Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Baby and me: 6 and 7-month update


I've only just realised that I completely failed at posting last month, despite actually writing the post! So I've combined the last two months, which has been interesting for me since I haven't made a point of looking back before and although you know that things are changes so fast, I haven't appreciated the smaller steps until now. Here we go.


Baby
Well, I feel like it all kicked off at six months. There just seemed to be so much going on developmentally. Sleep was terrible again with lots of night wakings, except he seemed to be waking up really upset, which made me suspect that it was his teeth bothering him. We've had days when he is dribbly and chews on his fist a lot and other days where his gums don't seem to bother him at all. That said, there is still no sign of any teeth.

He's been sitting up very well since six months and prefers this over lying down front or back. He's giving no signs he has any intention of crawling - although he does push himself up on his arms now, which he wasn't doing before. He also rolls over onto his front when he's trying to sleep and then pushes his bottom up as if trying to get into a crawling position, except he just gets annoyed that he's waking himself up. To encourage him to crawl, I've tried placing toys slightly out of reach, but all he does is try to stretch then give up and turn his attention elsewhere. To be honest, I'm not in a hurry for him to be on the move; I know he'll eventually reach that milestone and has plenty of time to be mobile so I'm just enjoying him being stationary for now.

Back to sleeping, he does roll and sleeps on his front now. It happened the first time on a day he was resisting a nap, and in the process, he rolled onto his front and just stayed there. I was relieved he finally slept, but also very paranoid. Something that did help him sleep better at night was moving him into his own room. I always thought I would feel horrible moving him out, but everyone sleeping better has been great, looking back I think we were disturbing him when we would come into the room at night. 

The biggest thing I've seen during month seven has been the development of his fine motor skills. He's got so much better at grabbing things and transferring them where he wants. If he drops something to the side, he reaches out and grabs without having to look for it and see it. He can also grab his dummy and put it in his mouth now, which is great! He's also learnt about cause and effect, and I see him anticipating the fall of his stacking cups when he pushes them. I'm sure he has for a while, but he definitely recognises his name and ignores it when it suits him, too. He also likes banging things together, which I assume all babies like.

We also started solids at six months. I've gone down the puree route since traveling doesn't bring things to his mouth, so baby-led weaning wasn't an option. I started with pureed carrot and as excited as he was to try he burst into tears with the first spoonful. I felt awful! I then moved on to baby rice and baby porridge (which he reacted to). He didn't seem very interested for about the first three weeks, I would make up something new everyday, but he would have a bite or two and make a weird grunting noise and then refuse anymore. Then I don't know what happened, he suddenly liked eating, and we quickly stepped up to three meals a day. We started combining different fruits and vegetables, and then introduced meat, fish, and spices as well. His favourites are carrot (surprisingly), broccoli, courgette, chicken, beef, lamb, green beans, peas, pears, oatmeal, banana, mango, apples, and cauliflower. More recently I have tried giving him finger foods, but more often than not he just plays with them and has even got annoying wondering why I'm not just feeding him. He still hasn't got used to the sound of the blender, that always makes him cry.

Me
At six months the sleep issue had really been bothering me.  I also felt a bit cheated by all the books and advice that said I would have no problems if he learnt to put himself to sleep. He can do that, but my issue was that he didn't stay asleep. But, by month seven things just seemed to get better, and I can't say it was anything I was doing differently, but is reached a point where I decided not stress about it. Being at home means I have the luxury of not worrying too much about having him on a schedule (and that I can take a nap with him if need be).  That said, it's nice that, for the first time, we have a sort of routine.

I have to admit that the first days of weaning did make me anxious. I like to have as much information as possible, but weaning is one of those areas that, as important as it is, doesn't have a lot of information available and what is out there can be contradictory. It's the first time I've "winged it," and it didn't help that seemed to have a reaction to some foods. It is quite fun now that he seems to be enjoying it.

I think this six/seven month time has been my favourite so far. He is a really happy and generally chilled out baby, and it's a lot of fun getting giggles out of him and just watching him. I've also reached that point where I feel like "I got this". I think generally being a bit more chilled has helped with that.

