Monday, January 30, 2006

Hayley spotted a bargain

Hayley spotted a bargain yesterday. She loves a bargain. Walking past the local charity shop she spotted a book she'd been thinking of buying on the internet: "Baby and Toddler Meal Planner" by Annabel Karmel.

In the charity shop it was £1.29. She couldn't pass that up. Knowing that other new Mums also walked past the shop on the way to their favourite local coffee haunt - and not wanting to miss out - she turfed up early this morning and was waiting outside the doors before the shop was open.

She is sitting reading it right now, with the slightly self-satisfied look of a woman who bagged herself a bargain.

BBC NEWS | World | Americas | Baby found in bag in Brazil lake

BBC NEWS | World | Americas | Baby found in bag in Brazil lake

I can't (or daren't) imagine how this little girl ended up in a plastic bag, let alone a river, but at least there was a happy(ish) ending. The last I saw of the little girl she was being cradled in the arms of a nurse in a Brazilain hospital. The authorities were seeking the mother.

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Stark warning over climate change

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Stark warning over climate change

Another very worrying report about the possible rate of global warming.

In my head I am hearing an older Oliver asking "What did you do in the battle against global warming Daddy?".

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Sunday rituals

Me and Oliver in Room 311

Although Hayley and I can no longer enjoy a lie-in on a Sunday morning before listening to the Archers on the radio then wandering off for Sunday lunch or just choosing to lounge around reading the papers, some parts of our Sunday rituals have managed to survive.

This morning Hayley went to church while I popped to B&Q. (After all, DIY is the alternative religion to most Britons as far as I can see, though not mine!). Afterwards we met up in Room 311 for a coffee and to read the Sunday papers for a few minutes. Hayley had an Americano, I had a filter coffee and Oliver opted for his milk.

We had a great hour in there. Oliver has been in a fantastic mood all day. Funnily I'd been thinking how he seemed a bit quiter this week, but all weekend he has chatted away at every opportunity. And he has laughed so much. He has also taken to grabbing my face and squeezing it which is just the most adorable and funny feeling. I can't say I'd be laughing if anyone else pulled me by the lip whilst sticking their fingers up my nose!

BBC - Parenting - TV and radio - Child of Our Time

BBC - Parenting - TV and radio - Child of Our Time

This is a great series on the BBC following a number of children as they grow up, looking at their environment, upbringing, family background and medical/genetic factors to analyse why they behave the way they do.

The only problem with it is that it is on just as we are putting Oliver to bed and we don't always get round to watching our recordings of it.

"Child of Our Time" is on Sunday evenings at 8pm.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

All wrapped up with somewhere to go

Hayley took Oliver out in his buggy today. It was a cold day so he was well wrapped up against the elements. He wore his matching hat, mitts and blanket knitted by his Nanny (my Mum).

We've had a few rough nights this week as Oliver has had a cold. He seems to be on the mend now.

He is sleeping through the night but sometimes wakes up and after much coaxing we usually manage to prompt a burp from him and he goes back to sleep.

He has been on solid food all week. Just one small amount each day, served mid-morning. Hayley makes baby rice and mixes in a little cooked apple, pear or swede: one new taste per day. I had the pleasure of feeding him yesterday. He loved it! It was a very messy but fun experience for both of us.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

17 pounds 3 ounces

Oliver was weighed today by the nurse. At 17 pounds and 3 ounces he is just under the 75th percentile for his age.

We haven't got official measurements for his head size or height this time. It would be interesting to know as I suspect he still has a large head (previously measured as above 91st percentile) and I have previously measured him as being in the 98th percentile for his height.

Having said that, a friend at work became a father for the second time about 6 weeks after Oliver was born. His son has now overtaken Oliver in terms of weight and is off the scale of the charts used to say what percentile your child is in. Maybe they need updating for our fast-evolving offsrping.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Harder than a Rubik cube

I never liked Rubik cubes. I guess I never had the patience. I couldn't see the attraction in spending all that time putting something into order for no other purpose than the ordering itself. I mean, why on earth would I be doing that if I could be playing my guitar and writing songs instead!

