Alice – four weeks

I’m typing one-handed as my little girl feeds. She is already a people person, demanding human contact at all times. At. All. Times. (I’m also writing this days in advance as my new baby-imposed timeline means that things get done much, much more slowly. By the time you read this she will be four weeks old).

snuggles on dad

Snuggling on Daddy.

I’ve been up with her since 4am when she fed, and then she and I sporadically cat-napped until her next feed at 6.20, after which she slept on me on the couch so Daddy could have a quiet sleep after doing the first night shift. Since then, except for a short break to express, she has been in my arms (or on my boobs!) and it is now 11.20. But she has just dozed off and I know there will come a time when she would rather die than be civil to me, let alone cuddle me or find comfort in my presence, so I am soaking in her new baby smell and her nuzzling in to my neck while it is still so important in her world.

surprise

Surprise!

Little Bunny, at one month you have already changed so much from the squalling, red and squashy creature who we met for the first time. For the first two weeks you seemed still shell-shocked by the cold bright world, although you made clear your need to snuggle into our chests very quickly. In your first few days we were so proud of you when you easily drank EBM via syringe, cup and bottle – while I was truly surprised that I couldn’t feed you from the breast straight away, we were so relieved that you had no feeding issues of your own and we didn’t have to worry about your desire or ability to eat.

adorable

Smiley!

Since then you’ve also become a skilled and voracious breastfeeder. After some help from the hospital’s lactation consultants to teach me how to hold you to latch on you are now proficient and barely need my help at all. You love boobie and I don’t mind if you fall asleep feeding either (as long as you fall asleep!). You also happily devour two bottles of EBM a night, one that Daddy feeds you after I have gone to sleep, and another somewhere between 2 and 4am that he gives you while I express.

smiles

Mum! Milk!

Which leads me to the next major topic consuming every new parent: sleep.

It’s too soon to expect you to have a routine of your own, and certainly too much to ask for you to follow one of our choosing, and I am happy to demand-feed you and let  you decide when you need to sleep. But could you sleep when you are tired do you think? Like your mother you fight sleep even when exhausted, thinking that being bored and awake is still preferable to being out for the count. Once fast asleep you are – excuse the pun – a dream, oblivious to all around you, happy to re-settle yourself, and barely stirring when transferred from arms to pram to car seat. It’s the getting to sleep that’s difficult, as you resist being settled like you know what we’re trying to do, and then it’s another battle getting you into your bassinet in the day. You have a red alert radar that can tell when you’ve been put down and within five minutes you start to grizzle and then increase the vocal force of your displeasure. This makes it very hard to get things done and on bad days I am effectively pinned to the couch by your tiny sleeping body! Daddy and I have a shift each over night so we can at least get one solid block of sleep each, which is usually two hours or three if you’re really good. I get about five broken hours a night, something like 11-2, then 3-4, then dozing while you cluster feed every hour until 6.30. You also have a 2-3 hour sleep starting mid- to late-morning, and another in the afternoon, although you often stay awake for much more than the recommended 60-90 minutes and the other day managed a stupendous and frustrating six hours.

milky

Boobiemonster.

You are already a card and pull the most hysterical faces, especially when you’re milk drunk and half asleep. You often smile when dozing off, just a flicker of a twitch, but Daddy swears that this morning (Xmas Eve) you gave him a long and deliberate smile when he picked you up. He is obviously besotted. You have definitely become so much more aware and alert in the last two weeks, really looking at us and the things around you and making so many vocal noises that I am convinced that you take after me in the chatterbox stakes.

You have also been joined by new friends already; it appears that December is a popular month for being born. My oldest and bestest friend Keren has had Jack; Rachael has had Ella; and Carly has had Flynn, and we still await the arrival of Kelly’s little boy, Stacey’s bub and Sarah’s bump next year. You are lucky to grow up surrounded by such a large group of kids of a similar age.

Not too sure about my Xmas dress.

We waited so long to meet you. Every day we learn more about you and we can’t wait to find out who you are.

Alice and her great-grandfather.

Alice and her great-grandfather.

Today (27 December): you are four weeks old exactly, 2 days off being a calendar month. Your birth certificate arrived in the post and we are going to take you on your first expedition to Doncaster. You had just two overnight feeds, one long nap and are feeding again as I type. You’ve had two nappy changes, gave me a long smile as you lay down on your feeding pillow, and I am slogging through your birth announcements and folding laundry when Daddy holds you.