I have been struggling with the Oman summer, though. I think I've always suffered from a bit of seasonal affected disorder in the summertime. Ramadan was actually quite nice since my husband would be home early to hang out with us, but because all the activities wind down until September, it's easy for the days to just blur into one. We did go away for the long Eid break, which turned out to be a really nice trip. I'd always said I wouldn't travel with a baby. But, he was great. We went to Bangkok and I really enjoyed being able to go outside, walk around, and, of course, the food. And he enjoyed all the attention from the locals. I'm sure there were times when he was intentionally trying to catch people's eyes so they would talk to him. I don't know if we caught the sweet spot age-wise when it comes to travelling with a baby, but I do feel like we could think about doing it again.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Baby and me: 5-month update

Baby

So after returning from London we settled back into life in Muscat just fine. Master A even slept better, once doing a nine-hour stretch and, of course, I woke up at about six hours in and then worried that he was okay the rest of the time. But, no sooner we settled, what I can only guess is a growth spurt began and his sleep was terrible again. He was waking up every 2.5 hours at night and taking short naps during the day. Other than ride it out, I'm not sure what I can do to get the good sleep back.

He's taken to sleeping on his right side, rolling and arching his back. He seems to have a preference for the right and I don't know if that's related to me sleeping on my right a lot when I was pregnant. Speaking of rolling, he now rolls nicely from back to belly, but not back again. Once he's had enough on his front he just gets annoyed and as much as I try and leave him to figure out how to roll back on his own eventually he gets upset enough that I pick him up.

We've had a couple of funny incidents where sounds surprised him. Foil being one, he screamed but how much of that was fear and how much was just a response to the sound I'm not sure. He reacts in a similar way to plastic bags. He does not like the sound of the blender though, that always makes him cry.

We have also started swimming lessons. I wanted to capitalize on how much he likes bath time - he's always been happy to have his head in the water and is even daring enough to turn his face into the water and try to roll over.

I thought by now we would have something of a routine, but we do work on a 1.5 hour awake schedule, in which time we would eat and play, and then he would sleep and the cycle would be repeated.  Me not working and not really having anything that has to be done most days means that we mostly work about his mood. I'm not sure at what point we'll work to mine.

Me
Well the baby part of this post has been written for over a month, and the fact I haven't come back to finish off the me section should give you a clue as to how month six is going. I'll save a longer update for that post.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Baby and me: 4 month update

Well, I have done spectacularly badly at being on time with this post, but here we go my four-month baby and me update.

Baby 

I think I jinxed myself being quite so happy about how well Master A was doing with sleep. This past four weeks our 7-hour stretches have been replaced with a lot more frequent wakings. I had heard about the four-month sleep regression, but I thought since I did all the hard work helping him settle himself to sleep that we might have bypassed that. That said, at the start of this month we had a lot of other changes. A trip to London for a start. He was very good on the flight, he didn't seem phased or irritated by the new surroundings and even managed a couple of good stretches of sleep. Since I use a dummy with him, we had no problems with his ears during takeoff and landing.

As for milestones, he continues to almost grab at things - reaching out more to try. He's excellent at pulling my hair and pinching the tiniest bit of skin on my neck. He's also mastered blowing raspberries, which he seems to do most when he is bored or had enough of an activity. He's also talking more, shrieking with excitement (or frustration) and even giggling. He seems to like the feeling of being surprised (so repeated "boos" usually get a giggle). Unexpected surprises scare him and usually make him cry (to the disappointment of granddad when he was actually trying to get a giggle). He now recognises his name, and he's also found his thumb, which my mum is hugely disappointed about (she's convinced he'll be sucking his thumb forever now). I still haven't figured out what sets him off into a giggling fit some days, the same thing doesn't work twice.

Being back in the U.K. has meant he's been introduced to a lot of family and spoilt with hugs, kisses, and gifts. At times, the number of people around has clearly overwhelmed him, and I've tried not to have too many active days just to keep him rested. I had a lot of fun taking him out, we managed journies on the tubes and buses, which he seemed to really enjoy "talking" the whole time.

