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Friday, 26 April 2013

24 hours - the newborn phase

I realise this is likely to be of zero interest to others, but I want to record what a typical day is like as we navigate looking after a newborn. I'm sure those with more experience or different philosophies on feeding and sleeping would do some things differently - with the hindsight (and experience and confidence) provided by just a couple of days I would change my approach on some things too!

Tuesday 23 April, 2013

12am - enjoying sweet slumber while the little man has his biggest sleep of the day (3-4 hours).

1.29am - Hugo wakes with a screech after going to bed at 10.30 (45 minutes previous to this was spent asleep in our arms while I waited for husband to get home/had a shower). I lift him out of his Moses basket and into bed with me for a feed. He latches on immediately and begins guzzling.

1.47am - falls asleep on the breast, I put him back in his basket and make a quick dash to the toilet. I can hear him stirring from there. He won't settle so I pick him up again.

1.51 am - decide to change him to rule out uncomfortable wet nappy. In the lounge room now so offer another feed and he takes it. 

2.10am - put him back in his basket, I hop into bed and begin to settle him to sleep with gentle patting and shushing sounds. 

2.30am - around this time we both fall asleep.

4.32am - Hugo wakes and feeds for ten minutes. 

4.45am - he resists sleep again but we eventually get there.

5.40am - Hugo wakes grizzling, obviously uncomfortable from wind. Lots of farting. He has another small feed but is too uncomfortable to sleep it seems. 

5.55am - try in vain to burp him to relieve the discomfort, walk around the house doing the 'colic carry'. 

6.10am - Marcus is awake now and cuddles me while I comfort the little man. We decide to change his nappy and see if that helps. 

6.20am - Hugo is wide awake now but we still try and put him down. No luck so he comes into bed with us.

6.30am - lots of back rubbing and tummy patting - he's happy enough and he has lots of chats with Daddy. 

7.00am - Husband gets up while I lay in bed and feed Hugo.

7.15am - he's asleep! I move him up the bed away from the pillows and covers and attempt sleep myself. 

7.50am - I wake up to noise in the kitchen and dog paws clicking around on the floorboards. Contemplate making my breakfast but decide against it as I don't want to leave Hugo in our bed alone, plus he could wake up at any minute.

8.00 am - instead do five minutes of tidying and get half dressed, then hop back into bed and enjoy staring at how peaceful our little boy looks.

8.15 - 8.45 - decide to doze for a while but don't really sleep.

8.45 am - grab my iPhone and do some mindless internet browsing. 

9.12 am - Hugo wakes up - should have had breakfast, now starving! Move him closer to me for a feed. 

9.22am - he's done so we get up and change his nappy and I pop him in the bouncer while I race against the clock to make my breakfast ( fried eggs on grainy sourdough and pomegranate & cranberry juice). 

9.45 am - he's still happy enough in the bouncer so I move him to the bathroom so I can wash my face, put contacts in and slap on some makeup. I get halfway there before he becomes unsettled - good run though little man! 

9.55am - we grab a book and I start reading but he has other ideas - time for another feed.

10.35 am - Hugo briefly falls asleep in my arms after a longer feeding session due to wind - pulling off the breast and writhing around crying. Not fun for either of us! Zip him in a swaddle in his basket and hope for the best

11.00am - Hugo wakes up and I carry him around with me for five mins while I finish a couple of chores and the last of the apple I cut up for a snack. I'm now dressed, teeth brushed and ready to face the day. 

11.15am - while walking around with Hugo talking to him about his doggy friend he does a little spew. Time for a change of clothes and a new nappy while I'm at it. 

11.25 am - Hugo is unsettled so I offer a feed: he latches on with gusto! No wonder he's growing out of his clothes before he's even had a chance to wear half of them. 

11.35am - he done, so we saddle up and take the dog for a walk in the sunshine. 

12.25 pm - home from our walk, I put a very sleepy Hugo into his bouncer and make myself lunch (leftover poached chicken and spring onion mix in a sandwich with avo, cherry tomatoes and Camembert cheese). Sit down and read some of the weekend magazines - spot a recipe for some savoury muffins and add ingredients to shopping list to make tomorrow.

12.46 pm - he wants out of the bouncer now - kindly waited until I'd finished lunch and wiped the bench. Not enough time to put out the washing though, that will have to wait for later. Must say this bouncer is a revelation! 

12.55 pm - after a bit of playtime and chatting he gets restless and looks for food. Another feed!! 

1.10 pm - attempt for the third time to read story - he's not having a bar of it. Might need to start with some shorter books! Hear some movement so it's nappy change time.

1.20 pm - leave Hugo on change table while I put clothes on the clothes airer. Figure I've got a max one week before he's in danger of rolling off so can't do this for much longer! 

1.30 pm - head out to do some grocery shopping. I put Hugo in the Ergo carrier and he was bobbing his head around for a while taking it all him, then his head thumped on my chest for the last time as he fell asleep. At the cashier a lovely older lady could see it was a bit of a juggle so she emptied my trolley onto the conveyor belt and then put it all back in again once I'd paid - such a nice thing to do! 

2.15 pm - Arrive home and he's hungry again! No wonder I feel like I'm glued to the couch. Still, it feels wonderful to be able to easily give him all the nutrition he needs and enjoy all the cuddles and closeness that goes with it.

