Thursday, September 27, 2007

BBC NEWS | World | Europe | Russian mother has 'giant' baby

BBC NEWS | World | Europe | Russian mother has 'giant' baby

Just for comparison, Lucy is a healthy baby and still weighs less than 10 pounds at 6 weeks old.

BBC NEWS | Health | Doctors told take young seriously

BBC NEWS | Health | Doctors told take young seriously:

"Doctors must do more to respect the wishes and views of young patients, the General Medical Council has warned."

Does this mean that they must make an immediate beeline for the Patientline display when Oliver tells them "I ready watch Thomas on telly now".

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

At the top of his voice

At Green Lane playgroup today Oliver put in a memorable performance when it came to song-time. Hayley assures me that not only did he do all the actions to songs, but he also sang louder than anyone else in the room.

I've noticed that occasionally his performance will involve singing only the last word of each line but shouting it at the top of his voice. And the other day he sang "Wheels On The Bus" in a drawling style that was a sort of cross between John Cooper Clarke doing "Beesley Street" and Sid Vicious doing his live cover of "I wanna be your dog". (What do you mean you've never heard it? It's a classic!)

And all this despite the fact that Hayley opted for the sounds of Buddhist chants during her labour with Oliver and not the sound of The Sex Pistols first album as her friend Bev did.

BBC NEWS | Health | New NHS guidelines on childbirth

BBC NEWS | Health | New NHS guidelines on childbirth

Good guidelines, but will the government really stump up the cash for this sort of service?

BBC NEWS | Health | Allergy epidemic gets 'poor care'

BBC NEWS | Health | Allergy epidemic gets 'poor care'

Interesting reading, given that Hayley suffers badly from hay fever and Oliver had an allergic reaction to eggs as a baby (which he now seems to be over).

Oliver is now two years old and he has never eaten peanuts. Now we discover experts are divided over whether this is the right thing to do or precisely the opposite!

BBC NEWS | Health | Heavy exercise miscarriage link

BBC NEWS | Health | Heavy exercise miscarriage link

Is this really news? I thought everyone knew this. It's almost common sense.

Welcome to the Terrible Twos

The other day Hayley had her first classic encounter with the sort of scene we've all scene other parents suffer at some time: a public tantrum.

She was walking to the shop round the corner from our house with Oliver walking alongside as she pushed Lucy in the buggy. Oliver was whinging, pleading to go and sit in the car and listen to nursery rhymes. This was not really practical given that we were short on provisions including a total lack of bread and milk.

She was negotiating the busy crossroads in the middle of Heaton Moor using the pelican crossing when Oliver sat down in the middle of the road, crying, refusing to go on and shouting "in car, in car"! She had to lift him up off his bottom and pull him across the road. I'm glad to say he at least had the good sense to walk at this point and didn't have to be dragged as I first pictured when Hayley recounted this story to me.

I can't confirm precisely how many people tutted and peered down their nose at this scene. Doubtless there will have been a few.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

9 pounds 11 ounces

Lucy was weighed at the clinic today. At 5 weeks and 6 days old, she is now 9 lbs 11 ozs.

She also showed distinct signs of giving us a smile. We didn't catch it on camera but Hayley has been saying for a few days that she is smiling. It was a kind of fleeting smile. I'm hoping we can catch the first big grin, as Hayley did with Oliver.

The mystery of the sponge

Oliver seems to be keen on questions at the moment. "Who's that?!" is a popular one. Also "who's at the door?", whether there's anyone there or not. (Well, I don't THINK there was anyone, but there's often more logic to what he says than I can immediately grasp.)

Recently, while enjoying his evening bath, he found another question: "where's the sponge?" He had hidden it under his legs, quite effectively in fact.
"Where is it?" I asked him.
"Over there!" he replied, pointing behind himself to the top end of the bath.
I duly searched beneath the bubbles. "I can't find it."
"Over there!" he directed to the other end of the bath. I duly searched again. At which point... voila! He let the sponge float up from its hiding place, emitting a loud and satisfied chuckle as he did.

Then we started again.
"Where is it?"
"Over there!"
"I can't find it."
"Over there... Ha ha ha ha!"

And again.
"Where is it?"
"Over there!"
"I can't find it."
"Over there... Ha ha ha ha!"

