Weeks 9 and 10 with Elodie

Here are some highlights from Elodie from the past few weeks:

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Nine weeks old

When Elodie turned nine weeks old (5th June),  we went to the Conewood Street Children’s Centre for a health check and weigh in. The system of children’s centres in the UK is cool; I don’t know of any equivalent in the US, but basically every neighborhood seems to have a children’s centre where they do activities for children of various ages, run a nursery (day care) and have regular walk-in health clinics and midwife appointments. I went there for my two-week post-partum midwife appointment, and every Monday you can go to have your child weighed and meet with a “health visitor” about any concerns. A health visitor is a community-based professional, trained as a midwife or nurse with additional training in child health development. I like this system; it makes sense to not tie up doctor’s offices with weighings and it is good to meet with someone focused on babies, early childhood and post-partum issues. The health visitor I met with that day was so nice and spent more time with us than any doctor ever has.

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Elodie is perfectly healthy and weighed in at 4.42 kg or 9 lb, 12 oz! She has jumped from 2nd to 9th percentile which is great (I had no idea she was in the 2nd percentile at birth, and glad I didn’t know or I would have just worried!). I walked away with free vitamins for both of us and a timetable of upcoming activities at the centre.

Later that week I went back to the centre for a group for babies up to 8 months old. We met in the sensory room, which is a darkened room with all sorts of colored lights, toys and soft music playing. Elodie loved it! It was an unstructured group with just a few other mums and babies there but it was fun to meet other people and chat a bit, and I loved the sensory room.

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Another day, I tried out a baby massage class, and really liked it! It’s not quite as pretentious as it sounds: it was a small group setting, and we undressed the babies (including the nappies!) and sang songs, did baby massage and dancing. Elodie enjoyed it but also wanted to feed and a cuddle a lot during the class. She also chattered the whole time! I guess she found it all very stimulating and didn’t quite get the memo about how massage = chill out! But it was really cute. 🙂 I liked the instructor a lot and definitely will return. 

Our biggest event of the past few weeks was our first weekend away with Elodie! We went up to Yorkshire for a few days which was great! I plan to write a separate post about our trip.

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Last weekend, back in London, we had a fun Saturday with friends, going to brunch then a pub in the afternoon. I barely took any photos but it was a great day of catching up with friends and playing with Elodie. She was so happy and playful; she loves being out and about, seeing new people and having lots of people willing to hold her. She loves the stimulation!

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And Sunday was Andy’s first Father’s Day! I made a rhubarb-strawberry pie on Friday afternoon (this took half the day, as I would get partway through the process, then stop to play with Elodie, then partway through and then feed, then partway through and then a nappy change, repeat). I was pleased with the outcome since pie dough really intimidates me.

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On Sunday I made smoothies and breakfast and Andy opened presents from Elodie and I in morning, and we had a picnic in Clissold Park in the afternoon.

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Thanks Aunt Laurie for the onesie!

We are so so lucky to have such a wonderful daddy for Elodie!

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Other developmental highlights of the past two weeks:

  • Elodie has rolled over a bunch of times now, like it’s no big deal anymore! She loves tummy time and tries so hard to move on the ground.

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  • Elodie has started to eat for longer stretches at a time these days, like 20-30 or even 40 minutes at a time. While sometimes this makes it difficult to plan when we can leave the house, I like that she can go longer stretches of 3-4 hours in between eating. We had one night and day of very long cluster feeding, and a few days later I noticed all her newborn clothes were getting too tight. Must have been a growth spurt!
  • We have had lots of fun play time at home, with lots of chatter and playing with her toys and books. I love our little conversations and I love watching her grab at her toys.

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  • On rainy days when we are stuck at home, I can tell she is much more bored; she loves the stimulation of being out and about. (Just like me!)
  • She has been blowing bubbles, drooling and playing with her mouth a lot (and gnawing on her toys).
  • Her current sleep record is 6.5 hours straight, the night we got home from York!
  • Still won’t take a bottle.
  • Tried out the  buggy again for first time in a month but she still hates it – she wants to see out.
  • I really love breastfeeding and I am so grateful we’ve been able to do it. I’ll be sad when it ends.

This is a good stage to be in – I feel more settled, as she has become calmer and less prone to massive crying fits. I think it’s a combination of her outgrowing the colic, her digestive system maturing, and me being able to understand and anticipate her needs better.

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She is so incredibly cute that I can’t stand it. So tiny and lovable!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Week Eight

We started off this week with the Bank Holiday Monday, so we got to see Lindsey for brunch and spend more time with Andy’s dad and Becky on Monday, and on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, before they left on Wednesday. It was so great to see them and we were so sad to see them go!

