Uncategorized

One year of loving you.

When Liv was pregnant we talked of writing a letter to our future son to open when he was older. We never did. Liv’s taking over the blog today, on the one year anniversary of finding out we were pregnant, to do just that.


Hey gorgeous boy.

It is one year since we found out we were having you. It was the Tuesday after Labour weekend 2016. My period didn’t come on the Friday like I’d expected. The next day, the Saturday, I did a pregnancy test. It was negative. But I just knew it was wrong. Something felt different. That night we went to Gran Nan and Poppa T’s for his birthday and Thanksgiving. We found out your Aunty Anna and Uncle Jonny were pregnant with your cousin Tigerlily. Your Gran Nan said to me, “It will be your turn soon”. And I said yup, because I knew. I knew I was pregnant. My period still hadn’t come so the following Tuesday afternoon as we were driving home from work I made your dad stop at the supermarket and get another pregnancy test. He got the fancy one. We rushed home and I peed on the stick and left it in the bathroom. After the three minutes I made him go in to see. I was so sure I was pregnant I don’t think I could have handled seeing anything other than a positive sign. Your dad walked out smiling and in that moment I became your mumma.

20161025_164813

The next week I went to the doctor to get it confirmed. She did a quick ultrasound to confirm I was pregnant and let me see you, a tiny dot, on the screen. I could have stared at that dot for hours. She suggested I pretend that I didn’t know when my last period was so I could be sent for a dating scan and get to hear your heartbeat. So we waited till the end of the following week and went for an ultrasound. The technician turned up the volume and as your heartbeat filled the room, your dad and I had the hugest smiles on our faces. You suddenly became so real. Over the next few weeks as we drove into the city to work each day I would look at the app on my phone to see what you’d grown that day – eyelashes, fingernails, eyebrow, etc. I was so excited to wake up each morning and find out more about you. We knew our 12 week scan to check on you was the week before Christmas. Christmas is my favourite time of the year but I just couldn’t get into it until I knew you were OK. Seeing you on the monitor was incredible. This tiny little body kicking around. They couldn’t find your nose, which scared the hell out of me. No doubt you will do that lots over the years. We went back, and there it was. You were good. A few days later we got the blood test results back and got told the chance of anything being wrong with you was extremally low. It was the best Christmas present I could have got.

12 wk

The countdown began to the 20 week scan so we could find out whether you were a boy or a girl. When I was only a few weeks pregnant I had a dream that we were leaving the hospital with you and I got angry at your dad and said, “Where is Rocket’s car seat?”. You were a boy in my dream (Aren’t you pleased we didn’t call you Rocket?!). However, I quickly decided you were a girl because of how damn sick I was. If you ever become a carbo-holic you can blame me. When I wasn’t throwing up or dying with nausea I lived off a diet of potatoes, pasta, cous cous, bagels and crumpets. I learnt that pancakes are great to throw up, but Mexican and Indian is the worst 😊. About a week before the scan, though, I changed my mind. You were definitely a boy. Your Dad wanted to find out what you were in a reveal in front of family. But I wanted to find out with just him. I twisted his arm. A few minutes after the scan we got into the car and opened the envelope the technician had given us.

cof

You were a boy. My little boy.

Over the next few months we got more and more excited to meet you. The night before that scan I felt you move for the first time. You slowly got more and more active and each night I’d look forward to you wriggling as I sat on the couch. It was the most reassuring thing in the world. We got your room ready, bought way too many things for you and signed up to antenatal classes. I think that’s when it became real for your dad – hearing of all the things that could go wrong during birth. Most of the information for me went in one ear and out the other. I didn’t care how you were born as long as you were here and safe. But we made some cool friends. Hopefully when you read this you will still be pals with some of them.

Slowly the countdown got more and more real. I stopped working and waited for you to come. I never felt nervous about the birth, I was just so excited to meet you. When the midwife put you on my chest I couldn’t quite believe it. After all of these years of talking about having a baby, you were finally here. Most newborns are ugly, and some people may think you were, but to me you were the most beautiful baby I had ever seen. You had your Dad’s big blue eyes and his funny ears. You were so alert. You looked up at us like you knew who we were and posed like a champ for photos.  You gripped my finger and held on for ages. I never wanted to let go.  I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy.

mde

At the maternity unit your Dad would go home each night and it was just the two of us. I barely slept. I was too busy watching you. I didn’t want to miss a moment. On the first night you were hysterical. I stood there and rocked you for hours. Eventually you went to sleep and I was so proud of us. We did it. We could do this. We later found out you were just hungry. Typical Allison-Wix. A few days later we got to take you home. I was so excited to finally have you in our space with Rocko, your dog. I feel like that time was a fog. Mostly you just ate and slept. But each day you surprised me with something else.

In the first month I loved your funny facial expressions. As your mum I’m supposed to know what you need by your cry, but with you, babe, it was your funny facials. My favourite part of those first few weeks was having baths with you. You’d lie on my chest, calm as anything, and just look into my eyes. I’d love to know what you were thinking.

IMG_0117CON

In the second month my favourite thing was your smile. You started to give it to us when you were about six weeks old. This gorgeous gummy smile. I always know you are about to smile because your right eye sparkles just before your lips move. I quickly realised I’d do anything to get that smile. I became an expert at stupid noises and facial expressions.

DSCF8824

When you were three months old you began to babble. We can have long conversations, you and me. I don’t know what on earth you are saying but I love hearing your voice. A couple of weeks ago you started to make this high pitch squeal when you smile. It is the cutest. I squeal at you and you squeal back at me.

IMG_1178CON.jpg

You’re almost four months old now and you are so strong. You love to stand all the time while we hold you. If you’re ever upset we let you stand and you are happy again. You also began to roll recently. Each new thing you do makes me so proud.

IMG_1561CON

Your dad is also so proud of you. You lucked out with him- he is the best dad.When I was pregnant he did everything for us so we could rest. When I was in labour he made me feel strong and was the best cheerleader. When you were born he was so proud, he couldn’t stop looking at you and touching you. In those first few days he did everything for you while I learned to feed you. You probably know he was a bit down for a few weeks when you were little, but I can tell you that even through that he utterly adored you.  You and him have the most special bond now. He rushes home each day to see you and scoops you up and covers you in kisses. You are always on the lookout for him- checking that he is nearby and your face lights up when you see him. You are so lucky to have him. He is kind and caring and loyal and funny. I hope you grow up to be just like him.

caleba nd j

I can’t believe it has been a year since we found out about you. It has been the hardest most tiring year of my life but easily the best. I would do it a million times over again for you.

I can’t wait to see all the things you will achieve in your life. Your Dad and I often talk about what you will be like and what you will do. We don’t care. All we want for you is to be happy, kind, respectful and open minded.  Everything else will fall into place.  Just be you.

I wanted you for so long and babe and you’ve been so worth the wait. You are the light and joy of my life.  You’re my scope of everything, everywhere.

bty

No matter what happens in your life, know that I am so proud of you and that I am so proud that I get to be your Mum.

I love you so, so much,

 

Love, Mum

 

x

 

 

 

 

Advertisements
Uncategorized

Tongue Tied: A Tale of Blood, Lasers and Tears

There’s nothing worse than seeing your baby screaming in pain. It’s quite another thing to watch his mouth fill with blood as well.

That’s what we experienced yesterday, and it was fairly traumatic for all involved.

But before I explain how and why this happened, we need to go back to Jasper’s birth, and the discovery of a little thing called ankyloglossia, or tongue-tie. It’s when the strip of skin connecting the baby’s tongue to the floor of their mouth is shorter than usual, restricting its movement. It can be a problem for breast feeding because if the tongue-tie is bad, the baby can’t stick its tongue out to get a good latch, or lift the tongue up to the roof of its mouth, which is essential for good sucking.

tongue-tie-1
A tongue-tie (not Jasper’s)

Jasper had a pretty bad tongue-tie, pretty much like what you see in this photo. Usually with this sort of thing you want to get it dealt with right away, and we did. Less than 12 hours after he was born, a nurse at the maternity unit came along with a big pair of scissors and snipped it. It wasn’t very pleasant but it wasn’t too bad, either. It didn’t bleed too much and Jasper stopped crying after a couple of minutes. We thought that was the end of it.