At four weeks, Alice:

  • Has put on heaps of weight and is visibly bigger than at birth.
  • Has long feet!
  • Is still in 0000 but said feet might not last much longer …
  • Appears to have blue eyes.
  • Has so much hair that everyone comments … and that Daddy likes to style.
  • Still doesn’t look clearly like either of us, but we think has my mouth and chin, Auntie Hannie’s eyes, and Daddy’s forehead. Daddy is on the lookout for the Burrows Eyebrow.
  • No longer screams at every nappy change.
  • Quite likes bathtime with Daddy, except for being all naked and cold afterwards.
  • Falls asleep easily in the pram on a walk and in her car seat.
  • Sometimes likes her lambie rocker.
  • Has a very strong neck despite not having been awake for tummy time.
  • Really only cries and screams when hungry (or to be picked up from the hated bassinet). We’re learning not to secondguess this, even if she’s just eaten.
  • Has Mummy’s gap between her big and second toes.
  • Has very nice hands which come from neither of us.
  • Loves to snuggle on chests and tummies.
  • Is beginning to be called Al or Allie.
  • Has been given her Tibetan name by her Pala and Amala, which is Dechen Dolma, Dechen (“Day-chen”) meaning Great Bliss and Dolma (“Der-ma”) being a name for the deity Tara.

After one month, Mummy and Daddy:

  • Are smitten!
  • Realise that they are  totally incapable of any objectivity about their daughter who is patently the most beautiful, intelligent, adorable and talented child in the history of the world ever.
  • Are operating quite well on limited sleep and are proud of their teamwork.
  • Are very impressed with how the dogs and cats have adapted.
  • Are getting used to lowered expectations about how much can get done in a day.
  • Have conquered a number of poosplosions.
  • Have incredible  respect for single parents.
  • Mummy loves her new earrings!
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Alice’s nursery

I can finally show the other ‘project’ I’ve been tinkering away on! I couldn’t share any pictures of Alice’s nursery before she came along because we had some special items that we couldn’t put out to finish it off until she arrived – those items being pink! We found out that our Bunny was a girl at the 20 week scan, but chose not to tell anybody that we found out. We just wanted to keep a little something about our baby to ourselves which I’m glad we did, but it did complicate some things! Apologies to all those we lied to … it wasn’t easy!

Here is her door …

Welcome to Alice's room!

Welcome to Alice’s room!

I bought the Beatrix Potter letters from Peter’s of Kensington and then mounted them to a canvas … well actually Buzz was in charge of the gluing and I directed. This is the extent of my crafting ability!

Room layout

Alice’s Expedit. On the top are a set of prints from Etsy that were the very first things I bought from her nursery, along with some special items including the Steiff bear that my sister brought her back from Hamley’s in London and the measuring tape used to measure and record her statistics straight after birth. Above the Expedit are some Martha Stewart paper chains from her baby shower.

I love a good Exedit!

The Expedit contains a lot of my own baby toys and books, as well as the lovely gifts we have received for her. I keep her blankets in a storage cube (and I do not recommend these horrible plastic ones from IKEA – they are a nightmare to assemble and caused a few injuries in the process!).

Some special items:

Top row, second cube from left: Alice’s Daddy chose this print on our honeymoon in San Francisco from an artist at a street festival. At the same time I chose a print of a little girl with dark hair and blue eyes, and when I bought it I told Buzz that this was our daughter. It disappeared when we moved house, making way for the real little girl to arrive. In front of that print is a modern Beatrix Potter book given to me by my aunt called “Rabbit Organises Everything”: too perfect!

Second top row: Books! The most wonderful things in the world. I thoroughly believe that children should be swamped in books. So many of my own are here, and new editions that I’ve bought for her: Anatole the Mouse, Ricki Ticki Tembo, Edward Ardizzone books, Peepo, Madeline.

Alice's Expedit

On the top of the Expedit is my childhood print of the Snow Queen, which fascinated me no end with its ethereal queen and her gossamer dress; a little shoe I wore ; Alice’s birth card; and an owl which is too pretty to be a doorstop as intended (I stalked PoK for months until they got this owl back in stock).