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Eight week fox photo

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On Tuesday Elodie had her first round of vaccinations – scary stuff! She was happy until the needles went in and then screamed of course – who wouldn’t?! But she did great and I fed her right after. She was rather clingy and fussy and gassy for the next two days, and we both hated the Calpol (infant paracetemol) but I cleared our diary and just spent a lot of time holding her and feeding her. Poor thing. We had a few rough nights but by the end of the week things cleared up.

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Post-vaccination

We had a fun week of activities once she felt better: she now likes to imitate me raising my arms, and she enjoys playing games with her mobile. I learned a trick in this Baby Minds book that my friend Carrie sent me (this is an awesome book with lots of great info about how babies minds work and how you can help them learn) to tie one end of a ribbon around her foot and another end around a toy on her mobile, to help her learn how moving her foot can make the toys move.

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Fun! I love watching her learn and play.

She also rolled over several times! We’ve been doing tummy time with her from the beginning and she loves it. I also feel good that overall I’ve been getting better at learning and anticipating her needs, and planning how to get things done in snippets in between playing with her, feeding her, holding her and helping her fall asleep. I don’t feel like it’s quite the fog of constant crying like it was a few weeks back.

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I went to my first workout class, a post-natal HIIT class for mums and babies at Frame. Unfortunately they don’t really incorporate the baby into the class liked I expected; most the other mums just park their babies next to them in their buggies. Elodie won’t stand for a buggy so I brought her in her carrier, and set her up on blankets, surrounded by pillows.

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I fully expected her to cry and want to feed or be held the whole time, and didn’t think I’d really get much of a workout myself. But I had credits about to expire so I figured I’d give it a go. To my surprise, she loved the class! She spent the whole hour watching me workout and kept lifting her arms and kicking her legs like she wanted to join in! It was adorable. She really loves just seeing new things. The instructor and other mums were really nice too, and it was a great workout – I was quite sore after, which felt amazing.

On Saturday, we celebrated her two-month birthday! (Please stop growing up, Elodie.)

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Two month fox photo

This was possibly one of the best days of my life, certainly one of the best since Elodie was born. We had a good night’s sleep and I woke up feeling a million times better. She was in a good mood and we had a fun morning of playing and coffee and breakfast at home, and I got to pump and do a short yoga video while Andy played with her.

We got perfect beautiful weather and went to lunch at The Bull & Last, one of our new favourite places, and it was so so good and she slept the whole time in the carrier.

We shared a starter of English asparagus, crispy hen’s egg, parmesan custard and sorrel, and then for mains Andy had the beef tartare and I had the sea trout with cucumber, kohlrabi, tahini, cauliflower and fried prawn. We shared the sticky toffee pudding and a piece of goats cheese (Tymsboro, I believe) for dessert – all was absolutely amazing.

After, we walked across Hampstead Heath and played with Elodie in the grass.

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Eventually we made our way home, stopping at a pub along the way to sit outside and read in the long summer evening. I mostly fed Elodie then though, but it was fine. She was happy most the day and all in all it was just such a good day with the three of us.

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Week 7 Highlights

Highlights of week seven (week of 22 May):

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Seven weeks old!

Elodie has really gotten strong this week! We do tummy time every day and she is getting so mobile and strong, and already threatening to roll over! Really proud that she is growing so well, solely on my milk. She is constantly kicking her legs and moving her arms.

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She is also getting very smiley and chatty, and I absolutely love our little conversations, where she tests out her vocal cords and makes noises at me and I make them back at her. It is so adorable and I love being able to communicate with her. It’s so important for brain development.

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London was hit with quite the heat wave this week, which I loved, but I worried about Elodie getting too hot or being in the sun. She will really only travel in the carrier with me; the buggy is a lost cause at this point. So we both wore minimal clothing and I kept her in the shade, with her head covered by a giant hat, whenever we were out. We went on walks every day and met up with my mum friends for visits to the park and a lunch one day. Andy’s dad Mark and Becky were still visiting but they did a few trips away during the week, so we saw them a few evenings which was really fun. It was so great having them here.

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Hanging in the park with her buddy Nicholas
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Meeting my friend Sig

Elodie has begun to sleep in longer stretches at night, which is exciting. This week, she was reliably doing about four hours for her long stretch of the night, from about 10pm to 2am or so, eventually progressing as late as 3am. Getting one good block of sleep like that is great. However, after about 3am she was waking about once an hour to nurse. But we are getting there. She is too young still for an early bedtime routine, but we have started to wind things down in the evening, doing baths every other night, putting on jammies, doing baby massage and reading Good Night Moon.

