Maddy and her Daddy

This little girl loves her daddy. DSCF1312 Her face lights up when she hears him arriving home. She turns to me, her eyes sparkling, and sighs happily. As he walks to the door, she sees him, and her little feet wave around. The first thing he does when he gets inside is kisses and tickles her, and she giggles and blushes. She pats whatever she’s eating or playing with, as if to say “Look what I’m doing, Daddy.” If she hears his voice while breastfeeding, she’ll stop feeding and start trying to sit up to get a look at him. Even if she’s half asleep. And she cries when he leaves for work in the morning. It is the cutest, most sad thing, watching her face as she realises he’s stopped playing with her and has started to leave.

Yesterday, while they were playing together, she looked at him and said “Da!” for the first time. She doesn’t know what that sound means yet, but the timing was brilliant.

She knows he delights in her. She knows she is his precious little girl. She knows her daddy loves her.

Six months old

My baby is half a year old.

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I can’t believe how fast these last 6 months have gone, nor how wonderful they have been. She’s stubborn, strong-willed, and knows how to get what she wants. We’re going to have fun with her. I love this about her, because I see her growing into a woman who is bold, uncompromising in her values, and not afraid to be a voice of justice.

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Miss Madelyn started commando crawling at 5 and a half months, and now it’s a lot harder to get good photos of her, because she doesn’t stay still for long enough. She gets around surprisingly fast, and she gets into everything. She refuses to stay on her changing mat long enough for me to put a new nappy on her. She follows us around everywhere, but cries as if her heart is breaking if we go too fast or move just out of sight. The poor cat has been chased a few times, too. Madelyn limps over to her, giggling her head off, and then as soon as she reaches out her hand to pat her, the cat scoots away as fast as she can.

 

 

She loves having people food. There hasn’t been anything so far that she’s refused to eat, though there are clearly some tastes she prefers over others. She loves, loves, loves water. I think she could actually just survive off water if we let her. Whenever she sees us drinking out of a cup or a water bottle, she wants some too. She’s actually pretty good at drinking out of her sippy cup. She can get it to her mouth, it’s just tipping it far enough that she needs help with.

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Her sleep is still erratic. Starting on solids is said to help a baby sleep longer, but not our Madelyn. She’s up every two hours wanting some more milk (maybe because she’s so busy during the day, she doesn’t get all she needs). We’ve had a few late nights where she’s just been hyperactive, like she has restless leg syndrome. She rolls around and around and around and gets up on her hands and knees and rocks and rolls some more, until she finally crashes.

She’s really funny and loves people. A few days ago, we were at the supermarket, and she was crying, then suddenly stopped and started smiling. I turned around to see what she was smiling at, and she’d caught the eye of one of the other customers, so had gone all cute. Cheeky little monkey.

 

We just adore her. She is so cute and playful and funny, she loves being the centre of attention, and she is so headstrong. We are excited about the woman she will grow up to be, and we are thankful for the time we get to spend with her now.

This is the journey and the destination. This is home.

(I wrote this a week ago. Life being crazy and all that, this has been my first chance to edit and publish it)

The one thing that has taken me most by surprise about motherhood is how Madelyn is utterly dependent on me to meet all of her needs. I have found myself completely overwhelmed by how constant it is, and how I am the only one who can meet her biggest need, which is nourishment.

Breastfeeding is natural, but it’s not easy. There have been many times during the last 5 weeks and 3 days when I have thought “I can understand why so many mothers give up after a few weeks.”  If I didn’t believe so strongly in the emotional and physical benefits of breastfeeding, I probably would have given up too.

I had, like most people do, initial latch pain for the first couple of weeks. I also had blisters, and one blood blister popped, making it even more painful. Before the end of her second week, I got a crack on my left side, that looked like someone had taken a knife and cut out a chunk. This bled too, and was excruciating.I also had a smaller crack on my right side. I often needed someone to put her on for me, because I couldn’t bring myself to do it. When she cried out of hunger, I would cry too, thinking of the pain that would be inflicted. It was emotionally exhausting. One afternoon, I had a nap and woke up crying, because I realised that she’d be awake soon and I’d need to breastfeed her. The worst time was when she was about two and a half weeks old, she hadn’t gone half and hour within feeding for the entire day (we now know this was a growth spurt/frequency day). At about 7pm, I couldn’t take anymore. I actually had to get Angus to come and take her away because every time she latched on I was filled with uncontrollable anger. It was awful. My days were filled with pain and frustration.

