Week eight – finding a routine

Categories All, First time mom
Orange and lemon slices

I can’t believe eight weeks have passed since Baby R entered the world. I’d like to say the previous week has got easier since my ‘On the turn’ post from week seven. And I suppose, in a way, it has. Baby R is definitely managing more naps in the day, albeit short ones. But a pattern seems to be emerging that she’s waking a couple of times at night now, but still wanting to get up super early (4-5am) which means I’m pretty tired all the time.

I don’t manage to sleep myself during the day at all, so the days are long and frustrating at times. At least once last week I lost my shit, stomping out of the house with her howling in a pram trying to get her off – stupid really, because she just picks up on my mood and cries some more. I remember hiding in the corner of a cemetery one afternoon sobbing along with the baby while I tried to get a grip! Not a good look.

Luckily the regular bouts of teariness on my behalf have lessened (for the first month I think I cried every day) and I’m definitely feeling more in control and less exhausted. I couldn’t say I’ve established much of a routine with her yet, but I’m starting to think a bit more about doing so. The following is a typical day for me.

Most mornings start early (4/5am) for the first feed, with the aim of settling on the sofa for 8am to feed her a second time, which often takes over an hour. I try not to watch TV in the morning, for fear I will turn into a proper couch potato but I did binge-watch Selling Sunset on Netflix this week – oops! It happens.

Then, mid-morning, we try and go out in the pram for a walk. This week has been busy, so it’s not always worked out that way. We had a third trip to Aldershot midweek to check her hips, and I’m relieved to say they are fine (yay!) and she’s been discharged, thank goodness. On Thursday we met two NCT friends – the first time we’ve done so since lockdown – and had a little walk. (R poohed, fed and cried in the space of an hour – their babies laid placidly asleep the whole time!) And on Friday, she had her eight-week jabs (ulgh, awful, although she was super dozy in the afternoon which was sort of amazing for me!).

We’re typically back each day around lunchtime, which my husband comes back from work for. He’ll normally make me a sandwich, cut me up some apple and put a few crisps on a plate, then head back to the office. Then, for the rest of the afternoon I’ll try and get Ruby to sleep. I don’t think she’s had any sleeps longer than 45 minutes this week, so it’s been hard work. I’ll try and put a wash out to dry, so at least I’ve done one productive thing, but that’s often all I manage. But normally I’ll end up feeding her regularly, sticking some crap on TV and watching the clock until my husband comes home.

For the last few days, as soon as he’s back, I’ve been handing the baby over while I make dinner. He seemed a bit scared of this at first, to be honest, and to be fair to him she’s often fractious at this point so I don’t blame him. But he’s been taking her out for a 30min walk in the pram while I cook, which gives me a bit of space to concentrate on something else. This has been such a relief to me that I want to keep this new entry to the routine going. We’re lucky the Great British weather is so amazing at the moment, that a quiet stroll round the cemetery is quite a nice thing to do.

We’ve been giving R a bath every three days or so but after reading a book we got given this week, I think we’ll try and do this every evening and make it part of her bedtime routine. She hated her first one, but since then she’s started to really enjoy them – although she screams her head off afterwards! 

Then, about 7:30pm, I give her a ‘final’ feed and my husband takes over around 8-8:30pm, puts her in the sling until she falls asleep. I take that opportunity to get ready for the night, have a shower and a bit of ‘me’ time. He puts her in the Sleepyhead in our bed at 9:30pm, by which point I’m trying to get some shut-eye.

As mentioned above, someone gave us a book this week called ‘The Sensational Baby Sleep Plan’ by Alison Scott-Wright. I haven’t read any books about baby sleep yet – we’ve just been taking it all as it comes – but as time goes on, I’m increasingly keen to get her into a routine, particularly in the day where she rarely sleeps. I’ve not finished reading it yet, but the plan basically centres around feeding your baby every three hours during the day and being quite rigid about it.

