Sleeping through the Night… Still waiting!

Why do people tell you that their baby slept through the night from 8 weeks? It only gives you false hope! Annabelle is 13 and half weeks old and we are still no closer to a full nights sleep. Last weekend she slept through for two nights on the trot. In fact she didn’t wake until gone 8am one morning. But last night, she woke at 2.30am, 4am and 5.30am. Granted she wasn’t hungry at each awakening and she did resettle herself with no intervention from us at 4am, but still!

I have read Gina Ford and I have read the Baby Whisperer and I have read the internet and Baby Centre. I do everything they suggest and sometimes she goes through to 6am and others she’s up at 4am. I am trying to see if there is a correlation in the nights that she does sleep through. So far all I can see is that on those nights I had a little more than the recommended one glass of wine. Maybe she just likes wine? Will I have to turn into a wino to get a full nights sleep? And then wake with a hangover? Vicious circle!

Her routine is pretty much spot on now but I do find some days she eats considerably less than other days. Yesterday was one of those days. She was just disinterested at nearly every feed. Annabelle is also exclusively breastfed; and I know breastfed babies can take longer to go through the night. She does take a great feed at 10/11pm so I don’t think a formula top up would help that much.

Anyway, my theory is that she’s thriving; she’s putting on great weight, she’s reaching all her milestones, she’s sleeping well in the day and generally doing great. She’s just one of those babies that likes a midnight snack!



Managed to turn 90 degrees in her cot!

Managed to turn 90 degrees in her cot!



People always say that you look at your mother in a new light once you become a mum yourself. It’s so true. In fact I found a new respect for my mum when we first moved to India. Although I have lived overseas my whole life moving to India with my then fiance, now husband, was the first time we’d done this together. I didn’t pack the air and sea freight very cleverly and when we moved into our new flat we had a TV and a computer but not a kettle or a mug. I had to go hunting for cheap pots and crockery. I remember finding myself in some back lane market bargaining over the price of stainless steel and then coming home and trying to make risotto in a dish more suited to chappatis. It was at this time that I thought my mum must have been some kind of hero; she moved around the world spending only 2-3 years in one posting, always to third world countries in Africa or South America and….she had 4 kids in tow. I had just Matt and me to look after!!

Then we had Annabelle. I remember saying to Matt when Annabelle was only days old that it seemed unfair “she’ll never love us as much as we love her!” I can only imagine our parents must have felt this way for us when we were born. I realised too the reason why becoming a grandparent must be such a reward is because you get to witness your child whom you love so much create something that will bring them so much love and happiness. It’s a double whammy! Plus you don’t get the sleepless nights but you do get the cuddles.

The biggest respect I have now for my mum is with how she raised us. From a young age my mother fostered independence in us and I really think that’s the best gift you can give a child. We went off to boarding school very young because we were moving around overseas. I loved it which must have been a relief to my parents, but what I didn’t realise was how hard it was on my Mum. Apparently she would be very down for a couple of weeks after school started but she never let on and was always so positive. Mum would take the hard line when shopping for school items like deodorant and school shoes, we’d always want the in-brand or trendy clothes and she used to retort with “it’s not a fashion parade you know” (at the time I was like, actually Mum it kinda is!) I only have very little experience but I can only imagine that saying no to your children is very hard, but mum always kept strong and it taught me the value of money as well as learning not to give a hoot at what others thought of my possessions and clothes.

I look at Annabelle when I’m feeding her and I think about how things will change, at the moment I own her; I can touch her feet, stroke her legs, tickle her tummy or rub her face. It won’t be long before she’s all “get off me, you’re so uncool” and I dread that day already. I will make the most of these days. I remember being 15 and having a cuddle with my mum on the sofa, she told me how I used to fit in her arms as a baby and I just didn’t ‘get it’. I do now.

Lastly I will say that when one of my nephews was about 9months old, my mum remarked “this is my favourite age for babies” and I responded with “well, that explains why all your children are 18 months apart”. You do the maths.

Grandma with Annabelle

Grandma with Annabelle

My Mum - What a champ!

My Mum – What a champ!

Getting back into Shape!

