The Mummy Worries

Mums worry. I know that. My mum used to worry about me pulling out of the junction by our family home in my car, at age 25! I get it now though… Nothing can prepare you for that feeling of worry when YOU are the mum. I’ve been thinking about these little wobbles I have, daily, I may add. Most of the time I can laugh at myself and I know I’m being silly, I look back at how I used to react when my own mum had similar wobbles. I had perfected the full body eye roll by age 4. 

So, I decided to make a list of things that mums are bound to worry about, and because lists are productive, I’ve tried to show how these worries do seem like a big deal. Because at one point, they were a big deal to you. 

Am I feeding my baby enough/is he sleeping enough/ is he getting enough interaction?

The main newborn worries, all rolled in to one. This is relative to me right now; when the only food my baby had access to was coming from my boob, I had no idea how much he was getting from me. All I knew was that he was growing. What I didn’t know though – if he’s putting on weight, he’s getting enough milk. If I would have known this, my first few weeks of breastfeeding would have been easier and I wouldn’t have put so much pressure on myself to feed constantly. It wasn’t until I started combination feeding after 12 weeks of exclusive breastfeeding that I really started to relax. Milo was napping better in the day and would sleep for longer than an hour and a half at a time during the nighttime. 12 weeks of worrying about feeding your perfectly happy and healthy baby is so unnecessary, but I’m glad I did worry and eventually see sense because everything is a learning curve! 

As for sleeping… Milo didn’t do this much. I spent weeks and weeks searching for baby sleep routines and recommended daily sleep for newborns. The more I found, the more I worried. Take the expected hours of sleep in a 24 hour period for a newborn – 16 to 20 hours a day, I believe – now halve it and that is vaguely what Milo was getting. One day, I had calculated his sleep at 12 hours in a 24 hour period and 10 of those hours were throughout the night. I had it all written down and I thought there was something wrong with our son. What you don’t get from a piece of paper or a baby routine app, is how your baby is actually coping with such little sleep. Milo liked to cat nap and was perfectly happy to have 15 minute naps all through the day. As soon as I dismissed the routine app from my phone, I relaxed. Milo also started sleeping longer and I guess it’s because I spared him of my negative energy and he was able to relax more! 

And now, interaction. As long as we see eye contact, cooing, copying facial expressions and shifting attention, there tends to be nothing to worry about. So carry on giving a running commentary on getting yourself dressed in the morning and singing to your number one fan about how annoyed you are that the house doesn’t tidy itself, because you are doing enough. You are doing a great job! 

What if I have nobody to talk to at the baby and toddler group?

Ahh, it’s like high school again. You’ve thrown yourself into the deep end and booked a space at the new parent and toddler group. On your own! Why?!? Why did you do it? No baby buddies, no supportive husband and no ballsy 6 year old to ambush all of the other parents, making them feel obliged to compliment you on raising such a confident little thing! Never mind, you’ve done it now. Time to take action. You get to the group super early and pick a spot that isn’t completely on the outside so you get cut out by the uncomfortable looking regulars but also isn’t directly in the middle where you tend to get the ‘toppers’, those parents that claim their child has had/done everything your child has, and more! No, you want a neutral spot. Near the door, so you can assess the groups coming in. Slightly off centre so you can engage in conversation with a select few friendly faces. And finally, fairly close to the hot drinks table. Close enough to suss out the teabag/stirring spoon/sugar scooping etiquette but far away enough to not panic yourself over hot drink spillages near the baby – that is if your local group still allows hot drinks around the little ones. 

Why are we worrying about this? We should bite the bullet and turn up when we are ready, sit where we want – let’s face it, we don’t want to sit by a breezy door in winter – and who cares if no parent talks to us on our first trip to the group? We’ve got our little dude to talk to (not the conversation we were hoping for, but he never lets you down). 

I’ve booked and paid for these swimming lessons. What will I do if he doesn’t like water?

Again, minor worry here! Babies might cry when they first enter a swimming pool because it’s cooler than what they are used to; and that loud echo of others talking, shouting and laughing is pretty daunting too. However, like most humans, babies quickly get used to this environment and they might not be keen on staying at first but you need to remember that yes, you did book your space and pay for those baby swimming lessons so you can get as much attention and support from your instructor as possible, that is why they are there. They want to support you so you feel the session is successful, and then comes positive feedback and word of mouth recommendations which are golden for small business owners. So, we are winning all round!

What if I don’t hear my baby wake in the night?

