I have a confession to make, I must admit I have been feeling broody lately. Especially when I see tiny baby boys. I melt on the inside and if the baby belongs to a friend of mine, I have to spend some time holding him. Aaaaah, that new baby smell . That experience of enjoying the cuddliness of a new-born baby, is almost enough to cause amnesia. The kind of amnesia that almost completely erases the experience of the first few months of parenthood. I said almost. A few hours later after the newborn novelty has worn off. It all comes back to me, and I literally have a conversation with my ovaries.’ Stop it DON’T even think about it!’ I am definitely not ready for another one, at least not yet.
Lets throwback on my birth-day , and I will show you exactly what I mean.
DISCLAIMER : I will get descriptive. You have been warned
I had a natural birth which I am thankful for, yes I am. However the pain is unbearable. Forgive me but I will have to use CAPS in this section just to emphasize what it felt like.
My water broke early and after waiting for a whole day, my OB-GYN advised us to allow him to induce labor. The pain is indescribable. I remember the hospital nurse explaining what would happen as she attached me to the drip. I remember her saying it would take about an hour for the drugs to take effect. LIEEEEES! I remember distinctly feeling the drugs coursing through my body and the contractions starting instantly. Nothing prepares you for that. If labor progresses as it should, there are breaks between contractions where a mother can take a breather untill the next contraction. There was no such break for me. The contractions are seconds apart, and so is the pain. I had an amazing midwife/doula who helped me through breathing exercises that helped. But still , THE PAIN. Lucky for me my labor only lasted four hours .but still, THE PAIN.
Thankful for small mercies, therefore Taji was tiny so I didn’t tear and therefore I didn’t need stitches afterwards.
As a new mum I shed a lot of tears and still feel sad to date that I was unable to breastfeed my daughter for at least the first year of her life. I had so much milk after birth, it was so much I had to keep changing my hospital gown every few hours as I overflowed. During my hospital stay the nurses literally used to drag my nipples and place them into her mouth to show me how to feed her. It was degrading and painful and never seemed to work. She would suck for a few seconds and then cry and cry for hours until she fell asleep. I remember one nurse telling me it was my breasts that had a problem and after fashioning a plastic syringe to her liking, she used the air vacuum to repeatedly pop up my nipple. The discomfort is out of this world.
Nothing worked, she just never did latch properly . When we got home I started expressing milk and feeding her with a bottle. The poor thing hungrily finished it up. During our first Doctor’s appointment she had gone down to two kilograms. The milk I had wasn’t enough, she kept losing weight and eventually we bought formula and never looked back. She drank expressed breast milk for two months and then I went completely dry.
In hindsight I took the whole breastfeeding experience for granted. I didn’t think she would ‘reject’ her food.Maybe I should have fed her with a cup and spoon, no one told me that. I will get a lactation consultant next time around , who knows maybe It may help.
3.Growth Spurts /Sleep deprivation/ Teething , they all happen together.
In my experience from around four months, we never seemed to sleep normally again. Once we introduced her to formula she slept well, from 11pm to around 6am. After four months sleep became elusive until around 9 months. I do not know what happened.My husband will tell you I should have let her cry. ( He blames me for her bad sleeping habits ha-ha). I even attended a sleep seminar (ha-ha let me laugh at myself). Nothing worked and eventually she set her own sleep schedule. She is asleep right now, on the sofa . She had slept an hour ago and then woke up. It seems to me she stays up for her dad and rarely settles down until he comes home ( ha-ha it is your fault George). All I know sleep deprivation drove me up the wall. Days merge into each other and the exhaustion never ends. Even when she would sleep through the night the sleep was never enough. There was so much ‘sleep backlog’ to catch up on.
One day she will sleep at normal hours , without waking up even once until then we trudge on.
Taji was born in a private room in a private hospital. The labor ward had amazing nurses and my doctor and mid wife were the best.I loved my experience . After birth I was moved to my own private room. The nurses there were the worst. I learned later that new mothers are supposed to get a chance to rest and recover from birth as they keep the baby in the nursery. She was with me throughout . I never did get to sleep anyway. The nurses during the night shift would blast loud reggae music for hours on end. It wasn’t until my husband complained that they would turn it down.
Secondly , my OB-GYN cleared me to go home after two days.The hospital pediatrician who was present at birth did not clear Taji for discharge. Apparently they had sent a culture to the lab that would take 36hours for results to show . She was concerned that Taji may have an infection. We had no reason to not trust her judgement. We ended up staying from Tuesday to Saturday. During this period we never got a full report as to what was happening. It was a cat and mouse game with the nurses and pediatrician who changed with every shift. One would tell us the results were out , the other would say they were not ready. Eventually my husband , the poor sweet man who had been spending the night on the little sofa in my hospital room to give me support as I tried to breastfeed , finally demanded to see the results and suddenly they were ready and voila the culture showed that there was nothing to worry at. Ofcourse by then my maternity cover had been depleted .