But no. When our midwife was at our house one day she noticed he had a lip tie as well. This is where the top lip connects to the top gum, restricting movement of the top lip, which is important for a good latch. She didn’t think it was affecting his feeding , but said some parents like to remove them to stop kids from getting a gap in their teeth later in life. The decision was up to us and there was no rush to decide. We decided to wait until the school holidays to get it sorted. We made the booking for the Hamilton clinic because it is a third of the price of the procedure in Auckland and has a great reputation.

99e3c49d-f417-4a87-8421-a2bf2cac01b8
A lip-tie (also not Jasper)

We thought that was that but then a couple of weeks ago at his regular Plunket check the nurse also noticed his tongue was still a little heart-shaped at the tip (a classic sign of tongue-tie), and advised we get that checked out again as it may have re-attached.

So Wednesday was the day – two days ago.  We get there about 11:30am and fill out some forms before the nurse comes to get us. She sits us down in her office and takes a look at Jasper’s mouth and confirms he has the worst level of lip tie, which may have contributed to his complications with breastfeeding. (She also confirmed his tongue tie had come back and we should get that cut again, too). This hit Liv a bit hard . She had to stop breastfeeding a couple of weeks ago because she stopped making milk.  Liv thinks maybe if this was picked up on and fixed earlier Jasper would have been sucking better, and therefore the supply would have been greater.

Now, I should point out here that the jury is still out on whether lip and tongue ties are actually that big of a problem for breastfeeding. Some people are convinced they contribute to poor feeding, while others think it’s just another medical fad that serves no real purpose, like circumcision. Up to 10% of babies have tongue ties, and about eight percent are getting them cut, a huge increase from a decade ago.

In New Zealand, though, it seems the general advice is to get them cut if they’re at least a little bit bad, so that’s the advice we took. It’s more than just breastfeeding, too – sometimes lip ties can cause people to have a large gap in between their front teeth if it’s not fixed, and other dental problems that may require braces to fix. We figured that while that’s not life or death, it seems quick and easy just to get it fixed now and avoid all that.

Anyway, the nurse took us through the procedure. It’s pretty simple – they use a water laser to cut the strip of flesh on both the lip and tongue. It’s painless and takes about 30 seconds in total, she said. Sounds good, we thought.

Then the dentist came in and had a look in Jasper’s mouth. He wondered why we were there if Liv had stopped breastfeeding. We told him we just wanted to avoid any dental or speech issues later (tongue-ties can cause speech impediments because children can’t move their tongue’s like they should be able to).

Finally they were ready for Jasper. They kept us in the nurse’s office and they whisked him away. It’s better if we’re not there for the procedure, they said. We believed them, and were glad to be excused, quite frankly.

While they were doing it, Liv and I watched a two-minute video about how to care for the wounds once we got Jasper home. It seemed straight-forward enough – you just massage the cut site with your fingers for a few seconds several times day to stop it healing over.

As soon as the video was over, we heard this faint cry and knew it was our boy. They brought him back in to the room and he was as red as a beetroot, screaming his little head off. Liv took him and held him close, and he stopped crying after a few minutes. There was a little bit of blood but it stopped bleeding very quickly. The nurse gave us some gauze in case it started bleeding again.

We waited there for a few minutes, just to make sure Jasper was OK, and before long the smiles came out again and we knew he was all right, so we went on our way. We made the most of our little visit to Hamilton and had lunch in town before heading home.

sdr
Jasper happy as can be to be leaving Hamilton

We got home about 3pm and everything seemed OK. Then about 4:30 he woke up screaming and I couldn’t console him, which is unusual, so I gave him some Pamol to calm him down. He was red in the face, screaming for about 25 minutes before he settled. That hasn’t happened before, so I was a little concerned. But eventually he returned to normal, so I thought he must just be hurting a little.

By 6pm, Jasper was happy enough and we just went about our nightly routine: bath, feed, in bed by 7 (that’s Jasper’s routine by the way. I wish it was mine). The night was normal and he didn’t seem to be in pain.

Yesterday morning – the day after – seemed like a normal day, mostly. Jasper was pretty settled and Liv and I were exhausted. About 9am I popped down to school for a bit to do some planning before classes resume next week, leaving Liv at home with Jasper for an hour or so.

When I returned,  Jasper was lying on his play mat on the floor. He seemed happy enough, wriggling and cooing as usual. Liv told me she had done the exercises we were instructed to do and his tongue-tie bled a little bit. Ok, no worries, I thought. But when I got down and looked at him close, there was quite a lot of blood in his mouth. Enough to make me concerned.

About this time he started crying. I’m not sure if he was actually in any pain, but he was becoming distressed. Maybe he was picking up on our anxiety, I don’t know. But as he got more agitated, the bleeding seemed to get worse. When I looked into his mouth there was blood all through it, and it started running out of his mouth. We used some of the gauze the dentist gave us to stop it, but it didn’t work.

We decided to get him down to the doctor right now, just in case the bleeding doesn’t stop. Meanwhile she got on the phone to the dentist who did the procedure – they said she’d call us back. She then called Healthline to ask them what to do. We had him in the car within a minute and were pulling out of the driveway within two. Jasper was screaming. The Healthline nurse – who was incredibly kind and helpful – was still on the phone to Liv but there wasn’t much she could do for us. We just needed someone to look at Jasper.

Luckily we live in Pukekohe where traffic isn’t an issue, so we got to the A&E in five minutes (in Auckland this would have been a 20-minute trip, easy). During the car ride, though, he calmed down. He was still bleeding quite a lot, but he definitely didn’t seem to be in pain. I guess the movement of the car just settled him.

We got into the A&E and went to the counter. Liv was crying, but Jasper was happy enough. We held tissues up to his mouth to catch the blood, which had slowed down a bit at this point. The staff there didn’t seem too concerned – the receptionist handed me a clipboard and told me to fill it out the obligatory form, as we hadn’t been there before. I was thinking, Huh? Shouldn’t someone see him right now? I can’t fill out a form, my son is bleeding!!

Right on cue Jasper did a bit of a vomit that was filled with blood and he and Liv started crying again. Suddenly two nurses came rushing out.  Jasper just grinned at them, with his gummy, bloody mouth. Sure, now he puts on the charm. You should have seen him 10 minutes ago, I thought.

We took Jasper into one of the consulting rooms and he was very calm, definitely not in pain. The nurses gave Liv a piece of gauze and made her put it on his tounge and hold his jaw shut for a few minutes. Jasper screamed throughout but the bleeding slowed and a decent clot was there under his tongue. The nurse said to leave it, as removing it would start the bleeding again.

A doctor came in and took a look. He shrugged apologetically and said there’s not much they can do, but to come back if it starts bleeding heavily again. They stressed though that if the bleeding was bad to call an ambulance straight away. Their advice was to ease up on the exercises for a day or two and let the cut heal a bit more before agitating it.

So they loaded us up with a bit more gauze and sent us on our way. I was just glad Jasper seemed OK. The bleeding had stopped and he was happy.

We got him home and he went straight to sleep. Liv lay next to him almost the entire nap, terrified he was going to choke on the clot or his blood. He didn’t. Later in the afternoon the dentist finally called Liv back, long after we needed any advice. She apologised and said the receptionists had downplayed the seriousness of it. In hindsight, maybe it wasn’t that serious, but it seemed it at the time.

The dentist said this was highly unusual and that they never see this kind of bleeding in children who’ve had lip or tongue ties cut. She put it down to his age – because he could stick his hands in his mouth now, he may have been playing with the cut site and that could have made it worse.

Anyway, since then, there has been no more blood, and we’ve even done the exercises with no complaint from him. So I think we’re over the worst of it.

When we have our next baby, if there’s a sign of a lip or tongue tie, we’re going to get it dealt with straight away. Like, the next day. It’s much less of an ordeal when they’re very little. Although we thought we had done this with Jasper, getting his tongue tie cut hours after his birth, getting the laser treatment done may have been more effective. Also, we weren’t told to do these exercises after that initial one, and that might have been why it came back.

Overall, yesterday was the scariest experience of our parenting so far, but I think we dealt with it well and did the right thing by getting him down to A&E. I’m sure there’ll be plenty more scares to come, but I hope we get a bit of a breather first.

