Baby 2: 10 Months Old

10 months old! I am still firmly pretending Max is a newborn (and his nappies still say newborn on the pack, so I must be right yes?) but he is in fact much closer to being a toddler than I care to admit!

Teeth: Two! And lots of rooting round as if there’s a new one coming through pretty soon.

Sleep: This has got a lot better since my post a few weeks back about how awfully he’d started sleeping. We’re now firmly making sure he goes down at around 7pm but no later than 7.30pm which seems to help and we’ve moved his afternoon nap later so he’s not overtired in the evenings. On average, we get up about 5 times a night now but it’s without fail just to put his dummy back in and maybe some teething gel on – fingers crossed we’ve had a couple of weeks now where we haven’t had to rock him back to sleep or spend hours trying every method under the sun to get him to settle.

Routine: Up about 7.30ish but can be later, breakfast around 8/8.30, nap around 10-11, bottle at 11, lunch at 1, bottle at 2.30/2.45, nap around 3-4/4.30, dinner at 5, bottle at 6.30, bed at 7ish.

Food: Max is doing amazingly with his food trials so we’ve reduced the last couple to six days with the hope of reducing further to five days for each new food. We now have 18 safes (lamb, salmon, pineapple, apple, plum, peach, blueberry, strawberry, avocado, cauliflower, broccoli, carrot, parsnip, tomato, white potato, sorghum, wheat, coconut milk/yoghurt). Wheat has been a great one for him to pass as it’s opened up some bread to us (only specific ones as most contain soya, but it’s nice to see him chewing on a bagel!) as well as different cereals, pasta and cous cous. We’re trialling pear this week and also trying to concentrate on introducing some finger foods (using his safes, so giving cut up fruit or some bread) as well as cutting up food rather than giving it pureed so he gets used to more textures.

Bottles: Max now has a bottle of expressed breast milk (5oz/150ml) in the morning then two bottles of formula, I switched his afternoon one from EBM to formula in readiness for me stopping pumping next week – with the stash I’ve got in the freezer it means he can continue having one bottle of EBM each day until his first birthday. If he’s still needing a follow-on formula at this point (I think they’ll recommend that) then I’ll feel okay that he had some breastmilk for an entire year.

Lungs: We are thrilled, thrilled, thrilled that we had a follow-up appointment and X-ray at the hospital where he had his operation and his right lung has expanded massively since his last X-ray in June. That means his diaphragm is pretty much where it should be and there’s no evidence of reherniating. The surgeon was so happy with him, he doesn’t want to see Max again for another year. I mean, I know we all like to share how great our kids are doing when they hit their milestone but growing your lung capacity by almost double in six months is pretty special. Well done Maxi!

Playing: Max definitely has a preference for ‘hard’ toys over cuddly teddies. He loves sharing his sister’s Lego blocks, tea set and cars. He also has an inflatable farm-themed ring from his cousin which he absolute delights in climbing in and out of. Oh yes, we have another climber. He’s discovered he can get over things now so I’m sure it’s only  a matter of time before I’m rescuing him from high up places – it’s like raising a colony of monkeys sometimes.

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

The Dreaded Dummy

Proof Alex could sleep without a dummy at one point - this is her arriving home from hospital.

Proof Alex could sleep without a dummy at one point – this is her arriving home from hospital.

There’s one thing that seems to cause a massive controversy in the parenting world and that’s giving your child a dummy. For some reason this tiny thing attracts a lot of criticism from others even though there really are a million worse things you could do for your child.

We didn’t really have a view either way while I was pregnant about whether we would give Alexandra a dummy, I don’t even remember buying the ones she used at first so whether they were bought by someone else I don’t know. For the first few weeks she didn’t have one at all but then while I was back in hospital she started having one. Fast forward a few months and by the time she was sleeping in her own room she’d drop off in the evening without one but want it back in if she woke during the night or early morning. Then she started having it to go to sleep with.

Now we’ve probably used it a little more because she’s teething and it’s soothed her a bit in between the pain relief we can give her. I really want to get rid of it and know that we just need to go cold turkey and suffer the horrendous few days we’d have before she’d hopefully stop wanting it. But it never seems to be the right time – we did try once and she was awful, howling hysterically through the night like she’d just heard the entire world’s supply of Aptamil had vanished. So in went the dummy (after a few hours of persisting) and all was right with the world again.

