Argh, Why Do Immunisations Hurt (Me) So Much?

I have a confession to make.  It’s fairly pathetic.  For Rosa’s first two lots of jabs, I made Richard come along and hold her.  I sat next to them, boob at the ready, but it wasn’t needed.  I just couldn’t bring myself to hold Rosa.  In fact, I nearly chickened out of going to the doctor’s surgery entirely.

I don’t know why, but the very thought of taking her for her injections made me feel sick.  The first immunisations were a bit of a shock.  I had expected small needles for babies, but no.  They’re just normal, adult-sized needles. And she had to have two injections, one in each skinny little thigh.  I think I was still a bit traumatised by all the injections, blood tests and canulas Rosa had to have during her three weeks in the Special Care Baby Unit. To be honest, for the first set of jabs at 8 weeks, she slept through them and although she let out one big “Waaaaaahhhhhhh” for each injection her eyes never actually opened!  She was awake for the second lot at 12 weeks, which was also two injections.  Her sunny, innocent little face smiling at the nurse seconds before crumpling into tears as the needle went in was heartbreaking.  In truth, she did the same as before really. Just one wail for each injection and then she was back to her usual smiley little self.

She had her third lot of immunisations a few weeks ago and I took her along.  BY MYSELF! 🙂 I had put it off for about 4 weeks, because I was hoping she would put a little chub on those skinny legs. The third set of jabs is 3 injections in one session.  Unfortunately, the nurse had no appointments free when Richard was available so I would have to take her by myself.  I have to admit that I was dreading it, but it really was fine.  The nurse got it over with quickly and efficiently and Rosa wailed for each injection once only, as before.  I’m so proud of her!

Ultimately, I never considered not having Rosa immunised.  After having watched my sick baby in hospital fighting an infection for 3 weeks after birth, I want to give her every chance of avoiding serious illness. She is honestly not bothered by injections and although I still feel awful taking her along for them, it is so worth it.

She’s 6 Months Old Today! 6 Things I’ve Learnt Since Becoming A Mum

1) Make sure you procreate with a supportive partner.  This will make a massive difference to your experience of motherhood and how hard you find it.  I am very lucky because my amazing fiance is not only emotionally supportive, but is also very practical.  He has taken on the majority of the housework since Rosa was born, in addition to his full-time job.  He cooks dinner at least 50% of the time and facilitates me spending a lot of my time feeding the baby, holding the baby and generally putting her needs first.  If I contrast this with some of my friends’ partners’ approaches, they have had to not only look after the baby, but also the house and all cooking.  They have been absolutely exhausted and have found being a mum to be really hard.  Anyone with a small baby will tell you that looking after them is a full-time job and then some.  Having a partner who is happy to support you in your mothering is a huge bonus.

2) You know you feel like you’re crap at being a Mum? Don’t worry.  So does everyone else. Being a mother does make you incredibly vulnerable and can create a lack of self-confidence.  Going through pregnancy and birth often feels like a step back in decades for independent, educated and normally confident women.  You are frequently patronised, belittled, treated in a disrespectful manner or otherwise made to feel like a sub-standard mum in your dealings with doctors, health visitors, family members and the general public.  You think you’ve just nailed x, be it sleeping through the night, getting the baby to nap in the day or somesuch and then something changes and you’re back to square one again.  It’s all normal.  You’re doing the best that you can.  That woman at your baby yoga class with the amazing post-natal figure, perfectly manicured nails, no dark roots and a healthy glow – SHE’S GOT A NANNY! So chill out and feel good about yourself and all the hard work you’re putting in to raise your baby successfully.

3) Re-usable nappies are great. I have a big problem with the landfill waste created by mainstream disposables and feel a bit weird about the funky chemicals in them being next to my little girl’s skin. We do use the odd Nature Baby disposable nappy (no plastic in ’em), mainly if we’re out and about . But I have been really impressed by modern cloth nappies and they are no bother to wash either.  The ones we use are shaped and have velcro fastenings. There’s no soaking and the (dry) nappy bucket has never been stinky. All in all, they are better for the environment, not much work at all, have saved us a fortune and Rosa has never yet had nappy rash.  Result!

4) Breastfeeding is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But also the most worthwhile. I know I’ve written about this before, so I shan’t bore you with loads of details. When Rosa left the Special Care Baby Unit, she was having the boob, then a small bottle of expressed breast milk, then a small amount of formula at each feed.  This is MADNESS. We were using nipple shields and it was still painful with them.  I phased out the crazy expressing after every feed and we changed to breastfeeding all day and night bar one evening formula feed.  This enabled my poor boobs to have a break for a few hours and is the reason why we have managed to reach 6 months of breastfeeding.  Yes, it still hurts me and we’re still using the nipple shields, but she has had well over 80% breast milk goodness each day and I have no plans to stop breastfeeding any time soon. I can’t imagine not having had that special bonding experience with Rosa, even though at times it has had me in tears and other times I have silently seethed as she feeds really badly in the middle of the night and I just wish she’d get it.  The feeds when it’s ok or even good make it all worthwhile though.

