6 months and counting… 

So on my first day back at work, Nat also had his 6th month vaccination appointment. His PD then told us we could introduce protein into Nat’s diet! He can also try broccoli, cauliflower and spinach. I think his menu is more exciting (and healthier) than ours. 

So after doing some reading, I’ve decided to delay broccoli until he’s almost 7 months because it can cause gas in babies. 

In terms of what types of foods babies can take at each stage, this article organizes it nicely in a table. 

So far, there’s 3 categories of food that Nat has tried between 4-6 months, they are grains, vegetables and fruits. 

Grains: rice cereal, oatmeal cereal 

Vegetables: sweet potato (Japanese & Australian varieties), yam, carrots, potatoes

Fruits: pumpkin (local and butternut squash), banana, avocado, apple, pear 

Moving forward, these are the new types of foods that we can introduce as advised by Nat’s PD : 

  1. Fish (threadfin, salmon, cod) – I came across this that explains the types of fish that are better suited for baby food
  2. Cauliflower  
  3. Broccoli 
  4. Spinach 

In terms of how milk is balanced out with puree/porridge, the former still constitutes the bulk of Nat’s diet. 

In a day, he has a total of 5 feeds, 3 are full milk feeds while 2 consists of puréed food. 

Below is Nat’s feeding schedule between 4-6 months in summary.

645/7am: wake up milk feed (120ml)

10/1030am: mid-morning purée (3-4 ounces) followed by a milk top-up (60ml) an hour later after his bath and just before his 2nd nap only if he is still hungry 
230pm: full milk feed (150-180ml) 

530pm: evening purée (3-4 ounces) followed by a milk top-up (60-90ml) an hour later only if he’s peckish 

10/1030pm: final milk feed (160ml) to last him until 6/630am the next day 

I think we would also let Nat try feeding himself via putting bite-sized food pieces into his mouth. So far, we’ve given him baby biscuits and fruits i.e. half a banana to gnaw at. Most of the time, the food ends up everywhere else but his mouth. Owell, we all have to start somewhere right. 

What I find amusing is that ever since I started planning Nat’s menu, we also started eating fruits on a daily basis haha. 

Exciting (and healthy) times ahead. 

– CK 

Escapism 

I could do with such a life, just lounging by the pool. Now with Nat, we take turns to do laps while one of us accompanies him. What’s missing, that I’ll try to remember for our next staycate is some booze and a book.  Anyhow, I think where this all stems from is possibly my need to escape. Escapism – the tendency to seek distraction and relief from unpleasant realities… 

So yes, after 6 months of maternity and childcare leave, I am going back to work tomorrow.

In retrospect, I think 5 months away from the office is the sweet spot. 6 months may be a tad too long?

It was a little frustrating in the last few weeks – because I was facing a baby, helper and dog daily.

I’ll be honest, the initial months after Nat was born were really about coping and just staying on top of things with regard to ensuring baby eats, sleeps and poops well. Thereafter, once our helper arrived in February to assist with the household chores and some aspects of babycare, I think I got bored. Nat was also on a routine that required minor tweaks as the months went by but things were predominantly the same. This is going to sound crazy but I look back on the first 3 months fondly, where it was just the two of us, coping and eventually getting the hang of caring for a newborn.

So fast forward a few months, I guess the more irritated I got staying home all day, the more I wanted to escape at any chance I could. Lunch/dinner meet ups, grocery runs, massages to fix my right neck & shoulder, jogs around the estate, going to the gym, doing laps in the pool… I just had to get out of the house.

Maybe after going back to work, and only being home on Mondays and Tuesdays, this feelings will become less pronounced and I may yearn to just be at home more.

People are like that. I guess I’m like that.

The grass always seems greener when you’re on the other side of the fence.

T-1.

– CK

M Day 

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Tomorrow is Mother’s Day and I could not help but search for some funny Pinterest quotes. Some of them are quite hilarious but this one stood out because it’s too true. Even till today, some of the best advice comes from my mother. Then I think about the past 6 months being a mom to Nat and the main reflection I have is that I should not be so paranoid about things, which intensified after he fell off the bed.

I/we cannot protect him from everything. He has to fall and fail, in order to learn to get back up on his feet without me/us being a crutch.

The irony – after I had typed the last sentence, Nat almost fell off his rocker chair! HJ forgot to strap him in but thankfully I saw him in the mirror and we stopped it in time *deep breath*.

T-4 days (till work). 