Breastfeeding has continued to go really well. I’m still feeding her on demand and not enforcing a strict schedule, but working towards getting her to last at least two hours between feeds, if not three. However, bottle feeding has not gone as well. I’ve tried pumping nearly every morning, and it is quite complicated to pump with her around. The best way to make it work is to feed her on one side while pumping on the other. It’s a bit acrobatic but I’ve been proud of myself the days I’ve been able to make it work. However, some days I barely am able to get any milk which stresses me out…which only makes it worse. Washing and sterilising the bottles and equipment is a pain, and then most times Elodie doesn’t want a bottle anyway…so I have to throw it out. I’ll be honest, the whole thing is frustrating me but I know we have to keep at it until we get there. It makes me glad that breastfeeding itself has been so easy. It’s just the pumping and bottle-feeding situation that is frustrating.

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Elodie still has her periods of fussiness every day, but we are making some breakthroughs in what soothes her. White noise has become huge; this didn’t work when she was a newborn, but one day I noticed the washing machine was lulling her to sleep. I used a white noise station on Spotify to help me take a shower, and then another day the hair dryer helped her take a nap for TWO HOURS! I discovered the Sound Sleeper app and that is gold. It doesn’t always work but it definitely helps. Often, Elodie is calmer and happier around new people – I think she fusses when bored. The evenings are definitely her toughest time. Gripe water also helps with the windiness. The other things that calm her are doing lunges and squats while carrying her. I have spent a LOT of time doing lunges around the neighborhood with her in the carrier to help her fall asleep.

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As for me, I’ve been doing more stretching and yoga moves while playing with Elodie on the floor, and lots of walks and lunges and squats (see above!) every day. I finally ventured out to try my first run on Wednesday night once Andy got home from work. At first it felt amazing and weird, to be my old self but not. It’s been six months since I ran at all, and 10 months since I ran as just me, without her inside of me. Emotionally, it was so strange to be apart from her. Physically, it felt good at first but I really need to strengthen my pelvic floor. After about 15 minutes Andy texted that she was crying and it turned out she screamed the whole time I was gone, just 25 minutes. I felt terribly guilty, like I rushed things too much. On Saturday morning, we tried again and that went much better for all of us. I was able to run 4 sets of 5 minutes at a time, and I missed her terribly again but she did much better, sleeping and and then waking up happy. Mornings are definitely her best times so it’s probably best that I stick to weekend morning runs at least to start.

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And finally, our biggest event of the week was on Sunday. We did our first country walk with Elodie! We did a 10-mile route around Pluckley, in Kent, with Mark and Becky, and it was so much fun.

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Andy and I took turns carrying her in the carrier and it went great. It was very hot and sunny which made me nervous, but we took breaks and kept her in just a vest, with her head covered by her hat.

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It was hard, physically, carrying her but oh so much fun. It was such a beautiful day and so nice to be out in the country, with quiet, fresh air, wide open spaces – I really missed our country walks and can’t wait to do more. I loved feeding her in the woods – I felt very earth mother about it all! We had a nice pub lunch and then later enjoyed stopping in two more country pubs and hanging out in their gardens. 

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It was a long day and there was a major poop event on the train on the way home! By then we were totally exhausted but it was such a good day it was worth it. And she slept 5 hours and 45 minutes straight that night, a new record!

Week Six

Turned six weeks old!

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This week, there were a few days where we just took it easy at home. It’s easier sometimes that way to keep her happy with feeding and naps on my lap. We did get out every day for at least a walk, and met with my NCT mum friends one day, and another friend another day.

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Thanks Uncle Kevin and Aunt Debbie for the hat; Elodie loves the Beatles!

I’m learning now what makes her happy and what her habits are. Some days we still had major crying, but it’s been punctuated by happy bouts of contented smiles, giggles and playing with her mobile.

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She has also begun to enjoy spending short amounts of time in her rocker.

At times I think her windiness and fussiness is getting a little better; I’ve cut out dairy which may or may not be helping, but she is able to burp more easily on her own and I think her digestion system is getting more mature. When she is fussy, we’ve done a combination of swaddles and pacifiers to help settler her in the evenings. I’ve felt very guilty about using the dummy, but when she is upset, but clearly not hungry, it does help to settle her. If she truly wants to eat, she’ll spit out the dummy until she gets the boob. I feel guilty because I know newborns need to feed not just for food, but also for comfort and bonding, and I don’t want to substitute that. But I think at this point, we have a really strong breastfeeding relationship and occasional dummy use shouldn’t impact that.

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The big event of the week was the arrival of Andy’s dad and his wife (G-pops/Mark and Becky)!

