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?