More excited than anxious. 

– CK

 

Everybody Dies.

Over the weekend, we were shuttling between two hospitals. My maternal Grandpa was warded on Thurs and should be discharged soon. Then on Friday, my paternal Grandma underwent an op for her heart and is in ICU until she can go to the normal ward. I generally don’t deal with such issues very well. I am avoidant because I have difficulty accepting that one day, they are no longer going to be here.

Everybody dies. I know.

I just dread dealing with all the emotions that come along with it.

– CK

Time Extension 

I was supposed to go back to work today but I had to extend my childcare leave by 2 weeks while we work out childcare arrangements involving my mom and helper on the 3 days that I go into office. So I get 14 more days to spend with this little rascal 🙂 

Some preliminary thoughts… 

I think I could do with having both work and Nat in a week. Though I’m sure the 3 days in office is just the minimum amount of time I’ll be spending on work. Yet, I need to be mindful to not swing the other way and enter my “workzone” especially when I am at home and Nat’s awake. This reminds me of his newborn days when everyone advised us to catch up on sleep whenever the baby naps. I guess now, we will be trying to catch up on work whenever he naps. 

Thus far, we’ve also been very fortunate to be able to have a regular weekly routine going. Every Friday we would bring Nat out in the evening and every Sunday, we’ll drop him at my mom’s place so that we can go out to do things that we won’t be able to do with Nat i.e. foot/back massages and watching movies. 

Moving forward, we’ll probably swap them around because my new office would be in town so it would make sense to go out without the kid on Fridays and then bring him out on Sunday evenings. 

T-14 days. 

I just hope I don’t take too long to get back into the hang of things. Afterall, Nov 4th 2016 (the last day I was in office) is a very long time ago. 

– CK 

The First Fall

Yup. Nat rolled off the bed this afternoon. It was during his last nap. HJ tucked him in and barricaded him between our pillows. Initially, we heard some faint sounds, then suddenly he let out a louder cry. When I first entered the room, I could not find him on the bed!? In my head I was like “where the f*** is Nat!?” Then I think saw him on the floor in-between my bedside table and the bed, near the rattan chair. I screamed and picked him up. He stopped crying in 3 seconds? I was still in shock. It could have been worse. I think having the table and the paper bag next to it meant that when he rolled off, he did not hit the ground immediately.

We did a quick physical check. He was conscious, no blood, no bump. The side of his forehead was slightly red though. No vomiting. He could still laugh. We did not let him go back to sleep. Instead, we had to monitor and see if he had any odd behavioural changes.

Thankfully, all seemed okay.

  • We let him listen to some music – he was engrossed as usual with the iPad screen.
  • I read him his favourite books – he was following the pages and pictures.
  • We let him play with favourite chain toy – he was grabbing and bringing it to his mouth.
  • He was peckish around 530pm so we fed him his evening purée – appetite still as good.

So I guess all is well as of now. Thank God.

Note to self: kids are more hardy than we give them credit for, it’s the adults that need to take a chill pill.

However, we also learnt a lesson the hard way literally – that it is no longer safe to leave Nat alone on a bed anymore, even if he’s sleeping. Though he cannot crawl yet, he’s proven to be able to “slug” his way from one end of the bed to the other.

Sigh…

– CK

Days Like These

I spent the whole afternoon out. I just needed to get out of the house. I had a good catch up with a friend. I went for a massage. The lady said my whole body was very stiff. I’m not supposed to be drinking so much ice water. I reached home and felt irritated again. HJ told me to go out after dinner for ‘me time’…. read a book, catch a movie. He and our helper would settle Nat.

So I did just that. 

I decided against exercising because I went to the gym for two days in a row and I figured my body could do with a break today before I resume gyming tomorrow.

I went nearby to Seletar Mall, because yesterday we already went Greenwich for ice cream. 

I brought along a murder-thriller novel, given to me by my friend to read during confinement. 

I went to Coffee Bean to get a hot chocolate to accompany my read. 

After about an hour, I decided to walk around and ended up buying some daytime home tees for Nat. 

Before leaving, I went to buy Bak Kut Teh… just because I want to sit at my dining table, sipping hot peppery soup while I continue reading my book. 

Today is strange but it feels good to unwind and do whatever because I feel like it. 

I can’t fully explain why I’m feeling this way. I have absolutely no ill-feelings towards Nat or his daily routines. 

Days like these, it’s okay to not be okay.