Well, this worry came from pregnant me. Life before Milo. I soon realised that it was going to be impossible to miss those noises through the night and I was relieved. Although, I didn’t realise that I’d get so confused during those early morning wake up calls. It’s not just me though, luckily this confusion is common and I’ve loved laughing at stories from friends about their confused episodes. Putting things away in strange places, thinking the baby is still in the bed with you but has somehow got lost in the covers (when really he’s sound asleep in his cot) and thinking somebody is ringing the doorbell at 4am. These are a few of my favourite stories to giggle about!

I suppose the real worry for me now though, what if I don’t hear my baby waking when he’s in his own bedroom?! I’m sure I will hear him, just the same as I do now, but we just need to wait until we cross that hurdle!

What is this rash?!

For the first few weeks of life, babies skin is always changing. Dry skin is common, as are blemishes here and there. You still don’t believe that though. Milo was admitted to hospital at 6 days old because his skin looked as though it had a slightly blue tinge to it, combined with a struggle latching on to my boob and very irregular feeding times – not wanting to feed for 7 hours through the night and then feeding every half an hour the next night – we were glad he was being monitored and I got that extra feeding support. Nothing was wrong with him of course. It was just changeable newborn skin. Another thing that nobody tells you about. 

Little ones are forever going to the doctors surgery with rashes too. Viral rashes. It seems as though it’s the go to answer but just be relieved when you are told that is all it is. And never feel silly for taking your child to the doctor. They are always happy to check over your little ones and catching early symptoms leads to better treatment and recovery if ever there was something abnormal. 

I suppose my biggest worry recently was going through milo’s operation and mostly going under anaesthetic. Looking at what we worry about as mothers definitely helped me through the situation. It’s normal to express concern when it comes to your child, no matter how big or small it may be. If anyone can help you overcome your fears and worries by talking about their own experiences or stating facts. We should really be listening, and taking deep breaths whilst telling yourself that everything will be okay! 

Please remember to talk to someone regarding any concerns you have that may be niggling away at your thoughts, our babies need us to be positive and full of confidence. You’re stronger than you will ever know! 

Milo’s time in plaster casts

Being told your child has a condition that can only be rectified through physiotherapy and surgery is quite a lot to take in when you are lay on a bed looking at the little bean in your tummy. It casts a shadow over pregnancy, and you know you have to appear positive and tell everyone that it is going to be okay, but in the back of your mind there is a little thought “what if my baby isn’t going to be okay?” Of course, you can’t really tell people that you are thinking that at the risk of being a Negative Nancy – which is not me at all – and you trick yourself out of if occasionally, but it always comes back.

Milo was born by emergency Caesarean section and I immediately asked what his feet looked like. The surgeon asked why I was picking faults with my child, and although I was high on life, happy as Larry, it was my main concern and I managed to tell the surgeon that my child has got bilateral talipes and I wanted to see how severe it was, immediately! After checking his feet and breathing a sigh of relief that nothing else had been picked up in any of the newborn checks, I started preparing myself for what would be the next step. This is how I deal with life with Milo. I knew step one was for Milo to be treated using the Ponseti Method of casting. I just didn’t get told how long they would leave it or how long this treatment would take until we turned up to our first appointment.

We turned up to the Physiotherapy Department at BCH unaware that Milo at two weeks old, would be casted up right then and we wouldn’t have his little prawn shaped cuddles anymore. So whilst a little warning would have been appreciated, with the treatment we have recieved for Milo, it really isn’t worth dwelling over. As a family, we have all been looked after.

Our physiotherapist is fantastic! The first session we had, started with a consultation telling us all about the purpose of the casts, how they are manipulating the feet outwards slightly by having new casts every week and how we keep them clean and dry. We had a lot of questions and every single one was answered efficiently and with honesty.

After the first week of Milo’s new legs, we had come to realise that looking after him was just the same as before but with just a few minor things to be aware of.

  1. No baths. With Milo so small, he wasn’t really going to get dirty but it was surprising how much dirt accumulated in fingernails and between toes so it was very important to sponge bath Milo every night. The positives outweigh the negatives here though. Milo’s skin wasn’t dried out by baby bath, we kept on top of his hygiene through the day so bathing him before bed was never a chore and we were religious with this cleansing routine so Milo quickly learnt the difference between night and day (not that this stopped him waking to feed hourly, he just knew it was time to go straight back to sleep).
  2. Poo on casts is inevitable, we just learnt to be laid back about it and scrub vigorously with a wet wipe. By day six of the casts, there were so many marks on them that it really didn’t make any difference where they came from. Baby poo doesn’t smell though, so there isn’t anything to worry about! The only thing to be wary of was getting urine on them as it’s so acidic it will burn through the plaster casts and hurt the skin. The physio department are so accommodating though, we could just soak the casts off and get new ones if that did happen.
  3. Milo would often get sore patches from his casts, this is common! The top of the thighs, back of his knees and his toes would look red and skin would seem quite damaged in these areas but healing time would be a few hours after using a barrier cream, so there are no long term sores!
  4. Milo was never in newborn or 0-3 months trousers or dungarees because the plaster casts would make the size of his legs double! The positive here is that he’s been in 3-6 months trousers from birth and now that he has no casts, this size still fits, almost 4 months on.
  5. Finally, soaking the casts off takes hours to start with. It does get quicker, but it’s not pleasant having a newborn baby sit in the bath for about an hour whilst tugging at his legs. Luckily, Milo is breastfed so I used to wait until he was due a feed and do it sat in the bath with him. It took his mind off the uncomfortable feeling of having wet, heavy casts and time used to pass quite quickly. By the time he had finished feeding, his casts were soft enough to just unravel.