I persevered because I so wanted to have a long, happy breastfeeding relationship with her, and there was no physical reason why I couldn’t breastfeed her. So I resolved to keep on going through the pain, because I knew that it wouldn’t last forever, and I knew that it would benefit her so greatly.

After her awful growth spurt/frequency day, Angus called his mum (a lactation consultant), and asked her to come back down and spend a couple more days with me working on getting breastfeeding right. She was able to work out exactly what was wrong with the latch to be causing the cracks. In the birthing centre I’d been taught, as most new mums are, the cross-cradle hold, but it turns out that particular hold wasn’t working for us, especially as she was getting so much bigger so fast. So she helped me learn how to feed her in other positions, and convinced Angus to buy rather expensive wound healing gel pads to help heal the cracks. The gel pads and the new hold helped so much that within days I was feeding her on my sore side in public, something I’d avoided before then because I’d always cry. I rapidly gained confidence, and from there it just kept getting better.

And now, 5 weeks and 3 days since I first started breastfeeding, after so much agony and frustration, I can say that I actually enjoy it. I enjoy breastfeeding my child and look forward to that long, happy breastfeeding relationship I’d imagined.

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3 weeks old and having a nice, relaxing feed in the hammock

One month old

Today Madelyn is one month old.

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Oh, what a month this has been.

One month ago, she was an impossibly tiny little sprite. She only had one little Prem-size onesie that fit her, and even that was on the big side. Her hospital notes describe her that day as a “settled little baby.” She was just so new. At one month old, Madelyn is robust and alert, though still on the tiny side (she’s now the same weight as her daddy was when he was born).

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My little pixie all ready to go into town

She’s a hungry little thing, always wanting to have a little snack. She loves having cuddles and being talked to. When she has a bath, she likes being on her tummy, where she kicks her legs and twists around and has a big swim. She loves spending time on the ground on her tummy, and just before she turned 3 weeks old, she started to lift up her head and move it from side to side. She’ll happily lay on her back or her tummy and wriggle around, but she needs her position to be changed constantly or she gets bored. She has an arch that plays music, and she’ll lie under it dead still for a surprising amount of time. She loves going to the workshop in the front pack with Daddy, and laying in the big hammock under the trees with Mummy. Her little personality is starting to show through. She is so much like her daddy. She’s impatient, letting us know immediately and loudly when she needs something. She’s energetic and alert, and needs to be tired out with exercise (tummy time and then a bath) before she’ll go down for a nap. She loves people and noise and talking. Her face is very expressive, which makes us laugh. She babbles and squeals with delight. Her eyes smile, and every now and then we’ll catch a glimpse of a real smile.

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Pre-lunch cuddles

She will scream like her heart is breaking when she’s hungry, if I take too long to get ready to feed her. But then once she knows she’s about to be fed, her screams immediately turn into cute little satisfied sighs. When she’s particularly hungry, she’ll say “Nommmmm!” as she latches on, which always makes me smile no matter how tired I am.

There is too much to be excited about during the day, so she doesn’t nap for long and stubbornly fights sleep. But she’s developed her own little pattern during the night. After a marathon feed, she falls asleep at around 8pm. So I put a movie on, and at around 9:30pm-ish, I wake her to change her nappy, put her nightie on her, wrap her up, and then do one more feed, and put her down in her bassinet. She’ll sleep there happily for 4 – 6 hours, and then wake up for a midnight snack. Once she settles back to sleep (this can take an hour and a half on a bad night), she’ll sleep for another 2 or 3 hours. She’s been doing this for about the past week or so, and I’m feeling much more human. Sometimes, her night feed goes so well that Angus doesn’t even wake up for it. Success!

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Frilly-bottomed babies, you make the rockin’ world go ’round

This morning, it was a little bit colder then it has been since she was born. We’ve had a drought, and it rained last night for the first time in her entire life. So she wore her little jeans and a little hoodie jacket, and Angus and I laughed at her in her Big People Clothes. The socks she was wearing had little grips on the bottom, like if she walked she wouldn’t fall over (she was wearing her Walking Socks). She was cranky this morning, and Angus was stuck on the couch with her because whenever we moved her off his chest, she woke up and cried.

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She thinks she’s Big People

Yesterday, she did a massive poo that exploded above her nappy and through her clothes. We put her on the plastic changing mat so that we could easily wipe it up afterwards. But as soon as we took her nappy off, she did a wee, spreading the poo all the way up her back and into her hair. So she had two baths that day. Then, this afternoon, she did a poo during being changed, so it went all over me and the couch (this is the second time she’s done this, the first time she did it to Angus).

