Sour Milk

As some of you know, LB has a dairy and soy allergy. As she is exclusively breastfed, we’re currently managing this via my diet. It’s been a little tough (eating out is pretty much a thing of the past), but there are upsides too (eating more healthily, saving $$ and of course, a much healthier tummy for LB). As she’s now on solids as well, we’re sticking to fruit and veg and will be introducing protein in the coming month/s.

This also means LB can’t have normal or soy-based formula. There is a formula currently available in Australia, on prescription only, that is dairy and soy free. A.ptamil P.epti Junior Gold. This will be what LB will have to have when I go back to work.

The thing about the A.ptamil is it tastes repulsive. I mean, according Dr Hob, it’s almost undrinkable. Way to go formula company! You think parents of kids with allergies need more shit to deal with!? I tried a teaspoon on LB last week and she dry retched. Dr Hob recommended giving LB 4-6 WEEKS to get used to it. I was planning to begin this slow wean in January. How I’ll do this, I have no idea.

With the grossness of the formula front of mind, I had been pumping a little milk here and there. I wasn’t planning on giving LB EBM on heading back to work, so this little stockpile was just my ‘freedom milk’. Just enough for a bottle once in a while, to allow me a night out or an afternoon away – or even an evening at home with a few glasses of wine. I can’t tell you how much I need this.

Last week I defrosted some of the precious liquid to give Mr Bun a chance to reintroduce LB to the bottle, while I was around in case it didn’t work.

The milk was off. It smelt, and tasted disgusting.

Right – so. We tried again. Another batch, same thing. Completely sour. This had never happened previously. A little Googling found the probable reason – lipase. It’s an enzyme that’s excessive in some women’s milk, and causes the souring. A way to get rid of it is to scald the milk before freezing.

I express such small amounts at a time (20ml) that I don’t think I can even scald it and not burn/boil it, and I can’t express larger quantities.

So I can’t store my EBM and I can’t currently give formula either (I need to get her onto that formula, or I’m not going back to work, so I’m already pretty stressed about that).

I can’t catch a break here. I mean, it’s fine. I’ll remain stuck to LB’s side until next year sometime and that’s OK. I love hanging out with her. It’s just – psychologically – the idea that I can’t get away if I want or need to, is a tough one to get my head around.

Has anyone got any experience with either sour defrosted milk or yucky-tasting formula?

The Un-Asked Question

I find, when your bub gets to about six months old, people stop asking;

‘Is she sleeping through the night?’

It’s like it becomes taboo … because, y’know, she should be*. And if she isn’t, well – that’s just awkward for all concerned.

LB is very much NOT sleeping through the night. She is doing the very opposite of that, unlike when she was four, or five months old. I know this, because back then I was optimistically (and, yes, a little smugly) noting it down in my calendar. Scribbly little exclamations in biro ‘Until 7am!’ … ‘Through ’til 7.30!’ popped up three or four times a week for a few months. I was excited – thinking, this is surely IT. She’ll start doing this more and more often, until the nights when she does wake up become the exception. WOooHooo!

But, no – she has slept through only once in over a month. Not only that, a few weeks ago she started waking at 1am and 2am again. I still give her a Dream Feed at 10.30/11pm, so this is clearly not a hunger thing.

When she’s up before 3am, I settle and re-settle until it’s 3:00 and she gets a feed (if I feed her before then, she’ll wake again at 4/5am). If she wakes after 3am, I leave her grizzling for 20 minutes (in the vain hope she’ll go back to sleep – hardey har har), then feed her.

So. Waking at night. Sometime it’s 1am, sometimes it’s 3am, sometimes it’s 4.30am. Either way, when I feed her, she goes right back to sleep until I wake her in the morning.

Why do I feed her at all? Well, she still hasn’t doubled her birthweight so I feel like I should be giving her that overnight feed if she needs (wants?) it. The other reason is we’re heading overseas for Christmas and I really don’t think I’ll be able to handle the stress of sleep training her out of her overnight feeds, while staying in someone else’s home.

