Saturday, 29 January 2011


I could swear the baby smiled at me today, and my mother-in-law thought so too.  We were in the kitchen and she was holding him, and I said something to him: he turned his head to look at me and his mouth definitely went up at the corners.  I feel all warm and gooey inside just thinking about it: he's got so a lovely smile (or what looks like a smile, just in case it's not....).  He is such a beautiful baby and I adore him.

What lovely comments some of you have posted: I do feel in many so ways bad about the breastfeeding thing but at the same time glad I made it to 4 weeks.  Thank you for your support. 

My parents are coming up next weekend for a week: initially the idea had been to help me with the school run while I was still not driving.  My mother got bronchitis and flu though so it then looked as if they might not be coming: I even had an email from my father to that effect.  However we've now had a phone message from my mother saying she will be well enough to come up so long as she doesn't have to wash any floors!  I cannot believe that she will be well enough/feel energetic enough, post-virally, to be up to coping with Older Son and Daughter and the school run: I'm dubious about how well I will cope, and I'm fit and healthy. 

I always feel whenever my parents come up we end up doing a lot for them: my mother always offers to help but also follows me around talking incessantly and I'm afraid doesn't do the things which she knows needs doing without being told: and in any case I feel bad asking her to do things.  She also spends a lot of time waiting on my Dad, which annoys me.  This time I am just not going to be able to wait on them (unless I let her hold the baby all the time, which of course is one of the downsides of bottle-feeding: I had originally hoped to breastfeed for the first 6 weeks in order to be tied up with the baby so that other people couldn't hold him while I went off and did housework.....).

I know they will badly want to meet their new grandson though and I'm so proud of him that I want to show him off.  And if my beautiful baby boy smiles at me a few more times over the next few days I won't mind about anything....

Friday, 28 January 2011


Where on earth have the last four weeks gone since the baby's birth?  Even the last week and a half since I last wrote in this blog seem to have disappeared somehow.

My apologies to any readers who find breast-feeding an embarrasing subject: I suggest you skip nearly all of this post.

I've been spending my time, it feels, either breast-feeding or with a sleeping baby: I have done little else (some washing up; sterilising bottles; washing laundry; been out and about to see people but generally while the baby sleeps).  The breast-feeding has not got any quicker nor is the baby any more settled after feeding, and I really am not producing that much more milk: which completely puts paid to the adage that the more you feed, the more milk you produce.  I've tried expressing a couple of times and didn't even get enough to cover the bottom of a bottle, despite the fact that at night a couple of times I have leaked a bit.

So I've been coming round more and more to thinking that I should maybe just call it a day and resort to bottle feeding, particularly with the prospect looming of having to do the school run.  I cannot feed the baby for 2 hours whilst also trying to get Older Son and Daughter dressed, breakfasted and to school.  In addition it helps nobody if the baby and I have been up half the night or more. 

I met Brampton Friend N. for a coffee at Off the Wall today.  As I was walking down I thought I'd ask her whether she had breast fed her daughter.  Imagine my relief when she told me she had had a similar experience to my current one, and what an enormous weight had been lifted from her shoulders when the Dr. told her, at her 6 week check-up, that she was allowed to give the baby a bottle.  I also remember Ante-Natal Friend S. giving her daughter a bottle in the evening at about 6 weeks: and feeling, as we all do who 'fail' to breastfeed, hideously guilty. 

Having finally made the decision I too felt as if a weight had been lifted from me.  I have conflicting feelings about it: this time was more of a success than the other two times but I've still failed; I said I'd like to breastfeed for 3-4 months but given up at 4 weeks: should I keep going?; am I giving up because it suits me and fits in rather than because I really need to?; should I try harder? 

I really don't think I can try harder though.  There are various 'breastfeeding rules' which I have come across time and time again and I've adhered to them all and it hasn't got any easier:
- I've fed the baby on demand and as long as he wants to, until he 'unlatches' of his own accord;
- I haven't given him a dummy;
- I haven't given him water;
- I've been drinking lots, especially water, myself, and have not been dieting;
- I've been ensuring he's well latched on.

