Finley is not quite four months but I wanted to get in an update before the end of the year. It’s just craziness that I have been a mother for this long! Finally, this month (mostly) everything has fallen into place. Finley had his post op check up and doesn’t have to have another check up for 6 months! He’s gaining weight really well, over 3lbs since his operation, although every few weeks he seems to have a slow week. He’s now 10lbs. Still tiny for a baby his age, but he’s slowly catching up. It’s actually quite scary to look back at pictures of him before his op, at the time I’d never realised how skinny and poorly he looked. Here’s a bit of an update on how things have been going for us this month…
I’ve now been exclusively breastfeeding Finley for almost 8 weeks, the entire time since he had his op. This month it’s been smooth sailing! His weight gain has been consistent and I’m so proud of myself for being so stubborn and not giving up on it while he was awaiting his op. This month I stopped tracking his feeds in my phone app and now I just feed him without any stress or concern. I did see a La Leche League Leader right at the start of the month who was amazing. She said I have a very fast let down and Finley has a good suck so he can empty a breast pretty fast. I was needing to feed him from both boobs but now my supply seems to have caught up. It’s so much easier now that I’m not worrying myself with how often or how long he feeds for. Whatever we are doing is clearly working and he’s happy so we just get on with it! Sometimes I wonder if he would be gaining more weight on formula, but as he’s developing well I feel that the benefits of breastfeeding outweigh the potential increase in weight as long as he is following his percentile line. I’ve become a member of La Leche League UK as I have found their support via the Facebook page I’m part of invaluable.
Sleep (this is a long one!)
I have had some rough nights and days due to lack of sleep. It’s been really tough! As I said in my last update we’d started bed sharing as Finley had stopped sleeping anywhere other than right next to / on top of one of us. That worked well for a while, but I started waking up with really bad back and shoulder pain. I was also freezing in bed as I was concerned about him getting stuck under duvets so kept them under my waist level, plus I was getting concerned he might roll off the bed. We had a few days on the living room floor sleeping on a king size duvet so I had room to roll away from him, then I started thinking we really needed a proper co sleeper. The only issue is that they cost a bloody fortune and most only last them until they are 6 months. That was when we decided to make our own!
I looked online for some ideas and found this great blog post on it. We already had our compact cot which we’d dismantled in favour of the moses basket we’d loaned from a friend when Finley arrived so early and tiny, but now he’s bigger it’s perfect. We left one side off, pushed the mattress up against ours, stuffed the gap at the back with sheets and secured it to our bed with bungy cords from Halfords. We’ve just added some Raise It’s to our bed to bring our mattress level with his.
It’s been a game changer! So much easier to feed him and have that bed sharing closeness while I can toss and turn and snuggle under duvets to my hearts content!
However, while I am more comfortable we still have Finley waking frequently. He sleeps for 3.5 – 4 hours on James chest from 7.30 to 11.30 ish (and 5 hours one glorious night when James took pity on me!) but when he’s lying flat either next to me or at arms length he wakes frequently and needs comforted back to sleep. He does still need feeding often, I need to remind myself that while he is almost 4 months old, he’s still small and probably needs more milk to catch up. I’d just like to get some longer stretches in when he’s waking for comfort rather than food. There is an additional issue in the fact that I am struggling to get back to sleep when I wake.
I’ve been reading the No Cry Sleep Solution and in January we are going to try and start a sleep plan. Nothing like the crying it out method, the book gives you gentle strategies to encourage your baby to sleep better. It will take time but at least I feel like we might get somewhere. As I’ll talk about in a mo, I am really, really not good with little sleep. Just a 3 or 4 hour stretch after midnight would be heaven. I’m currently in bed at 7.30 and up at 6.30 so 11 hours a day are in bed and it’s driving me crazy!
Naps have been getting easier as Finley will now settle in his bouncy chair with the vibrate on, as well as in the sling. I’m actually typing this with Finley in the sling! When I’ve been reading up on it, Finley’s naps are quite short and frequent which perhaps aren’t best for him (he get’s fussy a lot more when his naps are short) so as part of his sleep plan I’m trying to get him to nap longer. I think what is happening during the day as well as at night is that Finley can’t put himself back to sleep without a dummy, a nipple or being rocked. Babies have frequent wakings so that ability to go back to sleep is key in them sleeping longer, again, something we will be working on gently.