 

 

Uncategorized

Travelling With Baby

Before we had Jasper, I imagined leaving the house with a baby would be a giant ordeal. I pictured hauling about five bags full of bottles, nappies and clothes into the boot of the car, along with the pram and other baby essentials, while trying to put a screaming baby into a car seat and pretending that everything is OK.

Now he’s three months old and reality is far more pleasant, I’m happy to report. We decided from the very beginning that we wanted to get out with Jasper as much as possible, no matter how hard it was. We knew it would be easier to just stay home, but we also knew we’d go crazy if we did that. I, for one, am a reasonably social person and I love getting out and doing things.

We took Jasper out for the first time when he was about a week old. We went to the Columbus Cafe at Mitre 10 (fancy, I know). He slept the whole time. We drank our coffee, wondering if this was just a fluke and if it’ll get harder as he gets older.

2017-07-10 11.09.59-1
Jasper sleeps through his first outing, to the Columbus Cafe at Mitre 10

The shorter answer is, not yet. The ‘yet’ is important, as I need something to fall back on when it eventually does get hard, and I expect it will at some point. But right now, he’s really good and getting out of the house with him is mostly great.

What we take with us

We don’t have any sort of fancy nappy bag or anything, just a standard Country Road tote bag that we throw everything into. We take:

  • at least two bottles – three if it’s going to be a long day. These will be filled with the appropriate amount of water for formula. We have enough formula to last a day.
  • at least two changes of clothes, including two layers for each change
  • a bunch of nappies
  • a couple of spill cloths
  • an extra blanket
  • the carrier, in case he’s getting shitty in the pram and we need to walk around with him.
  • a dummy or two

Our first real outing with him was when he was one month old. We took him to Sylvia Park mall to do some shopping and have lunch. I was a bit nervous, as Sylvia Park is a very busy, noisy place, especially on a Saturday, and I had no idea how well Jasper would hold up in the chaos. I think this outing was significant because it was us trying to show ourselves that we weren’t going to let the baby stop us from living our lives. Going shopping is something that we do sometimes and the baby just comes with us, no big deal.

So we get there and strap Jasper into the pram, shove a dummy into his mouth and off we go. So far so good. No crying yet. We walk through a few shops, try on some clothes, and he starts crying after about 20 minutes. I take him to an area that has seats and feed him while Liv looks in another shop. He settled a bit after that and we tried to sit down to lunch at a burger place, but he was pretty grizzly. Liv took him out of the pram and held him while we ate. I was super nervous that we were bothering the other people with our crying baby, who wasn’t even crying that much. Most people are really tolerant, anyway, so it was all good. In total, we were at the mall about 90 minutes but it felt like hours. In hindsight, I was pretty on edge and Jasper probably sensed that, which may have made him a bit more grizzly than usual. Also, he was only a month old and, well, babies are still pretty unsettled anyway at that age, right?

2017-08-05 11.58.58
Trying to keep Jasper settled while we eat lunch

After leaving the mall, we headed north to where my parents live, but stopped off at a camera shop on the way because I wanted to buy a lens. While I was inside, Liv stayed in the car to feed Jasper and change him. When I get back to the car, she’s worried because we didn’t have a pair of socks for him! He had been dressed in a onesie, but when that got dirty, our change of clothes was a pair of pants. Doh! Just one of those things you have to learn, I suppose.

There were also two occasions where we had to buy a whole can of formula while we were out. The first time, we were staying the night at my parents’ house and Liv had put a few scoops of formula into a snaplock bag rather than bring the whole can of formula. Jasper was having a particularly hungry day and I didn’t think we’d have enough to last him the night, so Liv rushed out to the supermarket to buy a can. Turns out we didn’t even need it! The other time, we were visiting some friends at my old school on a Friday afternoon and afterwards we went to a friends’ house for dinner. When we got there, we realised we left our feeding bag behind at school (containing Liv’s nipple shield, without which Jasper would not latch). There was no way to get the bag back that night, so I went to the supermarket and bought yet another can of formula. It was OK, because we’d use it anyway, but now we’re slightly more prepared about these things.

Staying at other people’s houses

We’ve done this a few times already, and it’s another example of our determination to do what we would have done without the baby. It’s hard work, though. On top of the usual stuff we’d take, we need more clothes, more nappies, more formula, his Moses basket, and his baby monitor. At first it was made even more difficult by the fact that we still didn’t really know what we were doing. The fist night we stayed at my parents’ house was a nightmare. Jasper was still waking several times a night and would need at least half-an-hour per feed. We were worried his crying would wake other people in the house but it didn’t. We didn’t sleep well, though. We were pretty anxious and tired (as usual!).

It has gotten a lot easier, though. As he’s getting older we’re getting into more of a routine with him and learning more about what he needs. That makes us more settled, and in turn so is Jasper. It also makes us better house guests. Recently we spent the night at some friends’ and we were able to get Jasper to bed reasonably early and then go and socialise with everyone else while he slept. He woke up eventually, but we had some time without baby, which was the main thing.

Our big road trip

One thing I was nervous about was driving us all back to Auckland from Palmerston North last week. Liv had spent the previous week down there, having flown down (read her story about that here). It’s a 477km trip, or about six hours if you don’t stop. When it was just us and Rocko it would take about six-and-a-half hours, but I had no idea what to expect with a baby.

Actually, yes I did, and I expected the worst. I expected having to stop every hour. I expected a baby screaming in the back the whole way. I expected the journey to take 10 hours.

It took us eight, with just two stops, one of which was a 45-minute lunch stop. I couldn’t believe how good Jasper was – he slept pretty much the whole way. The only time he got grizzly was when we had to stop for road works. Otherwise, it was a great trip. Liv sat in the back with him much of the way so she could put the dummy back in his mouth if it fell out, but really he dozed most of it anyway. Road trips will probably get harder as he gets older, and starts to get bored more easily, so we think in the future we might stop for a night in Taupo – half way – to break up the trip. In any case, this was a wonderful first road trip.

We had a lot of fun listening to some fantastic podcasts along the way, both of which I’d recommend. The first is My Dad Wrote A Porno. It’s about a guy who finds out his Dad has written an erotic novel under the pen name Rocky Flintstone. The podcast is just him and some friends sitting around a table reading the book one chapter at a time. It’s hilarious, and obviously a bit smutty, but if that doesn’t bother you then definitely give it a listen. The other one we loved was Stuff You Should Know. It’s by the guys who write the How Stuff Works website, and it’s wonderfully informative. Our favourite was the episode about Barbecue – turns out the way we do it in New Zealand, on our gas barbies, is actually grilling. True barbecue, which originates in the south of the US, is pork (or beef if you’re from Texas) slow cooked for hours over charcoal or briquettes on a kettle grill, or something similar. So that got excited about barbecuing and we’re excited to get a Weber and slow cook some fine meats this summer. Anyway, the podcast is great and there are many episodes so you’re sure to find something you’re interested in.

sdr
Jasper sees the mountain for the first time
bty
The whole family
Uncategorized

Jasper’s First Plane Ride

Liv took Jasper to Palmerston North last week to spend some time with her mum. It was the last week of the school term, so the plan was she would fly down with Jasper on the Sunday, and I’d drive down the following Saturday and spend a few days there before driving us all back to Auckland. That would be our first proper road trip with J, but more on that later. First, you need to read Liv’s account of the plane ride. It was quite an ordeal! 


 

It’s safe to say I was pretty anxious about our first flight. Everyone tried to reassure me that everything would be fine as long as I fed him on take off and landing, as the sucking helps to stop the baby’s ears from popping. I kept saying to myself “it’s only an hour, even if he screams the whole time it is only an hour”. Still, I had trouble sleeping the night before.

cof
At the airport, ready to board our plane

We were due to depart at 3.30pm, but I wanted to be at the airport super early because I thought it could be busy being a Sunday afternoon and the day after the election. We got to the airport about 2.20. I’d done my research and knew I had to check in at the counter instead of the electronic booths so that we could get Jasper’s pram put on as luggage. We did that and then went down to the eating area to grab a late lunch. I fed Jasper and also got Caleb to make up a bottle of formula for the plane just in case he went crazy. I put all the things I wanted within arms reach on the plane into a plastic bag inside our carry on. Things like a bottle, a dummy, my Kindle, my water bottle, a serve of formula and a spill cloth.