And again and again and again. It just never got less funny for the little man. He didn't even need the pretence of surprise. "One more time..." he said after I failed to notice the sponge's umpteenth disappearance. How could I say no.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Gratuitous anecdote

I have no excuse for publishing the following story which a colleague told me, other than I know it will nake Hayley laugh.

Our Gents toilets don't have a light switch, they have a sensor on the wall where the light switch should be. When it detects movement the light comes on. After a while the light goes off.

Unfortunately the sensor can't "see" the movement of someone who is in one of the cubicles. This means that once you enter a cubicle, the countdown begins to the lights going out.

The other day my colleague entered the Gents which was in darkness. As the lights came on, he was confronted by the sight of a man with his trousers round his ankles, leaning out of the cubicle waving his hand in the air, trying to get the sensor to see him.

And this in an engineering company.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

BBC NEWS | Scotland | North East/N Isles | Sheep offer clues to small babies

BBC NEWS | Scotland | North East/N Isles | Sheep offer clues to small babies

Personality Test

Recently, Dan over at All That Comes With It posted a quiz allowing the reader to assess which member of his family they resembled the most and hence where they'd fit in his family.

This set me thinking about the characteristics of my own family. But I quickly realised that fitting in with me or Hayley is less important than fitting in with the little man's peers. So I wrote my own very short questionairre to help you work out where you'd fit into the Heaton Moor toddler social hierarchy.

Question 1: You are at a friend's 2nd birthday party. The first thing you do is...

a) head into the garden and play with the plastic golf clubs, chipping neatly out of the sandpit with your first shot and going on to break the course record for the garden.
b) nothing that would draw attention to yourself. Then when no-one is looking you steal a chocolate biscuit from the table. You repeat at intervals until caught.
c) smile adorably at Oliver, who (sadly) ignores you.
d) find a heavy object and hit Oliver over the head with it.

Question 2: Your parents make you leave the party earlier than you'd like. On the way out you...

a) make a dart for the table and then do laps of it, out-pacing your Mum and evading capture for several minutes
b) assert your independence by addressing your father by his Christian name instead of "Daddy"
c) cry because you are being parted from Oliver
d) find a heavy object and hit Oliver over the head with it.

Question 3: Oliver has come to visit you for a play-date. Eager to impress, you...

a) jump two-footed into the air and chuckle madly
b) count up to 20 unaided
c) play nicely, sharing your toys and entertaining your guest
d) find a heavy object and hit Oliver over the head with it.

So how did you fair?!

Mostly a). You are Jack. Your Dad is a sports coach. You will win Gold in the Decathlon at the 2032 Olympic games.

Mostly b). You are Isabella. You are a child genius with a criminal streak. You have a bright career in internet banking fraud ahead of you.

Mostly c). You are Isabel. You are pretty, well-mannered and you don't know it yet but you are Oliver's future wife (if his Dad has anything to do with it).

Mostly d). You are Niamh. Your ASBO is due to come into force any day now.

I ready...

When Oliver wants to do something he doesn't say "I want..." he says "I ready...".

Yesterday, having been in Wiltshire with his sister and Mummy for three days, he told her "I ready go home now, see Daddy".

Bless the little man. I miss him too.

Monday, September 17, 2007

2 Dr Brown Bottles, standing on the wall...

After Thursday's night from hell, Hayley and I steeled ourselves for another bad night. Of course, in the event, Oliver barely murmured and Lucy slept from 10pm until 5.30am!

So feeling refreshed on Saturday morning, Hayley decided to head off down to Wiltshire to introduce Lucy to her side of the family a couple of days earlier than planned. Apparently Oliver has been a little diamond while down there, well-behaved and charming to everyone. And Lucy has even slept reasonably well.

While down there Hayley has started to introduce an extra bottle in place of one breast feed (taking her up to two bottle feeds per day). The relentlessness of Lucy's appetite, needing to feed frequently throughout the day, is taking a bit of a toll on Hayley now. She copes well, but she feels Oliver is perhaps not getting as much attention as he should. Lucy has already had far more breastmilk than Oliver ever got, so it's a balancing act, making sure we do what is right for the whole family.