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Mums who need breakfast are thankful for babies who like to look at things

This afternoon, we went to a team meeting for church. She was one of three babies there. When I walked in with her crying and apologised for my crying baby, one of the men said “It’s fine, we’ve all been there.” I love my church for making sure I don’t feel bad about her crying. She fed pretty happily for most of the time, and then started to cry again so I got up to run outside with her, and at the door she stopped crying. She was staring at the roof as if it was the most fascinating thing she’d ever seen. So I stood by the door rocking her for a while, until I noticed poo on the back of her little onesie. So she had an outfit change, and I put a green cardigan on her so she was being all festive for St Patrick’s Day.

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Partying it up in her St Patrick’s Day gears

She is the most precious wee poppet. We love that she is our very own little daughter. She fits right into our little family, and we are so happy she’s here.

(I wrote this blog post on the 17th of March, but have only just had an opportunity to read through it and publish it. Life has changed for the better)

Motherhood

Today is my 27th day of being a mother.

In the last 27 days, my life has changed beyond recognition. I no longer am who I was before. My identity is set, firmly, in motherhood.

Motherhood is harder and more wonderful than I thought it would be. In these early days, motherhood is the giving of my body to nourish hers. To exist solely to meet someone else’s needs is overwhelming. The few seconds I get to myself in a day are more precious than gold.

But then I see the excitement in her eyes as  she realises she’s about to be fed. And she purses her lips and raises her eyebrows as she stretches after a nice, long feed. I kiss my floppy baby and hold her for a moment longer before putting her back down after her midnight snack. And her eyes smile as I sing to her during our morning cuddles. I see my husband holding his daughter, and I know she is an arrow in the hands of a warrior.

And I know that I am doing exactly what I was created to do. To nurture my baby daughter is to fulfill the plan God has for my life.

Motherhood.

The first 7 days of my baby girl’s life

One day, very soon, I will not be able to remember this mind-blowing week. The whole week already is a blur of breastfeeding and being tired. So I wanted to capture it before it was completely gone.

Day 1:

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After a sleep in recovery, with my brand new baby sleeping on my chest, and our hero sleeping in a chair beside me, we were taken to the ward. I was disappointed that I wasn’t able to go straight to the birthing centre like I’d wanted, but thankful that the spinal block meant I couldn’t feel the stitches for several more hours. Our mums joined us on the ward, and I talked incessantly about how incredible it had been to give birth. As the feeling came back in my legs, I become more aware of how sore and tired I was, but the euphoria of having just brought a baby girl into the world made it far more bearable. My pulse rate had been high, and remained high, so the hospital kept me in for even longer. Finally, I was able to get up for a shower. Thankfully, the ward midwife suggested Angus come with me. I couldn’t even stand up in the shower, my body was just so tired. I slumped over the shower rail as Angus held the water over my tailbone, which had just started to really hurt, and then washed me. Then he got onto the bed beside me, and the three of us slept. Someone had put a nappy on Baby, which was a very good thing, because she did her first little poo. I had several tests done, and any midwives, nurses and doctors come to talk to me, and I don’t remember any of it, because I was drifting in and out of sleep. Eventually, a doctor came to talk to us about staying because my pulse was still high, but wasn’t very convincing about why we should stay and basically just said they were covering their butts, so we decided to leave. The birthing centre we wanted to go to was full, but they were able to put us in the observation suite, with one other couple. The first night was pretty hard, she was very, very hungry and we didn’t really know what we were doing. Thankfully, the maternity aides were happy to come and help us as often as we needed. She wouldn’t settle in the cot, so at about 3am, we finally got some sleep with her cradled in my arms.

Day 2:

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The birthing centre got even more busy, so we decided to go home. Angus’s mum is a lactation consultant and was happy to stay for a few more days, so we essentially had our own private maternity aide, and we knew we’d be more comfortable at home. Getting her in and out of the car was interesting. We had Angus’s two door truck, so he had to practically lift me into the back seat, and then pass the baby (in her car seat) through the window to me, and I buckled her up. Angus’s younger siblings had all come down to meet the new baby, so they were there when we got home, and were smitten. Angus’s sister had cooked dinner, which we all ate together, and then Angus, Baby and I went to bed. She woke every hour or so for a feed, and we had to wake Angus’s mum up a couple of times for help. At about 3am, she settled in our bed and then didn’t wake up until 7am.