People suggest I go to bed at 9pm (or earlier), to get a few hours in before the Dream Feed. But you know what? Those few hours in the evening are the only time when I am ME. I get to sit, enjoy a glass of wine, watch TV, talk to my husband (wow – another ADULT) and generally remind myself who I am. I can’t give that up.

After six months of broken sleep you’d think I’d be OK with it. I mean, she’s a baby right? And a pretty young one at that. Suck it up!

But I actually feel more tired, and less able to cope with the hours – particularly the 1am nights when I have to do two hours of settling and THEN a 45 minute feed. I just feel so drained, and empty – running on zero sleep for so many months. I am really ready to get my nights back.
Zzzzzz …

*Fuck off.

Somebody Swapped My Baby

It happened over the weekend. It’s funny, because she looks exactly the same – but she is really, a completely different baby.

Gone is the quiet, shy, placid little thing that would play forever on her own. In her place, a very noisy, frustrated bundle of movement who will grizzle and SQUEAL REALLY RATHER LOUDLY IF SHE WANTS SOMETHING:

Things Little Bun would like:

  • To be put down
  • To be picked up
  • To be on her tummy
  • To be OFF HER TUMMY NOW OH GOD THIS IS AWFUL
  • To put all the things (ALL THE THINGS) in her mouth
  • … except for baby food, get that stuff away from me
  • But give me the spoon. I want the spoon
  • To be held held held all the time
  • Except now, don’t hold me now
  • BUT HOLD ME NOW
  • And don’t. Under any circumstances. LEAVE MY SIGHT, MAMA

Sigh. It’s rather exhausting.

I knew I was spoilt, but I didn’t realise how much. For months I’ve been used to running mini-errands around the house while LB is awake and playing happily. Now I have windows of three minutes to do things in. Like go to the loo. Or shower.

The only place she’s happy is the pram, pounding the pavement. Luckily the weather is gorgeous here, because we are going out walking A LOT.

What do you think is going on? Her bottom two teeth are completely through, so I think it’s more developmental. Separation anxiety? Sudden realisation that the World Out There exists? Just, y’know, being a baby?

She’s still smiley and wonderful and gorgeous – but oh lordy she’s putting me through my paces!

Happy Halfway!

We’re at Six Months. Six Months. SIX MONTHS.

Little Bun hasn’t mucked around, she’s decided to ramp up the milestones over the past few weeks – hurling achievements at me so fast, like some sort of baby ninja.

Rolling over? Check! (Just a few days after Mr Bun and I were speculating that she’d literally never roll … as in, she’d be lying around on her back at four) she rolled! Of course, Mother of the Century here was out of the room attending to one of the 395 loads of laundry I do on a daily basis. She was chattering away on her mat and when I walked back in she was on her tummy. Woo!

So began ten days of obsessive rolling. Unfortunately she can only go from back-to-tum, so there’s been a fair bit of frustration on her part (she kicks like a reverse beetle-on-its-back, angry and stuck) and lots of help on mine. Now, she seems less interested in the rolling thing. Been there, done that, rolling’s so over man.

First cold? Check! This one was less fun. She had a blocked nose and scratchy throat and a bit of a temp. The hardest bit was I was sick too. Never are you more acutely aware of your new role as Mother as when you are sick. There’s no rest, no stopping, no days on the couch under a blanket mainlining S.trepsils and watching junk teeve. She was on the mend within a few days and back to normal after 10.

First food? Check! We’ve gone from pulling faces of abject disgust to opening wide and leaning forward to meet the spoon. It’s so cute. I started her on purees about a month ago, and we’re just beginning (as in, this morning) some finger foods too. It’s more work than whipping out the boob, but it’s a lot of fun.

First teeth? Check! She has TWO bottom teeth. This one was super exciting for me. Her body is changing and growing and doing what it’s meant to do. I really find it quite miraculous!

One’s completely through and the other is just peeking out. I’ve decided to use this as an excuse for a very unsettled time over the past week or so. Even though everyone swears blue that teething doesn’t cause half of the symptoms we attribute to it … work with me here. I need something to get me through the night(s).