Talking of bottles, we have now tried 3 types of bottle with Lucy: Nuk, Tommy Tippee and now Dr Browns. This is because she does seem to suffer more with wind than Oliver did and perhaps colic. The Dr Brown bottles should help, as does a dose of Infacol with each bottle feed.

Oliver in contrast only ever needed Avent bottles. Dare I suggest boys are less fussy than girls? No, I thought not!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Brotherly love



Oliver likes to crash into things at the moment. It involves veering towards walls on his trike. The local butcher's shop seems a favourite target. (Perhaps deep down he's a veggie at heart after all.) It's a fun game.

Lucy had a crash of her own yesterday. Her feeding and sleeping came completely off the rails in the night. It was much less funny. Her parents and brother are all casualties. For posterity (and through a fog) I record here the slow motion replay.

9pm: Hayley and I discuss how Lucy's feeding and sleeping are going well and how she seems to be getting the knack of going to sleep unaided. (Ha ha ha ha....)

10pm: Lucy has last feed of the day, a bottle of Aptamil. (She has 0 or 1 bottle a day, the rest of the time is all breastfeeding.)

11.05pm: To bed.

11.25pm: Oliver wakes crying. I go in, re-assure him and give him a drink of water. Oliver goes back to sleep. I go back to bed.

11.55pm: Oliver wakes crying again. I go in, Oliver sees me and lies down to go to sleep. I ask Oliver what is wrong and why he keeps waking. Oliver starts crying again. I lift him out of his cot and sit with him on sofa-bed consoling him. Oliver cries more, unable to explain until eventually he calms down. Oliver asks to go back to bed. I oblige.

1.12am: Oliver wakes again. Hayley goes into him, settles him back down and comes back to bed.

2.00am: Lucy wakes, less than 4 hours after her feed. She refuses to settle so Hayley goes and feeds her. Hayley tries to feed her and wind her in an attempt to get her to settle for the next 2 hours.

4.00am: I wake to find Hayley still trying to get Lucy to go down to sleep.

4.05am: I take over trying to get her to go down. She will only go to sleep in my arms and then wakes in her cot and starts crying. This repeats time after time. (Hayley had also noticed Lucy wanting to be picked up all the time in the last couple of days, so perhaps this refusal to go to sleep except in our arms could be tied in.)

5.50am: Still trying to get Lucy to go to sleep. She refuses for the umpteenth time and starts crying simultaneously with Oliver starting in his room. I curse Lucy for waking everyone! Hayley gets up and decides that as Lucy has been awake 4 hours since last feed (started) she could be hungry. Hayley feeds her. I go downstairs and make a pot of decaff' tea.

6.30am: Hayley and I finish decaff' tea and put Lucy down. After 3 attempts and about half an hour she goes to sleep.

7.30am: Oliver wakes and can be heard asking for Daddy and to get up. I get up and start Oliver's day.

8.30am: Hayley rises because she has to take Oliver to Debbie (child-minder)'s house. I could take him but we agreed that I would stand little chance of escaping without Oliver demanding to come with me. He's just that clingy with me right now.

9.15am: Hayley leaves for Debbie's house with Oliver, giving me a chance to go back to bed, but....

9.20am: Lucy wakes and won't settle. I get her up.

9.45am: Lucy no longer content just to be up is wailing for a feed. I feed her 4 ounces of Aptamil. She is awake but content.

10.15am: Hayley returns with egg sandwich and coffee for me.

10.16am: Lucy falls asleep.

10.30am: We go back to bed. We all sleep!

12.20pm: Lucy wakes and Hayley goes downstairs to feed her. I stay in bed on her instructions!

2.30pm: I wake, hungry. The house is all quiet. In the living room, Hayley is asleep on sofa and Lucy is asleep in the swing next to her.

2.43pm: I write this blog entry and start praying for a better night tonight.

It is safe to say it was a very bad night, the worst so far and we are exhausted. Suddenly all our confident talk about the "breastfeeding going well" and "one feed a night after 6-7 hours sleep" has evaporated in a haze and been replaced by tired and frustrated grumblings about not being able to go on in this way and how the breastfeeding may have to end. After all, I'll be back at work next week and a night like last night will go from being hard to being borderline impossible with Oliver to get up in the morning.