So much pressure is put on new mums to ‘get back into shape’ quickly and if you pick up trashy magazines there are pictures of all these celebrity mums who have gotten back into shape in 6 weeks or wot not. First off, they have about 20 people helping them with cooking, shopping, watching the baby, personal training, personal shopping… so it’s a little bit easier for them. I  made a choice to not put an pressure on myself as I didn’t need the added emotional strain when I’d just had a baby. Let’s face it, some days getting showered is an achievement so getting down the gym or to the park for a jog is unlikely at best.

I was asked to be a bridesmaid at my friends wedding which was 12 weeks after Annabelle was born but of course I had to get the dress bought before she was born. I used to be a size 10 and so opted for a size 12 dress that was lose around the tummy and fitted around the boobs. First mistake. My boobs were so ridiculously huge after Annabelle was born that whilst I could get the dress over my tummy  it was 3-inches from closing across my chest. So now I had an aim; to fit that dress by 12 weeks post partum. Gulp.

It’s worth noting that boobs will increase in size, but I had not appreciated that the rib cage expands in order to accommodate the guts since the tummy is taken up with baby. It takes some time, perhaps 6-10 weeks, for the rib cage to return to it’s original size. This can obviously affect the size of tops, bras and dresses you will be able to wear after your baby is born.

My first port of call was to buy some clothes that did fit. I went to Cotton World and bought two pairs of XL shorts. Just wearing something that wasn’t maternity was refreshing and made me feel less of a heifer. Of course I did keep wearing my maternity leggings and jeans for a good long period too. I also decided I would not even try on any of my pre pregnancy trousers or shorts for at least 8 weeks. There was no point stressing myself over it. Sure enough when I did go through my wardrobe I was pleasantly surprised at the number of clothes that did fit.

In terms of diet and fitness, well, diet? No chance. Food makes me happy and if I’m lacking on sleep and sanity I’m not giving up food. So exercise? Well just this week (12 weeks post) I started doing some workouts at home courtesy of P90 DVD. I can’t get out to the gym or to yoga since I don’t have any one to watch Annabelle so I have to do something at home whilst she’s sleeping. I use the 9am nap for this purpose.

The last thing I will say is not to worry in the least. There is so much else that’s new in your life, you may as well get used to your new body and buy clothes to fit it. I look in the mirror after my shower and I am shocked by how different my body looks now, but you should feel proud at what your body has brought you. Not saddened for the loss of you old body. I am certainly a lot curvier now, what with my new busty chest and nice voluptuous hips, but I am embracing it! And finally, people are far less critical than you think. People are kind and understanding and they really won’t judge if you’re taking your time getting back in to shape. Let’s face it, they are too worried about their own shape to take any notice of yours!

P.S - The dress fitted, but I missed the wedding thanks to no passport

P.S – The dress fitted, but I missed the wedding thanks to no passport

Breastfeeding Clothing!

I have been meaning to write about breastfeeding in public, and what to wear, for some time now and just haven’t gotten around to it. However what happened today made me think I really must! The first thing I will say is do not wear a top made of silk if you are heading out to a hotel brunch! If you leak it will go straight through the top and leave two nice round stains for the remainder of the lunch! Beautiful.

It is hard finding clothes that are smart, attractive and breastfeeding friendly. I can’t wear dresses and so many pretty tops don’t allow for ‘easy access’. I do have a feeding cover, or bib, which I find very useful and becoming quite a dab hand at using it.

My recommendation on what to wear would be, obviously, the nursing tops (Mothercare do some nice ones). But if they’re not your style I would always opt for tops that you lift up rather than unbutton from the top. The reason for this is that when feeding the baby will cover your exposed tummy and you top will keep the upper part of your breasts covered. I find that if I wear clothing that unbuttons from the top I expose so much upper boob that it feels like I’m flashing the whole thing!

Of course nursing bras are also the way forward, but in addition I have also found nursing tank tops really handy. I wear them under tops so that when I do go ‘up and under’ I am still modestly covering my now stretch marked and wobbly tummy! Don’t want to put the revellers off their brunch now! I wear ones from Noppies (a dutch brand) and can highly recommend them. I am not sure they are readily available in Mumbai, but you can always order on line from Motherhood (see links below)

Bibs can be bought at Mom and Me.

Gina VS Newborn – A first time mother’s experience of using Gina Ford’s routine in the first 2 months.

A friend of mine, whose baby is 2 weeks younger than Annabelle is trying the Gina routine, read on to hear how she’s getting on…

I am writing this at 6.46pm with a large glass of wine in front of me. It’s the first chunk of time I have had to myself all day and I am LOVING IT! My 8-week-old son is upstairs and down for the evening and I am celebrating! This is the second night in a row that I have successfully settled him on time and without any control crying. It seems Gina has come up trumps…tonight anyway.