I really don't think a bottle once in a while has made any difference: the key thing as far as I'm concerned is that I've been feeding for 2 hours or sometimes longer at a time and he's still been hungry: hungry enough sometimes to guzzle down a 4 oz bottle.  In addition, of course, because he's got used to feeding for ages at a time, he's now not sure what to do with himself when he's awake if he's not feeding (at only 4 weeks old I'm sure that will change).

If this sounds defensive, perhaps it is a little: I do think breastfeeding is generally best for babies and in many ways it's very easy - if you're producing plenty of milk.  I feel I have failed all of my children to an extent in not being able exclusively to breastfeed for 4 months.  On the other hand the two older children are healthy, the baby has probably had more milk from me than either of them did, and I'm not sure I really buy in to all the statistics bandied around about bottle feeding making them more susceptible to asthma, eczema and allergies generally.  The statistics and research about bottle vs. breast may be as reliable - i.e. as general - as those about older mothers.  And I'm sure that formula milk nowadays is developed to be as good as it possibly can be.

I can't deny that there are all sorts of things which will be easier if I don't breastfeed.  I shall be able to go out more easily: I shall be able to sing and to run again without feeling that at any moment the baby will need feeding by me.  I think he will probably get into a routine more easily (although Daughter never did....) and will settle more easily at night.  I shan't feel so tied: though at the same time I will also not feel that sense of pride, which I have had once or twice over the last few weeks, when he takes enough milk from me to be settled (having said that, he tends only then to sleep for an hour and a half or so before waking again).  I shall also not feel as if I have to disappear to a separate room when I have male guests round: I know it's meant to be perfectly acceptable to breastfeed completely openly, but I'm not relaxed about it and I don't like getting my boobs out in front of all and sundry.  And I shall be able to have a glass or two of wine without feeling guilty.

I get pregnant easily and I produce healthy babies, but I don't appear to be able to give birth naturally and I don't seem to be very good at breastfeeding: but I promised Husband I wasn't going to beat myself up about it if it didn't work this time.  It's difficult not to, especially as it was showing signs of working better (and has worked better) than on the previous two occasions: but as Bristol Friend S. said when I worried about not breast-feeding Daughter, at least I grow healthy babies.  And how can I really feel disappointed when at nearly 50 I have got pregnant quickly, accidentally, and produced the most beautiful, healthy baby son, who only gets really upset - and angry - when he's hungry?

While writing I just want to mention one of my Grade 7 songs: I haven't tried them all out on the baby yet but Bellini's Vaga Luna definitely calms him down, unless he's gone past the stage of no return in terms of demanding food.  He particularly likes it when I put the CD accompaniment on to sing it to.  He heard that so many times in late pregnancy when I was trying to learn the words: but also it's quite a soothing song.  Having struggled with it at times for the exam, I'm now quite looking forward to singing it at Carlisle Festival in March.  Talking of which, I must arrange for Bass W. and the accompanist to get together with me so we can rehearse the duet we're doing.  I think Bass W. has just the right voice for it: La Ci Darem La Mano from Don Giovanni.

We also had a lovely walk - twice around Talkin Tarn - with ex-work Friend L. earlier this week, and her dog Ruby.  It's really nice getting to know L. outside work but it was also good to feel that I'd had some exercise: and dog Ruby is lovely.

The other big news this week is that Pregnant Friend C. today gave birth to a baby girl: I thought - and hoped - she would have a girl and as we're going into Carlisle tomorrow anyway can't wait to buy some girly pink things: perhaps a dress and tights (I remember being delighted when Daughter, even as a tiny baby, was given some beautiful dresses: and we did dress her in them too).  I am so excited for her: and will now have to think up something else to call her other than 'Pregnant Friend' C.!

But meanwhile there is laundry to hang up and there are bottles to wash and sterilise before I go to bed............ off I go!  Let's hope that tonight, with bottles only, Baby Son sleeps for longer between feeds and feeds for less time than he has been doing: I shall report back anon.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011


Having spent a morning in Carlisle with no major disasters we decided we were brave enough to go further afield, and headed over to Newcastle.