I think we are in for a few bumpy nights. Maybe things will improve, after all she really was doing OK until last night. Two out of three nights were OK. Only time will tell.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Laughing at Mummy and Daddy

Each morning when I go into Oliver's room he gives me the same greeting. In a tone of apparent surprise (despite the fact he might have been shouting "Daddy, up!" from his room), when I open the door and say "Good morning Oliver", he replies "Oh, hello Daddy".

This cheery, ready greeting is in contrast to the evening when he is reluctant to say goodnight to me at all, presumably to delay my departure. Eventually I get a quiet "night night, Daddy".

I've resurrected a song I used to sing to him when he was perhaps a few months old. It goes like this.

"You are my little son,
you weigh a metric tonne.
Oh me,
Oh my,
Did you eat all the pies?!
You are my little son,
You weigh a metric tonne pah pah, oom pah pah, oom pah pah, paaaaaaah.".

This last "paaaaah" I sing close up to his face and he laughs out loud, saying "again!"
The wonderful thing about singing this song now is that he now sings along with me. I find myself, like an old fool, telling him how I used to sing this song to him when he was a baby. Like he cares! "Again!" he keeps saying.

I was singing it to him as we all walked back from his friend Alberto's house the other day. I say "we" walked back but actually he walked half the way after initial protest. I then told him I'd carry him the rest of the way as he had been a good boy for walking when I asked him to. I picked him up and as I started to carry him I noticed he had a grin on his face that could probably be best described as "satisfied"! Possibly even "smug"! I pointed it out to Hayley and we both roared with laughter, which itself further amused the little man (pictured above).

Total recall


Last night as I put Oliver to bed, he noticed this picture on my phone. It shows him in hospital after Lucy was born, sitting on Hayley's bed watching the Patientline TV. As it happened, I remember he was watching "In The Night Garden".

When he saw the picture he said "Oliver and Lucy", then pointed at himself in the picture, watching TV and said "In the night garden". I was amazed that he could recognise the scene from one picture and recall what he was watching.

I've had a flashback of my own today. For the first time since Lucy was born 4 weeks ago, Hayley has not got up to give Lucy a night-feed of breast-milk. Instead she let me give her Aptamil, which has given Hayley a very well deserved rest. So as I sat there in the dawn light feeding then winding the chubby faced babe in my lap, it brought back memories of doing the same with Oliver. I have to say, this morning, the first morning, the scene had a novel and warm glow to it all. Check back in a few months to see if it has lasted.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

8 pounds 15.5 ounces

Lucy was weighed at the clinic today. We had her checked as she had not quite regained her birth weight a week ago. Yesterday she had gained a whopping half a pound in the last week! No worries there then.

Monday, September 10, 2007


We shouldn't have done it. We know it. But now it's done we are ashamed and we've decided to confess.

It happened on Sunday in the park. We were an innocent looking family watching our son playing on the slide. Then it happened. Some teenagers approached us. We didn't know them, nor them us. He came straight out with it: offered us the stuff.

I hadn't expected this and I wasn't prepared for it. No-one had offered me anything more than a flyer in public since I was in Amsertdam back in '92. But from the moment he had offered it the situation changed. We changed. We knew what we were doing was dodgy but the situation spun out of control, drew us in. At first Hayley was adamant we shouldn't try it. The boy swore it was unadulterated, pre-cut and safe, but Hayley knew that we'd be taking a risk. She was probably picturing us throwing up later that evening, or worse. She wasn't ready to risk it.

But I reminded her that we really needed it. We had got ourselves into a situation where it was too late to get out of it any other way. And at least this way no-one would know what a mess we'd got ourselves into or how we dealt with it. We were tired and desperate. So we acted like tired and desperate people.

It can't have been more than a minute since he'd approached us, but now I was reaching into my pocket. Seconds later money had been exchanged for goods and the deal was over. They left as stealthily as they'd arrived. We packed up quickly and headed home, an apparently normal family at the end of a normal day.

And so it was, on Sunday evening, that we came to be eating pre-cut floury buns that were left over from the burger stall at the fair. And all because we forgot to buy bread before Somerfield shut at 4pm.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Worst night yet!