I know they link dummies with speech delays and thankfully this doesn’t seem to have happened yet, she’s babbling away at a similar level to most of her little friends. She doesn’t have her dummy in constantly in the day so that could be the reason why. A second reason I don’t like it is I just think it looks awful on an older child. It seems a little selfish to me to have carried on giving her the dummy mostly for my own sanity so we’re not up the whole night trying to comfort a screaming baby – but then I think about the fact it’s obviously comforting her and it’s really a two-way street.

We will try at one point to get rid of the dreaded dummy but it always seems like the wrong time – either her teeth are bothering her or she’s got a cold, or one of us is feeling under the weather and therefore really can’t do without any sleep. One day though we will conquer it! (Hopefully before her 18th birthday!)

Harriet and Alexandra x

Time For Another

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I’ve written a bit before about my feelings about not having another baby (here). I just feel like I haven’t come to terms with it and so maybe writing a bit more about it might help with that process?

When I wrote last time, I had spoken to the haematology and rheumatology consultants but not to the cardiologists. When I met with them earlier this year they broached the subject of another pregnancy (it’s always the doctors who bring it up, never me!) and basically if I had to summarise the look of ‘don’t do it, you and probably the baby will die, it’s the most stupid idea ever’ then it would be the look both consultants pulled. Basically the warfarin I take to stop my blood clotting can be swapped for different medication which stops clots (so I’d have a daily injection throughout pregnancy and for six weeks after) but the heart medication I take can’t be taken while pregnant and there’s no safe alternative. So although my heart operates at around ten per cent less than a normal heart, which is only classed a mild cystolic disfunction, there’s no way of knowing how much damage nine months without medication would do to it. And of course if I had another episode of CAPS then I’d basically be screwed because of already having a slightly dodgy heart.

To put it bluntly, they can’t put a number on it but it’s more likely than not that either me or the new baby wouldn’t make it. Obviously I have a child and an almost-husband and family and friends to think about when I consider the risk to my own life. But for me the thought of actively trying to conceive a baby who has more chance of dying than living is scary. How would you cope with the guilt if it didn’t survive? There’s a difference between taking a risk with your own life and doing that with a tiny baby’s life. And of course Alex is a huge consideration in all this, the last thing I’d want is for her to be adversely affected by any decision we took.

I know all of this, when I think about it logically there are so many reasons it’s a truly terrible idea. But still it doesn’t sit comfortably with me yet. I can’t feel okay about it yet. When I hold my baby nephew sometimes something just catches in the back of my throat when I think about the fact I missed Alexandra being that age, and I’ll never get the chance to do it again. When I see people on forums who had babies in the same month as I did either planning to or actually falling pregnant again, I feel a little twang of something. There’s a huge physical need in me (can you feel your biological clock?) to have another baby. It’s something I feel much more acutely than I ever did before I had Alex.

Alexandra was the most wanted baby ever and it’s a miracle she’s here and alive and healthy and just absolutely wonderful all round. It’s even more of a miracle that I’m here to enjoy her. I think this a hundred million times a day. But I can’t help thinking about what might have. How might life with two have been different. Would we be trying again yet? Would we have got pregnant really quickly again? Would I get to be fully involved in (and maybe even enjoy) the newborn stage the second time around?

There’s so many questions that I can never have the answers to and there’s a whole lifetime of expectation that I have to drop. I just have to move on and get over it and deal with it. But one of the things making that even harder is the wealth of people queuing up to ask me when we’ll have another. Obviously those very close to me knows but anyone outside of that immediate circle seems to be popping up right now to ask the question. It’s like a timer’s gone off and now my baby is ten months old everyone wants to know when number two will be here.

I usually just give a short ‘there won’t be a number two due to medical advice’ sort of answer but every time it breaks my heart a little bit. I can’t even begin to imagine the pain of a couple unable to have children or who’ve lost a child. I wouldn’t ever compare myself to them. But this hurts too. It’s very real for me, the sadness, the sense of losing out on something I’d almost taken for granted I could have. I try to remember there was never any guarantee of number two but I know a ‘no’ is not the decision I would have come to.

The trauma of what happened to us has become much more acute over the past couple of months and I feel much worse about it than I did in the immediate aftermath when I was fighting to get physically better. It will take a long, long time to heal but my worry is I will never fully accept the decision my illness made for us about not having another child.