Me 

Health-wise I'm fine. While back in the U.K. I took the opportunity to see the doctors here and check everything was fine. The follow-up care in Oman was non-existent, and I was just a bit paranoid that organs ended up settling in the wrong place (honestly, the things you imagine and worry about!) I think what dawned on me this month is how quickly that newborn phase passed. Seamlessly we entered infancy and those days of hours feeding and endless hugs are over. I'm so glad that I didn't listen to those people telling me that if I held him too much he'd be spoilt - not only is that not true, but he's now so curious about his surroundings that he doesn't stay still long enough for a cuddle....and he's not even mobile yet. Briefly, I mourned the passing of that phase, but I'm excited to see how he is changing and developing. That said, I'm consciously making sure to appreciate the phase we are in. I don't want to spend time wishing he was still smaller or looking forward to the next milestone that I miss where we are.

 I also want to add a thank you to the people who contacted me after the last post when I mentioned I was having trouble finding places to feed and wondering what to do. There is a "Mother's Room" in
Babyshop and, although I haven't tried, it is meant to be fine to also feed in the women's prayer rooms.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Life lately: Baby and me


It's been just over three months since I gave birth to a healthy baby boy. I expect that this blog, at least for a little while, will become very baby focused while the exploring and adventures are on pause. The plan is to make this space a sort of diary for him, too. I heard another mum saying that she is actually doing just that, writing a line or two a day to look back on later so the smaller milestones don't get missed. But, I'm being realistic and know that with all the best intentions I won't find time to do that. So the plan is once a month to do an update here.

Baby 

Baby A now weighs 6.4kg, double his birth weight, and is a long 61 cm. I mention his height because we bought the cutest little bed before he was born, and the idea was that he would sleep in that for 6 months (as advertised) while we found something that's nice and more permanent. But he grew too big for it almost immediately, and he is now in a travel cot while we continue the search. The first night we put him in there he spread his arms wide, making the most of his extra space, I guess.

Overall, he's a good baby - very chilled out, and he doesn't cry for no reason, although it did take me a while to understand what different cries and whinges meant. The first six weeks I had my mum here, which was a huge help. I could sneak away for naps while she watched him and actually fit in things like showering and eating. Once she left things were very different, and I was mentally high-fiving myself if I managed to do as much as wash my face. Naturally, by six weeks he was that much more alert during the day, and he started to demand all of my attention all the time. I do remember one occasion after a quick trip to the bathroom when I returned to a bright red, screaming face full of tears. I felt so guilty. It was and still is, difficult to walk away from him without hearing some sounds. Rather than babbles, he likes to practice the sounds he'll use when he is actually in distress, which was very confusing for me before I realised. I'd come over to find out what was wrong only to be greeted with a huge smile.

As for milestones, his head is pretty stable, he definitely recognises me, smiles a lot, babbles and coos, pulls himself forward when he is sitting on me and is unconsciously grabbing things. He does swipe for his toys in the jungle gym, and I'm sure any day now he'll finally grab them and then it will be time to watch where we place things and start saying "no" at lot. When he is on the changing table, he wants to practice his rolling (although I expect the freedom of no nappy helps). He did once roll from front to back, but he hasn't done it since. I started doing tummy time quite early on, but he tolerates it for different amounts of time depending on the day.

People seem to love to ask if he is sleeping through the night yet. He's not. But his night-time sleep is, generally, better than daytime. Only in the last two weeks have I managed to get him to sleep at all during the day. In the early days, I couldn't read when he was tired, but even when I realised he fought so much with me, and I would give up quite easily. He'd eventually fall asleep feeding, and we developed a bit of a bad cycle. We now have a system of patting and shushing and then placing him down in that key "drowsy but awake" state. In theory, when he reaches the end of a sleep cycle and does a "check" he will recognise that he is sleeping in the same place and go back to sleep - he doesn't, but I'm happy that he is at least getting some sleep now and understands that patting and shushing means sleepy-time. The bedtime routine we have of feed, bath, massage and pat works a treat. I've even started to be daring and skip the patting in favour of just placing him down and waiting for him to sleep. We then get a stretch anywhere between 4 and 7 hours (no idea how to consistently get the longer stretch) and then we feed and sleep again (usually, 3-hour stretches). Occasionally, everything goes pear-shaped, and he's up every hour-and-a-half, which I think is down to digestion issues. Late-night-googling suggests I should cut out dairy from my diet, but I may just reduce it for now and see if it helps.