 

 

 

 

 

We headed down to the check in area for the regional flights and I put Jasper in the carrier so I could wear him. He quickly fell fast asleep. We said our goodbyes to Caleb and boarded the plane. As soon as I got on the plane the other passengers quickly offered their help to get us into our seats. It was extremely reassuring. The Air NZ person came and told me I had to take Jasper out of the carrier and put him into an infant seat belt. This is literally a seat belt that clicks onto the adult one. I have never felt less sure about Jasper’s safety in all his life. I asked where to put it on my belt and she said “anywhere, it doesn’t matter”. She probably knew, like me, that there would be no way in hell of him surviving a plane crash with that sorry excuse for a restraint. He was far more secure in my carrier but I obliged and put him in the belt. Luckily he stayed asleep for the first half of the flight. I just gave him a dummy for a few minutes to suck while we took off.

bty
Happy baby, before things got crazy

About half way in Jasper woke up and I gave him his bottle. Trying to get your tit out on a cramped domestic plane seemed way to hard. He happily drank away.

Then all hell broke loose.

We had just flown past the mountains and then wham. We started having really bad turbulence. You know how the plane kind of drops as you are about to land? We were having that in the air while flying. Jasper starts screaming, that awful screaming where his face goes red. The lovely lady next to me holds him for a minute while I dig around for my nipple shield (Jasper still won’t latch without it, after he got so used to it in the early days). I try and feed him to calm him but he still goes nuts. There was no way he was having a bar of my boob. We try to play peek-a-boo and his crying becomes a much more manageable whinge.

Eventually we go to land. We started our descent and then the plane started shaking and falling again. The turbulence was back. I’ve never experienced anything like it, people were holding onto their armrests trying to stay sturdy. Jasper starts screaming hysterically again. We start descending and then all of a sudden we jerk upwards. A few minutes later the pilot told us that it wasn’t safe to land and that we would circle above for 15 minutes and then try again. He said it wasn’t likely though, and we’d probably have to land in Wellington and be bussed up to Palmy. We still have crazy turbulence and now I’m starting to panic. I only have enough formula for three bottles. He’s already had one. If we get diverted and then have to catch the bus to Palmerston North, Jasper will starve. (A slight aside – I have pretty much no breast milk from about 3pm each day, which is when Jasper starts to get formula fed for the night, so breastfeeding was out. Also, I had no idea how Jasper would be transported on a bus. Would I just hold him?)

So, we have crazy turbulence. I am clutching on to my son for dear life because he is in a shitty excuse for a seatbelt, I don’t know how we will get to palmy, I have no food for him and I am pretty much thinking I am the worst mum in the world.

We fly around in crazy turbulence again. We attempt to land again. Nope, same thing happened as last time except the turbulence was worse. We jerk upwards again and the pilot again explains that we can’t land and it looks like we are on our way to Wellington.

I’m pretty much a mess at this time. I’m getting the sympathetic stares at Jasper’s screaming and I’m starting to worry about the night ahead. The lovely lady next to me could see I had tears in my eyes. She picks up Jasper (we’d abandoned the seatbelt at this point) and I make up the bottle and mention I can’t give him much because I only have enough formula for one more bottle. She grabs my hand and says when we land in Wellington she will call her husband. He can pick up the carseat from my mums in Palmy on the way and drive the two hours to meet us at Wellington airport. While we are waiting at the airport she will get a taxi and go and get some formula and come back. She was pretty much an angel in disguise.

Our plan is in place. I’m feeling a bit calmer, Jasper is having his bottle. Then, the turbulence hits again. Cue the screaming (from Jasper, although I suspect a lot of the other passengers wanted to as well). The pilot surprises us and says he is going to attempt one more time to land. It was shaky as all hell, but he did it. Everyone clapped when we landed. I’ve never had that happen before. Suddenly a few people jump up around me. They are pulling my bag down from the overhead luggage, packing up our things, helping me get Jasper into the carrier and then let me get off the plane first. I suspect most of them must be parents and knew how terrible I felt. The minute we stepped outside he stopped crying. My happy Jasper was back again. We survived our first flight.

It’s funny how in the heat of the moment everything seems so awful. Reasonable Liv knows someone would have organised formula for us. But I’m so thankful for the lady sitting next to me on the plane. I’m still trying to hunt her down to send her a thank you card. Strangers are wonderful.

I have no worries about flying again with him. I don’t know if it’s possible for it to be any worse. And now I know to just pack a heap of formula in my carry on just in case.

The Second Month

Baby Must-Haves (Guest Post)

Hello.

Liv here, Jasper’s Mum and Caleb’s other half.  We’ve had Jasper for two months now so are slowly figuring out what baby must-haves are actually that. I’ll leave Caleb to do a post one day about the big ticket items, but I thought I’d write a quick post about my favourite day-to-day things that have made my life easier in the first eight weeks. I figure they’ll be great reminders when we move on to baby number two, but I thought it might be handy  for blog readers for future babies or awesome baby shower gifts. I was always that person that bought tiny button-up onesies and cutesy accessories. Next time I’m going to buy really practical stuff that might seem boring at 34 weeks pregnant but are real lifesavers in those early weeks.  Most people know I’m incredibly cheap which makes it ironic that most of these things are on the expensive end of baby things. All of the things I’ve listed will easily get us through a second kid- so I guess they work out cheaper in the long run.

Clothing

We have been gifted so many clothes that I am actually dreading what it will be like in six months when we might actually have to buy him clothes. Every item we’ve been given we are so thankful for. It’s made the first couple of months so easy, and its been nice for the wallet. We do have a few standout favourites though.

Bonds Wondersuits – Caleb mentioned these before but they really are lifesavers. Save up and buy a few in each size. The beauty is that they have two zips. One from the top and one from the bottom. They also have bits that fold over at the hands and feet to become mittens and socks.  We tend to use them at night when we just want quick and easy nappy changes. Yes, they are expensive but you can get from places like The Warehouse or Tiny Turtles or Sleepstore on sale every now and again. I’ve mostly bought gender neutral stripy ones in case next time we have a girl. Be warned – the girl ones are waaaaayyy cuter than the boy ones.

wondersuit

Lamington and Bonds socks– I hate socks for babies. Just as much as I hate booties. We were gifted a few pairs of each of these and they are pretty much the only ones Jasper has worn. They stay on. Which keeps me somewhat sane.

NBN - SNOWFLAKE

Bodysuits – you can’t have enough of these. We went through sooo many of these in the early days before learning that for boys, you have to point their willy down in the nappy, otherwise their wees just leak out the top. I’ve also recently started using singlets and golly they are amazing too – especially at night when there’s one less thing to do up.

Tips-

  • If you are going to buy onesies get ones with zips. Buttons make you want to cry. Domes are all good during the day but Jasper has had a few nights of having a crotchless onesie situation because I am too tired to spend the time to line up domes.
  • If you buy someone tights  get ones with feet. Again, you don’t need to deal with socks.
  • Buy a few jumpers or cardigans as gifts. We have lots of bodysuits and tights but only a few warm things for on top. They’ll get heaps of use because everyone likes a baby that’s dressed like an adult.

 

Random bits and bobs

 A pack of old school cloth nappies- again, a few people recommended getting these but not for their actual use. We use them to line his mattress, as spill cloths, sun shades in the car and to lie him on after a bath.  We use them all day every day. Get a pack.

Image result for baby first nappies

Aden and Anais Swaddles/Wraps- Get these from Farmers in their 50% off nursery sale. You probably need 4. They are huge so perfect for baby burritos when you are swaddling.   Lots of people use the Love to Dream swaddles. We were lent a couple but I wasn’t a fan. J sucked his hands all the time so they were a wet smelly mess. He could still hit his head with his hands and he also learnt how to shimmy up in them so a few times he would wake up from having hit is head on the top of the Moses basket. Maybe get one of each to see what one is right for you.

swaddle

White Noise playing device- J loves it. The point is that it sounds like the womb so it is reassuring for them to sleep with. The minute its turned off Jasper will wake up. We put it on for every sleep. We have rainfall instead of the static noise so Caleb and I can sleep with it at night too. We think we are actually sleeping better too. We used my phone in the early days but I got annoyed at not being able to use it. I really didn’t want to spend $80 on a special device that only plays white noise so we got a cheap portable Bluetooth speaker and connect to the white noise app using our phone.  There’s heaps of apps out there for white noise. I have an Android and use an app called Relaxio. But again, the cheap thing is coming to bite me in the butt. Tomorrow I’m going to splash out and buy a proper, standalone white noise device. We have concrete walls which means my phone does have to pretty much be in the same room as the Bluetooth speaker for it to work, which defeats the purpose.  Its also just too hard when I’m so tired to remember to charge two devices every five hours.

