Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Pancake Day

Another quiet day. Amelia slept well, but Barnaby woke early and wouldn't go back to sleep. After Sheep returned from taking him to nursery he crashed out in bed for another couple of hours to catch up on his sleep. Barnaby did get another sticker last night though. On the topic of sleep, my new Elizabeth Pantley book arrived this morning. It looks very exciting! As a quick sample quote which cheered me up no end:

"I'd like to set the record straight on that television scene we know so well: parent tucks blanket around child, kisses child's forehead and says good night, shuts off the light and leaves the room. Child smiles, closes eyes, and goes to sleep. You know, that scene? Pure fantasy. Unrealistic, inconceivable, la-la land. It just ain't gonna happen in real life." p 123

This was particularly cheering as my mother always insists that this is what she did with us, which, of course, simply serves to make me feel deeply inadequate as a mother myself. Although I have been tempted to flick through "The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers", I am going to finish working through her baby book first. Although, one tip I did notice, while perusing the book, was that with the arrival of a second child, you should try to synchronize their bed-time routines as soon as possible. With that in mind, it makes sense to be tackling both Amelia's and Barnaby's sleep issues at the same time.

This morning I made some phone calls. One of which was to Loughton Manor First School, to discuss getting Barnaby on their waiting list. I spoke to the headmistress who confirmed that there could be a nursery place for Barnaby in September, should we wish it. Her administrator will call me this week to arrange a visit for me.

Amelia has been feeding a lot today. I was a bit puzzled by this, until I realized that she is six weeks old tomorrow and many babies have a growth spurt around now. She has basically been feeding incessantly all day (small feeds, close together). I am glad we are both seeing the doctor on Thursday though (for our six week check-up) as it will be nice to check her weight. My instinct is that everything is alright.

I took her out for a walk in the pram this afternoon; it was a short walk of 1.8 miles. (I now have my sister's pedometer working!) I also weighed myself on Sunday - I am still a whopping 68kg where I should be about 60kg, so that's quite a bit of weight I need to shed. I thought that I should try to remember to weigh myself weekly, to keep any eye on how quickly I am losing it (or not).

We had pancakes for dinner (well, it's only Shrove Tuesday once a year!). Barnaby refused to eat his, although he had eaten them at nursery for lunch. Amelia will had her first pancakes vicariously (or re-processed through me as milk).

Well, as per the rest of today, Amelia is already stirring for a feed and it's only 10:30 (she has been lasting to midnight usually). So, I'd better gulp down my tea and prepare to go and feed her.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Jenni Visit

Well, Barnaby and Amelia both slept through the night, until seven this morning. (Of course, Amelia woke for her usual feeds, but Barnaby did not!). And, of course, Barnaby got his sticker for the night!

Jenni was still here today. She had to take her car into the garage here (after it was broken into after the new year) and Sheep accompanied her. While they were gone, I took the opportunity to give Amelia a nice long bath and then spent some time rubbing baby lotion on to her, giving her a bit of a massage at the same time. Wonderful.

After Jenni and Sheep returned, we decided to walk up the hill (to the shopping centre) to eat at Wagamamas. Lovely lunch was had by all; Amelia having a brief breastfeed as well. I'd assumed that Jenni would have wanted to travel back to Oxford as soon after lunch as she could, but instead she said she fancied a walk around the centre. So, we left Sheep drinking in Starbucks while we wandered off (primarily to John Lewis!). As we were about to walk home again, Amelia decided she needed a feed so we caught up with Sheep again in Starbucks and decided to stay for a coffee. I fed Amelia (unobstrusively this time) and so we laid the ghosts of Saturday to rest!

Jenni left at 5:00, as Sheep went to collect Barnaby from nursery and I settled down to feed Amelia again. We settled both Barnaby and Amelia down to sleep at 7:30 and have since had a quiet evening. Quite a low-key, gentle sort of day really.

Oh - this evening, while Sheep was preparing dinner (and I was feeding Amelia), Barnaby was playing a 'design a house' game (from a 'Bob the Builder' website) on my laptop. After designing one for him, then for me and for Sheep, he decided that he wanted to design a house for Amelia. This is the house he designed for her (colour scheme too)!

Not a budding architect, I think.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Meeting, Jenni and Sleep

We went to Quaker meeting again this morning. Our trick to attending meeting is to do so quite unintentionally. If we decide that we are definitely going to attend, something is bound to thwart our plans (the 'something' probably being Barnaby). So, we simply make all the sequential moves towards going, whilst being prepared to abandon our plans at any single moment. That way, if Barnaby is being difficult, we don't feel too frustrated, instead we can simply accept it as part of the course. However, if we do actually manage to make it outside the door, on time, all the better. It is an added bonus, if you like. Well, today we made it, and it was very enjoyable.

There were three babies in meeting today! Quite a troupe of us left after the first fifteen minutes. Once again, I went into the childrens' meeting with Amelia and Barnaby and left Sheep to enjoy some peace and quiet. Everyone has been very kind to us and has said how lovely it is to see Barnaby and Amelia in the meeting (which is reassuring; as parents unused to taking children to meeting it really is rather nerveracking!). One of the parents of one of the babies (Eleanor mother of Pippa - about 9 months I think) lives in Stony Stratford and she suggested that we meet up next Friday. Unfortunately, I can't make it then (I'm hoping to take Amelia into London/UCL) so I suggested a week on Tuesday. So, that will be nice if we can make it happen. I also found out that there is a fortnightly 'craft circle' in the meeting house on a Tuesday afternoon. I thought that this could be something I could take Amelia to (and if she sleeps I can knit and if not I can chat!) which would be a bit different from another mother and toddler group.

Our friend Jenni from Oxford arrived in time for lunch (and is staying until tomorrow). We've had a fairly low-key day. Lots of playing with Barnaby and his new Brio train set! Unfortunately, with all the excitement, Barnaby didn't have his afternoon nap. So, just as Sheep was trying to prepare dinner, Barnaby decides he needs a hug and promptly falls asleep in his arms! He has just woken briefly now (9:05 pm) and we gave him some milk and popped him back into bed again (no rocking!). We are now all sitting downstairs (Sheep, Jenni and I) and I am expecting one or other of them to wake again at any moment. Still, it's been a really nice day: much better than yesterday. I do feel tired though.

Last night we went to bed early and Barnaby had fallen asleep in our bed (I'd been feeding Amelia in our bed so Barnaby had come to join me to have me read his books to him and had fallen asleep mid-read). Since he was fast asleep when Sheep and I were ready to go to bed, we just decided to let Sheep have an uninterrupted night of peace in the spare bed and I slept between Barnaby and Amelia. Not a bad night, really - BUT this morning I woke to find that Barnaby had wet the bed on one side of me, that Amelia was decidedly damp on the other and, not to be outdone, I had leaked milk in the middle of them. So we awoke as one soggy trio. (I'm so glad we still have double mattress protectors on the bed!).

Saturday, February 25, 2006

More Tuneful Gobbledygook

Here is another song I caught myself singing today. This is a nappy-changing song. I lift up Amelia's legs and bottom, on the words "upsy daisy". This is a true piece of nonsense and one I used to sing to Barnaby too. I am not sure of the origin of the tune, but I am sure it is one I have purloined from somewhere. The words are my own nonsense.

One, two, three and upsy daisy,
Four, five, six and downsy daisy,
Seven, eight, nine and leftsy daisy,
Any which a waysy daisy.

Nightmare in Starbucks

Offspring awoke at 7:15, Sheep did the early morning stretch while Amelia and I lounged in bed together having a prolonged morning feed (well, her not me; I was merely on the supply not receiving end). At 10:00 am, Amelia was asleep in her moses basket and I took Barnaby into the kitchen for some "mummy-time" whilst giving Sheep a well deserved rest. We made a dozen Bob-the-Builder Muffins together (with pink icing).

Today we'd promised Barnaby we'd go to Waterstones, in the centre (I've become quite the mall-rat post birth!), in order to buy him his reward book for his good-behaviour sticker-chart. This we did after lunch, taking the bus (Amelia in her sling). After the mandatory book purchasing, we decided to go to Starbucks for a coffee.

The Starbucks in the shopping centre has two seating areas. The first is directly inside the retail 'unit'; the second seating area is effectively in the middle of the circulation 'cross-walk', such that the shoppers can walk around you, either side of the seats, which are fenced off by half-height glass partitions. I only mention this arrangement in detail, as the privacy aspect (or lack thereof) is crucial to this tale.

All was going pretty well. Sheep and I were drinking coffee (decaf. for me) and Barnaby amusing himself looking at books (Starbucks have a good supply of childrens' books), until Barnaby spoke those fateful words, "I need a wee!" Now, being slightly more experienced parents, we happened to have a travel potty with us and Sheep deftly pulled it out and discreetly pulled down Barnaby's trousers and pants and promptly sat him upon the potty whilst still looking at his book. Despite the constant flow of shoppers either side, I doubt any one really noticed what was happening (they probably just saw a small, squatting boy engrossed in reading a book). Soon, however, the waft of something slighly malodorous came our way and, yes, Barnaby annouces proudly that he's done a "big fat poo". In the middle of Starbucks. Still, we felt in control of the situation, without realizing how rapidly it was all unravelling.