Again, I need to remind myself that not only was Finley 5 weeks early, he also had to have major heart surgery and therefore his development might be a little slower, however he’s doing great! He’s smiling loads and although we are still waiting for a laugh sound, he’s quite vocal making funny sounds all the time. He has great head and neck strength and control and is so inquisitive, he seems to love company and stimulation. He has only just started lifting his head and neck clear off the floor and making crawling motions. When you hold him up, he puts a lot of weight in his legs. Our health visitor is really happy with how he’s doing which is good enough for me!
Mind and body update
I’m fucking knackered is the best way to describe how I’ve been feeling, at least the last couple of days! I know that nutritionally there’s much more I can do to support my energy levels so I’m working on including more protein, fat and slower release carbs in my day and staying away from fruit and dried fruit on it’s own and chocolate if I can, which is what I seem to turn to when I need a boost. As I said another issue that exacerbates the tiredness is the inability to get to sleep after a night waking. Often when I wake up at 11.30 / midnight when James brings in Fin for a feed I can’t get back to sleep, even when Finley is sound asleep. I’m hoping that has been due to the uncomfortable sleeping arrangement as it has improved since we started using the co sleeping cot. I have been feeling stiff and restless so just last night I started taking some Magnesium Calms in my water and I know I need to do some yoga stretches on a regular basis.
The tiredness has also had a knock on impact on my exercise. Generally I think sleep trumps exercise so I often skip a walk or workout in favour of a nap which doesn’t happen because no matter how hard I try I can’t sleep during the day. I’m hoping that come January everything will fall into place, Finley will start sleeping a little better, I won’t have to go to bed at 7.30 every night and I’ll be able to fit in more exercise, which in turn I hope will make me feel a lot better. I’ve also started losing loads of hair. I thought I had escaped it, but almost exactly 3 months post birth (I know someone commented on a previous post and said this can happen!) I started moulting like a bloody cat. My hair doesn’t seem to be thinning too much but every time I brush it or wash it get loads of loose hairs falling out. Hoping that will stop soon!
Due to said tiredness and too much sugary crap (for my body) and then the hair, I’m feeling a low number on the fabulous scale and that needs to change. I’m definitely ready to pull my shit together for 2015!
Mentally I’m probably in the best place I’ve been since Finley was born. I feel like I’ve finally come to terms with him coming early, his heart defect and everything we’ve experienced in those first 3 months. Basically when he is ok, I am ok :-) I just can’t wait for my baby’s first Christmas!
If you’ve had kids, how did they sleep in the first few months? Any tips for me? If you haven’t experienced a sleep thief how do you think you’d cope with the lack of sleep?
I am terrible at sleeping- I go through phases where I wake so much in the night, toss and turn, and my mind is just racing. I find that exercise is the best combat, because it properly tires me out so I sleep better. I also have an eye mask now, which works wonders, as even little things like the glow from the alarm clock would disturb me- whereas now I put it on and it keeps my brain dark if that makes sense. I do take it off in my sleep, but when I wake up I just have to find it and put it back on, and it really helps me get back to sleep too. It was a few pounds from amazon and it has made the most amount of difference ever, it is like this one but without the cooling insert http://www.amazon.co.uk/Daydream-Basic-Sleep-Mask-Black/dp/B001KC1FAQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1418887480&sr=8-1&keywords=eye+mask+daydream
Good news about Finley putting on weight too, and the main thing is that the health visitor is happy with how he is doing. Enjoy your first Christmas together xx
Its really tough when you can’t sleep, I pop some ear plugs in when I’m sleeping alone and that helps too, but I can’t use them with Finley! I know what you mean about the sleep mask too, I love mine when I can use it. We are so pleased with his weight gain, he’s having a good week again with another 5oz so far :-)
I love your honesty through all of this Laura. I think you are doing ridiculously well. I am TERRIBLE with no sleep. We are talking I am awful if I only get 5 hours sleep let along broken 3!! If I do get a run of bad sleep I find that strong herbal sleepy teas can knock me out!
Thanks Lauren, its certainly been hard but I keep reminding myself that it will pass!
My firstborn did not sleep on his own for almost a year. We were both hallucinating and seriously loosing our minds. In hindsight we know that he had (has) sensitivity to some foods and his tummy was troubling him. With the second one we co-slept most of the time, I was less scared of it the 2nd time around, and it was a much better experience although neither of my kids slept for more than 4 hours at a time until they were close to a year old. They’re now 6 and 9 and I’m still catching up on sleep :)
Sleep is the one major issue for all new parents but just know that there are tough nights and there are better ones. Just take one day / one night at a time and the little ones do get better at sleeping with every week that passes.