In the last week or so he's also got much better at travelling in the car. Every trip would result in a lot of tears (mine and his), and I dreaded having to take him anywhere. Because he was feeding at least every two hours, too, all journey's had to be arranged around that. Now I can usually time our trips out when he is due for a nap, and he'll drift off in the car.

Me 

Where to start. I think I've finally come to terms with the fact that I'll never sleep deeply or for more than a few hours ever again, and the desire to smother my husband while he snores away at night is subsiding - which is good. Thankfully, I had a really good labour (full post to come), and within about two weeks I was physically over the birth. Naively, I didn't expect it to take that long - no one talks about the after effects of labour, and I had done so much reading about what to expect before the baby came, but nothing about after. As much I knew I would be tired and that it was going to be hard work, it was that much harder than I'd imagined. Breastfeeding was also a much bigger challenge than I expected. I always thought you would just pop the baby on, he would eat for a few minutes and be done. The pain and discomfort that came with it and the days when I had to feed for hours on end was a huge shock. I remember crying because it hurt so much, and really wanting to give up, but at the same time really not wanting to. The hospital was useless, they didn't help at all and were quick to try and discourage me. I'd already been to a birth prep and breastfeeding course at Nine (based in The Walk, Al Mouj) and the midwives there were on hand to help me. Had it not been for their help I know I would have given up.

It is funny reflecting now because I know there were lots of moments when I felt that that was it, life was just going to be like that forever. He'll never sleep, I'll never eat a meal hot again, etc, but slowly things have changed. I'm proud of myself just for getting this far, he's healthy and thriving, and I'm the reason for that.

Although I've lost the baby weight, I'm still coming to terms with the physical change in my body. I'm going to take the slow and steady approach to getting fit again. There's been a lot of reaching for junk food for comfort and because it's easy. I always ate pretty well, and this has been the period of my life when my diet has suffered when it's more important that I eat better.

A big decision I made after the birth was to give up work. Maternity leave in Oman is 50 days. As I was discharged from the hospital, I was given a sick note starting my leave on the day I was admitted. So I was already three days down by the time I got home. I'd always planned to just see how I felt about returning to work, and the sick note didn't start me off in the best frame of mind. I quickly realised that I wouldn't be ready to leave a 50-day-old baby anywhere. I did have to go back to work for two weeks to complete my notice, and I'm glad that I had that experience. I struggled being up at night with him and trying to focus on tasks during the day. I had been feeling irresponsible for giving up a job in a place where it's hard to find work, and for losing extra income, but those two weeks made me realise I had made the right choice for me.

Muscat 

I realise this post is getting long, but I wanted to also add a bit about my experience of Muscat now that I have an infant. Firstly, where are all the breastfeeding spaces? I've heard rumours of rooms to feed in Babyshop stores, but I was in Avenues Mall the other day and didn't find anywhere. So far I've managed to go unnoticed in the corners of coffee shops when it is feeding time. I have a cover, but I am concerned about potentially offending people. Secondly, what do I do now? Now he is a bit easier to go out with, and I want to get out of the house, but I'm stuck for places to go. There are only so many times you can pace up and down the same malls. Maybe this is just the in between phase and when he is more mobile we'll hit all the soft play areas.

Finally, I'm curious to know if any other mums here had comments when they had to take their baby out in the early days? I had staff in Carrefour telling me I should be at home, and a lot of tuts and disapproving looks mainly from older women. I'm not sure if I was ultra sensitive, though?

Well, if you reached the end of this, well done and thank you, I appreciate the patience in my absence. The next post will be the labour experience, and after that, there should be an update from me at least once a month. If you are a mum in Muscat (or anywhere really), I'd love to hear from you about your experiences and what you do to keep yourselves entertained.

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