When I try to analyze it, I guess I’m just feeling frustrated that almost every weekday is the same routine. I know this may sound ‘crazy’ but I am looking forward to return to work. I guess I just need to get back to doing what I did before Nat. 

Soon. 

– CK 

Back in Business

Nat has returned to sleeping till 7am for the past 2 nights, hopefully his early awakening remains just a phase that has passed. Actually there was a blindspot – too short waketime in the morning, which our friend then advised us to try and put him down to nap later around 830/845am. Nat’s length for his 3 naps were also in the incorrect order, with his last one being the longest, that affected night sleep. I am just so glad that we’re not alone in trying to understand baby sleep and how everything is connected (naps, waketime, feeding etc.)

So now that we’re back in business to having a continuous night’s rest… I was able to consolidate some thoughts based on the past 2 days of experimentation.

Waketime: 

  • By right, for a 5-6 month old baby, they should be able to have 2.5 hours of waketime before the next nap. Nat is able to do this in the day except after his first feed at 645/7am. We would let him fall back to sleep right after his feed so while the other waketimes were being stretched, his early morning one was stagnant.
  • As such, I’ve started engaging him by reading books and playing music between 715-830am before letting him go down for a nap.

Naps: 

  • By extension of no. 1, his nap times will be pushed back a bit and by right, the first two naps are supposed to be longer than the final 3rd one.
  • However, Nat’s mid-day nap is always the shortest except on Friday where he napped from 1230-115pm. This was much later and longer than usual. Perhaps, his body is also naturally adjusting?
  • So say he wakes up at 10/1030am, his 2nd nap should be 1230/1pm followed by his last nap at 3/330pm. Then the length of his last nap is supposed to be the shortest since it is a bridging nap to evening bedtime.
  • However, not all babies go according to plan and when I experimented, Nat still snoozed the shortest for his 2nd nap (we were out at a family lunch) before clocking 1h55mins for his 3rd nap. Thankfully he woke up naturally before 5pm, if not I would have had to do what I am reluctant to, which is to wake him up.
  • I guess for now, especially on days we have lunch appointments, I am okay with his mid-day nap still being shorter as long as his total day time sleep does not exceed 4/4.5 hours.

Never wake a sleeping baby? 

MYTH. Debunked here.

I am aware of this and have roused Nat from his sleep by 530pm a few times before because if he’s allowed to nap beyond that, he won’t be tired at 8pm and night sleep will be compromised.

Of course now the challenge is to explain this to my mom and helper who will be his main caretakers when I return to office in mid-May. At most, there may be a bit of inconsistency but at least I will be the key person enforcing his routine 4 days a week when I’m not in office.

My principle is as such – there are certain times when it is legit and necessary to wake a sleeping baby. I also certainly don’t want to compromise night sleep or deal with repeated early awakenings. So as peaceful as Nat’s face may look when he’s napping, when I have to rouse him, I have to rouse him.

I also know some babies have greater sleep needs so for Nat, so I’ve included some flexible leeway. For example, while experts recommend no more than 3-4 hours of day time sleep for babies at 5 months, ill cap his at maybe 4.5 hours? So depending on the time he goes down to nap for his final one, 530pm is my current absolute deadline.

Sigh… so complex but necessary to understand and experiment.

Hoping next week will continue to be fairly stable 🙂

– CK

Sleep Regression Woes 

So… for the past 4 days, Nat started waking up around 4/5am crying 😦 We thought it was due to the introduction of evening puree, and thus maybe he was not getting enough milk calories but we also noted that before evening puree started, he was unable to nap in the PM last Sunday. Hence, it is very likely a sleep regression phase, coinciding with a possible growth spurt and introduction of evening puree => 3-in-1 combo that basically obliterated his usual schedule.

It was really mind-boggling because when it happened on a day-to-day basis, we could not see the big picture to ascertain what was most likely the culprit? Everyday was a trial and error experimentation, especially since evening puree had been introduced to the picture.

It helped that everything was recorded down so that we could analyze it to check for any patterns.