A wheat bag- one of the midwives taught me this trick and it makes a huge difference to J’s sleep. Heat a wheat bag for 1min 30 and put in his bed for 30 seconds ( I usually swaddle him in this time). Take it out, lay baby down, put a blanket on top, put the wheat bag down, and then the other blankets. It goes on the bedding to emulate you and your warmth, and then on top because they like the weight and warmth on their belly as it reminds them of their womb. It’s cheap, easy and it works wonders. I stopped doing this for a week cos I got lazy. J’s day sleeps went crazy again. Plunket Nurse suggested going back to it. This afternoon he slept for two hours. Clearly this is a keeper for us.

A carrier-  We (mostly me) made the decision not to buy a capsule for the baby. A capsule is the little plastic seat thing you see tiny babies sitting in at cafes. They are also what they sit in in the car 🙂  As I said earlier, I am really cheap but I’m also really safety conscious when it comes to my boy.  I spent hours watching car seat and capsule crash tests to see what one he’d be more likely to survive in. I looked at hiring a really safe one but it would be just under $200 for six months. Instead we slammed that money into the safest convertible car seat on the market (a Diano in case you are wondering) that goes from newborn to 12-years old. The downside is you can’t just pop a car seat in the trolley, or carry them in somewhere for a quick errand, so we bought a carrier. We knew we’d want one anyway as we both liked the ease compared to the pram for everything. A carrier is essentially a harness so you can wear the baby. We used it for the first time when he was just four days old and has been used on the regular ever since Ergo is the popular brand. But, we both found them quite uncomfortable. Mountain Buggy (same brand as our pram) brought one out a couple years ago and it was way more comfortable for both of us. It’s called the Juno and it fits both Caleb and mine’s style.  I love it because it means I can hug Jasper for hours and he has no way of getting off me. The downside is people can’t see your baby when they are tiny so you don’t get as many compliments on how cute he is.

Image result for mountain buggy juno nautical

*Ours is Navy and white striped so clearly way cooler than this one from their marketing.

**Yes, i know this is too expensive for a present.

Blankets- I knitted one for J for his bed and we were gifted two amazing quality ones from Nature Baby and Smith and Caughey. They are beautiful and we use them daily in the car, pram and bed.  We have about five blankets for Jasper and they all get used all the time.  We can’t believe how often we have to wash them, so don’t hesitate to buy a blanket for someone- just make sure it’s wool or cotton so baby can sleep with it (baby blankets have to be breathable fabrics like wool or cotton so baby doesn’t accidentally suffocate himself).

Spill Cloths- J spills a lot. We have found the best spill cloths are the cheap muslins from The Warehouse and Kmart. Get about 10. They are too small to wrap him in, but big enough to wipe up a few decent spills. Rocko also loves these, preferably in a used state.

Change Station– This has been one of our best buys. I got it at the 50% off farmers nursery sale but it doesn’t look like they sell them anymore. The brand I got is called Skip Hop. A compartment for nappies, a zipped area where I store wipes and hand sanitiser and a little tube of nappy cream. Then there is also a wipeable mat. Its great when you are out just to chuck this in the pram or a handbag and not have to take his whole nappy bag with me

change wallet in one

Nappy Bag/Doggy bag dispenser- My boss mentioned this trick to me. You know those little holders that you put doggy bags in for walks? Get one of them for dirty nappies when you are out. I got one for a few bucks from Kmart. But dog ones are the same. I have this clipped on to the change wallet so that I don’t forget them. At home we just have some cheap nappy bags from Pak N Save that are in a wet wipe style pouch.

nappy bag dispenser

Change Mat- My aunty got me this awesome one by ‘Pretty Brave’ and I love it. It was such a cool gift. I hope like hell she didn’t spend that much money on me though. I leave it set up where we play and because it is wipeable it doesn’t matter if he spills on it or wees on it during naked time.  I think this will be handy for laying him on the ground and him playing when he is a little bigger. Also, it’s great for photo backdrops

change mat

Water Wipes-  Everyone raved about these. I thought $7, no way. Even more people raved about them. So, I bought a pack for those first few days where the babies have the awful meconium poos. They were great. When we got home we went back to using the cheap $2 wipes and within days Jasper’s bum was a sore red almost blistering mess. Back to the water wipes we went. In the past few weeks Silk (one of the cheap brands) has got water ones now too. They are about $2 I think and just as good. Get them. It’s also really reassuring that babe doesn’t have too many chemicals on him yet.

Feeding

Lanolin Cream– For your nips. you can get this from the pharmacy. Just get the tiniest tube, you don’t need much and you will only need to use it for a few days. This is made of lanolin which is natural so you don’t have to wipe off before baby feeds.

lanoish

Hydrogel Discs- You can get these from the baby shops for about $20. They are like ice packs for your nips. If you are cheap like me you will use them for a couple of days each so you only need one box of them. You only need them for the first few days

Even though I had feeding issues so had to use the breast pump heaps my nips were still in agony from being pulled so frequently and these were lifesavers.

hydrogel disc pads

Unimom Forte Breast Pump- Even before having Jasper, I knew I’d want to express so Caleb could help with a bottle every now and then. Everyone around us seemed to recommend this one because it is so good and way cheaper than the Medela ones. Despite feeling like a cow while doing it, it has worked great for me. I even just bought a switch converter so that I can make it manual when travelling. If you want one, wait until you sign up to Antenatal classes through The Parent Centre. Every two months they have a 20% off discount at Baby Factory. This brings the pump down to just $200.

Image result for unimom forte

Milton Tablets- you have to sterilise your bottles and pump stuff for the first three months of a baby’s life. You just chuck a few tablets in a couple of litres of water and ta da, everything is sterilised. This is what our parents did and it’s way easier than boiling or having to buy a gadget to microwave etc. The supermarkets sell them for about $8. They do smell like bleach, though. That’s the only downside.

milton

Mam anti-colic bottles- I don’t know if they stop colic, but they have a steriliser built into them. This means when you are out and about you can just put a bit of water in the bottom and microwave for a few mins and they are good to go. Farmers sell them, so I just got them in the 50% off nursery sale.

mam

Nursing singlets- everyone told me to get them and I agree. Don’t be cheap though. You will be living in these and nursing bras so don’t get the Kmart or Warehouse ones. Also. don’t get ones where you’ve got to whip the whole boob thing down to feed. The best one I found was at Farmers by Lyric brand. It has selectively cut triangle bits of fabric. This is great for privacy when out and about as no one can see a thing. They are comfy as can be too. I only have one so save it for when I know I’ll be out lots. Buy a few in a sale and they work out the same price as the cheap nasty ones.

Image result for lyric nursing singlet nz

*This isn’t the one I have. Clearly showing this much skin on the Farmers site isn’t allowed, but this is the kind of one you want.

Breastfeeding pillow- my boss gave me hers as she hadn’t used it much. A lot of people say you don’t need them, and you don’t, but they are handy. Try and get one that fits around your hips, so you can sit with your knees crossed. They are comfy and most importantly to me, when J spills on them I can whip the cover off and chuck in wash. Much better than getting milk voms on your nice lounge pillows.

Things you don’t really need-

A baby bath- I was dead set against one just for storage reasons. We were gifted one. We used it a few times, but by far his favourite thing to do is bath or shower with us. It is a lovely way to end the day and already I’m sad at the thought that in a short time we won’t be doing it anymore.

A change table- Again, didn’t want one. We were gifted one. It’s been handy, but I’m so keen to get rid of it. A mat on the drawers was our original plan and it is great. Don’t think you can just lean over on the carpet/bed- it kills your back.