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It was really fun to see them and we spent the whole weekend touring all over London with Elodie. She was a trooper. We started off the first (rainy) night in our neighborhood with a walk and dinner, but the weather got progressively better throughout the weekend.  We brought Elodie everywhere in her carrier – it’s so much easier than the buggy.

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We went everywhere: over the three days we visited the City, Southbank, Tower Bridge, Borough Market, Broadway Market, Regents Canal, the Royal Parks, Westminster, Piccadilly Circus, Soho, Oxford Street.

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Picnic in Green Park

We also interspersed this with some flat viewing in Dalston and Kentish Town and long walks around our neighborhood and some others. It was great to show the city to Mark and Becky, watch them get to know Elodie and have their help with holding and calming her as well!

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I fed her everywhere: park benches, restaurants, pubs, even a random street bench in Kentish Town in a crisis moment. This has all made me more confident and skilled at breastfeeding in public. It’s not always easy or comfortable, and depending on the setting sometimes I’m self-conscious about it, but I also feel that it is the most natural, healthy thing I can do for my baby and her needs are more important to me than anything. I also think it’s important to “normalise breastfeeding” in the public realm. Too often, mothers are discouraged from breastfeeding and since we don’t see it happening regularly, we are continuing to promote the view that it is not normal or should be hidden out of sight. That needs to change.

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We are more confident with Elodie now and know her needs and patterns better, which is making it easier to anticipate her needs rather than wait for a meltdown. She doesn’t like to sleep very much, and often gets so overtired.

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As for me, all the walking and touring the city was so much fun but did tire me out. It’s frustrating to not have the endurance and strength I used to have. It will come back but right now, I don’t like feeling weak or less capable of keeping up.

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The best parts of the week were seeing her big smiles, hearing her chatter away and having fun making noises and faces at each other. She is so cute and I can hardly stand it. Love truly continues to grow each day.

Five Weeks

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Five weeks old

This week’s milestones:

Elodie has been really alert since birth, and smiling since the second week, but this week marked some breakthroughs in being social and smiling and making eye contact much more consistently!

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She loves examining faces and imitating, so we spent a lot of time this week smiling at each other, talking and making noises, and sticking out our tongues. On Monday she was just starting to imitate me sticking out my tongue, and by Wednesday she was a pro. It is amazing to watch her change so fast.

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She has also started to enjoy lying under her mobile and watching the toys move, and even began to grab at them! This is a big improvement because a week ago, she could not lie down by herself without crying.

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I also discovered that she likes to look at pictures of herself (though not in the mirror).

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Still having lots of clingy moments and cluster feeding though, and windiness is still happening, although I think it is getting better. I decided to cut out dairy (again) to see if that makes a difference. We did lots of walks around the neighbourhood in the carrier, which help her sleep and keep me sane.

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IMG_2023.jpgI started to learn to pump breastmilk, to teach her to take a bottle so occasionally Andy can feed her. This is complicated to do, and hard to find the time when she feeds often and needs me holding her a lot. Andy gave her a bottle on Saturday and she sort of took it, but then gave up after a little while. I think it will take a few sessions for her to get used to it and learn. I didn’t want to start too soon but by one month of established breastfeeding, she shouldn’t have nipple confusion, but is still young enough to learn. I felt really conflicted watching Andy feed her; I know it will give me some freedom if he can feed her, and could make it easier to feed her when we are out. And it’s absolutely necessary for her to learn to take a bottle so I can go back to work. But I also know she needs breastfeeding for comfort and emotional needs beyond just getting milk, and I felt really strange being replaced by a bottle.

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Along those same lines, we also tried a pacifier (dummy as they are called here) for the first time. We actually tried a few times during the week when she was really fussy but she rejected it. Suddenly on Sunday she took it. Again, I was (and still am) conflicted about this. On the one hand, the pacifier is a substitute for the breast, and if she wants the comfort of the breast, it’s not fair to replace it. But on the other hand, some babies have a strong urge to suck for comfort, and since birth, she has sucked on her right fist. Once she has fed plenty, a pacifier can help to settle her, so why not allow her to do something that brings comfort? I still feel really guilty about it, but it’s been a few days now and she doesn’t always take it. If she’s truly hungry, she’ll reject it and I’m happy to feed her on demand. But to give her comfort and bring peace to the whole house, I think it’s okay on occasion.

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Relatedly, we have had some success with swaddling her at night to sleep. We’ve tried this off and on since birth and sometimes she really protests the swaddle. But lately it seems to comfort her more, as she has gotten stronger and more mobile and is constantly flailing her arms and legs about.