Life with a baby is a life surrounded by cliches. She’s growing so fast, I’m starting to lose sight of the newborn she was, and glimpse the girl she will become.

I’m drinking it in, every minute.

Happy Half Birthday my darling girl.

She knows.

I don’t know how, but she just does.

A week or so of less and less sleep … Long days, longer nights. Teething? Immunisations? Growth spurt? All I knew was I was getting more and more exhausted and more and more desperate. Last night I broke down, told Mr Bun just how very tired I was … ‘It’s like those first few weeks*’
But then, last night, she slept through. Ohh, when she woke at 6am, I rolled over – saw the time – bliss.

And this morning? She’s been napping for 1.5 hours. Again, amazing.

 

So, yes. She knows. Her Mumma was at breaking point and she decided to give her a little rest.

 

Thank you darling.

 

 

*It’s not. Nothing could every be that exhausting. See? I’ve forgotten already.

On Anxiety

My daughter is four and a half months old. We are a third of the way through a year. Time is passing. She is growing – stretching and plumping and advancing before my eyes.

Since she was born, I have had the full might of the wonderful Australian health system behind me. Obstetricians, GPs, paediatricians, maternal health nurses and gynaecologists all working in unison to ensure my daughter and I have had the best start possible, into this brave new world.

My family have been there. Offering help when it wasn’t asked for. Allowing me to need support, to feel helpless; to be helped. At every instance, every milestone, I have been checked in on. How are things? How am I coping? How am I feeling?

Fine, fine. She truly is a wonderful little baby. I have nothing to complain about. Everything is OK.

But, it’s not. I am not OK.

I think I have a problem with anxiety. It is getting worse. I am getting worse.

It’s crept up on me, because she is not a newborn and I am no longer so new at this myself. And she is – really is – a happy, settled, beautiful little girl.  So, how could I possibly be struggling?

It’s other mothers that make me feel this most acutely. If I’m having a particularly bad day, I venture a hesitant, ‘It’s hard’, out into the conversation. But unless I can back this up with tales of abject baby-based horror, I’m met with blank looks. I’ve even been second-guessing this post. Fretting that my anxiety isn’t seated in something with more substance.

You have nothing to complain about.

And I don’t. She’s perfect. I know, it’s me.

I don’t think I’m depressed. Every day begins with my heart hurrying at the chance to see her face again. I function well. I get dressed, put on make-up, eat, clean, visit friends, run errands, make sure I tick off the endless list of Things To Do. And I enjoy myself. I know I am lucky to have this life.

But what were a few road bumps a while ago, now send me into a tailspin of fear and worry. When she doesn’t nap. Or doesn’t stick to a routine. Or life intrudes into whatever carefully mapped-out schedule I have in my head … I don’t cope.

There’s a constant, endlessly repeating cycle that exists … like living in the twilight of happy and not. When she’s awake, I am ecstatic, hungry with love for her. When she’s crying in bed, not sleeping, I am exhausted with disappointment. The other times, I’m brittle and taut – watching the clock, eyeing the monitor, one ear and eye always out. ‘Is she awake?’ ‘Is she overtired?’ ‘Have I failed this time?’ ‘What will I do if things don’t go to plan?’

It’s affecting how I enjoy these precious days. When I leave the house, knowing she’ll miss a nap, I worry she’ll be ruined for the rest of the day. When Mr Bun and I settle down to dinner, I worry she’ll wake up ‘early’.  When I pop her down after her late feed, I worry about the night ahead. Worry worry worry.

When she doesn’t sleep, we both feel it. She is unhappy. Her smiles drift away. Her feeding and playing and sleeping all suffer. She has a worse day – and then, so do I. But I should be able to bear that. I should be able to take it in my stride, shrug with the understanding that she is just a baby, that these things happen – and that it will get better.

Instead I obsess and worry as to what it means. I fear for what’s to come, constantly. Every time I use the dummy, I picture a spiral of screaming addiction ahead of me. One bad night has me convinced months of bad nights are coming up. One tough morning and I’ve already written off the entire day.