Going to Newcastle for us rarely involves seeing much of Newcastle: I know exactly how to get to either of two car parks in particular and head straight from there into John Lewis, purchase what I want, and then return to the car and home: if necessary stopping off at Waitrose in Hexham. 

Yesterday was no exception to this rule.  While husband did in fact head out into the cold north-east air and Reed Accountancy (he is determined to get a new job which pays him a salary commensurate with his experience and the type of work he carries out), I made a beeline for JL's nursery department, toy department, baby change and cafe.  It was all very relaxing as Baby Son slept throughout and I came away with a steriliser and a front sling/baby carrier.  I looked a little desirously at some of the women's clothes as I went past, but there was no point in stopping for a proper look while I still have weight to lose and no spare money.

Thank goodness for Maternity Allowance however.  Despite having vouchers as gifts for christmas and for the baby's birth, there have been various other things we have needed as well.  I was hoping to use Nature Baby nappies which are largely made from cornstarch and therefore more biodegradable than the better known makes.  However the Baby is so tiny still and they're so papery that he kept leaking, and the middle of the night (or early hours of the morning) is not a good time to try to change the clothes of a wriggly newborn who is hungry and who thinks even having a nappy change is too objectionably cold.  I decided we'd try Huggies, which I remembered working well for Daughter, who was also teeny tiny: they've gone all environmentally-friendly-looking with light brown packaging and off-white nappies which apparently contain organic cotton.  I'm sure they're no more biodegradable than before, but they feel softer, are presumably not so bleached, and more to the point, we have far fewer leaks.

I even managed discreetly to breastfeed in the John Lewis cafe, but gave him a bottle top-up when it became clear that I was going to have to sit there for several hours to have any chance of him getting settled.  Even at home I'm tending to give a bottle top-up if he has fed for, say, 2 hours and is still hungry.  At least he will take both at the moment and it will be easy to get him on to a bottle when I want to, or need to: I know breastfeeding proponents will be horrified, but it works for me.  I do wonder whether someone should do some research to find out what percentage of older mothers has trouble breastfeeding: plenty of other risks and health matters are highlighted as being worse when you're older, but nobody said anything about breastfeeding until the Community Midwife mentioned that in her experience older mothers find it a little more difficult, by and large.

The baby is of course too young to smile but I'm sure he's been smiling from time to time since I first met him, and today I could swear that he looked straight at me and smiled: Lesley who came to visit us thought he was smiling as well.  He will of course be a prodigy in some way, just as my other two children are.... I just wish I could get them to be prodigious in their tidying up, or better still, keeping things tidy.

Tomorrow is weigh-in day: in addition our broken dishwasher is being fetched by a charity which is going to recycle it and my brother-in-law is giving us his old dishwasher.  It will be great to have a dishwasher again: there are three outstanding jobs today - the washing up; hanging the washing up to dry; and doing the ironing. Tomorrow I should also receive confirmation from Woman that they are publishing on 1st March: but am rapidly beginning to understand that things move very slowly in the magazine world and that they are very poor at contacting people!

And on Friday my Grandmother turns 99.  I wish I could be there to celebrate with her and to introduce her to her latest great-grandchild, but it's just too much to contemplate at the moment.  The hour journey to Newcastle was all right but six hours or so to South Somerset would be too much.  I'm optimistic she'll keep going to 100 at least, so there is still time for her to meet the baby.  I too have aspirations to live to 100: which would mean that I'm only just coming up to halfway!

Monday, 17 January 2011


It's lovely to get feedback from my blog: I love reading your comments 'Dear Readers', whether they're posted here or sent to me separately via text or email.  Keep them coming!

The baby has turned from a somewhat intermittent feeder (apart from the two and a half hours early one morning) to a guzzle guts, and I am optimistic that when he gets weighed again this coming Thursday he will have gained yet more weight.  It would be fantastic if he was back to his birth weight, but that's perhaps a bit too much to hope: I'm certainly hoping he's 7lb something though rather than 6lb something.  His stomach looks fatter anyway, although his little legs are still very slim.