We also had to ensure that we adhered to certain feeding guidelines given to us by the PD:

  1. First purée of the day – mid AM (10am)
  2. Second puree of the day – before 6pm (once Nat woke up from his PM nap)
  3. Depending on puree intake, top up milk accordingly i.e. if a full bowl (4 ounces is given, no need milk top up)
  4. Keep the 10pm last feed, before 11pm latest (too late = bad for gum health)

Below is the log sheet of the series of confusing events that occurred over the past few days…

Sunday (16/4): [the afternoon his nap regression began]

  • 330pm – suddenly woke up from nap and could not sleep again despite us trying to coax him for 1h+ *** THIS was the start of the sleep regression, that we missed, thinking it was due to the introduction of evening puree ***
  • 6pm – rice cereal (4 dessert spoons with 40ml milk) *wasn’t completely finished
  • 645pm – went to sleep without any milk top-up, too tired after missing his PM nap
  • 9pm – drank 140ml (last feed)
  • 140am – woke up hungry, we gave 40ml *we didn’t think much of this at that time because his last feed was quite early and, his schedule for the day was messed up already so we thought it would be a one-time episode (so so wrong haha!)

Monday (17/4): [Vaccination day, no puree]

  • 610pm – 175ml in the car
  • 835pm – 60ml suddenly hungry
  • 1115pm – 60ml (last feed) *we didn’t rouse him at 10pm as he fell asleep around 9pm only 
  • 440am – hungry, gave him 40ml milk *we didn’t think much of this as it was expected? since his last feed was only 60ml 

# This also ruled out our first hypothesis that his 4/5am awakenings was due to the introduction of evening puree because we gave him his normal full milk feed after the PD appointment in the car. 

Tuesday (18/4): 

  • 545pm – rice cereal (4 dessert spoons with 40ml milk)
  • 620pm – 100ml (could not finish the last 20ml)
  • 8pm – 40ml (peckish, could not sleep)
  • 835pm – 60ml (still peckish) *potential growth spurt alert!
  • 1020pm – 120ml (last feed)
  • 445am – woke up crying, we gave 30ml water^, Nat went back to sleep

^We experimented with water because after Nat was able to drop his MOTN feed, the last thing we want is to re-start a habit of early AM awakenings for milk

Wednesday (19/4): 

  • 535pm – rice cereal (4 dessert spoons with 40ml milk)
  • 550pm – 60ml milk (part 1)
  • 645pm – 50ml milk (part 2, could not finish remaining 40ml)
  • Not peckish at 8pm+ *maybe because he consumed part 2 of his milk close to 7pm
  • 1030pm – 130ml (could not finish remaining 20ml) *possibly due to the short interval between his part 2 milk feed at 645pm? 
  • 415am hungry, gave 60ml milk but a bit diluted^

^ Reason for this is because his wake up feed was 645/7am and we try not to encourage the habit of large feeds between 11pm and 6am. Afterall, Nat had been sleeping through since end-Feb so we very much like to get back to that.

Thursday (20/4): 

  • 145pm – only drank 100ml (usually he takes 180ml)
  • 335pm – suddenly woke up mid-nap hungry, gave 80ml but he could not go back to sleep until after 1hr of coaxing!
  • 6pm – pumpkin and rice cereal puree (2/3 bowl)
  • 7pm – only drank 30ml (I decided to give an hour break to see how much milk top-up he could taken but he wasn’t that hungry)
  • No hunger pangs at 8pm+
  • 950pm – 160ml (last feed)
  • 245am – woke up crying but…. could be coaxed back to sleep within 5-10 minutes without any milk or water required (Thank God!)

So some preliminary conclusions:

  1. Main culprit = most likely sleep regression because both PM naps and night time sleep is disrupted, sometimes he’s hungrier, sometimes he’s not and it all started on Sunday PM, even before evening puree began
  2. It seems that he is able to last through the night as long as his last feed is big enough i.e. 150ml minimum so even with a sleep disruption, he’s not hungry and can be coaxed back to sleep

Today will be another day we cross our fingers and hope it ain’t too destabilizing. Though when all this is happening, I am reminded that I have to just be more flexible and to go with the flow, while also sticking to an overarching routine.

This article nicely summaries what sleep regression is, when it may usually happen, and how to survive it. We’re still not 100% sure what Nat is going through so we’ll just try our best to adjust accordingly.

So for now, our coping mechanism, which we successfully applied yesterday is to try and sleep earlier so that if Nat were to wake up, we are not too zombie the next day.  Before last night, we were totally zonked in the mornings because of his 4/5am awakenings. I still marvel at how we could wake up at 1am and 4am last time but once we started sleeping 6-7 hours straight, it’s physically exhausting to even have 1 night awakening.

Hopefully this will pass soon…

– CK

The End. 