Last night Lucy was sick a couple of times in the evening. Although she drank more before going to bed at 11pm, she only went 3 hours before stirring and an hour later Hayley gave up trying to re-settle her with a dummy.

She then fed her until 4.30. But when she came back she wouldn't settle. Eventually she fed again and finally settled by 6am. Poor Hayley had been up all that time. I'd been up about half of it.

Oliver woke 40 minutes later. To my enormous relief, when I told him it was still night time he settled back down. Eventually he re-surfaced at the merciful and miraculous time of 8.10am. That's a good hour later than he normally rises.

Today has been hard. So hard I went to bed for a (90 minute) nap even before Oliver did. I think Hayley only had 20 minutes. I don't know how she does it.

We all went to a fair at Heaton Moor Park for an hour this afternoon and had fun. But we are praying for a good night tonight.

If only she would settle after feeding in the night it would not be so bad. It's the uncertainty about her settling in the night that is so hard. Oliver never slept as long as she sometimes does, but he usually went straight to sleep after a feed.

So here's hoping she lets us sleep, even if the night feeds continue. If you don't see any posts for the next few days, you'll know she hasn't obliged.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Oliver's 2nd Birthday

Mr Serious: two years old today

Oliver turned 2 years old today. He had a party at our house with about 10 of his friends. There are lots of pictures from the day here.

At first he was rather clingy, refusing to leave my side. But after a while he warmed to the occasion, leading activities on the slide and feasting on the food we had prepared (well, Hayley did most of it to be honest). The ice-creams went down particularly well.


Only occasionally could he be heard reminding a party-goer "that's my train!". Usually it was when they were headed for the sandpit with his brand new Ninky Nonk, so he probably had a point.

When we brought the cake out and sang Happy Birthday to him, he duly blew out the candles (with a little covert help from me) and said "again!". Later we obliged him by repeating the ceremony after dinner with the last remaining pieces of the cake.

As the day ended and he headed off to bed, he told us "Nice time". I'd have to agree.


2 years old, 88.5cm tall

I tried to measure Oliver's height today. It wasn't supoer-accurate, but according to the mark I made on the kitchen door-frame, he is 88.5cm (just under 2 feet 11 inches).

So now all we have to do is wait about 18 years to see whether the old wives tale about him being half his final height today is true. I have my doubts that he will only grow to 5 feet 10 inches. He has always been assessed as tall for his age, an assessment that seems borne out by his stature alongside his peers. We'll see, eventually.

Friday, September 07, 2007



The little lady was niggly yesterday evening, even after feeding, so Hayley decided to give her a bath with Oliver. He held her in the bath which was very cute. (Pictures to follow once I've edited to preserve their dignity!)

After her bath she settled briefly and then got niggly again. To let us have our dinner in peace, we gave her a dummy which she took quite happily. It's the first time we have done this.

After dinner she fed again and we were all in bed by 10.30pm. Despite stirring now and then from 3am onwards, she actually slept through until about 7.30am! (Of course we lay there expecting her to wake every time she stirred so we are still shattered today.)

So here's the question: was that the start of her having a "core night"? It normally kicks in around a month or later, but perhaps this is it. It is certainly a big step up from the amount she usually sleeps at night. She did feed a lot yesterday but if it is the start, then perhaps an end to sleep deprivation is within sight. Fingers very much crossed!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Bottles and Dummies

Yesterday the health visitor (finally) visited Hayley. She told Hayley she was doing everything right, but more importantly advised her to do whatever worked for us as a family. That includes giving Lucy formula if necesary and also using a dummy if we want to.

We've contemplated both but to be honest it would have been nice not to need either. But last night we decided that (especially in light of Hayley's mastitis) we would give Lucy a bottle of Aptamil as her last feed of the day. This allows me to take some of the load when it comes to feeding. It also means that I spend more time with a contented Lucy and not just a grouchy Lucy who really just wants the parent with breasts!

We also offered her a dummy when she got very whiney and hard to settle, as she often does during the evening (like many babies). But it turned out she needed a feed a bit earlier than expected, so we don't know yet whether she'll take to a dummy or not.

She seems to be settling into a habit of feeding up during the evening. Last night her last feed around 10pm was the bottle of Aptamil I gave her. After it she was very dopey but we managed to wake her for a few seconds to put her in ther crib. (The idea is that she doesn't wake up somehwere diferent to where she fell aslepp and wonder where she is.)