We know better now , if we do have a baby in a hospital next time we will have our own trusted pediatrician who will guide us through the process and if there are any concerns explain them better .
5. Domestic managers
My husband and I love our space and had decided that when the baby was born that we would survive without a live in nanny/house help. I was able to hire and train a young lady with the help of my mother in law. She would come early morning and leave in the evening. She was a good cook and cleaned the house well . BUT a month later she was giving me sob stories and asking me to lend her a huge amount of money. I declined, a days later she sent me a text asking me to give her some stuff from our house. I declined. Then I accidentally found out she was 6 months pregnant A Fact that she had not told me about during the interview .I then saw her with some of my stud earrings that I had put aside in a drawer as they were not pairs anymore. I did not feel like this was someone I could trust my child with let alone my house . She was gone . Since then we have not hired anyone on permanent basis. Maybe this year we will be lucky
When I look back at this collection of stories I am more amused than traumatized. We had a baby and survived through the grace and strength of GOD.
Maybe we will do this again.
I always have intentions to blog regularly but oh boy being a new mum has been a whirlwind of events. As she grows older it will be easier to find time to breath like right now. Our baby girl Taji is now four months old .I thought it would be a great idea to share the lessons i have learned as a first time parent. I love being a mum and i hope my lessons will help other first time parents as they figure out how to take care of their little human.
DISCLAIMER: every child is different so what works for Taji may not work for your baby.
- Poop is everything! I kid you not this is a subject that is discussed in descriptive detail in our household. The color, texture, smell and whether it is regular or not helps to determine the health of baby. Click on this link to further understand what your baby’s poop is telling you here
- Baby’s immunity is stronger than you think. We started leaving the house with Taji at 6 weeks and she was fine. Being confined to the house as a new parent can drive one crazy. So once you feel comfortable and brave enough (i am talking to you mums i know its hard not to be scared ) start with visits to your family and close friends.Avoid crowded places and ensure that everyone who handles your child has washed their hands.My husband and i have gotten the nasty cold going round and even a cough and Taji hasn’t been sick once .Thank you God!
- Babies understand a lot more than you think. We both talk to Taji like we would a normal person and as she continues to grow we noticed that she has found a way to respond.When we say something to her she coos in response and laughs and smiles just like a grown up would. Its a beautiful thing to see! Look baby directly in the eyes as you sing ,talk , read to and play with them. It will teach them how to communicate effectively when they begin to talk
- Their breathing patterns are weird. Since Taji was born we have heard all manner of sounds emanating from her little body. I used to panic in the earlier days thinking that my baby was having problems breathing. Everything from gasps,to growls to snorts. it may sound like a little monster has taken over your house. Trust me its normal .Read this link here for further information on what to expect when it comes to breathing sounds.
- Heat rash is real! If you are from Kenya like me, then you know that as a new parent you are advised to dress your baby up in layers of clothing and then wrap them in thick woollen shawls and add socks and a hat. *phew* I am sweating just imagining having to wear all that in this Nairobi heat! My poor baby was over dressed in the early days and developed heat rash . SO i learned as a rule of thumb to dress her in one extra layer of clothing and that was it. Whenever i would put a hat on her head she would develop a fever ! So no hats for her either, and when we are in the house Taji hangs around in a onesie and nothing else. So do not tell me to cover up my child, no she is not feeling cold. She is sweating just like you are . Bye! ( yes random strangers have attacked me in public with harsh words on how to cover her up).I check to see if she is too cold or too hot by touching her back ,that guides me on how to dress her. I will save the heavy clothing for the colder months in the year.
- Sleep deprivation is a way of life. Taji put herself on a schedule, yes i chose to follow a baby led schedule and it works perfectly for us. She mostly sleeps for 7 hours at night and if she does wake up its once for a feed and goes right back to sleep. However during her growth spurts she wont sleep as well especially during the day so i do not get a break. I got used to it though. On those days i walk around the house like a zombie with uncombed hair and sometimes forget to eat. One gummy smile from her and its all worth it. I will sleep one day..ha!
- Natural products are the best for baby’s delicate skin. When Taji was a newborn my midwife advised that if i couldn’t eat it i shouldn’t apply it on her. So my staple oils are Coconut oil and Olive oil. I had used Aveeno baby wash on her and it caused a rash to appear all over her body, so no thank you to Johnson and Johnson products. She will graduate to normal soaps and oils when she becomes a toddler. Speaking of rashes, when it comes to diapers i use Huggies Gold in the green packet. The Huggies dry are of cheaper quality and caused my baby’s skin to break out. So yes the the gold are pricier but for now they are the best for her.