After 5.5 months (a bit short of my 6 month goal), I’ve stopped pumping for good and can finally keep the pump now! Once the freezer stash finishes, Nat will be 100% on formula milk. Actually, he’s all along been a combo baby so quitting breastmilk isn’t that big a deal.

Emotionally, I’m relieved that I don’t need to sit on my chair to pump anymore though some days I look back and wonder if I could have dragged it on a bit longer. I guess my “self-weaning” was a tad too effective :p

From day 1, I chose to pump exclusively because I felt latching was really quite a hassle especially in the first 1-2 months where I had to latch every 3 hours, for 40 minutes or more each time. I was also 100% sure that once I return to work, I did not want to bring a pump and have to regularly visit the nursing room. I wanted to physically return to my previous norm i.e. not have any feeling that my boobs were going to burst every few hours. These preferences were made clear to HJ from day 1 and he was very supportive in standing behind whatever decision I made. Whether Nat was 100% on formula, majority on formula or 50/50, HJ left it completely to me, while also communicating that he personally would like me to give Nat breastmilk until he was 6 months old. So yes, early communication with your partner is key to helping you keep your sanity in the immediate weeks after giving birth.

So using my return to work (in May) as a guideline, I started planning how to gradually wean off the pump.

November 2016: I was latching Nat every 3 hours and/or pumping to stimulate milk production. Thankfully, I only had some engorgement in the early weeks which my post-natal massage helped to clear the blockages. My daily schedule was 1am, 4am, 7am, 10am, 1pm, 4pm, 7pm and 10pm.

December 2016: I decided to exclusively pump and only latch Nat around 1-2x a day. In the early hours of the morning, HJ would also wake up to help feed Nat, while I pumped away. Some nights, Nat’s feeding time and my pump time would coincide so I would just latch him out of convenience but those were rare because I would set my alarm a bit earlier than his feeding time so that once I was done with pumping, I could move on to feeding him. Of course, feeding directly with the breast would have been ‘logistically’ easier i.e. no washing of equipment in the middle of the night but at 4am, I really did not want to sit there for 45minutes fighting to keep my eyes open. Towards the end of the month, I had reduced my pumps per day (ppd) from 8 to 6 times – 1am, 4am, 7am, 12pm, 5pm and 9pm.

January 2017: HJ returned to work and our helper had not arrived yet so stretching my pump intervals allowed me to do more things with Nat. Perhaps dropping to 6 ppd in the 3rd month was too soon. By the end of Jan, my ppd went down further from 6 to 5 times – 3am, 7am, 12pm, 5pm, 11pm. As Nat was only waking up once a night for a small feed, I matched his schedule to wake up only 1x to pump.

February 2017: My target ppd was 4 times because I needed to reach 3, 2 then 1 by March, April and May when I returned to work. Jan to Feb also saw my most output per pump so I started stocking up the freezer stash during this time. This also meant that each pump’s output was able to match Nat’s milk intake. However, the moment Nat started sleeping longer in the night after his 1030pm feed, I decided to drop my MOTN pump. Surprisingly, I had no engorgement issues or discomfort. Once I dropped the MOTN pump, my supply tanked and never went back up. On hindsight, I could have delayed dropping it until March?

March 2017: I continued pumping 4 times a day, as per Feb’s schedule – 7am, 12pm, 6pm and 11pm until end of March when I dropped it to 3 ppd. So instead of a 5-6 hour interval, I pumped every 8 hours – 7am, 3pm, 11pm.

April 2017: The month isn’t over and my original plan was to maintain 2 ppd – one in the morning and one just before I went to bed. Technically I could also continue with 2 ppd in May when I return to work but I figured that the morning would be a mad rush getting ready for work so I would rather not. Then because my output had already decreased so much, I was like heck it, let’s just try 1 pump a day, which was originally May’s plan. I then pumped 1x a day before I went to bed for a few days before deciding to just drop pumping totally and see if I experienced any discomfort. As I’ve not pumped at all for the past 3 days, I think it’s considered a done deal.

Would I do the same thing again i.e. feeding a combo of formula and breastmilk if I have a second kid – most likely yes, but maybe I would not drop 2 pumps at the 3rd month. I guess once I got the hang of getting so much done by stretching my intervals, I could not go back to pumping every 3-4 hours. Moreover, I also wanted to be able to eat and drink whatever I felt like having without having to worry about it affecting my breastmilk and by extension, Nat.

Owell, because of this, I now have to pay the price, literally for more milk powder haha

– CK