But these last few days I've been reminded of such puzzles. Any kind of puzzle in fact where getting one piece in the right place seems to cause another piece to pop out of its right position.

Last night and tonight (touch wood!) we seem to have had a small breakthrough putting Oliver to bed. The improvement seems to be down to giving him his number one toy, "Julien", when he goes to bed. He grabs him, bites his nose and sucks his ears and is generally calmed by having him there with him.

But having achieved that small step forward, he has started (this week) waking around 5.30am and crying. This morning he did so repeatedly until 7am when he seemed to be wide awake after only nine and half hours sleep, so we had to get up.

On top of this, we have started to give him a little food, but after Hayley carried out some more research today in Borders, we are wondering whether this is the right thing to do after all. Apparently, starting him too early could increase the chance of him suffering from allergies.

And now he has just this second woken up crying after less than two hours sleep! Rubik cube? Simple!

Friday, January 20, 2006

First "solid" food!

Oliver "Two Spoons" Townley

Today Oliver tried his first solid food. He has been showing signs of wanting solid food: watching us eat, imitating us and so on. So today we tried him on a tiny portion of baby rice.

He absolutely loved it! He got really excited, smiling and kicking his feet in anticipation of the next spoonful.

We had wanted to hold out until at least 20 weeks (preferably 26 weeks) before feeding him, but at just under 20 weeks he is drinking all his 9.5 ounce bottle (sometimes more) and is quite a big boy!

Hmmmmm, this is good Mummy!

All gone.

A plea for help!

Can anyone tell me why our son hates going to bed so much? He cries... Every, Single, Night!

He's only four and a half months and we try hard to give him a nice "wind down" before bedtime, but despite this he wails every night. Often he just refuses to be put down into the cot and cries to be held and for the lights to be put back on. It doesn't matter whether he's tired or not, he will still complain. It's like he has learned to hate his bedtime. Is this possible? Can anyone tell me what might help, please?!

It's been like this for perhaps a month, maybe longer (it feels MUCH longer) and it is really starting to get to me down. Last night our entire evening was made up of getting him to go to sleep.

So if anyone has any pearls of wisdom, please share them here.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Shoppping can be fun

Oliver enjoys the ride in his Tesco shopping trolley. He is wearing his Manchester United kit over the top of his babygrow.

BBC NEWS | Health | Large rise in infant sofa deaths

BBC NEWS | Health | Large rise in infant sofa deaths

It seems that despite a generally good record for cutting cot deat in this country, there are still some people who aren't getting the advice.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Laughing boy

First the mundane (but essential) stuff. Despite getting a bit overtired and crying while getting changed for bed, Oliver went to bed quietly and has been asleep for 35 minutes without a murmur. (Sadly he was flat out when he went into his cot rather than awake - despite my best efforts to talk to him and blow on him - but at least he was happy after his bottle.)

What I really wanted to record was the fact that he laughs at the oddest things. It's impossible to know why. I continually make up daft songs for him to keep him entertained as I hold him up in front of me when he gets sick of sitting or lying. His current favourite is the following:
"You are my little son,
You weigh a metric tonne.
Oh me, oh my,
Did you eat all the pies?"
He can be ignoring me completely but when I sing this he looks straight at me and laughs.

The other sure-fire chuckle-starter at the moment is to hold him in the air, smell his nappy region, then say "Poooooo smell-yyy!"

Hayley took him to Weightwatchers tonight where they stayed on after the weigh-in for the lecture. Oliver sat on her knee, well behaved. But when the lecturer told her audience "you need to cut down on alcohol", he laughed out loud, causing much mirth in the room. The fact Hayley was tickling him to keep him (and her) amused may also have contributed to his giggles.

Support Network

It's so great to see that Hayley has made so many supportive friends through having Oliver. The other morning, after a rough night with Oliver, she rang fellow new-Mum Dawn who spent some time exploring how we might improve things. Later in the day she left a message to say she hoped everything was going OK and generally just being supportive and wanting to cheer Hayley up.

Similarly, another friend Sarah popped in to see how she was doing. And when Hayley didn't turn up to Baby Club, Vicky sent a text to see how she was doing and Clare sent one saying she hoped Oliver had slept a bit better for us.