It’s affecting my marriage. Poor Mr Bun now asks, hesitantly, ‘Has she had a … good day?’ He’s not asking because of her. It’s because of me. How will his wife be when he gets home? Will there be tears? Snapped whispers of ‘Don’t wake the baby’? Or just the silence of my concern filling the room?

I had a realisation last week that turned a corner for me. I’m not so sure fixing Little Bun’s sleep will mean I am fixed too. The rising panic in my chest will remain, and just find some other cause to focus on.

I have always been a huge proponent of therapy and getting help when you need it. I am the first to encourage loved ones to seek help. I am an avid believer in mental as well as physical health. But what’s unsettling is when it’s me, I feel helpless and – yes – embarrassed.

None of what I’m feeling is normal. I know that – but it’s still hard to face. On the good days, I forget all of the above exists; with relief I let it fade like a bad dream. Then I have a bad day, and I’m desperate for help again.

I am seeking help, I will get it, and things will improve. We are looking into sleep school, and support for me too. In the meantime, I’m writing this post. Because no matter how much you wished for this, how tough you are, how wonderful your baby may be, and how tight your support network is – you may still need a little help.

It’s Baaaaa-aaaack

My period.

Awww, already?
I actually got it bang on Little Bun’s 15 week birthday – which seemed pretty darn early thank you very much. I put it down to post partum weirdness and, basically, forgot about it. Exactly 28 days later I felt those old familiar cramps and – because I clearly have the memory of a goldfish – spent the day wondering what they were.

‘They sorta seem familiar, but …’

Oh.

Cue me scrambling around in the back of cupboards for tampons and feeling relieved that I hadn’t just put on two kilos overnight without explanation.

So I guess this is it then? I was a little surprised for it to happen so soon, and so regularly, especially as I’m breastfeeding. Maybe it’s because she is doing 5-6 hour sleeps overnight? I need to pay more attention to my cycle (now I know I have one) as I’m interested to see if it affects my milk / her feeding. She’s definitely had more fussy feeding periods in the past month, but I just put it down to normal baby-ness.

The big question is birth control. I have HIDEOUS reactions to the pill. I just can’t take any form of it. Anything semi-permanent like an IUD is out of the question for obvious reasons. But I … and yes, I am hearing these words come out of my own mouth … really don’t want to get pregnant this soon.

That I could is basically laughable, as last time it took nigh on four years. And when we eventually did, no-one could tell us why or how it happened, and if it would ever happen again. Obviously we would dearly love the gift of another baby, and if I had to choose between Too Soon and Not At All, of COURSE it would be the former. But. I’m just starting to get myself back and in order to be the best Mummy I can be, I need a break.

‘Ha Ha!’ says the Universe, ‘first you want a baby, then you want another one – but you want to choose when that happens!? Ha ha hA HA HA HAAAA HAAA!

 
Sigh.

Hair Today …

(I need to nip this pun-in-the-blog-title thing in the bud … it’ll get bad)

I have good hair. I mean, I’m no Tami Taylor (who is!?) but it’s thickish, and longish, and when I throw mumble-dollars at it, it’s the right colour too.

Some of you may recall Lesbian Trucker-Gate, when I took a trip down Cliché Lane and let my pregnancy hormones get the better of my hairdresser. But by the time I had Little Bun, the hideous cut had grown out – and in the rare occasions I had time to turn a hairdryer on, my hair was the only thing about me that looked the same post, as it did pre-pregnancy.

But- it’s falling out. Yes – NOW. I thought I’d skipped that bit!? LB is four months old!!

Here is where my hair is:

  • The floor
  • The shower
  • The sink
  • OK, the whole goddamn bathroom is a shrine to my fallen hair
  • My clothes
  • My daughter … literally, I’m shedding all over her like an enthusiastic cat

Here is where my hair, increasingly, isn’t:

  • My head

Pah.