I feel like it will take me forever to catch up on sleep! It must have been so hard for you. I do keep trying to tell myself that this will pass and get better one day x
It is a challenging time in any new mama’s life for sure. I can recall the sleepless nights(I felt like a complete, *complete zombie on Christmas Day, my child’s 1st Xmas even thought he was 8 – 9 months; you have up and down sleep / no sleep days / nights). As for the mounting(I lost loads too post, post birth) it does grow back eventually. Thanks for keeping it real, Laura I’m sure the next generation of mothers will find your motherhood accounts invaluable. It’s excellent that you’re still nursing Fin too, do keep it up!
* Felt terrible, really exhausted that day, do not wish it on anyone!
I think your wee cutie looks a combo of you and James here:)
I also feel the short daytime naps really do help & sleeping when your baby sleeps(better then nothing believe me)
Its so hard isn’t t, I’m hoping I won’t be too bad on Christmas day but we shall see! I do need to try and get better at day time sleeping as I’m sure that would help!
Fin is adorable, especially in that little knitted romper – very festive!
It sounds like you are doing so brilliantly well Laura, I can’t imagine a week with a sleep schedule like that but you’ve been doing it for months, of course with the stress of keeping Finley healthy and happy. I really hope 2015 brings lots of rest for you and you’re able to find a solution that works best. The side bed looks great and so much cheaper than having to buy one!
Hope you and James have a wonderful Christmas with Fin Laura, you deserve it so much! xx
Thanks Claire! I think the added issues we’ve had with Finley certainly haven’t helped matters, I hardly slept at all in hospital. Hope you, James and your family have a great Christmas too!
Wow it sounds TOUGH. You are doing an amazing job though and hopefully it will get easier in terms of the sleep. I think it’s the lack of sleep part that I find most daunting. Without sleep even the simplest things can be difficult, let alone all the extra stuff you want to do like exercise, make nice meals and clean the house. I hugely admire you! I hope I will cope just as well when my turn comes…
Thanks Anna, I just keep trying to tell myself it will all pass! I do need to get exercising again, missed it so much!
Sounds like he’s doing well, I love his little outfit- so cute! Sleep issues sounds tough, hope it settles down for you soon, you sound like you are coping so well, I’d be terrible with consistent lack of sleep.
Thanks Lauren, I think its amazing what you can cope with when you have too!
I think you’re amazing. If I have one night of bad sleep (we’re talking 5 hours or less) I will actually CRY the next evening as I’ll be too tired to eat dinner. Jet lag made me cry daily for 5 days, I am so shit without good sleep – so well done!
Thanks Alex, I’ve only cried once because of it, it’s really bloody awful though! It feels like being constantly jet lagged!
Gosh I feel your pain! My little girl was not a good sleeper to begin with – she was waking every two hours till she was about 7/8 months old and I was nursing her back to sleep every time! I just decided that for the first 6 months we would do whatever we needed to get through but once she hit 7 months or so we got some help from the plunket nurses and a baby sleep person and her sleep improved dramatically to only waking once at 3am for a feed. When I felt ready to drop that she started sleeping right through. She is 2 now and still has a few nights where she wakes up but is pretty easy to resettle now :-) it’s awful when you are in the thick of it but it will get better! If you are on Facebook try liking the Baby Sleep Consultant page – she has lots of awesome tips and helped us heaps with our daughter (it’s a NZ page!). Good luck hun!
I can see us having a similar journey, I would definitely get help from a baby sleep person! I think I’ve found that FB page, fingers crossed he gets better!
He will! And The baby sleep consultant is awesome – they will help you with no cry methods or whatever method you are comfortable using. Some of the best advice came from my uncle who always reminds us that ‘this too shall pass!’
Well done Laura! You’re doing so well. Sounds like you’re a great mum. Lack of sleep is tough. I’m there with you. Love your co-sleeper. Good luck with sleep training. We sleep trained Theo at 6 months and have a friend who hired a sleep consultant at 4 months. It will get better. 6 months was a game changer for us (regardless of sleep training) and it’s defo easier second time around :)
Happy Christmas! Xxx
Thanks Sarah, I really hope 6 months will change things for us, but in so many ways and for so many reasons Finley is still like a 2/3 month old, I just hope it gets better! What kind of sleep training did you go for? I would totally hire a consultant if he doesn’t improve soon!