted seemed to be forbidden by the consultants due to the monitoring I would have to be under (the tears I wept for my denied water birth) so I was in a bit of a petulant mood about it. I also thought I had plenty of time to work out what I wanted when on leave and that the NCT classes would kickstart my thinking on this – but that wasn’t to be.
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Coping part iii: tips for Dads

Here are a few pieces of advice for fathers gleaned over the experience of the past few weeks…

Note taboo words/topics and avoid accordingly

VoldemortI expect every new mum has their own area of particular sensitivity, that their partner has learned about to their own peril. Perhaps a body issue or something to do with the baby.

For me, it is tiredness. As previously explained, the sleep deprivation that goes hand in hand with having a baby has hit me hard. So hard that for several weeks it was no laughing matter at all. Therefore, when Mr Cath happened to mention his own fatigue, can you blame my rather negative reaction?

Fathers: if you value your lives, do not, under any circumstances, tell your other half you are tired. Especially if the word “tired” is, heaven forbid, preceded by “extremely” or even the innocuous-sounding “really”. Your partner is guaranteed to be more tired than you. Even if you are one of those couples that share all the night time feeds and nappy changes (who are you?) she is the one who gave birth! Which trumps everything…

Now we have got the first six weeks behind us and Pip is sleeping much better, this is slightly less of an issue. However, Mr Cath still can only say Voldemort-style “I am that thing I’m not allowed to mention.” Last night, it even almost raised a smile. Almost.

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Shop ’til you drop

So I thought I would pop into Sainsbury’s; just a few things – a box of cereal, some toothpaste, a bottle of wine for a dinner party that evening and maybe some cat food. I could manage that – I had the baby in the Björn, an overstuffed changing bag and the portable breastfeeding pillow, but an extra carrier bag would be fine. No drama.

But then again it made sense to get dinner for the next night, we were out in the afternoon and a friend was coming round for dinner – there would be no time tomorrow to buy it. And maybe something for the next night, just for us.
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Alex Reid manxplaining how it’s done
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How to: bathe a baby

This post was eaten by BT a week ago! In the intervening time, we have been bathing Pip daily and I’m pleased to report that it has gradually become less stressful for all concerned. Mr Cath and I can now even bathe him by ourselves (initially, we needed each other there for moral support!) and we all are starting to – whisper it while touching wood – enjoy the little ritual.

We celebrated Pip’s one month birthday on 10th August by giving him his first bath using products. The hospital told us to just use water up until this point so we followed their instructions to the letter, although I’m sure it would have been fine to break out the soap before this! After researching all sorts of lovely organic things, I’ve gone for good old Johnson & Johnson (couldn’t resist the Asda baby event…) – he already has rashes/baby acne so hopefully it can’t get any worse! In fact, since starting to wash him “properly”, the spots seem to be clearing up nicely.

There is so much conflicting advice out there about how and when to bathe your baby. Some hospitals, like Elly and Elphie’s, give you a tutorial on the topic and you have to actually give them a bath before you can be discharged. Others, like ours, believe the umbilical cord stump should not be immersed in water until it has dropped off and fully healed – before this, you should just top and tail. Not that they told us how to top and tail either – they really didn’t tell us anything: our first foray into cleaning Pip involved propping up our baby book and reading out what to do (now it all just seems like common sense but when you are sleep deprived and don’t know what you’re doing, any guidelines at all are invaluable! We would probably have missed out his ears otherwise…) Here is a video from Gurgle demonstrating topping and tailing and then bathing:

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How to: save a baby, Part II

Continuing my series on first aid for babies…

Burns

My worst nightmare – dropping my cup of tea on Elphie. Especially given my track record, she’d only been in my arms five seconds in the hospital when I managed to drop my entire cup of water on her.

Interestingly another video I watched told you to apply the cling film lengthways along the burn i.e. if the burn was on the arm then you would roll the clingfilm down the arm rather than across it. No idea what properties the length of clingfilm has which is different to it width-ways!

Bleeding

I like the idea of gravity lending a hand if you move the wounded limb above the heart!

Obviously babies don’t have a lot of blood. By my calculations (using the University of Michigan Medical School tables for infant blood volume) Elphie has less than a pint of blood at the moment, so any loss could be significant.

Shock

A side effect of severe bleeding (either external or internal) can be that the baby goes into shock. This sounds less troubling than it is, as hypovolemic shock basically means the circulatory system is not providing enough oxygen via the blood, for example, if some of said blood is making a puddle on the floor. Oxygen not reaching your organs is not great and hence this can result in death. The following article from Nielsen Hayden describes the various stages of shock and what to do in each, but the Cliff Notes version from Dear Nurses shows you the symptoms and treatment for hypovolemic shock:
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Although an interesting caveat from Wikipedia is:
“Note that in children, compensation can result in an artificially high blood pressure despite hypovolemia. Children will typically compensate (maintain blood pressure despite loss of blood volume) for a longer period than adults, but will deteriorate rapidly and severely once they do begin to decompensate. This is another reason (aside from initial lower blood volume) that even the possibility of internal bleeding in children should almost always be treated aggressively.”

In any case, I reckon I would be getting myself and herself to A&E sharpish if anything like this happened! In the meantime, I think tea will be drunk with her at a distance.