For example, wake up at 7am, feed, then again at 10am, 1pm, 4pm, maybe a top-up at 5:30pm, bath at 6:30pm, and the final feed at 7pm. The ‘magic sleep fairy’ author (who is a bit scary and strict!) reckons if you implement this rigid feeding structure of five/six feeds from day one, your baby will be able to sleep through the night at eight weeks. Well, we’re at eight weeks now, so a bit late for that, but I honestly don’t think I could have contemplated anything sooner than that, it’s all been such a haze. But I’m open to have a go now.

What I will say is, we’ve had a nightmare couple of nights. Two days ago she woke at 1am, 3:15am then slept till 8:30am, and she never goes that late. But the day after was interesting. With the book in mind, I’ve tried to feed her every three hours instead of on demand, which I’ve been doing since she was born. This normally means I feed her, goodness knows, over 12 times a day. Put it this way, if she cries, I put her on my ‘magic boobs’, which always works and makes everything better, so it’s easy for me to do.

However, what I will say is for the last week, she’s suffered a lot from trapped wind and she’s spitting up more and more regularly. It’s been quite distressing to see, and she’s started waking in the night in pain, pulling her knees up in real distress. I’m starting to think that this is because I’m over-feeding her. But for the 5am wake-up a couple of nights ago, my husband picked her up, burped her, rocked her a little, and then she passed out almost immediately. She then slept til 8:30am, without a feed. I would have normally put her on the breast immediately.

At her doctor’s appointment on Friday, Baby R had her weight checked and I was relieved to hear she’s in the 50th percentile. I suppose the worry is if you feed them less frequently, they’ll lose weight again but the book indicates babies often gain more because they get proper good feeds each time. Now sometimes I question whether R gets enough milk. For example, last night my breast was still quite hard after she came off, but because she fell asleep on the breast, I assumed she’d had enough (only to wake up again an hour or so later). But she seems to be feeding really well on the three-hour schedule – much better than normal – but it’s only been a day so we’ll see. 

The book advocates that ‘sleep breeds sleep’. Now R has always been a good night sleeper. But since trying the Sensational Sleep Plan yesterday, she slept the worst she’s ever slept last night – worse than the night before. She woke at 11pm, didn’t go back to sleep till just before 4am, with two feeds in between, and then awake at 5:15am. But again, my husband rocked her back to sleep, and I didn’t automatically feed her. It meant we had a bit more sleep, thank goodness. But I am still extremely tired today as a result, as is my husband who did a lot of the pacing! 

Don’t get me wrong – there’s quite a bit I don’t love about the plan, like putting babies on their sides/front, not having them in the same room as you and feeding them solids before six months, which is against NHS guidelines. It’s a brave woman who is prepared to advocate that! But I am keen for R to sleep more in the day because I worry about the lack of sleep is hindering her development. Despite my health visitor insisting a couple of hours’ sleep in the day is OK for a tiny baby, I have my doubts. 

So as we speak, I have managed to put her down this morning in a darkened room in her Sleepyhead after about an hour. She totally resisted it. I put her down and she whinged. I tried to soothe and settle, which worked for 10 minutes (!). Then I rocked her for 20 minutes. We’ve only got another hour before she’s due her next feed and I can already hear her stirring after only 10 minutes again (!!) so it’s a bit like fighting a losing battle. The book would recommend letting her self-soothe herself back to sleep, so I’m going to see how that works out. Wish me luck!

Other stuff of note this week:

  • R’s in-laws came to stay. It was the first time they’d seen her since she was born because of lockdown. 
  • We bought a Nuna Leaf rocker chair off eBay and picked it up yesterday. I’m quite disappointed as it only rocks for about 15 seconds before you have to rock it again. Think we got a duffer there :-/
  • I went for my third jog round the block – can’t be more than 2.5K. I was in agony with a stitch-like sensation for the first two, but the third was slightly more comfortable. Still, it’s going to take me a good while to get back to match fitness I think.
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