Nursing Pads- Don’t buy nursing pads for people, or too many for yourself. I was gifted heaps of disposable and reusable ones. I don’t really use them. I thought this was just because I don’t have too much milk, but actually a lot of people I’ve talked to say they only use them at night.

Nappy Bag- I’m not stylish at all, but these things are seriously ugly. I use a country road tote when we are going to Caleb’s folks or for a day out, otherwise I use a small bag and chuck a spare change, a bottle, and the change wallet in.

Bath thermometer- lols. We bought one and were gifted one. It stopped working after a week. Your elbow or just common sense really is just as good at figuring out the temperature.

Really awesome present ideas

If these haven’t inspired you then get some things for mum. I got a bottle of fancy champers from one friend. Another got me some lovely lavender candles. When I finished up at work I got my eyebrows done and bought some nice lip scrub and bath bombs from lush. Sometimes they make me feel semi normal when I feel like death. Vouchers or those things would be nice.  One of the best gifts we have received though is food in those early days. Coming home to cooked meals has been amazing. My sister in law and a work friend also made me lactation cookies. They were a really thoughtful and yummy idea.  Here’s the recipe. Remember to add lots of chocolate: https://nadialim.com/recipe/lactation-cookies/

Lastly, make an effort to go and visit mum and baby. Everyone warns of all the people wanting to visit baby in the first week and I think it may have become the norm to do the complete opposite.  We’ve been a bit surprised by the lack of enthusiasm by the people we love most to meet Jasper. While Caleb gets to go to school and have adult company its just me and Jasper all day and it gets pretty lonely. Sure, give new parents a few weeks but after that they are begging for adult company. Send a text to see if you are welcome for a cuddle.

 

 

The Second Month

The Six-week Transformation

I last wrote that I’d been having a rough time adjusting to life with Jasper, that I was tired and frustrated. Well, I’m glad to report that those feelings all but disappeared pretty much bang on the six-week mark.

People had told us that the first six weeks were the hardest, and I didn’t really appreciate that until we’d been through it. At six weeks, Jasper started smiling more regularly, would lie awake calmly for longer periods of time, and just start to give back to us a little more.

But a change happened in me, too: I fell in love with the little guy. Clearly, love isn’t a black-and-white thing that is there one minute and not the next, but one day I just noticed that I felt that overwhelming love I’d expected to feel right at the start. It just took a while to kick in. I’d look down at him and think, wow, he is the best thing that ever lived!

Not only did my feelings for J get stronger, but I was just happier. Things seemed easier. I was still tired as hell, but it was manageable now. I enjoyed going to work more, and getting out and seeing people.

IMG_0822CON
Jasper getting kisses from his Gran Nan

Now he’s eight weeks old and these are the things I love about him right now:

  • He talks to me. When he’s awake and calm, I’ll lie him down on my lap and hold his head in my hands. I make exaggerated facial expressions to try to get him to mimic me. Once I’ve got his attention I’ll just talk to him about anything, and he’ll start making noises. They’re short, sharp sounds but I know it’s him responding to me. It’s great fun, our little chats.
  • The smiles he gives me when he’s meant to be sleeping. I just think this is the best. Usually when I put him down for his first long sleep, about 9pm, he looks up and me with this big grin on his face. I have to tell him, “Jasper put that smile away! It’s bed time, you have to sleep now”. And he just grins even more, those huge eyes lighting up. It’s just too adorable.
  • 2017-08-19 09.07.41
    Sitting and Chilling

    He’s happy just sitting and chilling. I often prop him up in some pillows on the couch and he’ll just sit there, watching what’s going on, happy as anything. It’s a nice change from the baby who pretty much was either sleeping, eating or crying.

  • He’s not as floppy. He seems to have great neck strength and holds his head up no problem now. It just makes him easier to carry and pass and that sort of thing.
  • Bath time. This is the best! We actually don’t bath him much on his own – either he comes in with one of us, or I’ll bring him into the shower for a few minutes if we’re short on time. But it’s the baths that I love. He just looks so happy as I hold him back and splash water over his belly, his little legs kicking with joy.
IMG_0128CON
Bath time with mum

During the first few weeks, I wondered why no one told us that it was so hard. Everything was just so difficult and kind of awful – feeding, sleeping, pretty much everything. I realise now why no one tells you that. Those frustrations melt away once the baby starts giving back. Already those horrible first six weeks seem like a distant memory. If someone told me they were having a baby, I wouldn’t rush to tell them those things, partly because they just don’t seem important now, but also because I think it’s just something you have to go through.

So, things are good. We’ve still got our challenges, like sleeping, but that’s another post. Right now, we’re super happy and loving seeing J change every day.

IMG_0512CON


Listening to: Add Violence by Nine Inch Nails

Reading: A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

 

The Second Month

The Hardest Decision

Choosing a name for your baby is a huge responsibility. There are so many ways you could go with it. You could go traditional, like William or Peter. You could go weird, like Jaylon, Legend or Franco. Or trendy, like Hunter or Lucas.

They all have their benefits and drawbacks. Traditional names are usually strong, solid and familiar, and so you know your kid will have an easy ride. Weird names are cool and interesting, and kids always grow into their names so they don’t stay weird for long, but then they’ll always be spelling their names over the phone (even I have to do this – I’m Sam now when I order takeaways). And trendy names are, well, trendy, but they’ll probably have three other kids in the class with the same name.

From the outset, we didn’t want to be in the trendy camp. This is mainly because Liv knows what its like to have one of the most popular names and to have to share it with heaps of other kids at school. We also aren’t really into weird names, although early in her pregnancy Liv dreamt that we named our baby Rocket, and so that’s what we called him as a fetus. Also, Pharrell Williams has a son called Rocket, so it was within the realm of possibility! But really, we’re into traditional-but-not-very-common names.

The options

The first name we loved for a boy was Henry. It’s a strong, familiar name, but it also sounds nice and it runs nicely with the last name Allison. However, it’s also relatively popular. It was number 26 on the top 100 boys names in New Zealand in 2016, next to Jackson, Jacob and Elijah.

So Henry was a top pick but maybe a bit too popular for us. Jasper was our only other option. We actually had the name Jasper on our list months before he was even conceived! This was January 2016 – we knew we were going to start trying soon so names were in discussion. Liv was really into really old names, like popular names from the 18th century. She sent me an email one day with a list of names she liked (she tells me she doesn’t like most of them now). Jasper was one of them. Looking back at that exchange, thankfully I had said Jasper was the one I liked!

names-email.jpg

So we had two names to choose from. How hard can that be?! Liv liked Jasper slightly more, while I tended towards Henry. About two or three months into the pregnancy, we’d pretty much settled on Jasper. But then towards the end of the pregnancy, about the last eight weeks, we gravitated more towards Henry.

We hadn’t mentioned our name options to anybody. Not a soul. That’s what made it super weird when one day, I get a text from mum saying she had a dream that we named our baby Henry. I couldn’t believe it. I rushed to tell Liv, who was in equal disbelief. How could she possibly know?!

After that, I really wanted to call him Henry because I thought it was a neat coincidence that mum had had that dream. Like, it was meant to be, or something. By 36 weeks we’d pretty much decided on Henry, and Liv kept saying things to me like, “In my head he’s Henry”.

It was hard because Henry was really the name I liked more, while Liv tended towards Jasper, and I worried that she was giving in to my preference. I was glad that she liked Henry, but the closer we got to the birth, the greater my reservations became about Henry. I worried about its popularity, and thought maybe it was too traditional.

By the end we were openly discussing the name options with people. There was a clear trend: people older than 50-ish liked Henry, while younger people liked Jasper. Still, we couldn’t quite decide.

Making the final decision

As soon as Jasper was born, I looked at him and said, “Henry”. Liv was still unsure. I said maybe I just see Henry because that’s what we’d been thinking for a while now. We decided to leave it for a bit and decide after a good night’s sleep.

All throughout that first day we went back and forth between Henry and Jasper. Eventually, obviously, Jasper won out. We loved how it sounded, its meaning, and especially how it went with his middle name.

One day after he was born we decided. He was Jasper Jay.

The significance

So why is the name Jasper Jay significant? For many reasons, it turns out. What started out as a name we just liked, has actually grown to have a lot of things attached to it.

