I haven’t blogged for a while as I fell out with the website. I spent 3 days putting together this entry in little snatches of time and for some reason it didn’t save and I lost the whole thing. Dark days! So here’s a re-hash of the original, hope it’s as good. For the sake of my sanity can at least one person please write a comment, anything at all even if unrelated, just to make it worth doing!!! Thanks!
Routine: for a word that by definition means ‘orderly’ it’s amazing how the meer mention of the word can send shivers down the spine of a new mum. It has to be the most over used word in relation to having a baby – you think about it, you read about it, people ask you about it and yet when you spend 24/7 with a new born it seems about as achievable as getting a full nights sleep! It’s only over the last few days I’ve started to really observe and take note of what we do and at what times. Phoenix evening performances had started to spiral a bit out of control and I wanted to nip it in the bud before it became habit and so a new evening routine has been introduced. And, it’s been so far so good, although I’m almost scared to write about it in fear of jinxing it!!
There are loads of routines out there by various weird and wonderful baby experts, but I reckon you have to find your own groove as every baby and mum is unqiue and no one knows your baby like you do. Which brings me on to talk about – dare I mention her name? Well, nothing like a bit of controversy on a bank holiday weekend: Gina Ford. The woman who’s divided mums across the nation. Love her or hate her, I was gifted her Contented Baby book when Phoenix was born and have mixed feelings about her whole approach. On the one hand it’s been a good point of reference and I’ve picked out some good tips particularly around bedtime. However, I would hasten to add that the woman was clearly some kind of evil war general in another life and scares the hell out of me. Also she has no children of her own which I’m not sure makes her fully qualified, as having your own baby is completely different, what with all the emotions and hormones flying around. The first time I opened her book, it was after a long and difficult evening and reading it totally freaked me out. I felt like I’d been doing everything wrong and her tone at times is really patronising, for example she writes things like ‘none of the babies I’ve cared for ever have colic because they follow my routine’ – who is this woman?
I’ve never really been one for following complex rules so I’m kind of doing a mix up of bits I’ve read and some serious freestyling. And so far (touch wood, fingers crossed, spin on the spot, jump up and down) it kind of seems to be working…well, most of the time!
The first daylight feed happens around 7/7.30ish. Phoenix is usually quite dopy at this time so it’s usually a noisy feed as he drifts in and out of dream world with lots of groans, snores and frantic guzzling! Afterwards we either both have a nap or I have a shower and get myself up while he lies in a contented milk drunk state in his moses basket. I always shower and do my make-up every morning and have managed to do this every day since he’s been born! It makes me feel human and is less scary when I catch a glimpse of reflection throughout the day. Phoenix then goes on his play gym and busts out some moves while I have breakfast. He’s just started reaching for the hanging toys which is very exciting! He’s also desperately trying to roll over at the moment which tires him out pretty quickly, so once he gets cranky he either naps on me or I take him out somewhere and he naps in transit. There’s another feed at some point, either a big one or a bit of grazing as he’s always really hungry between 7 – 10am. To be honest if we’re at home then I kind of make it up with the feeding and napping in the mornings and go with how we’re feeling.
The midday feed tends to be quite a big one. I’m looking forward to speeding this up as it usually goes on a bit, which can be a pain if I’m out and about. I sometimes use the feeding room in Mothercare in town around this time and there never seems to be any new borns out and about, most of the mums have older babies and they will come and go and I’m always still in there! But I’ve learnt that if I don’t let him go for as long as he needs to at this feed, the afternoon will be a lot less fun for us both!
I’m normally out and about in the afternoon so he’ll sleep in the pram after this one. This is a long nap, sometimes up to 3 hours and then he’ll wake up and go straight into the next feed. I roughly aim to try and feed every three hours but this is one of the only times he actually makes that. That’s why I don’t really stick to specific times as sometimes he’ll need a top up or will only make 2 hours between feeds. In the afternoon there’s lots of cuddles and face gazing; he’s really good at copying facial expressions now and will stick his tongue back out at me. Very cool, clever Phoenix!