She then slept until 4am. Fan-tas-tic! In fact she only really woke at 4.30 but once she started making noises at 4.00 Hayley and I lay there half-expecting to have to get out of bed at any moment. The trigger to get out of bed was a cry that might have been loud enough to wake Oliver. That seemed like confimration that she really was hungry and not just going to carry on as she had for the preceding half hour: grunting and expelling wind from her bottom!

BBC NEWS | Health | Parents warned of additives link

BBC NEWS | Health | Parents warned of additives link

We were already avoiding E211. Looks like we have some more to add to the list.

My turn

Oliver is very big on taking turns at the moment. He has always demonstrated unswerving fairness in his ditribution of anything under his control, certianly when it comes to Mummy and Daddy. (Sharing toys with other kids can occasionally be a notable exception.) Half chewed toast springs to mind when I think of the things he first offers to Mummy for a bite ("Mummy's turn") and then to Daddy ("Daddy's turn").

This morning he deicded that rather than hold my hand to walk down the stairs he would do it unaided. "My turn" he said as he set off through the stair-gate, holding onto the bannister with one hand and Julien with the other.

He got all the way down by himself. Hayley and I watched (Hayley from the top of the stairs, me from one step in front of him) and contemplated how our toddler looks more like a little boy with each new milestone he reaches.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

BBC NEWS | Health | GPs 'snub' child asthma advice

BBC NEWS | Health | GPs 'snub' child asthma advice

Still not sure whether Oliver's stay in hospital last December was down to underlying asthma or just a one-off.

"The Kids"

On Sunday evening, driving back from Pizza Hut where we'd enjoyed an indulgent dinner of pizza, garlic bread, potato wedges and a visit to the Ice Cream factory for Oliver, I said something I'd never said before: "the kids".

It made me smile as I realised what I'd said and its novelty made me point it out to Hayley. Perhaps this is the honeymoon period, but it's lovely to find ourselves talking about "the kids".

It was even lovelier this morning when Oliver and Lucy sat at opposite ends of the sofa like a pair of cute bookends. Oliver was watching "Togo and Nogo", a road safety cartoon DVD. Lucy was watching the fireplace.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


The last 24 hours have been a rollercoaster ride. My last entry painted a sorry picture as we headed for bed half expecting a rough night.

Much to our pleasant surprise, Hayley was able to settle Lucy in her cot by leaning right in so that she could play with her hair (well, grab tight hold of it actually) while she sang "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" to her in ever quieter whispers. She even ended up going down awake and falling asleep in her cot. Perfect! We were both shattered from the previous nights and delighted to be able to go to sleep on time. Hayley was instantly promoted from super-human to super-human miracle worker.

Lucy then slept 5.5 hours. Woohoo!!!

We got her and Hayley fed her. Meanwhile I changed Oliver's nappy as he had diarrhea. He has his the last of his first teeth coming through. He woke as I carried him to the changing table in the spare room where Hayley was feeding Lucy. So at around 4am all four of us were up and awake. Oliver lay there blinking up at me with big blinks, like a baby himself. "Hello Mummy" he said when he saw her feeding Lucy on the sofa.

Hayley put Lucy down using the same Twinkle Twinkle technique and we were all going back to sleep only 40 minutes after we got up.

Getting up at 7.30 this morning felt so much better than the previous nights. We'd gladly settle for that every night for a while. So we all started the day feeling positive and back on track.

However, through the day Hayley started to feel ill with flu-type symptoms. She also noticed soreness in her breasts. By this evening she had other symptoms and was pretty sure she had mastitis. This could mean the end of breastfeeding just when we felt we might get through the hard part after all (even without the Health Visitor bothering to call us back).

She's still managing to feed her right now. Fingers crossed it will pass off as quickly as it arrived.

First morning at Nursery

Oliver started nursery today. Hayley stayed there the whole time but left him to his own devices. He was seemed to enjoy it.

Hayley said she felt it was a wrench to have to watch him playing alone and not go and play with him, instead letting him do whatever he would have done if she wasn't there. He did come over to her from time to time and she re-assured him that she was still there watching him play.

