Friday, 25 July 2014

Two minute DIY baby gym

Pickle barely spends more than 15 minutes 'playing' after being fed and burped
and when she's not practicing her head control in 'tummy time' on the old fashioned mat I found at the local charity shop, her favourite game is copying faces.

Popular wisdom suggests she is now approaching the developmental stage that spending some time under a baby gym swatting at interesting objects would be of benefit for a few months.

I'm not a huge fan of the commercial toys available for babies - they're expensive, yes, but the marketing of children's characters and screaming "look-at-me-now" colours just rub me the wrong way.  Yes, I understand the benefit of bright colours for babies but seriously, some of these mats give me a headache just looking at the pictures.

I do like the Montessori idea of using everyday objects to learn from so I decided to make my own baby gym so I could hang whatever I want from it.  I picked up a couple of hula-hoops from the local pound/dollar/random tat store, some adhesive velcro and string.

I simply removed the plastic do-hickey holding the two ends of the hula-hoop pipe together (the ends were easily found under the 'made in china sticker) and used the hooks part of the adhesive velcro to tape them together.  I then added a couple of other bits of adhesive velcro to the top so I can secure various object hanging from string and easily remove/replace them.  Place it over the upside down tummy time mat and voila!

a purse, sock and slinky

Its pretty basic and wondered what other people had done, so googled tutorials. They all put my effort to shame - but I have neither the time nor inclination to improve it at the moment.  It works, and it wont be used for that long but if I change my mind and decide to make a more finished effort, or make one as a gift, I like this one the best.  

Friday, 18 July 2014

Coming up for air at 8 weeks...

Out and about in our stretchy wrap
The past 8 weeks have passed in a blur of feeding, burping, settling and weighing wee Pickle.  I feel like I haven't had a minute to collect my thoughts much less write and publish them, so I'm in awe of some of the ALI bloggers I follow who have become new mamas and managed to keep up with their posting.  My hat is off to you.

I also would like to send my congratulations and understanding to those who have decided to close their blogs now their little ones are here.  I'll miss your voices and wish you all the best.

I expect to continue to blog intermittently about things I create (probably things for Pickle), and in time perhaps, our efforts to give Pickle a sibling.  We'd prefer Pickle not to be an only child, however I am very aware my chances decrease with every day I age and just because I beat the odds once doesn't mean I can do it again.  Of course it doesn't mean I can't either but I'm not sure I could go through another loss or so in the process.  The point is moot for now as I'm unlikely to become pregnant anyway while I breastfeed Pickle.

My high nutrition diet has gone a bit awry since Pickle's birth too so that is not going to help my fertility.  While we ate all the food I had stashed in my freezer the first few weeks, I dropped the baby weight almost immediately and am now struggling to keep up the calorie intake required for breastfeeding a hungry baby without resorting to quick solutions like pasta bakes and various things on toast. 

I had planned on spending the first four weeks at home working on getting to know each other and figuring out a rhythm.  It feels like I spent the first six weeks running around to appointments: scheduled maternal and child health nurse appointments, weighings every three days, lactation consultants, hearing test, hip ultrasound (due to breech).  I am relieved to say we've finally settled into a bit of a rhythm in the last week or so.

I finally managed to complete and submit my somewhat garbled essay by the deadline by having Mr Duncan have her (bringing her to me for feedings) for a weekend.  As my friends kept reminding me, it needed to be submitted on time, it didn't need to be good.  Hopefully its good enough and I get the continuing education credits.

A quick summary of posts I've meant to write about in the last 8 weeks:
  • Breastfeeding - I was concerned about not having early skin to skin and baby led breastfeeding with a c-section and found breastfeeding very difficult.  The three days I spent in hospital Pickle wouldn't latch, despite various midwives grabbing my breasts and shoving them at her tiny mouth which I found extremely unhelpful.  I managed to express good amounts of colostrum and feed it to her in a syringe.  Once my milk came in Pickle would sort of latch and then immediately fall asleep.

    By the time of our two week visit she'd lost the weight she'd gained since birth and the maternal health nurse strongly suggested supplementing with formula.  I convinced her to agree to my supplementing with expressed breast milk and she recommended we hire an electric pump at considerable expense and feed Pickle for only five minutes a side before expressing and giving her the expressed milk from a bottle.  Bad idea.  Poor Pickle wouldn't take my milk from a bottle and ended up starving with horrible tummy pains from too much foremilk.  After two days of pumping and lots of internet research I took the executive decision to ignore the health nurse advice and return to our sleepy feeds and I'm pleased to say that at 8 weeks she is now a 3.9kg (8 pounds, 9oz).  We still don't have a great latch and she gulps down way too much air, which causes its own set of problems, but breastfeeding is no longer painful and Pickle is clearly getting enough to eat now.  So that will have to do.
  • I had been reading about elimination communication/natural infant hygiene  while I was pregnant.  It made sense to me that babies instinctively don't want to sit in their own mess and it is a common practise in other cultures - I remember seeing Mothers hold out their babies when we were driving through Africa.  I was considering trying it when Pickle was 3 or 4 months old, however at five weeks she began peeing on the changing mat each time her nappy was taken off so we started holding her over a tiny potty at each change.  I can now tell when she wants to go about 80% of the time and very seldom need to change a dirty nappy (she makes an unmistakeable set of noises to indicate she needs to go prior), although there are still wet ones.  Pickle hilariously loves sitting perched upon her tiny throne and the posture really helps her pass gas and ease her tummy pains.  We'll see how it goes as she gets older and more active...
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