Nappy changes!

It’s all about the nappy I’m told – the right brand, the right size, put on the right way!

In preparation for Amelia’s arrival I stocked up on pampers new baby size 1, whilst the supermarket baby events were on. We had no idea how many nappies she might get through. People seemed to say ‘lots’! The husband’s mother say if she was anything like he was it would be 10 plus (a poo for every feed)! I would subtly try and get an idea from mums who were bringing their baby’s for their checks to work out how many size 1’s I would need.

Anyway, Amelia arrived and our nappy journey began. We bypassed the cotton wool and cooled boiled water cleaning and went straight to using wipes suitable for new babies. I didn’t have the patience to boil water, cool it and wipe with hundreds of cotton wool balls (so why I bought 600 cotton wool balls in preparation for her arrival I don’t know, as they remain mostly unused).

We soon realised that the key to a successful nappy change was to make it quick, and to never change after the first wave of pooping (as it usually came in waves of 3 successive poops). It took having to do 3 nappy changes within the space of 10 minutes, and wasting new nappies, as they would be covered with wee before they were even put on, to get to this realisation.

We also found that Amelia liked to sabotage our punctuality. Just as we would be ready to leave the house the poop would come. We had warning – a staring look, some straining and then a sound similar to that of a female tennis player returning the ball for championship point! The other concern was would this be what we fondly referred to as a poo-losion (definition – escaping of poo out of the nappy so as to cover clothing). We now anticipate this at every sound of poop being expelled.

We have been covered in poop numerous times. Highlights include:

  • Top and tailing her (she was wearing a nappy) at the sink. Daddy felt something warm on his leg and looked down to find something resembling an eruption from Vesuvius pouring from the top of her nappy and down his pyjama bottoms.
  • Myself returning to the car to find her and daddy in the back of the car, after a poo-losion occurred in her car seat. We had to strip her down to a fresh nappy, cover the seat with muslin to protect her from the poop. We arrived at our friends in a frantic state needing to do emergency washing. I think daddy was pretty traumatised by this ‘emergency’. This incident has since been referred to as ‘poo-gate’.
  • Most recently I had a similar car experience, which led to her being covered in poo along with my clothes and myself too. (I only realised that I was covered with it just as I was about to take a bite out of my food and I looked down to find my leg, and then my cardigan, covered in her familiar yellow poop.

I feel like I am single-handedly keeping ‘vanish’ stain remover in business.  I guess I am not the only one. Suggestions have been ‘try a larger nappy’, ‘go back down a size’, and ‘try a different brand’. I have found nothing is foolproof other than anticipating a potential escapee at the first whiff of a poop being on the horizon. I can say with certainty that her Bumbo is a prime suspect for encouraging poops and escapees.

Since introducing vegetables her nappies have become far smellier and a bit more formed. I can now see why people choose to invest in odour-containing nappy disposal units. I am still not convinced they are anything but a gimmick. Can anyone convince me otherwise? I can only imagine things will change further as her diet become more varied.

What do I recommend with regards to nappy changes?  Having tried several different brands of baby wipes (I was given lots of packs by different people as part of gifts, and picked up different kinds when on offer), I really like Tesco loves baby fragrance free ultra soft wipes. They are great value and can be purchased in big jumbo packs. Plus they have a good plastic lid, you can easily pull just one out at a time, and for most nappy changes one wipe will suffice. Runner-up would be Asda little angels cotton soft baby wipes.  I swear by Metanium every day barrier ointment. It is often on offer during the baby events, but is admittedly more expensive than some of the other barrier creams. However, as a doctor I have found it is often recommended as treatment for nappy rash, where other measures have failed. She has not suffered with nappy rash so far, so fingers crossed it will continue!

I would love to hear your poop stories. I feel that discussing them is a little bit like therapy! However, I request that you do not poo-poo my thoughts on nappy time!

Working mum – the experience so far

 

I have been back at work now for almost three months, and life feels like it’s just starting to settle into a routine again. I was looking forward to returning to work and dreading it in almost equal measures. Not because I didn’t enjoy work, or because I hadn’t enjoyed being with Amelia, but simply because it was a change, and something I hadn’t experienced previously. I was going to be a working mum and be on duty both at work and home. When would I have those moments where I could come home from work and just lie on the sofa for hours without a care in the world? When would I have a day off that might involve a lie-in until lunchtime?

Prior to returning to work we were all set up with a plan of action. Amelia would be booked into nursery for three days per week, we would have Mondays and Thursdays off together to go to groups and have fun, Her grandparents would collect her on a Wednesday and bring her home ready for bed (as this would be my long day). It was perfectly fine initially – the routine seemed to work well, and Amelia was sleeping fairly well. Then we had some holiday and upon our return Amelia spent two weeks with a viral illness, and some more teething. During this time she would cry each time we dropped her at nursery, she would wake in the night for up to two hours a go, and then sleep in late so we had to wake her to get her ready in time. A couple of the days she was just too unwell to go to nursery (I felt I couldn’t really drop her off with a temperature of almost 39 degrees), and last minute care by Grandpa had to be organised. It was a really tough couple of weeks where exhaustion took over. As Amelia became well again some of the behaviours improved. However, she always seemed to know when it was Monday night and mummy had to go to work on Tuesday. She would have slept perfectly on Sunday night but come Monday night she would wake either in the middle of the night or at 5am. So the week always started with a sleep deficit. She continued to be clingy and cry when we would leave her at nursery. I think I spent quite a lot of the day on edge that nursery would call to tell me that I would have to come and collect her. They didn’t, and she was always fine by the time I collected her.

