An explanation at last
Another week, another new learning curve. This time it’s reflux. Now Baby R has been spitting up after her feeds for a long while now – it’s not unusual for small ones to do so. But I’ve noticed over the past few days that it seems to be getting worse in frequency and amount. Not only that, but she’s been crying out more in pain, especially at the end of her 40-minute sleep cycle. These are all classic signs of reflux, and it explains a lot.
Just being able to give this a name though – reflux – rather than blaming R for being a ‘difficult baby’ is a bit of a relief. We’ve not been the doctor because I don’t think it’s serious enough to medicate, as it’s so common for babies and they tend to grow out of it at six months. But it does explain why she hates being flat on her back so much. She often cries when we put her in the pram, and all the while I’ve been blaming her temperament when she’s probably been in real discomfort. When I see her upset, it breaks my heart.
So now I’ve raised her Sleepyhead pod and put a towel under the head, which is meant to help, and I will do the same in her pram. I’m also keeping her upright for 20 minutes after feeding (although she still is sick, sometimes a couple of hours later) to try and reduce the amount of milk that comes back up. For those in the same boat, I found a really excellent blog with advice on how to manage a reflux baby on A Mother Far From Home – you should definitely check it out if you’ve not come across it already.
I’m also starting to feel a bit more in control of how my days pan out, and what I can achieve in the precious hours when Baby R is asleep. It sounds silly, but just going to Tesco and buying some flowers, or the Post Office to post a package, would have filled me with nerves a few weeks ago. But if I time it right, such as when she’s due a nap, rather when I’ve just fed her, it seems to work out fine.
Last week I also had a few friends come round, which was lovely and really helped break up the week. Then, on the weekend, my brother and his family met Baby R for the first time and we ‘entertained’ them (fed them posh fish finger sandwiches and home-made wedges… hardly fancy, but everyone ate theirs) so it feels good to be finally catching up with people post-lockdown.
Having said that, after a fun-filled weekend I was extremely tired. Much as I love seeing people, my energy levels are pretty low as I’m operating on around six hours of broken sleep a night (not awful, I know, but it’s a far cry from what I got pre-baby). So after all the socialising, I just wanted to curl into a little ball. Yesterday I was in bed for 8:30pm, which was heavenly.
I mentioned in a previous post that I was following the Sensational Sleep Plan and the author endorses the gentle ‘cry it out’ method of sleep training. It involves putting the baby down when she’s drowsy but still awake, and leaving her to fall asleep. If she wakens or cries, the method endorses leaving her to self-soothe unless she’s showing signs of increasing distress.
I tried this a few times with Baby R, and it does work, but the length of time it could take to get her to sleep meant oftentimes she was almost ready to wakeup for her next feed. I also felt dreadful doing it. As well as stressing the baby out, it upset me and my husband as he just wanted to comfort her, as did I, but I was more stubborn in wanting it to work. We’d end up in the adjoining room, pacing the floor, getting more and more upset with hearing her cries…
So, for the last week or so I’ve been rocking her to sleep in a sleeping bag in a darkened room with white noise. Amazingly, this has worked every time (touch wood). She always resists at first, and becomes all wiggly, but after five minutes she’s calm, and in another five she’s typically asleep. I then move her into her Sleepyhead, and she’ll stay asleep for at least a sleep cycle or two. If she wakes, which she sometimes does, I’ll go back in and rock her again. It’s amazing and transformative!
I know the Sensational Sleep Plan lady would not approve of the rocking to sleep, but I don’t care. She’s not even three months old yet and it’s working for us at the moment, which makes me happy. It means I can actually do stuff around the house – put a wash on, hang it out, mop the floor… I even mowed the lawn last week, something I’ve been desperate for my husband to do for ages. Then I thought: why am I waiting for him to do it? If I want it sorting, I’m at home all day with ‘nothing to do’ – this is my something!