Initially he played alone but later befriended a little Asian boy for most of the morning. He had lots of fun on a Winnie the Pooh tricycle. Towards the end all the big toys were put away, including this trike. He duly went and got it out again and played on.

He has had a tough time coping with all the change, but has remained positive about Lucy the whole time. So I really hope he settles here and enjoys it.

Next week it will be my turn to take him and try to stand back from it all. It's going to be hard because the little man will hardly let me from his sight these days and wants me as his playmate whenever I'll oblige. But I'm sure he'll be fine as long as I'm around. And in time he'll settle in, I'm sure of it.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Triple whammy

As previously posted, Friday and Saturday night were bad, but last night was much worse in many ways. Lucy seems to have started using Mummy as a dummy! (That's a pacifier in the US I believe.)

Late last night she woke when we tried to change her around 10.45pm and then had to be fed. By the end of the feed she was out for the count.

She then woke when we tried to put her in the crib but was pacified by another feed. Then she woke again as we tried to put her in the crib for the second time. We soon realised what was happening: she would only go to sleep on the breast. Eventually we tried to comfort her in her crib but she cried a lot, eventually falling asleep around 1.15am. She was shattered but really didn't want to go to sleep in any way excepting via feeding.

This is a bad blow. So after three sleep deprived nights Hayley rang the Health Visitor today for some support. Now, without going into detail about the problems we've had in the past breastfeeding Oliver, they know we are pretty much on our own and Hayley told the person she spoke to that she'd had next to no sleep over the weekend. And yet the Health Visitor didn't even return her call, not even for 30 seconds to say "I got your message, I've not forgotten you". I am disgusted at this. For all she knows Hayley was at her wits end and the baby was abandoned or harmed.

OK, as they already know how we were with Oliver, they know that's not really likely, but I still don't think it excuses their total lack of response.

Tonight Lucy has been sleepy but would only stop crying and go to sleep we picked her up. Not a good sign. I know young babies need cuddles and re-assurance, but the cycle of feeding coupled with her refusing to sleep unaided is very exhausting. Especially for Hayley.

At the heart of all this is our uncertainty over how to handle this issue of Lucy using Hayley as a dummy. There are other aspects too which we'd like to talk through. It's depressing and infuriating not to be able to do so when we feel so tired and frustrated. So this evening Hayley got out a dummy (though we haven't yet used it) and we're also about ready to start moving to bottle feeding too. It's a shame as we can see all the benefits of breastfeeding. But we have our own version of the "Breast is Best" slogan. "Breast is best, but only if Mum isn't stressed". Maybe it will all turn round again, but without the necessary support we aren't going to put the whole family through unnecessary stress just to keep the breastfeeding going.

Post Script. Now trying to go to bed and she is doing exactly the same as last night. Great... The only glimmer of hope is that last night she slept for 6 hours once asleep, despite waking onc around 3.30am but falling back asleep by the time we were up to feed her and had carried her into the feeding room.

Sunday, September 02, 2007


First time under the play-gym
  • Today Lucy had her first experience of the play-gym (above).

  • Lucy's eyes are still blue. Oliver's had changed long before this point, so it looks like we've got our blue eyed girl.

  • Oliver's favourite phrase right now is "I ready". Often he's ready for the radio to start playing a song at his request. I've explained why this is a problem but he's not grasping it yet. Today he told me "I ready for you draw Fat Controller". This was not easy. And he followed it with requests for Thomas, James and Harold.

  • Oliver does a lovely version of the radio jingle that is played before the traffic reports on Radio 2 in the morning. You know the one, "BBC, Radio Twoooooo".

  • Lucy's favourite things to watch (apart from her Mummy of course) are the trees outside the front window and the lights in the kitchen. Although at one point this afternoon she seemed enthralled by Aston Villa vs Chelsea.

  • Oliver now tells me when he has pooed. He even climbs onto the sofa and waits of me to get the changing mat out. Although sometimes he still finds it fun to run off.

  • Lucy likes lying on her front across Hayley's legs. When she does it she looks a lot like Oliver did at the same age doing the same thing.

  • Hayley appears to have morphed into some sort of super-human. She takes everything in her stride and gets less tired than me despite getting way less sleep than I do. And all she has to sustain her is strong tea and the sight of Lucy. And I suspect the tea is irrelevant.
  • Oh what a night

    Essential reading
    Hayley this morning, still smiling despite having only about 2 hours sleep.