 

Musical Beds

From day one, Little Bun has been sleeping in our bedroom. Actually, probably from day 20 or something … the first few weeks she slept in her pram in the living room while one of us lay exhausted, weeping across the sofa. But let’s not go there.

Since then she’s been in her beautiful little moses basket just by our bed, snuffling and farting her way through the months. Before she was born, I declared grandly that we’d have her in with us ‘for six weeks … at a push‘. What I didn’t realise is I would like – no, LOVE – having her little body sleeping in the same four walls as Mr Bun and I.

Beyond the obvious convenience of having her right there by me, so I could attend to the nighttime feeds and whatnot without moving too far, I felt I slept better with her there. Although this is probably a false impression, as she’s pretty bloody noisy when she wants to be.

But as my little girl stacks on the pounds (literally, guys – she gained just under a KILO between three and four months … that’s nearly two pounds, imperial fans!) she’s clearly very close to growing out of her basket. And at four months she’s also become much more aware – I didn’t want to get into a situation where moving would cause her distress or disorientation. To this point, a few months ago I started popping her down in her own cot/room for naps, so she could become familiar with the routine, and so I could access our bedroom during the day.

Then, on Friday – GASP – she went back to her cot after her bath. And since then I’ve been settling her ‘for the night’ in her room, then moving her into our bedroom just before her dream feed. She then spends the rest of the night in with us. Little steps.

It may seem like I’m dragging this out longer than I need to – but you see, her bedroom is pretty much the furthest spot from our room, in the house. We’re in the front, on the ground floor – she’s down the back of the house, upstairs. By no means do we have a large place, but she seems very far away.

I know I need to make the final move and let her sleep the whole night upstairs. It means a little more disruption for me, as nighttime feeds and any other little squirms and cries will have me going up and down stairs. But I think it will actually be better for her, and may even encourage (!) more consistent sleeping-through-the-night action.

Wish me luck!

Diagnosis

So … after this post, Little Bun had another week of horrific nappies. I was stumped. And covered in poo. We needed help.

We headed back to our lovely GP, who referred us to a paediatrician, Dr Hob. She was a cracker – properly old school, no bullshit, straight down the line woman. I really liked her.

She took one look at Little Bun’s test results and diagnosed Infant C.olitis. Why the GP couldn’t do this, I’d like to know – but either way, Dr Hob was 100% certain that was the issue, even before I talked her through the past two months of symptoms.

Infant C.olitis is, basically, an allergy to milk and soy. The good news? It’s not a severe allergy that requires EPI pens and nastiness like that. Also, it’s likely to clear up in around 9 – 12 months from now.

The bad news? Little Bun is one of the 30% of babies whose c.olitis includes soy, too. ‘No problemo!’ I say, ‘Just hold the sauce on my sushi and we’ll be good!’ … Ahh, the ignorant bliss of someone who’s never had to deal with food allergies. You see, soy is in everything. Literally – ALL OF THE THINGS.

I’m going to have to work out a whole new way of eating. It’ll be hard, but also a lot healthier for me. Soy is in most processed foods, so I’ll be steering clear of biscuits, chips and takeaway. And of course there’s the dairy-filled loveliness of desserts, chocolate and baked goodies that I’ll also be saying goodbye to. The toughest thing (psychologically, I think) is Little Bun also can’t have normal formula. She’s only allowed one, prescription-only formula that – according to Dr Hob – tastes revolting. A formula babies don’t like the taste of? Genius!

She’s recommended we get Little Bun on small tastes of this formula soon, so she can get used to it. This is because I’ll need to use it, or EBM, for all cooking and bottles for the foreseeable future. GOOD TIMES.

I don’t know when I was planning on weaning Little Bun. I’d loosely thought at around the eight to ten month mark … I probably wasn’t going to try and continue with EBM once I’d gone back to work. But now this formula issue has me feeling a little weird. It’s not that I wanted to give Little Bun formula anytime soon, but it’s the knowledge that I can’t (easily) that is a little claustrophobic.

So … that’s where we’re at. No dairy. No soy. No formula. And – hopefully – no more nasty nappies.

Deal? Deal.