My husband and I were keen to try the Gina Ford routine with our baby as both of my sisters are advocates and have used it successfully with all three of my nieces and nephews. They are all adorable, well-behaved children who are all in a great routine and are testament to the effectiveness of her ‘strict regime’.

So at 20 weeks pregnant, ignoring the negative press that has surrounded Gina Ford ever since she came on the scene, we ordered her book ‘The contented little baby’ in order to study her routine and get ahead before our little one entered the world.

I was vaguely aware of the ‘Gina day’ already and how her routines work from talking to my sisters but at first glance I found the regimented timings hard to take in and fairly daunting. This was mainly because I did not understand or fully comprehend how much time babies take up and wasn’t convinced that I needed my day to be so structured and full of ‘baby time’. How naive I was.

After my senses begun to return and I had started to put the trauma of birth behind me, we reached for Gina in order to obtain some structure and routine with in our lives and try to make sense of our newborn son. It was all going ok for a couple of weeks and I really thought we were cracking it. However, since I began to write this piece a week or two has gone by and I have come to the conclusion that for now my son cannot and will not be coaxed into a routine, not his own and certainly not Gina’s. I am pretty sure that diehard Gina fans and Gina herself will now be tutting right about now and declaring that I am talking nonsense and that every baby can find a routine of some kind, but I am genuinely struggling to see any correlation between one day and the next when it comes to my baby.

Every day seems to be different at the moment and I cannot predict one day to the next and to tell you the truth I have given up trying on the advise of my doctor! Our feed times for example are very different to the ones laid out by Gina because my son likes little and often when it comes to feeding. For those of you who are familiar with the Gina routine you will know that she is quite strict about allowing your baby to have more milk after certain times in the day because it will put them off their next feed, this does not seem to be the case with our son so I disregard that.

Each day I start out stubbornly sticking to the daily Gina timetable but 9 times out of 10 it’s out of the window by 8am. Gina’s routine starts at 7am, with a feed and a kick on the play mat and general awake time until 9am when he can go down for a 30-45 minute nap only so as not to ruin the lunchtime nap. Having woken at 6.30am literally gagging for his morning feed, my boy is knackered again by 8am and can’t keep his eyes open and must be put to bed. My boy can easily sleep for an hour at this nap from 8-9am. I have tried to keep him awake so as not to mess up the timetable but its impossible! One day early on, I even tried blasting Ibiza Club Anthems 2009 at him but still he kept his eyes firmly closed! So now having woken at 9am he is hungry by 9.30 and tired again by 11am and literally falling asleep in my arms. If we were to go by Gina’s timetable he wouldn’t go down for his lunchtime nap until 11.45-12noon and so it goes on. Then the next day will be completely different; yesterday for instance he was asleep at 10.30am and didn’t wake until 2pm!!!

It’s not a complete disaster though and I should just point out that we do seem to have a good routine set out in the evening that is consistent and follows Gina’s timetable so that is a blessing.

For those of you who want to follow the Gina Ford routine and are experiencing similar problems, my best advise would be to go with the flow and simply extract bits of the routine that work for you. Don’t take it too seriously in the first few weeks and use it as more of a guide, steering you towards what you should be trying to achieve in the day, sleep and feed wise. A few people keep saying to me ‘It’s no wonder you can’t get your baby into a routine at this stage, he is so tiny still and learning how to live, a mammoth task that is best left for a baby to do at his own pace.’ Some days I agree with them but then I think about my friends who have had help from a maternity nurse and who have had their babies in a routine from week 2! It’s a tough one but for my own sanity I have to go with the flow for now and be happy to use Gina’s routine as a rough guide, extracting the elements that work for me and my baby and hope that one day we will crack a full Gina day but if not then it certainly won’t be the end of the world.

Doting Dads

There is nothing more heartwarming than watching a grown man coo over a baby, especially when it’s yours (and his!). I remember saying to my Mum and Dad before Annabelle was born that I was worried about how having a baby would affect our relationship and would we be able to make enough time for one another. My Dad responded with “it will bring you so much closer” and he was right.