Day 3:

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Angus’s siblings were gone by the time we woke up. We got up at about 8am, and I came out and sat in my chair and fed her while Angus and our mums ran around after me. My mum went into town to buy her some clothes, because she was too tiny to fit any of the clothes we had for her.  She also brought us back some lunch, and then had to go home, which was sad. We got a visit from the midwife who works on my midwife’s off days, and she did the heel prick test. I was feeding Baby while she did it, and she only cried for a second, but I thought my heart was going to fall out of my mouth. I don’t really remember a whole lot else about this day, except that I was feeling quite overwhelmed at her neediness and total reliance on me. I realised that she not only was utterly dependent on me for survival, but also that she trusted me completely.That night, Angus and I argued twice about latching her on for breastfeeding, and I ended up in tears both times. The first time, he went and got his mum, who brought me food and sat with me while I fed the baby, while Angus cooled off out in the lounge. The second time, Angus managed to catch himself in time, went and got me something to eat, and then sat with me. He’s just as tired as I am.

Day 4:

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When trying to feed her, she latched on and then pulled off and burst a blood blister. My entire nipple was covered in blood, which she bobbed her face in a few times before latching on again. If I’d been reluctant to breastfeed because of sore nipples before, now I was almost terrified. It’s very difficult, mentally, to bring yourself to invite someone to suck on a grazed and now bleeding part of your body. Angus’s mum showed him an instructional video on latching, so he learnt how to help me latch her on. We had a good night, she fed a lot, but with Angus now able to really help me, I didn’t spend nearly as much time trying to latch her on, and neither of us got as stressed out. We got through to 5am without needing to get Angus’s mum to come and help.

Day 5:

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She did a poo, so Angus changed her nappy, and while he was changing her, she did an explosive poo which got on Angus’s shorts, the couch, and the carpet. So he and his mum (I was in the toilet, which takes a whole lot longer then usual now, due to the stitches) took all her clothes off, got her cleaned up, and lay her out on the ground in the sun (inside) for a few minutes. She was loving it. She then had her first bath, which she also absolutely loved. As soon as she got out, she became ravenously hungry, so I wrapped her up in her towel and fed her, meaning to dry and change her afterwards. This was at 10:30am. At about 11:15am, she hadn’t finished eating, and weed on me, so I got Angus to put a nappy on her. She was hungry again straight away. We didn’t have time to dry and dress her. My midwife and student midwife arrived at about 11:30am, and I discovered that according to my hospital notes, my labour only last 2 hours and 50 minutes (this is crazy, I was in pain long before then). She fed until about 3pm, when I finally managed to get away for a shower. She was hungry again when I got out of the shower. She fed almost continuously until about 7:30pm, and then had a bit of a longer sleep that night, which was nice. We managed to make it through the whole night without needing to get Angus’s mum, so we felt quite proud of ourselves.

Day 6:

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Feeding her that morning, I started to sing the Red Nose Day song (“You make the whole world smile with your little button nose”) and burst into tears at the thought of her dying. Angus came back into our room to find me sobbing over her. He comforted me, and then helped me to see that it was a little bit funny. Angus’s mum had to leave, which was sad and scary. Now we were really on our own. Angus set up the lap top, and got a whole bunch of movies, so that I would have something to do while feeding her all day. She feeds constantly, and it’s very easy to get bored and lonely when all I can do is sit there. Our neighbours bought over some chicken pasta for dinner, which was restaurant quality. We went to church that night, where everyone who prayed for us through my induction got to meet the baby they were praying for. Well, they got to see her back. I fed her on the couch at the back during the service, and then she fell asleep flopped over my tummy. I was reluctant to move her, because if she woke hungry, I’d have to feed her on my sore side, which I wanted to wait until we got home to do.

Day 7:

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We woke up feeling quite proud of ourselves again, having made it through a night entirely on our own. I watched movies and fed her all morning, and then my midwife, student midwife, mum and step dad all arrived at the same time. I had been anxiously awaiting the midwives’ visit, to see how much she weighed. She’d been eating so much, I thought for sure she wouldn’t have lost any weight, though the midwife assured me a small amount of weight loss was normal. My little muncher had put on 130 grams! I feel quite accomplished, and very proud of our little family. She fed continuously through out the day, and gave us little snippets of several hours sleep during the night. The hardest part of motherhood, I have found, is how desperately she needs me. I am her life. This is both humbling and overwhelming.