    We've just had a couple of really bad nights.

    On Friday night Oliver had a temperature and he woke several times, needing re-assurance and on one occasion a dose of Calpol. Meanwhile Lucy started to wake more often than before, going only 3 hours or less between feeds. Of course Lucy's awakenings and Oliver's awakenings were perfectly interleaved to keep us up most of the night.

    And last night was worse. Lucy fed at 9.30pm and we went to bed by 10.30pm. In fact, because we were so shattered we decided to try a bottle feed (formula on this occasion) as the last feed to see how that goes. It could allow me to feed Lucy and thus allow Hayley to go to bed early, getting some much needed sleep before the night feed. (The midwife has strongly recommended keeping the night feed as a breastfeed. Apparently it helps stimulation of milk production for the next day.)

    But the real problem last night was with Oliver. He inexplicably woke crying, but unlike the norm when he goes back to sleep after a little reassurance, he was inconsolable. Worse still, he seemed to almost be having tantrums in his cot. When we got him out he asked to go back to his cot but would soon start crying again once back in there. And he was shattered, so the situation just got worse and worse. Eventually we had to use controlled crying. The whole episode lasted from 11.45pm until 1am.

    At 1.19am Lucy woke for a feed. She fed until 2.49am but when Hayley tried to put her back down she only slept for 50 minutes before waking and wanting another feed. Hayley fed her and got back to bed at 5am. Then she went to sleep. So Hayley finally got a bit of sleep until Oliver woke around 7.30am and I got up. But Lucy woke within minutes, so we were then all up.

    Hayley fed Lucy then decided to re-read "Sleep: The easy way to peaceful nights". After a couple of hours Lucy was asleep and Hayley was falling asleep on the sofa so I sent her up for a nap.

    Not long after that our friend Sara came round with her son Jack, so he and Oliver were quite happy playing together for a couple of hours until Hayley got up again.
    When Oliver had a nap after lunch, so did I. So the remainder of the day was survivable, as we'd both caught up on at least a little sleep!

    Hayley has read almost the entire "Sleep" book today and we've picked up a few tips, including about the relationship between feeding and sleep. We are hoping this might cut down the number of times we mistake her cries as a request to feed and hence reduce the amount of time she spends feeding without reducing the amount of food she takes on. But as we all know, every baby is different so there's no guarantee we're barking up exactly the right tree.

    The one thing we definitely feel we need to do in the next few weeks is to try to spot the "core night". This is the time when she suddenly sleeps longer than usual and is the trigger to start building her night-time sleep. We missed this with Oliver, as we hadn't heard of the concept until it was too late. If we can get it right this time, I think it will make a big positive difference to the whole family.

    Saturday, September 01, 2007


    Freebirthers dismiss fear and bring babies home

    The day after Lucy was born I was at home preparing for her homecoming and recovering from the sleepless night of her labour. As is often the case in our house (at least when Oliver isn't getting to listen to Old Macdonald for the umpteenth time) the radio was on and it was tuned to Radio 4. "Woman's Hour" was on and they started by talking about "Freebirthers".

    Apparently this is a movement that started in the US but is spreading worldwide. It is basically an alliance of women who feel that birth is a natural thing which has been taken out of women's hands, so they are taking it back by going through labour with no care from any medical practitioner of any kind.

    Unsurprisingly perhaps, this movement has met with some opposition. American obstetricians have produced bumper stickers stating "Home delivery is for pizzas". I have to say I agree! While home birth might be fine for some women, I think it's wreckless to go this much further and advocate a practice that risks the health, or even the life, of your child. In both Oliver's and Lucy's births there were concerning moments towards the end and without the medical teams there the outcome could have been quite different.

    And if I'm honest I think that a quote such as "women are taking their power back" smacks of the sort of aggressive feminism that we saw in the 1980s. The sort that damaged relations between men and women rather than strengthening them. And the last thing I want is to see undone all the progress in recognising the importance of fathers and in treating them as an equal parent, not a second-class one.

    I wonder how long it will be before a Freebirther makes the news for all the wrong reasons.