When preparing for Annabelle’s arrival we tried to get as many things second hand and we tried to save money wherever possible. We didn’t buy essentials like prams or baths because we weren’t sure if we would use them and whether it was worth the cost. (I should clarify for folks that Mumbai’s pavements are not exactly conducive to prams; they are broken, missing man hole covers and have ruddy great blockages like trees and electric boxes in the way – check out this piece from BombayJules for the full flavour! And the flats are quite small with no baths and only showers so we weren’t sure about which type of bath to go for). Anyway – I digress.

Before our daughter was born my husband and I talked extensively about the ways we would bring up our children; we wouldn’t spoil them with material items, we would send them out to work at a young age to foster independence (by the way, is 2years old too young?), we would be strict with discipline, etc etc. And then Annabelle was born! How things changed on that day!

Annabelle must have been no more than 5 days old when my husband went out to Mothercare in Juhu with my Mum. When he got home he actually ran into the bedroom where I was napping, shook me awake and said “look, look what I bought for Annabelle” – Only the biggest pram for sale, the biggest bath for sale and a load of towels and clothes! He has doted on her ever since, it’s beautiful to witness.

We agreed that we wouldn’t co-sleep or share our bed with the baby, and to be fair we have stuck to it. But on the rare occasion when Annabelle won’t settle Matt is quick to say bring her into bed, he then doesn’t get a wink of sleep for fear of squashing her whilst I blissfully roll off into slumber knowing Annabelle is safe in her Dad’s arms! After a long week of sleep training the weekend came around and it was time to put Annabelle down for her afternoon nap, Matt kindly offered to do it. She bleated for a few minutes so he went in, picked her and stood by the door watching the rain with Annabelle in his arms. He looked over guiltily at me and said “she just wants a cuddle”. I don’t mind, we can’t be so strict on our sleep training that Dad’s can’t cuddle their babies, can we?

When my husband comes home at night Annabelle is usually in bed. Matt will go into the bedroom, shut the door behind him (as though to keep the noise and light out) but I know that it’s so he can coo over Annabelle without me saying “don’t wake the baby!” He gets her up for her 10 o’clock feed and changes her nappy all the while singing and chatting to her. If she’s really lucky he’ll throw in a dance too. And in the mornings he burps her after her 7am feed before heading off to work. More often than not she’s sick on his shirt or over his trousers, but he doesn’t care anymore!

Matt talks about parent evenings, reading her stories, camping together and picking her up from the school gates. Writing as a girl with a most wonderful father I know how important it is to have such a great dad and I am so pleased that I picked a good one in Matt.

Doting Dad

Doting Dad

Matt with Annabelle only a few minutes old

Matt with Annabelle only a few minutes old

Sleeping Blissfully

Sleeping Blissfully

"I'd never wear one of those"

“I’d never wear one of those”

Eye Infection

Only two days after getting the all clear from the doctor at her 2 month check up, Annabelle got an eye infection. At first I thought it was conjunctivitis and was just putting breast milk on it since this seemed to be the consensus based on reading things on the internet! The eye began to flare up on Friday and on Saturday morning I was meeting some mum friends one of whom is a midwife, so I asked for her opinion. She said it’s unlikely to be conjunctivitis but that it’s probably something to do with the tear ducts. At this young age the tear ducts are still quite immature and can get blocked easily. Infections can occur if the tear ducts get dirt in them, which in Mumbai is very likely.

Gloopy Eye Infection

Gloopy Eye Infection

My husband decided we should take her to the hospital to have it checked over. We went to Hinduja Hospital in Khar which is very clean and efficient. The paediatrician there laughed at me when I said I had been putting breastmilk in Annabelle’s eye. That irritated me. She then went on to call Dr Ajit our regular paediatrician who asked for a photo. The wonders of camera phones. He diagnosed it to be infected and Annabelle has been prescribed Ciplox eyedrops. We bought them from a local pharmacy for, wait for it, Rs8. That’s about 1 pence.

2013-07-01 09.23.13

As instructed we have been putting the drops in and poor Annabelle’s eye has been so so gloopy, but I just hope that’s all the ‘bad stuff’ coming out. She was pretty sleepy yesterday, I think because it was too much trouble to try and open her sticky eye.

Today I am going to try camomile tea swaps to help soothe her eye and clear away the gloop. A friend recommended this idea, based on her mother using it as a child. I prefer to stay away from antibiotics if I can.

Hinduja Healthcare
11th Road, Khar West