I had lost over a stone in weight with no effort: the last few days I seem to have put a few pounds back on.  This could be due to excessive chocolate consumption or is perhaps milk weight?  What is quite amazing for me is that I am still producing the stuff after an hour or so of feeding: with no. 1 Son trying to express might result in one drop.  Having said that I'm still not a high-yielding dairy cow but I think I'm doing OK.

The promised press coverage has not yet materialised and I've heard today it will be 1st March.  I'm rather tempted to bin 'Woman' magazine (if that's possible when I have a contract with them) and take my chances elsewhere.  I keep remembering that what I wanted was a healthy baby: though I'm also aware that I currently have no money to pay for my piano lid repair and that the car insurance comes up next month.

However I shall have to stop: apparently young guzzle guts is going mad for more milk.  This is the trouble with having an angel baby who slept all morning while we were out: he has been feeding more or less solidly since we got home early this afternoon.  So apologies for the brief post and I shall endeavour to write again soon.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011


I have been so absorbed by the baby that I completely omitted to mention that Harry the ferret sadly passed away last week sometime: an old life for a new perhaps.  He had some sort of fungal infection in his tail which wasn't responding to treatment and in fact the vets confirmed that the infection had spread.  Husband took him to the vets where Harry was given a sedative to make him sleepy, and then a dose of something which stopped his heart beating.  Apparently it was very peaceful: Husband came back saying he'd like to go that way if he could!


We knew Older Son would be upset: what I hadn't anticipated, nor, I think, had Husband, was how upset Daughter would be.  Husband told her while she was having her tea and the next thing I knew a bowlful of food had been left on the table and she was running to me in floods of tears.  It must have been big news at school as well as Mrs. Anaesthetist came to see me and to meet the baby yesterday, and told me that her daughter had also come home with the news.  Daughter made a 'ferret book' at school which had pictures depicting various events in Harry's life, including a final one of his spirit going up to ferret heaven.

Meanwhile I perservere with the breastfeeding with Baby Son, which seemed to be going all right: despite one night when I fed for either 2 and a half or 3 and a half hours on the trot.  Baby eventually fell asleep at 5.30a.m., only to wake again at 6.15a.m. - at which point I burst into tears and asked Husband to get a bottle.  I have come to the conclusion that hugely long feeds like that are counter-productive: the baby gets frazzled and tired and so do I, and he's then using up more calories feeding than growing.  I think the phrase 'the more you feed the more milk you produce' needs to be qualified as I think there's a law of diminishing returns after a certain point.  I felt an abject failure the next morning until whilst doing the washing-up I thought 'well, cows yield different amounts of milk: there are some cows which are never high yielders'.

My optimism returned slowly.  Firstly Mrs. Anaesthetist came to see me and the Baby and we were talking about all the things you feel a failure about as a mother: she didn't manage to breastfeed but has two gorgeous, healthy, bright children: as are Alex and Bella.  So why do we beat ourselves up?  When the midwife came to weigh Baby Son again and he had lost yet more weight, I felt disappointed and ready to switch to formula completely: as luck would have it however he decided to have a sleepy phase and started feeding better: a good 20 minutes at a time and then back to sleep at night, and refusing to take much, if any, formula.  In fact I'm now feeling somewhat better about the breastfeeding and shall continue for the time being. 

I worried about the baby last night however as he wee'd on his own face while we were changing his nappy yesterday (yes, even with child no.3 it's easier for two adults to change him than one).  Some went in his left eye and he now has conjunctivitis in that eye.  It would be funny and it's quite an achievement (I don't remember Older Son ever wee'ing quite so high) weren't it for the fact that his eye is swollen and sore and gunged up and I think it's also making him a bit snuffly: I woke him twice in the night to feed him as I was worried that he was sleeping too long and that he'd lose even more weight.  I love that little mite so much and so badly want him to be healthy and to thrive.  I can't believe how blessed we are to have a third beautiful baby, and one with whom I have fallen in love so much so quickly.

Being awake for only 20 minutes twice in the night has made me feel a lot less tired, and I'm not going to be too proud to give him a bottle if he tries the being-awake-for-several-hours trick again.  It's not worth it for either of us: and I don't need to prove that I can produce milk because I can see it.  Not floods of the stuff, but I hope enough for the baby.