I know she feels good about having all these contacts and that having Oliver has expanded her social network in a way that has enhanced the enjoyment she has gained from becoming a Mum. For my part I am just so grateful that she has found such supportive friends. It means a lot to me, especially when I am trapped at work in the archtypal bread-winner role, unable to come home and offer support myself.

Out of the blue... a perfect night!

So, after Saturday's horrendous experience we decided that we were going to try giving Oliver as much love and attention as he needs to get him to go to sleep. Some late-night reading on Saturday night seemed to indicate that leaving him to cry is not recommended at this age - even though I've come across plenty of parents who have done so - and frankly anything would be preferable to seeing him so distressed while not being sure it's the right thing to do.

And if he needs a dummy to go to sleep at night, so be it. Hopefully he will go to sleep and then sleep through and not need it in the night. There are certainly going to be times when he isn't going to go to sleep without it and his distress without it can't be helping him learn that bedtime is a happy, safe time.

So last night (Sunday) we prepared ourselves for a possible long night, particularly as during the day he had shown signs of being a bit under the weather, possibly an earache as he kept rubbing his ear and had been out in the buggy in the morning. In the afternoon he wouldn't even take a nap with the help of his dummy. So we gave him some Calpol. He finally fell asleep and slept for two hours. This put his feed back by an hour and half.

He was rather grizzly from about 7.15pm and Hayley played with him for an hour to keep him happy. Eventually he started to show signs of tiredness around 8.20 so we took him upstairs to put him to bed. We also gave him Calpol again.

He didn't want much of his milk but after several pauses and getting wind up he managed 7 ounces. He was drowsy by this point but Hayley made sure he was awake when she put him down in his cot. By the light of our mobile phones we could see him as he lay there quietly looking up at us. After a few moments we left the room.

To our delight he then went straight to sleep without a murmur! And to my surprise he didn't wake and cry before we went to bed about an hour later.

This morning I woke at 5.45am. I heard him make a tiny sound on the monitor but he didn't wake. I slept fitfully after that, half expecting him to wake.

Finally at 8am we got up. He had made it right through the night without waking and after going to bed without complaint! It was a great feeling just to know that he could do that.

Of course, I'm wondering now whether the Calpol played a part, but if it's just paracetamol then surely it shouldn't make any difference except to take away any pain?

If I can just start to believe this is the start of him sleeping through more I can start sleeping better myself and not lie there waiting for him to wake.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

The trouble with organised religion

The trouble with organised religion (in my humble opinion) is that it forgets what it is meant to be about. To put it another way, it can't see the wood for the trees.

We went to church again this morning. We were asked to attend for the four Sundays before the christening. We've discussed continuing to attend, probably once a month for the family service, but the Church of England although relaible in its teachings (the same ones Hayley and I were raised on) can sometimes be rather "high church" and stand-offish for our tastes. Having said that we've liked the people we've met at St John's so I think we will stick with it.

This morning's topical sermon was about some of the experiences of Martin Luther King. The vicar spoke of how different churches would feel that their particular way of worshipping was the right way and consider other churches misguided and inferior. The idea that their ways were right because "they had the right clam bake recipe" was mentioned. The message seemed to be that we should be judged on our dealings with others, not on our choice of Parish in which to worship or our dealings within the church itself.

At the end of the service we stayed on for a cup of coffee and a chat with a few other people from the congregation. Oliver is, of course, the ultimate ice-breaker. After that we were ready to leave, but Hayley needed to bathroom. The church didn't have one but we were directed round the corner to the community centre which may still be open after Sunday Club for the children.

When we got there it was locked. Still standing outside its doors, a woman stopped in a car and asked what we wanted. I recognised her as having read a lesson in the service. Hayley explained she needed the bathroom. "I'm sorry" she replied, "it's not open to the public". Then she saw the buggy and asked "Were you just in church?". When we said yes she jumped out of her car and unlocked the building, asking us to slam the door so it locked when we left.

Now, Hayley has a bit of a "bad knee" and was walking with a stick. She was clearly uncomfortable and yet we were only granted admittance because we had been in church. I couldn't help thinking that someone needed to practice what they had just heard preached!