Sheep attempts to conscientiously, yet rapidly, wipe Barnaby's bottom. I should add, at this point, that I am unable to help with the above proceedings as Amelia is firmly clamped to my nipple having an afternoon drink of her own. So, I take on the role of a mere onlooker, providing helpful instructions and encouragement as appropriate. However, I soon notice that as Sheep is attempting to 'straighten up things', Barnaby is starting to pull up his pullover and t-shirt higher and higher, so as to helpfully allow Sheep unhindered access. I ask Barnaby to pull down his pullover, realizing that he is now starting to draw attention to us (and is also standing next to a steaming potty, which I would rather remain unnoticed). However, as much as I urge Barnaby to pull down his shirt, the higher he raises it, until most of his naked torso is being exposed to the Saturday shoppers. Still trying to remain calm, I keep attempting to reassure myself that although our son is making a naked spectacle of himself, there is still a chance that perhaps people might not have noticed. At this point, his sister decides to come to his rescue. Upon suddenly becoming inexplicably detached from her source of milk, she lets out a piercing wail ensuring that anyone having not noticed the near-naked toddler will now be able to view not only the aforementioned toddler but ample portions of my nipple and breast into the bargain.

Will I ever be able to drink at that branch of Starbucks ever again?

Friday, February 24, 2006

The Pantley Plan

We are starting to put the Elizabeth Pantley 'No-Cry Sleep Solution' 10-step plan into action, with Amelia. My first task is to re-read her book again (for the third time!). This blog is also where I am making notes, as I read. From the introduction:

"Through my own experience and working with other mothers, I realized that co-sleeping-breastfeeding babies can sleep all night next to Mommy without waking to nurse, contrary to popular thinking." pp 15-16

The medical definition of a baby sleeping through the night is a "stretch of five or more hours without waking." p 17

"There are no good reasons for you to live as a sleep-deprived martyr." p 22

"Remember, too, that your baby's apparent inability to fall asleep on her own is not her fault. She's done things this way since the day she was born, and she'd be perfectly happy to keep things as they are. The goal is to help her feel loved and secure while you help her find ways to fall asleep without you." pp 22-23

Part 1 - The Ten Steps

Step One: Do a Safety Check
Step Two: Learn Basic Sleep Facts
Step Three: Create Your Sleep Logs
Step Four: Review and Choose Sleep Solutions
Step Five: Create Your Personal Sleep Plan
Step Six: Follow Your Sleep Plan for Ten Days
Step Seven: Do a Ten-Day Log
Step Eight: Analyze Your Success
Step Nine: Follow Your Plan for Ten More Days
Step Ten: Complete a Log, Analyze Your Success, and Revise Your Plan as Necessary Every Ten Days.

I will make separate notes on each of these stages, in turn, reporting on our progress.

I should add that we don't actually think that we have any problem with Amelia. YET. However, we are clear that many of Barnaby's current problems arose from actions and habits that we formed very early on, when her was her age. We want to ensure that we don't fall into the same mistakes with her. We also intend to buy Elizabeth Pantley's toddler book to try and tackle Barnaby's many sleep problems. Our current approach is therefore preventative (Amelia) and curative (Barnaby).

Another Day, Another Baby Group...

To the tune of "Another Day, Another Ray of Hope" (Bill Nelson).

Amelia's sleep/feed pattern last night was an exact match of her previous night; It's going to be a real shock to my system if she decides to have a disturbed night or goes through a growth spurt and wants to feed hourly. Today I decided to leave the house as early as possible in order to leave Sheep to work in peace. Admittedly, it was about 11:00 before I'd got Amelia fed, again, and changed, again, and ready to leave! No wonder I've yet to make any of these early morning mother and baby groups!

When I was finding out about the mother and toddler group I was told of yesterday, the one at The Church of Christ the Cornerstone, I had a look at their website and discovered that the church also has a coffee shop. Now, Sheep is always on the look-out for coffee shops with sofas and power points so that he can take his laptop and work on his PhD, so I thought that Amelia and I should go and check out this one on his behalf. We went there, at about midday, and it was extremely quiet. I would also say that I was a good 40 years younger than their average customer! However, they must do the cheapest coffee in Milton Keynes -£1 for a cup of coffee, 60p for tea - and homemade cakes and biscuits! I was able to settle down in a sofa and breastfeed Amelia in peace and quiet (it is not a busy place!). If Sheep can brave the ignominy of the location, I think it could be an ideal PhD-student haunt.

I was ultimately aiming for the NCT mother and baby group at Centrecom (the Central Community Centre) behind the library, which begins at 1:30. Since I still had a bit of time, I wandered through the shopping centre and, since Amelia was obliging enough to fall asleep at the right moment, I bought myself a pair of boots. My first real 'ME' purchase since the birth! Then it was onto the NCT group. Once again, I'd not been feeling too enthusiastic about the prospect, but this week there were 13 mothers instead of just 5, so it was a bit more lively than it had been last week. Amelia was quite awake and alert for most of the session, and had a play on their 'baby gym', which is far more colourful and musical than ours, all the while fending off hoards of marauding toddlers (she'll be a dab hand at this by the time she's three months old!). All in all, it was a pleasant enough afternoon. It whiled away some time anyway!

Tonight, we had both Amelia and Barnaby off to sleep by about 8:15, however Barnaby only fell asleep after sitting with Sheep in the rocking chair for some time, so no sticker for him tonight. (However, tomorrow we will be taking him to buy a new "Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends" book in reward for the five stickers he did manage to accumulate).

On the topic of tunes (re: this post's title), I was thinking today, as I walked home (singing) from central MK, that I should note down some of the nonsense songs that I constantly sing to Amelia. I mean, how many of these things become lost in the mists of time? (I've already started forgetting some of the songs I used to sing to Barnaby as a baby.) I actually sing to Amelia all the time; it's so lucky she doesn't appear to be too discerning about her music. Yet!

To the tune of "Oh Tannenbaum" (or, "The Red Flag")

Amelia, Amelia,
You are my one Amelia.
You are my Mil',
My Milly, Mel.
You are my Meela,
My Amy-girl.
Amelia, Amelia,
You are my one Amelia!

This is a version of a nonsense song I used to sing to Barnaby (to the same melody):

O Barn-a-by, O bee-a-barn,
You are my little Barnaby.
You are my barn -
My bee-a-barn.
You are my bee -
My Barnaby.
O Barnaby, O bee-a-barn,
You are my little Barnaby!

Actually, I remember when my mother first heard me singing this to Barnaby as a baby. She was outraged and said that my grandfather would be turning in his grave to hear me singing along to the tune of "The Red Flag" (as he was a staunch Conservative supporter). I informed her, condescendingly, that it was originally the melody of a German Christmas carol and I couldn't see that my grandfather could possibly have objected to that!

Another nonsense song, I've found myself singing to her, is to the tune of Frere Jacque:

Meela Dalton, Meela Dalton,
How are you? How are you?
Are you having lots of fun?
Are you having lots of fun?
Tell me do. Tell me do.

There is also a tune that her toy lamb plays to her, that was bought, as a gift, in Germany. It is probably a German nursery rhyme, but I've no idea what it is, so I've found myself making up my own words. (I must find out the original!). This, I sing to her while I am changing her nappy (and playing the lamb at the same time).

You are my Melia!
You are my one little girl,
You are the centre of my world,

I'd better stop before it gets too saccharine!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Day Ends as it Began

Barnaby awoke at 10:30pm. Sheep is with him now, trying to settle him back to sleep again, but is fast losing his patience again. I actually don't know who I feel more sorry for. Clearly Sheep, but I do feel for Barnaby as well. After all, we have helped get him into the state where is can't fall asleep by himself, this was our doing as much as his. It does make me all the more determined not to fall into the same trap with Amelia.

The Baptist Church in the Snow

Amelia had a 'text-book' night, asleep from 8:00pm, a feed at midnight, another at 5:00am and again at 8:00am! If life could continue like this, I'd be very happy indeed. Sadly, things were less good on the Barnaby front; he, too, awoke at 5:00 but unlike Amelia refused to go back to sleep, despite all of Sheep's best efforts. By the time he was ready to leave for nursery Sheep was getting extremely exasperated with him. It all came to a head as Sheep was getting Barnaby ready to depart and he first wets his pants (Barnaby not Sheep) and then knocks over Sheep's cup of coffee. I wasn't there, but I heard the shouting from upstairs! "Aidan Barnaby Conroy Dalton! Go and sit on the naughty-stair NOW!"