As time has passed she naps better at nursery, and she’s eating and drinking well both there and at home. He routine continues to evolve quickly, and I cannot predict how she will change from one week to the next. For instance, we have just finished a phase in which she was waking between 5-5.30 am every day and, as a result, being ready to nap just as its time to go to nursery. She’s a little better at entertaining herself in her cot for a while if she wakes early. I think she is also moving towards having a one nap per day routine.

As for me – the first two months of work were hard. I had to get back into a structured routine. I had been doing the odd half-day in the run up to starting back, and this had generally been fine. But working more, and not having as much time to switch off, and not sleeping as well were leaving me really tired. It impacted upon my decision-making, and thinking powers. Though I could still make appropriate decisions and provide what I think is good care it did sometimes take a bit more than the 10 minutes I have per patient. I found this quite tough to tolerate, having previously been very efficient and on top of things. I felt a bit like I was swimming in rough waters and the shore wasn’t getting any closer by the time I had finished each day. Now I feel like the waters are calmer and I manage to make it to shore pretty easily!

Where I do feel that progress is lacking is the days off. I find that they feel more like recovery days rather than days to fill with piles of activities. I feel guilt about this. Not least after her 1-year check when I was interrogated as to what baby groups we attend. It has been tough – the groups we had been going to and enjoying were on Wednesdays, and now I work all day Wednesday. There are alternative options for these classes but they’re a bit further from home, and at times where currently Amelia tends to nap. There doesn’t seem to be many other groups that run on our days off. It may just be excuses on my part, and I need to readjust my mind-set, or maybe it’s ok that we don’t go to specific groups on the days off. Is it ok to just spend time together – playing, seeing family and friends? Is it ok that I make sure she naps well on our days off so that she doesn’t have a bad nights sleep when I’m at work the next day? Am I being selfish or is this self-preservation? Or are they the same thing? I ask myself these questions a lot!

I think there also seems to be some stigma at times about putting your child into nursery. I certainly don’t get any negative reactions from friends and family. Everyone I know is in a similar position – they either have to work, or they just really want to work because they’ve developed a professional career that they’re not ready to give up. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this, just as much as there is nothing wrong with women who choose to stop working whilst they have young families. Everyone makes decisions appropriate to their individual circumstances. I’m fortunate enough that I probably could have stopped working for now, though it makes our lives a lot more comfortable with me working. I am also fortunate that I don’t need to work full-time, and my job enables me to undertake different types of activity to make my week varied. I also have a short commute, which makes it easier. So I am in awe of the women out there working full-time, having to undertake long commutes, and being a mummy!

I am sure that as time goes on, this balancing act of working and being a mummy will get easier. As Amelia gets older things will change again. There have certainly been benefits to being a mummy at work – I would say I am far better at managing my time, I am more pragmatic in my approach to working and on a clinical level I think I have better empathy, and can more understand the anxieties of parents, and those trying to juggle numerous aspects of life. It hasn’t suppressed my ambition to further my career, and I am always thinking about the future and how I might get there! Plus, having time off has given me a break from the pressures of working in the NHS, and the frustrations it sometimes brings. I have a renewed enthusiasm for work.

Has anyone else had a similar experience when returning to work after maternity leave? Or any tips for how I use my days off in a better way?

The 12-month developmental check

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Each part of the UK undertakes this check at slightly different timings and can range between 9 – 13 months of age. It’s a developmental check that looks at whether the little one’s meeting their developmental milestones (motor skills – gross and fine, speech and social skills), safety in the home, eating habits, etc.

The letter arrived through the post letting us know when the appointment would be, and giving us a form to complete. It asked lots of questions about things that she could or couldn’t do. Some of the things I hadn’t even tried getting her to do – such as scribbling with a crayon! So over the next few days I spent a bit of time testing her. We also had to rearrange the date because they were due to come whilst we were away.

On the day of the appointment I was hoping she would be in good spirits and nap at the right time so she was awake and happy to be checked over, and show off her skills to the nursery nurse (who works alongside the health visitor as part of the child health team). As it was Amelia was in great spirits and trying hard to impress the lady- she was chatty and cruising around the place, and trying to play ball (literally) with her. We went through the form we had completed, and she ticked off her boxes. It was all going well. Amelia happily stripped naked and hopped on the weighing scales like she was sat in a boat, and she lay straight on the measuring tape. The nursery nurse was concerned that she had not gained weight in 2 months. I sheepishly then had to admit that I had been weighing her on the scales at home, and that Amelia was putting weight on just fine and maintaining her centile!