Saturday, January 14, 2006

I hate bedtimes (and so does my son)!

Another night, another bout of crying. Tonight is the worst ever. Screaming. I have never heard him scream like that.

We are trying to get him to go to sleep without his dummy because he needs to be able to get himself to sleep, especially if he wakes in the night. But I'm wondering whether it's a good idea now as he is finding it so traumatic. If he has learned anything tonight it is probably that bedtime is to be feared and hated more than ever. He has been screaming for 20 minutes now at full volume, only relenting briefly when Hayley picked him up and calmed him. I've had to leave because I can't bear it. I can still hear him on the monitor but it's not quite as terrible.

I HATE this uncerainty about what to do and I know Hayley feels the same. Where are all the God-damned so-called professionals who are supposed to advise us on how to handle this?

Should we give him his dummy to go to sleep?
Should we make him get used to going to sleep without out it?
Can we leave him to cry when he won't go to sleep?
How long can we leave him to cry?
At what point is he too upset to be left?
Are we teaching him that to cry brings us back if we always respond straight away?
Are we cruel if we don't respond straight away?
Are we doing the wrong thing if we don't teach him to fall asleep by himself?
Are we doing the wrong thing if we don't stay with him to re-assure him as he tries to fall asleep?

All we have is questions and no-one is giving us answers. I swear that if any health visitor dares to tell me "all babies are different" I might swing for them!

Twenty five minutes of crying now and I can hear he has made himself hoarse from screaming.

Retrospective note (the next day)
He went to sleep not long after this post and then slept all night. Maybe he was exhausted. Or maybe he was under the weather and we didn't spot it. Maybe he just got so worked up that it took longer to calm him down. It's hard to tell. He certainly seemed to need lots of attention. Maybe that's the trick: lots of re-assurance for him. That's what we are going to try now anyway. It has been our policy up to recently anyway. Perhaps it really is too soon to try anything different.

Friday, January 13, 2006

High highs but very low lows

  • Tonight when he laughed with me. Always bliss!

  • When he watched the "fish" mobile that my Dad and Angie got him for Christmas. He loves it!

  • Changing his nappy tonight when he laughed and chatted and cooed at me as he lay on the changing table.

  • Holding him close to me. He sometimes puts his arms around my neck, probably quite unintentionally but all the same its lovely.

  • Trying to teach him to suck his thumb instead of his dummy by sitting looking at him while sucking my thumb. (Well, it was funny anyway.)

  • Seeing how much he enjoys his Baby Mozart DVD as he sits in his high chair next to us while we eat our dinner.

  • Lows
  • When he cries going to bed: every, single, night!

  • Having to take time off work - 2 days! - because he woke almost hourly and kept us up most of the night for no apparent reason.... 2 nights running.

  • When he woke at 5.20 this morning and wouldn't go back to sleep without his dummy. Then dropped it after 5 minutes and Hayley had to get up to give it back to him. Then 10 minutes later he dropped it again and I had to get up and give it back to him. This repeated a few more times before he finally went properly back to sleep. Totally exhausting.

  • Knowing that he will probably do the same again tonight.

  • Sitting at work today feeling ill from tiredness. We have to get him to sleep through the night and get himslef back to sleep without his dummy if at all possible.

  • Having too little time with Hayley.
  • Wednesday, January 11, 2006

    BBC NEWS | Health | Early signs of meningitis found

    BBC NEWS | Health | Early signs of meningitis found

    Research by experts at Oxford University has shown that it is possible to spot some early signs of meningitis.

    Monday, January 09, 2006

    Fed up!

    I'm fed up.

    Fed up because despite doing everything we can to make bedtime a pleasant and peaceful experience for Oliver he clearly hates it. The fact we start to lower the lights, reduce stimulation to him, read him a story and then take him up to his dimly lit bedroom all serves only to make him upset. He knows he is going to bed and he invariably objects to some degree. It varies between whimpering and outright wailing.