My plan for this morning was to try out the mother and baby group at the Baptist Church. Now, this was the group I'd had least expectations of and, if truth be known, was a little nervous about. I wasn't too sure if the majority of people there would be Baptists or if it was simply a convenient venue. (Not that I've really got anything against Baptists, not having knowingly met any, but the Baptist aspect to it did make it feel like a bit of an unknown and unpredictable group.) It was also snowing quite heavily when I left the house (with Amelia in her sling) which didn't help me feel any more enthusiastic about the prospect of going!

When I arrived, the church didn't look that welcoming, in that I could see no sign of any activity at all. I wasn't sure I'd got the right time/day. See the photo below of the church in the snow...

Eventually, I found a door (which later turned out to be the wrong one) and went inside. I wasn't at all sure that I was in the right place until I was hit in the face by this wall of sound. As I went in, there must have been at least 40+ mothers in there with many more toddlers and babies (as many seemed to have more than one!) contained in two adjacent rooms (both large halls). The rooms were strewn with lots of toys and the whole place was a hubbub of happy squeals. I was directed to the woman with the register and duly made myself official. She introduced me to a couple of women and I settled down to feed Amelia, who was getting hungry by this stage.

The two women I chatted to were very nice indeed. One, a teacher, has a daughter exactly Barnaby's age and was telling me how she is already down on the waiting list for the local primary school (whooooops!). In addition to this, as we were generally discussing schools, she told me that the local primary school, Loughton Manor First School, is starting a nursery class for 3-4 year olds from this September and that she is trying to get her daughter put down for this. I must investigate! She also told me that she'd tried many mother and baby groups and that this was one of the best ones (although she did mention one at the Ecumenical Church - "Cornerstone Toddlers" who meet in the Guildhall every Monday from 10.00 until 11.45, which is apparently very good too). All in all, a raucous time was had by all. Cost = £1. I shall definitely return next week!

After I returned home (The Baptist Church is only about a couple of minute's walk away) Amelia finally slept having been awake and active during the mother and toddler group. Sheep woke up in time for lunch (!) and we then walked up to the centre together; I had to go to the Post Office to send off my new UCL contract (which, luckily I'd been given a reminder about this morning). It needed to be returned to UCL Human Resources by 4:00pm tomorrow, so I sent if off registered delivery while Sheep did some of his PhD work in Starbucks. The good thing about walking to the centre and back is that I must have walked about 5 miles today, which helps me to get fit, post-birth. (In fact, my sister has lent me her pedometer, so I think I will start to keep track my walking). So, all in all, a fun day! Amelia and Barnaby were both in bed asleep by 8:00 - how civilised.

Post script: I also purchased a non-leather coin purse when I was at the centre.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

More Photos

NCT Coffee Group Again

Sheep was in UCL today, which was actually quite nice (for him and me). I'd decided this morning that I would try to go to the Loughton Mother and Toddlers Group, which is almost next door (well, about 200 paces away). It's quite early in the morning though, from 9:30 to 11:30. So, I started to get ready for it and initially thought I'd only be 30 minutes late, then (forgetting how much time it takes to get ready with a baby) I thought I'd be just an hour late. But, hey! I would still be able to make the second half... I was all ready to leave, with Amelia in her warmest clothes (it's been bitterly cold this week) and Baby Bjorn sling, when I remembered that most of these things have a nominal fee attached to them - usually about a £1. Last night, Sheep tried to give me my change from the weekend (a pile of one pound coins). However, as I had lost my coin purse when I was pregnant (I left it somewhere!); I've since had nowhere to put loose change. I had intended, last night, to start using a wallet I was given for Christmas that has an integral coin section - but Sheep forbade me using as it is made from leather. Although we don't, as a rule, buy anything leather, I had taken the pragmatic view that since I am in dire need of somewhere to put coins and I'd been given just that, I should bow down to the obvious functionality of it and put the wallet to good use. However, this argument cut no ice with Sheep who was adamant that we (we?) should stick to our principles and not use it. The outcome of this debate was that the coins, upon which the discussion centred, were left on the coffee table and this morning Sheep simply re-pocketed them leaving me with no money at all! Well, because of that, I never actually went to the Loughton Mother and Toddlers Group! I felt that it would not make a good impression if I turned up to my first meeting without the means to pay the fee.

After my abortive attempt to leave the house, we came back in and Amelia slept for over an hour during which time I ran round the house manically doing as much housework as I could cram in. She woke up in time for lunch (hers and mine!) and after that I fetched her 'baby gym' and spent some time interacting with her, letting her look at the hanging toys on the 'gym', waving rattles at her etc. and even gave her some 'tummy time' (which she hated!).

The 'Baby Gym'

At 2:30 she fell asleep again and I ran around for 20 minutes cleaning the kitchen before loading her into the car and driving off to the NCT Coffee Group. Yes - I did actually receive an email about this week's location, so clearly I didn't make too bad an impression last week! Today's group was in a different house - not quite as immaculate as the one last week; it felt a bit more like someone's home and not a show home, but would still put ours to shame on the cleanliness/tidiness front. (I really must look into getting a cleaner). There were two new people there today, one with a baby daughter exactly a week older than Amelia (6 weeks old today as opposed to a mere 5!). So today there were three baby girls under the age of four month and a six month old boy and a toddler-boy. It's funny, although I don't know any of these people, there is certainly something about meeting in people's houses which makes it feel like you're just getting together with old friends (as opposed to meeting in a church hall somewhere). I'd say I quite enjoyed it! Amelia was very alert and attentive throughout the two hours we were there (much more so than the six-week old, in fact). All in all, I think she's had a highly stimulating day today. Then I just had time to pick up Barnaby from nursery on my way home.

No sticker for Barnaby tonight, I'm afraid! However, for the first time since Amelia was born, we have put her to sleep upstairs (at the same time Barnaby went to sleep). Up until now we've had her sleeping downstairs in her moses basket, in the evenings - we were particularly concerned when she had chicken pox - and wanted to keep an eye on her. So, for the first time since she was born, Sheep and I are enjoying an evening together!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

All Hail

Pretty non-eventful sort of day today. I had intended to try out the mother and baby group at the central YMCA today, but it was from 10:00 - 12:00. We had a slightly disturbed night last night (although Barnaby got his sticker!) and after Sheep had returned from taking Barnaby to nursery, he came back to bed. I'd just fed Amelia so she was sleepy too and we all just slept until 11:30! Marvellous! So, any thoughts of going to the YMCA flew out of the window. (Still, there will be plenty more opportunities!). In the afternoon, there not being anything to go to, I'd intended to have a bit of a walk and to also go to the post office to post off my mother's birthday present (Thursday) and, just as importantly, to hand in Amelia's form FP58 allowing her to register with our doctor. Just as we were about to leave the house, it started hailing and continued hailing intermittently all afternoon. So, we just battened down the hatches and stayed indoors!

Tomorrow I will try and go to the Loughton Mother and Toddler group, which is about 200 paces down the road, so even if I sleep in, I should still be able to attend some part of! In the afternoon is the NCT coffee group that I first went to last week. Actually, the woman who is hosting it tomorrow promised to email me her address and I've received nothing from her! Did I really make such a bad impression? (My sister suggests that it is not me at fault but Amelia's loud bowel movements...). If I've received nothing by lunch time, I shall bite the bullet and call her. Alternatively, there is also the "Movie Mum's" showing at the cinema - but the film tomorrow is Casanova (2005), which I don't really fancy; I think I might wait to see what's on next week.

Tonight, as well as last night, Barnaby got a sticker for not being "rocked off" to sleep. So, now he had reached his grand total of five stickers (albeit not in the space of a week, as per our original stipulation). However, I think we will reward him with a book anyway and put up a new chart. Perhaps we will take him to buy it on Saturday (although our friend Jenni is due to visit sometime over the weekend, so I must check with her first).

What else? Last night I gave Amelia her first bath on my own last night! Up until now, Sheep and I have been bathing her together, with her bath being placed on the kitchen table. I wasn't too sure if I could do it on my own, particularly the filling and emptying of her bath (I've been having a few more back twinges over the last couple of days). However, it was all fine. Afterwards, I spent some time rubbing baby lotion on to her and she seemed to really enjoy it. She is working so hard at smiling now! My aim now is to bathe her myself during the day until she is old enough to have her nightly baths with Barnaby. I actually found the ideal placement of her bath - on top of her cot! It wedges onto/into it perfectly. It is a good height for me, kneeling next to the cot (as opposed to the bath, where I am leaning over too much) and for the ultimate luxury, I can remove the 'brake' and the rocking of the cot could create her very own 'wave machine' (JOKE!).

Monday, February 20, 2006

Hearing Test Saga

Today Amelia had her appointment at the neonatal hearing screening unit at the hospital. We took her there for 11:00. The advice was to make sure that she was well-fed and changed so that ideally she would be sleeping. Needless to say, we followed the advice, but Amelia clearly had other ideas. The way this test works is that a probe is put into the ear which both emits sounds and detects them. Sounds (clicks) at different frequencies are emitted. When the hairs in the cochlea detect a sound they vibrate and this vibration, itself, produces a tiny sound which can be detected by the ear-probe. They run through a range of frequencies to test the performance of each ear. This procedure is known as oto-acoustic emission testing.