2.30pm - he looks tired and is falling asleep so I attempt to put him down for a nap. After zipping him in his swaddle he's wide awake, wriggling around and doing his 'poo face'. I persist and pat him to sleep until 2.40pm then stop to put away the shopping.

2.55 pm - prepare to do the dishes but a few strong cries call me into the living room. After a bit of a cuddle I put Hugo in the bouncer in the kitchen while I do the dishes. He then gets unsettled so I change his nappy.

3.25 pm - move the bouncer to the living room in the hope I might get some thank you cards written - no such luck, but hey at least the dishes are done! 

3.30 pm - after he won't settle I offer a feed which he takes. I'm not sure if I should be trying to stretch out his feeds at this point? Something to mention to the health nurse tomorrow.

3.50 pm - Hugo comes off the breast, milk drunk. He obviously was hungry! 

4.00 pm - nap time. I top and tail some green beans to go with dinner, bring the bins in, eat a plum and sit down to get started on the thank you cards. I get half way through one.

4.30 pm - Hugo wakes up and wants a feed.

4.55 pm - asleep again so I put him in his basket. Not happy with that though. He feeds some more - I'm actually pretty happy he ramps up his appetite at this time of day as hopefully it sets him up for a better night's sleep...

5.25 pm - finishes feeding and falls asleep in my arms. 

5.40 pm - after getting off the phone to mum I put Hugo down in his basket for a nap.

6.20 pm - Marcus arrives home from work early! Hugo still asleep so I'm getting through the thank you cards. 

7.00 pm - We eat dinner - Eggplant and lentil lasagne with a side of green beans. Meal from the freezer since I haven't quite worked out how to fit cooking into my day yet!

8.00 pm - he's finally awake after nearly two and a half hours asleep! Marcus changes his nappy and clothes. 

8.20 pm - begin what should be a decent feed.

9.00 pm - stop feeding as he's getting a bit restless. Time for some cuddles with daddy while I have a shower and get ready for bed. 

9.45 pm - we change his nappy and I give another feed.

10.15 pm - he falls asleep.

10.30 pm - bed time for me! 

Phew. All in all, a pretty good day! I'm actually getting more done that I thought I would at this point, coping with the broken sleep better than I expected and really enjoying watching Hugo grow every day and awaken to the world around him.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Dear Hugo: One month old

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

The isolation of new motherhood


I spent the later weeks of my pregnancy not concerned about getting through the pain of childbirth (ha! Little did I know...) but with how I would get through the first weeks with a newborn and cope with the fundamental shift in my sense of identity I felt motherhood would bring.

Becoming a mother had been my number one goal for the past couple of years, particularly after the loss of our first pregnancy, yet I still felt a real sense of vulnerability in leaving full-time work and giving up my independence to look after a little person 24/7. And it's not relying on my husband financially which worried me, but the shifting roles and whether he could he give me the emotional support I knew I would need.

This had a lot to do with the insane work hours Marcus was keeping. He often wouldn't be home before 9.30pm which meant I was doing all the cooking, most of the cleaning and general running of the household when these had always been shared responsibilities. I had visions of this being my life from now on, plus juggling a baby, while doing so with very little contact with other adults. The 'hands on' dad I had always envisioned him to be was suddenly less certain.

It turns out that while still working less than savory hours, I needn't have worried about the 'hands on' dad part. He bathes Hugo most nights, cuddles him, sings him songs and chats to him. He also rolls over during the night to comfort me when i'm trying to settle Hugo, which makes such a difference to my sanity in the wee hours! It also goes a long way to reassuring me that we're navigating parenthood together.

I still struggle with how little I get done each day and how even eating needs to be timed with almost military precision if I want to prepare myself something remotely healthy and eat it before it goes cold or rancid. It's easy to feel pretty shit when there's dishes piled high and you're still in your pyjamas at midday. I know people say 'don't worry about housework' and 'sleep when the baby sleeps' but I feel happier and more fulfilled I my day if I've been able to maintain a level of tidiness and tick a few jobs off my list of things to do.

In this last week I feel like I've really turned a corner - there's more enjoyment and happiness in my days than there is sheer exhaustion and bewilderment. I'm more confident with Hugo and in meeting his needs, and I've found ways to get little snatches of time to myself which makes me feel more 'me' - putting on makeup, getting dressed, flipping through the weekend papers and planning little projects. I know I'll be a much better mum to Hugo if I look after myself and my needs too.

Photo taken by me the day before Hugo was born


Thursday, 18 April 2013


Our beautiful little boy, Hugo Charlie, was welcomed into the world on Thursday, 21 March. From the moment he was placed on my chest, crimson-faced, pudgy and squealing, we were smitten.

Now four weeks old, he is growing and changing so quickly before our eyes, I feel an overwhelming urge to record this time before the details are lost in the haze of these early days of endless feeds, nappy changes and (sometimes) sleep. I want to remember how I feel glued to the couch after cluster feeding for four hours straight, how I felt like I'd been hit by a truck in the days following the birth, and the gentle kisses I place on Hugo's head as he nestles on my chest like a little koala...

The days are long but the years are short.