First, there’s the Toronto Blue Jays. My baseball team. My winter obsession. How I connect with my Canadian heritage.

giphy
One of the greatest home runs you’ll ever see

Everyone always asks me if we deliberately named him after the Blue Jays, and the answer is yes and no. I like that Jasper has the Jay in his name because I really love this team. But we also just liked the way Jasper and Jay run together. And we like that he can be JJ, or just J, if he wants.

Jasper is also the name of a national park in Alberta, Canada, so there’s another Canadian link there.

main-qimg-78affa95ef04c31b67cf169edda1539c.jpg

There’s a Simpsons link, too (another one of my favourite things). There’s an episode where Homer realises he has no idea what the J in his middle initial stands for, so he goes on this quest to his childhood home to find that his middle name is Jay. Great episode.

 

 

 

One of the Three Wise Men was also called Jasper (well, that’s the anglicised version). He brought the myrrh, which unfortunately is the most useless of all the gifts. What even is it?!

Also, I quite like whiskey and Jack Daniels’ actual first name was Jasper.

So there you go. The story behind Jasper’s name.


Watching: Ozark

Reading: A Darkness More Than Night by Michael Connelly

Listening to: Hug of Thunder by Broken Social Scene

The Second Month

Five Things I Love About Jasper

I’ve been a bit down lately, as you may have guessed from some of my previous posts. I haven’t enjoyed having a baby as much as I thought I would, and I’ve been feeling extremely tired and pretty frustrated at times. Liv wonders if I’m depressed, but I think it’s too early for that. I’m probably just tired. That’s the most logical cause of my troubles. However, I have made a doctors appointment for a couple of weeks from now, just in case things don’t improve.

And I think it’s also the shock of caring for a newborn baby has thrown everything out of whack and I’m struggling to deal with it. That, coupled with sleep deprivation, isn’t a recipe for happiness. Some of it is my personality: I just do what I want to do, and I don’t do things that annoy me. But now I don’t have a choice – I have a kid now, and he deserves to have the best dad possible.

I had a great sleep last night and feel better today, so I think getting sleep may help. I also need to exercise more, and make time to do things I enjoy. So I’m going to focus on these things and see if my mood improves. Some of it is also an attitude shift: I need to put everything into Jasper because these early weeks are when we’re forming our bond which we’ll have for the rest of our lives. His little brain is just starting to respond to us, and I want him to know that I’m his Dad and I love him. I know I’ve complained a lot about him and our life but I do love him to bits, and I am so proud that I get to call myself his dad, and tell everyone he is my son. Here are my favourite five things I love about Jasper so far.

When he falls asleep on me

This is the best! He doesn’t do it often, but if you catch him in the right mood, usually after a feed, and you rock him just right with his head on your shoulder, he’ll fall asleep. And then he’ll fall into this really deep baby sleep where his face goes all red and you just know he’s completely out to it. And then he curls up onto you and his arms sit on you like he is giving you a cuddle. He also makes cute little baby noises and it’s the greatest feeling.  DSCF8734

That he’s so alert

I love watching him look around. He’s been a pretty alert baby from the start but now he’s really noticing what’s going on. Above his change table in his room is some small pom poms on the wall. He is mesmerised by them. Even if he’s crying, put him on the table and when he notices them he calms right down. It’s weird!

He notices other patterns too. His favourite things are the set of six picture frames we have hanging above our couch in the lounge. And he actually loves looking at my records, which are quite low down on a shelf next to his play mat. So when he’s lying there he’ll turn his head and look at the records. I guess it’s the range of colours he’s interested in (hopefully some day I can get him interested in the music, too!).

IMG_0013CON

That he looks a bit like me

Some people say he looks a lot like me, but I’m not sure. I do know he has my weird ears, though – they don’t fold over at the top. So I know he’s mine! But I thought it was just so cool that even when he was a few days old, I recognised myself in him. I know this is an evolutionary thing – dads are supposed to see themselves in their kids so they know they’re theirs and they don’t run off. But sometimes I really do feel like I’m looking back at a mini version of me. So is it like, really narcissistic to say I also think he’s ridiculously good looking?

How much he enjoys bath time

I’m so glad he’s gotten to like his baths. He hated his first few. But with each one he’s grown to like them. Now, he just lies there, looking back at me. It’s so sweet. No crying or anything, just a few kicks. I love holding him in my arm and gently splashing the warm water over his belly. He can’t tell me much right now, but I know from the way he looks up at me – and the lack of crying – that he loves it.

dscf8737-e1502265696558.jpg

Our feedings times

While Liv has had her battles with feeding, such as not having as much milk as she’d like, it has given Jasper and I an opportunity to bond over the bottle. It’s quite nice that we can have these little moments where I feed him. If he’s cranky because he’s hungry, I love watching his face change immediately as I give him the bottle. He just starts sucking and then looks straight into my eyes with those beautiful blues. His little hands move a little bit, fingers flexing, as he enjoys his meal. I know it’s the baby equivalent of me digging into a huge plate of Buffalo wings (i.e. heaven). It’s such a lovely little time for us.

I know as he changes so rapidly I will find new things I enjoy about him every day. And Jasper, if you ever read this, just in case there was any doubt, Dad loves you so much. I promise I always will.


Listening to: A Ghost is Born by Wilco

The Second Month

Four Thoughts After One Month With Jasper

It’s been four weeks now – nearly a month – since Jasper arrived in our world. In that time we’ve got to know each other pretty well. Or as well as you can know a tiny human who really just feeds and sleeps. He doesn’t even poo that much! That’s one thing that’s surprised me. I’m changing many more wet nappies than dirty ones. Anyway, here’s four things that I’ve taken away from this crazy month.

(I originally titled this post ‘Five Thoughts…’, but I got to four and realised I was actually out of thoughts. So take what you can get, I guess).

DSCF8786
Cuddles with both my boys

You can’t die from tiredness, right?

Seriously, I’m struggling to get through the day sometimes. And I don’t know if I’m being dramatic, or if this is totally normal and everyone goes through it, but all I know is that if I was dead I’d get some decent sleep at least. Ok that’s pretty dark, and I’m very much happy to be alive, but dear Lord I’m tired.

The plan was for Liv to do the nighttime feeds and let me sleep, seeing as I’m the one who has to go to work all day. But actually, Liv has to work, too. Taking care of a newborn is full on, and Liv’s working just as hard as I am. So that idea went out the window pretty quickly.

I’m doing one or two feeds a night with the bottle. I hate doing them and I can’t believe what a shitty husband I’ve become. Like, when we first brought him home I was all superdad, leaping out of bed at all hours to rescue my tired wife and take care of our hungry boy. Now it’s like, when he cries, I stay put for a while and Liv and I lie there wondering to ourselves who’ll do this one. I still do at least one a night, but it’s taking its toll. It’s taking its toll on Liv as well, though, so I shouldn’t complain too much. Jasper still wakes every two hours at least, but hopefully that passes soon.

Going out isn’t the ordeal I had imagined

We’re trying really hard to get out and about and live our lives. I totally understand why you’d just stay home – because it’s easier. Or maybe because you’re nervous. I don’t know. But from the time he was a week old we’ve been getting out of the house with him.

It’s not so bad. All we need is his pram, which is in the boot of the car anyway, and his changing bag, which is full of all sorts of goodies like clean nappies, changes of clothes and these little plastic bags to put the dirty nappies in which are really doggie bags but they’re an actual thing for babies now. Mum said, “when you were little we just put the nappies in the bin!” Well, yeah mum, but we have bags now, so…

Once he’s in the car seat, which actually is the worst part because he’s still all weird to move and stuff (kind of like a doll whose limbs just won’t quite do what you want them to), we’re off and he’s happy. Loves the car. Sleeps for ages. Even if he’s not sleeping he’s enjoying looking at stuff, so I hope he’s just a good car baby.

2017-08-05 11.58.59
Trying to settle him while we wait for our burgers. 

When we get to wherever we’re going, we just plonk him into the pram, strap him in and away we go. Haven’t had a screaming fit or anything yet. So far we’ve mainly taken him to a cafe, or mum and dads, or the supermarket. We spent the morning at Sylvia Park shopping mall the other day and he was a bit unsettled, but not unmanageable. I think it was probably a bit overstimulating for him.