Well, Amelia was having none of this. She woke up as soon as we took her out of the car (even though she was still in her seat). Initially they decided to try testing her awake; she didn't like the probe in her ear, her flailing arms being restrained or the clicks being made by the probe. Her response was to promptly fill her nappy, extremely loudly. We dutifully went off to change her while the next waiting baby was being tested. We changed her, fed her again and tried to get her off to sleep.

Once again, we tried the testing. Amelia was sleepy but not quite asleep and as soon as the clicking-probe started to be put into her ear, she woke up again! Oh, and filled her nappy very, very loudly. Again. So, once again we took her off, changed her nappy, fed her (well, let her sooth herself by suckling rather than fed per se!) and waited while the next baby was sucessfully tested. And the next baby. And the next. The 'screener' (I don't know the job title of someone who performs neonatal hearing screening) kepts popping into the waiting room to see if she was asleep yet. Sheep and I alternated with rocking her in ours arms, dancing around the waiting room, jiggling her about to get her off to sleep and still she stayed awake and alert. Eventually, I tried feeding her again, and this time she began to nod off. When the 'screener' saw this, she decided to waste no time and to wheel the trolly supporting the laptop and probes into the waiting room so that we could test her 'in situ' and not risk waking her up! This proved impossible, after 5 minutes of patient testing, as the background noise in the waiting room was too high (and this is given that it was then lunch time and almost everyone else had disappeared). In fact, not only were the background noise levels too high, but so was Amelia. If she wasn't producing unfeasibly loud bowel movements, she was either suckling too loudly or, finally, merely breathing too noisily! Eventually, we managed to gingerly move Amelia back into the testing room, while remaining more or less asleep. And, after all of this, she then failed the test! (Or, to be more specific her right ear failed, her left ear passed. Just.)

Having failed this test, the only option was to perform a different sort of test, not testing the response of the cochlear-hairs but testing the aditory nerves themselves. This is known as auditory brainstem response (ABR) testing. However, the office with the ABR testing equipment in it was at the other end of the hospital, so the 'screener' wheeled her trolly, I carried Amelia (very, very carefully as not to wake her) and Sheep followed up the rear carrying all our bags and things. Amazingly, this time we made it to the other office and Amelia still slept!

In order to perform this test they attached one electrode to the base of her neck, one to her forehead and one to her shoulder (it was her right shoulder, I don't know if it makes a difference). They first do a 'blank' test to see if they are managing to pick up any electrical activity. Then they placed headphones onto her ears (and these looked really hilarious, I wish we'd taken our camera with us) and begin to emit noises at different frequencies. The electrodes measure the brain waves in response to the sounds played through the headphones. This time she passed with flying colours (I hope that doesn't seem too synaesthetic!) for both ears. We got our all-important 'red book' signed off and she was discharged. However, the whole process had taken exactly two hours for something that should have been a 10 minute check!

Not a photo of Amelia, but just to give an idea of the set-up.

I must say, though, the staff were all wonderful and given that we had also made them late for their lunch, they were very patient and good-natured about it all.

More on Dummies

I will post info here as I find it. Today, I found an article from the 'Best Practice Information Sheet' series conducted by the Western Australian Centre for Evidence Based Nursing and Midwifery. The article (Volume 9, issue 3, 2005) is called,
"Early childhood pacifier use in relation to breastfeeding, SIDS, infection and dental malocclusion" The conclusions are:

"Implications for Practice

Breastfeeding: pacifier use in infancy is associated with a shorter duration and non-exclusivity. It is plausible that pacifier use causes babies to breast feed less, but a causal relationship has not been irrefutably proven.

SIDS: the evidence for a relationship between pacifier use and a reduction in risk for SIDS is consistent, while the exact mechanism of the effect is not well understood.

Infection: it was found that, due to the paucity of epidemiological studies, no meaningful conclusion can be drawn between pacifier use and infection.

Dental Malocclusion: it was found that due to the paucity of adequate epidemiological studies, no conclusions could be made."

And their general recommendations are: "As breastfeeding confers an important advantage on all children and the incidence of SIDS is very low, it is recommended that health professionals generally advise parents against pacifier use, while taking into account individual circumstances."

In another report it states that, "In the United Kingdom, North et al (1999) reported that two thirds of infants up to the age of six months had used pacifiers." I am actually surprized that this value is as high as it is. With Barnaby, we were definitely in the minority then, as I was adamant that he should never use one.


North, K., Fleming, P., Golding. (1999) Pacifier use and morbidity in the first six months of life.
Pediatrics. Mar; 103(3) E34.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

First Quaker Meeting & Dummies

Well, we only tentatively planned to go to meeting this morning; given the logistics of getting Barnaby and Amelia dressed and out of the house to a rigid schedule, we took the attitude that if it happened, great, but if not, so be it! Actually, being so relaxed about it meant that it actually happened! Things were helped by the fact that we had an early night last night; we were in bed at 10:00 (Barnbay, Amelia and I in the big bed and Sheep in the spare bed).

I am so glad we went to meeting as we were made really welcome by everyone. It was rather a poignant day though, as Ameila's first visit to meeting coincided with the death of an elderly member (anticipated but sad nonetheless). One of the first ministries was about leaves falling from trees to make way for new buds and even though I didn't know the Friend who had died, I felt a bit choked up at this. After the first quarter hour, Sheep, Barnaby, Amelia and I left (with the other baby, Pippa) and once we were settled, Sheep returned back into the meeting leaving me with Amelia and Barnaby in the children's meeting. This actually worked out well, as it gave Sheep a bit of peace and quiet for himself.

After meeting there was a sale of books (from the Friend who had died) to raise money for the meeting. We bought four of them. There was also a lot of gardening books there (she had clearly been a keen gardener) and I was thinking that it was a pity my sister wasn't there as I am sure she'd have found something interesting.

Today, I was remembering Barnaby's first Quaker meeting. It was the first Sunday after Bush declared war on Irag in 2003 and I was so angry I felt I had to do something and given the lack of protests in Atlanta, going to meeting was the best thing I could think of. I felt that I would at least be likely to be surrounded by like-minded people at a Quaker meeting. So, this must have been Sunday 23 March and so Barnaby would have been 2 months and 13 days old at his first meeting or more than twice the age Amelia is today (She is 1 month, 2 days old today).

After meeting we went to the Centre, to John Lewis, as I wanted to buy Barnaby some new shoes and we also had lunch there. Amelia's second visit to John Lewis! Amelia was very good, even though we'd forgotten to bring her sling, so we hauled her around in our arms. Barnaby was *pretty* good. He almost had a tantrum in the toy department, which we only went to as it is part of the baby-equipment section and I wanted to buy a dummy (pacifier) for Amelia - more on that topic later! - Barnaby started to insist that he wanted a Thomas the Tank Engine train. It looked, for a moment, like it was going to develop into full-blown toddler meltdown, but when I explained that "making a fuss" was a surefire way of guaranteeing that he would NEVER own the item in question, he actually thought better of it (I can't believe that worked!).

About the dummy. I don't yet know if I will use it, as I am not in favour of them (to put it mildly - I really dislike the things), but Amelia does seem to be one of these babies with a strong need to suckle to calm herself (to the extent of making herself sick by drinking too much milk). I found a very good La Leche League article on this subject, which is summed up as:

"Pro: Babies need to suck. Sucking calms and quiets them. Mother's breast is not always available. Pacifiers are a convenient substitute.

Con: Pacifiers are artificial nipples and may confuse a baby, leading to ineffective sucking at the breast. Pacifiers decrease the amount of time a baby spends at the breast, and this may affect the mother's milk supply."

The conclusion of the article is "Pacifiers and comfort sucking at the breast both have their place. There are times when a dummy can stand in for a mother's breast, ease a baby's distress, and restore peace to everyone. Nursing for comfort helps ensure a plentiful milk supply and brings warm feelings to mother and baby. When pacifiers are used judiciously, a mother can have it both ways."

The whole article can be found at, http://www.lalecheleague.org/NB/NBNovDec95p172.html. However, I still am deeply unsure about if I will try the dummy with Amelia, but I am beginning to think I might. (I still have a lot of prejudices about them though - Barnaby was forbidden them). If it sounds like I am in two minds about this issue, I am! However, I also don't want to get to the stage that Amelia can only sleep/be calm if clamped to my breast.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Wonderful Visitors but Tiring Day

Originally, this weekend our friend Caroline was to have visited us today and our friends Emm & Nick (and children Joe and Esme) tomorrow. However, Emm & Nick wanted to reschedule their visit tomorrow for today and, as they all live in Cambridge (although they'd not met before today), I suggested that they all came today and furthermore travelled together. So, they arrived just after 12:00. Well, essentially we all had a lovely time. Barnaby especially. Partly because they brought a HUGE box of Brio train set components for the new 'big brother'! (they used to belong to Joe and then to Esme) and partly that he had big Joe to play with (Joe is 10); Barnaby does look up to bigger boys! Barnaby was in 7th heaven and was far too excited even to have his afternoon nap. They also bought a lovely Monsoon outfit for Amelia - I didn't know that they even did baby clothes! I'd wear it if it were in my size.