    I can't help feeling part of the problem is the lack of a consistent bedtime. We are being advised by our health visitor to feed him on demand. This means that his feeds don't happen at regular times throughout the day and the last feed of the day - which we usually finish in his room before putting him to bed - can happen at varying times through the evening. What tends to happen (though there is no guarantee) is that he gets up a bit later each day and ends up going to bed later. This doesn't seem a good thing for him and it is certainly not good for his parents. How can it make sense to just feed on demand if he is getting no sort of routine and sometimes ends up going to bed overtired?

    Fortunately Hayley is very patient about the whole situation. It frustrates me because the advice from the various sources is at best variable and at worst contradictory, vague and confusing. When I say "sources" I am including magazines such as the Parenting Magazine from the NCT and Mother and Baby. I am not saying their advice is wrong - far from it - they are the experts and I'm sure it must be based on experience. But when advice comes for "your baby" and doesn't say how old that baby should be for the advice to make sense, then the reader is in danger of doing presicely the wrong thing.

    For example, yesterday Hayley read in "Mother and Baby" magazine that it is not good to keep picking your baby up from his cot if he cries at bedtime because he will keep crying to be picked up again. The advice from our health visitor on the other hand is that we should respond to him and pick him up. What are we to do in the face of such entirely contradictory advice!

    Last night, on top of all this, he slept only 5 hours before waking at 2.30am. I tried to give him his dummy and re-assure him but he needed a feed and drank the whole bottle. So now we are wondering whether the time is near to start him on solids, as waking in the night like this is said to be a sign.

    Today Hayley has tried to keep his daytime sleep down to 2-3 hours by playng with him. And tonight she has tried something new for bedtime. She took him upstairs to play in his nursery for a while before lowering the lights, reading him a story, giving him his bottle and putting him down to sleep. She has done this at 8 o clock as she is keen to try to start to impose a routine. This comes in the light of conversations today with other Mums who have babies just a few weeks older than Oliver. As I type it is 9pm and he has been asleep for half an hour at the first attempt. Let's hope it's not a one-off.

    Would I be asking too much for him to sleep through the night too? I thought as much!

    Sunday, January 08, 2006

    Thanksgiving service for Oliver

    Today Oliver went to church. He has already been once, for Isabella's christening, but today was his first trip to a regular service.

    It was the monthly Family Service at St John the Baptist church in Heaton Mersey where Oliver is to be christened. The church asked us to attend a thanksgiving service for Oliver's life as a precursor to the christening itself. Somewhat to our surprise, this involved us going to the front of the church to say vows to bring Oliver up as a christian. It was a bit like a mini-Christening but without the font or any friends or family there.

    Oliver slept through much of the service and indeed slept on in Hayley's arms throughout our little ceremony with the vicar (who was actually Gavin, the curate at St John's who will also do the christening itself.) When he was awake he was very quiet and content, gazing up at the stained glass windows. A model member of the congregation.

    Friday, January 06, 2006

    He slept through!

    Oliver slept through the night two nights ago for the first time!

    [Insert your own fanfares and celebrations here!]

    He slept from 9pm until 8am. We were amazed. He made a few noises around 6am but never fully woke.

    Of course the following night he refused to go to sleep when I tried to put him to bed and then got up for a feed at 5.15am. Oh well!

    He is suffering from "baby eczema" at the moment. It looks quite inflamed around his temples and forehead and we are applying a cream we have been prescribed by the health visitor. She thinks his fitful sleeping and quite frequent semi-wakeful noises in the night might be caused by his discomfort brought on by this condition.

    I feel rotten for him that he is suffering like that because he is such a happy little boy and spends so much of his day smiling. The only time he really gets grouchy is bedtime. Most nights he will cry or at least whinge when we try to put him to bed, even though he is clearly very tired. So we are looking on Amazon and eBay for good books on improving bedtimes at the moment.

    Hayley has also noticed him start to mimic us when we eat so we may try him on solids soon. We'd prefer to wait until 6 months but we'll see how things go. If he shows more signs of being ready for solid foods we'll probably have to make an earlier start. Hayley recorded a few thoughts about this in her blog.

    Monday, January 02, 2006

    Oliver (Man Utd kit)

    Oliver (Man Utd kit)
    Originally uploaded by Steven Townley.
    Ready for first team action in the kit that Mad Aunt Donna bought him.