Holidays!

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Apologies for the silence over the last few days, but we have been on holiday. Hence my reason for picking holidays as a topic to write about is fresh in my mind.

We have always enjoyed travelling together, and particularly in the last couple of years we have endeavoured to see as much of the world as we can. So when we thought about having children we felt it was important to get them used to travelling, so we could continue to visit places and enjoy trips together as a family.

We have already been on one family holiday to Anglesey back at the end of June. This was our introduction to holidaying with a baby, and working out what we would need to take. It was easy to throw everything in the car that we thought we might need, and if we had forgotten anything it was fine because we would be in the UK. This trip went well – the weather was beautiful, friends of ours were also in Anglesey at the same time so we met up and spent time together. Amelia went on her first boat trip. She was doing really well with her sleep and we did our best to stick to her usual routine. If we were going to be eating away from our rental property we would do the routine and put her to sleep at our friends’ place or in the car seat if we were eating out. She was sleeping well – from 11pm to 6am (a period that lasted the sum total of the week we were away)!  Following this we ventured on a few weekends away to visit friends and attend weddings. So Amelia has travelled by train, planes and automobiles (sorry!). Journeying to Edinburgh on the train was a really fun experience. She chatted, slept, fed and played. No crying! The lady sharing our table on the train watched us board, and sit next to her. She looked grumpy and remarked that she was trying to get away from children that weekend. Well Amelia didn’t bother her at all (unless like her you seemed to be resistant to lots of happy smiling) and kept herself to herself. She was a credit to us and we felt proud.

So September arrived and we prepared to travel again. This time it was different and full of uncertainty. We were travelling to Spain for a wedding. The trip had been booked before Amelia arrived into the world, and so she had been added just after birth. This sounds like an easy process but took 12 hours on the phone to British Airways, until finally a lovely Welsh woman took it upon herself to help us. On the day we registered her birth we went out to get her passport photo taken, which will last for five years. Daddy and the man taking the picture tried in vain to get a five week old to look at the camera with both eyes open. She looks like Popeye with one eye open and the other squinting. I have noticed that she is found of pureed Spinach!

 

I had planned to prepare a list and pack early so there was no stress. However, after being sidetracked I made the list the day previously. In the run up to this I had been buying little bits that I thought we might need (many impulse buys whilst wandering aimlessly along the baby aisles in the supermarket). I bought her a UV sun-suit, disposable bibs, Ella’s kitchen pouches, a fresh sponge for the bath and the list goes on.

So on the day before we travelled there were piles of bits in the kitchen, the lounge, the landing and the bedroom. I would spot something else we might need and throw it on the pile. By the time I had packed, Amelia had a whole suitcase to herself. I had packed more clothes than she needed. I basically packed all her summery clothes, plus some sleepsuits just in case it got cooler (the forecast was mid to late twenties Celsius).

My list read like this:- food pouches, bowl, spoons x 2, sippy cup x 2, bottle, bottle brush, porridge, bibs (disposable and 1 wipe clean), milk (just in case), sleepyhead, Ewan the dreamsheep, blanket, comforter, swimming nappies, normal nappies x 60, barrier cream, wipes, bath wash, sunscreen, moisturizer, towels x 2, swimsuits and sun-suit, sun hat, sunglasses, outfit for wedding (x 3 dresses), clothes +++, car seat, pram, microwave steriliser, paracetamol, ibuprofen, inflatable for the swimming pool (rubber ring), toys, playmat and hairbrush.

Did she need all of this? No, several of these items remained completely unused (along with the usual load of clothes for Daddy and I). But we had a great time. She behaved perfectly on the plane journey (feeding her during take-off and landing seemed to help). We stayed with friends, in a villa with a pool. Amelia got to practice her swimming a couple of times per day. She didn’t enjoy the beach…

She has now been to the beach three times – the first time she slept through much of it, the second it was windy and she got a face full of sand, and this time we tried dipping her feet in the sea. None of these occasions seem to have won her over. Managing her nap times were the hardest part of the trip. Generally we didn’t go out before her morning naps but quite a few of the afternoon ones were interrupted by travelling or being out and about. This did impact on trying to get her to bed a few times, and there were more tears than usual.