Caroline bought a gift for me too, which was great. As she said, everyone forgets about the mother (which I would have to agree with). She also bought a gift for Barnaby, but we've kept that back until tomorrow as he'd already seen the Brio by then and there was no point giving him something else while he only had eyes for his new train set. The other nice thing was the Emm and Nick brought lunch with them and during lunch Amelia slept extensively in Emm's arms. It must be one of the most relaxed meals I've had in weeks! The only regret I have, is that it would have been nice to have been able to have a proper chat with Emm (difficult with so many children around). Caroline and I did have a quiet chat while everyone else went for a walk after lunch and we stayed behind as Amelia needed feeding.

This evening Barnaby fell asleep in the middle of one of his books (and so finally gets a sticker for his chart!) and Sheep even managed to take a relaxed bath this evening. It's 10:00 and we're off to bed early. Bliss. Although today was really great, I do feel very tired this evening; it really managed to tire me out. (But I did have a very disturbed night with Barnaby last night).

Friday, February 17, 2006

Another NCT Group & Travelling with 2

Well, I tried out another NCT group, this time in Central Milton Keynes (in somewhere called 'Centrecom' - Central Community Centre). Again, attendance was low, five people again, I think, and a predominance of toddler-boys, mostly between two and two-and-a-half years old. Everyone was quite friendly and welcoming. But, it was a case of sitting around in a big hall saying "Um... so how old is your little one, then?". Since everyone else seemed to know each other quite well, there was also a bit of a feeling of gatecrashing someone else's party! However, I'll certainly give it another go, probably next week. Today's session was free; from next week it will be £1 per meeting (covers tea and biscuits!). What is nice about this one, is that it is an excuse to walk up to the shopping centre as it is almost next door to Centrecom. So after the meeting (1:30-3:30) I walked back to the Centre and bought Barnaby some Thomas the Tank Engine stickers to pep up his bedtime sticker chart a little (no effect tonight; Sheep still rocked him off to sleep) and then went to John Lewis.

I had to go to J.L. to see if their 'Buggy boards' fitted onto our Graco pram. To my disappointment it looks like they don't. I want to be able to take Barnaby to nursery (or collect him) with Amelia in the pram. The only flaw in this plan is if Barnaby gets tired walking (and it is about a mile) then I can't carry him (as Sheep does) and push Amelia at the same time. I was hoping that the Buggy Board would do the trick as it attaches to the pram and if Barnaby gets tired he can simply stand on it while I push them both. Since being at home, I've found this other product on the Internet called a 'Swiss Strolli' by 'Bibi' which is more akin to attaching a tricycle to the back of your pram (as opposed to attaching a skateboard, which is essentially what the Buggy Board is). I think this will work with our Graco pram/stroller, BUT do we want to pay £60 for one? I'm not sure, but it does seem as if we have an awfully large number of travel items - carseats x 2, bikeseats (both front and back), a bicycle trailer, two prams, and numerous baby carriers (front carrier, back carrier, hip carrier, soft sling carrier, and hip seat) not to mention Barnaby's own tricycle and his "Little Red Wagon". I would like to be able to walk to Barnaby's nursery though; at the moment Sheep takes him or I go in the car, which doesn't help me get fit post-birth! The only other option is to put Amelia in her Baby Bjorn carrier and take Barnaby's pram for him to sit in when his legs get tired. However, I am not sure that my back will appreciate a two mile walk with a 9 lbs baby in a sling. (Having just talked it over with Sheep, he thinks I should try the walk with Amelia in the carrier a few times first.)

Well, we will mull this over. However, on the getting fit front, I reckon I must have walked 5 miles today what with walking to the Centre and back again as well as walking round the shopping centre itself.

Amelia has been great today. We had a good night last night. Sheep brought Barnaby into bed with Amelia and I at 1:00 am and he disappeared into the spare bed to get a good night's sleep. Given that it is midnight and Barnaby has already had a very unsettled evening I anticipate more of the same tonight.

Photos from Yesterday

Top: Valerie trying to look like she doesn't mind being photographed! (Actually, I think this is a great photo of her.)

Middle: In the waiting room of the Registry Office.

Bottom: Sheep outside the Registry Office. Proud father, eh? Click on the images for bigger versions.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Official Person at Last

Well, two momentous events happened today. First, it was Valerie's last visit, which was really sad! Although, given how we've all recovered so well from everything, we really don't *need* her in an official capacity. However, I had rather got used to having her pop around! I did cajole her into letting us take her photograph, which I will upload tomorrow. Valerie left me a copy of my notes, so I have those too. So, it does feel like the end of an era: no more postpartum care, Amelia and I have to just get on with the business of being mother-and-baby together!

Actually, sneakily, I'd promised Valerie that she could inspect my perineum before discharging me. Unfortunately, she had to leave without having a look, because Amelia was breastfeeding. So, she's promised to return and make a 'social' visit, inspecting my perineum at the same time! So, I've managed to wrangle one last visit :)

Then my sister arrived and we took Amelia to the registry office, where we had a midday appointment to register her birth. The registrar was a Ms J. Austin (Jane?) and the whole thing took about twenty minutes. There was some confusion about names as both Sheep and I changed our names on marriage (and she had to check the offical form for that) and Sheep's job title: "Engineer is too broad a term" (he used "Research Engineer" eventually!). So, Amelia is now an official little person. We can register her at the doctors, claim child benefit etc. etc. We got a short (free) birth certificate and a long one too (£3.50). After the registry office, the four of us went out to lunch to celebrate. I even had a glass of wine (which I wouldn't usually drink as I am breastfeeding, but it did feel like a special occasion). Amelia slept through not only the act of registering her birth but also her celebration lunch as well.

Home for the afternoon. I made an order of groceries online, to be delivered tomorrow morning. Amelia got a bit upset towards the end of the afternoon, crying for about an hour for no apparent reason (please don't let this be the start of colic). After dinner and Barnaby's bath (no good-behaviour sticker for him tonight, I'm afraid) I took Amelia to bed with me at 8:00 for a brief lie-down and only woke up at 11:30! Time to write this entry and back to sleep for us (it's midnight and Barnaby's just woken up too).

I did take some pictures today (of Valerie and at the Registry Office) but given my long nap this evening, I'll have to post them tomorrow!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

First Mother and Baby Group

Today has been a busy day, relatively speaking. First I took Amelia to the chiropractor. Well, I was the one getting adjusted, she was simply an onlooker. The good news is that I've been given a clean bill of health as far as my back is concered, in that my chiropractor doesn't want to see me for a whole month!

Before I left, the installers from British Gas had already started fitting our new boiler. We have more hot water than you can shake a stick at (a phrase I don't use in jest, as Barnaby was indeed waving a stick around the kitchen during dinner!). This turn of events was much to Barnaby's chagrain, as he much prefers luke-warm baths. However, we are delighted!

Then, I made it to my first mother and baby social get-together: an NCT Coffee Group. This is a group that meets in people's houses around this area. I had to drive, which was OK, although I had hoped that I'd be able to walk. What to say? On the whole it was good. There were 5 of us, if I had to describe them (being utterly judgemental and over-generalizing here) I would say that they were all university-educated, middle-class professionals. In other words, I should fit in quite well! One other baby girl and three toddler boys. It turns out that two of the boys are at Barnaby's nursery (part-time) in the group below his. One was recovering from chicken pox and one waiting to see if he developed it! They were very friendly and welcoming and will hopefully email me to let me know where next week's venue is (if I don't get an email, I clearly made a bad impression!). Conversation was not-surprisingly baby-centric but not totally confined to baby topics (banking issues prompted a lively discussion) and, on the whole, intelligent. I think I would like to go back next week. However, my one mortifying thought concerned the venue. The house we were in felt like a show-home; I do so hope she has a cleaner. I would be faintly embarassed for any of them to see my house - I hope the hosting doesn't rotate in strict order! (Perhaps I can withdraw before having to host one here - or get a cleaner myself!). Wall-to-wall cream carpets throughout and not a mark/stain/speck of dirt anywhere and this is in a house with a resident toddler (and cat and dog). I certainly came home feeling inadequate on the housework front. Posh biscuits too...

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Timetable for Getting Out & About

Well, my father has been worried that I'd not 'posted' over the weekend, but there wasn't really much to report. No new ailments or diseases this week! Everything is broadly OK.

The only thing to report is that Barnaby elected to be "rocked" to sleep on Sunday, Monday and now tonight, hence losing (or, at least, not gaining) three stickers. He understands that he is jeopardizing his book-acquisition, but feels he "needs" Sheep to get off to sleep. We will persevere, but might need to rethink our strategy. I will order Pantley's new book on toddler-sleep.