- Music is life! Taji loves play time, everyday no matter how tired both of us are , we will sing and play with Taji. She responds to music immediately even if she was in a fussy mood. There are a lot of great music channels on YouTube that allow you to sing along. Our favourite channel especially during bath time is Little Baby Bum .They act as a teaching aid as well , by the time she learns to speak she will be able to learn numbers, colors, how to tie her shoes etc
- Car safety- In our part of the world it saddens me to see that child safety isn’t taken seriously . In most countries abroad when a new parent is leaving hospital it is a requirement to have a baby car seat. We started using one when Taji was days old and has gotten used to it. It’s for your baby’s safety if you are belted up why not protect your baby too? See this link for helpful information on the right type of car seats for your child here
- Take your time in choosing a good pediatrician, the kind of doctor who doesn’t cause panic . As a new parent i spent a lot of time worrying over every little change in our baby .Most days were spent calling the doctor or speaking to my midwife. It was helpful that i had a calm and experienced doctor who advised me on what to look out for. Prescribing medication isn’t the answer to every problem. Most problems are caused by an overactive brain like mine and GOOGLE! (hehehehe). So do your research before choosing a pediatrician and ask questions every time medicine is prescribed, if at all it is necessary. I also carry around a thermometer in my diaper bag in case i need to check my baby’s fever .
SO there you have it, that is all i have time for right now. Feel free to send any questions and we can discuss and find solutions together. Happy Parenting!
DISCLAIMER: this is a venting post my self therapeutic exercise. I will be honest and open about my experience hope it helps someone else.
So this story began when our baby girl was born.She came three weeks before her due date. At 37weeks she weighed 2.6kgs.I remember thinking how small she was and wondering how I was going to carry her without breaking something.
One of the things I was looking forward to was breastfeeding.To create that bond between my newborn as I did the most natural thing in the world feeding my offspring.I was lucky my milk set in immediately after birth during my hospital stay ,my milk production was so much that I had to change my hospital gowns often as I would leak rivers of that liquid gold.
I was shown how to help my baby latch on by the nurses.Let me tell you that was hell.every change of shift came with it a new nurse with different ideas on how I should breastfeed.they pulled and pinched and hovered .Taji never caught on.From the moment she was first placed on my breast she fought and cried incessantly .Like she didn’t want it. Whenever she would successfully latch she would suck for a few minutes and then get off and cry herself Into an exhausted sleep.Nothing I tried worked.The hospital lactation consultant even came to show me how to ‘do it right ‘ and even then nothing worked.I was told with practice things would get easier and after a few days we were sent home.
It .was.hell. We didn’t sleep for two weeks.Night times were the worst we would take turns trying to calm her down before placing her on the breast and still nothing worked.She would suck for a few minutes and pull herself off and go to sleep in frustration.I was worried that my baby would starve to death.Our visit to paedetrician confirmed my fears our baby had lost weight ,yes it was Normal after birth.But within two weeks instead of adding weight as expected she had lost some grams .She looked thin dehydrated and sad.Our doctor said he was concerned and that I should try my best to keep bresstfeeding.I cried that day after leaving hospital I felt like a failure.If I couldn’t provide sustenance to my child what good was I as a mother? On the way home my husband and i talked and we decided to do what ever it took to get her healthy.So we bought a tin of Cow and Gate formula and decided that after she breastfed I would supplement with formula.She loved the bottle and downed that first bottle really quickly.My poor baby had been starving.
All the stress during the first few days resulted in my milk reducing.I wanted to express milk store it and bottle feed her.Formula wasn’t supposed to be the only thing she took.Unfortunately that never happened.I was told because my baby was born earlier than her die date she found it too hard to latch on properly and pull enough milk .And that with time as she grew bigger and stronger she would eventually breastfeed properly.And so each day I would place her on the breast hoping that the day would come .She turned two months yesterday.That day hasn’t arrived.She won’t breast feed.Expressing milk through using s breastpump hadn’t yielded much .I never get past the 60ml mark.I have tried everything ,seen a lactation consultant who sold me lactation cookies and Mother’s tea I have tried porridge,soups. It hasn’t worked.So there isn’t enough for me to store away and feed her on demand.So I have continued to give her formula.At the last doctors visit she had added weight and is healthy and happy.
It has been an emotional rollercoaster .I love being a mother I feel so blessed.However Everywhere I turn I have been told I need to breastfeed for atleast 6months that it will boost her immunity and all those nice things.
As I write this I realize that everyday i will have to battle with my mind and make peace with the fact that I can’t breastfeed or express enough milk.It is okay.She is healthy she is growing she will be fine.I am still a good mother.I am a first time mother doing the best I can so help me God.