I now refer to the hours of 6 – 9pm as the ‘witching hour’. This is when we were having most of our problems with him crying, being over tired, and grazing non stop until he was too full. I’ve now almost sussed out how to handle this period and the key is that he has to go down to sleep before 9pm at the very, very latest. Get him down! If he’s not down before 9pm then all hell breaks loose. I know that it might sound obvious that he has to go to sleep at night but it wasn’t at first – babies don’t have day and night so you have to try and coax them into a bedding down habit. This bedding down process commences as early as late afternoon where I start to wind things down. At first the whole cycle took me hours, but I’ve just completed a really good evening routine in about 1.5 hours so both of us must be getting the hang of it. He tends to have two feeds really close together as he starts to sense ‘witching hour’ approaching and starts to build up his milk reserves. One happens about 5-6ish and then one around 7-7.30pm. With that last one I tend to split it so he has more time to digest the sheer amounts of milk he’s taking on board and gives me a bit of time to produce some more! Once he’s relatively satisfied I’ll give him a bath or wash and a lovely baby massage and put him in a sleepy suit. It can be a problem that he has these two feeds so close as sometimes they pretty much almost overlap – this has got a bit better recently as I’ve started expressing so I think I have more milk available to stop him getting so fractious. I haven’t quite figured out how to get these feeds further apart as nothing takes his mind of it so this is just how we roll at the moment and it’s better than him feeding non-stop till midnight!
The ‘powers at be’ recommend not using any cosmetic products on babies until they’re 6 weeks old. Well, I made it until 3 1/2 weeks then had to give in. I’d been building up my lovely range of baby products and wanted him to smell as gorgeous as he looks! It was the right move as the products seem to have some kind of drugging effect him. My secret weapons at bedtime are Johnson&Johnson Sleep Time bath lotion, Burt’s Baby Bee massage and an app on my iphone that plays white noise. I’d love to give him a bath every night as he loves it but don’t want to dry his skin out. Once he’s been bathed or washed then massaged he listens to the white noise. White noise is what it’s meant to sound like in the womb so this app has an variety of sound options like hair dryer, air conditioning machine, car journey and conch shell. Phoenix is really rocking out with those sound loops! Sounds bizarre but really does calm him down. When we were first establishing this routine Phoenix was asleep and the white noise was playing. I took out the phone to go to the shop and by the time I returned Ben was struggling with a frantic Phoenix grumbling his face off. I had to laugh afterwards as I shoved the phone back in and was shouting over the screams ‘it’s not working, not the hair dryer try the air conditioner. No, no, the conch shell, quick the conch shell!!!’
Hmmmm……still a bit of a mystery to me this one. I can’t seem to work out why but this seems to be totally random and changes all the time. When he was first born he was sleeping through the night in 4 and 5 hour stints, then he went to 3 hour stints and then a had a couple of tough nights where he wanted to feed every hour an half! Ouch. But then last night after going to sleep at 8pm he only did one feed at 3am and then one at 7am so god knows what’s going on! I can’t seem to correlate night time feeding behaviour to anything that happens in the day so I’m putting it down to rapido growing at the moment (my excuse for everything;) The good thing about Phoenix in the night though is that he doesn’t cry when he wakes up (or I always manage to get to him before this point) and he’ll always go straight back to sleep as long as his tummy is satisfied. Phew.
So there we have it, I guess looking back at this I have worked up some kind of agenda for our days. Although I’m sure it’ll all change in a few weeks! We took Phoenix into central London today – sounds stressful but really wasn’t! He’s so well behaved and even put on a bit of a cute show in the pub! I’m not sure if his good behaviour has anything to do with the routine or if I’ve just fluked it and popped out an angel baby, either way I’m going to keep on trucking! Being a mummy rocks!