Amelia is four weeks old tomorrow. I remember talking to someone (perhaps my friends Sonit and Sudah in Atlanta) about postpartum care in India (?) where it is a tradition for new mothers and babies to spend the first 4 weeks (or was that 40 days?) after childbirth in complete repose/calmness. This helps the mother get all the rest she needs so that she can be ready to resume her normal activities after this period of time. Family and friends help to relieve the new mother of all household chores such as cooking, cleaning and shopping so that the she has time to rest fully. Well, given that this period has all but expired, I need to start establishing a routine for Amelia and I.

This week, I wanted to start trying out some things with Amelia. What's available is listed below; many are free and some have a nominal fee, usually about a £1. I couldn't try anything today as we were having a delivery this morning, which I needed to be at home to receive. Tomorrow, we are having our new boiler installed (hot showers at last - yipeeeeee!) and I have another chiropractor's appointment at 11:00, both of which preclude doing anything in the morning, but there is an NCT Coffee Group in the afternoon, which, if I can make contact with the organizer in the morning, I would like to attend in the afternoon. It is my plan to "sample" all of the activities below, over the next two or three weeks (and decide which I will continue with); all are within walking distance of our house. I will report back on each event in the blog.


2:00 pm-4:00 pm "Young Baby Clinic" - Watling Vale Medical Centre


10:00 am-12:00 pm "Buddies" parent and toddler group at YMCA, (Main Hall), 402 North Row
10:00 am-10:20 am Baby story time for under-twos at the Library
11:00 am-12:00 pm "Parent and Toddler Swim" at Shenley Church End pool


9:30 am-11:30 am Loughton "Mother and Toddlers" at the Memorial Hall
12:00 pm-2:30 pm "Movie Mums" at Easy Cinema <1yr old. £3.50 (film shows for mothers and babies!!!)
3:00 pm-5:00 pm NCT Coffee Group <2 yrs - West Milton Keynes - Various Locations


10:00 am-12:00 pm "Buddies" parent and toddler group at YMCA, (Main Hall), 402 North Row
10:00 am-11:30 am Loughton Baptist Church mother and toddler group
11:00 am-12:00 pm "Parent and Toddler Swim" at Shenley Church End pool
12:45 pm-2:45 pm "Bubbles" at Great Holm Community Centre


9:30 am-11:30 am Loughton Mother and Toddlers at the Memorial Hall
1:30 pm-3:30 pm NCT "Bumps and Babes" at Centrecom, 602 N. 9th St.


11:00 am-11:30 am Toddler Story time - Library

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Custom Good Behaviour Charts


We made a custom "Thomas the Tank Engine" good behaviour chart. Good site with lots of stuff (not just charts).

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

Not surprisingly, sleep is usually uppermost on most new parents agendas. In some respects, our situation is all 'topsy-turvey'. Amelia has been sleeping like an angel and it is Barnaby that has been giving us, or rather Sheep, sleepless nights. Of course, we only have ourselves to blame for Barnaby's sleep problems; he has clearly developed his bad sleeping habits because of us (in particular, he feels he *needs* to have Sheep around to sit and rock with him in the rocking chair in order to fall asleep. Clearly, this is manageable, almost endearing, with a small baby but exasperating with a three-year old!). Our task at the moment - in order to ensure better sleep for all of us, is to break Barnaby's 'rocking-off-to-sleep' habit whilst ensuring that we don't unwittingly fall into the same, or similar, pattern with Amelia.

Plan A is to tackle Barnaby's habit. We've been sucessful in the past, but have always relapsed whenever he's been ill or some other change to his routine has happened. Sheep and I were talking yesterday and I suggested that we made a behaviour-sticker-chart for him (given that he is now old enough to be reasoned with). When Amelia was born, his key-worker at nursery, Gemma, bought him two Thomas the Tank Engine books. These are part of a series and each book has the entire series listed on the back. Barnaby has been fascinated with the pictures of the other books on the back cover. I thought that we could buy him a book from the series every week, if he forgoes his 'rocking-off-to-sleep ritual'. This evening, while we were reading one of the books. I happened to mention this idea - very much in the vein of this being something we might try next week, but Barnaby was so thrilled at the idea of getting a new book as a reward that he wanted to try it immediately (and asked to see his sticker-chart - I must print one out this evening). And... he did go to sleep, on his own, without his habitual Sheep-rocking-fix!

The second prong to our attack is to ensure that we don't get into some analagous, convoluted sleep-ritual with Amelia. Our bible for this is Elizabeth Pantley's book, "The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night" (given that we don't agree with the let-them-cry-it-out approach). We did buy this for Barnaby, but a little too late to put many of the ideas into action. The gist of it is that babies will natually form 'sleep associations', namely things/actions/objects/rituals that they come to depend upon to fall asleep (Barnaby and his need for Sheep and the rocking chair!). Part of the book is about how to break these associations (which is what we need to do with Barnaby) and part is how to stop them forming in the first place (the easier of the two). It is this preventative stage that we need to start to put into action! We have not been unduly worried about this while Amelia had chicken pox, as we were primarily concerned with making her feel as comfortable as possible. However, now she has pulled through, we need to start thinking about getting started.

However, first things first, I must get Barnaby's sticker chart sorted out by morning!

PS - In checking that I got the title of Pantley's book right, I discovered that she has a new book for toddlers and older children. I feel another purchase coming on...

Friday, February 10, 2006

Some Photos at Last

I thought I should experiment with uploading some pictures. Since we purchased a new battery charger, we've finally been able to take some photos of Amelia.

Here is one of her in her car-seat.

Asleep in my arms.

In my arms and, below, Amelia in Barnaby's arms.

Barnaby and Amelia again.

Click on the pictures to view larger images. For those who are interested, I also uploaded some pictures onto the log entry on her birthday (the birth pictures Sheep took with his mobile phone). Go to the January archives and scroll down to 18th January entry to take a look.

Quarantine Broken

Well, today was the first day that Amelia and I got out of the house since the pre-pox Sunday that Jenni came to visit. on January 29th (chiropractor-visits excluded!). I am pretty sure that she is not contagious any more and I needed to go to the Halifax Building Society today (we are having a new boiler installed next week and I needed to get a cheque to pay for it) so Sheep, Amelia and I decided to brave the shopping centre. We actually had a good time (it's amazing what two weeks of enforced confinement can do to one's yardstick of what constitutes good entertainment). We took the bus there, with Amelia in her Baby Bjorn sling and initially we went to eat lunch at Wagamama's. This was a wonderful treat. And, I must say, it's so nice being a second-time-around mother. I remember being quite nervous taking Barnaby to a restaurant for the first time. With Amelia, I managed to discreetly breastfeed her whilst wielding chopsticks in my other hand and not a qualm in sight! The long and short of it, is that we had a lovely lunch. Then off to the building society and the bank (admittedly, the bank queue was so long and Amelia a little tired and 'vocal' by this stage, so we never actually made it as far as the teller-counter) and finally a coffee at Starbucks and a quick scoot around Waterstones, the bookshop, before walking home with her. All in all, it was an extremely nice afternoon (and I even succumbed to buying a book in the bookshop). To crown it all, I even managed to walk home, which is a couple of miles, so was able to get some good exercise into the bargain. Great outing with Amelia, hopefully the first of many.

Thursday, February 09, 2006


I forgot to mention, I think Barnaby was so restless last night, as he has these two patches of excema on his back which have flared up again (I think because he's been a bit 'low' with the chicken pox. I noticed that last night, while he was sleeping in our bed, he was very restless and kept trying to scratch his back (sleep-scratching). We have some Aveeno Oil (which contains colloidal oatmeal) that the doctor prescribed for him and we are putting this in his bath again, but I don't think it's helping all that much. I must look into this to see what else I can find that might help him at the moment. Luckily, they are only small patches of excema at the moment (he has had small patches elsewhere, but these are the areas which are currently irritating him) but I don't want them to spread.

Valerie's Penultimate Visit

First, we had a better night last night. I suggested to Sheep that he let Barnaby sleep with me and Amelia and that he should go and get a full night's sleep in the spare bed (a.k.a. Amelia's bedroom). So at midnight, as Barnaby awoke for the first time, Sheep brought him in to our bed and then once he was settled and sleeping, Sheep sloped off to get an uninterupted 8 hours of sleep (and consequently, managed to get some PhD work done today).

Incidentally, on this subject, Deborah Jackson, author of "Three in a Bed" says, in response to the question of what happens when a second child comes along, "In some ways, this is often the natural time for the older child to graduate to his own bed. However, it may also be the natural time for an older child to come back into the family bed before moving, finally, out... Older siblings have many ways of seeking out the extra comfort they need when their place is suddenly ursurped by a new CAO (Centre Of Attention)... Apparently weaned [presumably 'weaned' from co-sleeping] three-year-olds start climbing into your bed in the middle of the night. It depends on the size of your bed and the generosity of your heart, of course, but I think the family bed is a fantastic way of healing the potential rift created by a new baby." Page 235.