Our biggest concern was how she would fare at the wedding which was due to start at 5pm. The last two weddings we had made it to 8pm and 10pm so we were nervous as to how long we would be able to stay. What we have found is that she will happily sleep out and about and with music in the background. However, what she doesn’t like is the use of microphones and tannoy systems. They rudely awaken her, leaving Mummy and Daddy with a tired but awake baby. We had made it through 48 hours of travel with no major incidents and arrived at the wedding. I was holding her whilst someone kindly took a photo of us, when I noticed a trickle of liquid dripping from Amelia. Dribble it was not. This trickle was coming from the side of her nappy. Plus there was poo on her vest, and somehow her sock! This led to a frantic change of vest (luckily the dress came out of it unharmed), and the use of spare outfit number one. Luckily there were no further incidents of this nature. She made it until 11pm before it was time to admit defeat and return home.

So I ask myself would we travel abroad again with her? The answer is yes. Which is lucky as we have our next trip booked already. The biggest learning point was that I didn’t need to pack as much stuff as we did. I guess as she ages the equipment we will need to travel with will change anyway. But we can be more rational in future!

 

Adios for now!

Breast is best…Apparently!

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In preparation for Amelia’s arrival my aim was always to try breastfeeding, but without putting too much pressure on myself. I had seen many women feeling really frustrated or like they had failed by not being able to breastfeed for one reason or another. I really didn’t want to be in this position having reassured so many women that it was ok and that they shouldn’t beat themselves up about turning to formula.

There has been a big drive to encourage breastfeeding in recent years and you cannot avoid the propaganda. Breastfeeding does have proven benefits – protection from illness, cheaper, possibly reduces allergies and for the mother – reduced risk of breast cancer and possible help with losing baby weight (if that’s at the forefront of your mind!). New research comes out all the time with possible new benefits – increased IQ as one such possibility. I am wary over this potential benefit due to the high number of confounding factors.

I looked at breastfeeding from the following view, though I may be wrong – I was formula fed. I am well with no health concerns, I don’t suffer allergies and I have made it through medical school. So in the grand scheme of things there are other ways of keeping baby healthy and on the right track if you struggle to breastfeed, cannot breastfeed or just feel it’s not for you. I cannot fully appreciate why anyone can take such strong views either way.

In advance of her birth, I had not made any financial investment towards breast or bottle-feeding since I didn’t want to waste money on an endeavor that might not work out. I had been given a breast pump and a steriliser by a friend, and my sister had purchased some bottles for me. So when the midwife asked me if I wanted to try breastfeeding her shortly after her birth I gave it a go. With a little help she was latched on and doing what she should do. We opted to go home later that evening and at the changeover of midwives they rechecked I was happy to go. I sensibly thought I better have another go at feeding before we left in case there were any issues. Nope – everything was fine! So my parting question to the midwife was “How often should I feed her?” The response was “Don’t worry she will let you know when she’s hungry!” So off we went.

Well the first couple of nights when she did sleep she slept for a few hours. We couldn’t believe our lucky stars – what a good baby (apart from the need to mostly sleep in our arms!) The midwife checked her latching on at the visit on day 1. All was fine! Then at day 5 she was weighed – she’d lost 10.2% of her birthweight. In addition to this she had become a little jaundiced. The midwife advised that she would have to re-weigh her the next day and if she had lost any more weight she would have to refer her to the hospital. I re-clarified how often I should be feeding her since she didn’t seem all that hungry. The midwife advised that in the day I should be feeding two hourly and at night definitely not leaving it more than six hours. The night feeding was more related to milk supply and keeping this going. She suggested I download an app to monitor feeds and nappies (especially when there was a massive discrepancy between the number of nappies Daddy and I thought we had changed each day). From this point on I spiralled into insanity and crazy behaviour. My life revolved around the app and remembering to start it when I started feeding. This period lasted a good couple of weeks until the health visitor reassured me that Amelia was gaining weight and doing ok. Until this time was over I was debating whether to give in. At night Amelia would cluster feed for two hours from 10pm on and then still be hungry. The midwife had suggested topping her up at night with some formula. I saw this as a potential sign of weakness and it took a couple of days of people reassuring me that it’d be ok before I gave in and bought a few cartons of formula. It took another day or two to try it. She would gulp the full 200ml carton down, even after two hours of suckling.

Feeding itself was a long process. I would start feeding and it would take about an hour before she would have finished. I would then have only an hour to feed myself, wash, sleep, have a break before starting again. I felt like a feeding machine and it did get me down. I stopped going out because we didn’t have time between feeds. It reached breaking point when the midwife discharged me from her care and I broke down in tears at the thought of not seeing her again. Luckily I had enough insight to know this was not rational behaviour.

There is much so more to say about the breastfeeding. Though I end here looking like a crazed woman, rest assured it does get better and I will tell you about it another day!