On top of the Expedit

On the other side are the most special of my toys. On top are my teddies: Big Ted, a handmade bear; my number one Ted, given to me by my grandma when I was born; and Little Ted, an antique with glass eyes who my Dad bought for me at an antiques fair at the Camberwell Civic Centre when I must have been about five. In the cube underneath are my Humty, Ollyfump (bought by my Dad before I was born), and Yangzom, a doll given to me by His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s sister, Jetsun Pema-la, when we were in India when I was 2. I named her after my ‘Tibetan mother’.

My bears

Here is the reading corner, with my grandma’s TV chair re-upholstered and re-sprung. I love the fabric and even more love how a piece of furniture that I associate so strongly with her has been given a brand new dose of love and will be used by her great-granddaughter. On the floor next to the chair is Barkly, my wooden dog, who has been dragged around hither and thither. Penny the Penguin sits on the side table, bought by us in Sorrento while on holiday.

Our reading chair

Above the reading chair are decals chosen by Alice’s Daddy from 41 Orchard (does anyone else look at a lot of nursery decals and feel a bit sick at the overload of princessy-ness or, in the more hipster stores, owls?), and a print from Etsy (framed in a Target frame – bargain!). I love the sentiment.

Print from Etsy

Alice’s Boori cot was given to us by our ex-neighbour, so is well-loved and teeth-marked but still sturdy! Her pram (a Bugaboo Cameleon that we bought from gumtree.com in as-new condition for 2/3 of the price- score!) is also parked in here (the blanky in it is from here – I totally adore these florals).

Cot

Above the cot are decorations that reflect the same on the other side. The other half of the decal perches above the cot, and an Etsy print with matching font in the same frame heads the bed. The fishy mobile is mine from when I was a child and I love the glassy tinkle it makes in the breeze.

Print from Etsy

Alice won’t use her cot until she’s bigger, so until then it houses some toys including a big bear dressed in a footy jumper that was hand-knitted by Buzz’s aunt in the same pattern she knitted for him when he was born (and yes, I have allowed her to barrack for Daddy’s team), a giraffe from Buzz’s parents, and a bunny from my work colleagues. The teal and white chevron blanket was also knitted by Buzz’s aunt and is just gorgeous. The multi-coloured chevron minky is also from Etsy. The ‘Love’ cushion was handmade for me many years ago by my dear friend Zoe, whose latest venture, Beetle Bug Sleepwear, is utterly adorable handmade children’s sleepwear.

Special toys and bedding

The Boori changetable was a real find on eBay, in almost brand new condition and I was the only bidder. I stalked eBay for weeks waiting for the right thing that wasn’t going to go for a bomb. Who knew furniture that is designed to have babies poo on it would be so expensive?!

The tallboy was a Boori second (a couple of tiny dents!) and holds most of her clothes. The rest are in the cupboard just peeking in in the corner of the picture. A small library of books on birth and parenting are waiting for me to read them … or not.

Tallboy and change table

Over the changetable are Martha Stewart lanterns from the baby shower, and a print (Etsy again) that we displayed at our wedding with lyrics from The Pixies’ classic “La La Love You”. We sing this to each other – sometimes seriously but mostly tongue in cheek!

We also have displayed a little book called “I Like You” which is a poem by Sandol Stoddard Warburg, an excerpt of which was read by my friends during our wedding ceremony. A wedding photo and a beautiful framed print given to us by friends are also on display.

Lanterns over the change table

Naturally Alice couldn’t care less about any of this. Her world at the moment is cuddles, boobies and sleeping, which is all she is meant to do. When she is bigger I want her room to be her own space where she can learn to control her environment, explore whatever she wants, feel safe and have lots and lots of things to do. As much as I have loved making a room full of my memories and lovely things, I want it to become full of her own memories and things she likes. I just hope she keeps it a little bit clean!

Here she is!

At 40+6 and after a barnstorming labour of under 12 hours, we welcomed with some drama and flourish our beautiful daughter Alice Elizabeth, who looks like neither of us but is very much herself!

We are sleep-deprived and in a haze but learning more about each other every day.

Here are some photos from her first week.

Alice’s first cuddle with Daddy – one hour old

Alice sucking her thumb

Thumbsucker. We think those eyes will stay blue. 

Daddy’s shoulder

arms up

She sleeps like me with her arms above her head.

Alice and Mum

pout

This is my pout.

Alice asleep

My favourite picture of my favourite little girl.