My stomach is flattening rapidly and there's something rather pleasing about losing a stone in weight in the space of about 10 days without even trying.  Only another stone and a half or so to lose!  If it comes off as easily and as naturally I shall be extremely pleased.  I'm looking forward to the time when I can be more active as well - we had our first walk around Talkin Tarn at the weekend and it was great to be out in the fresh air.  We'd had snow in the night and had that beautiful combination of snow and sun: that golden late afternoon winter sunlight. 

The exercise and fresh air did the older children good: as is our policy of no treats and little TV during the week.  They are now eating vegetables sensibly at tea time and generally behaving better at the table, and also, we think, going to bed more readily.  We have decided that Friday night can be treat night, where if they eat their main course they can have chocolate; Saturday will be hot chocolate and cake day (either going out or making it at home); and Sunday is roast followed by pudding day.  I think Husband and I also feel healthier for not having snacky carbohydratey food at tea time as well.  Now we just need the grandparents to enforce the new regime as well.....

I'm slowly catching up on my 'admin.': my bank statement took several days to reconcile as I stopped halfway through; I've started some christmas/baby's birth thank you letters; and now am temporarily up to date on my blog.  I may even be able to start doing some singing practice before long - which reminds me that I need to send off my entry to Carlisle Festival.  But I think I shall go to bed first.

Friday, 7 January 2011


This will probably be a short post as I'm having to do one-handed typing (holding the baby in the other arm) and my bum's going to sleep - also he might wake up for a feed sometime soon though he did feed for about an hour and a half, on and off, earlier and has been quite sleepy today.  We had a brilliant night - he fed at 11p.m. then didn't wake until 2.45 (for about an hour) and then not again until 7.30 a.m.: far better than the night before when he woke about every hour and a half, but partly as his stupid mother forgot to check - and change - his nappy.  Poor boy.

The Big Children went back to school yesterday: rather a relief as they were going a bit stir crazy, but they both enjoy school anyway and were happy to be seeing their friends again.  One of the other Mums, a friend of mine, in Older Son's class is pregnant - age 43 - and her husband is 73.  As a result they're now getting some media coverage and Older Son came home from school with the question 'is it more important to have a new baby brother or to be on TV?'.  Anyone who has been reading this blog for some time knows my views: the media attention is great, but will only be short-lived, and given the choice between a healthy baby and TV, there is no choice.

However I have to admit to excitement today when the journalist writing me up for Woman asked whether she needed to stir them into action, and also to having interest from a French women's magazine - based on the slender link that I worked in France for about 6 months in 1994!  So we may be going international.... I've also had a 'no thanks but can we keep your details' email from a magazine to whom I submitted a draft article, so positive vibes on the writing front again.

Meanwhile judging from the noises and faint wafts coming from Baby Son's bottom, I think I have something more earthy to deal with.  Adieu for now!

Wednesday, 5 January 2011


...and has now been here for 5 days.  He is absolutely gorgeous (though he doesn't look too great at the moment as his chin is red and sore - I think it's one sign of proof of how successfully breastfeeding is working though).

We went into hospital at about 7.15a.m. and one of the first people I saw was one of the Brampton Community Midwives, who was just finishing a night shift: it was nice to see a friendly face.  A midwife had been assigned to me to be with me in theatre and then to look after me the following day, so I met her next: I had a book of Arthurian legends with me and she said she enjoyed the Arthurian tales, so that was a good start there as well.  The anaethetist also came in - one of the Dads from school - so that was another friendly face.

I felt a little nervous about the operation in the end: not surprisingly I guess.  I think my main fear was that the anaesthetic wouldn't work completely for some reason.  The most painful bit in fact was having the canula stuck in my hand: it felt like quite a large metal object for a small vein, and wasn't too comfortable when it passed over my wrist joint.  I could then feel my toes tinging and wriggle them a bit but felt nothing from the top of my abdomen to my feet, so it was all systems go.