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In other news, I developed an infected fingernail this week. I’ll spare the details but at times it felt more painful than childbirth, and we ended up an urgent care clinic on Sunday so I could get antibiotics. Not how any of us wanted to spend Sunday morning, but it was worth it. Andy walked Elodie around the neighbourhood in her carrier while I waited to be seen and it was the longest and furthest I had ever been from her, and it made me heart hurt to be separated, even in such a small way. The doctor reminded me I need to take care of myself, too.

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Sunday was also Mother’s Day in the US! We celebrated since Elodie wasn’t born in time for the UK Mother’s Day this year. After the doctor, we went for brunch.

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Andy was absolutely amazing and spoilt me all weekend; he brought me flowers and cakes from Ottolenghi, he and Elodie surprised me with treats from Neal’s Yard and Aesop, and he made an incredible dinner.

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I felt so lucky, and so loved! It was very surreal to be on the mom side of Mother’s Day this year.

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One Month Old!

(week four/week of 1 May)

This was a big week for Elodie (aren’t they all at this age though?)

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Four weeks old as of Monday

On Tuesday we took her down to the US Embassy to register her birth abroad and apply for her Social Security number and passport. She was proclaimed the world’s newest US citizen, very exciting!

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We also took our first Underground ride which was exciting, and it was so lovely and refreshing to be in Mayfair on a beautiful morning. 

And Wednesday was her one month birthday! Exciting but also quite sad for me. Her “tiny” size baby clothes are getting tight.

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One month old on May 3

She is also losing her hair which makes me sad. But it is good to see her grow and thrive, and I’m proud that she is all fed via me.

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The scale isn’t exactly the same in these photos, but look how much she grew from two days old to one month!

Much of the week was quite stressful though, with lots of crying and windiness and colic. We’ve tried gripe water, the “Windi” device (scary) and Infacol, with varying results – the gripe water helped get some big burps out but I don’t like giving her anything besides breastmilk. She really only sleeps in the wrap during the day, or sitting up in my hand, which is adorable but exhausting for me because then I can’t sleep when she does.

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Later in the week I met a friend with a toddler for a coffee and a walk, and then met some of my NCT friends for coffee. Elodie was pretty relaxed for both of these events, sleeping well in her pram as we walked, which was a breakthrough. It is so nice to see and chat with other mums, and I think it’s important to keep that up.

On Saturday we had a reunion of all six of the NCT couples with babies, which was really fun and hilarious/surreal to reunite us all, with babies in tow. Otherwise we had a relatively quiet weekend, spending Saturday night at home but venturing out on Sunday for lunch and exploring Kentish Town. We are flat-hunting and considering other neighbourhoods in London, although we want to stay in our neighbourhood if we can.

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Elodie enjoys being in the carrier with daddy, and each week, we are getting a little more confident with taking her out and about, as we come to know her needs and patterns better and better.

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I can’t get over how adorable she is. I love watching her feed, watching her sleep, stroking her hair and her back. These days are so precious and will go so fast.

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Week Three with Elodie

Some highlights from this week (week of 24 April):

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Elodie was three weeks old on Monday

On Monday, Andy took the day off since his mom and sister were visiting and we rented a car and drove out to the Cotswolds for the day. Elodie’s first time outside of London!

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The day was a bit rainy but it was fun to be out and exploring all the adorable Cotswold villages.

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It was a long day but Elodie was a champ; she was fussy at times but the movement of the car helped, as did being in the wrap. It was tough when I couldn’t pick her up and hold her in the car, but massaging her tummy and holding her tiny hands seemed to help. Touch is so powerful.

The next day we had a relaxing day of walking around our neighbourhood and saying a sad goodbye to Aunt Laurie.

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Later in the week we had some episodes of cluster-feeding and fussiness, but dancing with her, holding her and breastfeeding all help. I had to remind myself that you cannot spoil a newborn by holding them too much, and you cannot overfeed a breastfed baby – it’s what they need.

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On Thursday I had a coffee date with some friends from my NCT class, and on Friday I went to a local La Leche League meeting which I loved! It is really important to get out and connect with other mums, and the LLL meeting was really empowering, reminding me of how important and valuable breastfeeding is and reassuring me that these early weeks are very tough for everyone.

Over the weekend we sadly said goodbye to Grandma Jill, but did get to see Aunt Lindsey more.

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We got Elodie’s birth certificate, very exciting! She also began to hold her head up on her own during tummy time!

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We rounded out the weekend with a trip to Dishoom in Shoreditch for breakfast, which was Elodie’s first trip on the Overground, a visit from friends in the afternoon and dinner with Lindsey at the Snooty Fox.

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By then Elodie was starting to lose it and we took our girl home after a very eventful week!

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