5) Trust your baby and your instincts. Following on from my previous post “Slow Weight Gain And The Evil Red Book” it has taken me some months to have confidence in my gut instinct as a mum.  However, I am now at the point where I am happy that Rosa is fine and that I would know if there was anything wrong with her.  She “told” us 3 weeks ago that she was ready to start baby-led weaning (this is AMAZING btw, I’ll be blogging about that a lot), by helping herself to something off my plate when she was sat on my lap.  Shewas 3 weeks shy of 6 months old, the recommended age, but it was the right time for her.  Since then she has had the exact same amount of milk feeds as before, complemented by some proper food at dinner time. She eats at the table with us and has so far explored avocado, banana, pear, steamed carrot and broccoli, tomato, cheese, chilli con carne, rice,spinach, roasted sweet potato, roasted butternut squash, mashed potato, boiled potato and jacket potato, home-made pizza, steak, pork, chicken and veal(English rose veal, if you’re wondering), houmous, celery, peppers and yogurt. Incredible stuff.  Anyway, the point of this is that all babies are individuals and no-one knows your baby better than you.  So if your baby does something that differs from the guidelines, but is alert, developmentally on track and happy and you feel that they’re fine – they probably are. And if you’re wondering, I haven’t had Rosa weighed for 6 weeks now. I don’t need to know what the numbers say.  She is looking great.

6) Being a mum is so much fun! I was very focussed on how difficult being a parent would be.  I was terrified about the sleep deprivation, the drudgery of the extra housework and not having any time to yourself.  Actually, with a supportive partner and a very chilled little girl, it’s been surprisingly do-able. I do sometimes get pretty tired, but if I nap with Rosa some of the time, I can keep things on an even keel.  The extra housework isn’t too bad currently, again with help from my other half. In the evenings, I do have time for myself, if I want it.  There may not be as much time as before and certainly a shower in the evening feels like a luxury after the rushed daytime ones when I have to sing and keep popping my head out pulling funny faces at my daughter!  Rosa and I laugh so much together.  Her ready and face-splitting smiles melt my heart and I never realised just how much joy she would bring to our lives.

The First Night Out!

For the first time since New Year’s Eve 2010, 6 days before we found out I was preggo, I went out! For drinks….with friends…..and no baby.  It was my friend Cath’s birthday and Richard encouraged me to go out and offered to look after the baby through the night.  I wasn’t sure if I was ready.  I’m not organised enough to express in advance, so that would mean that my baby would have three bottles of formula in a row, rather than her usual one a day.  I would still need to come home and express some milk, but throw it away (pump and dump).

On the day, I was really tired.  My baby had had her third lot of immunisations the day before and had slept fretfully.  I was shattered from the word go and then had a really busy day with Richard, my step-daughter and the baby.  I was seriously thinking I should just forget about it and get some sleep instead.  But after dinner I got my second wind and decided I would go out after all.  I had said to my friend that I’d come out and I was really looking forward to seeing her.  The issue of the formula still remained.  I felt very guilty at the prospect of giving her three consecutive formula feeds.  However, as Richard said, it’s not like she hasn’t ever had it or anything and it was just for one part of one day.  I think you do need to get a sense of proportion about these things.  My daughter is nearly 6 months old and against all odds her main source of nutrition by a long way has been breast milk.  So I really should be able to go out and  enjoy myself for one night without feeling guilty.

How was the first night out?  It was great.  I really enjoyed myself and it was lovely to see my friends and celebrate Cath’s birthday.  I was able to wear a nice dress that didn’t need to be selected for easy boob access! I wore make-up!  I drank booze! Only 3 drinks, mind, and I did feel really rather tipsy being a complete lightweight these days.  Although I missed  Richard and my little one, it was great to be out and to enjoy a little time to myself.  So, if you’re feeling nervous or guilty about going out for the first time, then please don’t.  If you’re ready to go out, you’ll know and you will enjoy yourself.

What’s With All The Pink?

Firstly, let me say that I have nothing against pink, per se.  I have a few items of pink clothing myself, in fact. But what I cannot abide is the current total polarisation of colours in baby clothing. Everything is pink for a girl or blue for a boy.  Or white, yellow or green for pre-birth purchases where gender is unknown.

I do dress Rosa in pink, but also in blue, green, purple, red, brown…..as many colours of the spectrum as possible, in fact.  I dressed her in floral-embroidered chambray (i.e. light blue) for a family event a few weeks ago and Rich’s Aunt couldn’t get her head around the fact that Rosa is a girl.  I could hear Rich in the corridor talking to her saying “Rosa (pause)….Rosa (pause)…..Rosa (pause)…..Rosa (pause)…..Rosa” in various tones (going up, going down – still didn’t compute!) when she asked what the baby’s name was.  After he had said it loooooooads of times, she finally got it and said, “You should have dressed her in pink, then I would have known she was a girl and the name would have made sense!”.

Looking back at photos of when I was a small child, there seemed to be a lot of red, green, brown and orange!  A nice 70s palette there.  I remember having some pink clothes, but also a lot of other colours.

The other day we watched some Tots TV, that 90s kids programme from the Ragdoll Productions stable that features the adventures of three puppets, Tilly, Tom and Tiny.  Interspersed with Tilly, Tom and Tiny’s exploits are video segments featuring children.  It was noticeable that these kids were not wearing pink or blue, but lots of different colours. So the whole pink or blue only thing is relatively recent.

So why do parents dress their babies in pink or blue only? Is it so that people know what gender the child is?  Does that really matter in a baby??  I don’t agree with those silly buggers who gave their baby a gender-neutral name and concealed his gender from everyone until he was five.  That is taking things a bit too far. Gender is a big part of who we are, but I don’t want to be imposing stereotypes on Rosa by dressing her mainly in pink. Neither will I be encouraging a princess fixation.  What the hell’s that all about anyway (hmmm, passive)? It’s only a short step from there to aspiring to be a WAG, in my book, which would be a tragedy.

What do you think about clothing babies in mainly pink or blue clothing? Is it harmless or the start of a lifetime of stereotyping?