Liv is getting great at feeding him wherever we are. She’s not very self conscious and seems to feel comfortable breastfeeding in public. I haven’t had to do a public nappy change yet but I’m sure that day is coming.

I’m slowly adjusting

Maybe it’s the exhaustion, but I’m not feeling that overwhelming feeling of love yet. I’m actually wondering if maybe I’m just not that kind of person. I’m certainly not overly emotional with other people, but I expected I would be with my son. He’s kind of annoying sometimes, to be honest. I think I’m still adjusting to a life where I can’t just do whatever I want whenever I want to. But I definitely am enjoying him more as time goes on and as he starts to respond to us more.

He’s far more interesting now than he was just two weeks ago. He’s alert and aware, always looking around when he’s awake, noticing things. I love laying him down on his playmat with a mobile above it and watching him stare at the objects with rapt attention. These changes are happening quickly and I’m loving watching his little brain develop.

DSCF8777
Reading a black and white book to J. He loves the contrasts. 

Booties: whyyyyyyy?

Honestly. Who invented these confounded devil shoes? Surely satan himself wouldn’t even inflict these on new parents. They’re hard to get on; they have annoying little laces that just don’t tie quite right; they fall off with the slightest bit of movement; they’re just generally impractical! And on that, why do they make shoes for newborns? Where are they walking to?!

Clothing I do love: Bonds Wondersuits. These things are incredible. Our next child will be exclusively clothed in Wondersuits until it’s one. They’re onesies with feet (ALWAYS get onesies with feet to avoid the booties problem. You can use socks, but they’re one small step away from booties, and harder to find when they do inevitably fall off). Wondersuits also have zips at the top and the bottom to make for easy nappy changing, especially at night. Onesies with domes or buttons are OK for outings, or when you want to show off your baby and his cute outfit, but not really for general purposes.


Listening to: Epoch by Tycho.

Watching: The West Wing (for the third time).

Reading: The Woman Who Stole My Life by Marian Keyes (I know, I know, but I always give Liv a hard time for all the chick lit she reads that I decided I should actually read one myself. It’s actually quite good, you know).

 

 

The First Month

What They Don’t Tell You About Feeding

Feeding a baby is hard. They don’t really tell you just how hard.

By ‘they’, I mean pretty much everyone who may have talked to us about having a baby. Our midwife, our childbirth educator at antenatal class, other people who’ve had babies. They know it’s hard, but they just didn’t relay that piece of information to us.

Actually, in our feeding session at antenatal class I’m pretty sure something was said about it being hard and you have to stick with it, but the point wasn’t laboured. Most of the focus was on teaching us to breastfeed. And now I can see why so much emphasis was placed on it.

Breastfeeding is hard work. I can’t believe how difficult this supposedly natural thing is, and how much of a mental toll it takes on mothers. Does anyone find it easy? Perhaps. But so many women seem to struggle with it at first. This is our little feeding story.


Breastmilk isn’t there at birth. Most people have a tiny bit of colostrum (a few teaspoons per feed), but that’s it for a while. The milk’s meant to take a few days to come in. Colostrum is like breastmilk, but not quite. A woman’s body starts making it a few months before birth, and it’s a high-powered dose of antibodies and other good stuff to protect the baby from infection.

When Jasper had his first feed, he latched to the breast OK and started sucking pretty well. I asked the midwife if he was getting anything, and she told me you just have to trust that he is.

I find that weird, because what if he’s not? If there’s no milk supply, you can’t just make it come with pure trust. That would be amazing! I wish life was like that. Like, do we have bacon in the fridge? If I trust that there is, there will be!

He sucked for about 30 minutes so we assumed he was getting something, but as the day went on he got crankier and crankier. The midwives actually tried to milk Liv’s boob (like, literally – they taught her to squeeze it just right so milk comes out), but even then she was only getting about 0.1ml of liquid. Not only did Liv not have any breast milk at first, she didn’t even have colostrum. This is when the midwives suggested we give him a little bit of formula. We agreed, and by evening Jasper was finally getting some food!

They wouldn’t let us use a bottle to do this – Liv had to wear a nipple shield (a plastic fake nipple that goes over the real one) so that Jasper would know he still had to work to get anything out, and therefore hopefully help to get more milk flowing. They put the formula into a syringe and use a small tube running into the shield to get the formula to him. He continued to get formula through the shield about 10 times a day. It took an hour each time and required a nurse or midwife to stand there the whole time. Then she had to go on the breastpump  45 minutes after each feed for 15 minutes to try to get the milk to come in. This, too, happened 10 times day. Talk about exhausting!

All of this meant Liv got no time to feed the baby alone. Also, every time Jasper cried, even a little bit, someone would come rushing in assuming he was hungry again. Later, when we got home, she resented that for the five days we were there, she missed out on that essential bonding time because there always had to be someone hovering over her to make sure he was being fed correctly. But they all had different ideas of how much food he should be getting and the right way to give it to him. This meant every eight hours when they changed shifts we were being completely different advice.

This raises a theme that I think occurs in all aspects of raising children, that so many people want to help and think they’re helping, but actually sometimes they’re hurting. There are always unintended consequences, I guess.

So anyway, by day three the milk still hadn’t arrived (worst milkman ever!). Jasper was getting more formula and was happy enough, but Liv was getting distressed and emotional. She felt like a failure for not being able to feed her baby. I constantly tried to reassure her that she wasn’t, but I don’t think anything could have stopped her feeling like that. Of course she felt like a failure. In an age where breastfeeding is treated as the only safe and reasonable option by the Ministry of Health, and many midwives, it’s no wonder women feel immense distress when they can’t do it. I was skeptical of the Breast is Best campaign before we had Jasper, but now I’m downright angry about it. I don’t know why this campaign is necessary, but from my point of view it only serves to emotionally harm women who only want to feed their children. And to make matters worse, at our maternity unit the walls were covered with huge collages about how amazing and natural breastfeeding is, with pictures of animals breastfeeding! Huh??

We were lucky that we had no hangups about formula, because what would we have done otherwise? I’ve heard horror stories from other birthing centres in Auckland where the midwives won’t give a baby formula until it’s lost at least 10 percent of its body weight. That could take a few days! It just seems unnecessarily mean to the baby, and the parents, when you have a safe and nutritious alternative.

Late on day three the midwife was visiting us at the birthing centre and was talking to us about feeding. She suggested that we’d need to consider the idea that the milk might not come at all, and we could consider medicine that might help lactation. I thought this was a little drastic, but I guess she was preparing us for the worst. Liv broke down in tears, desperate to feed Jasper. I felt so sorry for her, but tried to remain positive and told her the milk wouldn’t be far away.

And it wasn’t – the next day she got a few mls. And then a bit more. But she still wasn’t allowed to put J on her breast – she had to keep expressing and giving it to him via the syringe so they’d know how much he was getting. This got annoying, so one night, when J was particularly upset, Liv just put him on her boob and let him go for it. He loved it! And it totally settled him. We just had to do what we wanted to do in the end, and ignore what we were being forced to do.

When we got home, Liv was feeding Jasper on the breast for a while, then every feed he was topped up with a bit of formula – about 50ml. Liv was then expressing on the breastpump between feeds to boost her supply. We’d then top J up with the expressed milk too, and then the formula if he needed it.

But as the days have gone on, and Liv’s milk supply increased even more, Jasper was mostly on the breast. Now, he has some formula at night, mainly to give Liv a bit more of a rest (he’s a hungry fella who feeds for 40 minutes each side!). She’s still expressing a bit, but he’s mostly on the breast.

The point is, that first week is so hard in terms of feeding. The midwives at the birthing unit kept telling us it gets better after a couple of weeks, and they’re right. Now, just over three weeks in, we’ve got it down. Liv and Jasper have their routine, and I help out with a bottle feed or two every now and then. For Liv it was worth persisting with the breastfeeding because that’s what she wanted to do. It was a nightmare at first but things did all  fall in to place.

I know this isn’t the case for everyone – some people actually just can’t do it. And some don’t want to, and that’s totally valid. All I know is that Liv seems to get some joy out of the bonding she gets with J when they’re feeding. Of course there are so many ways to bond, but I guess this is their little thing that they share.

2017-07-10 17.51.02
Doing a bottle feed while Rocko supervises