The baby came out really quickly (unlike with Daughter, whom I remember there being a bit of tussling over and in fact the hospital staff told me they even had to use one forcep - I felt bruised around my section scar for days afterwards) and immediately started making duck impressions.... various comments were bandied around about there being no problems with his lungs!  In fact he continued to object fairly wildly to birth and not having any clothes on for some time afterwards.

I hadn't asked for the baby to be cleaned this time before being given to me, so he was covered in the white-ish grey-ish stuff which babies are born with, and his head had some blood on: but it was amazing how quickly the stuff was absorbed by his skin, almost like a moisturiser.  After a while the midwife and Husband took him out of theatre and went to weigh him and put some clothes on him while I was sewn up: I was then wheeled back across the corridor to 'my' room and re-introduced to Baby Son, who now was semi-dressed (Husband had found it too traumatic trying to get his second arm into the babygrow).  There's a photo of Husband, Baby Son and me but it's not a good one: I look as if I have double chins.  Later on a different midwife came in and washed his hair: of which he has plenty.  He's almost halfway between the other two: Daughter had more and darker hair; Older Son had brown hair and slightly less than either of the younger two.  Like Daughter his eyes are a really dark blue which looks as if it will go very dark brown: Older Son has the most beautiful chestnut brown eyes, which were showing signs of the colour they would be from birth (maybe because he was 2 weeks late).

The hospital was lovely: it felt quite relaxed compared to Bristol, which seemed more like a baby-producing factory and where the wards were hot and noisy and my overall impression and memory are of the colour grey: Carlisle is a dusky pink and a light wood colour, and not one of the midwives ever made me feel stressed or stupid or a failure.

Breastfeeding has been working well this time: he's had some minor top-ups of formula at times when he's got frustrated at not getting anything from me, but I'm hoping that in a day or so that will no longer be necessary as I seem to be producing more milk: not enough to leak everywhere but enough that Baby Son considers he can be wasteful and sick some of it up sometimes.  My stomach still feels fat and quite firm, but Husband insists that it's not going down any more slowly than the previous two times.  I wonder if my singing has given me fairly strong stomach muscles. 

I think the midwives forgot to give me any painkillers the day after the birth, as at about 4a.m. the first night I felt a bit sore: but also well enough to get up to go to the toilet and to ask to have the catheter taken out.  The next day I asked whether I was meant to have more pain relief and was given paracetamol and diclofenac: I'm not in agony but sometimes have a little bit of discomfort, and the anti-inflammatory I guess may help the wound heal.  Today I've taken fewer drugs though as I haven't felt the need: I was also given a drug to stop blood clots and when I queried why I needed it when I have mild thrombocytopaenia, was told I still did.  I hated administering it as it means jabbing myself in the stomach and today decided to read the leaflet - which says don't take it if you have thrombocytopaenia or if you're breast-feeding.  So I've binned the last two doses - especially as I think I'm being fairly active.  I've just got my fingers crossed now that I don't develop blood clots, and I do feel a bit like a naughty school girl....

Baby Son is gorgeous and as settled as you can expect a newborn to be.  His first few days he had a few 6-hour sleeps: they seem to have gone out of the window now as he feeds more regularly (generally about every 3 hours, but sometimes more often) but he's so far given us about 4+ hours peace at a time at night.  Today he seemed to spend more time awake and looking at things around him: it's lovely to see his eyes open and that funny newborn look on his face: I particularly find it appealing when they make that 'o' with their mouths.  He's really good at holding his head up already as well and will sometimes lift it up to have a look around, if he's on your shoulder: we had our first trip out today, to Houghton Garden Centre, and Husband was walking around with him while I had my cup of coffee in peace, and reported back that Baby Son was very interested in everything.

Husband and I are definitely having a case of having fallen in love with him completely.  Whilst it is of course tiring and our tempers have not been perfectly even (the other two seem so big and bouncy and at times irritating, though they're just being normal 5 and 6 year olds), we do seem so far to have been blessed with a contented baby and we only feel tired, not stressed.  It has made us feel sad about the first two times, as it should have been like this, especially with Older Son.  But maybe a first child is never stress-free. 

We feel very, very lucky - and as it happens Baby Son has just woken up for a feed, so I must stop for now.  Au revoir!