Harriet and Alexandra x

Worst Advice Ever

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When you become a mom (or even if you’ve been doing it a long time), people seem to line up to give you all sorts of advice. This applies whether they’ve had ten kids or none. The advice ranges from excellent to downright ridiculous so I thought I’d share a few bits of absolutely terrible advice. If someone tells you these things then feel free to punch them (or, you know, just walk away and not ever listen to anything they say again. Up to you).

Sleep when the baby sleeps:
A fine idea in theory but let’s try something. Right this second I want you to run to your sofa or bed, shut your eyes, immediately drop to sleep and then wake up again in approximately 16 minutes. Even if you did manage to get to sleep in the middle of the day at a time randomly decided by your baby as nap time, you’re hardly going to feel radically different when you wake up to the sound of crying. Also, you just can’t eat when the baby eats, wash your hair when your baby washes their hair or pop a load in the washing machine when the baby does. Apparently these little beings need quite a lot of attention, who knew? So sleeping when they nap might work as an idea but in reality you will have about 67 billion other things to do with your time.

Treasure every moment:
Yeah I’ve spoken about this one before. So unnecessary. (There’s a rant about it here). Also sometimes the baby’s just shat everywhere and then mushed their foot in it and your hand has poo on it and then you accidentally touch your face so EVERYONE has poo on them. You just can’t like every second of your baby’s existence.

Never did me any harm:
This advice usually comes from the older generation. Usually it’s something about leaving your child in a pram outside your shop while you pop in for some groceries, giving them biscuits from six weeks or lying them on their front. This advice is doubly annoying because not only are they invariably telling you to do something the guidelines written by the experts who know about this kind of shit explicitly say is likely to harm your baby, but they also seem to want some kind of medal for keeping their baby alive despite being a dumbass.

Ooh she’s hungry/tired:
The joy that fills me when someone else tells me why my child might be grizzling. Yes I appreciate some of these people might just be trying to help. But it does take quite a lot of restraint for me not to tell them that as I spend my whole entire life with the baby I might just have grasped by now, ten months down the line, what she wants or why she’s crying. The other temptation is to tell them she’s crying because they’re an arsehole.

Enjoy your pregnancy:
Harking back to the bump days here but I did used to laugh when people gave me this ‘advice’. Yeah, I had a super time for just shy of 38 weeks firstly throwing up continually then being TIRED like I never knew could be possible then being fat (really fat) and hormonal and swollen and stretch marked and did I mention fat? I enjoy the fact that my pregnancy led to being Alexandra’s mom but other than that, nope!

Harriet and Alexandra x

10 Months On

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Our little cupcake turned ten months yesterday – eek double figures! – and I feel it’s been one of the biggest months for changes yet. She seemed to have a real leap a couple of weeks ago where all of a sudden she could do loads of things she couldn’t do before.

The main change is she’s now crawling! Alex can get pretty much anywhere now on hands and knees and is certainly loving her new-found freedom. Mostly she uses it to go round taking the radiator caps off, who knows why? Also (and this happened pretty much on the same day as the crawling), she’s pulling herself up to standing and climbing – she really can’t be trusted now!

On the talking front she’s begun making a whole range of noises. We’ve had the whole ‘nanana ‘dadada’ thing for quite a while but now she’s making so many different sounds and babbling along as if she’s really talking to you. Most of it makes absolutely no sense but sometimes you think she could actually be saying a word. She tends to say ‘yeah’ after I ask her a question, so often that I’m starting to think she means it! She definitely says ‘daddy’ (or something like it) more at the weekends and evenings when Dylan’s here and sometimes she picks up my phone and holds it out to me saying ‘daddy’ when he’s not here, almost like she’s grasped that most lunchtimes we call him. (You never know whether you’re attributing too much intelligence to them when you think they’re doing something like this!)

Alexandra is starting to love having her picture taken and especially loves looking at herself in the mirror. She’s still got absolutely no teeth and not really any more signs of one than she did last month. Still eating and drinking milk really well and I’d say most of the food she has now is solid rather than mushed up. We got some toys down from the loft for her at the weekend (thank you Pearle for the donations!) and she’d already grasped some of them by the Monday including how to play the xylophone which she’s merrily tinkling away on while I write this.

I’m really proud to call her ours as she’s always been a lovely baby to be around, we get so many comments when we’re out about how smiley and happy she is. She’s doing really well and now it’s just a matter of time until the next leap which will no doubt see her standing unaided!

Harriet and Alexandra x