Wednesday 24 September 2008

39 weeks, 6 days - 3 weeks, 1 day old

Stomach size: 97cm waist; 28 cm pelvic bone to bra

Well, it's Callum's due date tomorrow. He is doing so well. As of yesterday he weighed 7lb 4oz so has put on a pound and a half since being born. A lot of premature babies are meant to be quite slow to develop but Callum isn't showing any sign of this. He works hard to lift and control his own head and he is so strong. I did have to take him to the Child Health Drop-In Clinic at the doctors yesterday as he had developed a rash across his forehead and eyes. I wasn't that concerned as he was happy in himself and was feeding normally (if you can call feeding whenever and however normal but I guess at this age it is). However, I spoke to NHS Direct and they recommended just taking him along so someone could see it and confirm it was nothing. Apparently, it is called the 'Three Week Rash'. Considering he was 3 weeks old yesterday, that sounded about right. Nothing to worry about and was just colonisation spots and his skin adapting to life outside.

We still don't have any real routine. Callum still feeds and sleeps erratically (as mentioned above). He mainly feeds every 2 hours but with the odd 1 hour or three hour thrown in - usually 1 hour, especially in the early hours of the morning. Which leads me onto sleep patterns. We normally go to bed between 10pm and 10.30pm. Callum then sleeps soundly for 2-3 hours. After that, it all goes a bit chaotic. Last night, he woke up around 1am I think and then 2.30am and then he hardly slept for the remainder of the night. He kept 'snacking', taking in a little bit of food and then falling asleep. I'd try to wind him and put him down and 5 minutes later he would grizzle. I'd wind him again, and then he would be hungry. He would feed for another 5 minutes and then fall asleep, starting the cycle again. It didn't seem to make much difference whether it was from the breast or bottle.

By the time Stuart got up for work, I was desperate for a solid hour's sleep! Unfortunately, I stupidly booked a doctor's appointment for 9am - I really don't know what possessed me. This meant, I had to get up just after Stuart to ensure I got there on time.

Stuart went back to work on Tuesday of last week, after his 2 weeks of paternity leave. I was sad to see him go back. I had enjoyed the time the three of us had shared getting to know each other as a new family. Stuart saw the paternity leave different to me. I saw it as time to get to know Callum and to adjust to being parents, and an opportunity to spend time all together. Stuart saw it as a period of time to try to get back into as normal a routine as possible. He still found it hard to switch off from work. I think he has found it hard to go back to work too but because of the tiredness. His sleep is obviously disturbed too and he finds it really hard to function without good sleep.

There was a piece on The One Show on BBC1 last night that looked at sleep deprivation. Apparently, some people have a gene which means they are better able to cope with sleep deprivation. They called it the Night Owl gene (as opposed to the Lark gene). I definitely think I have this as I seem to be coping pretty well with the days despite not getting much sleep. However, Stuart is acting like me with Baby Brain.

Stuart has generally still been very supportive but this has slipped in a couple of places. Perhaps I expect too much. I want his support, both days and evenings, until some sort of good feeding-sleeping routine is established and I feel more relaxed about everything. This means, I would prefer him not to go out in the evenings unless it is something work related or it really is just for one drink (which Stuart doesn't know the meaning of as his '1 drink' usually develops into a night of drinking and getting the last train home). However, we have had one disagreement when Stuart was on Paternity Leave which was about him wanting to go out (which he didn't do in the end - we came up with a compromise) and then he got trashed last Friday on an impromptu drinking afternoon - a lunch that turned into an afternoon, then an evening, which he didn't even tell me was happening. Eventually, I called him, ended up in tears and he was put on the train home. What really upset me with this was that he had told me the day before when I was really upset about the lack of sleep I had had that it was only for one more night as the next night he would be able to do help out again. However, he was so drunk when he got home that I didn't even want him to change Callum and I did the night on my own again.

I'm feeling a little bit down today. The awareness of being tied to Callum all the time is sinking in. I think this is what Stuart doesn't understand (actually, he understands but I just don't think he considers it) and what I find so difficult. He can go out after work, stay out late, do what he likes with relative freedom, whereas, I can't be away from Callum for more time than I've got expressed bottles for. Of course, I love him and want to be with him but I get no escape - it is 24/7. Constant feeding, nappy changes and coping with the crying demands during the day and then again all through the night. Even if Stuart does help out and takes one or two of the feeds (which he did last Saturday to make up for the night before), I'm often still needed. Stuart had fed him both bottles I had prepared and he had to wake me up to feed him from the breast, and it was only the first feed. I then had to do the other feeds and change him despite that it was meant to be a complete night off where I could catch up with sleep.