With Milo having plaster casts on for 13 weeks of his life, we got used to the weekly bath routine and travelling two hours to the children’s hospital (a trip that should only take an hour, but never did) we soon got used to this extra care that our little one needed and it fitted into our busy lives with little disruption.

Milo became aware of the things he could do with these special little legs. The noises he could make to get our attention and his ab workouts were our favourites! He would lift his legs as high as he could and kick them down again, making everyone aware that he was awake or wanted a chat. It was also reassuring on long car journeys when we would hear his legs knocking together!

Over the 10 weeks of Ponseti casting, we noticed a huge difference in Milo’s feet. Here are a few progress photos after treatment.

Milo’s feet at birth. Turned in and up. 

First casts at two weeks old and a slight manipulation at the ankle. 

Progress after three weeks of casts. Milo’s feet still had a long way to go here but treatment was working well. You can see they aren’t completely turned in anymore and the feet are straight. 

Here is Milo after his Ponseti treatment! Only a slight turn in his feet and ready for operating!

Milo’s operation is to snip his tendons and position his feet correctly, the procedure is called a tenotomy. It’s been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster at times, read all about it in my next blog!

Life After Birth… The Newborn Blur

This. This is all I really remember in those first few weeks. Trying to play with my baby and both of us lasting a maximum of three minutes. Time well spent? I’d say so! Let’s look at real life here and stop feeling bad about not following new mum rules, because let’s face it, sleeping when baby sleeps? Doesn’t happen with visitors around!

I got told I should limit my visitors. This is something you desperately try to do, but you don’t realise how many people you actually know until you have a baby. Texts and calls quadruple, random knocks at the door and neighbours hovering on their driveways a little longer to catch a glimpse of the new arrival. You feel obliged to invite everyone in for a ‘quick cuppa’ because you know, you are British! You are also excited to show off your little bundle because he is the cutest baby to ever be born. We had every intention to spread our visitors out but when you have friends at work, 6 – 7pm is prime time to ‘pop in after work’ and there’s a two week window before your baby isn’t brand new, so you just brave it, invite everybody round, and you actually feel fine. And baby? Sleeping soundly, ignoring all of the fuss!

 This is the time I should have taken to nap whilst daddy was around to help in the day. But this is exactly the reason I didn’t want to nap, because daddy was home for two whole weeks and we were excited to spend time together, awake time! 

We would take trips out into town or go for coffee, because maternity wage hadn’t quite kicked in and if my money wasn’t being spent on baby goodies or prosecco, it was going towards coffee dates! This is where we would get bombarded with members of the public because babies are stranger magnets! We would get asked those annoying questions, deemed acceptable questions to ask new, emotional and sleep deprived parents… ‘Is he good?’ Well actually, he’s a baby. He sleeps, eats and poops. He cries if I’m needed, even if it is just for a cuddle, that’s fine though because newborns smell and feel so good! It makes you feel good to cuddle that little dot and know that you are all he needs right in that moment. So is my baby good? Well, yes, he’s doing what he should be doing after all. 

One of the other things I remember in the newborn phase is going out for a walk in public – 6 days after having a ceserean, not recommended! I would constantly be asked the age of my baby and then be greeted with shock if I answered anything less than two weeks old. I got a lot of ‘oh wow, you’re out already? But he’s so young’ or ‘well done you, it must be hard coming out with him so tiny’. You can’t respond how you’d like to – yes it is hard, my nipples feel like they are bleeding every time I move my arms, I feel like I’m being cut in half again and I just want to cry – whether you’re being nice or not. 

Let’s face it, it’s 6 weeks of feeling like your life is complete and a complete mess all at the same time. Listening to strangers telling you that they grow up too fast, you don’t believe it and think you have all the time in the world, but it’s not long until you realise they are right. 

Milo’s newborn phase seemed to only last two weeks, because this is when he started treatment for his talipes and his legs were in full casts. 

We totally enjoyed his ‘baby looking like a prawn’ phase!