We have already experienced a lot of this with Barnaby. Since Amelia was born he must have spent about four or five nights with us (in three weeks). But last night was the first night that we experimented with Sheep leaving the three of us to it, to ensure he got a good night's sleep (this is known as 'musical beds' apparently). It certainly worked for Sheep and I think he's been a lot more positive today for having got a full compliment of sleep. We all slept until after 8:00 (well, excluding the times I woke up for feeds and nappy changes and because Barnaby had turned through 180 degrees and was kicking me in the head...). We might well try this again on Friday night, if Barnaby is restless again.

We do intend to make the nights when Barnaby is sleeping with us more and mare spaced out. But, given that he was waking on the hour the night before last and last night he slept through, the path of least resistance is to let him sleep with us, if he needs to, at the moment.

Valerie came at 2:00 today. It turns out that this is her penultimate visit; she will formally discharge me next Thursday. I think that this will make about 10 antenatal visits. Still, I will miss her. I'd like to try and get a photograph of her before she goes, just for Amelia and this blog, but I have a feeling that Valerie doesn't like photos of herself very much (she has none on her website). However, I will ask as diplomatically as I can! The big news of today, is that Valerie weighed Amelia. She now weighs a whopping 9 pounds or 4080 Kg! So, she has put on a whole pound in three weeks. I am seriously impressed. She certainly exhibits a dedication to breastfeeding (matched only by Barnaby at the same age!). Valerie also said that Amelia's spots were looking better (so that's been verified by a third party!).

On the subject of midwifes, on the 6th February I wrote to our MP, Phyllis Starkey (Labour) about home births, continuity of midwifery care and the "One Mother, One Midwife" campaign. This morning, I received an intelligent and supportive reply from her. If anyone is interesting in signing up for the campaign, check out their website on http://www.onemotheronemidwife.org.uk/ From this website you can sign their online petition.

Oh, one final thought. When Valerie was here, she reminded me that Milton Keynes Council has this scheme whereby they will reimburse you £30 towards the cost of buying cloth nappies. Valerie and I were trying to work out if I could retrospectively claim my £30, given that I am re-using Barnaby's nappies. I had known about this scheme but I had been so sure that I couldn't apply for it, I had simply dismissed it. Looking at it again, with Valerie, we eventually concurred that I couldn't claim for Barnaby's nappies retrospectively (details of the small print!). But, then I remembered that in the late summer when Sheep, Barnaby, Leif and I were visiting Loughton, prior to the move, I had accidentally left Barnaby's nappy bag on the train, losing not only the bag but three nappies as well! The nappies I use are quite expensive and it so happens that three Fuzzi-Bunz nappies come to just over £30, so I ordered three new, large-size ones to replace those I lost. These I *can* reclaim from the council. And, since I bought Barnaby's nappies, they produce even more colours now, so for Amelia I bought some in bright orange and hot pink (funky girl!)

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Chiropractor & Health Visitor

Today was the first day that all four of us (Me, Sheep, Barnaby and Amelia) rode in our car together. Really, it's quite a ludicrous car, in many respects, for a family of four! For those who don't know, it is an electric car, the size of a Smart car, called a Reva. Well, the back seat is small, to say the least. Now, with two child seats in the back, we need to have both front seats pulled almost as far forward as they will go. Amelia's car seat takes up even more room than Barnaby's (even though his looks bigger) so whichever seat had Amelia's car seat behind it, will be pulled so far forward that it will only be useable by a very small person (namely me and I am 5'2"). I can't imagine how any normal person would fit into the car! Because my chiropractor's appointment was at 9:30 this morning, Sheep drove Barnaby to nursery with Amelia in the back and I squeezed into the passenger seat. We dropped off Barnaby (with Amelia and I staying in the car; I am still worried she's a bit contagious) and then drove straight to the chiropractor. Similar treatment to Monday; I have to return next week.

Then we rushed home, as the Health Visitor was due for another visit. Once we got in, Amelia was asleep (the magical sleep-inducing-power of cars!) and I took her, still in her car-seat, to wait for the H.V. in the living room, while Sheep went upstairs to catch up on more sleep (I must say, Sheep had a horrendous night last night with Barnaby, who just couldn't sleep/settle). This was about 10:00. The H.V. arrived just before 11:00. She was hoping to weigh Amelia, but still she slept soundly! We filled in more paperwork and Amelia's new Red Book (courtesy of Valerie) and still she slept. The H.V. came and went and still she slept. She (and indeed Sheep) did not wake until 1:00!!! Huge sleep was had by all (except me). Note about the H.V., I've still not really impressed by her help (but perhaps I would if I were a nervous new mother). I signed up for a baby massage course and we discussed mother and toddler groups (she's couldn't tell me anything at all about local groups). Hopefully, Valerie will be able to weigh Amelia tomorrow, when she is next here.

Sheep seemed a bit more cheerful after his "catch-up-kip" and his trip to UCL yesterday. Amelia has had lots of sleep followed by epic, desperate feeds today. Final note on her spots, I think her spots are clearing up more quickly than Barnaby's are. Sheep says it's because her cell-division is still more rapid - is this true or nonsense? I've no idea. Barnaby was good at nursery today, he had no accidents at all. Perhaps the big-wees are now behind him.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Sheep to UCL

Probably the biggest event of today was that Sheep went into London to go to UCL; I might be imagining it, but he seems a little calmer and happier. I hope I can persuade him to go in on Thursday too. He managed to meet/talk with quite a few people. He also bought me a present; an itunes voucher, in a card saying "For my lovely little lamb (can't spell daughter). Sheep" - patently untrue - the misspelling, that is, since he did spell it correctly!

Amelia has been lovely today. After Sheep took Barnaby to nursery this morning (I can't take him yet, as I would have to take Amelia and I think she's still contagious) and then left to go to UCL, I stayed in bed with Amelia. We had a lovely, relaxed, cuddly time! So nice. Her spots are looking better still.

Barnaby had only one accident today, so whatever has been his problem, it looks like it is resolving itself. We are tending towards thinking that it might have been stress-related and are busy trying to think of Barnaby-centric things that we can do with him, to make him feel special.

On a different note entirely, when Barnaby was a baby we bought him a "towel doll", known as a "Schmusetuch" in German. The idea is that the new mother sleeps with the towel doll (for a couple of nights) which then absorbs her scent. The baby is then comforted by the familiar smell of the doll. We bought one from Germany for Barnaby, by Kathe Kruse, which was a lamb towel doll. We called him "Blam", a concatenation of Blanket Lamb (half lamb, half security blanket). We wanted to buy another one for Amelia and it arrived from Germany yesterday. It is also a Kathe Kruse Schmusetuch and also a lamb, but this time it is subtly different, in pinks/red floral pattern instead of navy blue. We've already started calling it "Girly Blam!" (Or should that be "Glam"?). When Barnaby saw the Girly Blam, he was really excited and had to find his own Blam. This evening, in bed, he got Blam and Girly Blam together and first made them kiss and then hug each other. How very sweet! The actual name of Girly Blam, is "Luckies Lamm" and Blam Original is "Molly Lamm" (So, presumably, also a girl).Visit to chiropractor again and visit from the health visitor tomorrow. Busy day for me! Today I've been making a list of things I might do once Amelia is no longer contagious - local mother and baby groups etc. I think it's important to get into a bit of a routine and meet some people etc. Looks like there is a lot I can do, so perhaps towards the end of next week (should be safe contagion-wise) it should be safe to start trying some things.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Chiropractor & Test Results

Sheep took Barnaby back to nursery today, after his weekend with Leif. I went to the chiropractors at 11:00; she adjusted me and used ultrasound on my back. I'm to return on Wednesday. Leif left us after lunch, heading for London. At 5:00 we got the results of Barnaby's urine analysis and it was negative: no sign of any infection. We're a bit stumped now and unsure of what to do. On the one hand, he only had two 'accidents' at nursery today, so if it was an infection, it seems to beworking its way through his system anyway, Could it have been stress though? Barnaby has had a rough time recently and this would be one reaction to it. Honestly, I don't know.

Amelia's spots are much better. We gave her a bath this afternoon and Sheep and I had a really good look at them all. apart from one or two spots around her nappy region (where the worst spots were due, I think, to the chafing of the nappy round her waist and legs) most of them seems to have gone crusty. I couldn't, in all honesty, say that she's no longer infectious, but I imagine that by the end of the week, she will cease to be so. On the other news front, her stools have returned to being a nice mustard yellow colour, so I seem to have cracked the oversupply problem for now.

My hope is that we can all begin to get into a bit more of a routine now; I am hoping (although I don't wish to tempt fate) that we are over the worst of our family ailments now. Although, Sheep did remind me today, that he's yet to contract anything. I've just remembered, he did have flu though, so perhaps we can look forward to a calmer time ahead.

Chiropractor & Test Results

Sheep took Barnaby back to nursery today, after his weekend with Leif. I went to the chiropractors at 11:00; she adjusted me and used ultrasound on my back. I'm to return on Wednesday. Leif left us after lunch, heading for London. At 5:00 we got the results of Barnaby's urine analysis and it was negative: no sign of any infection. We're a bit stumped now and unsure of what to do. On the one hand, he only had two 'accidents' at nursery today, so if it was an infection, it seems to beworking its way through his system anyway, Could it have been stress though? Barnaby has had a rough time recently and this would be one reaction to it. Honestly, I don't know.