What I've never wanted once I had children, was for my husband to just tell me when he is going out or to just expect to go out when he pleases and for me to feel like I need to ask permission to go out. This is what I've seen happen to others and it is completely unfair. The responsibility of looking after the children should be shared and each parent should treat the other as they would wish to be treated. I hope the former doesn't happen to us.

I've also been in the wrong too. One thing I swore I would do and that I think is really important for the mother to do is to involve Stuart in decisions to ensure he feels involved.

The next goal post for me and breastfeeding was 25 September. This had been suggested by Stuart, though what he didn't tell me is that he hadn't prepared himself for me actually giving up breastfeeding at this time and fully expected me to continue to the next goal post, whatever that would be. I had decided that I was going to start the weening process on 25 September as I really want to stop the breastfeeding now. I am so proud of myself for lasting this long considering I was originally not going to breastfeed at all. Unfortunately, I didn't discuss this decision with Stuart so he was disappointed in my decision and disappointed to not have been involved in this decision.

I'm sure these are the first of many disagreements and learning curves we are going to go through but when you are both lacking in sleep, it is hard not to get emotional about things.

Breastfeeding is just adding to my stress. Having to wash two breast pumps constantly as well as doing the expressing every other feed (including at night) is draining. Also, when it is a breast feed (as opposed to an express feed), Callum tends to feed for 10-15 mins, break for 10, feed for 10, break for 10 for about an hour. I then don't know when the next feed will be and why he is stop-starting. I appear to be producing enough milk but he keeps coming back for more. At least when I feed him the express milk, I can see how much he is feeding and he tends to go down better afterwards.

I've got into a bit of routine of expressing two extra bottles during the day that I put in the fridge and then use them to feed during the night. I then only express once at some point during the night when Callum is sleeping. For the rest of the night feeds he is breastfed.

Of course, the downside to feeding by bottle is that you need to warm the bottle if it has been in the fridge before giving it to Callum, so you have to deal with Callum screaming as if he is being murdered until the bottle is ready.

These are, of course, the days/weeks that everyone warned me about and that I've been expecting. Strangely, they are slightly easier than I thought they would be despite all this and I know it wont last forever but I wish I could see some sort of routine developing so I could see a light at the end of the tunnel. This is another reason why I am keen to move to formula - babies tend to sleep longer when formula-fed so I might actually get some sleep at night even if I still have to make 3 feeds during the night and it might help us get that sought after routine.

The best night I've had in the last week was actually on the Friday night (the night Stuart was meant to be helping with). I slept in the spare room while Stuart was in our room. This is also something I said I never wanted to do - I thought it was very unsuportive of the husband to want to sleep in separate rooms. However, it has been my decision to do so and I actually prefer to sleep in separate rooms at the moment. I hate sleeping apart from Stuart but not having to worry about disturbing Stuart so much when Callum wakes means I feel more relaxed. This probably helps both Callum and me get through the night. Sleeping in the spare room also means I can have the moses basket beside me next to the bed rather than at the end of the bed. For the last couple of nights, Stuart has slept in the spare room with me but both nights have been quite bad and I am wondering whether it is because I am stressing about keeping Stuart awake.

God, what a moan this has been. We are managing and Callum is still gorgeous and I know this is to be expected.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow as I'm meeting the NCT girls for our first Yummy Mummy meet. Should give me a bit of a break, even if I have Callum with me. At least I will have some adult chatter and feel like I'm socialising.

Just reading this back, I do feel like I need to reiterate that most of the time Stuart is supportive. He is happy to do nappy changes when he gets home from work and his fair share at weekends, and will stand in and cook dinner if I need him to because I need to feed Callum. He would probably cook dinner every night if I needed him to but I do try to do it ready for when he gets home if I can. Stuart did also look after Callum for the whole day on Saturday to make up for Friday which meant I could go out for a couple of hours without him. He did all the changes throughout the day and all but one during the night.

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