But then I felt the appointment became tense, and like an exam. I found she asked vague questions such as ‘how’s her diet?’ ‘How does she sleep?’ and so on. I wasn’t really sure how much depth she wanted to these answers. I guessed (and tried to use my medical knowledge as a guide) that it was related to whether she was having a healthy and balanced diet. Well I think she is doing well with food – she’s good at trying new foods, she doesn’t eat too much, but is starting to eat more, she loves fruit and vegetables. My only concern was that I wasn’t sure she was getting enough dairy food. She’s not a big yoghurt fan, and for a while she wasn’t so keen on her milk. As a result I was giving her follow-on toddler milk to take to nursery, whilst using a combination of cows milk and breastfeeding at home. I explained all of this to the nursery nurse, and that’s where I felt things got tough. She seemed a little tough with me from then on. I started to feel like I was being judged, for what I felt was trying to do the right thing! She seemed a bit concerned that I was still breastfeeding, concerned I was choosing to give toddler milk over cow’s milk, and concerned that I was giving her too much milk, and that she should be eating more food than drinking milk. She also saw the bottle from just before her morning nap and made sure to point out that I should be getting Amelia to take all her drinks from a cup or beaker now. I felt as though I had been reprimanded!

On we moved to safety in the home – what safety measures did we have in place? Again I wasn’t sure as to the level of detail expected. Our house is not the best for small people – it has a lot of stairs and a step up or down in to pretty much every room! As such I have only one stair gate, where it’s absolutely necessary, because there’s no other way of protecting her. The rest of the time we shut her in the room we are in, and we are allowing her to climb the stairs when its bath time or bedtime. We have also managed to teach her how to get down the stairs feet first rather than her old habit of trying to dive head first off everything. I explained all of this to her and was met by a blank expression, followed up with ‘And where do you keep cleaning products?’ I suspected this was perhaps what she was hoping to hear about right from the outset of that line of questioning! She also asked me how I disciplined Amelia. My first thought was ‘well she doesn’t do much wrong!’ So my response was to say that if, for example, she touches something she shouldn’t then I tell her no in a firm voice. Her advice was that I should always follow up a negative with a positive, e.g. in those circumstances I should direct her to something she can play with. Fair enough, and advice taken.

We then moved on to whether Amelia goes to nursery, and how she gets on. How she sleeps (and advice that I might have to change her feeding routine as she changes her napping schedule), and do we attend baby groups. I felt totally inadequate here. Since returning to work the baby groups we attended have not been on days and times that fit around work and her napping. We take her swimming on the weekend, but just for now we don’t make it to other baby groups. I felt like such a bad mummy by this point. She asked whether Amelia at least has the opportunity to interact with other children. Perhaps she wasn’t listening when I told her that Amelia goes to nursery three times per week…

By the time the appointment was over I was relieved and happy to see her out! I felt that I hadn’t learnt anything that I didn’t already know – We knew that Amelia was developing just fine. She does what other toddlers her age do, and she’s growing nicely. I was left feeling a little deflated and deficient in the parenting skills department. I was confused as to why she seemed so unimpressed by the fact that I was still breastfeeding to some degree. The WHO advice is to continue complementary breastfeeding until age 2 or beyond. I spoke to other mummies, who agreed that you are encouraged to breastfeed, and judged if you don’t. But once a baby turns 1, all of a sudden it becomes something you shouldn’t really be doing, and are judged for continuing to do so. Also, it felt that, as a working mummy, I was being reprimanded because we weren’t going to baby groups! Amelia attends nursery where she interacts with other babies and toddlers. We are in a fortunate enough position that she doesn’t need to go to nursery – she has plenty of loving grandparents who would happily help to look after her. But we made a conscious decision to pay for her to attend nursery, for the very purpose to encourage her development and have the benefit of being able to play with other children. When she’s not at nursery she is getting plenty of attention and nurturing from everyone around her. She’s a very social girl! As for safety in the home, I could make Amelia wear elbow and kneepads, and a crash helmet, and possibly wrap her in bubble wrap. But it doesn’t help her in the long term. We have chosen, instead, to try and teach her safety skills as she grows up. Of course she’s not going to fully understand, hence why we don’t let her roam the house freely! But she’s learning, and you can see she takes it all in.

I wanted to share this experience, and let you know how I felt, because I think a lot of mummies feel this way after these checks. But it’s just so important to remember that all babies and children are a different, and all family set ups are different. So try not to be disheartened about how you’re doing as a mummy, or daddy! As long as you are acting with the best intentions and in the best interests of your little one then you’re probably doing just fine! Yes, it’s important to put all of the bad stuff out of reach, feed them a healthy balanced diet, keep them safe from harm, and nurture their developing skills and behaviour. But you don’t have to be a super mum, or raise a super baby (well I think all babies are pretty super), you just have to love and care for them and do your best. Ask for help if you need it, and just remember that these checks are general, and most of the advice they are giving is general too, and not suggesting that you’re a terrible parent!

 

Anyway, I have just about gotten over this check. We’ve got quite a while before I need to brace myself for another, and plenty of time to perfect my mummy skills!!!