Amelia's spots are much better. We gave her a bath this afternoon and Sheep and I had a really good look at them all. apart from one or two spots around her nappy region (where the worst spots were due, I think, to the chafing of the nappy round her waist and legs) most of them seems to have gone crusty. I couldn't, in all honesty, say that she's no longer infectious, but I imagine that by the end of the week, she will cease to be so. On the other news front, her stools have returned to being a nice mustard yellow colour, so I seem to have cracked the oversupply problem for now.

My hope is that we can all begin to get into a bit more of a routine now; I am hoping (although I don't wish to tempt fate) that we are over the worst of our family ailments now. Although, Sheep did remind me today, that he's yet to contract anything. I've just remembered, he did have flu though, so perhaps we can look forward to a calmer time ahead.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Quiet Sunday (If a Little Stationary)

My back has been a lot better today; I got up for lunch and then sat in the living room for a couple of hours (with Amelia asleep on me). I rather regretted this later, as I felt exceedingly stiff when I did move and, as the painkilers were beginning to wear off, I was in some pain, as well. I went back to bed mid-afternoon and have been here ever since. Amelia is certainly over the worst of her pox; the spots are beginning to look less red and angry and many of the smaller ones are even fading. Barnaby's bladder problems are still ever present. Leif kept him in nappies again today - poor boy! Perhaps we'll have the results of the urine analysis soon. Thank goodness for Leif! However, despite Leif's wonderful help, Sheep is still very stressed and a bit low and is the first to admit he's burning a short fuse as far as Barnaby is concerned! Chiropractor tomorrow, so perhaps I can start to be less of a burden on Sheep soon.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Mobile Again (Just)

Thanks to Sheep for yesterday's entry. I felt so frustrated to have hurt my back (something that happens every 18 months to two years); I was particularly anxious that I wouldn't be able to breatfeed Amelia. Luckily, she is such a pro-breastfeeder, and has such strong neck muscles that she can easily feed lying down. Once Sheep and Valerie (our midwife, who just happened to arrive for a scheduled appointment just minutes after I did it!) had manhandled me into bed, Amelia and I spent the rest of yesterday and most of today in bed. Last night, I still couldn't move at all, so whenever Amelia needed feeding, Sheep would roll me over to the right side and position Amelia against me and let her do the rest! Poor Sheep had to do this all night; I had a bad night: with a lot of pain. However, yesterday, I treated my back with alternating ice packs and hot pads. I've also been taking these pills of my father's, which he was given in the UAE. They are an anti-inflammitary muscle-relaxant. Valerie, while she was here, had a look at the active ingredient, and said that it was identical to a drug they give to cesearean-section post-operatives and so that she was sure they were OK for lactating women. Anyway, what with the heat-treatments, the muscle-relaxants, the painkillers and a hot bath today, the upshot is that I can move! I'm sitting downstairs now. If I take things easy tomorrow, I should be able to make it to the chiropractor on Monday.

Leif is also here - our knight in shining armour! He arrived yesterday evening. We texted him and told him about Barnaby's and my latest ailments and he came over straight away (from Stroud!). Sheep is particularly grateful of the help; with me being pretty useless at the moment (apart from breastfeeding), the brunt of coping with everything falls on Sheep (or would have done so, had Leif not come to our rescue).

Barnaby has still been, well, for want of a better word, 'incontinent' today. Leif has kept him in nappies today. We are still more than a little worried about him. I hope the results of his urine analysis comes back soon. Enough woes for now. (Actually, my painkillers are wearing off - I must get to bed and get some more and some more of Dad's magic pills).

Friday, February 03, 2006

Frying Pan Meets Fire

This is Sheep posting for Ruth. Keep reading to find out why.

Last night we said there was little more that could happen to us.

Lamb (Barnaby) took two hours this morning to get dressed this morning. I took him to the office a.k.a nursery. I stopped off at the doctors to deliver Lamb's urine sample. Results due back Tuesday or so. When I got back I was ready for some down time before the midwife appered. Ruth went to have a quick shower. A moment later I rushed up stairs to the sounds of sobs and tears.

Ruth did her back in! She was imobile and spent a long time on the landing floor. Floods of tears and pain. This is a big problem; how was Ruth going to continue to breastfeed Microlamb (Amelia)? The midwife turned up and helped out 'till lunch. Ruth has hurt her back before; the last few times she spent a few days on the floor until she could move.

Well with Microlamb and Lamb both ill, we had big problems. Fortunately, Leif came to the rescue again. Ruth phoned and he made arangements to come up immediately.

Ruth is now in bed. She can roll over, with help, and feed Microlamb.

Let's see how the weekend goes.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Polyuria and Frothy Green Stools

My sister said on the telephone tonight, "It never rains but it pours". In Barnaby's case, today, that was literally true. His nursery key-worker telephoned at about 10ish this morning to say that he had already had six big accidents (i.e. wetting himself, rather than making it to the potty/toilet in time) so far that morning. Given that this had taken place in the space of about 60-90 minutes, this was pretty impressive. In the early afternoon, she rang again, to say that there was no change; he had continued to urinate, frequent, copius amounts (known as polyuria, by the way). She even said that when they had sat him on the potty, he had proceded to fill it entirely, only to wet his pants seconds later, when he'd got dressed again. She was a rather worried about him, and although she added that he didn't seem unduly distressed about it, she said he was beginning to get pretty fed-up with it all. I immediately rang the doctors and managed to make an appointment for him at the end of surgery. So Sheep subsequently went to collect him from nursery at the end of the day and then took him directly to the doctors' practice. The doctor said that he probably had a urinary tract infection. We managed to collect a urine sample from him this evening, which Sheep needs to return to the surgery in the morning for urinalysis. If it is a urinary infection, she will be able to prescribe him antibiotics, but he may need to see a pediatrician at the hospital (Sheep thinks they might need to do an ultrasound scan of his kidneys) as well. I don't know how soon they can get the results of the urinalysis back, but I hope it's soon. Our general reaction to this event was complete disbelief! How many more infections can one of our offspring catch?

Keeping with the theme of bodily excretions, Amelia's stools have been becoming increasingly green and frothy. Luckily, I remembered this from when Barnaby was a baby; it's a sign of a foremilk/hindmilk imbalance. The trick is to only nurse from one breast until she is completely sated and she stops herself. So, I've started doing this since lunchtime, but there has been no change in her stools yet. I did find a really good article about foremilk/hindmilk imbalance at http://www.lalecheleague.org/llleaderweb/LV/LVSepOct95p69a.html I do feel a bit guilty though. Amelia must be feeling pretty awful at the moment anyway, without feeling uncomfortable because she's passing gassy/acidic stools too.

As a general update on Amelia's chicken pox, she has some new spots on her eyelids now, which means that both eyes are getting increasingly gummed up. We're having to bathe them with cooled, boiled water. Last night her temperature got up to 101 degrees Fahrenheit (38.3 Celsius) and has been flutuating today (but no higher than this); we think (hope) she might be avoiding the full-blown fever stage. Another bit of good news is that although her spots still haven't got to the 'crusty' stage yet, we both think they are looking a little less irritated.

Final bit of good news is that it looks like my sister hasn't got chicken pox.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Health Visitor

Today the local health visitor came to visit. I must confess, I wasn't very impressed. She'd been here 10-15 minutes, asking questions and filling in forms, when she asked about Amelia's hearing test (had she had it). I mentioned she had an appointment for 6th February, but that we needed to reschedule it for a later date. When she asked why, I said because of her chicken pox and, for the first time since the health visitor's visit she looked at Amelia! And, I must say, the chicken pox is fairly unmissable; her face is covered with spots. Perhaps I am being a bit harsh on the h.v., but it certainly felt as if she was more interested in the bureaucracy/form-filling than the baby. Then there arose an issue with Amelia's "Red Book", namely that she doesn't have one, having been born at home. Not only can the health visitor not provide one, but she was also unable to persuade the hospital to relinquish one either. All she really did was leave a lot of paperwork: lists of mother and baby groups, parenting classes, postnatal-depression questionnaires etc. However, I suppose I shouldn't be too harsh to judge; she due again next week.

Amelia has more spots, but still no fever yet. If she has a good night and appears well tomorrow, Sheep might go into UCL tomorrow.

On another note, having asked Sheep to buy 'Thank You' cards. with no obvious result, I got online today and found I could buy some through the National Childbirth Trust, thus making a donation to them too, which is both nice and wonderfully appropriate. With any luck I might get these in time to send off before the end of the week. I've also ordered a new battery charger for our digital camera, so we might *actually* be able to take some photos at last. Although, given that 'Ms Polkadot' is spectacularly unphotogenic with her spots, we might well wait a bit longer!!!! Poor girl.